FiiO is superior to other brands in that it can somehow offer premium quality audio for lower prices than the rest. Like some of my colleagues, I’m a proud parent of the FiiO Q5, a fantastic DAC-amp combo that should have a higher price tag. And if any of you have heard the FiiO F9 Pro IEM, you’ll certainly agree that it’s under-priced for the sound that it produces. For this reason, I’m very excited to see FiiO push it to the limit with the release of their priciest in-ear headphone, the FH5. Let’s see how it performs in this FiiO FH5 Earphones Review.
IN the BOX
No complaints here. Easy to pop in, with a fat over-ear wire to help give you that extra sense of security. The shells have a smooth contours that fit perfectly to the shape of my ears. The sound isolation might not be as effective as a Shure or Westone, but it was enough to drown out a phone ringing from down the hall. And if a nuclear reactor goes off, I’d like to hear the sirens.
The FH5 employs a hybrid driver set-up. One dynamic driver for the lows, a balanced armature driver for the mids, and a dual driver for the highs. FiiO boasts independant sound tubes for each of the drivers. The low frequency sound tube, in particular, grabbed my attention. Using their patented S.TURBO design, this tube refuse to tie its tubes. It’s made to filter out any mids or highs from the lower frequencies. So, I’m expecting a neat and orderly low end.
The MMCX cable is super thick, and the 3.5mm T-shaped connection looks even more solid. The connectors are chunky and, therefore, easier to detach than the usual tiny connectors you find on expensive IEM’s, Indeed, these babies don’t look like they’re going to break anytime soon.
Overall Impressions: Clean and tight. Impressive quality for the price.
Disclaimer: The FH5 comes with various ear tips designed to highlight certain sound characteristics: balance, bass and vocals. For the sake of keeping things consistent, I tested the FH5 with the ear tips that were attached to the buds out of the box.
FiiO found a nice balance here. The lows are satiating without overpowering the rest of the mix. But although the bass isn’t extremely forward or deep, it conveys a punchy, dry and textured sound. And like the design suggests, the FH5 keeps the lows sounding clean and unadulterated. Combine these factors with a fast response, and you’ve got a snappy headphone that is perfect for pop music.
The FH5 excels at producing a clean and detailed sound. Therefore, folk or acoustic music is a great genre for this headphone. But although I wouldn’t call this range hollowed, it’s not a headphone designed for those who like full and present mids. The lower mids are recessed, and therefore, a bit lacking in warmth. (But the included tips could improve this issue). So, for those of you who love a meaty sounding rock chorus, you’d better off with a different FiiO model, like the F9 Pro.
Although the highs are smooth, they are too favored within the mix. So, the overall balance on the FH5 felt slightly off. Still, the fluidity in this range made classical and jazz music a decent listening experience.
The FH5 has a very spacious feel for the price. It’s quite accurate and skillful at presenting depth, although there’s not enough dimension to give you the impression that you’re surrounded by the mix. That being said, I’ve only heard mind-blowing soundstage intricacy in the most expensive IEM’s.
The FH5 is well worth the price tag. Few IEM’s can produce this level of clean detail and speed for 260 bucks. If your priority is a very evenly balanced headphone, the FH5 might not be for you. But if you’re a sucker for detail and separation, you’re going to love these. Pop fans, these buds are made for you too.