FiiO FD1 - Reviews
Pros: Audiophile sound quality, reference with soul, appearance, carry case, staggering value
Cons: none. Literally, none.
Introduction:

I seriously can’t imagine anyone reading by now who hasn’t heard of Fiio.

They started out by bringing audiophile gear to the masses at budget prices, and have continued to increase the quality and diversity of their offerings in the years since.
Having been gaining praise for their flagship level DAPs and upper mid-tier IEMs, they’ve followed this up with almost nonchalant brilliance by introducing the USD $59 FD1.

My sincere thanks to Sunny and the team at Fiio, for providing me with a review unit to keep in exchange for an honest review.

Photos:
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Unboxing, packaging and accessories:

The packaging is exemplary for this price point; it is able to outdo the packaging and accessories of IEMs 5 times its price.

The carrying case is a marvel of design and beauty and the included cable puts to shame the offerings of even some TOTL stock cables.

It’s a dark copper colour, with flawless braiding, classy and understated in appearance.

It comes in 3.5mm only, which I think is a reasonable choice, given the likely listening habits of users at this price point. Of course, Fiio have a range of other aftermarket cables available too. And the appearance of the IEMs themselves, like the cable, is a delight; sophisticated and understated.

The Fit:

They have a very good insertion depth for me personally, and as a roughly medium sized IEM, are very comfortable and I have been able to wear them all day with no discomfort or fatigue.

There’s nothing for me to fault here.

The Sound:

So, as ever, I’m going to start my review with critical listening to a variety of tracks, in order to draw forth impressions of how these IEMs sound with different genres of music.
Listening was done on a Sony WM1Z, on the 3.5mm single-ended output.
For convenience and giving me (and hopefully you) some point of reference, I’ll be using many of the same songs I used in a previous review.

Tanita Tikaram – Little Sister Leaving Town (16-44 FLAC)
This is a song that features a bassline from what sounds like an acoustic double bass; on the right kind of IEM, this is infused with authority and rumble.

There’s a medium amount of rumble and slam here, plenty enough to satisfy, without becoming bloated or overbearing. It’s a very nice balance, I have to say, especially at this price point.

This song also features delicate percussion which dances around the more prominent thumps of the bass and main drum. On some IEMs, that extra percussion can get lost somewhat in the mix, but here the hi-hat, cymbals and all other percussion is distinct, clearly separated and audible.

Then comes the string section; cello and violins sound lush, with a warm timbre.

Similarly, so do the vocals; Tanita Tikaram has an unusually deep and husky voice for a female vocalist, and again, the FD1 presents all of these things in a rich and engaging way
Her vocals are front and centre, slightly forward in the mix.

The Divine Comedy – Tonight We Fly (16-44 FLAC)
A boisterous piece of classical-pop fusion wizardry, this song features clattering drums, fairly rapidly-played classical stringed instruments and the ever-so-refined vocal stylings of Neil Hannon.

The drumbeats have just a hint of slam and impact (they are not mastered strongly in the song to begin with); the FD1 does a good job of differentiating the snare drum from the hi-hats. It does fairly well with the stringed instruments which come in seconds later, but slower transients and slower decay mean that the edges of the notes aren’t as crisp and separated as they could be. Still, the timbre has a nice tinge of warmth and is pleasantly realistic.

Marit Larsen – Faith & Science (16-44 FLAC)
In this song, I’m looking for how the IEM handles thumping percussion, mastered in a modern fashion with impact and prominence.

Good grief!

After the rather neutrally mastered drums on the previous track, this one is like the sonic equivalent of Knight Rider employing the Turbo Boost function.

The FD1 is fantastic here, providing head-shaking slam and impact, leaving me dazedly wondering whether I left my brains with car keys in the fruit bowl in the hallway (note for potential burglars: I don’t have a car. Or indeed a fruit bowl. Donations welcome).

Note that this is in no small part down to the way in which the track is mastered, but still, I’ve heard IEMs still sound anaemic on this track, so it’s quite remarkable what the FD1 can achieve here.

Alanis Morissette – All I really want (24-192 HDTracks FLAC, 2015 Remaster)
This is a pretty dense song, musically speaking, with its thumping drumbeat, guitars and various effects. It can sound a bit stodgy and congested without good gear to open it up and bring clarity and separation. I’m delighted to report back that the FD1 lifts its chin scornfully at such a ‘challenge’ (whilst laughing in the face of danger, naturally)

The soundstage of the FD1, whilst not TOTL huge, is fairly wide and deep. Aided by well-executed separation and imaging, it effortlessly handles all the various instruments here.
This is a track with a lot of little sounds going on in the background; little guitar squeals, wah-wah, vocal echoes, keyboards etc, all in addition to the standard instruments.
The FD1 is able to separate these all out too, and allows me to focus on specific aspects of the song at will.

Buena Vista Social Club – Chan Chan (24-96 HDTracks FLAC)
This song, I have to say, is very similar to the previous one in its complexity.
I think that the FD1 does well here. There’s a lot that can go wrong on this track for an IEM at any level, never mind the entry level.

Sure, compared to $1.5k+ IEMs I’ve heard, the FD1 isn’t presenting the bass, acoustic guitar and other instruments with the same degree of hi-res timbral accuracy, but for an IEM at this price (and frankly, even if it were three times the price), it performs outstandingly well.

Imaging, layering, separation are all technically accomplished and backed up by a slight organic warmth and musicality

CHVRCHES – Leave a trace (24-48 HDTracks FLAC)
Just a quick track to see how this does with a very modern style of pop-rock.
This song is heavy on the synths and driving electronic bass. The FD1 has that organic warmth and balanced and impactful low end which together sound so good with this song, making the notes and rhythm incredibly engaging.

Röyksopp – Monument (T.I.E version, 16-44 FLAC)
Interesting. When I tried this song recently with the $300 DUNU DK-2001, I noticed the crunching synth riff very strongly. Here with the FD1, I’m finding that the drumbeat seems to stand out more, driving the song powerfully forward. That synth riff is crisp, precise and heavily textured. The vocal seems very slightly recessed (this may be in the mastering of the track), but still with captivating timbre.

