Where to buy them: https://www.fiio.com/
- Single BA Knowles ED-33357
- Impedance: 15 Ohm
- Sensitivity: 111 dB @ 1mW
- Frequency response: 20-20k Hz
- Maximum input power: 100 mW
Unboxing and first impressions
For a sub-100$ In Ear Monitor, I’d say I’m impressed with the accessories. Inside the with box, we find the IEMs, a 4-core black braided cable (MMCX), a hard case, a cleaning brush, some tips (3 pairs of white narrow-bore ones and 3 of red and gray medium-bore ones). And a warranty card too. For the price, the case is a good surprise, even if it’s not the best for the build quality. The IEMs themselves, instead, are built amazingly well and they have a unique design which reminds me of the other FiiO products of their balanced line-up. They are made of acrylic, with a smoke effect which gives an interesting overall look. The faceplate is kind of wavy, and it perfectly merges with the shell. I believe these IEMs are 3D-printed. The nozzle is made of the same resin as the shell, so there’s not a metal reinforcement. For being a universal IEM, the fit is also more than good; and they are very lightweight. They aren’t the smallest earphones out there, but they are not fatiguing to wear, even after a long time. The cable has solid gold-plated connectors, and it feels well-made overall. It’s a 4-core twisted cable (silver, copper-plated) with strain reliefs on the L-shaped connector and on the Y split (which are both made of metal). This cable comes in 3.5mm single ended, while other FiiO IEMs come with another cable which is a 2.5mm balanced. But I’m good with this, considering it’s an entry-level earphone. The only issue I have concerns the ear hooks: they are a little bit too hard, so they keep their shape more than adapt to my ears (it’s because they are just a bit too long, too).
This single balanced armature sounds like you expect a single balanced armature to sound: balanced. The FA1 provide a neutral signature, on a reference side, with a touch of color on the upper midrange.
Because they are pretty easy to drive, the bass is quick and punchy, while remaining very well controlled. It’s not an enhanced bass, so my impressions are far from a fun sound. It’s neither one of the best things of these earphones, actually: even though the sub-bass extension is pretty deep, the body of it is just average, but it feels smooth overall. But this is good for a single armature, considering that usually that work is assigned to specific armatures or dynamic drivers. If you are a basshead, for me it would be difficult to suggest the FA1, which are more on a flat – yet sparkly – side.
Mids are the best part of the package: they sound full, well-layered, giving the right space and harmonics to vocals. The clarity is stunning, thanks to the body given to the upper midrange. The only less convincing thing is the artificial/metallic feel which sometimes comes in the lower midrange, which may thin the body of it.
The treble is also really convincing: luckily, it’s not picky or bright, nor sibilant, which are the aspects I’m more sensitive on. Like the rest of the frequency range, the highs are well-tuned and controlled, but airy and energic.
I wouldn’t say the soundstage is very wide, but the emphasis on the upper midrange helps to widen it, for sure. You don’t feel a congested sound, neither like it’s in your head. It fairly expands in width and depth and it gives a holographic feel, which you may appreciate or not – I’m not sure on its precision. Imaging is average, even more than average if you think of the price of these IEMs. The isolation is top notch, which is a great thing.
I would suggest the FA1 to all customers looking for a neutral/lean presentation with
It seems that single balanced armatures are getting more mainstream (Campfire Comet, Brainwavz KOEL, these ones…). From what I’ve heard with the FA1, they are an easy recommendation and this way that they took is convincing. There are things I like more on single dynamic driver earphones, while others I’d rather on single armatures, like precision, speed, detail.
- Comfort and design
- Midrange and treble
- bass could have more impact and extension
- vocals could be more mature and organic