-well balanced warm V shape
-thick mids that aren’t too recessed
-chunky bass slam
-good male and female vocal
-wide and tall soundstage
-fun sounding yet organic in balance
-no sibilance no thin mids not treble harshness
-dark but not dull highs
-nice construction and beautiful design
-good cable and accessories
-not very clean sounding
-lack of treble sparkle and air
-enter a very competitive single DD market
SOUND VALUE: 8.2/10
Penon is a well established audio distributor, cable maker and IEM maker. I have review multiple IEM from them in the past and Penon Serial as well as Penon Fan 2 are my favorite for now. Yet, none of them were bad and this explain why I always highly curious to review their products.
Today I will review the Fan2 little brother call Fan.
The Fan is priced 140$ and use a single 10mm dynamic driver. It promise a fun and versatile musicality that can please wide range of audiophile.
In a market fullfill with excellent single dynamic driver, let see how the FAN hold it’s ground in this review.
The construction of the FAN is made of 3D plastic resin print with a beautiful backplate made of stabilized wood panel. We can say it’s a bit similar to Penon Serial built in that regard and the overall quality is excellent. Light, comfortable and small enough housing. My pair have a backplate pattern that remind me of Van Gogh ”Starry night” paiting, which I find fascinating to look at.The nozzle is made of metal, and their a venting with metal mesh at the side of housing, which is a proof of craftmanship seriouness in term of acoustic design, this mean no dust will easily enter the housing too.
The 2pin connector is part of the housing. It’s not recessed and offer versatile fit for all type of 2pin cables.
About this cable, it’s a good one, as always with Penon IEMs. It’s a 4 cores braided cable with solid 3.5mm metal plug. It isn’t stated what material is used for the cores but my guess is high purity copper. Funny enough, I use this cable to upgrade the one included with Hifiman Svanar and find it to improve the dynamic and natural tonal balance.
In term of packaging and boxing, as always it’s ultra minimalist. But what you get is plenty for 140$. The unique carrying case scream China culture and is a real beauty to look at. It include a leather pouch for the cable as well. Then you have 6 pairs of silicone eartips including the blue wide bore I find very usefull. And the nice cable stated above. You don’t feel like throwing anything into trash wich is good. I’m use to get more ear tips choice with Penon IEMs, so perhaps this is the only nit picking I can do here.
The Fan are for music lover seeking a fun and dynamic musicality that doesn’t left you hungry in term of technical performance capacity. They are not very similar to pricer, crisper and more agressive sounding Fan2, and in fact, both complement each other very well.
The Fan hit the sweet spot between maturity of tonal balance and engaging fun that have an hefty dynamic.
The tonality is a balanced warmish V shape, but not a dark one since the treble is a bit spicy and not lacking in energy. It can be perceive as W shape too since we have mid bass boost, upper mids and treble boost, all within an organic balance without any problematic overly sharp boost in treble. It’s the kind of IEM that can please basshead, vocal lover and offer an highly versatile signature.
Is is one of those ”Jack of all trades, Master of none” then? No, because they aren’t boring sounding.
You don’t feel out of your music with the Fan, your in middle of it.
The bass have a rumbly slam, warmed mid bass punch and thick presence. The definition and texture are a bit dark, yet the physicality and tactility of bass is well rounded in a creamy way. You have plenty of chunky thumping which benefit music style like soul, EDM, rap, R&B more than jazz and rock that need a bit more mid bass definition and well resolved presence for kick drum to be more refined in fidelity.
While their plenty of lower harmonic density for acoustic instrument to sound good in mid range, the contrabass can lack a bit of bite for well resolved lead attack, which can mix up with acoustic kick drum in a less pleasant way than digital kick which gain in beefy impact.
So we have a sirupy transition in lower mid range, or bass bleed in less poetical term. It’s not a clean bass, yet not plain muddy too, their guilty pleasure going on here but in a well balanced way since the slam resonance doesn’t veil whole spectrum at all and act like a glue for mid range, it stole air but not alot of resolution.
As well, it add note weight, and tend to favor fullnes of tone over brightness of presence, for that, I will suggest the bigger brother Penon Vortex.
While not a master of agility or speed, the bass hit fast enough and have meaty roundness without timbre incoherence or thin boom, it’s dense and vibrant in rumble with a fast enough sustain, it’s a good quality boom that doesn’t have lot of grunt or texture richness, yet an addictive dynamic.
The mid range doesn’t lack in density, note weight and naturalness. The tone and timbre while darken in texture and smoothed in definition edge have a warm, full bodied presence and don’t feel recessed. Both male and female vocal are fully bodied and foward, with wide appealing presence that embrace the listener. Arianna Savall which sound thin and very often too shouty as a soprano sound magnificent here, since the upper mids are smooth and not too boosted, so no unbalance in loudness and the harmonic fundamental of her vocal are there, with something like Moondrop Aria (ironic naming here), Arianna sound fatiguing, tonaly wrong and screamy, which isn’t the case the the Fan at all, its lush with a liquid edge to it. We don’t need to hear extra texture of every lips move and the Fan understand that.
The piano sound good enough too even if not well resolve, smoothen way, with well felt note weight and warmly rounded presentation, the decay is just slight blurry so if the pianist play very fast we can miss something. Again, those are warm mids, but the lively dynamism permit a decent enough macro resolution. Tone of all instrument is well rendered and feel natural, but i feel this excell with woodwinds and vocals due to lack of clean definition edge and resolution crispness so if your more about mid range that need high transparency, good imaging and boosted presence of instruments, the Fan would be underwhelming in that regard.
