Frontier Series

Tour: Fir Audio Gen2 Frontier Series CIEM Lineup – Xenon 6, Krypton 5, Neon 4

Starting at the Top and Staying at the Top

August 2020

The CIEMs in this tour are available for purchase here: https://www.firaudio.com/

As a follow-up to their M Series and Five x Five tours, the Gen2 Frontier Series tour is highly anticipated and expected to be spectacular. Given the skill level of Bogdan Belonozhko, the founder as proven by the incredible success of his M Series, when he creates a new flagship, and updated lineup, there is little doubt the results will live up to the expectations. However, what does this mean for the industry, just how high can we raise the bar for a CIEM? This is what we will find out for ourselves on this tour.

While there is a number of new technologies being introduced, perhaps the most exciting is the new kinetic bass. This new technology leverages bone conduction to create a more tactile bass that you can not only hear, but feel in your bones. This is created by a large 10mm dynamic driver that faces the outside of the IEM shell transmitting the vibration directly to the ear cartilage and surrounding area for a more immersive sound with “increased dimension and an off-the-charts low-frequency extension. I cannot wait to hear/feel that. 🙂

Fir Audio Tour Kit

We have arranged for a tour kit to hear the new lineup. These are not full retail boxes so we can ship them economically. This is obviously the universal format, however, they are also available in custom-fit designs as well.

Tour Kit Contents

  • Kenon 6: $3899 – Equipped with 4 balanced armature drivers, a 10mm dynamic driver for lows, fed into a Kinetic Bass port. Tied together by an electrostatic driver that elevates the track’s finer details. Lifelike resolution, unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.
  • Krypton 5:  $2999 -Outfitted with 4 balanced armature drivers, a 10mm dynamic driver for lows, fed into FiR Audio’s Kinetic Bass port.
  • Neon 4: $2299 – Equipped with 3 balanced armature drivers, a 10mm dynamic driver for lows, fed into FiR Audio’s Kinetic Bass port.

Fir Audio Tour Kickoff Video

Tour Kit Pictures

Barra’s Quick Initial Impressions

The best part of managing tours is getting to hear all the great gear for myself. Here are some brief impressions from what I have heard so far between the tasks required to set up this tour:

  • Xenon 6: $3899 – The Xenon 6 is clearly above the pack in exotic performance territory. It has a “high-end tube amp” sound signature with huge amounts of ambience and euphonics that is quite an experience by itself. However, the new bone conduction technology adds a new dimension to the sound that takes it a level above. While warm in tone and feel, there is a detailed clarity that makes it audiophile in nature and an extra  dimension to that detail that a while to realize just how much it adds. This is an IEM that everyone should hear.
  • Krypton 5:  $2999 – The 5 doesn’t have the ESTs like its bigger brother so it has more of a traditional BA treble sound with clearer edges and more shimmer. While the bass and the kinetic bass tech is the same, the kinetic port is slightly smaller bringing out more mids and treble and opens up the sound stage a bit. 
  • Neon 4: $2299 – Again, the 4 has the same BA treble as the 5 and less bass than the 6, but there is a simplicity to the sound that makes the 4 a very enjoyable listen. I can see the 4 becoming very popular based on the price to performance ratio which is stellar. The mids also seem more forward for those that are mids first fans.

Overall, this family is stellar like the M line before it. They all share that same 10mm kinetic bass driver which adds a huge new dynamic to the performance that you have to hear to understand. The big differentiator in this lineup is between the 6 which has the EST treble and the other two which have the traditional BA treble. Just to add, I am very much enjoying my custom Xe6 vs. the universal as it has that additional fit/seal that adds a larger helping of that new kinetic sound dimension. It is a touch more euphonic and addicting to me.

Rules and Responsibilities

Most of our tours are offering 7-day auditions which you are required to ship out to the next participant on day 8. Yes, you pay the shipping to the next participant, but we organize into logistically friendly orders to minimize the shipping expense.

The tour membership rules and responsibilities are described here. The key idea is that we must be communicative to participate and to keep the tour moving and interesting. It is our responsibility to follow these rules and to ensure the ability to ship out on day 8 when our turn is over.

