FiiO FH5 In-Ear Monitor Evaluation
An Exit From The Entry Degree: FiiO’s FH5 is a high-end IEM via and thru.
Evaluate By Dave Hanson
The FiiO model is basically synonymous with excessive bang-for-buck worth within the private audio world. For many individuals, FiiO is a launching pad – the primary “audiophile” amp or DAC they ever personal. For me personally, it was the FiiO E6 – only a tiny little pocket amp that was supposed be an enchancment relative to my telephone’s headphone jack. Viola, my first devoted headphone amp!. I might later decide up the E17 amp/DAC, the E09Okay amplifier, X3 II DAP and eventually X5 III DAP. For probably the most half all of those merchandise shined at their worth level.
In recent times, FiiO has been working to increase their portfolio to incorporate a variety of IEMs. The brand new FH5 ($259) is their most formidable design thus far, and has taken the place of the flagship of their rising lineup.
The FH5 is a Four-driver hybrid design with a 10mm polymer nanocomposite dynamic driver dealing with the low frequencies, a Knowles ED30262 balanced armature handing the midrange, and a pair of Knowles 31082 balanced armatures to deal with the treble and extremely excessive frequency treble. These are contained in an exquisite precision-machined alloy shell that gives among the best ergonomic matches of any common shell I’ve encountered (extra on that later).
Whereas $259 is a particularly accessible worth level, relative to most corporations’ flagship IEMs, it’s definitely a daring step up for a worth pushed firm like FiiO, so it caught my curiosity. And I’m completely happy to say the FH5 most undoubtedly continues FiiO’s custom of delivering strong bang-for-buck merchandise. From the second I first opened the field, might inform the humbly-priced FH5 was going to over ship, huge time.
Holy Bells And Whistles!
The FH5 package deal is flush with bells, whistles and equipment. You get a tough shell case, a small delicate case that matches simply in your pocket, an excellent premium cable, a cable keeper and a bevvy of ear ideas that are supposed to emphasize sure elements of the sound. The tip set consists of units of S/M/L ideas for a balanced sound, S/M/L tricks to emphasize vocals, S/M/L tricks to emphasize bass response, and three units of medium foam ideas. A suites of equipment go, this one is fairly complete.
One half that basically stunned me concerning the FH5 was the standard of the cable, which is downright surprising at this worth level. It’s a 1.2M cable made out of high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper wire. Every channel’s wire is individually sealed in a polyurethane jacket. That is extra alongside the strains of a cable I’d anticipate from an IEM within the $1000 vary, definitely not $259. It oozes high quality. The one catch to the cable is that it’s a tad heavy and should swing round and bang towards clothes. In case you are sporting the FH5 on the fitness center, I like to recommend operating the cable beneath your shirt to keep away from listening to the cable pounding towards your chest. That apart, I discovered it distinctive.
The cable connectors are additionally removable MMCX sort – one of many extra widespread IEM connectors – which makes the FH5 suitable with many aftermarket IEM cables individuals might have already got. That is excellent news if somebody discovered the load of the inventory cable problematic or needed to go wi-fi. The connectors are fairly sturdy and simply accessible in comparison with my Westone W60, which appears able to implode with even probably the most gentle-handed cable swap.
The FH5’s earpieces are additionally very spectacular, with a type issue that’s each snug and visually engaging. FiiO says the look was impressed by the streamliner automobiles of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The housings are clean to the contact – freed from any flat spots or pointy edges which will trigger discomfort. Clearly a whole lot of thought went into the ergonomics of those earpieces. Left and proper are additionally clearly marked on each the earpiece and cable. I really feel like I shouldn’t even have to say that, however half the IEM producers on the market nonetheless appear to falter on the subject of getting that proper.
General, it’s and very spectacular package deal with regards to construct high quality, presentation, match and end. It’s a heck of much more than I might anticipate at $259, and we haven’t even touched the sound but.
Let’s get to the enjoyable half.
