Today we look at the FiiO FF3, the latest IEM from the Chinese brand, a new model selling for $99.
Disclaimer: the FiiO FF3 was sent to us free of charge by the brand, in exchange for our honest opinion.
Founded in 2007, FiiO is one of the most famous audiophile manufacturers nowadays, thanks to an extensive range of (usually) affordable but (mostly) excellent products. IEM, headphone amps, DACs, and obviously DAPs, they did it all and did it well. So much so that when a new player comes out, it usually becomes the benchmark that other brands have to refer to, like the new FiiO M11S or the small and mighty FiiO E10K-TC.
But, today, we are not reviewing a DAC, a DAP, or even an IEM. No, today, we’re getting a blast from the past with the FiiO FF3, an audiophile… earbud. Yes, you read that right, an earbud in 2022, from an established brand, what were the odds?
Still, FiiO promises “deep bass thanks to the bass-enhancing acoustic flute design + large dynamic driver”, something I find hard to believe but, who knows, that wouldn’t be the first time the brand surprises me… in a good way!
The FiiO Series
FiiO’s in-ears range splits into three different categories:
- FAx, for balanced IEMs, like the FA7S I reviewed last time,
- FHx, for hybrid IEMs, like the FH7 Berkhan received
- FDx, for dynamic IEMs, like the FD7 or FDX
- and finally FFx, for the earbuds like the FF3 we are reviewing today
So, as usual, let’s take a quick look at FiiO’s actual range. If you’re not interested in that, you can go directly to page two of this article.
FiiO FD3 / FiiO FD3 Pro
The FiiO FD3 is the brand entry-level dynamic IEM. It sports the same 12mm DLC Beryllium coated driver found on the FD5, minus some premium features. But all in all, it’s a shoe-horned FD5, in a nicer box – in my opinion – and a smaller price. I really like the regular version, but if you’re interested in this model, get the pro version: for just a few dollars/euro more, you’ll get the premium cable, with exchangeable plugs.
“Once again, FiiO did what they do best: produce a new model, cheaper than the previous one, but carrying almost, if not, all its features. For half the price, the FiiO FD3 offers almost the same prowess as the FD5. Sound performances are better than the FH3 (…) and the better the source, the wider the gap, even if upper models like the FH7 keep the upper hand.”
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.”
The FiiO FH5 was, in my opinion, the most versatile IEM in the sub $300 territory. A hybrid quad-drivers with a lovely magnesium-aluminum shell and punchy lows which made them pretty lively. I loved that, and I still own a pair to this very day, even if I didn’t use them in months, as I replaced them for the FA9 (the brand’s balanced flagship).
But recently, FiiO decided to upgrade the two-year-old FH5 and introduced the… FH5s. Still a quad-driver, but this time with a 2BA + 2DD configuration and a semi-open design to accommodate the massive 12mm drive, which surely came from the FD5. Add to that tuning switches (like the FA9) plus swappable audio plugs, and the FH5s simply become the new price to performances king.
Berkhan reviewed them, so here is an excerpt of his review:
“ The guys at FiiO know how to improve themselves in this very crowded IEM market. They get better with each new product release, such as the FH5 and FH7. This one is basically an improved version of the FH5, especially in terms of balance, bass control, staging, and stereo imaging. So if you’re wondering how it fares against the FH5, I would say it’s better in every aspect. ”
Following the FH5s, you have the FiiO FH7s, a 4-BA + 1DD IEM that was given the same visual revamp with a more aggressive look. It’s a tad more expensive, with more drivers and different tuning, but as usual, the price difference makes a big difference in terms of performance.
Berkhan got this new model for review, and here is a quick excerpt of his thoughts:
“The FiiO FH7S is a great alternative to the FH9 flagship. For 179$ less, you get the same bass performance, good tonality, a great soundstage for the price, and a great set of accessories with hard-to-beat packaging for the money. I appreciate the effort and the technology FiiO is putting forward.”
If hybrid and armatures aren’t your cups of tea, the brand also has the FiiO FD7, a new flagship topping the FDX series. When the FD3 gets a diaphragm equally stiff to beryllium, and the FD5 a beryllium-coated one, the FD7 gets the real deal and was given a pure-beryllium diaphragm.
I reviewed this one recently, and if I didn’t find the difference with the FD5 striking, it’s still a very potent IEM. Here is a quick excerpt:
“It’s a good upgrade from the FD5, like Apple did with the iPhone 13, compared to the 12: everything has been enhanced, and we’re even closer to perfection. The new shell looks stunning even more compared to the glossy FD5. It’s a robust design that didn’t neglect style and, once again, those IEMs look as good as they sound.”
Topping the brand’s armature IEM range, the FiiO FA7S has all the bells and whistles you could ask for 6 balanced armature drivers, a 3-way crossover system, 316L steel chassis, and a whole new tuning for exceptional sound performances.
I got one for review a few months ago, and here is an excerpt of that review:
“It’s a definitive upgrade from the classic FA7, both inside and outside: everything has been enhanced, and if better looking, the new FA7S is also better sounding. The new setup works exactly as intended, giving you a precise, balanced, sound signature that should suit any genre and any source. The sound stage is amazing, the mids are great and all of that is neatly packed inside a superb, 316L stainless-steel shell. Going fully balanced really did the job and that is one of the best options in this price range.”
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.