UPDATE 5/26/22:

  • New Member Address Verification: THERE IS NO NEED TO VERIFY ADDRESSES ON ESTABLISHED “US TOURS” or “US TOURS REVIEWER” MEMBERS – ONLY NEW “MEMBERS”. If the participant’s status shows “Member” and is indicated on the participant list, then please wait to ship until I verify the shipping address by responding to the provided address that we are verified and good to go.

Signing up for the Tour

To sign up for the tour, you must be a verified tour member and have joined our new AUDIOTIERs platform. The membership qualifications and requirements are described here if you are not already a member. Whether a HEADFI tour member needs to transfer their membership to the new platform or you are a new member looking to apply for tour membership, please follow the instructions in the GETTING STARTED box below. We are now accepting applications from both US and Canadian citizens.

Getting
Started

NEW TOUR MEMBERS: 1) Register, 2) Subscribe, 3) Apply, 4) Join Tours

EXISTING HEADFI TOUR MEMBERS: 1) Register, 2) Subscribe, 3) Join Tours

Tour Signups for Verified Members: If you would like to be part of this tour, please feel free to post your request in the comments below.

Reviewers First Tour: This is a REVIEWERS GO FIRST TOUR, so if you would like to skip to the front of the line, please note that you would like to be a full reviewer in the request as in the sample below:

Sample Signup Request: I live in Anthem, AZ and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.

Tour Participant Logistics

We have two tour kits to minimize wait and are offering 7-days auditions to each participant. This logistics list is updated as I can to show you were we are in the order with each participant bolded to signify that they received the kit. This is where you will find the next two participants to contact when you receive the kit.

Signup Period: During our signup period, we collect the initial participants and provide them with a logistically friendly portion of the tour. This is the lowest cost portion in terms of shipping. Once this closes, we move to the latecomer portion.

Latecomer Period: Latecomers are welcome to the tour on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will continue taking latecomer requests until we run out of participants or the manufacturer asks us to end the tour.

Fir Audio US Tour Logistics

Tour Kit

  1. @Barra – Anthem, AZ
  2. REVIEWER: ngoshawk – Warrensburg, MO
  3. REVIEWER: ike – elizabethtown, KY
  4. REVIEWER: Solstice15 – Rochester, NY
  5. REVIEWER: kubig123 – NYC
  6. REVIEWER: csglinux – LA, CA
  7. REVIEWER: HifiHawaii808 – Honolulu, HI
  8. masahito29 – Wahiawa, HI (member)
  9. blotmouse – Seattle, WA (member)
  10. >>>hamhamhamsta – Santa Ana, CA
  11. rwelles – Florence, OR
  12. hypermuteki – Las Vegas, NV
  13. circa – Denver, CO
  14. fiacogarcia – Fort Collins, CO
  15. kadinh – Amarillo, TX
  16. uthood – Dallas, TX
  17. Rio1969 – Richmond, TX (member)
  18. Towa – Nashville, TN
  19. mashuto – Sterling, VA (member)
  20. kdestremps28 – North Grafton, MA (member)
  21. Garney – Melrose, MA (member)
  22. android – Lynnwood, WA 
  23. Infoseeker – Canton, MI (member)
  24. rantng – NYC
  25. Tybot – Albuquerque, NM
  26. Blueshound24 – Sioux Falls, SD
  27. barra – Anthem, AZ
 
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solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
01/15/2022 5:29 am

I live in Rochester NY and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.

Last edited 6 months ago by solstice15
ike
ike(@ike)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  solstice15
04/21/2022 6:13 pm

I have the tour kit and a few days left, you are next on the list sir. will pm you for address.

solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  ike
04/21/2022 8:17 pm

Ok great! Looking forward to it. Enjoy

kadinh
kadinh(@kadinh)
US Tours
01/15/2022 4:03 pm

I live in Amarillo, TX and would like to participate. I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

ngoshawk
ngoshawk(@ngoshawk)
US Tours Reviewer
01/15/2022 11:21 pm

I live in Warrensburg, MO and would like to participate. I agree to follow the terms and conditions of the tour to the best of my abilities. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.

uthood
uthood(@uthood)
US Tours
01/18/2022 1:17 pm

I live in Dallas, TX and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com.

blotmouse
blotmouse(@blotmouse)
Member
01/18/2022 11:06 pm

Hi there,
I live in Seattle, WA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com.

