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FiiO EX1 Nanotech Titanium Diaphragm In-Ear Monitors

Rating:
4.15789/5,
  1. areek
    The Titan that everybody deserves: A Fiio EX1 review
    Written by areek
    Published Nov 17, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound, great soundstage, Clarity, Accessories, Value
    Cons - Highs too sparkly, springy cable, Isolation. non-detachable cable
    INTRODUCTION
    Hello again guys, I am Areek Nibras, a junior Head-fier and a recently graduated physician from Bangladesh. Today I will be reviewing the recently released Titanium diaphragm in-ears called the Fiio EX1, which is essentially a slightly altered and cheaper version of the Dunu Titan 1, the IEMs that came and won over every budget audiophile out there. The EX1 currently goes for just 69.99$ from amazon.com whereas the dunu's version goes for 118$. I was the proud owner of the Titan 1 when these released and soon after the release, Fiio arranged the 'Fiio EX1 World Tour'. I was instantly interested in taking part in the tour to find out if the EX1 could hold the sq of the original Titan 1 at a lot cheaper price. I was selected on the 1st list and the 3rd and candidate to receive the Fiio EX1 after @Tobius89 and @ezekiel77 in Asia. But unfortunately I had visited Canada in the meantime and lost my Dunu Titan 1 there during my travel. :frowning2: So after I came back, I decided to try the EX1 out and if it were similar sounding, I would go for these instead. 

    Thanks to @Joe Bloggs for arranging the tour and helping the members whenever an issue came up during the tour. 

    I tested the iems in both my pc and portable setup, tried out music, movies and gaming with these. Even took these outside while riding a bus to my pg classes, to test the isolation and should these really be used while commuting. I will try to describe my thoughts and experiances in this thread.

    DISCLAIMER
    I have received the Fiio EX1 demo unit as a part of a world tour arranged by Fiio. I am in no way affiliated with Fiio other than being owners of other Fiio products like the Fiio X1 DAP and the Fiio E12 amp. I, like the other participants were given the demo unit for a duration of 10 days in exchange for my honest review regarding the EX1.

     
     
    APPEARANCE, BUILD, ACCESSORIES:
    The Fiio EX1 comes in a slender box that is much smaller than the Titan 1 came with and feels less premium but compact. This is cost effective this is a fair compromise. There is a transparent portion on the box that shows the earpieces and rest is hidden under the packaging. Upon opening, we can see a box at the bottom, which contains all the accessories that come with the iem and acts as the carrying box for the iems. 
    5K1A6251.jpg


    Inside the box, there is a paper with manual and warranty info, a shirt clip and the supplied tips. The single thing that is mising from the Titan 1 packaging is the 3.5mm to 6.3mm gold plated adapter, which is rather useless for me, I have a lot of those sitting in my drawers not being required. 
    5K1A6253.jpg

    As you can see, these come with  total 3 types of different silicone tips, each type having 3 sizes (S/M/L). This is really good considering the price. I wished that the Titan had included the comply tips but they didn't. But for these, no complaints. These tips are quite comfortable. Although, for review purposes, I tried out the comply isolation tips as well, I will get to that during the sq part.
    5K1A6254.jpg
     
    So, enough talk about the accessories and packaging, time to check out the IEM itself. The driver housing looks similar to the Titans but come with a shiny chrome finish which gives these a sparkly look.There are 11 holes on the inner aspect which contribute to the openness of the iems. These are half in ear designs with the housing sits partly outside the tragus of ear. The R/L drivers are easily distinguishable by red/blue color coding around the housing. the big difference from the Titan is the cable, which now has a plastic like sleeving instead of the clothed sleeving that came with the titans. These are non detachable, feel really strong and might provide better protection than the Titan 1, but these feel springy and if you don't get a proper fit, these can pop out off the ear. The Y-splitter is matte silver and is quite compact and feels solid. There is a chin slider as well. Another awesome thing is that they kept the rubber cable tie from the Titans, which is a Dunu patent and I feel is an absolutely brilliant inclusion. All the in-ears should have it. The cable terminates into an L shaped 3.5mm gold plated jack. Overall, even though the packaging did not look much, the build surely looks premium with the EX1 and are these are built to last.
    5K1A6255.jpg 5K1A6258.jpg
    Next up, the sound.
     
    HOW THESE SOUND:
    Coming from the Dunu Titan 1's, I was pretty much expecting a slightly U-shaped sound; slightly boosted but accurate bass,  airy and lifelike mids and sparkly and clear highs. I got what I expected. I had used the Titan 1 about 15 days before I got these in my hands, and from my memory these sound almost the same, although I felt the highs were a bit more controlled and the bass might have been slightly altered. Description below-

    Gears used- 
    PC > JDS labs Odac+O2 > Fiio EX1 ( 2.5x gain, 10 o' clock position)
    Fiio X1 > Fiio E12 > Fiio EX1 (low gain, 11 o' clock position)

     
    Lows- 8.5/10
    The bass has really good quality and comes with just the right amount of quantity that is loved by most of the people. There is slight mid bass boost which never tends to bleed too much and gives a feeling of satisfaction. The bass punch feels great, although with some songs I felt the a bit of extra thump. Remember that this are not in any way a bass heavy iem, these just have a very rich bass which compliment with the overall SQ of the iems.

    Mids- 8.5/10
    The mids have the airy feeling that sounds magical and even when these are U shaped, the mids really shine on their own. These can sound ever so recessed due to the prominant lows and highs, but the airyness along with the soundstage makes up for the flaws.Guitar tunes feel almost lifelike. The clarity is superb. Some of the female vocals sounds really sharp. I really enjoy these with tracks by Norah Jones, Ed Sheeran but even in hard rock and metal music these can bring out the voices to an quite clear and understandable level and I enjoyed these with Eluveitie and other metal bands. 

    Highs- 8.5/10
    Sharp, revealing, sparkly. Might be a bit too much for the sensitive ears but as I am used to the signature, I really enjoy the clarity these produce. Although, some rock/metal tracks can be a bit fatiguing, specially when heard with the ODAC+O2 combo. The X1 with E12 stack sounded a bit more rounded and less fatuguing. But highs are still one of the stronger feats of the EX1.

    Soundstage- 10/10
    These are open iems with a big soundstage. This is the factor which takes it a step above the other budget iems at sub 100$. These sound like I am listening to a room during a live performance. Imaging is accurate. Every instrument feels like in their right places. Other than music, I also play compatitive counter strike global offensive and in some cases I have found these to be more accurate in positional audio than my Hifiman HE-400 cans. These open up more with the O2+ODAC combo which is known for providing a larger soundstage and the effect is astonishing. I can hear foorsteps easily and pick up a lot on in game ambient sound that I usually couldn't with my HE-400. So if there is any fps gamer looking for iems, this could be a really good option.

    Isolation-  3/10
    The major setback for these would be the lack of isolation due to the open nature of the iems. If I put these on without any music on, they barely isolate and I can hear my ceiling fan and my pc hardware running. With soft music, there was slightly audible ceiling fan sound during the quieter segments. Then I took these outside while riding a bus to my pg class. The local buses running in Dhaka are mostly old and noisy, there is also a  lot of traffic. Here's a picture of the bus I ride mostly, just for fun :p
    dhklocal.jpg

    So, as you can guess, pretty noisy. And while listening to the EX1 while riding one of these......well, I could hear every other car horns, traffic whistles and people talking inside the bus. So, if you need your iem to be super isolating and keep the noises away, this won't cut it. Not even with the comply isolation tips, they don't help here at all. But, being said that, it's a common scenario in my country so I wasn't bothered much by it. Not sure about the passenger sitting beside me though, because the sounds leak quite a bit and anyone sitting closer can hear it.. 
     
    Silicone vs Comply tips
    The 200 series tips by Comply can be used with the Fiio EX1 as well as with the Titan 1. I had the T-200 isolation tips and tried them out. These alter the highs a bit, making them a bit more rounded, but I feel it also somehow alters the sound a bit. I feel like the silicone tips articulate the sound a bit better or maybe it's just me. The silicone tips are quite comfortable and provide a good fit. Anyways, it will be the users preference to use the comply tips, just do not go for the active series tips, those alter the sound quite a bit. 

