FiiO FH5 Quad Driver Hybrid In-Ear Monitors

Rating:
4.65385/5,
  1. Palash
    Best from Fiio till now, Masterpiece
    Written by Palash
    Published Oct 4, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Outstanding build quality,
    Premium cable,
    Unique Musical tuning,
    High comfort level,
    Clarity and details,
    Complete accessory set.
    Cons - No Balanced cable included,
    Intimate soundstage,
    Forward midrange,
    Treble extension could have been better,
    Putting tips in, a difficult job.
    Disclaimer This Fh5 unit was part of the review tour and used 10 days before sending it to next reviewer. For this review I have not received any kind of compensation and Fiio allowed me to share my honest opinion. 50 hours of burn-in is given before starting any critical listening.

    Introduction

    ‘Born For Music and Happy’… Yes Fiio born for Music and in 11 year’s life span proved, hi-fi can be possible on budget. Not only aggressive pricing but Fiio also trying to fill every corner of a music lover’s daily life with quality products like BTR3, M7, X7 mkII. Even it’s very easy to get hands on Fiio’s product in my region because of their authorized distributor and their demo programs. Fh5 is now their top of the line IEM after the success of Fh1 and F9 pro. Having both of them I was waiting for the fh5 when they launched it. Personally I don’t like the naming scheme of Fiio, it’s a bit confusing but let’s accept it and move on.

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    Specifications

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    For more Information visit https://fiio.com/fh5

    Packaging

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    ‘ Black Box ‘ … I have noticed all fiio’s product either have white or black product boxes, Fh5 also came inside a whole black box . Inside the sleeve cover the Book Fold box is placed and two magnets used to hold the cover of the box. As soon as you open the lid you will see the beautiful IEMS lying on foam and beneath the foam everything is placed in an organized manner protected by black sponge. So it’s a flagship product and packaging also reflecting it.

    What's in the Box?

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    FiiO FH5 with cable.
    9x Pairs of silicone eartips,
    3x Pairs of Memory foam eartips,
    1x Soft carrying bag,
    1x Hard case,
    Cleaning brush,
    Paper works.


    Accessories

    Tips - All 12 eartips divided into 4 types and 3 sizes for each type (S, M , L). The types of eartips are Balanced, Vocal, Bass and Memory Foam. The idea of giving a separate foam sheet with marking and storage space for tips is a remarkable and inexpensive move. As per Fiio’s naming scheme the sound should change according to this eartips and for a certain point it is true and I will discuss it later in this review. Personally tried every tip but to me Balanced tip was comfortable with good seal. When we are talking about the tips, I hate Fiio’s memory foam tips. The thing I am missing is a pair of double flange tip, hope they will provide it next time. There is an issue in that foam tray, no room ‘ M’ size Balanced tip.

    Carry Case - A hard carry case, (this time clear look through HB1 ) and a soft pouch bag has been provided inside the box. A good thing with Fiio is they sell these accessories separately in their store. If you lose any of them, you can buy them again. So Fiio please add this clear HB1 and soft pouch bag in your accessories section for separate purchase.

    Cable – One of the best cable ever included with Fiio product. The quality of cable is really good. ‘ L ‘ type 3.5 mm plug is strong and look premium, two separate cable for each channel from plug to y splitter is also a great move and giving the cable a fancy yet strong look. The overall silver theme and Fiio branding on the Velcro cable tie shows the careful craftsmanship of Fiio. No sign of microphonics in the cable. Good quality of MMCX plug is used this time, give a gentle press and snap. No hassle or struggle. Again you can buy this cable (LC- B) separately from fiio .

    Design / Build

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    First thing first, it may seem from pictures that the IEM is big and not for small ears, WRONG.. Actually they are almost same in size of F9 Pro. The design of FH5 is something new this time after F9 Pro, an approach to Universal InEar Monitor can be noticed. Trishell structure and face plate design is applied. The golden ring, top of the face plate is adding a rich look to FH5. The dark silver like color on a smooth machined aluminum alloy shell giving it a smooth feel on your hand and inside the ear cavity. The smooth rounding edges and CIEM like design helping Fh5 to fit even in small ears. They are very comfortable to wear for long time. May be Fiio should release a rose gold FH5 next. Three independent sound bores for bass, mids and treble can be seen but covered by mess. The total size of the bore is a bit bigger in diameter and putting in a tip is a really difficult job especially the small and medium one.

    Gear Used with FH5 - Impidence of just 19 ohms and 112dB/Mw sensitivity giving Fh5 the efficiency to run almost on anything. I used this gears to run FH5 .
    DAP – Fiio X1 mk2, Hiby R3, Sony NW-A46HN, Cayin N3, Iphone SE.
    DAC AMP combo with PC – Fiio Q1 Mk2, Audioquest Dragonfly Black.


    Other Cable - Fiio RC-MMCXB

    Tracks / Albums Listened –
    Adele – 21
    Devin Dawson - Dark Horse
    Don Henley - I Can't Stand Still
    Eagles - Hotel California
    Eagles - The Very Best Of The Eagles
    Eric Clapton - Riding With The King (Tidal MQA)
    Eric Clapton - Unplugged (1992)
    Etta James - At Last!
    Michael Jackson - Scream
    Sia - This Is Acting (Deluxe Version)
    Amber Rubarth - Wildflowers in the Graveyard
    Amber Rubarth 17th Ward (DSD)


    Sound

    ‘Best from Fiio Till now’ … yes Fh5 undoubtedly is best from Fiio till now. More and more fine tuning turned Fh5 into an IEM that can suit most of music lovers. From Fh1’s fun tuning to F9 pro’s analytical tuning, Fiio tuned Fh5 this time in an unconventional but musical way for a mass appeal. The sound singnature is ‘W’ shaped and pretty much balanced.

