-Crisp balanced W shape tonality (near neutral)
-mature and fun sounding
-good and clean resolution
-fast well rounded bass
-great technical performance
-transparent and open mid range
-smooth realist timbre
-fast snappy treble with appealing brilliance edge
-versatile for wide range of musica style
-very beautifull design
-generous accessories of good quality
-good sound value
-not the thickest nor the most luscious mid range
-slightly roll off sub bass
-sensitive to high impedance source
-a bit light note weight
-not the widest tallest soundstage
SOUND VALUE: 8.6/10
Penon Audio is the oldest chinese Hifi audio products seller and with all it’s contacts in audio industry has been able to produce incredible earphones like the Penon Serial, which is among my favorite IEM right now when it come to lush holographic and enveloping musicality. It’s a 3 dynamics IEM have review here on headfi, so you can give it a look.
After the Serila, I become extremely curious (to not say obsess) about discovering other IEM from Penon line up, and the Vortex was another great offering, a single dynamic driver that has nothing to envy to hybrid in term of technical performance, yet, I didn’t find it extremely competitive in term of sound value.
So, when I see the Fan2 is an hybrid with 2x6mm crystal-plated biological diaphragm dynamic drivers and 2 high quality balanced armature (Sonion for mids and Knowles for highs), again, I can’t hold myself to give them a try.
Priced 280$, the Fan2 enter a very competitive audio market. Let’s see in this review if this hybrid IEM have the potential to impress other audiophile than Penon fans.
Model: FAN 2
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Cable: OS133 -2 shares, single share is 133 cores, a total of 266 cores.
Plug: Gold-plated copper + carbon fiber plug accessories
I will not be too wordy in that section even if, man, those are real eye candy that get me lot of positive comment about their magnificent back plate design. In fact, these are one of few IEM my ex girlfriend was amaze and jealous too, she’s a geologist so I guess it evoke geographic landscape seen from above, but the color are bright and mesmerizing too.Built wise its thick medical resin plastic, feel sturdy and durable and I tend to prefer this material over all metal which can get cold, get scratch or be too heavy. You forget about the presence of those Fan2 body in you ears and can put all your sensitive focus on music instead.Nozzle is a bit long and have a ear canal shape, so it can be use for deep insertion, which will must likely improve isolation too.2pin connector at the top is solid and offer tigh pins grip.
When it come to packaging, their nothing to see, it’s a small box and all cost is maximise for quality accessories which are generous. I’m aware of ecological crisis so the less vain box and polluting material I have to trash, the more ethically comfortable i am with a product.
Now, those accessories, well, it begin with an upgraded carrying case which is bigger than other one, so you can fit alot of stuff in there, yet it’s not enormous and can be portable enough. I would say it worth 15$. Very nice case.
Then you have plenty of silicone eartips, well choose for this very IEM, include special wide bore blue eartips that don’t justify seeking proper ear tips asap.
And then the cable, which is very very nice and unique. It’s a silver plated OFC 2 share, 266 cores nylon cover cable, very smooth, light, flexible, no ear hook too which is nice. The mode is call OS133 and sell for 40$ here:Penon OS133 (penonaudio.com)
All in all, do the math, accessories value are about 60$ by itself so it’s certainly generous.
The Fan2 are one of those IEM that are both technical and musical, mature and fun, with magnify sense of clarity and openess as well as punchy boosted bass that have a very impressive definition and speed. While some could expect a basshead IEM due to 2 dynamic driver used, here Penon choose to boost quality and speed over quantity and rumble, so it’s for serious bass lover but will sure not disappoint those audio enthusiast that need dynamic and well felt punch.
So we can call the Fan2 tonality as crisp neutral with bass boost or gently balanced W shape with clean transparent mids and well resolve snappy treble.
These open up in front of you and immerse you in a embracing spatiality, near hall like but not too distant feeling in center stage since mids instrument presence is brightened a hint, yet, upper mids aren’t what I would call agressive but lively.
I listen to those a very long time, and it’s evident that bass and treble is what attract attention first, yet, since it’s not a hard V shape and more of a W shape with smoothed mids that keep great sens of presence and have wonderful layering capacity which benefit imaging positioning too.
The bass, I love it, it’s a mid low bumpy punch, very well define and layered, we have natural texturing, rounded presence that doesn’t lack flexibility or dynamism and the hit isn’t mellow or pillowy, nor the definition too warm. It’s not very boosted in sub bass nor very sustain or physical in rumble, but stangely this doesn’t mean the acoustic or electric bass line will feel lacking in meat, grip or extension: it just not have resonant boomyness or longuest deepest decay. This permit to keep articulation of bass line clean and well extracted, so you can follow it easily and focus on bassist performance which can be highly gratifying, especially for electric bass that hook my attention and magnify an engaging sens of musicality.
Since it’s textured enough, the contrabass have this attack bite that permit it to be well extracted and separated in presence, tone isn’t really warmed yet it’s not dry too and sure not thin,the Fan2 doesn’t struggle with fast bass line too, another highlight of it’s performance capacity.