    Comparison with Philips SHE3590
    A lot of people know and praise the 3590 as the sub 10$ king of iems, producing clear, rich sound that can compete with iems 2-3 times or more of it's value, and I agree. However, the EX1 is clearly a couple of steps up. The huge soundstage of the EX1 along with the airy mids, clear highs, tight bass make the 3590 sound cluttered, slightly congested and a lot less sparkly. Vocals lack the depth and texture the EX1 can produce. Higher frequencies feel rolled off. The bass lacks quality and punch. Well, this is no way a fair comparison but the 3590 has got enough praise to make me compare these with the EX1. I really like both iems at their price point. The build with the 3590 is awful though and these demand a lot of care.

    Comparison with Soundmagic E80

    Another budget iem closer to the pricing of the EX1 is the Soundmagic E80. Luckily for me, my friend had recently bought one and lend me his pair for trying out and compare with the EX1(Sorry I forgot to take a picture). The E80 sounds truly neutral with a flat SQ. The bass has almost no impact but is accurate. Mids are really good with this one although there is not a hint of sibilance. And the highs have good clarity but these never get too sharp with any kind of songs. Compared to these, the EX1 sounds like more consumer friendly, has good bass punch which purists might say feel a bit fake, but is liked better by general people. The mids in the EX1 feel a bit recessed but the airyness makes up for that. Vocals sound almost similar with great texture on both but the EX1 gives a bit of sparkle to the female vocals which is rather a love/hate thing. The highs in the E80 feel less sparkly than the EX1 and is well controlled, never becoming painful, but lacked a bit of clarity compared to the EX1. The EX1 wins due to it's bigger soundstage with the U-shaped SQ. But those who prefer flat SQ might prefer the E80 more. I personally like the EX1 due to it's fun signature.

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    So, Dunu Topsound came up with the Titan 1 which took over the 'below 150$ market' by flash. And I can safely say that the Fiio EX1 is here to rule the 'sub 100$ market'. I have previously owned the Monoprice 8320, Soundmagic E10 & E30, Steelseries Flux iems and tried out the Hifiman RE400, Vsonic GR07 BE and a few other iems before and these took me away completely by surprise. It comes with a big sound at an affordable price and I believe with more availability as Fiio has dealers in a lot of countries around the world. I believe that these are the best value iems below 100$. So, if you are looking for a pair of fun sounding iems you wanna use for music, movies or games, the EX1 should be the 1st pair you should be demoing. And yes, I am getting one for myself. :p
      B9Scrambler, ezekiel77 and bolmeteus like this.
    1. bolmeteus
      Excellent review! How does it perform without external dac/amps? Are the highs untolerable?
      bolmeteus, Nov 20, 2015
  2. ExpatinJapan
    Fiio EX1 is a nice airy earphone best suited for the outside
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Sep 19, 2016
    4.5/5,
    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  
    [​IMG]
    FiiO EX1 review - expatinjapan.​
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​


    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.

     
    [​IMG]

    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.

     
    [​IMG]



    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.

     
    [​IMG]

    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.

     
    [​IMG]

    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.


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

    1. 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!
      Intensecure, Jan 29, 2017
  3. afterstory100
    such a great iems for the price, this is a true open back iem lol
    Written by afterstory100
    Published Oct 29, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - huge airy soundstage, heavenly treble, smooth and punchy bass texture
    Cons - isolation, recessed mid
    first of all i'm sorry for my bad  english
     
    from the first time i saw this iem i fell in love with how good they looks, shiny metal pieces, damn they do looks expensive, even it's case is beautiful
     
    i own some iems for different purposes such as dunu dn 1000, shure se 215, and dbe pr 30 rev iii
    fiio ex 1 is always my number one iem for home use. simply because i really love how great they sounds but they lacks in isolation, so in order to appreciate these iems true potential, use in when you're home, a warm sounding amp is reccomended.
     
    ergonomics : they sit in your ears quite nicely with that angled nozzle, spinfit eartips will provide better fit and better sound. the isolation is bad due to their airy sound they sacrifice the isolation
     
    so how they sounds to my ears?
     
    bass:
    the bass of these iems are quite fast for dynamic, they are quite punchy, not really deep, but for my ears it has a smooth nice texture which kind of unique. i have other iems with great amount of bass such as dunu dn 1000 and shure se 215 but the bass texture of fiio ex 1 is more favorable for me, it has an airy rumble...(i don't know how to describe it) like a true bass speaker, so yeah i love the bass of this iem
     
    mids:
    if this iem has a flaw.. this is it.. a little reccessed mid and has and emphasized upper mid. it makes male voice sounds thin and less powerful, but good for female sound actually
     
    treble:
    this is the best point of fiio ex 1, for me the treble extend really well without being sibilant, just when you think that there will be sibilance you'll hear smooth edge instead, perfect for violin, strings, piano and guitar
     
    i also hear no distortion on loud volume ... great... simply great
  4. El Zilcho
    Fiio EX1 - Solid Build, Solid Sound
    Written by El Zilcho
    Published Oct 24, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Clean, Detailed Sound. Well Built. Comfortable. Good Value
    Cons - May Be Bright For Some Tastes.
        Intro
     
    EX1-1.jpg  
    EX1-2.jpg  
     

     
    I received these headphones for evaluation from Fiio.  I was not paid for my review and the headphones were returned after the review period.  
     
    Music can evoke real emotion.  It can be a powerful experience to listen to a good song.  The type of music that stirs you is different for everyone.  Luckily, music is as diverse as its power is universal.  And the variety of headphones available is almost as diverse as the music they are designed to reproduce.
     
    I love music.  But I am a bit of a beginner when it comes to headphones.  I’ve only recently begun to really get into headphones as a way to listen to music more often.  I don’t have the huge stable of headphones that many headphone reviewers have.  I do appreciate good sound, and I hope my thoughts and opinions can help someone considering the EX1 headphones from Fiio.
                
        Sound
     
    EX1-7.jpg  

     
    I listened to the EX1s on my Fiio X5ii, my Denon receiver, my computer and my iPad.  As expected, all were able to provide more than enough volume, with ample headroom to spare.  There were a variety of sources, including Netflix movies, Youtube, lossless, AAC, etc.
     
    The EX1s are brighter than my other headphones (currently: Bose Soundtrue In Ear, Bose QC25, Apple Earpods, Samsung in ear), and those I’ve had previously (Bose AE2, Klipsch Image One).  No detected sibilance, or other problems with the treble, but it’s noticeably more present/forward.  Initially, the extra brightness of the EX1 seemed to make parts of the song sound almost harsh.  However, this was in comparison to my other headphones.  In comparison, my others sounded a bit smoother, but at a cost of some of the perceived detail and airiness which the EX1s have.  
     
    As I listened to the EX1s I quickly got used to the bright sound and they no longer sounded harsh.  I found them to be very clean sounding across the range.  They aren’t fatiguing, nor do they have the undefinable quality (or lack thereof) that some headphones possess which makes me perpetually feel the need to turn the volume down.  I began to appreciate the added detail and clarity of the EX1s.  They are bright, but balanced.  After a while listening to the EX1s I switched back to the Bose Soundtrue and they sounded downright muffled in comparison, rather than smoother.
     
    If the recording/song has hiss, it was slightly more noticeable with the EX1s than my other headphones due to the brighter sound signature and, possibly, greater treble extension.  Not a fault, just an effect of the more forward treble.  I happen to have a few older, hissy songs, and the hiss is a bit more noticeable (along with the rest of the treble) in the EX1s.  That didn’t stop me from enjoying those songs at all, it’s just something that’s more noticeable with a brighter headphone.  It is a small difference, but it’s there.  Also, bear in mind, the vast majority of what I listened to had no hiss, and the background on my X5ii was as inky black as ever with the EX1s.  So any background hiss was definitely not an attribute of the headphones.
                        
    While these phones are brighter than my others, they still have decent bass.  The bass is crisp and defined, hits when it should, and doesn’t bleed into the rest of the song when it shouldn’t.  It is a flat bass response though.  Unlike many of the headphones available today, which tend to have a dB bump in the bass range.
     