    Bass –
    As the ‘W’ shaped Sound Signature suggests there is an emphasis on lower frequency. Good amount of Sub-Bass can be noticed. Bass is fast and impactful. A very matured Bass indeed. A blend of clear, punchy sub-bass followed by mid-bass is there. The bass is well controlled and doesn’t bleed in lower mid range. Mid bass have good body and a touch of warmth. The ‘Bass ‘tip as per Fiio for increasing bass is not actually helping that much and please avoid memory foam tips, they just killing the texture of bass. While listening tracks like ‘Dangerous ‘by Michael Jackson, the opening of track where both beats and voice going simultaneously can be heard clearly which is rare in IEM in this price point. The impact of bass is amazing.

    Mids –
    Mids in Fh5 a bit forwarded especially the Upper mids. Mids are detailed with good texture. Lower mids a bit recessed and vocal tips really helped to bring the lower mid to its place. Rest of mid range is forwarded. Mids is actually well balanced with vocal tip and quite rich. Female vocals are elevated yet sweet and smooth. When listening tracks like, Amber Rubarth‘s ‘Wildflowers in the Graveyard‘ you can feel the emotion in her voice . Just close your eyes and listen the songs like ‘ Hold On ‘ by Amber Rubarth or Etta James’s ‘ Trust In Me ‘ , I can assure it will be a great experience for anyone. Fh5 just meant for female vocals. Male vocals are a bit recessed, yet very resolving. Listening songs like ‘Come Rain or Shine ‘by Eric Clapton & B. B. King, is a heavenly experience. Every note is so clear that you can feel the characteristics of both singers’ voice even when they play together. Really enjoyed listening Clapton’s albums with FH5.


    Treble –
    To me upper frequency response of a hybrid IEM proves its real potential. Fh5 no doubt done a good job in this section but still noticed some drops in lower treble. No big spike noticed thus the treble part is smooth. It’s like something is missing. Here comes the balanced cable and vocal tips to rescue, Fh5 with Fiio’s balanced cable improved a lot in treble section. Now a lot of energy can be seen, while listening the album Don Henley’s ‘I Can't Stand Still’. Wish Fiio supplied a balanced cable with FH5.

    Soundstage –
    Intimate soundstage with better details and good imaging is better than wide soundstage and poor imaging. Same thing applies to Fh5. As a result of ‘W ‘shape tuning the soundstage is intimate yet deep enough. While listening solo vocals it seems the singer is in front of you but with complex songs and songs with duet or more vocal artists, suffers due to this intimate soundstage. Instrument separation is pretty good and layering is also up to the mark. FH 5 tuned such a way that it almost fits itself in every genre, even out of the box you going to love it and intimate soundstage is not going bother you to enjoy your soul mate songs.

    Pairing –
    FH5 can be paired with any source without any problem. With phones like Iphone SE some noise can be noticed but it’s not a big deal. For its unique tuning neutral sources like Hiby R3 and Sony NW-A46 is much more suitable to pair with FH5.

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    Comparison

    At that moment, writing this review, I didn’t have any other IEM in this price range to compare with FH5. FH5 vs Ibasso IT04 is a burning question but my Ibasso IT04 still on its way. Fh5 is a review tour unit and I can’t hold it more than 10 days so left the idea of comparing it with IT04. So what’s next?

    FH5 Vs Fiio FH1Size wise, design wise they are different and it’s obvious. Comparison between a 90 $ plastic build IEM and a 270 $ flagship is unfair but the point is, both of them belongs to ‘FH’ series and FH1 was one of the successful budget IEM from Fiio . As they both belong to same FH series, it may come to mind why FH5 is priced top of the line? Answer is, it’s because of Fiio’s poor naming scheme. I strongly suggest Fiio to change the FH5’s name to something else because the Sound Signature is also different. FH1’s bass is loose and not so textured in comparison to FH5. Fh5 has more controlled and textured sub-bass, more detailed mid range. Treble section is similar in both IEM , yet FH5 a bit smoother side. Fh1‘s build quality is pathetic where FH5 is a piece of ART.

    FH5 Vs Fiio F9 Pro – FH5 is a big jump from F9 Pro in terms of price. Dethroning F9 pro, FH5 is now Fiio’s Flagship. I personally consider F9 pro a reference IEM for budget audiophiles; it’s not tuned for everyone. FH5 has a sound signature that can suit a large group of people out of the box. Fh5 can be used for long time without any fatigue. F9 pro is much brighter than FH5 and seems boring for long listening sessions. F9 pro lacks the lower frequency section where FH5 is a king. The overall presentation of Fh5 is very pleasing and can perform well with all your music collection. Fh5 definitely a refinement over F9 Pro and deserve the extra price.


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    Conclusion

    Fiio as a brand now established itself for high end audio products in everyone’s budget. For 270 $ Fh5 is a very good IEM to choose for sure. May be it’s a bit highly priced than their previous F9 pro but worth every penny. They have done a commendable job in developing unique design for FH5 and overall likable sound. Why they didn’t included the balanced cable I don’t know but the provided cable is good enough to last long. Fh5’s approach is like , premium product for everyone –for every music genre. Really enjoyed the Fh5 for 10 days and going to buy it soon. I hope Fiio will continue to refine the sound in their upcoming AF series as well.
  2. Wiljen
    FiiO Flagship Sails into new territory
    Written by Wiljen
    Published Sep 29, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - enjoyable signature, great build quality, best cable by FiiO yet.
    Cons - W signature leaves some gaps, no balanced cable provided.
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    FiiO FH5

    Disclaimer: The FiiO FH5 was sent to me as part of the Head-fi review tour. I have received no compensation of any kind, nor do I get to keep the FH5.

    The FH5 is the latest hybrid IEM from Fiio and their current flagship. I own Fiio’s previous flagship, the F9 Pro and have found them to be well made and enjoyable. I will admit that when the retail for the FH5 was announced, I was a bit skeptical as it is substantially higher than anything Fiio had done to date and puts them head to head with some pretty established names. Even at the $270 street price, it is a bracket that is crowded with some fairly solid players so Fiio needed to really bring it to compete. The first hint that Fiio has indeed rethought their IEM line is that the FH5 represents the first official partnership between Knowles and Fiio. Many of the best BA drivers are made by Knowles and an awful lot of the boutique manufacturers that use custom drivers actually contract with Knowles to make the drivers for them.