Towa
Towa(@towa)
US Tours
01/24/2022 5:31 am

I live in Nashville, TN and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

Rio1969
Rio1969(@rio1969)
Member
01/24/2022 1:10 pm

I live in Richmond, TX and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. 

HifiHawaii808
HifiHawaii808(@hifihawaii808)
US Tours Reviewer
01/24/2022 8:40 pm

I live in Honolulu, HI and would like to participate. I agree to follow the terms and conditions of the tour to the best of my abilities. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.

hypermuteki
hypermuteki(@hypermuteki)
US Tours
01/25/2022 12:25 pm

I live in Las Vegas, NV and would like to participate. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I hope that my fir m5 isn’t obsolete with these new iems. I’m going to need to sell more homes to keep up with audio, firearms, and automobile hobby.

Last edited 6 months ago by hypermuteki
kdestremps28
kdestremps28(@kdestremps28)
Member
01/26/2022 2:40 pm

I live in North Grafton, MA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com.

circa
circa(@circa)
US Tours
01/31/2022 1:37 pm

 I live in Denver, CO and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation.

mashuto
mashuto(@mashuto)
Member
02/01/2022 1:58 pm

I live in Sterling, VA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com. Though I have not received word if it was received or if I need to resend anything.

csglinux
csglinux(@csglinux)
US Tours Reviewer
02/03/2022 6:00 pm

I live in LA, CA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.

kubig123
kubig123(@kubig123)
US Tours Reviewer
02/06/2022 2:01 am

I live in NYC would like to participate in the tour.
I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

Thank you

ike
ike(@ike)
US Tours Reviewer
02/08/2022 11:49 pm

I live in elizabethtown ky and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour as a FULL REVIEWER, please move me to the front of the line. TY

solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  ike
05/01/2022 8:24 pm

Hey  ike I sent a message with my address, I believe it’s been >7days? Thanks

ike
ike(@ike)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  solstice15
05/01/2022 10:40 pm

Hey, when I asked you for you address it was only a few days into my tour. When I get home tommorow I’ll give you tracking, should be there mon or tues.

Garney
Garney(@garney)
Member
02/10/2022 2:39 pm

I live in Melrose, MA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com

masahito29
masahito29(@masahito29)
Member
02/14/2022 5:59 pm

I live in Wahiawa, HI and would like to participate. I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

fiascogarcia
fiascogarcia(@fiascogarcia)
US Tours
02/24/2022 4:53 pm

I live in Fort Collins, CO, and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com.

hamhamhamsta
hamhamhamsta(@hamhamhamsta)
US Tours
03/08/2022 4:45 am

I live in Santa Ana, CA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

TheSERP
TheSERP(@theserp)
Member
03/10/2022 12:39 pm

Deleted – not a member

Last edited 3 months ago by Barra
rwelles
rwelles(@rwelles)
Admin
03/16/2022 8:53 pm

I live in Florence, OR and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour

solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
04/03/2022 7:51 pm

Hey  Barra any insight into when this tour will kick off? These have been getting rave reviews, looking forward to hearing them. Thanks

antdroid
antdroid(@antdroid)
US Tours Reviewer
04/19/2022 5:40 pm

Is it too late to join this tour?

Infoseeker
Infoseeker(@infoseeker)
Member
05/01/2022 6:04 pm

I live in Canton, MI and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com. I am a reviewer (as Infoseeker on headfi & audiodiscourse.com),

*IF that is applicable, I would like to be pushed to the front of the line.* If not, then proceed normally.

