In today’s review, we check out the FiiO FA9. The latest IEM from the famous Chinese brand, selling for $499 USD.
Disclaimer: the FiiO FA9 was sent to us, free of charge, by FiiO in exchange for our honest opinion. You can find them on their website, or your nearest dealer, it’s up to you.
From its creation in 2007, FiiO has been pushing further and away to become one of the top players. And you know what? After more than 10 years of hard work, I think they achieved their goal as the once unknown brand is now on every mouth and ears.
Obviously, what’s making FiiO’s special, is their ability to produce great gear, at an affordable price – even if the FiiO M15 may not fit this definition. And, steadily, they up their game. We already reviewed the FiiO F9 Pro, next to the FiiO FH5 and FH7, all hybrid IEMs, but if you want to go full-armature, you have to check the FAX series. We reviewed the FiiO FA7, but not the FiiO FA9. Until now!
The FiiO Series
The FiiO FA1 is the brand entry-level “balanced-armature” IEM. The soled driver is co-developed by FiiO and Knowles (who makes almost every driver on the planet) then packed in a pretty nice shell.
It’s not an IEM we had the chance to review yet, but the FH1 was pretty like by the audiophile community, so I’m sure we’ll try that one too. One day.
The FiiO FH1 is a hybrid entry-level IEM. It mixes a classic dynamic driver (10 mm titanium driver) with a Knowles 33518 to fully reproduce the full (hearable) frequency range. The shell is made of plastic, and not acrylic or metal, but nicely “nano-coated” to withstand daily use.
Berkhan reviewed it a few years ago now, praising FiiO for: “ Great fit and good isolation, good content, nice build, and design, all together in a sub-100 package. FiiO managed to get a great mid-range performance from this IEM, thanks to the brass sound tube and Knowles BA driver right inside the nozzle”
The FiiO FD1 is another new IEM, neither hybrid nor balanced, it’s a pure dynamic driver, and that’s quite rare nowadays. At the heart of the ear, FiiO fitted a Beryllium-plated driver, with a two-way magnetic circuit capable of producing nearly 1 Tesla of magnetic field.
Visually, the ear differs from the FH1 and FA1 again. Not that it looks bad or anything, but the 0.78pin seems a bit outdated compared to the MMCX socket we all come to adopt. That said, what matters the most at the end of the day, remains the sound. We’ll see when we get one!
FiiO F9 Pro
The FiiO F9 Pro sits right in the middle of the catalog. With two Knowles driver and one dynamic for the lows, it’s the jack of all trade most people will get. The shell is made of aluminum, the bundle is quite extensive, and the sound should fit almost every demand, in this price range.
Berkhan listened to it and said:” Well, this time for 139$, you get everything the F9 offers, plus a much smoother and controlled sound with better dynamics, precision and tonality, which is crucial in my book. Slight upgrades in terms of usage is the icing on the cake. What more can we ask?”
The FiiO FH5 is, in my opinion, the best option available in this price range. It’s still hybrid, but gets more precise transducers, and this loveable magnesium-aluminum shell. It’s a bit punchy on the lower-end, but that’s what makes it lively too.
Again, Berkhan gave us his good word: “ The guys at FiiO know how to improve themselves in this very crowded IEM market. They get better with each new product release, and they have finally presented a product which can be regarded as a serious in ear for audiophiles.”
The FiiO FH7 is, again, a hybrid IEM, which follows the same footsteps, carved by the FH5. It looks a lot like the FH5, sharing the same shell just in a different color tone, with more drivers and different tuning. It’s a tad more expensive, but as usual, the price difference makes a big difference in terms of performances.
Our boy, Berkhan, even put it in the recommendation list: “FiiO have finally managed to create an IEM that sounds correct, coherent and high quality this time around. And with its 450 $ price tag, it’s a wonderful IEM in the Mid-Fi area. I’m sure it will be a fan favorite in this price range soon.”
The FiiO FA7 is a traditional fully-balanced IEM. It fits right under the FH7, but above the FH5. No alloy shell here, but a very classy acrylic one, with a wave-shaped faceplate. You get four drivers, and a slightly different sound signature, compared to the FH7 and FH5.
Berkhan reviewed it and gave good praises, with one little warning: “The FA7 impressed me the most until now. The only problem with its sound is the overpowering mid bass and lower mid region. Another small dent is the treble extension. Yet, the most impressive part for me is the instrument presentation. That separation and tonality simply blew me over for this price.”
Finally, here comes the FiiO FA9, the flagship – or, so we hope. 3D-printed shell, Knowles Balanced Armature drivers, a whole new 4-way filter, and, most importantly, 3 sound adjustments.
Is it as good as it seems? Let’s check it out!
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