    Unboxing / Packaging:

    Those with other Flagship FiiO products will recognize the black box design as it seems to be used in all of their high-end models. The box has a slip cover over a book-fold design that is a step above previous models like my F9 pro as the internals are better laid out and allow for easy access to and organization of the accessories. The inner compartment is two layers deep with the headphones sitting on top with the cable in the shape a FiiO’s trademark heart with the remainder of the accessories hiding beneath.

    Accessories:

    Under the earphone tray, the space is divided in half. At the top is a small packet containing the manual and warrantee cards with the tips in their own foam tray beneath that. A total of 12 different tips are provided, 9 silicone of 3 different types and 3 foams. Small, medium, and large tips of each type are provided with the medium standard tip being installed on the earpieces and the remaining 11 stored in the foam tray. The only drawback is if one wishes to use the large standard tips and place the mediums in the tray, the cutout is slightly too large and the mediums will fall out unlike any of the others which are held well. This is the one oversight in an otherwise well designed tip management system.
    The lower portion of the box contains the hard case, a clear pelican style case this time instead of the smoked version of the F9 pro. Inside the hard case is a soft case and a cleaning tool to round out the kit. The only real disappointment here was after purchasing the F9 pro, I had hope the FH5 would also ship with a balanced cable as the F9 did. No such luck this time so those wanting the balanced cable will need to order one separately.

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    Build /Fit:

    The shells on the FH5 are impressive, larger and deeper seating than the F9 series with all edges well polished. The shell is constructed of 3 parts all of which are an aluminum/magnesium alloy. The main body is finished in the same gunmetal gray of the F9-pro while the divider plate is gold colored and provides a nice accent to the otherwise industrial look. The mmcx connectors have a colored disc surrounding them for quick L/R identification. While larger than the F9 series, the FH5 is contoured in such a way that it sits in my ear more comfortably and I have to rely less on the tips to keep them in place than with previous generation FiiOs. Those with small ears may find the size a bit overwhelming but for those with average to large ears, the comfort level is better than expected.

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    Internals:

    The FH5 uses a single 10mm dynamic driver to handle the low end and a trio of BA drivers to handle mids and treble. The dynamic driver is of the same style as those found in the F9 Series and I found it interesting that FiiO went to the effort of building a 10mm PEK driver instead of the 9.2mm they already had in inventory for the F9 series. The tuning is also different as the F9 uses the dynamic to cover the lower mids while the FH5 uses a Knowles ED30262 BA to handle the mids, so the Dynamic is a bass-only affair in the FH5. Highs are provided by a pair of Knowles TWFK-31082 Bas to complete the package. Fiio has stated that they believe switching to Knowles drivers has allowed them to produce a more refined sound than was possible using the drivers in the F9 series. An active crossover is added to the mix and one of the sound bores is designed to improve the low pass filtering of the dynamic driver to improve the bass.

    Cable:

    While disappointed in the fact that the FH5 does not ship with a balanced cable, I will say that the cable that does ship with the unit is extremely well made and a step above what has shipped with previous models. The wire itself is a heavier gauge silver plated copper braid in a clear jacket. FiiO has bucked the trend of braiding the strands and the cable runs parallel up to the split and then as single strands above the splitter. While the cable looks heavy, it is reasonably pliable and didn’t have much memory so didn’t tend to tangle as badly as previous versions. I was pleased to see a right angle 3.5mm jack with good strain relief. The splitter is of the hollow type with a chin slider mating to the top of it. Both the slider and jack are finished in the same gunmetal gray as the earpieces. At the top end of the cable, sits a 4 inch sheath around the cable with a distinct collar at the lower end. This provides the shaping and is much preferred to memory wire for me. The cables terminate with MMCX connectors clearly marked with red and blue rings for easy identification.

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    Tips:

    Most headphones these days come with either 3 Silicone tips or 3 Silicone and 3 Foams. FiiO has doubled that number by providing standard (balanced) silicone in 3 sizes, foams in 3 sizes, bass enhancing silicones in 3 sizes and treble enhancing silicones in 3 sizes. I applaud FiiO as the tips are not just a gimmick but actually do impact the signature. I used the balanced for sound impressions but preferred the Vocal (treble tips) slightly for personal listening.



    Sound:

    Bass:

    The FH5 has good sub-bass depth and quantity with more emphasis than the mid-bass. Sub-bass rolls-off fairly sharply below about 50Hz but delivers good thump. Sub-bass is well defined and tonal separation is better than many iems at its price point that kind of have a single sub-bass note instead of accurately reproducing the range. Mid-bass sits well behind sub-bass but is well refined and extremely well behaved with no perceptible bleed into the mids and good reproduction of bass guitar notes. There is just something about that Dynamic driver bass that lends a more visceral punch than what can be had with BA arrangements. I would liken the sub-bass on the FH5 to the Empire Ears Bravado as both provide a bass that is as much felt as heard.



    Mids:

    Mids on the FH5 need to be discussed in 3 parts. First the lower mids are a bit recessed when compared to either the mid-bass or the upper mids. Lower mids retain good detail and can be EQ’d back to closer to neutral, but it is undeniable that in the default configuration they are well behind all of the signature. This is one reason I liked the Vocal tips for personal listening as they help pull the lower mids a bit forward (mostly by knocking the upper mids a bit back into place).
    Upper mids, as alluded to above, are well forward of all of the rest of the signature except maybe sub-bass. The upper-mid hump centers ar around the 2k mark and is very likely the result of using a Knowles driver that was originally designed for hearing aids. This is a very common design element of BA’s for that purpose as it aligns to the frequency of human vocalizations which is most often what listeners want to hear above the background. The nice thing about this spike is it does exactly what is intended as vocals are intimate and extremely well rendered. The drawback to the spike is a somewhat unnatural timbre to some instruments.