Last edited 3 months ago by Infoseeker
solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
05/06/2022 9:36 pm

Confirming receipt of the Fir tour kit, included are 3 leather cases with 3 sets of tips. The 3 IEMs and 1 set of atom xs modules (in the Xe6 case). I will contact  kubig123 and  csglinux for shipping addresses

solstice15
solstice15(@solstice15)
US Tours Reviewer
05/14/2022 9:08 pm
Last edited 2 months ago by solstice15
rantng
rantng(@rantng)
US Tours
05/22/2022 12:55 am

I live in NYC and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour.

Tybot
Tybot(@tybot)
US Tours
05/26/2022 9:59 pm

Sign me up for the tour please. Glad to hear things should get back on track with all the tours.

csglinux
csglinux(@csglinux)
US Tours Reviewer
06/01/2022 2:49 am

Just an FYI. The tour kit has arrived safely with me. Many thanks to all previous fellow AudioTiers members on this tour for doing such a great job of keeping these IEMs in pristine condition 🙂

Before giving my initial impressions, a full disclaimer – I’ve been a FiR fanboy since long before the AudioTiers M-series tour. I love the M5 so much that I own both a universal and a custom version.

Now for these new FiR Frontier series IEMs with ‘kinetic bass’… Obviously I need a lot more listening, with a lot more sources, and a lot more eartips, etc., but the kindest thing I can say about them so far is that they’re not for me. I was expecting a taction-headphone-type experience (like the Kannons), where you can feel your head shaking with the sub-bass. This is not what I experience with these ‘kinetic’ bass IEMs. They just sound like IEMs with a ton of (i.e., too much) low end. It feels like most of the bass is still making its way out the nozzle and directly into the ear canal. It’s always possible I’m not using them correctly, and/or different eartips will change the experience, but right now I’d rank them in reverse order based on price, with the only one I’d possibly enjoy listening to being the cheaper Neon 4. Still, kudos to Bogdan for trying something different and I’ve no doubt there will be some folks out there that love these IEMs.

I’d like to hang on to these for at least a week longer, but in anticipation of the next tour stop, HifiHawaii808, can you please pm me your shipping address?

Last edited 2 months ago by csglinux
csglinux
csglinux(@csglinux)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  csglinux
06/03/2022 5:15 pm

Unfortunately, my initial impressions aren’t shifting with lots of other listening options. None of these IEMs are to my liking. I’ve got some other folks here listening to them also and most of us agree that the Xenon 6 is the worst of the bunch 🙁 They all rank pretty poorly using the standard Harman metric (you might be an outlier, but this means most people won’t like them). Their impedance curves make them less sensitive to output sources than the M-series IEMs, but their sound signatures (which were rather close to Harman with M4 and M5) all have way too much mid-bass. One suggestion for future reviewers – try completely blocking those ports with electrical tape. All three IEMs sound (and measure) better with those vents blocked off. As much as I respect Bogdan and want to support the guy, I can’t recommend these particular IEMs. More thoughts/microHypes and measurements of them here: https://www.hypethesonics.com/iemdbc/

csglinux
csglinux(@csglinux)
US Tours Reviewer
06/15/2022 5:53 pm

Profuse apologies to HiFiHawaii808 and the rest of the folks on this tour. I did receive a pm from HiFiHawaii808, but got no notification of it. He sent the message on 6/3 and I’ve only just found it 🙁

Since I’ve been stuck with these FiR Frontier IEMs, I spent some extra time listening to them, so here are some more thoughts. I had a couple of people here who liked the Krypton 5 and persuaded me to give it another chance. Majority vote here seems to have the Krypton 5 as the overall favorite, but all three Frontier IEMs are still, to my ears, a bit too dark and even slightly muddy- and unnatural-sounding. One important suggestion for future reviewers – pay close attention into your initial impressions of these. Our brains are quite plastic and can quickly adjust to a new sound and start thinking of it as normal. I’ve experienced that with the Krypton 5, and I confess I could happily enjoy listening to music with these if I had no other IEMs. But I don’t believe our brains shouldn’t have to adjust that much to a new ‘normal’. Even after my extended brain burn-in, I still prefer switching back to my other IEMs (e.g., FiR M5).

