Fearless Barcelona, Provence and Shangri-La Impressions

Once upon a time there were three little IEMs named Barcelona, Provence, and Shangri-La. They had built their homes with materials found in their land: sets of dynamic drivers and various balanced armatures. 

The first little IEM, Barcelona, was the smallest and youngest and he could only pick up 1 DD and 1 BA to build his shell with.

The middle-IEM, Provence, had a little more money and strength, and decided to build his shell out of 1 DD and 2 BAs.

The oldest and wisest IEM, Shangri-La, went all-out and built his shell out of 1 DD and a whopping 4 BAs! His shell was well guarded, but could it stop the big bad wolf from blowing his shell down with a poor review? 

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This article will take a look at Fearless Audio's latest batch of IEM: The Barcelona ($118), the Provence ($138) and the Shangri-La ($228). I received all three of these together from Linsoul for review and I'll be talking about all three together here. There's a few reasons for that.

First, they are all the same brand and came out at the same time.

Secondly, they all look very similarly, including the same box, accessories, fit, styles, and even sound.

Thirdly, again, they all sound very similarly mediocre. 

This is going to be an article of mostly complaints, so I'll start with some thing good about them first. I think these three IEMs fit nicely in my ears and also look pleasant and are light weight. They aren't the best built IEMs out there, but they at least look stylish and attractive.

The cable is nice to look at, but they are very thick, stiff, and generally very uncomfortable to use.  It's a silver color with heavy aluminum splitter and chin strap. The extra size and metal design gives it a premium feel and appearance, but I don't find this very utilitarian in practice since my frustrations using it severely outweigh outwardly appearances.

The Fearless trio here all have a very similar V-shaped sound signature with variations on how they handle the lower treble region. They all have bass boosts, slightly recess mid-ranges that all generally sound the same.

The Barcelona sounds the darkest of the three with the most compression and bluntness of all. The Provence is the most balanced of the three with a smoother sound overall, and the Shangri-La presents the brightest sound, to the point where I find it obnoxious. This perhaps gives it more perceived clarity, and hence the title of the most expensive of the bunch, but I don't really think it technically performs better than the other three.

In reality, all three of these perform very similarly outside their small tuning differences. I found them all to have similar faults that other Fearless IEMs I've tried have had, even at the highest tier, the Fearless Dawn. That is, these IEMs lack much in terms of staging and depth, and often sound very bland and sterile. Lifeless comes to mind at times. There's a general sense of compressed dynamics as well, which makes Fearless IEMs actually very smooth and somewhat ethereal in a sense, but really lacking any soul.

That's all present here, and I don't think there is a significant difference between the lower priced Barcelona or the higher priced Shangri-La. They all have the same fundamental flaws, which is worsened by just a boring and overly generic sound signature.

View the product ratings on Antdroid's IEM Ranking List and/or Antdroid's Headphone Ranking List