‘Born For Music and Happy’… Yes Fiio born for Music and in 11 year’s life span proved, hi-fi can be possible on budget. Not only aggressive pricing but Fiio also trying to fill every corner of a music lover’s daily life with quality products like BTR3, M7, X7 mkII. Even it’s very easy to get hands on Fiio’s product in my region because of their authorized distributor and their demo programs.
Fiio Fh5 is now their top of the line IEM after the success of Fh1 and F9 pro. Having both of them I was waiting for the fh5 when they launched it. Personally I don’t like the naming scheme of Fiio, it’s a bit confusing but let’s accept it and move on.
Specifications of Fiio FH5
Packaging of Fiio FH5
‘ Black Box ‘ … I have noticed all fiio’s product either have white or black product boxes, Fh5 also came inside a whole black box . Inside the sleeve cover the Book Fold box is placed and two magnets used to hold the cover of the box. As soon as you open the lid you will see the beautiful IEMS lying on foam and beneath the foam everything is placed in an organized manner protected by black sponge. So it’s a flagship product and packaging also reflecting it.
What’s in the Box?
- FiiO FH5 with cable.
- 9x Pairs of silicone eartips,
- 3x Pairs of Memory foam eartips,
- 1x Soft carrying bag,
- 1x Hard case,
- Cleaning brush,
- Paper works.
All 12 eartips divided into 4 types and 3 sizes for each type (S, M , L). The types of eartips are Balanced, Vocal, Bass and Memory Foam. The idea of giving a separate foam sheet with marking and storage space for tips is a remarkable and inexpensive move. As per Fiio’s naming scheme the sound should change according to this eartips and for a certain point it is true and I will discuss it later in this review.
Personally tried every tip but to me Balanced tip was comfortable with good seal. When we are talking about the tips, I hate Fiio’s memory foam tips. The thing I am missing is a pair of double flange tip, hope they will provide it next time. There is an issue in that foam tray, no room ‘ M’ size Balanced tip.
A hard carry case, (this time clear look through HB1 ) and a soft pouch bag has been provided inside the box. A good thing with Fiio is they sell these accessories separately in their store. If you lose any of them, you can buy them again. So Fiio please add this clear HB1 and soft pouch bag in your accessories section for separate purchase.
One of the best cable ever included with Fiio product. The quality of cable is really good. ‘ L ‘ type 3.5 mm plug is strong and look premium, two separate cable for each channel from plug to y splitter is also a great move and giving the cable a fancy yet strong look.
The overall silver theme and Fiio branding on the Velcro cable tie shows the careful craftsmanship of Fiio. No sign of microphonics in the cable. Good quality of MMCX plug is used this time, give a gentle press and snap. No hassle or struggle. Again you can buy this cable (LC- B) separately from fiio .
Design / Build
First thing first, it may seem from pictures that the IEM is big and not for small ears, WRONG.. Actually they are almost same in size of F9 Pro. The design of FH5 is something new this time after F9 Pro, an approach to Universal InEar Monitor can be noticed.
Trishell structure and face plate design is applied. The golden ring, top of the face plate is adding a rich look to FH5. The dark silver like color on a smooth machined aluminum alloy shell giving it a smooth feel on your hand and inside the ear cavity.
The smooth rounding edges and CIEM like design helping Fh5 to fit even in small ears. They are very comfortable to wear for long time. May be Fiio should release a rose gold FH5 next.
Three independent sound bores for bass, mids and treble can be seen but covered by mess. The total size of the bore is a bit bigger in diameter and putting in a tip is a really difficult job especially the small and medium one.
Gear Used with FH5
Impidence of just 19 ohms and 112dB/Mw sensitivity giving Fh5 the efficiency to run almost on anything. I used this gears to run FH5 .
DAP – Fiio X1 mk2, Hiby R3, Sony NW-A46HN, Cayin N3, Iphone SE.
DAC AMP combo with PC – Fiio Q1 Mk2, Audioquest Dragonfly Black.
Tracks / Albums Listened
- Adele – 21
- Devin Dawson – Dark Horse
- Don Henley – I Can’t Stand Still
- Eagles – Hotel California
- Eagles – The Very Best Of The Eagles
- Eric Clapton – Riding With The King (Tidal MQA)
- Eric Clapton – Unplugged (1992)
- Etta James – At Last!
- Michael Jackson – Scream
- Sia – This Is Acting (Deluxe Version)
- Amber Rubarth – Wildflowers in the Graveyard
- Amber Rubarth 17th Ward (DSD)
‘Best from Fiio Till now’ … yes Fh5 undoubtedly is best from Fiio till now. More and more fine tuning turned Fh5 into an IEM that can suit most of music lovers. From Fh1’s fun tuning to F9 pro’s analytical tuning, Fiio tuned Fh5 this time in an unconventional but musical way for a mass appeal. The sound singnature is ‘W’ shaped and pretty much balanced.
