FiiO FA9 Review

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Design & Build Quality

 

 

Shell

Nowadays, IEM manufacturers only got two ways of doing things properly. Either they can go for CNC-Milled metallic cases, like the FH5 or FH7, or they can choose to 3D-print their IEM’s in acrylic or resin.

The FiiO FA9 uses the latter choice: 3D Printing. Introducing the fourth generation of 3D printer for its flagship, the brand announces “higher accuracy, efficiency, and significantly improved curing uniformity. All thanks to the magic of DLP 3D printing, which seems to match, or even best, hand-made IEMs.

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The shells are fairly big, at least as big as the ME700 from Shanling. Again, you have to fit those 6 drivers, and there is no shortcut for that. Most of all, the size is now dependent of the new “ultra-long sound tube”, acting as a passive low-pass filter. You can easily spot it through the translucent shell, and honestly, this would have not been possible by hand.

Not marble faceplate, or wave-shape this time. The FiiO FA9 displays a “diamond-cut” faceplate, which makes the IEM looks like a piece of art. The 3D-effect makes is quite catchy, even more through the acrylic shell, magnifying this glamorous sensation. 

Overall, there is nothing bad about the design. It’s not the best IEM I encountered, but it would be unfair not to praise FiiO’s team for the amazing work they achieved.

Build quality

The FiiO FA9 build quality is top-notch, like all of their latest models.

The MMCX port fits perfectly, there is no gap wherever your hand can touch, no bubbles and the extra-thickness of the shell gives a good level of confidence. Of course, you can’t expect to match the FiiO FH5 and FH7 sturdiness (duh), but for an acrylic one, it’s a very good contender.

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My main concern came from the toggle, located on the upper part of the FiiO FA9: those little switches are always the first ones to die. But, after a few weeks, none of them became loose, or split apart, even if most of the time I used my swiss-knife to toggle them.

Looking closer, it’s the same deal inside. All the drivers are neatly arranged, the faceplate is nicely soldered and you’ll have a hard time spotting a loose cable. The same can be said for the cable. An eight-strand mono-crystalline silver-plated copper cables, sadly coming with a 3.5mm TRS plug, but you can easily change it for a balanced one.

So far, so good. Let’s keep digging and see what’s inside the box.

Bundle and Comfort

Inside the box

The FiiO FA9 comes in a big, black box. I’ve seen headphones with smaller boxes, even circum-aural ones, but as the new flagship, people expect bigger boxes.

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Inside the box you get :

  • the FiiO FA9
  • a braided Octa-Core silver-plated copper cable
  • a clean-tip which doubles as a toggle
  • More tips that you’ll ever need (balanced / bass / vocal / SpinFit / memory foam / bi flange)
  • a synthetic leather case, big enough to fit the ME700, an adapter, and a small USB-DAC
  • a tissue case, when you just want to carry you ear

Lots of tips, but FiiO doesn’t provide a balanced cable out of the box. Too bad as Shanling did it for all its new range, with quality adapters provided IN the bundle.

Additional accessories

To fix that, you can purchase a few accessories, FiiO got them all.

I really like the LC-2.5B which gives the right balance of thickness and durability, while maintaining a relatively low price. But, if you want to go all the way, get the new LC-RE with its swappable plug system. 

It’s a great solution for those, like us, who have multiple DAP or DAC/AMP who only offers 2.5mm or 4.4mm. I recently tried DD-Hifi new adapter, to go 4.4mm to 2.5mm, and that’s another solution too (for cheap even more!)

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Comfort

3D Print + Resin + semi-custom shape = excellent fit, or almost.

You know the drill, almost every IEM I tried recently, who’s been 3D Printed, offers nothing but near-perfect comfort. The FiiO FA9, if not as comfy as my CIEM, will match perfectly with your ears, as long as you get the right tips. I stood with the medium spin-fit, which worked right from the start.

Last time, I reviewed the AudioSense DT200, another set of 3D printed semi-custom IEMs, and praised their comfort, same here with the FA9. The cable is great too, not as light as I hoped, but I can definitively live with that.

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Isolation

I’ll be quick: it’s great. 

The EU IIA Medically certified resign used by HeyGears – the team behind the printers – makes a solid wall against unwanted noises. That and the SpinFit tips, combined with the perfect fit, makes the FiiO FA9 a solid choice for audiophiles in seek of a commuting IEM.

As usual, I tried it the train and subway: works perfectly

So, time to check the specs!

The article continues on Page Three, after the click here

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

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