    Treble:

    The lower treble is somewhat recessed (centered around 5kHz) which prevents cymbals from being too far out front and prevents sibilance that might otherwise be expected with the upper mids pushed as far forward as they are. Treble as a whole is not emphasized with no large peeks in the range that dominate the signature. There is a small emphasis to the upper treble at the 12kHz range that gives some needed air to the signature but does not give the sound s strident or harsh nature as the F9 pro sometimes did. Treble is a far cry from the original F9 and it is hard to believe FiiO has come this far this fast.

    Soundstage:

    Soundstage is deeper than wide but manages to image well within the space and instrument separation was very good with tracks that tend to get muddy.

    Comparisons:

    Vs FiiO F9 Pro
    F9 pro is smaller in size so may fit small ears better but is out-classed in every technical aspect by the FH5. If you were wondering if the difference in price between the F9 Pro and FH5 is justified by the difference in performance, the answer is a resounding yes.

    Vs Eartech Quint
    Ok, unfair fight a 5 BA CIEM vs a Universal hybrid. Having said that, there is also no clear winner. The Quint is more balanced while the FH5 is more W shaped in sound. The FH5 has better bass authority while the Quint has better mid-bass timbre. The Quint is more resolving while the FH5 brings a bit of extra energy that makes it a bit more engaging.

    Vs Ibasso IT-03
    The IT03 and FH5 share a lot of similar characteristics with differences being in degree. Both have the same forward upper mids although the FH5 is a bit more pronounced than the IT03. Both have a sub-bass emphasis although FiiO is a bit better extended and more authoritative. Tough comparison as more similar than not.

    Vs Rose Mojito
    Another odd comparison as they really have nothing in common except price point. FH5 wins on build quality for sure but the mojito fires back with a more balanced signature and more detail. The mojito is one of my favorite daily users because I can hear things going on around it so those wanting isolation will pick the FH5 every time.



    Conclusions:

    FiiO made a bold statement when they announced the FH5 at a price point that was double that of anything they had released to date. Sure we all expected it to be better than the F9 Pro, but would it be twice as good? As is usually the case, there is not an unqualified yes or no answer. While I would like to see the balanced cable included in the package, many others at this price point do not (Ibasso) either. The signature is definitely more refined than any previous FiiO offering and brings a lot of good things to the table. For non-critical listening, it is a fun, engaging iem. On the downside, it is a W shape and those two valleys make it less than ideal for all genres and will make some shy away from it. Overall, I don’t think FiiO knocked it out of the park, but it is a solid triple where the F9 struck out and the F9 Pro was a single. At current pace, I expect FiiO to release a home run hitter any day now. Keep up the good work.

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      ruthieandjohn and Palash like this.
  3. slumber86
    Awesome, but not for everyone
    Written by slumber86
    Published Sep 29, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - • Design and build quality
    • Detailed sound
    • Fantastic and likeable sound signature
    • Clarity and detail
    Cons - • Missing balanced or/and mic cable
    • Choosy on some genres
    • Average Sound stage (for IEM)
    • Fatiguing
    • Someone must use the EQ with them
    Introduction

    In the last years FiiO has gained much momentum between budget-sensible Audiophiles, making good product for the right amount of money.
    When they announced a new flagship that should give much I was genuinely excited, and curious if they can match the quality of my Etymotic. Let’s see if it is the case.


    About Me
    I’m 32, music-first-audiophile from Italy, I listen mainly rock, metal, indie and electronic music with some jazz hip-hop and soul.


    Packaging and Accessories

    FiiO’s packaging has improved much in the years and FH5 make no exception, the box is beautiful, the accessory list is complete, with a good cable, a good-looking hard case and soft-pouch, and replacement ear-tips to shape the sound at your needs. _DSC0253.jpg

    Sadly, balanced cable is missing, given the effort that FiiO has put on promoting balanced in the last years, is a little disappointing but finding one is not difficult or expensive.

    I used a custom-made balanced cable on FiiO Q5 and Radsone EarStudio and the sound improved a bit in dynamics and imaging, but it can also be a little of self-suggestion
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    Build quality
    The earphones are beautiful casted in metal, with a timeless and awesome look, the cable is good and give a premium feel. They are a good object to put on and to look. Sadly, this premium look-and feel add some weight. For the can is not a problem but the cable can be more comfortable on long listening sessions

    Sound
    My review sample has unknown hours of burn-in, so for safety I burnt them for 10 hours with pink noise. I replaced the tips with memory-foam ones, I don’t like much standard ones. They give good seal but above-average insulation. Don't know if they were worn before but started soon to fell apart and switched back to balanced ones

    When put on, the sound signature is immediately pleasing. The warm bass, the lush high and the emphasis on 2khz are made to appeal the listener, given the right track.

    NOTE: all my review is written WITHOUT EQ.

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    Selected listens
    Radiohead - Karma Police/Creep
    Lush height really shines in karma police, there is a good dynamic on the background electronics and the drums have the right punch. The voice is a little recessed compared to other

    In Creep, that is much less polished records the bright highs are more prone to give fatigue, almost annoying. The bass instead is very round and consistent.


    REM – Bittersweet Me
    Given the sensibility of this headphones on the hiss, this track (and all New Adventures in Hi-Fi) is a good testbench. In this track, the sibilants are a little forward but never a problem. But the whole track sounds a little closed than I expected


    Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
    This track is fantastic, her production suits perfectly the tuning of these earphones, the guitar is crisp and in-your-face, the bass is sweet and give a good floor for the track. The trumpet solo is floating right in your ears.

    But still in this track the harshness on the treble causes some fatigue and discomfort.


    Nightwish – The Pharaoh Sails to Orion
    Metal is consistently good on these cans, much more than other genres, mainly thanks on the forward midrange and details. In this the drumming and the growl slaps your face while keyboard and Tarja’s voice lift you up.