Gregory Porter – Consequence of love (24-96 HDTracks FLAC)
Lovely warm organic timbre, in part from the mastering of the track itself along with the sound signature of my Sony WM1Z DAP, all the instruments are separated out and I’m impressed by the layering and imaging. Detail retrieval on this high-res track is astonishingly good, and the vocals.. Wow..

Any fan of Gregory Porter (I’m a recent convert after seeing his Tiny Desk concert) will be aware of his gorgeous voice, but it’s remarkable how well the FD1 presents it; the texture and timbre is exceptional for an IEM at this price point; heck, even for an IEM at 4 times its price point.

Gomez – We haven’t turned around (16-44 FLAC)
This song opens with a deep cello flourish, which this IEM presents, again with remarkably faithful and engaging timbre. Similar result with the smoky, gravelly texture of the vocals.

So much detail coming through. A joy.

Extreme – Decadence Dance (24-48 HDTracks FLAC):
This can be a tricky track for even the TOTL IEMs in my collection.

It’s quite dense, with a lot of shrieking, squealing guitars, combined with fairly lightly mastered bass and drums. So it’s easy to end up being presented in a slightly sharp or fatiguing way. I love this song, but for my treble-sensitive hearing, it tends to work best with IEMs that have smooth treble and warmth in the lower mids, along with a thumping low end.

So, preamble aside, the FD1 does.. decently well.
I am not wincing or running for the hills. The separation seems decent, although not so good as with other tracks. The guitars are just, just about kept in check, and the substantial (but well-controlled) low end of the FD1 gives enough meat to the drums and bass to flesh the track out nicely. Oh, the little drum solo just happened. That was epic! Good job FD1 :D

Alison Lau – Handel’s Lascia la spina (24-96 HDTracks):
This classical opera track opens with an intake of breath from the musicians.

On TOTL IEMs especially, this can be clearly and intimately heard; on other IEMs, it can be almost imperceptible. Here with the FD1, it’s audible and a nice touch; not in the league of the big boys (or girls) but again, impressive for the price point.

Another test is where the stringed instruments swoop low from 14-16 seconds into the song. Again, it doesn’t quite capture the all of the depth and richness that can be gotten out of this part, but it does commendably and engagingly well. Also of note is that the vocals are again front and centre, never wince-inducingly sharp (a risk with this track) and they do capture very well all of her vocal acrobatics.

Miles Davis – Blue in Green (24-192 HDTracks FLAC):
Really, I have to take my hat off to the FD1 (note to self: buy a hat); it does so well here.

I’m focusing on the timbre of the brushed percussion, and how well it can be discerned, how it presents the trumpet (any sharpness?) and the timbre of these, along with the bass and piano. It’s just faultlessly done on the FD1; far better than I’d expect of any IEM at this price or indeed at a significantly higher price.



Comparison:

iBasso IT00 (USD $79):

I’m hearing the bass of the IT00 to deeper, with more rumble and impact; the FD1 is tighter and more controlled. The low end of the IT00 is more dense and with a palpable mid-bass lift. There’s a slight V-shape, in contrast to the more reference-style tuning of the FD1.

The mids on the FD1 are comparatively more forward and reference style (but very engaging and rich still); IT00 goes for a more fun and energetic tuning - although still with a touch of that nice shimmer that’s a bit of an iBasso speciality - with a bit less treble presence, extension and sparkle than the FD1.

Overall, I’d say that despite their similar price points, they are rather different IEMs tonally, and each will have its own fans :)



Conclusion:

The FD1 offers simply incredible value for money.
It’s thus far the best budget IEM I’ve heard.

The low end is quite fast, tight and without any bloat, but it also has a really satisfying amount of power, slam and rumble when the track calls for it.

The mids are very well done, with a tinge of richness and warmth; engaging and very good at presenting timbre faithfully.

The treble is controlled, smooth, but with excellent presentation of micro details.

Soundstage is above average, and it strikes a very pleasant balance between separation and intimacy.

Technically, it really is astonishingly accomplished for an IEM in the USD $50 - $200 range.

It presents vocals front and centre. It handles both male and female vocals really well; engaging the emotions and bringing out the timbre and texture, especially on rich, gravelly male voices.

The design again is remarkable for this price; I love the golden gleam of the dynamic drivers, coming through the smoky translucent shells. The fit is extremely comfortable.

Again, I’m not prone to hype, but I have found nothing that I could reasonably fault in the FD1, and can only wholeheartedly recommend it as an outstanding choice at an improbably low price point. Fiio, (and for those about to rock), I salute you :)
ChrisPBacon
ChrisPBacon
"After the rather neutrally mastered drums on the previous track, this one is like the sonic equivalent of Knight Rider employing the Turbo Boost function."

I'm betting we are about the same age :)
Layman1
Layman1
Wait, you're 21 too? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Pros: Thick lush textured timbre, Clear full-bodied vocal, fast thumping bass, Well balanced, Rich in sounds layers, Fast transient response, Immersive holographic soundstage, Musicality, Bright without being harsh, excellent accessories
Cons: Need minimal amping and right ear tips to sound its best, thick macro-resolution that lack air, roll-off sub-bass, average micro-details retrieval and clarity
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SOUND: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 7.5/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES: 9/10
VALUE: 8.5/10
FIIO doesn’t need introduction, because they are surely the most know ”Chi-Fi” company out there. This was mostly true for DAP and DAC-AMP before they begin to seriously work on their IEM line up.

