Current testing methodology is v1.2
August 16, 2021
4.84 x 3.39 x 0.67 in
According to the brand, the Iris Ancestor follows the general signature of the Iris but since I haven’t tested the latter, I can’t attest to their differences sonically.
So for this review, I’ll be discussing how the Iris Ancestor performs without comparing it with the base model. Let’s get to it!
FAAEAL Iris Ancestor
An enjoyable pair of earphones to listen to.
The FAAEAL Iris Ancestor is a single dynamic driver IEM.
It has a warm neutral tonality in its signature without owing it up to the subfrequencies as they’re quite rolled off. I find it makes up for this with a good mid-bass quantity that gives good texture in the low end.
The mid frequencies have decent presence and clarity. They’re placed at a rather safe and moderate distance, coming off as neither too near nor too far. The treble has a good airy profile with a good presence region.
The technicalities aren’t bad at all except for the imaging which suffers a bit due to the 6kHz dip.
All in all, for the price, the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor isn’t the best flathead but I’ve found great enjoyment using it. With its price, it can certainly compete with other flatheads in the IEM budget space.
- Driver: 15.4mm Single Dynamic Driver
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity: 106dB/mw
What’s in the Box?
- FAAEAL Iris Ancestor earphones
- 2 x cloth cover
Stuff I like
- Warm neutral sound and airy signature
- Wide soundstage
- Great midrange performance
- Natural timbre and tonality
- Fairly resolving
Stuff I like less
- The mid-bass impact is rather light
- Transients lack a little edge
- Fast decay time
The FAAEAL Iris Ancestor comes in a simple black plastic packaging and for less than $3 on AliExpress, I wouldn’t expect more.
The packaging just contains the earphones with fixed cables and a pair of cloth covers. Again, it’s an ultra-budget pair of earphones and you can’t expect too many exclusions at this price point.
I got the blue and red variant so the aesthetic is somewhat of a retro gumball of sorts. The finish is a matte smoked red and blue shell that shows the components, which is cool if you like geeking out about internals as much as I do.
The FAAEAL Iris Ancestor is a rather modest flathead. It won’t break the market and as far as the price is concerned, it doesn’t need to.
The build is mainly plastic – a little lighter than what’s considered already light but they’re durable. The cable is pretty average but considering its price, I can’t complain.
Fit and Comfort
The almost universally disliked fact about flatheads is that the ear starts to hurt after a while of use and the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor isn’t an exception.
However, I’m glad that they included cloth covers which helped ease my ears a bit.
Still, there’s no arguing that the flathead shape is just the perpetual circle. It’s far from ergonomic and in which case, some ears won’t respond well even with cloth covers installed.
Fit and comfort are going to be subpar on flatheads but I guess it’s a love-hate relationship for people who still want to be somewhat aware of the outside world as opposed to completely isolating all noise.
The FAAEAL Iris Ancestor has a neutral signature with warm overtones.
You can say the bass is balanced but even for a balanced presentation, it’s a little too mild for taste. The midrange performs well, both in its lower and upper regions with good clarity and presence. The treble is well-extended and mostly smooth to my ears with no sibilance peaks.
The tuning is a natural and airy replay that places the vocals as a priority over instruments, which is good considering that some upper midranges tend to overwhelm the vocals.
I’ve found that this may be due to the usually boosted 8KHz region being dipped on the graph starting from about 6KHz.
This wide cut also handicaps the imaging by a lot, making the stringed instruments feel loose and imprecise in positioning.
On its graph, the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor has quite a slow and steep descent starting from the mid-bass, making the trough of the peaks reach only about as high as 110dB SPL while the majority of the bass stands at 120db SPL.
Normally, this isn’t important but by pairing it with my dongles, these earphones sometimes exhibited exponential volume gain as opposed to linear gain. This was on my 7Hz 71 ported through my laptop.
I tried adjusting the value but nothing changed the sound. It didn’t matter whether I listened at high or low volumes. I found this curious and tested the same setup on my phone. It acted normally on my phone, responding linearly and being affected by volume as well.
I’m not sure if it’s the tuning in the works or whether it was something that’s solely affected by the level of amplification. When I use it on my phone, I find myself setting the volume to about 70% to get as much presence in the midrange and as much detail up top.
Overall, the sound and tonality are pleasant and satisfying, plus I love how the soundstage makes electric guitars and voices just sit outside my ears.
Being a flathead, you can already guess that the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor is going to have minimal sub-bass if none at all.
Yes, there’s mid-bass to make up for it and good quantity at that but I find the impact to be fairly lighter than what I’d consider dynamic. There’s ample texture on the low end but in terms of definition, sounds a little fuzzy.
The trade-off for the sub-bass is a smear-free midrange but I see no problem with upping the mid-bass by a few dbs.
Overall, it’s a relatively mild bass profile. I feel like more impact could’ve made the bass section a lot more engaging but I find that cranking up the volume somewhat does the trick.
The midrange is a good performer on the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor.
The lower mids have moderate positioning in the soundscape and the upper midrange does well not to subdue the vocals.
And while I’d love it if the lower mids were just a little more forward, the graph steeps at 350Hz and picks up on 1.9KHz, placing vocals a little farther back. Still, the presentation is natural, and bumping up the volume gives you more proximity.
The upper midrange has an adequate boost on its 2 and 4KHz region without being strident, presenting instruments with good energy and shimmer. String timbre is rendered well with life-like tonality, giving electric guitars good texture and resonance.
Overall, being the meat of the frequency response, I find the midrange engaging and highly listenable for long hours.
The high end of the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor is pretty smooth to my ears.
In the graph, 11 and 16KHz are emphasized, which is highly perceptible in the airiness. The high octaves of instruments sound brilliant and with plenty of good brightness without any fatigue or sharpness.
There are a lot of post-10 K details, but they get fuzzy on low volumes, in which case I just default to high volume. Overall, the highs are done well with good air and decent resolving ability.
I’d say the strongest technical set of the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor is its soundstage followed by sound separation.
The staging is very wide and out of the head, with the width being more intimate and the height a little shallow. As for separation, instruments are distinct from each other and manage to sound tidy even while playing alongside vocals and percussions.
Imaging is pretty vague due to the 6k dip while the transient response is fairly light on the attack but retains good speed. Decay is a little on the faster side making potential air frequencies lose out on their note trails, but I find it to be just a little north of natural decay.
As for resolution, macro details are decent with transient hits, while microdetails are good on higher volumes.
These aren’t bad technicalities at all and are competitive in terms of price.
I find that the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor does my library really well.
It does indie, J-pop, and R&B to a very good degree. And while there’s minimal sub-bass and generally lighter mid-bass, I find that vocals and instruments take the limelight and are brought forward by good technicalities.
While the FAAEAL Iris Ancestor isn’t the best, the music enjoyment it brings is quite competitive and definitely worth considering.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.