    There are songs that do benefit from a little extra bass, but if you have to err on one side or the other, I would say the EX1s are a better choice for me than an overly bass-heavy pair of headphones.  In my opinion, balanced (meaning flat, not boosted) bass won’t ruin a song that would benefit from more bass.  But too much bass can nearly ruin some songs for me.  Again, the EX1s do have bass, but these are not bass-head headphones.  Interestingly, the sub-bass does seem to extend a little further down than on my Bose Soundtrues.  This may be due, in part, to the better seal/isolation.  My Soundtrues do have a warmer sound with a bit more bass overall, but the EX1s have impact when I feel they should.  Songs that have a lot of sub bass surprised me with how powerful the bass sounded in the EX1s.  
     
    The brightness brings a level of clarity and detail I don’t quite get with any of my other headphones.  I have some Samsung in ear headphones (came included with a phone) that are nearly as bright on the top end, but the highs aren’t quite as clear.  The Samsungs have an almost grainy and artificial sound to the highs at times, compared to the EX1s.  I know it’s not a fair comparison.  The Samsungs are cheapos; they are outmatched by the EX1s in every way.
     
    Compared to my Bose QC25s, I would say the QC25s have a bit more upper bass/lower mids, leading to a bit more “fullness” to some songs.  But actual bass “slam” and low end power seems about the same, and the EX1s have a cleaner sound, with easier to pick out detail, particularly in the higher frequencies.
        
    I like the sound of the EX1s.  If you are looking for an in ear headphone with a fairly flat response, and good treble and bass extension, give the EX1s a try.  The sound is clean, clear and while nothing is boosted, nothing is missing either.  
     
        Fit
     
    EX1-4.jpg  

                
    The shallow fit of the EX1 is great for me.  Deeper insertion in-ear headphones become uncomfortable after a while for me.  These have a shallow insertion depth, and the “body” of the earphones just tuck against the back of the ear, holding them in place.
     
    The isolation may not be quite as complete as some others because of this shallow depth, but I’ll give up a little isolation to get long term wear-ability any day.  Comfort wise, at first I’d have still given a slight edge to my Bose Soundtrue In Ears (the EX1s do provide much more isolation than the Soundtrues).  But I got used to them quickly and they basically “disappear” in my ears now.  Comfort for me personally is very good.  They strike a good balance between isolation and comfort.  They isolate much more than my Soundtrues, but are still comfortable for hours.  
     
    The EX1 headphones stay put in my ears much better than I anticipated.  This is particularly surprising since it takes so little effort to insert or remove them.  Even if I shake my head around quite vigorously, they don’t budge.  Fit is a very individual thing, and the experience of others will surely vary.  For me the fit is great.  They do include various silicone tip sizes to match your ear canal as close as possible.  Because the body/housing of the earphones tuck against the ear, there is a chance that with larger ears than mine they wouldn’t hold as securely.  Likewise, with smaller ears they may end up too tight and become uncomfortable.  I don’t know how prevalent these issue would be, since they fit without issue in my ears.
     
    Now that the temps are dropping, the metal body is cold on the ears for a moment when you first put them in.  I imagine if they were left in a car in winter they could cause quite a shock when you pop them in your ears.  Probably not a huge issue for most, but just something I noticed.
     
        Build
     
    EX1-5.jpg  

     
    Build quality is very good.  The metal is smooth and polished, with no rough edges, tool marks or obvious issues that stand out.  The gaps are tight and even and everything seems to suggest quality.  The cord ends with a 90* plug, which is something that could be debated.  I typically prefer a straight plug, but there are situations where a 90 degree is preferable, so I wouldn’t count for or against a straight or 90 degree plug.  There is a bit more cord noise/microphonics than my Bose Sountrues, which is likely due to the increased seal they have rather than any differences in the cord.  This is to be expected, and it’s not too bad. 
     
    There are colored rings around the body of the earphones which add a little flair and help differentiate between right and left.  Right and left are easy to tell apart just as a result of the shape, but the color adds a quick, visual key that will never leave you guessing.  There is also an “R” and “L” etched on each respective earphone.
     
    The cord is reasonably supple and doesn’t cause any unusual annoyances.  The insulation is a more slippery feeling material than what my Bose Soundtrue cord has (it is also very slightly stiffer than the Bose Soundtrue cord).  This makes the EX1 cord a bit less apt to tangle, as the cord doesn’t hang up on itself as readily.  The cord is not detachable, but it does give the impression of being fairly durable.  Nothing about it stands out to make me think it wouldn’t hold up over time.    
     
     
        Conclusion
     
    EX1-6.jpg  

     
    I think a simple way to wrap this up is to say that if I was in the market for some in ear headphones I would feel very comfortable buying the EX1 headphones from Fiio.  They have a fairly flat, balanced sound signature with clean, detailed sound across the range. They have decent isolation and a secure, comfortable fit.  And finally, considering the build quality, included tips and hard case they are a pretty good value for money as well.  
     
    The EX1s are a well rounded pair of earphones.  They may not be for everyone, but no headphone/earphone can claim that honor.
     
    Happy listening.
      Denzea likes this.
  5. nmatheis
    FiiO EX1: FiiO Takes On The TITAN
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Oct 23, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great sound. Open, airy soundstage. Comfortable. Attractive.
    Cons - Lacks isolation. Mids could be more prominent. Springy cable.

    Titan-19.jpg

     

    INTRODUCTION

    I'm going to let you in on a secret: I never tried the original Dunu TITAN 1. Why? The many excellent reviews were balanced out by reports of weak bass and aggressive highs. These discrepancies made me leery of trying them, but when I saw Fiio sponsor a tour for the EX1 (basically a FiiO-branded TITAN 1), I signed up without hesitation. Here was my chance to hear one of the most hyped IEM of 2015. If I didn't like it, no worries. If I did like it, maybe I'd end up buying it. Either way, I'd find out if the hype was deserved. 
     
    I'm sure most of you know about FiiO, one of the most popular portable amp and DAP manufacturers on Head-Fi. Their X3 DAP was my first DAP. I also own the X5 DAP and E12A and E12 DIY portable amps. I've reviewed their X3ii (LINK) and X5ii (LINK) DAPs and am excited to be one of the first-round reviewers of the X7 on Head-Fi. I provide you with this information so you understand that I do have a history with FiiO. I also recently received pre-release versions of the Dunu TITAN 3 (review) and TITAN 5 (review) for review and tour, so I'm confident I have a good understanding of where the EX1 falls amongst in the TITAN lineup.
     
    Here's some information about FiiO from their About Us page:
     
    About FiiO Electronics Technology Co., Ltd.

    FiiO designs, produces and sells high-quality products at favorable prices to those who love music and style.

    FiiO's aspiration: to raise the reputation of "Made in China".

    Brand spirit: innovation, quality, service

    Brand positioning: HiFi with style

    FiiO was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types,
    and sell FiiO-branded products through sales agents worldwide.

    FiiO is focused on product quality, adheres strictly to ISO9001 standards in quality management and works hard to attain the lowest
    repair-related product returns rate.

    Several products from FiiO have created record sales in their respective product segments; our portable headphone amplifiers, DACs and
    high-resolution digital audio players have all received praise from the majority of users.

    FiiO places great importance on users’ needs and ceaselessly pursues perfection in product design and manufacturing, to supply users
    with the best audio products at the best prices. 





     
    FiiO's Website: LINK.
     
    Dedicated Dunu TITAN thread: LINK.
     
     

    DISCLAIMER

    There is no financial incentive from FiiO for writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with FiiO, and this is my honest opinion of the EX1.  I would like to thank FiiO for giving me a chance to test drive and tour the EX1, and I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for FiiO.
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
     
    I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
     
    Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



     
     
    SPECS
    1. Driver: 13mm titanium coated dynamic
    2. Frequency Response: 20Hz-30KHz
    3. SPL: 102dB
    4. Impedance: 16Ω
    5. Plug: 3.5mm Gold-plated L-plug
    6. Cord Length: 1.2m
    7. Weight: 18g
     
     

    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



    Packaging
    Titan-15.jpg
     
     
    Carry case
    Titan-5.jpg
     
     
    Tips

     
    Not pictured: Shirt clip + 1/8" plug adapter.
     
