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Latest reviews

NymPHONOmaniac

Headphoneus Supremus
---FIIO FH3 OVERDUE REVIEW---

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This one was on hold, i finish it today and tbh they arent bad at all, don't know why i was grumpy about them, once i go out of my personal tuning target and timbre hyper-sensitivity, the FH3 are L shape to neutral crisp sounding earphones with agile technicalities.

PROS: Near neutral well balanced tuning, high level of clarity-details, good imaging, fast attack, nuanced texture, good transparency, non agressive hyper-realist tonality, construction, design, packaging, price

CONS: slightly boomy yet non weighty bass, bit thin timbre, coldish tonality, sharp but not sparkly treble, not wide open vocal, though good imaging is a bit compressed-intimate, not very musical (subjective)

TONALITY: 8/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.5/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 9/10
SOUND VALUE: 8/10

FIIO
doesn’t need more presentation as theve been around for more than 10 years and have an immense audio products catalog that includes everything but audiophile quantum stickers. Since years, they collaborate with Knowles balanced armature too, so they can precisly custom every drivers they imagine. Far are the days where FIIO didn’t know how to tune, FH serie being widely acclaim for this very reason, let’s see if the FIIO FH3 can pass the test of time or will be a hate-love Hybrid like the older FH1 which at the time was selling around the same price.

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CONSTRUCTION, as always with FIIO, is excellent. The beautifully crafted housing promises durability due to its thick metal composition. The whole package is, again as always, very impressive too. And oh, the cable! I love it. Soooooo thick and sturdy, with this high-end industrial look and yes, good pairing in terms of sound, no need to upgrade it and thats a relief!

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SOUND

TONALITY
is L shape with some extra treble bite, brightish a bit cold but not really aggressive, if it wasn't for boosted bass the FH3 would be near flat neutral. It’s a bassy lean analytical sounding IEM, and it’s quite unique in that regard, attack isn’t boosted and avoid shoutyness we could find with some hybrid or multi-BA earphones.

So, apart for badass bass, it doesnt have a weighty DYNAMIC, attack lack a bit of snap even if speedy, upper treble seem a bit faster and crisper than rest of the spectrum leading to some rare uneven highs balance. Bass is quite nice but doesnt fully match the timbre of other BA drivers making it sometimes a bit out of balance or distracting. As well, it isn't well-articulated and a bit (gently) boomy.

Talking about TIMBRE, the balanced armature has this slight metallic sheen to it that makes it a bit clinical sounding, staying hyper-realist and accurate but not as natural as what a Dynamic driver could give. So, yes, a bit thin too, making vocal lacking body density, open presence and welcome lushness. Still, timbre is realist enough, well-textured yet with a nice transparency to it.

TECHNICALLY the FH3 is very competent, rich in details and sound layers, precise yet constraint in imaging, fast in attack apart the bass part so you can feel its snappy speed better with instrumental or bass less-lights music tracks, listening right now to fast jazz composed of violin, trumpet, bass light percussions and it sound accurate, with great instrument placement within limited space, i can clearly look around the holographic acoustic, spoting the trumpet that have dryish timbre and at its left the violin with full nuanced timbre, though I get a bit distract by more metallic percussion which seem crisper cleaner bit more trebly in rendering, still, damn its thigh and clear! (Track : Yves Robert-L’air d’y toucher). SO no doubt : IMAGING is good and can go great with crisp music that doesnt have sub bass emphasis.

So indeed, from mids to highs the attack is very speedy, with good edge but some lack of decay and sparkle thus making percussions more ‘’ringy’’ than sparkly.

Overall BALANCE is well done, but a hint too boosted in bass department which can bloom its great clarity potential. As well, upper highs can be sometime too emphased and while it permit to extract micro-details more easily, the very details can be distracting too. In fact, if i go back some years ago i will praise this type of analytical treble, but my ears perhaps become snobbish about this type of magical WOW effect trick.

I ask ALOT to IEM due to my very diversify music library, and i can say FH3 is very versatile even if 20% of my music will go boomy which is due to mid-sub bass boost that can shadow the kick drum presence and impact as if it was thinked for electronic drum.