    Jon Hopkins – Open eyes signal
    Electronic is a mixed bag on FH5, there is a lot of clarity in the high and mid-range, but the bass lacks a little punch overall, subs are good but this track like other non-dancing electronic music lacks a little of involvement


    Pairings

    MacBook Pro/iPhone X
    The headphones are driven easily from my MacBook or iPhone, obviously the detail is below-average, the sound stage is closed and the high are rolled-off. The iPhone is better but only a bit.


    FiiO Q5
    This is a fantastic pairing, especially for “warm” genres with plenty of detail, and a good rounded bass, a good amount of detail, but the dynamics are a little off.
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    Radsone EarStudio
    Big step up here, is my favourite for metal and rock, giving good detail and dynamics, scarifying a little punch.


    Saffire Pro24 DSP
    This professional soundcard has a well-balanced sound, punchy bass and plenty of dynamics and a fantastic stereo imaging. The FH5 made it shine, made it the better pairing in my possession.


    Comparisons

    Etymotic ER3XR
    Etymotic are not as charming as the FH5 for sure: the look and feel is more spartan, they are harder to drive, also the sound signature is flatter, and less pleasing when A/B testing them, but their amazing insulation, the weight, and their stunning dynamics, and the lesser listener fatigue, make them a strong contender in the price range.

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    Conclusions
    The FiiO FH5 is a beautiful pair of IEM, with an awesome price value ratio: they have a good and pleasing sound, stellar build quality, amazing look, but may not fit everyone tastes and needs because of their strong sound signature.

    There are some tracks that shine and other that are problematic, even in the same genre. The tuning is critical in this case. Maybe EQing out the 2k peak can work for someone, but for others no


    Addendum
    I listened some tracks removing 4db from 2khz with the EQ and the listening experience improved much, the harshness and the fatigue went away almost completely, and the soundstage opened. Amazing!
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      Palash likes this.
  4. ezekiel77
    FiiO FH5 - Echoes of Grace and Fortitude
    Written by ezekiel77
    Published Sep 21, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stellar musical tuning, natural and coherent signature, good accessory set and tip selection, sterling build quality, divine comfort and quality stock cable.
    Cons - Intimate soundstage, congestion in complicated tracks, balanced cable is a separate purchase, short nozzles and fidgety fit, below average isolation.
    Introduction

    I’ve seen the look in their eyes. Fearless, hungry, full of fire, staring directly at the sun and challenging all comers. Those in the shade can only admire the ferocity, audacity and borderline insanity. Like a raging bull charging to the fore, FiiO are marching towards immortality, bent on world conqueration, celebration and inebriation (in that order). Sorta like the movie 300, only on Xerxes’ winning side.

    FiiO have come a long way since dipping their toes in the vast pool of in-ear monitors (IEMs) via the EX1 a few years ago, essentially a repackaged Dunu Titan 1. Since going out on their own and starting their own band, they have launched three IEM lines; the F series for dynamic drivers (DD), FA for balanced armatures (BAs), and FH for hybrids. Today we look at what is FiiO’s priciest and most ambitious IEM, the FH5.

    Fresh off learning the ropes with their first hybrid, the FH1, where else to go but stuffing the IEMs with more and more drivers, before the inevitable purist approach by reducing the driver count? Before we get ahead of ourselves, the FH5 houses a total of 4 drivers, with 3 Knowles BAs handling the mids and treble; while a single 10mm polymer nanocomposite DD delivers the bass.

    The FH5 proves to be a powerhouse of patented technology as well, with solid Trishell housing, S.Turbo sound tube design for visceral bass delivery, and three independent sound bores for bass, mids and treble. These drool-worthy new tech come together to evoke a sensational, sensory experience for the FH5, from sight to touch to hearing. We haven’t gone into IEM smell or taste yet, but who knows what the future might hold?

    I would like to thank Lily of FiiO for the review sample, and her continued support for my reviews. The FH5 currently retails for USD269.99 and is available through their official website and Amazon.

    This review was first published in Headphonesty.



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    Forged from the depths of fire and brimstone.



    Equipment Used:

    DAP

    IEMs
    • FiiO FH5
    • FiiO FH1
    • iBasso IT03
    Albums Listened
    • Aaron Neville – Warm Your Heart
    • Art Pepper – Modern Jazz Classics
    • Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
    • Diana Krall – From This Moment On
    • Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    • Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night
    • Macy Gray – Stripped
    • Meiko – Playing Favorites
    • Michael Jackson – The Essential
    • The New Appalachians – From The Mountaintop



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    The big black box carries a startup company's promise, and some foam.



    Packaging and Accessories

    One of my favourite movie phrases come from Kingsman, a Colin Firth starrer about gentlemanly conduct, where he says (in between bashing bad guys really hard), “manners maketh man”. So, well, packaging maketh earphones. How you present yourself to someone new can mean the difference between a future lifelong partnership or being shown the door.

    Since IEMs can’t really say “pardon me, miss”, a presentable appearance is the next best approximate. FiiO’s previous release FH1 had rudimentary packaging befitting an entry-level product, but here we see a huge step up. FH5’s packaging positively glows and demands attention. Not just a big box, like many life lessons we’ve learnt, it’s what inside that counts.

    As you open the book-like casing, the FH5 stares back at you, a specimen of beauty and splendour, adorned with gold trim and matching cables. Nothing says “touch me” more than this. But easy tiger, we have more to uncover. Underneath, a host of eartips with different sound properties await, for vocal lovers, bass addicts, balanced nuts, and um, some foam tips for treble-haters perhaps.

    As with the FH1, a lovely Pelican-like case is provided, only now in transparent as opposed to the glossy black of old. Something tells me FiiO couldn’t wait to show off the FH5 at every opportunity. I have already extolled my love for the case in the FH1 review, but let me repeat it in simplified form. I love it, adore it, and would trade less-familiar family members for it given half a chance.

    As I start a third consecutive paragraph with the same word, rounding out the accessory set is a fabric zippered pouch and a cleaner tool. The pouch is more pocketable than the hard case but sans protection, I wouldn’t use it but then again that’s why we have options. The cleaner tool is for, well, ear gunk in the sound bores. Do keep your ears clean.