    To sum up: So you get the EX1, Heir and Hybrid style tips in S, M, and L, the hard carry case, a shirt clip, and an 1/8" plug adapter. Not bad. I'll say right now that I'm not a fan of Heir style tips. They always seem to slip out of my ear canals. The Hybrid style tips are grippier and stay put in my ears much better, so that's what I gravitated towards. The hard case works very well with the EX1. Since I have the TITAN 3 and TITAN 5 in for testing, I'll mention that it doesn't work so well for those. The larger housing size Dunu used to accommodate the detachable cable connectors makes them just a bit too large to easily snap the case shut.
     
     
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    The EX1 are a half in-ear design, which allows them to include a large driver without compromising on comfort. I'll walk through the various design and ergonomic features of the EX1 in pictorial format below.
     
    Here's a look at the EX1's inner face. I love the brushed metal finish and wish that was also used on the outer face. Note the numerous vent holes that give the EX1 its unique open, airy sound.
    Titan-16.jpg
     
    Here's a look at the EX1's outer face. Here you can see the candy colored strips sandwiched between the inner and outer housings that provide a quick visual distinction between L/R earpieces. While this is much easier than looking for the low contrast L/R markings on the inner face, I would've preferred more subtle dark red and black strips.
    Titan-19.jpg
     
    Since I've got the TITAN 3 and TITAN 5 in-house, I thought I'd show you just how much bulk the detachable cables add. You can also see a little of Dunu's cable, which I preferred to the FiiO cable. Dunu's implementation is quite supple, while FiiO's is springy. This makes cable management a bit more of a chore with FiiO's version.
    Titan-22.jpg
     
    Y-splitter and chin slider
    Titan-17.jpg
    Titan-18.jpg
     
    3.5mm L-plug
    Titan-20.jpg
     
    The EX1 feature Dunu's awesome cable management feature. Wish all my IEM had this!

     
    Here's what EX1 look like worn down vs. over ear. While they're designed to be worn down, they can be worn over ear fairly easily - although this will result in channels swapping (left earpiece in right ear and vice versa).
    FullSizeRender-10.jpg FullSizeRender-12.jpg
     
     
     
    To sum up: The FiiO EX1 are an attractive, ergonomic, well-built IEM. I can't find many flaws beyond the aesthetic choice to use candy colors to differentiate L/R earpieces (which I'm sure some will love) and the springy cable.
     
     
    SOUND
    I'm going to keep this section simple. There are already a lot of reviews for the EX1, so if mine doesn't fit your needs there are plenty more to explore. You can always hit up the TITAN thread, where they've been discussed across 150+ pages already.
     
    I mainly listen to experimental electronic and metal and use those genres to evaluate HP & IEM. During my time with the EX1, I mainly used them with the FiiO X5, Shanling M3 (LINK to review), and the newly released Shanling M2 I have in for testing and US tour (LINK to the M2 thread I started). 
     
    The original TITAN and the FiiO's EX1 have already received a lot of attention, and I know a lot of people are asking themselves how the new TITANs differentiate themselves from the TITAN 1 / EX1. So I decided to do a bit of comparative listening across the three and will go over how they differentiate themselves below.
     

    FiiO EX1
    It's the hardest to drive, has the worst isolation, but has the most unique sound. Regarding driving power, a comfortable listening level in a quiet rom was 35 on Low Gain out of my X5. That actually indicates to me that the X5 isn't actually hard to drive - just harder to drive than the other TITANs. To get an initial sense of isolation, I snapped my fingers by my ears while music was playing. The snaps were dulled but still clearly audible. Later I listened to them while walking in my neighborhood, and while they were definitely less isolating than my other IEM it wasn't night and day. It certainly wasn't egregious, and I clearly had a better sense of environmental awareness. Soundstage was open and airy for an IEM at any price point. I was quite impressed with the holographic sound. It actually reminded me a bit of my HiFiMan HE400 in this respect.  Not the same mind you but reminiscent nonetheless. The basic sound signature is a u-curve. Bass is relatively flat with just enough mid-bass emphasis to add a bit of punch - definitely neither weak nor boomy. Mids are neutral and clear but are a bit lacking in sweetness and emotion. The upper end is a bit edgy but didn't verge into sibilant territory for me and is something I could easily be happy with. 
     
    Quite honestly, the EX1 exceeded my expectations, pushing a lot of the right buttons for me. Soundstage was fantastic, providing a very holographic listening experience. Bass was deep enough for a satisfying listen with electronic music but also fast enough to keep up with the rapid fire kick drums oft employed in metal music. Mids were definitely the weak point but were present enough not to call EX1 recessed. They're the aspect of EX1 most ripe for improvement. While the upper end was a touch harsh, it wasn't as aggressive as I was expecting and provided a good level of detail without veering into fatiguing territory. I see what the hype was about now. EX1 sounds nice!
     
    Since I've got them, how do the new TITANs compare?

    Dunu TITAN 3
    T3 are the easiest to drive of the bunch. To get a comparable volume, I was able to turn my X5's volume down to 28 while listening in a quiet room. Isolation is on par with typical dynamic IEM. I could barely hear my fingers snapping when music was playing and environmental noise in my neighborhood was mostly blocked. Soundstage is much more conventional. Gone is the original's very open, airy almost holographic sound. T3's sound signature is just on the warm side of neutral. Bass sounds similar to the EX1's but a bit flatter. Nonetheless, it was still satisfying with a wide range of music. The key difference is the mids, which are more present vs. EX1. Whereas the EX1's mids were neutral, the T3 brings them forward - especially the upper mids. This makes female vocals pop. Those of you who know me know I'm a big Bjork fan and routinely use her Biophila album when testing new IEM. T3 were hands-down the best of the TITANs for bringing out the best in Bjork's voice. EX1 and T5 were still satisfying but failed to convey the same emotional presence the T3 did. Similar to the low end, the T3's upper end sounds similar to EX1 but takes the edge off. If you thought the originals were a bit on the harsh side, T3 should solve that issue for you.
     
     
    Dunu TITAN 5
    T5 are just a bit harder to drive than T3. To get a comparable volume, I had to turn my X5's volume up to 30 while listening in a quiet room. Isolation is identical to T3, so on par with typical dynamic IEM. Soundstage is still quite conventional, but I found the soundstage larger vs. T3. And just like the T3, you'll be missing the original's open, airy sound. T5's sound signature is a mild v-shape. Bass is the star of the show. It's more prominent than the other TITANs but is well-done - not loose or boomy. The mids are neutral and remind me of the EX1, whereas the upper end is quite reminiscent of the T3. Revisiting Bjork for a minute - where T3 really made Bjork's voice pop, the T5 made the bass drops more satisfying. But when switching to The Eagles, I found the T5's bass made the bass guitar more prominent than I was used to. EX1 and T3 feel truer to the music in this respect.
     
    TLDR
    1. T3 takes the general EX1 sound, adds in more prominent mids (especially upper mids), more refined upper end, and better isolation. It also brings a much more conventional soundstage.
    2. T5 takes the general EX1 sound but adds in more prominent bass, more refined upper end, and better isolation. It also brings a much more conventional soundstage but not as much of a compromise as T3.
     
     
    SUMMARY
    So what do I think of the FiiO EX1? Well, first of all I'm going to admit that I'm saddened that it took me this long to hear them. The EX1 are a superb IEM. Sure they've got a few flaws. Their mids could be more prominent, the upper end could be more refined, isolation isn't great, and they've got a springy cable. However, their open, airy soundstage, well-balanced sound signature, and high level of comfort more than make up for these minor flaws. In my opinion, they hold up very well against the upcoming TITAN 3 and TITAN 5. I can easily see people choosing any of the different models based on their sound signature, soundstage, and isolation preferences. And I'll be blunt, I don't think the new TITANs benefit much from detachable cables. I much prefer the fixed cable design of the EX1, which allows the earpieces to remain small and light. 
     
