FiiO EX1 Nanotech Titanium Diaphragm In-Ear Monitors

General Information

The diaphragm is the heart of sound production for FiiO EX1 in-ear monitor, determining the sound quality to a great extent. Utilizing titanium, a material that is light weight with high sound conduction speed, yet several times stiffer than steel, we have been able to design a full range dynamic driver around this material, pushing breakup frequency above the audible range, thus ensuring clear and smooth high frequency production. Duralumin and Stainless Steel Housing All components of the earphone housing are precision CNC milled, with anodized duralumin for the back half, and stainless steel for the front half. The unique beehive tuning ports are precisely sized and positioned to deliver the desired sound tuning properties. The metal body assembly is designed to suppress resonance, preserving superior transient response for lifelike reproduction of live sound. Nanotech Titanium Diaphragm Driver Delivering even power response across all frequencies, and a natural yet energetic sound, the titanium diaphragm can handle high power without distortion while preserving exemplary transient response far superior to traditional dynamic driver diaphragms. Kevler Reinvorced Cable The EX1 headphone cable consists of 42 strands of high purity OFC copper, intertwined with 250D Kevlar fiber strands, ensuring superior sonics as well as great strain resistance and longevity. The outer sheathing is composed of medical-grade TPE for minimum microphonics and maximum bio-compatibility (avoiding skin allergies) Superior Ergonomics The EX1 employs an ergonomic offset nozzle design, with small rounded on-ear driver housing and shallow in-ear nozzles, ensuring long term wearing comfort. Since correct selection of eartips is crucial for comfort and sound quality, the EX1 comes with several sets of eartips in different sizes and designs to let you find the best fit, both physically and sonically.

Latest reviews

kmmbd

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Good build and accessories
- Airy, extended treble
- Good vocal rendition
- Class-leading soundstage and imaging/layering
- Mostly flat bass response with above-average bass speed
Cons: Lack of detachable cable
- Poor isolation
- Tonality and timbre is slightly "metallic" sounding
It’s always a nice exercise to go back to stuff that once sounded “oh-so-awesome” and compare them to the latest offerings.

Dunu Titan 1, or its rebranded and cheaper version — the Fiio EX1 (the one that I have here, sounds the same), were once highly lauded and often suggested. Since then they have fallen by the wayside, thanks to the insane amount of chi-fi choices in the sub-$100 range. I have been using one myself, albeit intermittently, for over two years. So, how do they stack up against the current competition?

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Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Definitely the expectations from a $15 IEM won’t be the same as a $150 one, and that’s the approach taken while assigning scores. I bought the IEMs with my own funds, still, Disclaimer

Sources used: LG G6/G7, Questyle QP1R, Yulong DAART Canary, iPhone SE, Fiio E07K

Price, while reviewed — anywhere between $35 (the Titan1es version) to $100. Can be picked up around $50 during sales.

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Build: The housing is made of matte (Fiio version) or mirror-finished (Dunu version) Aluminium, and has proven to be rather sturdy over time. It has picked up some scuffs but nothing major. There are numerous vent holes on the front plate of the housing, and these aid in sound-stage and imaging. Blocking them apparently increases bass, but at the cost of soundstage. Another nice touch — color coded “rims” around the housings to differentiate between left/right.
The strain relief seems flimsy upon first glance, but it’s also been adequate so far. The biggest issue for me though (with the Fiio version) is the non-detachable springy cable that is quite microphonic and tangles easily now after years of use. The cable is different between Titan 1 and EX1, with the Titan 1 having a black-sheathed cable with braided lower half, while the EX1 cable has a semi-transparent plastic-sheath.
Thus, apart from that cable issue, nothing much of note.
4/5

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Accessories: Apart from the difference in presentations, Titan 1 and EX1 has similar accessories (with different branding, of course). You get basically everything you may need — plenty of tips (8 pairs or so), a nice carrying case (wish it had more room inside though), a shirt-clip, a cable-management buckle (very handy) and a 3.5 to 6.3mm jack. A pair of Spinfit tips would be nice (as Dunu owns them), but that’s just nitpicking.
4.5/5

Comfort:
Comfort might be a divisive factor when it comes to Titan 1/EX1. They have a “half in-ear” design, where the driver is housed in a earbud-like shell (thus allowing for large drivers, 14mm in this case) and then an in-ear friendly nozzle protrudes out. In theory these should be the best of both worlds but reality is a tad problematic.
Since the large shell causes weigh-distribution issues, unless you get a good seal they will slip out. This design is also not completely ideal for over-ear fit, so these are not ideal if you plan to fall asleep with them, or just want to use them for workouts. They personally fit me moderately well, but things could definitely be better. Thanks to the vents, there is no driver-flex, which is great.
3.5/5

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Now, on to the sound. One thing of note — these IEMs are one of the first to use Titanium-coated dynamic drivers, and their size is pretty rare at this price point. The material choice, coupled with the large diameter and front-vented design creates a sound which is rather unique — even to this day.

