HELM Audio F2 Review featured image

HELM Audio F2 Review

We review the HELM Audio F2, which is a hybrid driver universal IEM using a single 10mm dynamic and 6mm planar magnetic driver configuration. It is currently priced at $129.99.

Disclaimer: This was sent to us as a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or services. We thank the team at HELM Audio for giving us this opportunity.

You can click here to learn more about the HELM Audio products we have previously assessed on Headfonics.

Note, that this post follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read in more detail here.

HELM Audio F2 Review featured image
HELM Audio F2 Review
The HELM Audio F2 has a lot going for it but with a few caveats. Yes, it has an elevated bass response and an attached cable but the microphone,18-function media controls, and a satisfying overall sonic presentation that surpasses most models you’ll find on a big-store end cap.
Sound Quality
Comfort & Isolation
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Robust, ergonomic earbud design
Inline controls
Staging lacks depth
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HELM Audio gained general a profile within the audiophile market when they released the on-the-go BOLT dongle DAC and the DB12 AAAMP portable amplifier.

Both models were based on THX technology and that’s what made them unique at launch time. Both models were THX-approved and based on HELM Audio’s patented technology.

The BOLT was, in fact, one of my first dongle DACs and I’ll remember it because of that, plus it’s a pretty good performer if you pair it with decent-sounding and efficient IEMs.

Today we will cover HELM Audio’s F2 hybrid dual driver in-ear monitors with in-line controls and a built-in microphone system. Those control and mic features in themselves carry no novelty but that’s not this model’s most interesting aspect.

The F2 sparks interest with the fact that it uses a unique combination of drivers in an all-in-one package that will suit most urbanites, and mobile users who like to tune in or tune out while traveling or while they’re on the go.

HELM Audio F2 fusion technology
Copyright HELM Audio 2024

Tech Highlights

The HELM Audio F2’s niche is the driver configuration which is composed of a 10mm dynamic driver teamed up with a 6mm planar driver.

The dynamic driver, in this case, handles the bass portion it seems while the planar handles the rest of the spectrum. So, we can safely call this set a 2-way, 2-driver hybrid design.

No crossover points were given by HELM Audio. The company doesn’t disclose the use of crossovers, chambers, or filters within their design or even the positioning of the drivers. They simply call their design a Fusion hybrid design.

Another selling point of the HELM Audio F2 is the inclusion of a microphone along with some media control buttons in line on the right side of the non-removable stock cable. The Microphone is properly placed at the chin level within the small housing.

HELM Audio F2 design


The description of fusion can be used throughout this set.  I do, however, consider the HELM Audio F2 in general to be a retro design overall, but with a few modern implementations and tweaks.

Construction seems robust enough to take some abuse and although the cable assembly is not detachable, the cable seems strong enough to last for many years to come.

The earbuds themselves are made from metal and are composed of three sections, a center piece, the output nozzle, and a cylindrical backpiece. I like the fact that the backpieces are knurled because it makes them easier to grab onto.

Comfort and Isolation

The HELM Audio F2 set passively isolates very well and the earbuds also anchor themselves into the ear canal well enough to be considered a good candidate for physical activity, gym goers, and on-the-move listening.

The isolation is on the high side and they do a good job of blocking out the outside world. That works well while commuting within noisy cities, noisy gyms, and while using noisy public transportation.

Comfort is on the high side of the scale as well. I barely felt the earbud and mostly felt the tip insertion. I just wished the output stems were longer. The knurling on the backpiece helps to slip them in quickly.

One thing I can say is that long tips work best because these have a short output stem and you do get better sound quality and improved isolation the deeper you insert them.

HELM Audio F2 comfort


Sometimes it’s not a bad thing that an earbud is sensitive to ear tip selection because then you can further tune it with excellent results at times. The HELM Audio F2 is sensitive to ear tip selection and if you like to tinker and tune, these can be improved upon with the trial and error method.

I tried several tips and I preferred foam or comply tips over all the rest sonically. One problem is that you’ll have to outsource a set. However, an issue arose in that they slip off the output tube often and stay inserted inside my ear canal when I remove the earbuds. Eventually, I gave up on them.

The overall sound signature did improve on foam tips. The bass tightened up, the midrange was brought forth a couple of decibels and the highs also gained some welcomed presence.

These earbuds seem to like undersized tips overall which limits the user to install just any other tip. And since there is a sensitivity to tip selection sonically, it becomes a tricky proposition to find the right tip. Smaller bore size tips work well so I’d stay with sizes under 4.2mm sizes.

HELM Audio F2 cable

Stock Cable

The stock cable is not that bad but it’s non-removable. So, if you’re hellbent on custom cables, this earbud set is not for you. The cable does transmit a little noise but I’ve heard worse.

