Highs : clean and decisive. You can definitely hear the kinship between the S6 Rui and the Crystal Pearl. It’s never harsh nor tiresome, yet it’s not amazing either. It’s just… very good and I bet you’ll enjoy these ears as much as me, if not more.
Good test-track: Zimmer – Landing
Mediums : lush and accurate. Take the mids from the S6 Rui and put them in the Crystal Pearl, that’s it. Jazz is a pleasure, voices are poised and to auto-quote me :
“For an IEM sold this price, it’s hard not to fall in love with the mids. Voices are poised, gliding swiftly to your ears, leaving you refreshed after each listening session. Acapella or Jazz is a cake walk, old rock sounds like a garage band and it goes on and on…”
Good test-track : San-Francisco Street – Sun Rai
Lows : shy but spot-on. Yes, the Fearless Crystal Pearl is not made for bass. As an electro lover, I really like hard-slamming lows when I’m on the go. If you REALLY need bass, you know the drill : Cowon Plenue D2 + Mach3bass. Otherwise, it’s a bit too shy for me.
Good test-track : The Morning After – N’To
Sensitivity / Hiss
The Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl are very easy to drive but that should not stop you from hooking it up to a good DAC/DAP. It’s not a hissy one but as always, try to avoid noisy sources as far as possible.
- Fearless Crystal Pearl + Cowon Plenue D2 : this is my favorite combo, all thanks to the fabulous DSP carried by Cowon. Highs are clear, mids likewise and once you boost the bass, the final render really punches above its class.
- Fearless Crystal Pearl + FiiO M6 : it’s very good but you can see the limit of the FiiO. If the signature is more neutral than the Cowon combo, the sound stage is more narrow and you lack the delightful bass. Good on the run, but limited.
- Fearless Crystal Pearl + IFi Nano Black Label : this is a very good match. Frankly, the IEMatch output is not useful with the Crystal Pearl, but the warm sound gives that little magic you can hear on much more expensive stuff. Not as good as the Plenue D2, but the second best choice if you’re on a budget, in my opinion.
A classic now, it’s comparison time:
- iBasso IT01S : similarly priced, even more if you take into account the price. Technically, I found the Crystal Pearl better on every genre. It gets palpable once you move to high-tier DAPs like Astell&Kern, it’s just more potent with a wider sound stage.
- FiiO F9 Pro : these two IEMs stand at the opposite side of the scale. The F9 Pro favors the lows where the Crystal Pearl tames the low. These could be two options in an audiophile wardrobe, leaving you options depending on what you want to listen to today.
- KZ AS16 : on paper, the exact opposite of the Crystal Pearl with its 8 drivers per ears. In the field, it’s hard for me not to favor the Fearless as they sound less “pushy”, all thanks to the natural sounding mids. If you want details, go for the KZ, if you want music, go for the Fearless.
To answer my first question : yes the Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl sounds good, even if it only has two drivers. It’s not the most resolving IEM, but they give you just enough to satiate your audiophile thirst. It’s the perfect daily driver, combining unharmful highs, exceptional noise-blocking and all the good traits we found in the S6 Rui.
Sure, there are better IEMs out there, but as far as I’m concerned, this will stay in my bag as my new spare IEM. Or maybe as my new daily driver, who knows ? Either way, they are here to stay.