Hey there fam. In this review, I’m taking a look at another model from Fearless Audio. Meet the Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl, an earphone sporting dual Knowles balanced armature drivers and 3D-printed shells. The Crystal Pearl has been tuned to reproduce gorgeous dynamics and clear details. So, how does it sound? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. Let’s go!
Next to sound judgment, diamonds and pearls are the rarest things in the world.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Great build quality
Good accessory bundle included
Musical and emotional signature
Not the most detailed or technical sound
Package and Accessories
The Crystal Pearl box comes wrapped in a blue cardboard sleeve with a watercolour painting of the sky on the front. On the back of the sleeve is a list of features and specifications. Beneath the sleeve is a plain white box with the Fearless Audio logo and branding on the top.
Inside you’re presented with a high-quality envelope with some Chinese print on the front. This envelope contains the documentation, warranty card and a cleaning cloth. Below the envelope is a sky blue faux leather carrying case that contains the earphones and other accessories. Let’s break down the contents of the box into a list.
Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl earphones
Detachable 2-pin SPC cable
4 pairs of silicone eartips
Faux leather carrying case
User guide/warranty card
This is a really nice bundle that adds a premium feel to the unboxing experience. I love the included case with its felt-like lining and unique colour that breaks away from the tired old black or brown that we’re used to seeing.
Each pair of eartips has 1 blue core and 1 red core piece which is another nice little touch that makes identifying the left and right sides of the earphones much easier. The included cable is nice too but I’ll cover that in more detail later on.
Build Quality and Design
The Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl (CP) has a fully 3D-printed shell which is made with German EGGER medical-grade material. On the inside, it has 2 Knowles balanced armature drivers Drivers (CI-22955 + ED-29689). It’s available in 3 colours: black, purple plus a combination red+blue. I received the black variant which in reality, appears to be a dark, smoky blue colour.
On the faceplates is a silver-coloured Fearless Audio logo but apart from that the surface of the shells is unmarked. Through the transparent housings, you can see the 2 Knowles BA drivers and internal wiring within.
The Crystal Pearl’s nozzles are narrower than average, similar to the Brainwavz BA IEMs. Fortunately, they have a more pronounced ridge than the S6RUI so the eartips stay securely in place.
The 2-pin sockets are recessed into the shells, allowing the cables to sit flush against the housings and making the connection more robust. Overall, the build quality of the earpieces feels very good.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
I find the Crystal Pearl to be very comfortable for my ears. The 3D-printed shells fit naturally into my outer ear and all the sides and edges are smoothly contoured. In addition, they’re very lightweight and the cable is worn over-ear so it’s pretty easy to forget they’re there at all.
Noise isolation is above average thanks to the non-vented shells. If you’re getting a proper seal with the right eartips the CP blocks out almost as much noise as a custom in-ear monitor. Likewise, noise leak is very minimal.
The Crystal Pearl comes with the same braided SPC cable as the one provided with the S6RUI. This is a great addition and it’s nice to see it accompanying this entry-level model. At the top are aluminium 2-pin connectors with colour-coded rings for easy identification.
A heat-shrink tubing forms pre-formed ear guides that are pliable and rest comfortable on the ears. There’s a rectangular cable cinch with Fearless Audio printed on one side. Next is the matching aluminium Y-split with the brand logo.
The cable terminates in a straight 3.5 mm plug with a carbon fibre pattern. This is a high-quality and attractive cable that is pliable and has virtually no microphonics.
Gear used for testing includes the iBasso DX120 and Shanling M5s for portable sources. On the desktop, I was plugged into the Arcam irDAC-II which is connected to my PC via USB. The CP is super easy to drive and does not require any extra amplification, however, you might be better off using a source with a low output impedance.
The Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl has a smooth, warm presentation with a focus on the lower midrange. The juxtaposition of the enhanced lower mids and forward upper treble create an interesting effect that is inherently warm but at the same time has an unexpected lightness.
The Crystal Pearl has a nimble bass with fast attack and equally fast decay. This gives it great control and plenty of texture but it doesn’t carry a lot of weight. As is typical for so many balanced armature basses, the Crystal Pearl rolls off drastically below 60 Hz. But because the level of bass in relation to the midrange and treble has been lifted it’s clearly audible and even creates some light physical rumble in the ears.
