The best point about the FH1S is its coherency and balance across the spectrum. Nothing is recessed and nothing is overly forward. Mids feel a bit in the front sometimes but this is not overly done. Another strong suit here is the excellent separation and stereo imaging. The bass, the mids, and the highs all have their space to shine and they’re not interfered with by each other.
There is a good resolution and a reasonably good sound stage for the price. But the congested nature of the bass presentation makes the staging somewhat more boxy and small than what it is with bass-heavy recordings. Other than that, the staging is good, especially in width. Dynamism is very nice as well and much better than the FH1.
Note size and body is not the best and I think the original FH1 is slightly better in that area. Yet, the FH1S has many more advantages as a whole, including its striking treble and good resolution, so I don’t think this is a deal-breaker.
The FH1S is not hard to drive, but it needs more juice than usual monitors to sound best. So I recommend a good source and amplification here to extract the best out of this IEM. Most DAPs will do the trick though, but I don’t think you’ll get the best out of this IEM from a smartphone.
FiiO FH1 – 75$
I mentioned this comparison many times in the text but let me sum it up here again. The FH1 has a warmer sound with a more mellow and smooth nature. The FH1S has a better sub-bass performance and better midrange energy with its great dynamism. The treble is the place where it also puts a difference as it performs much better in terms of extension and articulation. It also has a wider staging performance.
For the topics other than sound; the FH1 to me has a better design in terms of looks just because of its character. The FH1S on the other hand looks very common. Fit-wise they’re close so there’s not a big difference there. Isolation levels are also similar. Overall the new model is a much better value though.
Jade Audio EA3 – 40$
The EA3 is released by FiiO’s sub-brand Jade Audio, and these two have more similarities than differences. If you check them in hand, the EA3 is a carbon copy. However, the cable of the FH1S is thicker with more core wires and it is made from single-crystal copper. The 3,5mm jack is also better in the FH1S, and its cable is also less microphonic. The FH1S also comes with a dedicated case and a few more tips.
They sound close but different to some degree. The configuration inside is the same, but the EA3 doesn’t have the brass nozzle of the FH1S. It instead has an aluminum one. The EA3 has more attack on bass and treble as they’re a bit lifted compared to the mids. The FH1S on the other hand is more balanced across the spectrum with better mids. To me, they have the same bass quality, but EA3 simply has more bass in terms of quantity.
The treble is a bit better in the FH1s though with more extension. But other than that they sound identical so it comes down to your budget. If you don’t care about getting a case and a few more tips, than the EA3 is a viable option. To hear the difference between them you need a good source as well. If you don’t care about that either then it makes sense to get the EA3. But if you’re very sensitive about those differences and want the best from sub-100$, then the FH1S is the way to go. Just bear in mind that it is a bit harder to drive so prepare a good enough source with good amplification.
Shozy Hibiki MK2 – 60$
Looks-wise the Hibiki looks more premium and sleek overall. It fits better for me as well but that’s always very subjective. The FH1S has a slightly better build, especially with its protruded 2-pin sockets. The FiiO has a better cable as well.
Sound-wise they both have very good bass response for the price thanks to their dynamics drivers. However, the FiiO FH1S has another BA driver added to the mix and it changes a lot of things here. In the midsection, the FiiO sounds much more cohesive with better resolution and tonality. It also has an advantage in the treble region. The FH1S also has a better stage width and better overall balance.
KZ AS10 – 60$
The FH1S has a better build to me with a slightly better cable with better braiding. It also has a more quality 3,5mm jack. The KZ doesn’t have a dedicated case and it has fewer pairs of tips. The FH1S comes with a pair of foam tips which to me is an advantage.
The AS10 has been the best KZ IEM I’ve listened because of its full-bodied sound and coherency. Hence, it’s still in our best IEM recommendations. However, the FH1S puts up a better performance for the money, especially in the treble. It also gives you a deeper and wider staging performance overall.
We have a good fit and isolation, good content, nice build, and good sound all together in a sub-100 package. FiiO managed to improve the FH1 model and the difference to me is significant. Along with a good bass performance, you have great mids and treble thanks to the brass sound tube and Knowles BA driver. A total winner package as a whole. I honestly did not expect this kind of sound performance, especially in terms of treble.
So, we recommend the FH1S and put it into our Best Universal IEMs list. Way to go FiiO.