Lows: Bass speed is faster than average, but sub-bass rumble is completely absent. Mid-bass is mostly linear, and will be right up the alley for those who prefer a neutral/lower than neutral bass response. Those who want more bass presence will be disappointed, however, as both the sub-bass rumble and mid-bass kick with the kick-drums and certain snare hits are rather muted (a side-effect of the vented-front, I assume). However, it’s not all bad, as tracks like The Midnight’s Days of Thunder sound bassy enough, though the sub-bass is not quite there.
A nice side-effect of this lean bass response is that certain tracks with heavy-bass in the mix sound clearer than other IEMs, so there’s that.
3/5

Mids:
If I have to use one word to describe Titan 1’s midrange, it would be: “open”. These have a mid-range that sounds very similar to earbuds, and has great layering between instruments.
In terms of vocals, female vocals are slightly emphasized, while male vocals sound brighter than neutral. Overall mid-range tonality is on the bright side, and on poorly recorded tracks you might hear hints of sibilance. For most of my test tracks, however, that was not an issue. Detail rendition is also above average and a bit better than most single-dynamic driver IEMs at this range (multi-BA IEMs are another story).
Unfotunately, mid-range tonality and timbre is not “natural”, per se, since it has a slight metallic tonality. Nothing major but it does stand out when A/B-ing with more neutral and natural-sounding IEMs, e.g. the BLON BL-03.
What stands out the most about Titan 1’s midrange though is how absolutely fantastic acoustic guitars sound on them. I personally use them solely for acoustic/unplugged tracks, and they sound sublime with subtle details like the guitar pick sliding across the strings/finger-plucks. Try Eternal Tears of Sorrow’s The River Flows Frozen (acoustic reprise) or Damien Rice’s Cannonball as testers. I can overlook some of the flaws of the midrange just for that.
4/5

Treble:
Treble is airy, with a peak around 7KHz that might be intense for some. I personally find the 5/6KHz and 8KHz region more problematic, and these don’t necessarily have weird peaks there. The treble extends well below even 12KHz and this results in nice sparkle up top. Cymbal crashes have accurate attack and decay and even in tracks with repeated, heavy cymbal hits (e.g. System of a Down — Toxicity) the driver doesn’t get overwhelmed. Treble tonality though has that “metallic” feel, so if you need a very smooth, relaxed and natural timbre in the treble region these won’t be ideal.
4.5/5

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Soundstage: This is where the Titan 1 flexes its muscle. See those vent-holes? They leak sound and affects isolation, but they also expand the soundstage more than any other IEM I’ve heard under $100 (apart from perhaps Havi B3 Pro). The expansion is very natural and not achieved through FR shenanigans. Soundstage width is one of the best in this range, and soundstage depth is class-leading even when compared to many multi-BA drivers under $100. Instrument separation is fantastic as well.
4.5/5

Imaging:
Yet another strength of the Titan 1 is its imaging/positional cues. I very much doubt you will get another IEM in this range with better imaging since it’s practically perfect here with nearly holographic imaging. Just try Tool’s Chocolate Chip Trip, or that Barber-shop clip. You’re welcome.
5/5

Bang-for-buck:
This is a bit hard to judge here as the price fluctuates wildly. On AliExpress it’s often priced around $100 during regular season, and $60/70 during sales. The Fiio rebrand was priced much lower (I got mine for ~$40 on a sale) but that’s sadly discontinued. Still, even at ~$60, this is a good buy if you don’t mind a brighter tonality. You can also get the Titan 1es for 15 pounds (on sale as of now).
4/5

Source and Amping:
These sound good outta almost anything. Needs a bit more volume than the usual IEM but that’s about it.