One thing sure, the tuning experience they gain with the time begin to bear fruit. While FH7 being the supreme example that they can enter the bigger league and still offer high benefit returns, I think the model I review today is a big step into the single dynamic earphones market.


https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/He77d10eb2eb1435fad004b44e2b57e67L/FiiO-FD1-Beryllium-plated-Dynamic-Driver-HiFi-Music-Audio-In-ear-Earphone-Bass-Earplug-IEM-2Pin.jpg_960x960.jpg


The FIIO FD1 earphones use a big 10mm beryllium-plated driver as well as a powerful dual magnet that promises a speedy transient response. These type of drivers are rarely if ever found in the sub-100$ earphones market, so my expectation for these was rather high.

It’s a little mysterious to know to what extend beryllium is used, is it the whole diaphragm or just the dome? And what is the other diaphragm material?

One thing sure, the FD1 offers very unique tonality and technicality that I will try to explain to you in this review.


You can buy the FD1 for 60$ on official FIIO Amazon STORE.


SPECS


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PACKAGING, ACCESSORIES & CONSTRUCTION

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AT 60$, I wasn’t expecting a refined package and a generous amount of accessories, but it’s FIIO, and as I learn they can be over the top in generosity sometimes. The packaging is well done with a box with a magnetic door similar to the flagship FH7 presentation. Everything is well presented in the box. What impress here is the quality of accessories, you have a high-end pelican-like protective case that is highly durable and water-resistant, this alone sells around 15$ (HB1 carrying case). You have a very nice 4 cores Lits cable, that looks very sturdy and durable and pair well with FD1 if you want warmer tonality. You have 3 pairs of silicone balanced ear tips, 3 pairs of silicone bass ear tips, and 1 pair of memory foams ear tips. At this price, I can’t ask more and feel quite spoiled.


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In terms of CONSTRUCTION, it’s not very impressive and uses the very same plastic housing than FIIO FH1 and JADE AUDIO EA1. The plastic looks a little cheap and fragile, though the backplate celluloid glossy effect is nice. 2pin female connector looks study enough due to the the use of very solid plastic-type. The nozzle is the only metal part.


While in the hands it feels of average quality, in the ears the use of light plastic is a plus fo comfort. The FD1 is very light IEM and not very big for a universal custom. The nozzle is long enough for deep insertion too. I never feel any discomfort even for long listening sessions.


DRIVEABILITY


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The FD1 are rather easy to drive due to their decently high sensitivity of 109db, but their impedance of 32ohm does take advantage of extra amping power. This is very evident when I compare Ibasso DX90 with and without JDS LAB ATOM amp. One thing that annoys me was how saturated and compressed in layering feel the soundstage of FD1, once I hook it to the ATOM, the soundstage opens quite a lot especially in tallness and deepness which offer a more holographic layering with better sens of instrument placement and more air between separation. To hear the full potential of FD1 beryllium driver, I urge you to try an amp with it.


ISOLATION

The FD1 has average isolation, the thin plastic of housing surely explains why it does not passively cancel noise at the normal volume level. Sound leakage is notable, here, it’s surely the front venting upon the big driver that shoots unwanted noise.

SOUND

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OVERALL SOUND is a well balanced V to W tonality, with weighty thumping bass, gently bright mids, and thick crunchy treble. The FD1 is impressive in transient response speed, which inflicts on the overall articulation of the macro-resolution that rarely if ever get congested. Timbre is rather natural with slightly oversaturated texture that does not overly affect transparency. This isn’t what I would call a ‘’Wow effect searcher IEM’’ because it’s more about the nuances in cohesive thickness than details from spiky sharpness. The density of timbre is very impressive in nuance, it’s rich, full and has an amplify naturalness to it. I never heard these timbre technicalities with sub-100$ IEM and I think this is something only beryllium drivers could offer. Please, amp it well so the sound becomes open, otherwise, this timbre talent might become a drawback due to over-compressed layers textures. My revelation happens once amped with my JDS LAB ATOM as stated before.


SOUNDSTAGE is above average, it’s very tall, has good wideness and decent deepness. It sounds out of your head and while not being hall-like in size because of proximity you have with the instrument, it acts like a 180 degree curved panoramic tapestry and is very immersive.


IMAGING finds the sweet spot between sound layers addition and instrument placement. Unlike multi-BA IEM, the background isn’t as clean so you do not have super crisp analytical imaging with dead silence in separation. Instead, it’s a holographic presentation with good positioning that has more space between horizontal instrument placement than sounds layers.


BASS is fast, round, and thumpy with a slight boost in mid-bass so you get extra weight in punch. It isn’t very boosted and will not steal the show neither bleed on the mids. Sub bass extension is rolled off, which affects both rumble and natural extension down to 20hz. Resolution is a little warm but timbre is dense and has a good amount of texture. This is the kind of bass that shows it’s presence when needed, but it isn’t lean, dry or anemic like Moondrop Spaceship or Hifiman RE600 neither. Separation in the lower end isn’t the best, which means sub and kick can feel very stick together sometimes, as well, more their mids in your music, more it will shadow the bass articulation. Still, even if not perfect, I find the bass to have a versatile performance, doing as good with IDM and electronic in general than Pop, soul and R&B, if you aren’t a crazy critical listener, it does sound okay with classical and jazz, only some fast rock track lack upper bass bite for drum kick (sorry metalhead, not for you).


MIDS are lush and brightish, full and thick, greatly textured and forwards in presence. I never heard this type of mids before, perhaps the BQEYZ Spring1 are the closest to it even if sharper in imaging. When I say brightish, don’t get me wrong, its due to the slightly aggressive forwardness, not so much to the timbre or tonality because both piano and vocal doesnt sound unbalanced in harmony. For example, when I listen to the album ‘’About Time’’ by SABRINA CLAUDIO, her vocal tend to sound thin and sibilant, which isn’t the case at all with FD1, it’s lush, full and upfront, not shy and recessed. The FD1 isn’t very recessed in lower mids, and have just a hint of extra upper mids, all well rounded, so both male and female vocal sound great, thick and hyper-realist, with a holographic feel to hit as if density add 3D effect to timbre. This timbre density and texture inflict on transparency, which is just enough and far from being like looking through clean glass, so it can affect layering and imaging with very busy tracks that use a textured instrument like an electric guitar, sax, but again, apart from crazy jazz-rock big band this would never be a drawback and act as a plus cause electric guitar is full, heavy and very lively. Let’s talk about this more in the treble section. If you have an allergy to either thin or recessed mids, the FD1 will certainly be the cure.