    [​IMG]
    Some beardo said unboxing is therapeutic, so have at it.



    Design and Build Quality

    My, my. The FH5 looks marvelous. Even when compared to its predecessors, the FH5 stands out like a supermodel in a sea of girls-next-door. Inspired by fluid supercar designs, it has a sleek and aerodynamic shell, highlighted with grooves on the faceplate that look like either tiger claw scratches, or ruffled bed sheets.

    For now, the FH5 is only available in titanium with gold trim, with probably more colour choices soon based on customer feedback. Titanium, okay, grey might not be everyone’s cup o’ tea, but the gold trim adds finesse to its looks, subtly telling you it has hidden depths. Taken as a whole, I love the design. It’s meant to trigger an emotional response, like “buy me now”. Is that an emotion? Ah yes. Lust.

    The lust amplifies when you hold the FH5 in your hands. Made of CNC machined aluminium-magnesium alloy, FiiO’s patented Trishell design feels smooth and fluid to the touch, yet solid and sturdy. The term velvety metal does not make much sense, but I’m calling it exactly that. It’s sexy metal built to excite.

    Speaking of build quality, the smooth finish and the machined edges inspire confidence. For now, the MMCX connectors cause no issues such as sound cuts or loose fits, and I hope they stay that way. Attaching cables to the FH5 let out a satisfying click, and the cables do not spin as freely in the socket as other MMCX connectors. Whether it will survive the apocalypse I cannot say, but if you threw these at someone I bet it will hurt.



    Cables

    A lot of thought (and copper) was put into the FH5’s stock cable. The result is a beautifully-braided and sheathed cable made of high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper. The build quality far surpasses any expectations of a stock cable, outdoing the previous FH1’s braided cables easily.


    Like a photographer fawning over his favourite muse, the attention to detail is stunning. From the transparent connectors coded red and blue for easy differentiation, to the solidly-built 3.5mm jack, aesthetics play a big part in the cable’s allure. The cables behave fairly well too, with some memory retention but not so much as to irritate the user. My only complaints are the ear guides bend too much, and you do feel the weight of the cables. Otherwise it’s a winner chicken dinner.



    [​IMG]
    The 4.4mm coiled and roasted to perfection.



    Lily was kind enough to provide the LC-4.4B balanced cable for my Sony audio player. The cable is the exactly the same as stock, but with a 4.4mm 5-pole jack instead. The sound improvement going from single-ended to balanced playback in a Sony is obvious, with more apparent details, a blacker background, cleaner stage and better dynamics. Improvements vary for other players, but for Sony we go balanced every chance we get.

    FiiO did not include a balanced cable in its packaging this time around, making them (also available in 2.5mm TRRS) a separate purchase. Some will balk at this decision, but at USD36.99 for this silver-plated copper cable, it’s one of the cheapest in the market for spectacular quality. To soften the blow, FiiO included a balanced cable free of charge for early birds, so they got your back, albeit temporarily.



    Fit, Isolation and Comfort

    Like a silk robe, an oversized tee or mid-2000s Jessica Alba, some IEMs when you first look at them, you just know they’ll fit you comfortably. The FH5 has this charming quality where you just want to put them in you at first sight. That sounded wrong. In more polite terms, the smooth, ergonomic finish ensures seamless and pain-free insertion, removal, and re-insertion for years on end. Ahhh damn.

    The amorphous shape of the FH5 adheres nicely to my ear contours, and my ears thank them for the supreme comfort. Isolation is below average as I hear a lot of outside noise coming in, so these are not reliable for your daily commute. Where the FH5 falters is the short length of the nozzles. preventing a strong enough seal to stay in your ears. Finding the right set of eartips to solve this conundrum can prove exhausting.

    I tried all the stock tips (not those stock tips, otherwise I’d be owning companies instead of writing reviews lol), and none gave the seal that I craved, much less the amazing sound I know the FH5 is capable of. Switching to JVC Spiral Dots made things worse, as the FH5 started falling off my ears. Spinfits fit wonderfully, but sound quality took a dive as the soundstage became congested.

    Finally, the perfect match for me came via Symbio eartips by MandarinEs, a foam-filled silicon that anchored the FH5 well. As for sound, detail levels remain high as treble is not sucked out, while the soundstage is relaxed and wonderfully spaced out. This is it. I can’t help but think the problem could be avoided if the FH5 had longer nozzles for a more secure fit.



    [​IMG]
    Don't try this at home. They're not waterproof!



    Sound Quality

    In the interest of conformity and sheepism, critical listening was done after 100 hours of burning in. I like to give all IEMs with DDs a thorough workout, whether they need it or not. After 100 hours, generally the notes seemed to have tightened up with more focus, but this could be just a placebo, since I’d really like something in return for those 100 hours, y’know? The main setup used was Sony WM1A "K" Modded (low gain and Direct Source on) > LC-4.4B cable > FH5.



    Overall Sound Signature

    The FH5 follows a balanced signature overall. I hesitate to call it neutral, as it conjures images of stiff upper lip audiophiles listening critically to a flat, boring tuning and jotting down notes fervently. Lest we forget, FiiO’s grammatically unquestionable motto is, “Born for music and happy”. This spirit encapsulates the FiiO experience, you’re here to let your hair down and get down to the music. And the happy.

    The FH5 has a people-friendly tuning. Like the peacemaker of IEMs, it goes out of its way not to offend anyone with its sound signature. In many ways it resembles the preferred Chinese tuning which goes something like “strong bass that does not overpower, sweet mids with emphasis on vocals, and a smooth yet detailed treble”. Don’t ask me where I got that quote from. So the FH5 is really a mild W-shaped signature.

    And that is the blueprint with which FH5 follows successfully. The bass, mids and treble operate in tandem to provide the absolute optimally-tuned signature possible. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Individually, I can nitpick here and there, but together, it’s hard to fault the signature at all. It’s natural, euphonic, coherent, and easy to listen to, like sitting in your favourite recliner with a hot mama. I mean cuppa.