Fortune Favors The Daring
I’m going to chop to the chase right here: the FiiO FH5 sounds good. Like actually, actually good. So good, the truth is, I’m in all probability going to deal with it slightly unfairly by measuring it up towards rather more costly benchmark competitors. These are actually solely a pair small steps behind my beloved Campfire Vegas, which retail for almost $1000 extra. So whereas I’m going to level out a number of methods through which they don’t seem to be good, it’s as a result of it’s far simpler to speak concerning the few areas that fall simply in need of perfection than the various methods by which the FH5 completely kills it. It’s the one option to drill right down to how the FH5 is on an absolute degree, no matter worth. So right here we go.
The general sound of the FiiO FH5 is enjoyable and bassy with an additional little bit of presence within the higher midrange. It isn’t a really impartial headphone, and shouldn’t be used as a reference piece in professional audio purposes. It’s a piece that’s 100% made for listener enjoyment, and on that entrance, it completely delivers.
The bass is certainly the very first thing that stands out concerning the FH5’s sound. It’s full and strong with first-class influence and tactility. Sub-bass is particularly outstanding and nicely prolonged. The low bass rumble on hip-hop and digital music is completely tectonic, and it’s type of onerous to argue a case for a costlier IEM delivering extra satisfaction in these genres.
Midbass can also be barely elevated, however much less so than the sub-bass, following a mild downward slope into the midrange. The extent of punch right here is excellent, kick drums and toms hit with good tactile authority. Guitars have an enormous, beefy backside finish, particularly acoustic guitars, which have wonderful timbre and pure heat. Those that favor a extra impartial sound will in all probability discover this space too heat for his or her liking, however listeners who’re in search of a enjoyable sound are actually going to adore it.
The midrange is a little bit of a combined bag that folks will both love or hate. It’s definitely not ruler flat when it comes to measurement, taking a reasonably vital dip from the bass earlier than peaking within the higher mids between 1kHz to 2kHz after which rolling off once more. It’s type of a “W” formed response designed to offer the FH5 a daring sense of presence to go together with its weighty low-end punch.
Given the elevated bass, the slope into the decrease midrange feels fairly pure, and there’s fairly good physique right here. It’s clearly at a decrease degree than the bass and higher mids, however it’s nonetheless in a spot the place it doesn’t really feel skinny.
The elevated higher mids give devices a pleasant sense of immediacy, however also can end in a bit of little bit of hardness as quantity ranges rise above perhaps 85dB to 90dB or so. It may be particularly problematic on songs with poor manufacturing, which may sound considerably abrasive at occasions, even at affordable volumes. That little little bit of hardness might be my largest grievance concerning the sound of the FH5, however on the similar time, it forces me to pay attention at a extra affordable quantity, so it has been a bit little bit of a blessing in disguise. I discovered over time that I used to be much less susceptible to let volumes creep as much as extreme ranges with the FH5, which might be a superb factor long run, however typically you need to flip it up, dang it! I’d moderately have this area be a bit smoother, personally.
After that little bump, the frequency response drops down a bit via the midrange to treble transition. That is good, as a result of it retains the FH5 from coming off as sibilant or strident. However, it might have been good to have slightly additional chew and edge on the devices typically, which you are likely to lose when you’ve got an excessive amount of recession right here.
General, the midrange is fairly good, it’s only a very particular sort of coloration. For those who like a bit additional presence, however don’t need any stridence, it’s going to undoubtedly please you. For those who’re wanting one thing that’s ruler flat, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The treble is fairly mellow and clean. Once more, there’s little to no sibilance because the mids move into the decrease treble. There’s a little bit of sparkle within the mid treble after which a mean quantity of air within the excessive treble. If I’m nitpicking, cymbals typically appear to lack a bit of little bit of trebly chew on the sting, with extra emphasis on the brassy physique from that aforementioned peak down within the 1kHz to 2kHz space. This will depart cymbals sounding a contact quieter within the combine than they are surely, however offered you’re not utilizing the FH5 for music manufacturing, this shouldn’t actually be an issue. I’m solely actually getting down into the nitty gritty right here as a result of the FH5 is so good general.