TREBLE is more crunchy than crisp, but have a thick snap to it and a rather fast attack and good control, It’s very well balanced with rest of spectrum and doesn’t sound artificial or too forwards, percussions stay in the back, hit hat are very natural while cymbals splash slightly hot even if not messy in decay. Talking about decay, there not a lot of sparkly and decay, it’s tight full highs that give an extra bit and body to snare, electric guitar and violin, do quite well too with acoustic guitar, but not so much with clavichord or harp that would benefit from extra air and sparkle. On the album ‘’Pastrami Bagel social club’’ from jazz-rock band AUTORYNO, the whole presentation is super weighty, hefty and textured, giving intense energic immersivity, electric guitar are lush, thick and grippy, with fantastic attack weight while kick drum is heavy and fast in punch, percussions are hit or miss, well, especially in multiple crash hit which tend to jump at you a little more than other more natural cymbals and percussions. Nonetheless, I really appreciate treble quality, it never sounds metallic and just have enough brilliance, as well, it’s quite fast in articulation.


QUANTITYQUALITY
BASS: 7.5/107.5/10
MIDS: 8.5/108/10
TREBLE: 8/107.5/10
ATTACK-DECAY: 8/108/10
SOUNDSTAGE-IMAGING: 8/10
TIMBRE-TEXTURE: 8.5/10
8/10
8/10


COMPARISONS

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VS URBANFUN ISS014 (60$)

So, these are supposed to use a beryllium plated driver too, let’s see how it compares with FD1!

TONALITY is warmer, more organic with a higher bass boost and rumble.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider, but not as tall and deep.
IMAGING is inferior, making it hard to pin point instruments due to lower clarity.
BASS is warmer, less detailed, more boomy and near texture free. It bleeds more on mids.
MIDS are warmer, smoother and a hint more recessed, vocal is less bright and textured but the overall timbre is a hint more natural, though piano and male vocal sound less full, detailed and realist.
TREBLE is less detailed, less snappy, and thinner, making the percussion more delicate.


All in all, it’s a very boring bassy listen compared to FD1 and the bass veil overly affect clarity and imaging.


VS IBASSO IT00 (80$)

TONALITY is warmer with a more balanced W shape.
SOUNDSTAGE is wider, more panoramic with less well-layered IMAGING.
BASS is more extended in sub bass region, have more slam but looser control and slower attack, as well it isn’t as textured and weighty in thumping.
MIDS are wider, smoother and free of any sibilance, slightly less clear and vivid, with a more breathy approach that can be heard as more natural in timbre. Both male and female vocal has more presence.
TREBLE is leaner, fuller but less detailed and sparkly.

Both having good tonal balance, I would say Musicality go to IT00, while technicalities go to FD1.


VS HISENIOR T2 (80$ in sale)

TONALITY is brighter-crisper, with smoother timbre, better transparency and more neutral tuning.
SOUNDSTAGE is notably deeper and slightly less wide. IMAGING is way better with more precision and accuracy in instrument placement and separation.
BASS is similar, but in a more recessed way, it’s punchy and faster-tighter with clearer separation. It has little less extension and rumble in lower region.
MIDS are crisper with better transparency and more edgy attack, it’s thinner in timbre and vocal are more intimate and centered. Sibilance is less evident too.
TREBLE is more delicate, better balanced, fuller and more analytical. It’s less grainy too.
In term of technicalities, the T2 is leagues ahead, but it sounds slightly colder and vocal might be more appealing with FD1 for lot of people.


VS HIDIZS MERMAID MS1 (100$)

How does a 13mm Berylium-plated dynamic driver compare to a 10mm Bio-diaphragm driver? Well, here it’s all about transient response and tonal balance.

SOUNDSTAGE is notably wider and deeper with the MS1, IMAGING too is more accurate and less condensed in layering than FD1. BASS is thicker, fuller, and flatter with the FD1, it has more high bass so the kick sound fuller, as well, it’s better balanced and controlled than the more boomy and resonant low end of MS1. MIDS are fuller but more opaque too with FD1, the male vocal is more bodied than MS1, presentation is more intimate and forwards with FD1 and cleaner due to slower transient response of MS1. TREBLE is again fuller and thicker with more natural tonality and less splashy cymbals, making the MS1 highs sound thin in mid-treble and peaky in the upper region, so you have more micro-details but less texture and nuances with MS1.

All in all, the MS1 sounds more U shape, fun and immersive due to its bigger hall-like soundstage and more boosted bass while FD1 is more neutral and natural in tonality.


VS DUNU LUNA (1700$)

Okay, this can seem an unfair review, but the LUNA uses pure Beryllium driver and when I listen to FD1, the sound signature similarity triggers my curiosity.

TONALITY: Very similar, kinda U shape with extra vocal forwardness and thick textured timbre with enough transparency. The FD1 is just a hint brighter and more forwards in texture. LUNA is smoother and slightly warmer-more organic.
SOUNDSTAGE: Again very similar. FD1 sounds more out of your head, taller and wider, while LUNA is slightly deeper.
IMAGING: LUNA have more transparent layering, so you can dig deeper. FD1 is more spacious and better in precise instrument placement.
BASS: Both these have a thumping kinda rounded bass, with a slightly boomy sub that lack natural extension, still, LUNA extension is more natural and less thick. FD1 is looser but its more weighty and adds more body to male vocal.
MIDS: LUNA have warmer and more transparent mids, it’s better layered but less textured and lively. Vocal is better-rounded, more forwarded and less prompt to tiny sibilance too. FD1 is a little more breathy with vocal, they are thicker and have a wider presence. Piano fuller with FD1.
TREBLE: LUNA is less detailed sounding than FD1 with more relaxed treble and laid back sound, this gives extra edge to definition to FD1 but control isn’t as fast as LUNA. Still, it makes the FD1 more energic in macro-resolution and delivers higher micro-details.