The hardware is functional but minimalistic. The 3.5mm TRRS connector is gold plated and has a 45-degree angle which is an in-between from the average 90-degree angled or straight plug.

The main cable is very thin but at least is covered in cloth which does add some strength to this section. However, the two cables beyond the Y-split have no covering and are even thinner and are just rubber-coated. There’s no length adjustment bead either. But you might not need it because the Y-split size is rather high up.

The cable’s hardware is made from a combination of metal and flexible rubber. The same type of rubber is used to make the strain reliefs at each connection point.

According to HLM Audio’s philosophy, the logic to not have removable cables was the attempt at an audiophile experience for the mass consumer which they felt removable cables seem a bit scary to the non-audiophile. I understand. A direct connection is always best.


When the F2 is connected directly to a mobile device, the three inline buttons give access to 18 functions which allow you to pocket the device and allow you to control pause and play along with forward and back, volume up and down, and stuff like that.

The same, if you receive a phone call you can pick up the call with the middle button and also hang up. These controls give the user a complete hands-free experience. HELM Audio gave us a good set of controls here that noted, worked well with all my media players, and with consistent operation.


The F2 built-in microphone comes in handy for those times you want to go hands-free. Without it, you’d have to talk directly into your mobile device.

The microphone pickup quality is not too bad, but I preferred the built-in microphone of my mobile device, perhaps because the microphone itself naturally sits closer to your voice.

I did get the same effect when I spoke directly into the F2 microphone, but it lacked high-frequency extension and the overall sound quality sounded a bit thick. Vocal pickup was not an issue and neither was wind noise pickup.

HELM Audio F2 accessories

Packaging & Accessories

The HELM Audio F2 set comes with a couple of items inside the box. The most notable is the squeeze-to-open pouch, which is black, made from faux leather, high contrasting white stitching, and embossed with the HELM Audio logo.

The earbuds come with a preinstalled set of ear tips but HELM Audio also includes three more, so that’s a total of four sets. They’re gray silicon, soft and pliable. Very comfortable.

You also get a small brochure that’s packed with information about the warranty coverage, product description, specifications, and a diagram of how to access each one of those 18 functions available on the inline 3-button implementation.

Helm Audio Bolt

Sound Impressions

HELM Audio’s DB12 was used along with their Bolt DAC for general impressions. To get an off-brand perspective, FiiO’s KA13 was also used along with the Moondrop MoonRiver 2: Ti.


The HELM audio F2 has ample bass. But it is also a bloomy bass that has to be tamed in my opinion to obtain a cleaner representation of the overall output.

The tuning works well with modern-day Pop music and EDM but not so much for delicate listening unless an EQ reduction in the bass response frequencies is implemented.

Bass response is prominent and more so midbass-focused. There’s lots of representation or elevation above 60Hz that is present through the rest of the bass spectrum. However, there seems to be very little representation below 30Hz.

The bass response seems better controlled with foam tips because with stock tips the bass transitions or bleeds into the lower midrange area unless it’s detuned or reduced with EQ as mentioned previously. If this is done correctly, the bass can demonstrate clean notes and a decent amount of speediness. Plus, clarity overall is enhanced.


The best part of the F2’s overall sound signature set is the midrange especially if you like a warm-toned relaxed midrange sonic performance. The culprit is the planar magnetic implementation but again, the bass often creeps into the lower portions of it.

The midrange comes across as timid and the overall experience becomes a slight V-shaped one because of that timidness. What’s there is realistically toned and well-represented with little to no peaks.


The high frequencies are surprisingly good for a budget set. They rarely project harsh or shrieking tones and remain well-controlled most times.

Some peaky areas were present in a tone sweep. I heard one major peak at 3kHz and a small one at 7kHz and 10kHz. It’s not reference-tier high-frequency reproduction but the overall presentation is clean, and crisp and does show off the sparkle when it has to.

High-frequency extension? I did hear an early drop-off that occurred above 11.5kHz but in everyday use, one can get an ample amount of high-frequency precision and detail from this set but there’s not much weight behind the high notes. They seem to be in second place in the overall sonic scape.

Staging and Dynamics

The overall sound signature has a low bass tilt and most of its energy resides in the lower regions and secondly at the high-frequency ranges.

Snares and similar sounds that depend on impactfulness and swift responsiveness are softened until one goes in and tames that low-frequency energy. Once done, the overall frequency response, clarity, and impactfulness aspects increase considerably.

The F2 can do imaging spot-on and panning occurs accurately.  The size of the overall stage is widely perceived but there’s nothing upfront as far as depth.  Midrange tones particularly remain center but inward and are never projected In a frontal manner.

Click on page 2 below for our recommended pairings and selected comparisons.

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