Fiio FF5 – Design & Build Quality
Once again, FiiO has tried to reinvent the classic earbud, pushing the old design to its limits.
Sure, the earbud’s design might look quite antic, especially compared to the FA7S and JD7 recently reviewed, but in real life the FF5 ticks all the premium boxes – especially once you hold them in your hands. Compared to the FF3, the new design leans a lot more into the “techy” territory, with large vents all across the back of the shell and the stem, without the previous drum-like body.
Unlike the FF3 though, the main body isn’t made of 316L stainless steel, but classical aluminum instead – for weight reasons – carefully carved through the same 5-axis CNC-milling process, then neatly polished. The end result is quite good-looking, and if you combine the dark-blue hue with the silver-plated cable, the FiiO FF5 really feels like a premium earbud.
That said, you’ll still have to put ugly foam covers on those beautiful earbuds, because if not those will keep on falling from your ears – unlike your classical IEM!
Unsurprisingly, the FiiO FF5 build quality is top-notch, like all FiiO’s recent models.
First and foremost, this new earbud now comes with a detachable cable, thanks to the new MMCX plug. A big upgrade compared to the FF3, that was plagued by a fixed cable – even if you could still swap the termination for either a 3.5mm TRS classic output, or the two balanced ones, the 2.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm Pentaconn. With the FF5, you get the best of both world: FiiO proven design and an MMCX plug, in case you’d like to completely change the cable.
Likewise, the FiiO FF5 is almost flawless and, wherever your hand can touch it, the main body exudes robustness and prime, the complete opposite of what you’d expect of an earbud. No shards or misplaced elements, a smooth shell with metallic grill protecting every opening, and a super rigid stem giving a good level of comfort, once the earphones are placed in your ears.
Of course, with a shell made of stainless steel, the FF5 is supremely robust and should easily withstand the stand of time. My only fear would be water-intrusion, due to the open-back design, but after a few weeks of use – even under heavy rains – nothing bad happened, yet.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the cable: for a sub-$150 earbud (not IEM once again) the stock cable is simply terrific. Light, thin but robust and tangle-free, the cord is made of 392 silver-plated monocrystalline copper wires, assembled in 4 strands then braided. Combined with the swappable plug system, the FiiO FF5 even surpass the FD3 Pro in this regard. Paired with the straight stem and equally straight termination, the whole ordeal is impressively light in hand.
So far so good, so let’s see how they fit.
In the ears
Once again, I was set back by the shape – it’s an earbud, in 2023! – but if not really comfy, the FiiO FF5 still fitted quite nicely in my ears.
Of course, there’s no magic here: compared to an IEM or a CIEM, an earbud will always be less comfortable, and that’s still true with the FF5. The round flat shape pushed up and down in my ears, and I rediscovered that strange sensation of having earbuds in my ears. Even more when you have to add the small round foam, to ensure a good fit in those same ears. Speaking of that, FiiO still provides a bazillions sets of sponge covers, but also anti-slip silicone rings, which I strongly recommend instead.
The lack of a nozzle means there is no possible seal but, that’s kind of the point here as the FF5 push open-back design to the extreme with complete hear-thru design. Obviously, compared to the FA7S or JH7, comfort is slightly worse, even more so if you’d compare them to get full custom, but with the silicone rings, it’s more than bearable, even enjoyable once you’ve found the right position.
So yeah, if you’re into earbuds, this is one of the best options at the moment – I’m talking to you AirPods users.
Obviously, with a fully open design, isolation isn’t the FiiO FF5 forte. You’ll hear every sound coming from the outside and don’t expect to use those earbuds anywhere but in the most silent environment that you can get.
Or in the street, if you really want to be aware of your surroundings, but there are better options now, like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 for example – with its transparency mode.
So, time to check the specs!
The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.