In this article, I’m reviewing the Fearless Barcelona, a hybrid dual-driver IEM with 1DD+1BA and a 2-way crossover. It retails for $118.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Linsoul for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Sensitivity: 110dB(@1 kHz)
- Impedance: 24Ω (@1kHz)
- Frequency response range: 15Hz-20000Hz
- Passive noise reduction: 26dB
- Price: $118
Package and Accessories
The Fearless Barcelona comes in a large black box. On the front of the box is an image of an IEM. Inside, we find the Fearless Barcelona IEMs, a detachable OFC cable, a carrying case, a cleaning cloth and some silicone eartips.
The Barcelona has clear resin shells and glimmering green and blue faceplates that change colour when you look from different angles. You can clearly see the components through the transparent shells. Internally, Barcelona has a customized Sonion balanced armature driver and a proprietary 10mm Fearless Special Research Pole-Magnetic Dynamic Driver.
The dynamic driver housing has a unique lime green colour and gold wagon wheel design on the underside, giving this IEM a truly unique appearance. Barcelone features 0.78mm 2-pin sockets and an aluminium nozzle.
The shells are relatively small but the pseudo-custom shape fills the concha of the ears, providing above-average passive noise reduction (-26dB). They’re comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time.
Included with the Fearless Barcelona is an 8 strand ultra-pure oxygen-free copper (OFC) silver-plated Litz cable. The 2-pin connector housings are transparent plastic but the chin slider, Y-split and plug are all matching aluminium. The cable has a uniform braid and good thickness plus it’s nice and supple. It drapes well and has no microphonics.
Gear used for testing includes the Shanling UP5, Soundaware M2Pro and iFi Micro iDSD Signature.
The Fearless Barcelona is fairly efficient with its 24Ω impedance and 110dB sensitivity. This means it’s not demanding when it comes to power and can be driven sufficiently from low-powered sources such as smartphones and dongle DACs.
Barcelona has a dynamic, clean presentation with an emphasis on the sub-bass. It has closer to neutral midrange tuning and a rolled-off upper treble. The 5kHz peak is used for clarity, in lieu of a more forward upper treble. The result is a more natural sound that is still clear but is also suitable for treble-sensitive listeners.
A glance at Barcelona’s frequency response would probably have you believing this IEM is a bass monster. However, that is far from the case. While it can deliver meaty, powerful sub-bass notes, Barcelona’s mid-bass is quite tame in comparison. In fact, apart from the extra warmth inherited from the sub-bass, mid-bass notes are not far north of neutral in size and weight.
It’s a well-controlled bass and shows, at least in this case, that Fearless Audio’s new proprietary dynamic driver delivers on its promise of responsiveness and low distortion. Barcelona’s transition from bass to lower midrange is smooth and while it indeed has a powerful bass, the low frequencies don’t hinder the clarity or spacing of the midrange.
Barcelona has a custom 2300 series mid and high-frequency balanced armature driver. I like what I’m hearing in the midrange: warm but clear vocals and instruments with good spacing and fast transients. The mids sound organic and natural and don’t show any signs of edginess.
The 5kHz peak gives voices added presence and vocal sheen. Both male and female vocals sound natural in tone and note size. Male vocals and certain instruments are less forward than their upper midrange and female counterparts. However, the midrange is still lifted clearly from the bass.
The treble is concentrated on the lower ranges before it rolls off fairly quickly as it transitions into the upper treble. The lower treble emphasis gives the sound clarity and detail without sibilance or harshness.
While it’s not the airiest treble, it has enough presence to prevent the overall tone from being dark and also to counterbalance that significant sub-bass weight. There are no signs of any metallic BA timbre and overall the treble has a natural, organic sound. It’s not a highly articulated or sparkly treble but rather a detailed yet smooth one.
Soundstage and Technicalities
The soundstage is a little narrow but has good depth. As a result, positioning is somewhat vague but there is some degree of layering. Due to good instrument separation and bass control, the sound doesn’t get congested, even on bass-heavy tracks.
Moondrop Starfield ($109)
The Moondrop Starfield is a single dynamic driver IEM. Neither of these earphones differs greatly from the other but there are some obvious takeaways; the Starfield has less sub-bass presence and is slightly leaner in the lower midrange.
To my ears, Barcelona is the more resolving of the two but there’s not much in it. Starfield’s vocals are more forward, due to having less bass in the mix. The Fearless has more fullness and rounder notes in the midrange.
The Moondrop’s upper treble rolls off more rapidly. In comparison, Barcelona has a bit more lower-treble energy which is necessary to counterbalance its heavier low frequencies. Despite its warmer tone, Barcelona’s detail retrieval is on par with the Starfield but the latter’s treble sounds a little airier.
FiiO FH3 ($129)
The FiiO FH3 is a hybrid dual-driver IEM. It has a bolder, more upfront presentation compared to the Fearless. Both IEMs have good sub-bass reach but the FiiO’s mid-bass is punchier and carries more impact.
FH3’s midrange is fuller but it has compatible clarity due to a more forward and articulating treble. Vocals have more depth and the added upper midrange presence gives the FH3 a brighter tone.
The FiiO has better treble extension, resulting in a similar level of detail retrieval despite its more robust midrange. Some listeners might find the FH3’s treble sharp, in which case the smoother highs of the Barcelona would be welcome. However, as a result of its rolled-off upper treble, Barcelona has a somewhat narrow soundstage. That’s not to say the FiiO has a wide stage but it’s more rounded in comparison.
The Fearless Barcelona features an attractive premium design and could easily be mistaken for a more expensive earphone judging by its looks. It’s an interesting model internally too, sporting Fearless Audio’s new proprietary 10mm dynamic driver and a customized Sonion balanced armature. With its powerful bass, warm, clear midrange and smooth treble it offers quite a lot for the price.