    Bass

    In the beginning, there was nothing. And then, there was coffee. Black, concentrated, strong and bitter, and not for general consumption as people had palpitations and throbbing headaches. Weaklings, sheesh. So in the interest of getting more people to accept the idea of coffee, we add milk and sugar, introduce changes to its taste and texture.

    The FH5’s bass is as mainstream-focused as they come. The bass is gently lifted to provide some body and warmth to the lower end, but never too much to encroach into the mids, sort of like a milky latte. The subbass extends low and surprises with flights of viscerality and rumble when I least expected… it’s good quality!

    The midbass is cleaner and leaner, with well-rounded, organic notes and a quick decay. While I wish for more bite and a few db more of it (closet basshead alert), it’s well-balanced on the whole. You will not accuse the midbass of lacking texture or speed, and it just has enough body for some punch and impact. Bass is not the star of the show but plays a big part in the signature. A team player, big-picture bass if you will.



    [​IMG]
    You can tell these IEMs have lush mids.



    Mids

    The FH5 mids would likely bask in the limelight and adulation of centre stage. They can be summed up in one word oft-used by Gordon Ramsay: stunning. They are forwardly-placed, and the highlights easily heard. Not only are the mids strikingly detailed and intricately textured, instruments have a natural euphony aided by a touch of warmth and note body.

    The mids are so well-balanced, almost as if, when faced with a barrage of tuning choices, they manage to take the middle road at every turn. Smooth or detailed? Both. Thick or airy? Both again, please. Round or textured? Natural or clear? Warm or bright? All of the above. It’s an ingenious balancing act accomplished by one of the best mids in this price tier.

    It is worth noting that FH5 was probably crafted especially for female vocals. They are emotive and rich, yet articulate and clear, from a haunting whisper to the vibrato of a soprano, rendered commandingly and confidently, and easily worth the price of admission. Male vocals are a touch behind (don’t touch their behinds!), as the flatter midbass to lower mids obligates a drier, throatier male voice. Ah well, can’t have it all.



    Treble

    Treble treble, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble… crafting the perfect treble is a painstaking process. As everyone’s treble tolerance varies, what constitutes a great sounding treble to one might be ear-piercing ice picks for another. One man’s meat is another man’s sleep tonic.

    Continuing from the clear and balanced mids, the treble takes on an intricate duality of smoothness and excitement as well. It’s a steady rise to the top, with a tastefully elevated lower treble for a bit of zing. The Lord of Sparkles is merciful on this one, as the intensity peaks just before mid-treble and gently rolls off before hitting the sibilance zone.

    As a result, cymbals and hi-hats sound irresistibly crispy and tight, while the nick-of-time treble peak provides just enough air to breathe around the whole spectrum. The treble is energy and forgiveness in equal measure, another people-pleasing part of the signature, and one where I can’t find fault with other than the last bit of extension at the very top.



    [​IMG]
    Sneaked into a Roman bath for this one. Enjoyed the views.



    Soundstage and Imaging

    The unflappable tuning gives way to the flappable soundstage. The stage presentation is more intimate than vast, more up-close than detached. Getting taken over by the music is one of the FH5’s selling points, so as expected, the stage dimensions are pretty modest. Soundstage width is better than its depth, while height is a pleasant surprise, but the sound doesn’t really leave the orbit around your head.

    The good news is, imaging fares better. Aided by the quick and detailed notes, swift decay and abundant air, the stage is neat and tidy, which always leads to great imaging. Sure enough, positional cues are readily defined on all axes, even holographic in some instances. Up to a point however, as the small soundstage means ultimately if a track is too complicated the stage gets congested.

    Remember when a blindfolded Luke Skywalker deflected blaster shots from a drone with his lightsaber? The FH5 achieves much of that precision, but don’t bet your life on it. If just two more trigger-happy drones find their way to Luke, that’s it. So while the soundstage is the weak link of the FH5, the impeccable tuning more than makes up for it.



    [​IMG]
    Adrift in the sands of time. It's a bathroom tile.



    Comparisons

    FiiO FH1


    The FH1 was FiiO’s first foray into hybrid IEMs. Based on price alone, the FH5 is already the winner. Moving on… hang on you want more? If I were to use a word to describe the FH1 sound it’s lush. For FH5 it’s euphonic. I was about to say sprightly but apparently that word is reserved for the elderly.

    The FH1 has a boomier, looser bass. It’s well-rounded but lacks texture and refinement of the FH5. The FH5 with its subbass emphasis sounds clean and disciplined, yet with fun factor cheerfully intact. Mids are the highlight for both monitors, with FH1 sounding thicker and smoother, and FH5 sounding more linear, airy and detailed. FH1 edges out FH5 in male vocals, but for everything else, FH5 takes the throne.

    The FH5 treble makes FH1 sound subdued and not trying hard enough. Both are free of harshness, but FH5 gets some excitement out of the signature while FH1 stays home. For soundstage presentation, even with both veering on the intimate, FH5 has a larger playground while FH1 is nearly in-your-head. Imaging and separation is better layered, airier and more precise on the FH5.

    All in all, FH1 is the easygoing chap while FH5 goes to the gym three times a week. Their signatures might be different, but objectively, FH5 carries more detail, has better note texture and tightness, is more extended both ends, and does well with most genres. It’s also more than three times the price, so only you can judge from a value standpoint.



    iBasso IT03

    Fresh off pounding the FH1 into submission, a wild IT03 calls to FH5, “why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” iBasso’s IT03 is a darling of the sub-USD300 range, where many good hybrids reside. For FH5 to enter this exclusive club, he knows this fight is unavoidable. Ding ding!

    As they size up one another, it’s obvious IT03’s signature follows many hybrids, the classic V-shape. The bass is meaty and fleshy, with more emphasis on midbass and a superb natural bloom. It’s a bass very hard to resist. FH5 has more subbass presence but is otherwise flatter, the midbass scoop robs it of some body but in return the FH5 has a more detailed and textured bass.