As the ‘W’ shaped Sound Signature suggests there is an emphasis on lower frequency. Good amount of Sub-Bass can be noticed. Bass is fast and impactful. A very matured Bass indeed. A blend of clear, punchy sub-bass followed by mid-bass is there.
The bass is well controlled and doesn’t bleed in lower mid range. Mid bass have good body and a touch of warmth. The ‘Bass ‘tip as per Fiio for increasing bass is not actually helping that much and please avoid memory foam tips, they just killing the texture of bass.
While listening tracks like ‘Dangerous ‘by Michael Jackson, the opening of track where both beats and voice going simultaneously can be heard clearly which is rare in IEM in this price point. The impact of bass is amazing.
Fh5 a bit forwarded especially the Upper mids. Mids are detailed with good texture. Lower mids a bit recessed and vocal tips really helped to bring the lower mid to its place. Rest of mid range is forwarded. Mids is actually well balanced with vocal tip and quite rich. Female vocals are elevated yet sweet and smooth.
When listening tracks like, Amber Rubarth‘s ‘Wildflowers in the Graveyard‘ you can feel the emotion in her voice . Just close your eyes and listen the songs like ‘ Hold On ‘ by Amber Rubarth or Etta James’s ‘ Trust In Me ‘ , I can assure it will be a great experience for anyone. Fh5 just meant for female vocals. Male vocals are a bit recessed, yet very resolving.
Listening songs like ‘Come Rain or Shine ‘by Eric Clapton & B. B. King, is a heavenly experience. Every note is so clear that you can feel the characteristics of both singers’ voice even when they play together. Really enjoyed listening Clapton’s albums with FH5.
To me upper frequency response of a hybrid IEM proves its real potential. Fh5 no doubt done a good job in this section but still noticed some drops in lower treble. No big spike noticed thus the treble part is smooth. It’s like something is missing. Here comes the balanced cable and vocal tips to rescue, Fh5 with Fiio’s balanced cable improved a lot in treble section.
Now a lot of energy can be seen, while listening the album Don Henley’s ‘I Can’t Stand Still’. Wish Fiio supplied a balanced cable with FH5.
Intimate soundstage with better details and good imaging is better than wide soundstage and poor imaging. Same thing applies to Fh5. As a result of ‘W ‘shape tuning the soundstage is intimate yet deep enough.
While listening solo vocals it seems the singer is in front of you but with complex songs and songs with duet or more vocal artists, suffers due to this intimate soundstage. Instrument separation is pretty good and layering is also up to the mark.
FH 5 tuned such a way that it almost fits itself in every genre, even out of the box you going to love it and intimate soundstage is not going bother you to enjoy your soul mate songs.
FH5 can be paired with any source without any problem. With phones like Iphone SE some noise can be noticed but it’s not a big deal. For its unique tuning neutral sources like Hiby R3 and Sony NW-A46 is much more suitable to pair with FH5.
FH5 Vs Fiio FH1
Size wise, design wise they are different and it’s obvious. Comparison between a 90 $ plastic build IEM and a 270 $ flagship is unfair but the point is, both of them belongs to ‘FH’ series and FH1 was one of the successful budget IEM from Fiio . As they both belong to same FH series, it may come to mind why FH5 is priced top of the line? Answer is, it’s because of Fiio’s poor naming scheme.
I strongly suggest Fiio to change the FH5’s name to something else because the Sound Signature is also different. FH1’s bass is loose and not so textured in comparison to FH5. Fh5 has more controlled and textured sub-bass, more detailed mid range. Treble section is similar in both IEM , yet FH5 a bit smoother side. Fh1‘s build quality is pathetic where FH5 is a piece of ART.
FH5 Vs Fiio F9 Pro
FH5 is a big jump from F9 Pro in terms of price. Dethroning F9 pro, FH5 is now Fiio’s Flagship. I personally consider F9 pro a reference IEM for budget audiophiles; it’s not tuned for everyone. FH5 has a sound signature that can suit a large group of people out of the box. Fh5 can be used for long time without any fatigue.
F9 pro is much brighter than FH5 and seems boring for long listening sessions. F9 pro lacks the lower frequency section where FH5 is a king. The overall presentation of Fh5 is very pleasing and can perform well with all your music collection. Fh5 definitely a refinement over F9 Pro and deserve the extra price.
Fiio as a brand now established itself for high end audio products in everyone’s budget. For 270 $ Fh5 is a very good IEM to choose for sure. May be it’s a bit highly priced than their previous F9 pro but worth every penny. They have done a commendable job in developing unique design for FH5 and overall likable sound. Why they didn’t included the balanced cable I don’t know but the provided cable is good enough to last long. Fh5’s approach is like , premium product for everyone –for every music genre. I hope Fiio will continue to refine the sound in their upcoming AF series as well.