Wow, this comparison surprises me quite a lot and sure confirm how good is the beryllium plated driver of FD1. Sure, the LUNA is slightly faster in transient so you gain extra transparency and layering, as well, balance is more refined, but the biggest difference is in bass quality. In fact, some might prefer the more energic, spacious and detailed sound of FD1!

CONCLUSION

I’ve never been a big fan of budget-minded FIIO earphones, but the FD1 change the game with its fascinating textured sound that has a hefty bass attack, addictively lush vocal and well balanced, full sounding treble.

The drivers in these are excellent, and I do recognize the beryllium magic which is shown in the effortless transient response of sound layers.

If the Jade Audio EA1 is tuned the same as FD1, it might represent a supreme bargain, but the extra accessories you get with FD1 sure justify the price jump too.

If you are tired of overly V shape IEM, thin timbre, or not full sounding enough earphones and want to enjoy unique holographic lushness and full-bodied textured vocal, I urge you to give FD1 a try because this is the type of sound that grows on you due to its incredible richness.
Peddler
Peddler
Outstanding review - you're showing us all how it's done. Nice one.
Pros: Tight, textured, well-extended bass – Sibilance control – Comfy, ergonomic shell
Cons: Upper mids can be a touch aggressive – Poor isolation – Upper treble could benefit from more emphasis
Greetings!

Today we’re checking out one of FiiO’s newest releases, the FD1.

The FD1 pull its physical side from the FH1S sharing the same low profile, ergonomic shell with unique celluloid faceplates, 0.78mm 2-pin system, and snazzy cable. Where the FH1S was a 1+1 hybrid, the FD1 rolls with a single dynamic. What sets it apart on the specs sheet is the use of beryllium plating on the diaphragm, tech which is generally reserved for much more expensive products.

I’ve spent nearly a month with the FD1 and have come away quite satisfied with the performance on hand. Let us take a closer look, shall we?

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What I Hear The FD1 has a strong low end with a focus on sub-bass over mid-bass. As a result the experience is quite physical with deep notes providing plenty of visceral feedback, though I would like just a hint more midbass emphasis to really dial in that punchiness, and add a smidge more warmth. Still, you can really feel the rumble in the subterranean bass notes on Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”. The piano chords are given a powerful presence too, lingering appropriately and perfectly backing the emotional performance from Elizabeth Fraser. Unlike some other reviewers, I also found this driver quite quick and snappy, easily tackling the rapid bass notes of Sepultura’s “Lobotomy”. Lesser earphones will smear individual hits lending to a very messy and one-note sounding track. The FD1 does a good job retaining clarity start to finish. It’s no slouch in the texture department either. The heavily textured and distorted bass on The Prodigy’s “World On Fire” sounds adequately dirty and low-fi.

The mid-range is pulled back compared to the rest of the frequency range with an upper mid lift that helps it retain presence. Vocals are clear and articulate with only the occasional track running into a mild veil from bass bleed, such as on Felt’s “Whaleface”. I found the presentation here best suited to male vocalists. Female vocalists can sound a little too aggressive at times, particularly those with particularly high pitched voices. K-Pop fans will probably want to heed this warning. While leaning towards a thinner sound, there is enough body to keep the FD1 from sounding lean and overly light. Sibilance is handled very well here. The FD1 doesn’t introduce anything that isn’t already there, and what is there is minimized considerably. This is very evident on Aesop Rock’s “Blood Sandwich” which is quite unforgiving of sibilant earphones. I’d say the FD1 goes toe to toe with the KB EAR Diamond in this aspect, which is very impressive. Timbre is similarly accurate too, though here it is a hint dry vs. the Diamond’s lightness.

Treble out of the FD1 is nice and clean sounding with a well-defined structure to notes. There is none of the splashiness I find common to inexpensive single dynamics present here. This makes listening to King Crimson’s live rendition of “Cat Food” a joy since it is heavy on cymbals that often sound splashy and loose through the wrong earphone. Again the FD1’s snappiness and control shines, with notes decaying quickly. It ensures the FD1 remains coherent and articulate, even when things get busy. My only complaint here is a lack of upper treble emphasis. This leaves the detailed lower treble to carry the upper ranges giving the FD1 it’s slightly dry tonality. There isn’t much sparkle to be found here.

When it comes to sound stage the FD1 again provides a satisfying experience. On Andrea Gabrieli’s “Communion: O sacrum convivium a 5” I get the impression I’m sitting a few rows from the stage. The layered vocals display impressive depth and width, temping me to turn my head to locate vocalists at either end of the procession. I had similar experiences using the FD1 while gaming and could fairly easily track enemies in PUBG as they moved around the house I was camping in, or to track shots of in the distance, helping me avoid combat when unwise to engage. While I find the FD1 to image, layer and separate quite well, I’m keen to try in on a game with truly advanced sound design, such as Hunt: Showdown which used binaural recording to craft it’s intense soundscape.

Overall I quite enjoy the way the FD1 sounds. The v-shaped tune on hand doesn’t do anything particularly new and exciting instead giving you a very competent example of that type of sound to point to. Bass depth is excellent with good control and texture. The slightly recessed mids can be a bit harsh with female vocalists, but sibilance is handled very well and there is plenty of detail on tap. Treble is also well done with great control and speed. There could stand to be a hint more emphasis in the brilliance region, but as is I found the upper ranges detailed and non-fatiguing. The sound stage is also quite good with plenty of depth and width on tap, backed by a layered feel and well separated instruments. Imaging is also decent too making tracking sounds crossing from channel-to-channel a mostly painless experience.