The mid-bass is speedy and light with a well-defined leading edge. It doesn’t bleed over into the mids; in fact, the lower midrange carries its warmth over into the bass, similar to the Brainwavz B400. Needless to say, this is not an IEM for bassheads, but if a drier bass is your thing, you might love this.
With a strong emphasis on the lower midrange, the Crystal Pearl exudes warmth and smoothness. Vocals and acoustic guitars are rounded and have a fullness to them. There’s a little bit of thickness here too but it thankfully falls short of becoming muddy.
Male vocals are rich and smooth and female vocals really pop. In iamthemorning’s “Sleeping Pills” the voice of Marjana Semkina really comes to the fore, almost to the point where vocal resonance becomes fatiguing. Midrange instruments have rounded, full-bodied notes that are imbued with warmth. Rather than leading to congestion, the CP’s reasonably fast decay and instrument separation keep things sufficiently spread out on the stage.
The Crystal Pearl’s treble has moderate extension and is pushed a bit forward. It’s nice and crisp and adds some welcome airiness to the CP’s tonality. A tactical dip around 4.5-6kHz deftly avoids sibilance without dulling percussion too much.
The treble finds a relatively safe zone between smoothness and detail that is neither too boring nor sharp. Cymbals and hi-hats have a nice sheen and pretty good timbre.
Normally with warmer tonalities the soundstage takes on more intimate dimensions and that’s true for the Crystal Pearl. The stage has more depth than width and occupies an elliptical space. There’s a good sense of distance between the listener and vocals, which are back far enough to grant breathing room but still have sufficient density to feel tangible and lifelike.
Imaging is about average with most sounds coming from beside the vocals rather than spread around them but the instrument separation is quite good, helping to avoid congestion.
These two IEMs share some similarities in tonality but with a few key differences. The B400 has a touch more extension in the bass but otherwise shares the same kind of light, textured response as the CP. It’s more even from the upper midrange and throughout the treble but there are a couple of noteworthy things here.
First of all, the B400 doesn’t have the same large dip at 5 kHz. This adds a little more snap to snares and some extra vocal presence. Secondly, the B400 is not as peaky at 9 kHz and 12 kHz, making the treble less harsh. After 12 kHz the B400 extends further into the super-high frequencies adding a more natural shimmer and airiness.
Where the B400 really excels though is in its absurdly good layering and soundstage. It creates such a holographic and 3-dimensional stage, the likes of which I have not heard in any other IEM at this price point. The CP can’t quite match the instrument separation and spacing of instruments that the B400 demonstrates so deftly.
The FA1 ekes out a bit more sub-bass but has a comparable tight and well-defined mid-bass. Both are conservative when it comes to mid and upper bass quantity. The FA1 adds less warmth in the midrange which in turn leads to less body and leaner notes.
Across the upper midrange and lower treble the FA1 is pushed more forward, increasing its clarity and definition but also adding more harshness which can be fatiguing at higher volume. Both IEMs share a similar upper treble, although the FA1 doesn’t have as much detail or layering.
The FA1 has slightly larger stage dimensions, in particular, it has more width because of its leaner lower midrange but the Crystal Pearl maintains better separation and imaging.
Both of these IEMs have a typical balanced armature sub-bass with rapid fall off, although the Crystal Pearl gives more of a physical rumbling sensation. The mid-bass on the TSMR-3 Pro is more linear and balanced in relation to the sub-bass.
TSMR-3 Pro’s lower midrange is cooler and has less body than the Crystal Pearl. This leaner lower midsection actually makes the mid-bass more engaging to my ears as it allows the mid-bass more relative body and weight.
Male and female vocals have more presence and definition on the TSMR. The Crystal Pearl’s vocals are denser and forward while the TSMR gives instruments more energy. More lower treble presence adds more clarity and articulation to the TSMR-3 Pro.
The TSMR-3 Pro’s treble has greater detail it also has more propensity for sizzling cymbals. The TSMR-3 Pro’s soundstage is wider than the Crystal Pearl and both share a similar depth. The Crystal Pearl’s stage is less expansive but more organized, especially when there are crashing cymbals which tend to give the TSMR a washed-out effect.
The Fearless Audio Crystal Pearl has an interesting presentation that relies on its boosted midrange for warmth rather than the usual bass. This allows it to remain reasonably agile while at the same time demonstrating a smooth and musical character. The sound is nicely topped off with a treble that is light, crisp and non-fatiguing.