Review: Fiio F5 – Going Balanced

Disclaimer: The Fiio F5 was sent to us free of charge in exchange for our review. Fiio is a Headfonia partner but Fiio insists that we keep our objectivity as we do for all other brands.

 

Fiio

Fiio is going strong. Maybe even the strongest ever. Yes their renewal rate might be a little high and I totally understand my readers being upset because of that, but I have to give it to Fiio that each of their updates each time quality-wise remarkably improves compared to the original product. The F5 is Fiio’s third/fourth in-ear if I’m not mistaken with the F1, F3, EX1 in-ears and EM3 earbud as its predecessors. I’m pretty sure many other IEMs will follow but for now this is Fiio’s reference product.

Fiio F5

The new Fiio F5 is a one dynamic driven IEM that is made out of Anodized and galvanized aluminum alloys. The driver’s size is rather large with its 13.6mm and it features an aerospace titanium diaphragm. Fiio also got the yellow Hi-Res Audio label for their latest IEM. The Fiio F5 comes both with a single ended as well as a 2.5mm balanced cable, so the cables are detachable.

The 3.5mm single ended cable has in-line controls and is made with 24 strand OFC. The 2.5mm balanced versions adds 66 stranded copper wiring extra on top of its core, for extra shielding. It’s the first time that Fiio releases an IEM with a balanced cable. According to Fiio their balanced cable reduces left and right channel crosstalk as well as external interference to the audio signal and it improves the signal to noise ratio.

Connector wise Fiio opted for MMCX which seems to be the most popular choice at the moment with a lot of companies. Both the 3.5 and 2.5mm cable come with a cable tie attached to it. As said the 3.5mm cable will work with your Android and OS sources (MFI compatible). If you want to know in detail how this new F5 technically compares to the other Fiio IEMs, you can study the overview on Fiio’s website: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/69/comparisons

Price & Accessories

The Fiio F5 will retail for $64.99USD. The Fiio F5 arrived in a simple yet beautiful black box. The Fiio F5 comes delivered with a lovely little black hard case which makes transporting these IEMs easy and safe. IT will surely be used to transport other IEMS in the future.

Next to the waterproof case you get both the 2.5mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended cable, together with 6 sets of silicone tips: 3 black and 3 mixed-color, both in small, medium and large size. It’s nice to see the good hard box because that’s all you’ll find in the box, accessory wise the F5 doesn’t really excel but for the $64.99 price I guess it’s ok.

Comfort & Build Quallity

The F5’s nozzles are fairly big and with the included tips I can’t say it for me personally is a very comfortable experience as it – after like an hour or so – really starts hurting my ear canals. The Fiio F5 has an angled design which does make it comfortable to wear, size and weight-wise it is a comfortable IEM, it just seems the canals are a bit big for my ears and the tips a bit hard, especially on the inside.

The F5 itself has an outer aluminum shell but the inside and the nozzle has a plastic finish. Design wise you can still clearly see Dunu’s influence but the build quality (beside for them using plastic for the inside) and finish actually is very good. There are 3 ventilation ports on the inside of the shell and one on the outside.

It also is remarkable though to see a detachable cable in this price range. I’m happy to see Fiio chose to go with the MMCX connectors on their cables as it allows us to use it with a whole set of higher end aftermarket cables. The connectors click in nicely and you can give the cable a good snug without them popping out of the connector in the shell.

The standard 3.5mm cable is very basic: it’s terminated with a straight 3.5mm plug and it doesn’t really have a strain relief. The cable with in-line function is light and it won’t drag down your monitors from your ears. The 3.5mm cable doesn’t suffer from any friction noise and the in-line controls are very easy to use. There’s a very small button on the side which lets you switch between Android and OS sources. Be sure you have a paperclip available to flip the switch. All in all it’s a decent cable but it’s one of those “one in a dozen” cables.

The 2.5mm balanced cable has a nicer finish than the regular one and it seems to be a bit sturdier. Unfortunately it comes without in-line controls. Like the 3.5mm cable there is no real strain relief. It’s even more quiet than the regular cable and it sonically also is the best performing one. We’ll come back to this later in the part on “sound”.

The article continues on the next page where we look at its sound and driveability. Click HERE

Specifications

FR: 20Hz – 40kHz

13.6mm dynamic type driver

Impedance: 32Ohm

Sensitivity: 102dB/mW

Cable length: 120cm

Weight: 21g

The article continues on the next page where we look at its sound and driveability. Click HERE

Review: Fiio F5 – Going Balanced
4 (79.19%) 74 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

5 Comments

  • Reply June 1, 2017

    Paulio

    So it’s a shallow fit like the 1more Td?

  • Reply June 3, 2017

    SoundSquare

    no wonder there’s no remote controls on the balanced cable, balanced inputs simply don’t support it on any DAP, it’s by design.

  • Reply June 4, 2017

    Edward Lau

    How comfortable/ergonomic is this? Any detachable IEM can be run in balanced as well, but was this designed to be run that way from the get-go (i.e. the naming and performance difference)?

  • Reply June 5, 2017

    Rob L

    Great review, and cool little IEM. Of all the niche market personal audio companies, I am consistently the most impressed with Fiio. Thier decision to make a boutique dynamic driver headphone, with a balanced cable for under 100.00 US is awesome.

  • Reply September 16, 2017

    KNIGHTFALL

    if you use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter to use in balanced cable, will still make a difference?

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