Compared To A Peer (volumes matched with Dayton iMM-6)

FiiO FH1S (85.99 USD): The FD1 has significantly more bass presence, though they both seem to extend similarly well. The FH1s’ low end lacks the punch and weight found on the FD1 leaving it to play a secondary role in the overall signature. Despite the lessened presence, it doesn’t feel any quicker or better controlled, with a similarly good texturing. Mids are more audibly forward on the FH1s with a leaner, less bodied presence, though they feel more spacious and spread out, almost to the point of being echoey. It is reminiscent of turning on a present EQ function. The FD1 sounds considerably more natural with more accurate timbre, though detail takes a step back. The FH1S is also more subject to sibilance and shoutiness, especially on female vocals, making it uncomfortable in instances where the FD1 is fine. Treble out of the FD1 lacks the extension and representation in the brilliance region, though it is cleaner and better controlled. Detail again goes to the FH1S though. Sound stage is notably larger out of the FH1S thanks to vocals that are set further back by default, a leaner note weight, and all that additional treble energy. That said, I prefer the cleaner imaging and instrument separation of the FD1, though it doesn’t sound as well layered.

Overall I think the FD1 is a pretty significant step up from the FH1S. It has a more refined, well-rounded tune without any of the midrange quirks, though those who liked the FH1S’ somewhat laid back bass might feel the FD1 is a bit heavy handed down low.

Shozy Form 1.1 (74.99 USD): The Form 1.1 has more upper treble emphasis providing more sparkle and shimmer than the FD1, though lower treble is comparable if not slightly more prominent on the FD1. Control and general refinement are in the 1.1’s camp. Detail and clarity go to the 1.1 though, in addition to sounding a bit tighter and cleaner on each note. Mids are slightly more forward out of the FD1. They’re more dry though, lacking the warmth and natural timbre of the 1.1, though I’ll give the FD1 a very light edge in terms of vocal detail. Bass out of the Form 1.1 extends well but rolls off before reaching the outstanding depths of the FD1. Balance is shifted towards midbass vs. the FD1’s subbass bias giving them very different presentations. I find the FD1 faster and more visceral with better texture, though the 1.1 has a more even mid/subbass balance leaving it feeling more well-rounded overall. Sound stage is wider and deeper on the FD1 with its generally more spacious feel being helped along by a less intimate vocal presentation. Imaging is similarly good while I find the Form 1.1 slightly more competent when it comes to layering and separating sounds.

Overall I find these two both quite good, though the 1.1s improved timbre quality and generally more balanced sound has me picking it up over the FD1 more often than not.

KB EAR Diamond (79.00 USD): These two I find quite comparable and similarly tuned. Extension from the FD1 is a bit better with a balanced shifted more towards sub-bass compared to the Diamond’s midbass hump that grabs your attention. The FD1 is more textured and punchy leaving the Diamond feeling a hint soft and overly smooth. Grungy textures lack the same animation heard through the FD1. The FD1’s mids are more forward and a bit thicker. Detail is similarly okay on both, with neither really having an upper hand. I also find both a little on the lighter side when it comes to timbre, though the Diamond is a bit ahead here. Neither seem shouty and both do an excellent job minimizing sibilance. Treble out of the FD1 is also slightly more forward and has a grittier texture to it. I prefer the Diamond’s presence/brilliance region balance with feels more even. While the FD1’s presentation is a little tighter and more detailed, I found myself preferring the Diamond’s more laid back, completely non-fatiguing treble. Sound stage goes to the FD1. While its default vocal positioning is closer to the ear, it does a better job tossing effects off into the distance, though depth is similarly presented. The Diamond always feels a bit closed in. This is somewhat beneficial in showing off imaging and separation qualities which edge out the FD1, though it falls behind when it comes to instrument layering.

Overall I find myself enjoying the FD1 more thanks to the additional texture, subbass emphasis, and more spacious presentation.

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In The Ear The FD1 uses the same shell as the FH1s before it. The low profile design conforms to the natural shape of the outer ear providing a stable fit that is only helped further by the use of preformed ear guides. Those who have particularly small ears or outer ears with an unusual shape might have troubles wearing the FD1, but for the majority they should provide a comfortable wearing experience.

That’s helped along by the fact they are so light thanks primarily to the use of plastics for the construction. Fit and finish is excellent with tight seams between the inner half of the shell and face plate. The metal nozzles are glued neatly in place without any excess glue having seeped out. The 2-pin ports are slightly raised and about the only area of concern since I have seen numerous images of this style of port cracking. That said, the raise is fairly conservative with thick sidewalls surrounding the actual ports, so I have faith they’ll hold up. One aesthetic touch that FiiO rightly seems proud of is the layered celluloid face plates which are unique from model to model. This is apparently the same material used for guitar picks so durability should be very high.

FiiO always goes the extra yard with their included cables and the FD1’s is no exception. This cable is outstanding for a product under 100 USD, and I would have been plenty happy to see it included with something notably more expensive. The twisted design is thick but very flexible and not so weighty that it tugs at the earphones while you walk. The 90 degree angled jack in one that FiiO has been using for a while now and has ample strain relief in place to protect the cable. The plug also extends slightly to help ensure good fitment with a variety of phone and DAP cases. The FiiO branded metal y-split doesn’t have any strain relief, but with cables of this style and with splits this compact I’ve never found it an issue. Sitting just above the y-split is a compact metal chin cinch that moves with just enough resistance to ensure it stays in place while remaining easy to adjust when needed. Leading up to the 2-pin plugs that angle at ~45 degrees are preformed ear guides. Since FiiO went with shrink wrap instead of the hard plastic some manufacturers use, they remain flexible and soft but stiff enough to keep the cable from bouncing out of place. Another nice touch is the redundant left/right markings. On the inside of each plug is a small letter to denote the channel, while on the base of each plug is a coloured pad; red for right, blue for left. It is always nice when companies go out of their way to add various methods of determining channel. Shows an attention to detail that is sometimes lacking in the industry. The only complaint I have is that the plugs sit flush with the raised ports on the earphone instead of wrapping around them like you’ll see on similar designs from a few other manufacturers. Leaving this out means the pins are more easily damaged, but treat the product with a modicum of care (ex. use the case and don’t simply toss them into a pocket) and you shouldn’t have to worry.