    I hope you found this useful and would like to give a hearty thanks to FiiO for giving the Head-Fi community the chance to review the EX1. I really enjoyed my time with them and put them on my "must buy" list. Be on the lookout for more reviews as the tour progresses. @Podster's next up on my leg of the tour
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Paulus XII
      Great review as always ; )
      Paulus XII, Oct 24, 2015
    3. Astral Abyss
      Well written, very descriptive review.  I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the RHA S500 as they're on my radar as well.
      Astral Abyss, Oct 28, 2015
    4. BloodyPenguin
      Fantastic Review.  Really Impressive.  Well done nmatheis.
      BloodyPenguin, Jan 26, 2016
  6. hakushondaimao
    A Titan in FiiO Clothing
    Written by hakushondaimao
    Published Oct 11, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Impactful bass (when worn over ear); crisp, clear highs; overall warmth; good soundstage; non-fatiguing; bang for the buck.
    Cons - Slightly recessed mids, springy cable; not designed to be worn cable-up.
    The Fiio EX1 is the first Fiio-branded IEM. If it looks familiar, that’s because it is basically a re-tuned Dunu Titan 1 (a collaboration made obvious by the appearances of both the Fiio and Dunu names on various parts of the product).
     
    The Titan has an excellent reputation within Head-Fi circles for spacious soundstage, capable bass, sparkling treble and revealing detail. Although curious for some time to try the Titan, I was held back from purchasing a set of my own by reports from some reviewers of poor isolation, edgy treble (tip dependent), shallow fit and cable-down design (I like over-ear).
     
    0.ProductIMage.jpg
     
    With the release of the EX1, Fiio organized a world tour, and I saw my no-risk chance to try out the latest iteration of the Titan. I put my name forward, and luckily was selected to lead off one of the North American legs, which led to me having ten days with the EX1 in exchange for my unbiased impressions. There was no financial incentive for me in this review, and at the end of ten days the IEM was packed up and sent on to the next tour participant.
     
    I’m 50 verging on 51, and I have deficiencies in my hearing (in a recent, entirely non-scientific test I discovered I can’t really hear anything over about 15 kHz, with roll-of starting around 12 or 13 kHz, which I guess is pretty good for someone of my vintage but not perfect). My hearing sensitivity is pretty low, and so I listen at higher volume than the average bear. I listen to a variety of genres, in particular, Classical (mostly chamber), Jazz (‘50s to 70’s), ‘70s Rock, ‘80s New Wave/Electro, and Trip Hop/Acid Jazz (90’s into 00’s). I like good sub-bass presence, tight mid bass, relatively linear, detailed mids and highs, lush and rich with a good level of detail. I’m not a bass-head, and am not a fan of anything boomy. I’ve been a music lover for decades, but am relatively new to Head-Fi (bought my first over-ear headphones in November 2014). I am not an expert in electronics or musical terminology. I spend a lot of time on Head-Fi, know what has been useful to me in reviews, and try to give useful insights to help others make decisions about items they are thinking about trying or buying.
     
    About the EX1
     
    This is a summary of product information I found on Amazon: Each EX1 earpiece contains a nanotech titanium diaphragm dynamic driver within a CNC milled duralumin (back) and stainless steel (front) housing, with short nozzle for comfort. At the end of each nozzle are 7 tuning ports in a beehive pattern, sized and positioned for the desired sound properties. Housings are connected to grey kevlar-strengthened high-purity multi-strand (42 strands) OFC cables.
     
    1.Package.jpg     2.Package.jpg
     
    To add some of my own observations on receiving the EX1: The cable terminates at an L-shaped gold-plated plug. Strain reliefs are substantial, with black, soft rubberized material at the plug, an aluminium sheath at the y-split, and grey rubberized material at each housing. The housings are well vented (11 vents on the front, ear side and one on the back) so driver flex is not an issue. Cable is a bit springy, but not to the point of being a big issue. There is an aluminium cable cinch, which slides easily and locks securely; it inserts slightly into the recessed end of the y-split sheath when not in use.
     
    3.PackageandSpec.jpg
     
    Vital specifications:
    1. Driver: 13mm dynamic driver (titanium)
    2. Frequency Range: 20Hz – 30kHz
    3. Impedance: 16 ohm
    4. Sensitivity: 102 dB/mW
     
    At the time of writing, the EX1 cost US$89.99 on Amazon.com.
     
    EX1 Impressions
     
    On receiving the EX1, I tried them out the way they’re designed, worn cable down and with stock tips. To tell the truth, I wasn’t happy with this set-up. I like a deep, secure insertion and the ear tips didn’t insert very far. The result was that I felt the earpieces were going to fall out or I would lose my seal if I moved my head too vigorously or quickly. The main culprits here were:
    • short nozzles and short bore stock ear-tips, and
    • the fact that I have rather prominent traguses (tragi?), both front and back, which caught on the strain relief and kept tip insertion shallow.
     
    Feeling like maybe these weren’t for me , I decided to play around with different tips to see if I could get a more secure fit. I have Comply tips lying around, but I’m not the biggest fan of their sound, so I started with the Sony Isolation (foam-filled) Hybrids. I had success with these with the RHA MA750, which also fit insecurely with stock tips. With the EX1, if I really jammed them in as deep as they’d go, I got an okay fit, but it didn’t last long as the strain relief on the housing worked them out again. Same with other tips I tried.
     
    So, I got a bit more drastic. The design looked like it would work cable up if I reversed ears (left earpiece in right ear and vice-versa… I know, sacrilege) so I gave it a try. The result? An excellent fit! I got much deeper insertion, everything felt secure, the earpieces didn’t work their way out, and I got a great seal. From there it was a matter of tip-rolling to find an ideal combination of comfort and sound quality.
     
    4.TipRolling.jpg     5.TipRolling.jpg
     
    I ended up settling on the Spinfits, with my top-three choices being: 1) Spinfit (best insertion, great bass and detailed highs, good soundstage, male vocals just a touch subdued at times), 2) Stock Silicon (bass fuller than Spinfits, highs and soundstage almost at Spinfit levels, but shallower insertion), and 3) Sony Isolation Hybrid (similar sound to Spinfit but warmer and smoother, insertion similar to stock silicon).
     
    iTunes on MacBook Air via Fiio Q1
    Dire Straits – You And Your Friend (from On Every Street, ALAC)
    1. Sony Isolation Hybrid (short narrow bore): Bass goes deep, has real substance in both sub- and mid-bass. Guitar beautifully detailed, sparkling and bright at high end but not harsh. Snare and high hat also nicely detailed. Knopfler’s vocal rich and textured, but veiled when competing against other instruments. Overall sound is warm, no harshness.
    2. Spiral Dot (short wide bore): Bass more forward, longer sustain, more echo-y. Highs (upper mids and treble) rounder, less detailed but still satisfying. Vocal more subdued. Overall warmer and less detailed, but pleasant, and suitable for long listening sessions or for music as background.
    3. Spinfit (long medium bore): Great insertion (tip extends about 2mm more from housing than other tips). Similar sound signature to Sony hybrid with powerful bass, detailed highs and slightly veiled mids (male vocal), though more open, greater sense of space.
    4. Stock Silicon (short wide bore): Look similar to Spiral Dots, but bore slightly wider and shorter (so sit shallower and less securely). Less bass forward than Spiral Dots and slightly fuller than Sony and Spinfit. Vocal and guitar more textured than Spiral Dots. Excellent detail and airiness to highs, with guitar quality and soundstage approaching Spinfits.
    5. Generic Silicon (short medium bore): Duller sound overall. Bass less full, more mid-bassy. Guitar rounder, less detailed. Vocal lusher but less textured. No real sense of spaciousness, more inside the head.
     
     
    Sound Impressions
     
    General sound signature: As mentioned at the beginning of the review, my sound expectations for the EX1 were a mix of good and bad: spacious soundstage, capable bass, sparkling treble and revealing detail, along with poor isolation and sometimes edgy treble. Once I dealt with my fit and insertion issues through tip choice and wearing the earpieces reversed and over the ears, fears were allayed and positive expectations met in spades.
     
    6.Impressions.jpg     7.Impressions.jpg
     
    I used the EX1s a lot in the 10 days I had them. Some of the time was spent listening objectively and taking notes for my review, but most of the time I enjoyed them while on the go or just listening for pure pleasure.
     
