We’re excited to be giving Headfonia readers a comprehensive look at the brand-new $169.99 USD Fiio EH3 NC, the Chinese manufacturer’s first full-size headphones which enter the competitive wireless/noise-cancelling market.
Disclaimer: a review sample of the EH3 NC was sent to us free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion.
Fiio ought to be a familiar name to both Headfonia readers and fans of portable audio more broadly by now. The Chinese manufacturer has firmly cemented themselves as an established industry player, particularly for their (generally excellent) range of affordable audiophile IEMs and Digital Audio Players such as their flagship M11. Fiio also has a wealth of experience when it comes to wireless audio, offering a range of Bluetooth devices such as the diminutive $49 BTR1 receiver.
So with the focus of the global consumer market shifting inexorably towards a wireless future, it’s with hardly any surprise that Fiio has weighed-into the hyper-competitive wireless/noise-cancelling category with their brand-new EH3 NC headphones. Fiio has their work cut out for them, firstly because the EH3 NC is actually their first-ever attempt at a pair of full-sized headphones. They’re facing some firmly established and well-regarded “big hitters” including Bose’s $399 700, Sony’s $349 WH-1000XM3, and Sennheiser’s $399 Momentum 3, to name but a few at the higher end of the category.
At a glance, the EH3 NC presents at least a sporting challenge on paper: 50 hours’ battery life; Bluetooth 5.0 capability with support for a range of hi-res codecs including aptx HD and LDAC; a dedicated companion music player + controller app; and large titanium-coated 45mm drivers. But the single biggest point of differentiation for the EH3 NC is a price that aggressively undercuts the rest of the field – they’re currently available for $199 USD at the time of writing on Fiio’s Aliexpress store (with some quick research you might find yourself a sharper price).
So far, no manufacturer has managed to fully ‘nail’ a wireless + noise-cancelling design, as so far they’re all generally compromised in one way or another – and usually, this means less-than-stellar audio quality. By definition, these headphones are generally marketed around their ability to block out the sounds of travel or office-chatter, and so take a fairly ‘consumer’-friendly approach to tuning with the commuter in-mind rather than the audiophile or critical listener.
So has an audio company with the experience of Fiio managed to buck the trend on their first outing, combining audio quality with noise-cancellation and user experience to match (as well as offering a hefty discount)? I spent a good month living with the EH3 NC’s as my daily driver at home, in the office, and travelling via road, rail and air so that Headfonia readers can help decide whether the EH3 NC’s deserve a place in their carry-on luggage.
Head over to page 2 to read more about the EH3 NC’s packaging, build and comfort