Shifting on to the extra technical points of the sound, assault and decay kind of borrow the perfect elements of the balanced armatures and the dynamic drivers for an fascinating and really likeable presentation. The assault is pretty crisp and energetic up entrance with good immediacy and vibrancy. Decay is simply barely lengthy including just a little little bit of romanticism and naturalness with out overstaying its welcome and getting muddy.
Element retrieval can also be excellent for the standard worth of $259. Inside decision is best than the worth would recommend general, however appears to actually present its greatest within the decrease frequencies. Listening to “Lengthy Distance Runaround” by Sure, Chris Squire’s bass decision was very correct, capturing the distinctive little specifics of his efficiency and his particular person instrument. Steve Howe’s guitar licks and Invoice Bruford’s regular excessive hats have been barely much less spectacular, sounding simply very barely generic relative to deep decision of Squire’s bassline. These larger frequency sounds are in all probability nearer to what I might anticipate for the worth. My intestine tells me this implies the dynamic driver is perhaps barely extra resolving than the balanced armatures, however it may be that little bit of coloration within the midrange coming into play, highlighting a extra “crunchy” a part of the sound of those devices. I’m unsure. Once more, I’m actually nitpicking right here, holding this up towards my Stax Lambdas and the Campfire Vegas and Andromedas to suss out any weaknesses. Relative to equally priced competitors, the FH5 fares a lot better.
I’d place the stage measurement at about common with an excellent general form and well-defined imaging. Although the soundscape isn’t exceptionally expansive when it comes to complete measurement, it does a great job of staying uncongested, particularly for a heat headphone. All that thought-about, I truly just like the soundscape fairly a bit. There’s a sure intimacy to the stage, and mixed with the nice and cozy sound and slight increase within the presence area, the FH5 has a really, very cohesive general presentation.
I can’t stress the significance of this sense of cohesion sufficient, as a result of I consider if a headphone is straying a bit farther than typical from neutrality, there must be an actual function behind it. As these totally different parts and colorations come collectively as an entire, you get an concept that FiiO was actually going for one thing very particular with the sound of the FH5. That is an IEM that desires to place you near the music and actually make you are feeling one thing. They are saying fortune favors the daring, and I respect the truth that FiiO has taken this IEM in some instructions which might be a bit off the crushed path to provide you with one thing unique.
General, that is an IEM that I take pleasure in fairly a bit. That little little bit of hardness within the presence area might be bothersome on some songs, however more often than not I don’t discover it in any respect.
As a result of this one has some relatively robust coloration within the midrange, I give it a little bit of a conditional suggestion. It’s not going to be for everybody. However for many who need a extra intense presentation that mixes an enormous, full-bodied and heat sound with a robust sense of presence and an intimate general really feel, you will actually love this IEM. It should put you very near the music with out feeling congested and the bang-for-buck worth on it’s actually fairly jaw dropping. You get a really full package deal and wonderful ergonomics to go together with a very, actually likeable sound. If that sound like one thing that matches for you, undoubtedly give this one a pay attention.
Gear Used Throughout This Assessment
Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid
Monoprice Monolith Liquid Spark
HeadAmp Gilmore Lite Mk2
Chord Hugo 2
Acoustic Analysis AR-M2
FiiO X5 III
Campfire Audio Andromeda
Campfire Audio Vega
1MORE Quad Driver In-Ear
Stax SRM-1 Mk II
DanaCable TruStream USB
AudioQuest Massive Sur
Sort: Sort: In-Ear Monitor
Drivers: One 10mm dynamic and three balanced armatures per aspect
Frequency Response: 15Hz to 40kHz
Impedance: 19 Ohm
Most Enter Energy: 100mW
Earbud Weight: eight grams
Cable Size: 1.2 meter
Cable Termination: three.5mm
Cable Connector Sort: MMCX
2/F, F Constructing, Hougang Industrial Zone,
Shigang Village, Huangshi West Street, Baiyun District,
Guangzhou Metropolis, 510430, China
Web site: www.FiiO.com