    8.Microphone.jpg
     
    In addition to a lot of listening, for the first time I made use of some objective measurement for this review. Thanks to input from my Head-Fi pal @nmatheis, I recently purchased the Dayton iMM-6 Calibrated Measurement Microphone (pictured above, with tubing added so I get an air-tight sound chamber for accurate results), and used it with the iPhone AudioTools app (with calibration file installed) to create an FFT curve showing frequency response characteristics of the EX1 (see below). I won’t pretend the curves produced are 100% scientifically accurate, but from experimenting with a number of the IEMs I own, have found the sound signatures I hear match pretty well with the graphics produced. To avoid influencing my impressions, I performed measurements after several hours of listening.
     
    9.FFT.jpg
    And with that preamble out of the way, my impressions:
     
    1. Bass: Just the way I like it. Not boomy, but very good in quantity and quality. On tracks with a lot of bass, you can feel the sub-bass in the pit of your stomach. On non-bassy tracks, there is a warmth from the low end that adds to ambience nicely. Bass doesn’t bleed or overpower other frequencies, and has good speed and snap.
    2. Mids: Texture of mids is excellent, with lots of micro-detail and realism to brass and toms. Lower mids can be subdued when competing with bass and treble in busy passages, but on their own sound lovely.
    3. Highs: Upper end is bright, detailed and clear. High hats, cymbals, guitar and piano shimmer and sparkle beautifully. Extension (at least to my aging ears) is good. At no point in my listening did I feel highs were harsh or sibilant; perhaps this is due to tip choice, or maybe the retune of the Titan has made a difference in this area.
    4. Female vocals: To be brief, the EX1 is wonderful with female voices. It’s revealing, detailed and honest. With smooth singers (Norah Jones, Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Shepherd, Sade and the like), voices translate beautifully, with air and space, while those who’re more raw and edgy (Björk, Beth Hart, Joss Stone) deliver wonderful texture.
    5. Male vocals: If there’s a shortcoming with the EX1, this is it for me. Vocal detail and texture are good, but the slight veiling of lower mids is to me very evident in tracks or passages with a lot going on. Characterful singers like Geddy Lee, Eddie Vedder and Mark Knopfler have great quality during quiet passages, but when their bands get going and there’s a lot of energy, the low end of their vocals drops out noticeably.
    6. Balance: As mentioned already, bass and treble both have excellent quality, and some veiling is evident in the lower mids (note the dip between 500 Hz and 1.5 kHz in the FFT graph). I would call the EX1 mildly v-shaped, but not significantly so as neither bass not treble are over-emphasized.
    7. Soundstage: Very good sense of space and atmospherics, and very definitely takes your music outside your head. Positioning is accurate, with width, height and depth. Side-to-side fades and stereo effects have impact.
     
    iTunes on MacBook Air via Calyx PaT DAC
    Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor – No Protection (Whole Album, ALAC)
    1. Wow! Crunching bass, deep and punchy. Visceral, gut-punching sub-bass. Lot of low frequency synth effects, clear with amazing textured reverb. Nice clarity in tracks with female vocals. Highs are clear, bright, detailed. Side-to-side fades have echo-y and strong stereo quality. BIG sense of soundstage, wide, tall, deep… holographic and atmospheric.
     
    Fiio X3ii via Fiio Q1
    Duke Jordan – Deacon Joe (from Flight to Jordan, ALAC)
    1. Natural, full bass. Drums mostly focused on high hat, brushed snare and a bit of cymbal, clear as a bell. Sax reedy and textured, trumpet sweet and clear, bright and squawky. Piano sparkles, natural, no damping or muffling, crisp attack with sustain neither too short nor long. Solos are clear and clean, group passages well balanced with good definition of individual players.
     
     
    Comparisons
     
    While I had the EX1, I preformed several comparisons with other IEMs of similar class and price. I could have compared against higher-priced hybrids (Dunu DN2000J, Fidue A73, Altone 2000, Trinity Delta), but felt it unfair to pit a budget single dynamic against competition like that. Instead, I chose to compare with several popular IEMs in similar technology (single driver) and price (sub $100) ranges.
     
    10.Comparison.jpg     11.Comparison.jpg
     
    1. RHA MA750: I really like the MA750, and it’s been one of my go-to IEMs for running about due to it’s rugged construction and cable and good sound quality. I was thus surprised at how much more I liked the EX1, which has more substantial bass, dynamic, revealing mids and highs, and warmer presentation overall. In comparison I found the MA750 rather flat and thunky.
    2. Trinity Hyperion: The Hyperion is tiny compared to the EX1, and cheaper by half, so perhaps this comparison is also a bit unfair. That said, it’s very listenable. Compared to the EX1, it lacks sub-bass, is more v-shaped (more recessed mids), and overall a bit dry and analytical. EX1 is fuller and deeper, with more warmth and airy, spacious soundstage.
    3. Havi B3 Pro 1: The Havi is a double-dynamic IEM known for excellence with vocals and stellar soundstage. It lacks a bit in the low end, and I prefer the sub- and mid-bass quality of the EX1. Havi is more mid-forward than EX1, so vocals (especially male) sounded more natural and balanced, while treble quality was similar. Soundstage with both was very good, with EX1 a touch smaller. Overall the bass presence makes the EX1 sound fuller and warmer, and if I have to chose between the two on sound alone, I give the edge to the EX1. The EX1 is significantly easier to drive (Havi requires a fair bit of power), so for portable use without an external amp, the EX1 wins, too.
     
    EX1 vs. RHA MA750 (Fiio X3ii, LG)
    Nitin Sawhney – I Ask You (feat. Joss Stone, from OneZero, ALAC)
    1. EX1: Bass substantial, nice thump, goes deep, realistic attack, not overpowering or bleedy. Stone’s vocal clear, detailed, textured. Good air, breathy and throaty. Balanced well with instruments. Piano clear and sparkling. Snare and high hat shimmer. Warm and spacious overall.
    2. MA750: Overall sound is drier, flatter. Less prevalent bass, particularly sub-bass. Overall sound a bit muffled. Vocal veiled. Piano sounds damped. Snare and high hat more thunky than shimmery. Sound is boxed in, lacks space and air. EX1 wins.
     
    EX1 vs. Trinity Hyperion (Fiio X3ii, LG)
    Roxy Music – Take A Chance With Me (from Avalon, ALAC)
    1. Hyperion: A little lacking in sub-bass, though mid-bass is satisfying. Good detail in highs (snare, high hat, guitar, synth). Ferry’s vocal nicely detailed but veiled and lacking the smooth, croony quality it usually has. Overall dry and a bit analytical, but very listenable.
    2. EX1: Bass fuller and deeper, more impactful. Ferry is croony again, with warmth and textured airiness. Highs shimmery and bright. Overall warmer, airier, more engaging and spacious. Like EX1 more.
     
    EX1 vs. Havi B3 Pro 1 (Fiio X5ii, LG for EX1 and HG for Havi)
    Rush – Red Barchetta (from Moving Pictures, ALAC)
    1. Havi: Overall sound is definitely bass-light. Mid-bass is there, but a bit thin and subdued, lacking power and impact. Lots of detail in the mids and highs (small toms, snare, cymbals, high hat, guitar). Geddy’s vocal is lively and natural, detailed yet full and without any harshness. Good sense of width and depth.
    2. EX1: Bass is much fuller and goes deeper. Overall sound is warmer. Mids recessed somewhat, body has gone somewhat from lower end of Geddy’s vocals. Highs similarly detailed and crisp. Soundstage good width and depth, but smaller than Havi. A close one, but overall prefer the EX1.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    I’m glad I got to try the EX1 as it certainly lives up the Titan hype. For $89 I didn’t expect to find this quality of bass married to revealing highs and excellent soundstage. Overall sound is natural and warm, with very good levels of detail, and other than the slightly recessed lower mids, I find little to fault here.
     
    12.Conclusion.jpg
     
    Having spent some time with the EX1, I now regret not having gone in on the Titan 1 when it was first released. From what I’ve read, the EX1 is a retune of, but not that different from, the Titan. Lucky for me the EX1 is more reasonable price-wise, so this is a purchase I’ll definitely be making in the near future. Now if only it came with a detachable cable so I didn’t have to reverse left and right channels!
     
