Current testing methodology is v1.2
November 7, 2020
Price not available
3.54 x 3.19 x 1.26 in
Before the time the average smartphone buyer actually cared about audio, earbuds were the product of choice for smartphone manufacturers to package with their devices.
Extremely cheap to make, earbuds generally didn’t have any goal other than to just work and not fall apart for the first few months.
While their popularity isn’t quite the same, some earbuds have managed to stick around to this day – the FAAEAL Iris is one of them.
FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition
Like its white color, these earbuds are easily stained by recordings it doesn’t like.
Although competent and well-built, the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition offers a midrange-focused sound that can be too picky with recordings to be widely recommendable—especially with many similarly-priced options.
For under $10, it’s still a decent pair of earbuds and you can’t really expect much for this price.
- Headphone Type: On-ear earphone (earbud)
- Driver Type: Single 15mm dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB @ 1,000 Hz
- Impedance: 32 Ω @ 1,000 Hz
- Cable: 1.2m cable with mic/remote
- Connector: Right-angled 3.5mm connector
What’s in the Box?
- FAAEAL Iris CE
- Earbud foams
- Shirt clip
- Carrying pouch
Stuff I like
- Airy midrange
- Relaxed treble
- Great build quality for the price
Stuff I like less
- Earbud fit is not for everyone
- Muddy sound signature
- Finicky tonality
Overview and History
FAAEAL (I’ll leave you to come up with how to read that yourself) is among the many Chinese earphone makers in the ultra-budget category.
Competing with the likes of TRN and BLON, this brand also sells aftermarket cables for earphones, some of which I have bought in the past and have been satisfied with.
The Iris Commemorative Edition is a retuned version of the original Iris, which itself is part of the class of earbuds known as “MX500 clones”—earbuds that are built within cloned housings of the Sennheiser MX500.
Packaging and Accessories
The FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition comes in a tiny box with basic information and printing.
The earbuds and accessories are packaged in separate zip-lock plastic bags except for the soft fabric carrying pouch.
From a pair of earbuds that cost about $6 to $10 depending on where you buy them, this is already much more than what I would’ve expected.
The build quality of the Iris Commemorative Edition was also a lot better than I expected.
The transparent plastic housings are solid but lightweight, which helps lower pressure on the ears.
I have to praise the cable, which is supple because it has fairly low noise and is much more durable than I feel it should be at this price.
Since they are earbuds, the quality of the fit and comfort of the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition is extremely dependent on the shape of your ears—even more so than in-ear earphones.
As such, my opinions here may not be very useful.
That said, with these earbuds using the MX500 housings, the fit to my ears is generally fine. It can be a bit uncomfortable over extended sessions because of the size of the driver sitting in front of the ear canal.
I consider myself to have average-sized ears, so those with smaller ones may have even more discomfort.
Despite some other reviews describing the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition as neutral, they definitely don’t sound that way to my ears.
They’re more of a mid-centric sound with a bit of an unusual tonality that I will go into detail about below.
Earbuds being Earbuds
Before we get further into it, though, I also want to make it very clear that the sound of these earbuds, like any pair of earbuds, is extremely dependent on how they fit on your ears.
Since earbud drivers sit right outside your ear without any direct guide into your ear canal, their perceived sound is also affected by the shape of the area in front of your ear canal.
The bottom line is that my sound impressions of these earbuds will likely not line up with what you or someone else might hear.
That said, I did try my best to get as best of a fit with these earbuds as I could. I used the included earbud foam covers to get the best possible “seal” and recorded my impressions based on that.
The bass of the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition is quite decent for what it is but quickly comes off as unrefined once you start digging into the sound.
My main problem with it is a strong bump in the upper bass, around 300-400 Hz that bleeds out into the midrange and messes everything up.
Some songs make this quality painfully apparent and the opening drum fill from Anomalie’s “Dribble” is one such example.
In its defense, other recordings that don’t hammer away at this range too much do sound pretty good. WRLD’s “Hideaway” stuck out as a highlight in my listening sessions, allowing these earbuds to reveal a fairly thumpy bass below their bloated hump.
The rather strange tonality of the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition continues in the midrange, which has the combination of a muddy lower register and a very sharp spike at around 1 kHz.
This results in a midrange that sounds spacious and airy in some cases and annoyingly resonant in others.
Songs like RIMON’s “wherewasu” play to the strengths of these earbuds, with RIMON’s cold vocal tone piercing through the recording cleanly and clearly.
Overall, though, the tone is very much on the warm side, mostly thanks to these earbuds’ muddy bass output. HONNE’s “Back On Top” shows this clearly with the way it pushes Griff’s belts much further back relative to Andy’s warm low register.
Treble being bright in an earbud usually doesn’t relate to how well it renders details. In this case, though, the treble here lacks in both aspects.
The FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition, owing to either its mid-centric tuning or its earbud design (most likely both), rolls off quite a bit in the upper frequencies except for a couple of peaks here and there.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but it is made worse by the overbearing midrange and bass filling all of what little breathing room these earbuds provide.
And indeed, space is quite limited on the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition. This is most obvious when we listen to its instrument separation.
In busy recordings like “Hummingbird” by Ben & Ben, the ensemble sounds blended with little to no space between each piece.
To me, this only makes the rest of the sound signature worse in context, as it just smothers the entire space.
Considering that these earbuds go for about $8 to $10 depending on where you buy them, it’s hard to really rag on the FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition for all of its faults.
And really, the earbuds aren’t actually all that bad. In the right light, with the right music playing through them, they do sound quite good for the price.
The FAAEAL Iris Commemorative Edition is quite picky for an earbud. It’s the deliberately mid-centric tuning that further exaggerates the resonances of the outer ear that makes all earbuds fit and sound the way they do.
When the songs hit these earbuds’ pain points—and there are many such songs—it becomes difficult for the thing to bear. But for the songs that manage to play to (or more accurately, around) these earbuds’ quirks, they do rise to the occasion with a respectable performance for under $10.
Just don’t go expecting too much out of them.
This post was last updated on 2023-09-27 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.