Lastly, the FD1’s isolation is not amazing. I’d put it into the “average to slightly below” camp thanks to the reasonably shallow fit inherent to this particular shell design. There is also ample ventilation through a pinhole in front of the driver, and another cleverly hidden behind the 2-pin ports. On the plus side, wind noise is kept to a minimum which is cool. They’re definitely usable in noisy areas, but you may have to compensate with added volume (less so if you opt for foam tips).

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In The Box The FD1 comes in the same magnetically sealed flip-top style box that the FH1S came in before it. On the front is an image of the left earpiece, as well as the usual branding and model information, as well as a Hi-Res Audio logo, set on a black backdrop. The rest of the package contains nothing noteworthy. Flipping back to lid you are greeted by a large manual within which you find information in the correct way to wear the FD1, how to property attach the 2-pin cables, as well as warranty information among other details. Lifting this out you find the FD1 set tightly within a cardboard coated foam insert. The cable is attached and neatly wrapped within a separate enclosure below. There is also a second, smaller cardboard box in which you find the accessories. In all you get:
  • FD1 earphones
  • 0.78mm 4 strand, 120 core, OFC Litz cable
  • HB1 carrying case
  • Small bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
  • Wide bore single flange tips (s/m/l)
  • Memory foam tips (m)
  • Velcro cable tie
In all a very satisfying unboxing experience. The tip selection is good with each style of tips offering a slight variation on the sound signature. They use decent quality materials too, though a little on the stiff side in my opinion. Still, they seal well and should be durable in the long run. The HB1 Pelican-style case looks great and has a rubber seal around the base where the lid rests which should offer some water resistance if you’re the type to take your earphones out in adverse weather or with you on a camping trip.

Final Thoughts The FD1 is a well-rounded earphone that is plenty competitive within it’s segment. It has an attractive, well-designed, comfortable shell with a high quality cable. Included are a wide variety of tips and sizes with a great Pelican-style case, though some might appreciate if FiiO included a smaller, more pocketable option too.

Sound is tuned with a familiar v-shape. Sub-bass steals the show, digging deep and providing plenty of visceral feedback with lots of texture and good control along the way. Mids could stand to be a hint more balanced, lacking emphasis but still a bit harsh with some female vocalists. Sibilance is very well-managed though and mostly absent. Treble is clean and well controlled with good detail, though the focus is clearly on the presence region. There isn’t a ton of sparkle to be had with the FD1, surprising given the reasonably vast staging present.

Unless you’re going in expecting something neutral, I can’t see too many being disappointed with what FiiO has released here.

Thanks for reading!

– B9

Disclaimer A big thanks to Sunny with FiiO for reaching out to see if I would be interested in covering the FD1, and for sending over a sample for review. The thoughts within this review are my subjective impressions based on nearly a month of use. They do not represent FiiO or any other entity. At the time of writing you could pick up the FD1 for 89.99 USD: https://www.fiio.com/fd1 / https://fiio.aliexpress.com/store/group/FD1-Dynamic-Earphone/1473108_517614113.html

Specifications
  • Driver: 10mm dynamic with Beryllium-plated diaphragm +N50 magnet
  • Impedance: 32Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 109dB (1kHz@1mW)
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz~40kHz
  • Cable: 0.78mm 2-pin 4-strand high-purity monocrystalline copper
Gear Used For Testing LG Q70, Earstudio HUD100, Earmen TR-Amp, Asus FX53V, TEAC HA-501

Some Test Tunes

Supertramp – Crime of the Century
Slipknot – Vol 3 (The Subliminal Verses)
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Porcupine Tree – Stupid Dreams
NymPHONOmaniac
NymPHONOmaniac
Listening to ''Let's get physical'' on the FD1: Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!
Pros: Neutral. Built-in pressure valve makes for easy fitting. Inexpensive. Comfortable. Nice extras.
Cons: Can sound harsh when used with weak amps.
Introduction
Firstly, before anything else, I have to apologise for my excessive wordiness. I can assure you that in person I’m a man of few words - in fact I’m positively antisocial! I have been an enthusiastic headphone user now for many many years and have seen some remarkable advances in this field as time has gone on. In the last couple of years I have kinda focussed on bluetooth audio and have ended up with some very impressive hardware - the Sony WH1000XM2 and WF1000XM3’s, the Lypertek Tevi, the Apple Airpods and the Mavin Air-X in particular. All of these bluetooth headphones impress me with their sound quality and features - so it’s going to be an interesting experience going back to wired IEM’s after using wireless so often recently.

Fiio FD1 Chess Board close up 3.jpg


Background
My current wired IEM’s consist of the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10 and Magaosi K3 Pro’s. Playback electronics include the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, AgpTek H1, Acer Chromebook and occasionally the Benjie S5. Additionally I also have the Topping NX2 DAC/Amp and the Nexum Aqua + Bluetooth amplifier. In the past I have owned the Etymotic ER4P, Shure E500 and 1More Triple Driver IEM’s. Most of my music is high-bitrate MP3’s and occasionally some FLAC files. I’m 58 years old - so please take this into account when I talk about sound quality.

Introducing the Fiio FD1
Fiio has a reputation for producing some truly excellent audio equipment. Their MP3 players have an enthusiastic following and their multi-driver IEM’s get a lot of positive comments on this site. I personally haven’t had the chance to try out any of Fiio’s products up to now so I was very keen on trying out the FD1’s. When I first read about the specifications for the FD1 I was somewhat dubious about the single driver - when compared against the might of multiple balanced armature drivers and the many hybrid BA/DD models that are now available within this price point. However my recent experience with the Lypertek Tevis and Sony WF1000XM3’s have made me realise just how good a single dynamic driver can be. I was also somewhat concerned about them using a 10mm driver - having expectations of excessive bass (the Lypertek’s and Sony’s drivers are only 6mm and sound superb). Needless to say, my concerns on both the use of a single dynamic driver and its size turned out to be completely unwarranted.