    Many thanks to @Joe Bloggs of Fiio for coordinating this review tour.
      x RELIC x likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. GN-0015
      I remember Hifiman made an adapter for RE-272 that can switch your left/right side so you can wear IEMs like this one over the ear. Do they sell those things separately or are they any alternatives?
      GN-0015, Oct 11, 2015
    3. hakushondaimao
      hakushondaimao, Oct 11, 2015
    4. FiiO Sunny
      Thanks for your kind support, great review , hakushondaimao.
      FiiO Sunny, Oct 12, 2015
  7. pixelsphotopro
    FIIO EX1 if you're looking for good value for your money
    Written by pixelsphotopro
    Published Oct 3, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Channel separation, confort, isolation, Excellent value for the money and much more....
    Cons - Packaging (Because I'm fussy)
    Hi all, I just want to say that it's my first review done on a product but I'm very proud to do it on a FIIO product. Review of the new FIIO EX1 In-ear Monitors. I will use the EX1 with the FIIO X1 alone. I don't consider myself a professional, I'm just a guy who love music and appreciate when the sound is nice to my ears.
     
    Day 1: Let's begin:
     
    Packaging: I was surprised to see the box the EX1 and parts were put in, I do have the FIIO X1, E07K and E12 and the boxes look more high end than the the EX1, the box did not give the protection that I was looking for but was more a regular box that you see all the time but not from FIIO. It's maybe just me who is too fussy about the packaging.
     Parts included: I was really pleased and surprised to see all that is included with the EX1. You do naturally have the EX1, a nice little black box to put the EX1 and all parts together, 9 pairs of ear tips, a clip, a warranty card but if you want the specifications you have to look on the back of the box that you just put in the garbage.
    Now the more serious task, let's listen to music, I will listen to different genres of music to see how versatile the EX1 are.
    Eric Clapton   MY FATHER EYES and others
    Jennifer Warnes  WAY DOWN DEEP
    Luciano Pavarotti  O SOLE MIO and others
    TIESTO and Techno
    As you see, I do listen to many genres of music.
    For the first day it will only play some random music to open them……  Goodnight for now
     
    Day 2: Tonight I feel to party so it will be Techno night, just to let you know that I’m 57 y/o and I love techno….. I was part-time DJ up to 45 y/o, that’s why I love it.
    I did listen to around 2 hours of mix techno style music and one thing I was surprised is the very high frequency are there big time. I did have to use the EQ on my X1 player to give a rest to my ears. The voices were nice to listen, at least to my old DJ abused ears. Bass were also very good, like I used to hear these mixes.
    So for tonight after I did adjust the high frequency it was a wonderful and nostalgic moments of my time behind the tables. It’s not the best music to make a review but still not everyone listen only to classical or quieter music.
     
     
    Day 3: Classical music night with Pavarotti
    This is going to be thought to do a fair review tonight as classical music with a Tenor like Pavarotti it’s sometimes very hard for in-ear monitors to endure and be able to make a nice representation of all the instruments and at the same time keep the voice as it supposed to be.
    What a wonderful evening I had to listen to the best of all time, at least to me: Luciano Pavarotti. His voice was sublime and the instruments were well defined, what I mean is everything was well balance between the instruments and his voice, I don’t know how to say it with frequency terms but to my ears it was WOW, even when he was pushing his voice to the higher level I did not have to lower the highs.
     Only thing that I do have when I listen to the same album with my Grado SR225I is the FIIO EX1 did not gave me the same stage effect, you know when you listen and you think the person is singing in front of you , that was not there for me. And this is one thing that I’m very fussy about. Everything else was so perfect that I did really appreciate my night with the master.
     
    Day 4: Repeat of Pavarotti
    Before listening to Eric Clapton, I did repeat my Pavarotti night and a good chance I did, I was probably tired the other night because this time I did have the scene presence I was looking for, This time he was like in front of me singing with his incredible voice and it was wonderful to have another night, tomorrow I will listen to Eric Clapton and Jennifer Warne’s
    Day 5: Eric Clapton and Jennifer Warne’s
     
    That was so wonderful, that copy of Eric Clapton Unplugged is sublime, it was really as though he was in front of me singing and the scratch of his pick and fingers on the guitar string simply WOW, don’t know how much more I could describe it.
     
    For Jennifer Warne’s the bass at the beginning of Way Down Deep was there and it’s hard to get it properly and I did get it with that song.
    Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprises of listening my different genres of music with the FIIO EX1. I’m not good to explain the frequency but personally I will put a 8/10 on this pair of In ears monitors for quality for your money and same thing 8/10 for the quality of the frequency range, only lose points when the very high were too much with my Techno music.
    Also I have to say that I did have the EX1 shipped to me for free just to be able to do my review without any pressure at all, although I have to ship it to the next person afterwards (also paid for). You also see that this is my first review ever done so my phrasing is not really professional but I do mean what I say and I hope your understand.
    Thank you
    Pixelsphotopro (Daniel Tremblay)
    1. Francki Conniff
      Good Job on the Review... I need to get me a pair as my old IE's are worn out and I only use my Sure SE215's when I cant use my NAD HP50's on the plane. But I want some IE's for home use and I will have to give these a try. Oh and hold on to that HP Touchpad hehe I still use my White 64gb as well :)
      Francki Conniff, Oct 3, 2015
    2. pixelsphotopro
      Thank you and yes I will keep my HP Touchpad as long as it will work, I simply love it and do what I need.
      pixelsphotopro, Oct 5, 2015
  8. NewbieSteve
    Amazing sound, bad implementation
    Written by NewbieSteve
    Published Oct 14, 2016
    4.0/5,
    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.
      stalepie likes this.
  9. reihead
    Fiio's first, EXcellent first
    Written by reihead
    Published Feb 27, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great engaging sound, lots of details, value
    Cons - Highs can be a bit harsh, light on bass (can be a pro), not the lightest iem
    Disclaimer
     
    1. I was part of the Fiio EX1 world tour. I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days thanks to Fiio.
    2. I have no affiliation with Fiio in any way.
    3. The following words are my personal opinion, I wasn’t forced to give a favorable review or leaded in any way.
     
    Big thanks to Fiio for allowing me to evaluate the earphones.
     
     
     
    About me
     
    I'm an avid music lover. I'm all about listening music on the go, I have tried several Apple product but never own one. To carry a brick has never been an option for me. Used many Creative players for years. The original Fiio X3 was my first hi-definition portable player.
     
    I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but certainly can appreciate quality and I drive myself to find it with the better value possible. My music taste goes from Jazz, to Industrial, to Rap. My digital library is now mostly flac files but also a lot of lossy mp3 files (224 kbps or more) and some 24bit flac files.
     
    I’m a web developer and app developer for smartphones, technology is part of my life.
     
     
     
    About this review
     
    This review comes after evaluating the earphones for 10 days straight.
    Many files type were used in the evaluation, FLAC, mp3 at different bit rates.
     
     
     
    IMAG1154_r.jpg
     
    First and foremost, let's get the obvious out of the way, the EX1 are based on the Dunu Titan1 iem. I never heard the Dunu's myself, but is well known their IEM are very good.
     
     
     
    Specifications
     
    http://Fiio.net/en/products/43
     
      
     
    Packing and Built
     
    IMAG1114.jpg
     
    Box is fairly simple, the EX1 comes with an excellent number of tips and a small but rigid carrying case.
     
    These iem are solid, from the metal housing (made from fancy duralumin and more common stainless steel) to the cable, there is a great sense of quality, also durability comes to mind, but beware with this assumption given my limited number of days with the earphones.
     
    IMAG1133.jpg
     
    Cable length is 1.20 meters long, the right length for portable use, non detachable, which at this price point is something it should be expected. Microphonics we not tested properly on the go, but during the hours of daily use zero to minimum noise here. If needed the included shirt clip will help keeping the cable under minimum movement.
     
     
     
    Comfort and Isolation
      
    Isolation was average to good once I found the right tip size. I haven't used iem straight down in a while, but found these very comfortable, easy to insert. The metal housing can get cold (winter time!) and the insertion in your ears would be like grabbing a cold can of soda!
     
    I couldn't test how they will fare while walking but given the weight of each ear piece, a good fit would be very important to keep them in place while moving, again, I couldn't jog with these but from experience these wouldn't be a good choice for exercise earphones.
     
    IMAG1127.jpg
     
     
     
    Sound
     
    So how do they sound? Clear, neutral sound leaning towards the warm side comes as first words to describe them. There is a lot of details with this iem, more than I would expect from an earphone at this price level. Certainly enjoyable sound while the amount of details makes them engaging.
     