While the treble isn’t 100% perfect for electric guitar, the kick drum sure would benefit rock track, but I would go folk, jazz and classical instead, R&B too is nice, while for soul or trap rap it might lack a bit of chunky romantic slow slam.
Still, I find the thumpy bass performance quite versatile, even safely tuned we can say, it’s not feeling detached and layerering does have slight transition warmth to lower mid range but no problematic bleed.
But again if I force myself to nit pick something it would be a slight sub bass roll off that affect natural extension of contrabass in lowest pitch, so this can affect tone perception a bit, which is already hard in very low harmonic, for 2DD i would have expect it to cover whole low end section down to 20hz, like the Penon Serial but with extra mid bass punch layers.
If you where afraid that the mids would be thin, lean, recessed or boring due to smooth W shape balance with extra treble vividness be reassure: in fact, mid range is excellent both in openess, presence and resolution without feeling too thin due to good lower and upper mids loudness. Sonion balanced armature are known to deliver natural mid range, not glassy nor grainy like some inferior BA.
Right now, writing this (yes), I listen to ”Glass Coil” track from Wojciech Rusin, a fascinating experimental classical album where choral meet electronic, and this is a very well recorded-mastered album. This track have a kind of tenor go soprano vocal with alot of sounds layers going on and Fan2 excell with this track, all vocals pitch sounding dense, right in tone and timbre, with low and high harmonic, the clarity is clean and deep, imaging and layering is mesmerizing as well as attack speed and control are extremely fast and controlled, i don’t miss any part of the soundscape which is holographic.
Wow, the Sonion balanced armature do wonderful job here, and is fully stretched to cover whole mid range: piano are lively, rounded, slightly smoothed in edge definition so timbre is not dry or thin, decay feel natural and clean, nothing is blurry or overly distant.
While note weight isn’t the heavier, it doesn’t feel too light and lead impact have just enough authority for piano to sound lively. Resolution is highly transparent and definition of each instrument is accurate. Woodwinds instrument like trumpet and sax seem to be favor in wideness of presence.
The timbre is airy, not plain thin nor dry, it’s clean, realist and smooth, their no timbral imbalance that can distract you with over boosted part of texture details.
With the Fan2, depending of the track you play, you will find yourself be highly impress and attire either by bass, mids or treble part, this is this type of rare IEM that doesn’t overly compromise anything yet instead boost sens of excitment and immediacy in music. Its hard to believe only 1 balanced armature cover whole treble section in fact since it’s so holographic, sharp, snappy and…even a notch sparkly. I never think i would write this about BA, let say my last 5BA’s Kinera Skuld review was very underwhelming in that regard, complete polar opposite of Fan2 well extended, airy brilliant highs…
The attack snap is so fast yet clean in edge and addictive too, pizzicato of violin or lead plucking of acoustic guitar is sharply define and brilliant, improving articulation and separation of instrument note and sens of music urgency. It does add air and extra dimension to whole music too, and I sure have a sweet spot for treble presentation that sit between delicate and vivid like this.
In jazz band, you will be hooked by the percussion which you can follow accurately within the clean space, splash cymbals aren’t harsh and the Fan2 doesn’t struggle with fastest drummer pace, snare is sharp too but never too loud or agressive.
It doesn’t mean the Fan2 is an analytical sounding IEM, their some darken spot in treble, especially in texture abrasiveness so electric guitar can feel overly softed for a more grungy and brutal musicality, but apart this very specific instrument I can’t fault the treble since it’s really about fuzzy or distorted harmony that it will lack agressivity, if the electric guitar is more similar sounding to an amplify acoustic guitar, the result will be in fact excellent with clean long decay and well felt plucking of attack.
The Soundstage is rather unique with the Fan2 and the source you’ll pair with will greatly inflict, mostly in depth which can go very deep since center stange is very open and clean. Wideness and tallness are average but doesn’t feel compressed at all.
Then one of highlight of the Fan2 certainly is it’s imaging performance, which is examplary and make you wonder if their really just 2 BAs in there since the layering is very articulate, transparent and spacious in amplitude movement. These might be among the best IEM under 300$ in term of static instrument separation with clean spacing and light airy sound layering. All this without sounding clinical.
In simple words, what the Fan2 excell at is: clarity, sens of openess, imaging, vivid balance, bass and treble dynamic.
What they don’t excell at: bass rumble sustain and rumble, mids note weight, mids timbre density and end game vocal naturalness, sens of proximity with vocal or instruments.
Ok, these are precious IEM that will scale up with your source, not about power here since they are very easy to drive even with a phone, nope, they benefit from low impedance source as it was evident very first second I hook them to my Moondrop Dawn 4.4 which was at high gain, harmonic distortion was higher and background less black. The at low gain it was solve. But these are transparent to source like reference IEM, so I rediscover the Fan2 with every different source: with Questyle QP2R it become more creamy, have mroe mids presence fullness and vocal are the best. Then with Tempotec V6 its more sparkly, transparent, open and sharp. Then with Hiby RS6 it’s mix of both, most balanced tonality and I can go on.