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Select Comparisons

vs
TinAudio T3: Tin T3 has a more comfortable fit and seals better, which leads to more perceived bass in noisy environments. However, bass quality of T3 is average, so Titan 1 has slight edge there. T3 has a more forward mid-range, but the slight sibilance issues can be a downer. Both have similar amount of micro-details and is brighter than neutral. Treble is where the Titan 1 pulls ahead, and much better soundstage and slightly better imaging are the cherry on the top. T3 does have a fantastic detachable cable, while the meh fixed cable of the Titan 1 seems pedestrian in comparison.

vs BLON BL-03: The current chi-fi darling can be a challenging foe. First up — comfortwise, the Titan 1 is better, and has a better fit as the BLONs has an atrocious fit. Titan 1 also has a better accessory set, though BLONs have detachable earpieces.
In terms of sound, BL-03 has the much better bass response. The mid-bass can be a bit heavy depending on your eartip preference and fit, but in general the bass is just outright better both in terms of quality and quantity. Midrange is quite different in both, as the BL-03s prioritize tonality and timbral accuracy over absolute detail retrieval while the Titan 1 focus more on technicalities. Treble is better on the Titan 1 due to the added air and sparkle up top, so is the soundstage and imaging. I personally still prefer the BLONs for most tracks (as they are so fun to listen to, and the vocals sound more intimate and natural) but the Titan 1 also has its moments with acoustic and instrument heavy/binaural tracks.

vs Sennheiser IE40 Pro: IE40 Pros are one of the best IEMs available under $100 IMO, and thus warrants a comparison. I prefer the Titan 1’s build personally, because the IE40’s ABS plastic housing doesn’t inspire much confidence. Comfort and isolation is a landslide victory on Sennheiser’s side. Accessories are good on both but I prefer Titan 1’s hard-shell case to Senn’s pouch.
As for the sound, IE40 Pro has visceral sub-bass and a pretty bumped-up mid-bass. Bassheads rejoice. These also help in commuting as the bass frequencies get attenuated when you’re out and about. From a neutral POV though Titan 1 is definitely flatter. The midrange sounds recessed on the IE40 Pros (due to that bass emphasis) but still has really good vocals and excellent timbre/tonality with no problematic upper-mid peak. Treble is more up-front on the Titan 1 but IE40 Pros fare well with their smooth treble rendition that sounds good even with poorly mastered tracks. Titan 1 aces soundstage and imaging, yawn.
I personally prefer the IE40 Pros for commuting, and the Titan 1 for more critical listening. They complement each other rather than compete.

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Conclusion:
Dunu did not retire the Titan 1 even 4 years after its release, and I guess that bears testament to its longevity in the price bracket. It does show its age on a few areas: the fixed cable, the metallic timbre and outdated housing design.

What it does well though is sound unlike anything out there with its airy treble, detail-heavy midrange and a very open soundstage topped by class-leading imaging. These won’t be a good IEM for commuting, these won’t be good as your only pair of IEMs (unless you know this is what you want), but if you ever want to get a second pair for acoustic tracks — look no further. To boot, they can be had for real low prices at times, so if you find a good deal give them a shot.

They might be forgotten, but they are yet to be completely beaten.

#Recommended

You can buy them from
here or here (or look around for better deals)

Test tracks (as YouTube playlist, often updated):

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NewbieSteve

New Head-Fier
Pros: soundstage, highs, neutral and balanced
Cons: Sound leakage, slightly heavy and can be uncomfortable
Review:
 
I had very high expectations before buying the Fiio EX1 AKA Dunu Titan 1. Before owning these I had the Soundmagic E10 and the Sennheiser CX 300 II Bass Enhanced. Afterwards, I bought the E80 and the GR07 as well. When I got the EX1 I immediately slipped on a pair of comply tips T-400 on the EX1 and was overwhelmed. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I'm happy to tell you that the other reviews are very correct. These sound amazing. I was worried they would be too bass shy compared compared to my other earphones but... I was wrong. The bass hits hard and quick. There isn't much bloat compared to the CX300 II, allowing the midrange and high to be much clearer in contrast. The midrange is not veiled at all, giving vocals a clear and smooth sound. The highs are sparkly yet not fatiguing. The soundstage really excels, giving accurate imaging and a wide sense of depth. While my E10 had good imaging as well, the soundstage is much narrower. This is likely because of the ports on the Fiio EX1 which are open almost like an "open" pair of headphones.