COMPARISONS :

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VS FIIO FH7 (500$)

The FH7 have verry similar tonal balance but thicker more natural timbre as well as more open and holographic sound. The bass is weightier, warmer and less resonant and dry than FH3. Clarity seem crisper with FH3, offering a less layered but more crisper imaging. Bass is biggst different, FH7 having thicker more extended and flexible bass, as well, lower mids are more present and give extra body to mids and vocal which are thinner a bit brighter-colder with FH3. Treble is a bit more airy, but less lean and balanced than FH7. Apart bass which is better with FH7, the rest is very similar in technicalities and overall tonality, making the FH3 a better value.

VS IKKO OH10 (180$)

OH10 is brighter, more U to W shape and less clean due to slight bass impact bloom. Imaging is inferior, lacking clean separation of FH3. Bass have more texture, boom and body but is less linear and well separated too. Upper highs seem roll off and doesnt deliver as much micro details and brilliance. Mid are a bit more lively, textured and bright but not as well articulated, especially in busy track. Soundstage is a bit wider-taller-deeper. While i prefer the energic bassy sound of OH10, i can’t stop telling myself they are inferior to FH3 both tonaly and technically, but superior in fun factor I guess.

CONCLUSION

FIIO have evolve tremendously with the time, and their tuning experience show up their result with a confident tonal balance approach where neutrality meet slight bass boost for extra musicality pleasure. The level of technical prowess we got for such a price is quite impressive, delivering high level of clarity, clean precise imaging, fast yet snappy attack and a refined near reference neutral sound that wasn’t imaginable at this price 5 years ago. Thanks to the very capable Knowles BA they use, the timbre, while a bit cold, is far from artificial or harsh like we can find with most sub-150$ Hybrid IEM even today. Thinking about it, the FH3 make it even harder to justify paying 500$ for the FH7 and underline that when we climb the IEM price ladder, its sometime just to find our very subjective tonality target because technically speaking they are 90% on par.

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PS: I wanna thanks FIIO for sending me this review sample some time ago in the midst of this annoying pandemic. FIIO is another company connected to audio community that accepts an unbiased, critical point of view so they can always improve, and the time has shown they sure evolve impressively in the last years with their IEM lineup refinement.
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JasonLucas

New Head-Fier
Amazing starter iem into hifi
Pros: Awesome entry level ( 129$ ) all a rounder
Good lows mids and highs
Cons: Cable . But barely a con
Intense at times
Fh3

Great build quality

Good accessories
Deep, fast, textured low end

Detailed mids, good vocals both male and female
Plays everything you throw at it well
smooth, non-fatiguing, good timbre,
Treble is smooth with a touch of sparkle and air and good extension ( slightly brighter overall than average and while not fatiguing can be more intense than neutral )

bass is dynamic, punchy and textured.
imaging and layering were above average, soundstage is on the slightly smaller side
emphasis on the sub-bass, but not overpowering , comes when needed
S.Turbo technology

41.5mm spiral tube which filters unwanted high frequencies delivering clearer bass.
Mid-bass is punchy and hits with impact
All frequencies presented equally across the board
Drivers: 10mm beryllium-plated dynamic driver, Knowles ED30262 for mid frequencies, Knowles RAD33518 for high frequencies
High-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper
Cable is heavy and has micro phonics



D
Da4enn
seems great but how does this thing compared to Tri i3?
It looks like they are in the same price point
JasonLucas
JasonLucas
I prefer tri i3 by a lot
Pros: Entertaining sound, robust design. Good accessories. Excellent value.
Cons: Cable is bulky. IEMs a bit large for some ears to get a good seal.

Thanks to FiiO for giving me a pair of FH3 for review.

Though cheap IEMs aren't my thing, for the most part, it is interesting to take a look at what is going on at the lower end of the market. Compared to a decade ago, when I used to go to the local electronic stores and try out IEMs, things have improved dramatically. Back then, anything under $200 sounded awful. Now companies are releasing sub-$100 IEMs that sound great.

At under $150, the FH3s give you a dynamic driver and two balanced armature drivers. Like the FH5 and FH7, they put the balanced armature driver pair right up against the grill, with the base driver further back inside. This driver complement is slightly less than the FH5, and the FH7 adds a better bass set-up. It looked as if the slightly unrefined treble of both is going to be present in the FH3, and indeed it was.

Unlike the slightly more fancy set-up of the FH5 and FH7, the usual selection of tips are present with the FH3, but in bags, rather than a block of foam. Standard, narrow-bore silicon tips, as well as "bass" and "vocal" tips were included, along with foam tips. Since the FH3 have a fairly standard set-up with the bass driver, they are somewhat tunable with tip selection.

