Disclaimer: The FiiO F9 was sent from FiiO free of charge for my opinion in this article, it doesn’t have to be returned. There’s also a Standard Edition of the F9, which doesn’t have the detachable connectors and balanced cable. This version goes for 100 $ and the Standard Edition costs 90 $. The FiiO F9 Pro will also be released in November, which will have Knowles BA drivers. That version will go for 150 $.
While continually developing & updating their DAPs and portable DACs / Amplifiers, FiiO also have been stepping up their game in the IEM business. I’ve reviewed their F1 & F3 IEMs earlier this year, and as usual with FiiO they both had an excellent value, especially the F3. Both IEMs entered our Universal IEM Recommandations page, with their great performance for such tiny price brackets.
Now for competing in the low-mid tier IEM market, they recently introduced the FiiO F9 IEM. With a much more sleek and stylish design, and potentially a higher level of sound than their first couple of models, the F9 is a signal from FiiO indicating they have higher goals in the IEM market.
DESIGN OF BIONICS
Applied to airplane, car and pearly nautilus speaker, as well as the F9.
FiiO claims that they have applied bionic & aerodynamic principles in terms of designing the F9 IEM. Even though it doesn’t look unique or original apart from the “waves” which you can see in the photo below, I absolutely love it looks-wise. I think this is the best built IEM from FiiO as far as I’m concerned. The IEM earpieces are so smooth and well finished. I always praised the progress of FiiO products over the years, and it seems they continue to develop with IEMs too.
I also understand that they derived some inspiration from Westone & Shure IEMs. You can’t blame them though. If you want to produce IEMs with a low-profile design and great fit, this maybe is the best possible design route you can take. And, they used CNC cut metal which I think exceeds those IEMs from the past in terms of build.
The shell is first engraved by CNC as a whole, then anodized and sand blasted, making a beautiful metallic appearance.
Build quality is fantastic and for the price it can’t get better than this. The all aluminum body gives a compact and solid impression when you inspect it in hand. It looks like it can take some blows and stay perfectly in one piece. Yes, these really look like Westone IEMs, but to me the metal shells should be more solid than plastic. Or at least give a better premium feeling. It sure is a great job from FiiO putting up this smooth design and great build.
To eliminate the resonance, there’s also a plastic smaller shell inside the IEM that takes a supportive role for the structure as well. And there’s the MMCX connectors for detachable cables, which are very sturdy and you can pretty much rely on them for their entire life-span.
The package is quite complete and there’s nothing missing. Maybe some foam tips would be nice and that’s my only small complaint. Otherwise, there are many silicone tips provided and there’s a weatherproof case that looks really cool. It’s shiny, full black and has rectangular shapes on the top; so you see some nice reflections with daylight. This is not a Pelican case but feels really close to that. Not bad for 100$ isn’t it? I absolutely loved the inclusion of this case and I think I’m going to use it for other IEMs in my possession.
Because of the ergonomic design, the FiiO F9 has great fit as you can guess. They don’t stick out from your ears and you can easily take a nap with them. Nozzle angle is perfect for the majority of the people. I personally would’ve preferred just slightly longer nozzles for better isolation and a snug fit. Even so, it’s still very good as it is.
Isolation is fairly good, not spectacular but not bad either. The good thing is there are many tips supplied in the package. If that’s not enough, I can recommend you to try out some foam tips. Foams provide better isolation and solid fit. However do note that you can sacrifice some treble response that way, but that could be your goal, as I will explain in the sound section.
The earphones are supremely comfortable and as long as your ears are not extremely small, you’ll feel very nice with them even for long periods. I can easily say the fit is almost perfect with the F9.