Fiio FD1 Chess Board close up 6.jpg


Externals
The FD1’s are made of an acrylic material - with an opaque backplate (black or blue) and a semi-transparent front which shows some of the inner workings of the headphone. The soundtube has a fairly large bore but appears to be pretty much compatible with most tips. The soundtube itself is a metallic gold and features an impressive looking mesh filter at the tip. The supplied tips fit very tightly - I struggled at first but they’re certainly secure once fitted correctly. These headphones appear to be quite thick but don't really look it once they're in your ears. You can comfortably lay on your side whilst wearing them - this is always something that's welcome as I do a lot of my listening in bed.

Fiio FD1 close up Cable.jpg


The cable is really nice - slightly thicker than those found on most other IEM's but they’re really flexible and don't feel sticky. The braiding is tight and it terminates in a really neat right angled gold-plated jackplug. You are left with the impression that the cable is going to go the distance.

Fiio FD1 close up Cable 4.jpg


One really cool touch was the supplied Fiio branded Pelican-style case - much nicer than the typical pleather pouches normally offered with headphones in this price range. The Fiio’s also come with a range of different tips.

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Sound Quality
Before going into the sound quality of these headphones - I feel that it's important to go through something of a preamble first.

Insertion Depth
As a previous owner of the Etymotics ER4P, I was kinda used to somewhat severe insertion depths. Most IEM's don't go as deep as the Ety's and the FD1 is no exception. However, one thing about the Ety's was that it wasn't just about how deep you have to insert them but also ensuring that you equalised the pressure behind them. Failing to do this with the Ety's (and quite a few other IEM's on the market as well), resulted in a thin, somewhat harsh sound character. Once you got the correct degree of 'insertion' the sound really opened up and sounded so much better. The FD1's feature a pressure release valve which pretty much eliminates the need to 'fiddle' around with the earphone in order to get the 'sweet spot'. The only other headphone that I'm aware of that has this feature are the Apple Airpods Pro. With the Fiio FD1 - you just 'plop' them into your ears and that's it - jiggling them around won't make any significant changes to the sound quality (assuming you have a good seal of course).

Fiio FD1 Chess Board close up 4.jpg


The Fiio FD1 offer something that I’ve only found on a couple of in ear monitors - rock solid image stability. The Etymotics offered this - clearly Fiio have done a good job matching drivers. Up front, I have to say, these IEM's sound really REALLY nice. My initial concerns about the potential for excessive bass was completely unfounded. Bass goes really deep and yet maintains resolution - textures from lower notes is resolved just as nicely as the other frequencies. I did notice that the FD1’s sounded slightly ‘bright’ on older recordings - but I suspect this is simply a case of the headphones accurately reproducing the recording without adding any artificial ‘bloom’ to the sound.

Fiio FD1 close up Cable 2.jpg


Another thing I noticed almost immediately was the frequency range from extreme bass to extreme treble was remarkably smooth - no apparent gaps in the frequencies and, for my ears at least, no significant boosting of bass or treble. This is a feature that is always welcome on IEM’s - my Magaosi K3 Pro’s definitely appear to have ‘gaps’ which kinda sound like small satellite speakers paired with a massive subwoofer.

Bass
It’s tempting to say that the FD1’s lack the very lowest bass registers but when I tried some of my darker ‘trance’ tracks they deliver bass in spades. The bass is really nice and tight though. They sort of remind me of the fast bass you get on some balanced armature headphones. To sum up - deep, not flabby, detailed and fast.

Mids
When I first tried the FD1’s, they were a little ‘shouty’ in the upper mids. This seemed to calm down a little after a couple of hours of listening (although it’s possible my brain did all the burning). The FD1’s certainly can pull details out of my recordings though - I’m genuinely able to hear tiny details (vocallists breathing, additional echos, track layering). They’re perhaps a little ‘strident’ still in the upper mids - this is something I’m normally very sensitive to - but they still sound great to me.

Highs
Perhaps slightly reduced compared to the 1More Triple Drivers for example, but they don’t suffer with this. Cymbals perhaps lack some of the metallic ‘sheen’ that can be found with balanced armature drivers, the high details still shine through. I think the best description I can give is that they’re slightly more ‘mellow’ than 1More or Magaosi K3 Pro’s - but this is a sound character I really like.

Dynamics
The Fiio FD1’s are surprisingly dynamic. To me, they share a very similar sound character with the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10’s - that’s high praise in my opinion as I rate them very highly. Faster than I expected, sufficiently sensitive to be driven to very high levels with basic players and phones and not so sensitive that you continually hear line noise either.

Fiio FD1 Chess Board close up.jpg


Conclusion
I'm really impressed with these headphones. They offer a taste of the high-end at a budget price. They're comfortable, sound great and don't require any esoteric hardware to drive them to high levels. Whilst they're not the best for external isolation, they also don't have too much 'thud' when you're walking around with them. Very highly recommended.

Postscript

The reason why I've given these headphones 4.5 out of 5 is that, whilst representing an excellent way of getting a taste of the high-end of In Ear Monitors, they really do require a player with a strong output to work at their best. I spend most of the time listening to these through either the AgpTEK H1 MP3 player, Topping NX-2 portable DAC/AMP or the rather excellent Nexium AQUA + bluetooth headphone amplifier. All three of these devices feature a much stronger headphone output than what you would normally find on a typical smartphone.

Attachments

Otto Motor
Otto Motor
Neutral? Too bassy for that.
Peddler
Peddler
I'm now using the foam eartips now as well. I'm pairing these up with the rather excellent Sony Nw-a55 MP3 player I recently purchased and it's a real match made in heaven.

The Sony drives the Fiio very nicely and can go more than loud enough. The player also helps with a little more bass which helps overcome the slight loss from using the foam tips.
Peddler
Peddler
I've gone back to a set of silicone tips - gives a little more 'edge' to the sound - me likkeeee!
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