Some other comparisons. The Krypton 5 sounds (and measures on our standard GRAS RA0045 coupler) quite similar to the SoundMAGIC E11C:

https://www.hypethesonics.com/iemdbc?0&Harman_2019&Krypton_5&E11C

The E11C retails for less than $35. The Xenon 6 sounds, and measures, quite similar to the MMR Thummim and Vision Ears Erlkönig in switch position 1 that some of you here will have already heard:

https://www.hypethesonics.com/iemdbc?0&Harman_2019&Xenon_6&Thummim&Erlkonig_SW1

I didn’t enjoy the Thummim’s tuning, so you can extrapolate my thoughts on the Xenon 6. I only liked the Erlkönig on switch position 2. (I know Barra also preferred these on switch position 2). While I can appreciate how others might enjoy these darker signatures (there is a certain guilty pleasure in a good thumping bass), if you really want a heavy mid-bass, there are many cheaper options these days. Unfortunately, my initial impressions on the Frontier series haven’t budged much. They look beautiful, but their tuning is not quite right for me 🙁

Let me try to get them shipped out asap…

csglinux
csglinux(@csglinux)
US Tours Reviewer
06/15/2022 7:13 pm

FiR kit is now on its way to HiFiHawaii808.

BTW, I had an interesting discussion today with Barra (who owns a custom X6) about these IEMs. I think the observation we made about blocking the ports may be relevant. I suspect that people wearing precision-fit custom versions of these IEMs are achieving the same effect we’re seeing by placing electrical tape over the vents. You might want to try that. IMHO, the sound of all of these IEMs improves with those vent-ports covered. (Measurements of these IEMs with those ports covered/uncovered are on the site I linked to.)

hypermuteki
hypermuteki(@hypermuteki)
US Tours
Reply to  csglinux
06/18/2022 11:59 am

While I usually like to see new products improve, if I don’t like the new versions I won’t feel too bad and I’ll save me a lot of money if the M5 got beaten out badly.

I still look forward to testing them out and trying taping the port and seeing if my ears agree with the tape port people or the gimmie more bass crowd. I usually hate muddy bass so if I hear that I know which side I’ll be on. I guess that’s why I hate the HD650 and wonder why so many people like it. Maybe it’s just because it’s an improvement for people who came from Bose and beats (are they still around?).

Last edited 1 month ago by hypermuteki
HifiHawaii808
HifiHawaii808(@hifihawaii808)
US Tours Reviewer
Reply to  csglinux
06/27/2022 6:39 am

I received the FIR Kit from  csglinux and have had them for a week. I am done reviewing them and ready to send them onto @masahito29. I will sending them on Tuesday. I really enjoyed my time with them and I am ready to publish my review.

masahito29
masahito29(@masahito29)
Member
Reply to  HifiHawaii808
07/03/2022 3:38 am

Just received the Fir tour kit from  HifiHawaii808

masahito29
masahito29(@masahito29)
Member
Reply to  HifiHawaii808
07/03/2022 4:54 am

Received Fir tour kit from  HifiHawaii808

blotmouse
blotmouse(@blotmouse)
Member
07/14/2022 10:12 pm

Hey all, I received the Fir kit from masahito29 this afternoon. All looks good. I’ll reach out to hamhamhamsta in a few days to prep the next leg.

blotmouse
blotmouse(@blotmouse)
Member
07/22/2022 5:35 pm

Tour kit was dropped off yesterday headed to hamhamhamsta. I enjoyed my time with these greatly. Kr5 was my fav and I bought a pair.

Blueshound24
Blueshound24(@blueshound24)
US Tours
07/26/2022 3:45 am

I live in Sioux Falls, SD and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. I have emailed my required ID verification documentation to billb@AudioTiers.com
Thank you.

Jwilliamhurst
Jwilliamhurst(@jwilliamhurst)
US Tours Reviewer
08/02/2022 8:35 pm

I live in San Francisco CA and would like to participate in the tour. I agree to follow the terms of the tour. AS A FULL REVIEWER, PLEASE MOVE ME TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.