Nicely, despite being the cheapest in the range, they come with both the soft and hard cases that the more expensive models do.

Comfort
The cable is the same, slightly bulky but quite well-made one that the FH5 and other models come with. by default, it comes with a section of clear plastic at the point that goes around your ears, and that has a serious curve baked into it, which was good at holding the IEMs in place, but a bit much to get them on and in quickly. A hair dryer can be used to reduce the amount of curve if desired.

Being a hybrid, the FH3 are quite bulky, and while comfortable, sometimes have a bit of issue getting a good seal. The MMCX connection on the cables is quite tight, preventing the IEMs going into an endless swivel. Getting the right angle on the cable was necessary to get them to sit in my ears without easily falling out.


Music impressions.
I gave the FH3 a few days run-in out of a DAP to ensure that any changes that might occur do before I do any serious listening. While most IEMs I use don't change from out of the box, I've had a few that had dramatic changes in the first few hours of listening, so I figured it is better to be sure.

Impressions were mostly done from a Chord Hugo 2, for consistency. I'll start with music impressions first, then impressions with different amps and DAC/amps. I used Spinfit tips mostly for my impressions.

David Chesky - Jazz in the New Harmonic - Quiet Desperation

I use this track to check for detail retrieval, primarily. It's one that, to really "get" the music, a high-end system is best used.

There was very good instrument separation, with accurate cymbals and a tight bass, which was quite a surprise. Detail retrieval was good, if not high-end, as the low-level nuances of cymbal hits were missing. Overall though, the presentation was cohesive, not sounding like a hybrid IEM.

Miles David - Doo Bop - Mystery

This, sometimes odd-sounding track was given a good amount of punch, if not the most bass or widest soundstage that can be had from other IEMs. Imaging was good and sharp, giving a good sense of depth.

SEED Ensemble - Driftglass - Mirrors

A random jazz discovery of mine showed up the FH3 as having a narrower soundstage here, with instruments pushed more towards the middle compared to the FH5 and other higher-end IEMs. As things get busy, a bit of congestion starts to show, pushing a focus on the mid-range.

Marc Ribot - Aurora

Like the above jazz, the story was exactly the same for this amazing guitar track.

Merge of Equals

A slight hardness in the treble shows here in the percussion and vocals, as it did on the FH5 and FH7.

Tip Selection
Given the above impressions, the FH3 as already stated, can be tuned slightly by a careful selection of tips.

The standard black silicon tips tame the treble a bit versus the Spinfit and other wider-bore tips (which tend to reduce the bass). I'd tend to use these as standard to balance against the slightly "hard" treble. Given I'm more likely to use IEMs on the go, less treble at the louder volumes I'd listen with on public transport is a good thing to prevent fatigue.

The grey/red tips produce a thicker bass, which is good for music as such old Fleetwood Mac classics that I sometimes listen to.

The white/red tips on the other hand, lighten the bass. Since the bass the best part of FiiO IEMs, I didn't like them.

The Spinfit tips struck a nice balance between the black silicon and others, with slightly more treble.

I also compared the FH3 to FH5, after fielding many requests. Here's my video about them:

In summary, the FH5 is a bit more refined than the FH3, dealing with congestion in the music better, but as a result, takes away a bit from the excitement factor that the FH3 delivers.

Gear matching
The FH3 will drive out of an iPhone Lightning dongle, but clearly benefit from better gear. Moving up to a FiiO Q3 brings out more bass and noticeably more clarity from a track like Arlington by the Wailing Jennys. This too even if just the 3.5mm port is used.

I didn't find a dramatic improvement going further to a Chord Mojo, even if it is noticeably better in and of itself.

That lends me to recommend finding better-than-phone-dongle amplification for the FH3 for best results.

Conclusion
The FH3 are a lively-sounding pair of IEMs that make music exciting to listen to. Even if they are less refined in how they deliver music compared to the FH5 and FH7, they always made listening enjoyable, their imperfections becoming their strength. What is most impressive is the price, which is low enough to overlook the niggles in their design, such as the fit.
Another Audiophile
Another Audiophile
Interesting.
Lolito
Lolito
awesome review as always, thanks a lot!
Yasin Caliskan
Yasin Caliskan
Nice and explaining review and I am with dweaver. Got me some tracks to dig deeper.

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