The treble isn’t the star of the show here, yet doesn’t feel lacking or too dark, in fact, their hint of spice and brightness to permit proper snare energy, enough guitar and violin bite too. While slightly smoothen, the lower treble isn’t overly damped to the point of making everything sound dark. Fan get the right balance between warmth and brightness mixing, the bass warm lower range up to lower mid range then we get more energy in upper mids and treble. While this doesn’t really boost sens of resolution, it add hint of crunchyness and just slight brilliance to some hight pitch instrument like acoustic guitar. But don,t expect long sparkly decay or very airy treble since Fan doesn’t extend up to 20khz and feel rolled off pass 10khz where air, clean resonance and shinny brilliance is highlight.
So, nope, it’s not the kind of high that create wow effect nor will make you discover new micro details in your music, it’s not the most snappy too and have slightly noisy attack sustain-decay which make percussions a bit blurry and compressed within macro dynamic, cymbals crash will be scooped in extension too.
Still, the treble sound full, not thin, and their no problematic imbalance that will distract you from mid range or bass.
The Soundstage act like a wide and tall wall of sound that surround you, so it lack deepness and you can perceive clear silence that will boost a 3D sens of spatiality.
This mean the imaging is very average and more about decent layering than crisp instrument separation and position. These aren’t monitor IEM at all and tend to stick the music togheter instead of cutting it in piece for a clinical appreciation. More their instruments, less it will be easy to spot their position.
VS ISN D10 (1DD-150$)
The D10 are warmer, darker and more U shape. It’s evident the technical performance of slightly bright V shape of the Fan are notably superior, especially in attack speed-control, imaging and resolution.
The bass is thicker, warmer and heavier in slam, more sustain in rumble and more boosted in sub bass than the Fan, which is punchier and more balance V, so it make it feel W shape compared to D10. Because the mids are darker, more recessed and have a hint thicker timbre due to higher bass bleed embracing and smoothing the mids of D10, in that regard the Fan sound more open and transparent, while not thin, female vocal aren’t as smooth and creamy as the D10, but their presence is better define and overal mids resolution is higher and better layered, not as warmed by bass too.
Treble is darker and more scooped in edge, looser more blurry in sustain too with the D10, it dig less micro details and go muddy in busy track unlike the fast, snappier treble of the Fan, which is more open too adding minimal sens of air that D10 is lacking.
Soundstage are both similar in wideness and tallness, but deeper with the Fan. Imaging while not perfect, is notably cleaner and more accurate in positioning due to extra definition edge and less blurry separation.
All in all, while the D10 is perhaps a legit basshead IEM, it can’t compete in tonal balance nor in technical performance with the 10$ cheaper Penon Fan.
VS MOONDROP KATO (1DD-190$)
The Kato is more neutral, cleaner sounding and more detailed. It sound more technical, and have greeater focus on instrument presence and texture details than slightly warmer Fan. The Fan is notably more V shape and punchier, it sound less distant in dynamic, more bodied in timbre and more dynamic and engaging in musicality.
The bass is better resolved and define with the Kato, separation is clearer too, but the punch is lacking, and the sub bass is more textured, leaner and deeper in extension, so a hint less warm and boomy than the Fan. Mids are cleaner, more open and detailed, layering is superior as well as timbre is more realist in texture with the Kato, it’s thinner too and female vocal can be a bit too loud in pinna gain. Both male and female vocal sound thinner and less smooth the Fan, tone have more fundamental with the Fan too, which warm and thicken presence which is dryer with the Kato. Treble is notably faster, fuller and richer with the Kato, it’s cleaner and more extended and airy. Level of sound info is greater for sure with Kato which confirm the superiority of it’s driver.
Soundstage is wider and taller with the Fan, but way way deeper and cleaner with Kato. Imaging is from another league with the Kato, bot in layering and sharp positioning.
All in all, while the tonality keep me distant from music and emotional engagement with the leaner colder sounding Kato, their zero doubt the technical performance is from another league.
VS PENON VORTEX (1DD-220$)
The Vortex is brighter, more neutral, less bassy and offer a more vivid and detailed treble. The is less warm in slam and more textured and well define, it’s faster and tighter. Mids are thinner with more resolved presence, it have more bite and edgier faster attack. Mids note weight is ligther with instrument like piano. Upper mids are more boosted so female vocal are more fowards and agressive. The treble is crunchier, brighter, fuller and more extended, electric guitar and clavichord sound less scooped in definition and have a more abrasive and lively presence. Highs are clearer, cleaner and better separated too.
Soundstage is wider and taller with the Fan but less deep due to thicker mid range and closer center stage. Imaging is superior with the Vortex due to brighter resolution and better high pitch instruments and sound separation.
All in all, you pay 80$ more for extra technical performance, a brighter resolution and more neutral tonality with the Vortex. Personaly, i find the musicality of Fan more laid back and pleasant, especially timbre wise.
I’m I a Fan of the Fan? Yes, absolutely, these are easy to love and cozzy to listen to.
The Fan offer a fun and safe tonality with natural timbre, authoritative bass and lush mid range that will sure please vocal lover.
While no master of technical performance, the FAN are still competitive single dynamic driver IEM in sub-200$ market, this is due to it’s beautifully balanced warm tonality that offer a big and immersive spatiality, great dynamic rendering and engaging bass slam.
The Penon Fan offer a versatile musicality that will please wide range of listeners, while warm sounding, they aren’t plain dark or lacking in treble energy when needed.
If like me you are allergic to thin mids or harsh upper mids and tend to favor natural timbre that have good density, the Fan might be the laid back sounding IEM you want to get lost in for long hours.
PS: I want to thanks Penon for sending me this review sample. As always, these are my 100% honest subjective audio impressions.
You can order the Fan for 140$ here: