Today we look at the FiiO FD3, the latest IEM from the brand, selling for $139 or $179 for the pro version.
Founded in 2007, FiiO went from being a small, chi-fi outsider, to one of the biggest companies in the audiophile world. IEM, headphone amps, DACs, and obviously DAPs, they did it all and did it well. So much that when a new player comes out, it usually becomes the benchmark that other brands have to refer to, like the FiiO M11 or the Q3.
The FiiO Series
FiiO’s in-ears range splits in three different categories:
- FAx, for balanced IEMs, like the FA9 I reviewed last time,
- FHx, for hybrid IEMs, like the FH7 Berkhan received
- FDx, for dynamic IEMs
So, as usual, let’s take a quick look at FiiO’s actual range.
The FiiO FH3 is a hybrid entry-level IEM. It mixes a classic dynamic driver (10mm Titanium driver) with two Knowles BA to reproduce the full (hearable) frequency range. Like the FH5, its big brother, the FH3 gets a very cool aluminum/magnesium shell, that feels both sturdy and comfy, detachable cables, and most of all the S.Turbo acoustic design.
It’s an excellent introduction to the audiophile world, and one of the best choices at this price range. I reviewed one a while ago, so here is a quick excerpt of that review:
“Another day, another win for FiiO. Take a good, affordable, IEM, and take it to the higher ground. For the same price. That’s basically the story behind the FiiO FH3. […] The Bass is delightful, the vocals superb, and in this price range, there isn’t anything that really competes in terms of comfort/robustness/design.”
FiiO FH5s / FiiO FH5
The FiiO FH5 was, in my opinion, the most versatile IEM in the sub $300 territory. A hybrid quad-drivers with a lovely magnesium-aluminum shell and punchy lows which made them pretty lively. I loved that, and I still own a pair to this very day, even if I didn’t use them in months, as I replaced them for the FA9 (the brand’s balanced flagship).
But recently, FiiO decided to upgrade the two-year-old FH5 and introduced the… FH5s. Still a quad-driver, but this time with a 2BA + 2DD configuration and a semi-open design to accommodate the massive 12mm drive, which surely came from the FD5. Add to that tuning switches (like the FA9) plus swappable audio plugs, and the FH5s simply become the new price to performances king.
Berkhan reviewed them, so here is an excerpt of his review:
“ The guys at FiiO know how to improve themselves in this very crowded IEM market. They get better with each new product release, such as the FH5 and FH7. This one is basically an improved version of the FH5, especially in terms of balance, bass control, staging, and stereo imaging. So if you’re wondering how it fares against the FH5, I would say it’s better in every aspect. ”
Following the FH5, you have the FiiO FH7, a 4-BA + 1DD IEM which shares the same shell as the FH3 and FH5, just in a different color tone. It’s a tad more expensive, with more drivers and different tuning, but as usual, the price difference makes a big difference in terms of performance.
At the moment, FiiO didn’t announce a new FH7s, but since the FH5 was upgraded recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new, improved FH7 coming later this year. Berkhan reviewed the actual version and even added it to his recommendation list. Here is an excerpt of this review:
“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.”
If you’re not into hybrid and prefer “classic” BA IEMs, the FiiO FA7 is the one to get. It fits right under the FH7, but above the FH5 and gets four drivers, delivering a slightly different sound signature, compared to the FH7 and FH5. No alloy nor magnesium here, but a classy acrylic shell with a wave-shaped faceplate.
Again, Berkhan reviewed this one too 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.”
The FiiO FA9 is the brand’s – balanced-armature – flagship. It’s basically an FA7 with 6 Knowles Balanced Armature drivers instead of four, the same 3D-printed shell, and a whole new 4-way filter. Add to that, tuning switches on each ear, 3 sound adjustments, the longest sound-tube on any FiiO’s IEM, and here you have the best of FiiO’s engineering.
It’s a very cool-looking IEM, thanks to the diamond-cut faceplate and I still use them at this very moment. Here is an excerpt of my review:
“Think of it as the perfect blend of the FH7 and the FA7, but better: the sound stage is amazing, mids are great and all of that is neatly packed inside a cool 3D-Printed box of wonder. Going fully balanced really did the job, and that is one of the best options in this price range.”
If you’re not into hybrid nor balanced IEMs, but still eager to get the “flagship” experience at a reasonable cost, maybe should you look at the FiiO FD5. Packed with a single 12mm Berrylium-coated DLC diaphragm, a front acoustic prism, and a semi-open acoustic design, the FD5 looks like a high-end version of TinHifi T2 and T3.
FiiO sent me a pair for review, and if I was a bit dubious at first, the FD5 ended up being as good as advertised. Here is an excerpt of that review:
“Once again, FiiO achieves great lengths and delivers exactly what they promised: a flagship dynamic driver IEM for a relatively low price. The new volcanic system works as intended, giving you a nice, relaxed, sound signature that should suit any genre and any source.
The new shell looks equally good, outshining the FH5 and FH3, even if some might find the FiiO FD5 a bit too glossy. It’s a robust design that didn’t neglect style and, once again, those IEMs look as good as they sound.”
So, with no further introduction, let’s see how it fares.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 2: Design & Build Quality
Page 3: Comfort & Usage
Page 4: Specifications
Page 5: Tonality and conclusion