Let’s get on to sound. The thing you’re here for.
I have listened to the Xe6 with a wide variation of different sources over the last two months. Most of the time it was accompanied by the Lotoo PAW Gold Touch, the Sony WM1A, the AK120ii or the Chord Hugo 2. With some exceptions of course. This section is based off listening to the gray module.
The Xenon 6 can be described as a relatively warm monitor, with above neutral bass, a full midrange and a well defined, but not overly forward treble.
Bass has good impact, texture and speed. The most special thing about the bass, is the feeling you get, when the kinetic driver really comes to show. When it does, you get this extra sensation of vibrations coming from the outside of the canals, where you can really feel the bass. I have tried many different songs to push this experience to its boundaries. One song that really shows the qualities here, is DJ Shadow’s Three Ralphs. However, this feeling is best noticeable when you’re sitting in a quiet environment, or at least not in commute. When I am out and about, I don’t notice the vibrations as much as when I am in the office for example.
The Xe6 reaches very deep into the sub-bass segment, and does so with a lot of authority and force. If you are after a detailed and thunderous low-end, you might find pleasure in the Xe6 as it does exactly that to my ears. To me, the bass is undeniably in a front seat compared to mids and treble. Of course you can tone it down by swapping the gray module for the black one. Then the Xe6 becomes more balanced overall.
Mids on the Xenon 6 are warm and full. Vocals have a thicker character and some extra weight. Overall there is a certain smoothness in the midrange, that gives instruments a pleasant tuning. On the other hand, this tuning also results in a less grainy sound, if that’s something you are looking for. Personally, I find the mids nicely organic and romantic to some extent. Soul and Jazz are two Genres where the Xe6’s mids shine in my opinion. The warm mids have one draw-back in my opinion, and that’s agility or speed. They come off as slower and gooey. They don’t sound like they are on Valium, but they are quite relaxed still.
Highs are well articulated, but they seem to take the back-seat behind bass and the warmed up mids. Don’t get me wrong, there still is enough of amplitude in them, but people who want more, won’t be satisfied in my opinion. There still is great shimmer, detail and air in the highs, but to me the Xe6 misses out on bite in the upper treble region.
In terms of technicalities the Xe6 is a mixed performer. It does get out a great amount of details, but I have heard monitors that do a fair bit better here. Where the FiR does really well is imaging and positioning. What I particularly like about it, is how it portrays musicians on stage. Most other IEMs I heard create a combined scene, where instruments are somewhat connected to each other. With the Xe6 I don’t necessarily get that feeling. Musicians stand out on their own more, each one in their own dedicated spot. The sound-stage has good dimensions in width, depth and height. But again, I have heard other monitors that create a larger stage.
The Xe6 is one of the latest additions to an ever-growing list of kilobuck flagship monitors. In this section we will take a look at how FiR’s Xenon 6 compares to other top of the lines in the industry and also FiR’s very own M5.
vs Empire Ears Odin
The Odin is Empire’s current flagship. Mine is a custom build (a very large one). It sports two dynamic drivers for lows, five BA’s for mids and treble and a set of four electrostatic tweeters. That makes eleven drivers in total, per side.
Both of these monitors have a very unique bass response and way of portrayal. Of course the Odin doesn’t feature the same sensation as the Xe6 with its kinetic bass, but to me the quality of Odin’s lows are exceptional. Odin reaches deeper with more rumble, but the Xe6 pushes bass more forward.
Overall the signatures of these two are vastly different. The Odin being a bright to neutral monitor and the Xe6 a warm one. As two complementary sets these would be ideal, as they offer two different sounds.
Mids on the Xe6 are fuller, lusher and of course warmer and more organic than on the Odin. Here they are faster, more precise and straighter if you will. The Xe6 will give you smoother edges and something more analogue. The Odin, well think contrary.
Where the Odin puts the Xe6 in its rear-view mirror definitely is in details. It’s a detail monster and almost no other IEM can compete with it. The resolution and staging are also two fields where Empire outshines the Xe6. But on the other hand, the Odin’s forward upper mids and lower treble are something of concern for most folks. The Xe6 offers a safer tuning that will be easier to listen to.
Final Comparisons and Conclusion on Page three. Just click here.