    Bass is fast and punchy, but I found it a bit light, I believe the reason for this is lack of extension, but I'm being very picky here. No reason to discard these earphones because of the bass.
     
    The warm side to them could be result of the player used, but I found this to be surprising since the highs can be a bit pronounced. This edgy highs occurs sometimes, but when it happens is easily spotted and distracting.
     
    Same as the level of detail, the EX1's soundstage is above average. Very good in use with smartphones, they are easy to drive and will have enough volume to enjoy.
     
    IMAG1117.jpg
     
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    At the publish date of this review (February 2016) the price in the UK is around £50, around 70 US dollars in North America. With Fiio there is a recurrent theme in most of their products: value, the EX1 is no exception, great value.
     
    At this price point, including a remote is probably a good idea, but if that is not a deal breaker and you are looking for a good IEM under 100 US$, definitely the EX1 deserve a good look.
     
     
     
    Other considerations
     
    Only the included stock tips were used.
     
    All testing was done indoors, so please take the isolation comments with a pinch of salt.
     
    Players and smartphone used: Fiio X5 1st gen, HTC One m8, Moto G 1st gen.
     
    To my knowledge this was a retail product and package.
      zanox likes this.
    1. zanox
      I do agree with your review. Upper treble is superbly extended, but the lower treble is edgy. There's a bit metallicness to the treble that i dislike and it's accentuated with some tracks making them sound analytical . Even though the mids are a bit warm, they are neutral most times and pushed back in the presentation. The bass is on the lighter side, but with some tracks the bass just sounds fine. The soundstage and imaging is extremely good for the price.
      The EX1's are great detailed sounding and incredible value for money, but not that musical to my ears.
      zanox, Feb 28, 2016
  10. BloodyPenguin
    The Dark Side of the FiiO EX1
    Written by BloodyPenguin
    Published Feb 1, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Well Built, Great Hard Case, Fun Sound Signature, Very Comfortable, Good Controlled Lows, Cool Smoothness
    Cons - Slight Drop In The Mids, Black Version Not as Premium Looking as the Silver Version, Highs Can Be Harsh at times
    --
     
    **Disclaimer - I was provided the EX1 from FiiO in return for an honest review**
     
    P1060282EDIT.jpg
                                                 ~ All Photos Taken By Me ~
     
     
    *Introduction*

    The EX1 is FiiO's first stab at producing an IEM. 
     
    P1060265EDIT.jpg
     
     
     
    [The Dunu Connection] - The FiiO is based off the Dunu Titan 1. The Dunu name can seen in multiple locations on the FiiO EX1.
     
    P1060290EDIT.jpg
     
     
     
    *Content*
     
    - EX1 IEM
    - Multitude of Eartips
    - User Manual/Warranty Card
    - Hard Case
    - Shirt Clip
     
    P1060269EDIT.jpg
     
     
     
    *Specifications*
     
    Type:  Dynamic(13mm)
    Frequency response:  20Hz-30kHz
    Sensitivity:  102dB/mW
    Impedance:  16Ω
    Plug size:  3.5mm Gold-plated
    Cord length:  1.2m
    Weight:  18g
    Color:  Black
     
    P1060286EDIT.jpg
     
     

    *Build/Design*
     
    The EX1 is built very well with its tough metal housing and soft yet very reassuring cable. Stress reliefs are very well thought out and it seems as though the EX1 could take a beating and keep on going.
     
    The milled out vents on the housing and on the nozzle are quite nice. You can tell that this is a very well produced earphone.
     
    Design wise, they look good, but IMO the silver version is a little more premium, as the alternate black color makes the EX1 look like it is made of plastic, until of course you hold it in your hand. I LOVE the Red/Blue trim, I think all IEMs should have this, makes figuring out right/left a breeze, plus it looks cool.
     
    The cable is a thing of beauty; soft and easy on the eye.  There is a touch of microphonics that can be heard, but is reduced significantly with the use of the shirt clip.
     
    P1060277EDIT.jpg
     
    P1060278EDIT.jpg
     
    P1060280EDIT.jpg
     
    P1060281EDIT.jpg
     
     
     
    *Fit*
     
    The EX1 is a smaller IEM and only is half in-ear. For me, that equals a much smaller footprint in my ear canal which is a very good thing. Insertion can take a little getting used to as the housing is not the easiest to get a good grip on, even with my small fingers. Once inserted, I could wear the EX1 for days with great comfort. I think at this point, while I type this, I have had them in my ears for almost 2 hours and I don't mind at all.
     
    P1060284EDIT.jpg
     
     

    *Sound*
     
    Lows - Listening to [Deadmau5 - Failbait (feat. Cypress Hill)], I notice that even with a song with strong bass that the EX1 handles it with ease and control. Lows are present with a touch of sub-bass and a smooth mid-bass (which I very much like). Bass is never bloated or overwhelming, but also not lacking in anyway. For me, the lows of the EX1 are a highlight and my favorite of their sound signature.
     
    Mids - Listening to [Beck - Cold Brains], Mr. Hansen's voice is taken back just a bit, I don't want to say recessed, but not just as prominent. I find there to be a relaxed smoothness to the mids, easy listening. Even though vocals might not be as forward as I personally like, I still found quite a lot of enjoyment in the middle frequencies.
     
    Highs - The upper range can be hit or miss depending on what you are listening to. While playing [Bassnectar - The Matrix] the highs borderline being harsh and are a little rough on the eardrums. Though on the other hand, when I put on [Cat Stevens - Wild World] I was greeted with excellent playback and detail of his guitar strings.
     
    Isolation - The EX1 is not the best at sound blocking, but for me, it is not a bad thing. There are plenty of IEMs out there that isolate well, but it is nice to have a pair that I can wear and still hear a bit of what is going around me. For example, as I write this review, I am testing the sound signature of the EX1 AND listening to see if our 9 month old has woken up. I am not completely isolated from the world and that is good. I will also say, my wife is also right next to me and she can hear my music which on the other hand might not be the best thing. She just asked me why I am listening to my music so loud, which it not at a high volume. So I guess the isolation or lack there of will either be a plus or minus depending on what use you have for them.
     
    Soundstage - The rather low isolation, due partly to the abundant vents, has a positive affect on the width of the music. I found there to be good distance between instruments. I did not notice any congestion or narrowing with the EX1. Soundstage is most definitely a highlight of the EX1.
     
    Smoothness - I wanted to add this extra category for the EX1, to touch on the easy going, non-fatiguing sound signature. It almost seems contradictory when I just posted about how the highs can be harsh, but for most of the time I find there to be a smoothness to the EX1 that is quite wonderful. Right now I am listening to [RÜFÜS / RÜFÜS DU SOL - Blue EP] and each song is silky smooth with the EX1 at the helm, like the two were meant for each other. I think I will just hit repeat and take this album for another ride with the EX1.
     
    P1060288EDIT.jpg
     
     

    *Overall Thoughts*
     
    The FiiO EX1 has a lot of personality. It is complex IEM, with a curious sound signature and design features. It makes for a good earphone for review as there is a lot to touch on, as it does not blend in with of the other products out there. From its big soundstage, to its at times harsh highs and very controlled bass, the EX1 will never be called boring.
     
    The EX1 is a very interesting IEM, it does a lot well, but also has a few places it could see a little improvement. I think with a touch of tuning, the EX1 (2.0?) could really be something special.
     
    My review should be over now, but I still have the EX1 in my ears and I am honestly really enjoying them, much more than I thought I would when I started this review. The EX1 really do grow on you. The more I listen to the FiiO EX1, the more I like them.
     
    P1060289EDIT.jpg
     
    ..
      Raketen and twister6 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. leovince
      I currently own this but the silver color. All I can say is they sound soooooo nice!
      leovince, Feb 2, 2016
    3. Lifted Andreas
      Very nice review, I'd pick some up but I am way too involved with my OnePlus Icons atm
      Lifted Andreas, Feb 2, 2016
    4. Podster
      Good review BP, the EX1 is a great little iem for the price. Like you having it with the M3, would also be a great pairing with X1:)
      Podster, Feb 4, 2016