Cable too will inflict a little, it seem hybrid or all BA are more sensitive to cable, but stock one included is decent though it seem its hint brighter, thinner and more V than W shape in dynamic rendering.
Then eartips, i suggest wide bore like KBear KB07, but the stock blue wide bore included do great job, in fact, i havent these model in my collection so it’s very welcome!
Then, Isolation wise, it’s OK but not the most intense in that regard, i can hear cars passing by with calm classical music for ex, so I become grumpy in those moment!
VS PENON SERIAL (3DD-300$)
Ok, these are quite different, near polar opposite. Serial is smoother W shape with darker treble, thicker and more natural timber. The presentation is way wider taller and have a more holographic feel to it. We are in middle of music with Serial while in front of a stage with Fan2. Serial trigger more sens of laid back musicality while Fan2 offer a more capable and energic technical presentation. Serial bass is denser and dig deeper with more sub bass boost so bass line are more bodied and fowards in extractiong while separation is less well define than Fan2 which is more punchy and textured in mid bass. Mids are fuller, wider and a bit more present than Fan2. Treble is darker, thicker, fuller and less spiky and airy than Fan2. Imaging and clarity is superior with Fan 2.
All in all, one is superior in technicalities and it’s the FAN2 (faster attack speed-control, higher resolution, more clean, more extended and sparkly in treble), but in term of long listening pleasure, the Serial is my choice.
VS RAPTGO HOOK X HBB (1planar+1piezo-260$)
Now, we have some kind of mix between the Fan2 and Serial tonaly wise and let me tell you it’s highly gratifying, since Fan2 are big boi, I compare them to my fav 200-300$ IEMs of the moment.
Not an easy task here, but let begin by saying bass performance of Fan2 is superior, faster and more controled, better define, less grainy-warm and boomy, less rumbly and thick too. Hook have more slam and weight in impact, but darker resolution, more muddy mid and sub bass separation. Then the mids are more upfront and bodied with the Hook, warmer too, have more note weight and wider more envoloping less distant presentation. Treble is an interesting part and very different in timbre, Hook is more thick, full and crunchy, about as fast but piezo highs are i bit harsher, less brilliant and less well definine in sharpness, less thin. Sounstage is notably wider and taller, but lack clean deepness of the Fan2. Imaging is superior with Fan2 due to greater layering transparency, like with Serial, we feel in middle of euphonic spatiality with the Hook.
All in all, it’s very hard to choose a winner here…but i feel technically the Fan2 are superior for similar reason than Serial. Tonaly I would tend to prefer the more immersive and intimate holographic musicality of the Hook X HBB whic have fuller warmer mid range.
VS Kinera Skuld (5A-550$)
Ok, these aren’t really similar, and the Penon is about 2 times cheaper but this is an interesting comparison because Fan2 isn’t bad at all. Here the Fan2 is more W shape to crisp neutral, with similar mid bass boost that isn’t over powering, bass is better define and more flexible and dig deeper, it have more headroom in resonance impact too. Then the mids are brighter in presence but not agressive, yet, less warm and thick than the Skuld and sens of transparency is higher due to less euphonic rendering. Timbre is not as ”colored natural” and charming as the Skuld and sens of mid range note weight is lighter, airier, this make overall sound more open with the Fan2, and deeper…again, due to part of mids being more recessed and lean. So we have more lower treble bite and presence too with the Fan2, overall clarity-resolution is superior to Skuld, it’s less dark, airyer, snappier, but hint spikier too. In other words: less smooth and organic in macro resolution and balance.
Spatiality is notably more open, wider and deepr with the Fan2. Imaging is crisper, more accurate and spacious in separation and positioning.
All in all….i’m quite surprise by this comparisons and would conclude something surprising: technical performance seem superior with the Fan2 but tone-timbre is feeling more natural and appealing with the Skuld….but is it guilty pleasure after all?
I’m still waiting for a Penon IEM i will dislike, and be sure, you will be the first to know it when (or if) it happen! ”Alas”, this isn’t the case at all with the FAN2. Nor with the more V shape Vortex, nor with the incredibly musical Serial.
The Penon Fan2 are one of these rare IEM where high technical performance meet fun and balance to offer a versatile and engaging musicality with excellent imaging and very good resolution.
These are as much for bass quality lover than treble addict, yet, I would never say the crisp open mid range is bad, just not colored with warmth and lushness, so, perhaps not end game for mid centric only audiophile in that regard.
Listening to the Fan2 with Questyle QP2R and Hiby RS6 is pure bliss that you would never want to stop enjoying.
I do suggest you to play with cables you have so you can achieve best timbre and dynamic rendering you wish to.
All in all, the Penon Fan2 are phenomenal sounding and beautiful looking IEM that I will keep for the rest of my life.
PS: I would like to thanks Penon for sending me this review sample after I manifest them my curiosity about it. I’m not officialy affiliated nor compensated in any way to write a positive review. As always, this is my unbiased subjectivist opinion and critical audio impressions.
You can order the Penon Fan2 for 279$ here (non affiliated link):