Now, there are downsides to this implementation, and the reason I had to return these. To me, earphones are suppose to be portable and usable outside. However, due to the open design, they let in a lot of sound. Suddenly, subway rides and office use are a lot louder compared to my other pairs of earbuds. I can't even turn up the volume to my regular listening levels in the office because they leak so much sound. You'd be surprised how much sound these leak because of the open design. If you like the sound signature of these earbuds but want to use them on the go/ in office, then take a look into the Dunu Titan 1ES which is a closed version of these earbuds.
 
In terms of comfort, these are fine as long as you insert them at an angle. The metal housing is heavy and they can rest on the inner parts of your ear depending on how you insert it. While the edges are not sharp, they do feel uncomfortable after a while if they touch your ear. Don't let the comfort stop you from buying them, because they are very comfortable if you adjust the angle correctly.
 
TLDR:
 
Build Quality:
Fiio EX1 > E80 > GR07 = CX300II > the average earbuds

Bass Quantity:
CX300II > E10 > E80 > EX1 = GR07

 
Bass Quality:
GR07 > E80 = EX1 > E10 > CX300II 

Mids:
E80 > GR07 > EX1 > E10 > CX300II

Highs:
EX1 > GR07 > E80 > E10 > CX300II

Soundstage:
EX1 > GR07 = E80 > E10 > CX300II

Isolation:
E10 = CX300II = E80 =  GR07 > EX1

 
Comfort:
E80 = CX300II = E10 > GR07 = EX1

Value (in my opinion):
E80 > EX1 = GR07 > E10 > CX300II



Overall, these sound pretty darn impressive for the price. However, it was not for me since I need the sound isolation for travel and work.
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ExpatinJapan

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Well built, decent price, sound great and good fit.
Cons: The vents mean sound leaks, so not ideal for a train or bus commute

Fiio EX1 Earphones Review - Expatinjapan

 Head Pie  
FiiO EX1 review - expatinjapan.​
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Build
The Fiio EX1 is sturdy, solid titanium. Mine are in black and I was sure they were plastic until I tapped my teeth with them. These IEMs aren`t going to get damaged anytime soon.
The plug is L shaped which will appeal to many users.
The housing is small enough to sit comfortable within ones ear, the nozzle is on an angle and fits nicely into the ear canal.
The cable casing is clear and gives it that custom cable look.
There are some slight micro phonics as they are designed to be worn hanging down.
The IEMs have eleven vent holes on the inside shell, and one on the outside which leads to leakage when the volume gets turned up, so perhaps not the best choice for those busy commutes.
Beautiful and solid.

 

Sound
I tested the FiiO EX1 with the Centrance Hifi-Skyn as they scaled up well with added amplification, ipod touch 6G 128GB using Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr.

I set the volume at around just over halfway as they don`t need much juice to sound great.
The FiiO EX1 is a very clear sounding IEM, has a great sound stage, extended highs without ending up being sibilant.
It is very balanced between the lows, mid and highs, a very coherent sound.
It has great clarity, detail and imaging is beautiful presenting a spacious almost ethereal sound on some tracks.
The vents certainly add to the sense of space, the large and wide soundstage.
I could not find any signs of distortion. They are very fast in terms of response.

 



Fit
As mentioned in the build section they are designed very well and a comfortable satisfying fit can be had very easily. 
I sometimes have trouble getting the right fight with IEMs but the FiiO EX1 slipped right in very easily and provided a satisfactory isolation.
FiiO have been nice enough to include a wide range of tips to suit most peoples ear canal size.

 

Value
At around $70-$90 on amazon.com they fit within the budget zone for most but the very casual shopper, many readers of Head Pie seem to own IEMs in the $500 - $1000+ area.
So in that sense, yes they are great value.
The sound is clear and clean, they look fabulous and are built strong and sturdy.
Lots of tips and that oh so sexy cable.

 

Overall
The FiiO EX1 as a cousin to the Dunu Titan is a breath of fresh air. 
I really enjoyed listening to these whilst going through the review process.
They are well built, a decent and fair price, sound great and fit very well.
The only drawback for me is that most of my listening time is spent whilst I am commuting by train so the vents which add to the magic mean I can`t generally use these day by day.
For the price the sound is wonderful and reminds of some of the satisfaction and joy I had recently listening to Echobox X1, both perform very well within and above their asking price.
Great pies.


 
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Thank you to FiiO for providing Head Pie with the EX1 for review.​

Intensecure
Intensecure
Just a correction, you state that they are "made of titanium", then show the marketing picture that states "duralumin/stainless steel". Titanium would be a very nice feel, wish!

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