    For mids though, the FH5 starts pounding away. Air? Euphony? Natural timbre? Note richness and an altogether engrossing experience? Check and check. The IT03 cowers behind, with thinner note size and noticeable recession compared to the bass. IT03 takes bass, but mids is all FH5.

    They go neck and neck and blow for blow in treble. IT03 is exciting, clear and sparkly, but flirts with sibilance thanks to a mid-treble peak. FH5 stays on the safe side, with a bit less energy, but notes hit cleaner and smoother. IT03’s time to shine (and sparkle) comes via its impressive stage size, which dwarfs the FH5 in all dimensions with ample amounts of air and dynamism. The FH5 is more condensed but has more precise imagery.

    As the battle grinds to a halt, there is no clear winner. FH5 is the obvious favourite for midheads and a more level, linear signature, but IT03 is one of the stalwarts of a well-executed V-shape, with an uber-fun bass, thrilling treble, and a large soundstage. FH5 is more for the ears while IT03 is for the feet (and the bopping head).



    [​IMG]
    Took the words sweet signature too literally.



    Final Words

    Reviewing the FH5, I was reminded of an Aesop fable. As a father struggles to stifle his children from continually fighting and arguing, he brought out a tree branch for each of his offspring and instructed them to break the stick in two. It was of course an easy task. The father then tied a bundle of sticks together and asked them to break the bundle, which proved impossible. Lesson being, there is strength in unity.

    Note to newbies. Aesop is not an audio brand.

    The greatest strength of the FH5 lies in its united tuning. Taken together the signature simply sings, and you forgive any shortcoming it might have. I’ve thrown rock (not rocks), jazz, soul, EDM, pop and folk at it, and FH5 handles them magnificently as a coherent juggernaut. There are weaknesses, for example upper bass wouldn’t last 5 seconds in a fistfight, but the musical experience that FH5 provides easily compensates for them.

    At this price level, inevitably you start harbouring expectations, almost like returns to an investment. The FH5 has enough charm to win me, and possibly many others, over. It stands toe to toe with any and all hybrids in its price range, and in my opinion is among the best-tuned. The evergreens like DN-2000J, FLC8S and LZ-A4 better take notice, this division just got spicier.

    Based on its strengths, the FH5 is almost a statement product from FiiO just to show how far they've come. This is, if I've not made myself clear earlier, FiiO’s greatest IEM. And what's more chilling is, this is merely the beginning. It's only their second hybrid IEM, and we've not yet heard from their BA line yet. FiiO IEMs have always been value-for-money propositions, and as they climb up the food chain, I await with bated (and smelly) breath their next release. But for now, you already have the FH5 for maximum enjoyment.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Tragic
      Very entertaining review with great pictures. My only quibble is "conqueration" but hey, you needed a rhyme! Thanks.
      Tragic, Sep 21, 2018
      ezekiel77 and buonassi like this.
    3. Larethio
      One of the funniest reviews ive read yet. Fantastic.
      Larethio, Sep 22, 2018
      ayylmaoples and ezekiel77 like this.
    4. miceblue
      I just wanted to say I love your photos! : D
      miceblue, Sep 22, 2018
      ayylmaoples and ezekiel77 like this.
  5. darmanastartes
    Slam Dunk
    Written by darmanastartes
    Published Sep 17, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, fit and comfort, balanced and relaxed frequency response, imaging, separation
    Cons - Intimate soundstage, slightly forward midrange
    2018-08-25 04.48.11 1.jpg

    INTRODUCTION/DISCLAIMER:


    The Fiio FH5 is a 4-driver hybrid IEM (1 DD+3BA) which retails for $260. I was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in a review tour for the FH5. I had 10 days with the FH5 before shipping it to the next reviewer. I am not being compensated by Fiio for writing this piece or being pressured to come to a pre-determined conclusion.

    This review can also be read on my blog.

    2018-09-03 10.04.02 1.jpg

    ABOUT ME

    I listen mostly to heavy metal, hip hop, and electronic music, as well as movie and video game soundtracks. I value detail, clarity, and soundstage above other acoustic qualities. I like pseudo-Japanese V-shaped sound signatures with a boosted upper midrange. Other headphones I own or have owned in the past include the Campfire Audio Polaris, Meze 99 Neo, E-MU Teak, Aiwa Arc-1, Yersen FEN-2000, Rose North Forest, PHB EM-023, Mee Audio Pinnacle P1, Mee Audio Pinnacle P2, Fostex TH-X00, V-Moda M-80, V-Moda LP2 Crossfade, Beyerdynamic DT-770 (250 ohm), KZ ATE, Mixcder X5, Mee Audio M6, Hifiman HE-400S, and (very briefly) Phillips Fidelio X2.
    2018-09-03 10.04.04 1.jpg
    SOURCES

    I have used the Fiio FH5 with the following sources:

    Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Global > Fiio FH5

    Windows 10 PC > JDS Labs The Element > Fiio FH5

    I have tested these headphones with Spotify Premium high-quality streaming and local FLAC.

    2018-09-03 10.04.00 1.jpg

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES


    The Fiio FH5 comes in a large semi-glossy black rectangular box with the manufacturer’s logo, the Hi-Res Audio sticker, and an outline of the FH5’s outer shell in white on the front of the outer sleeve. Inside this outer sleeve is a book-style box that opens to reveal the IEMs seated in a cutout foam façade. Behind this, the tip selection is showcased in a labeled foam rectangle. The Fiio FH5 comes with a set of “balanced” silicone ear tips (Small, Medium, Large), a set of “bass enhanced” silicone ear tips (Small, Medium, Large), and a set of Crystal foam tips (Medium, Medium, Medium). In addition, Fiio FH5 comes with a clear plastic Pelican-style hard case, a smaller soft fabric clam case, one 3.5mm-to-MMCX cable, a cleaning brush, and a Velcro tie.
    2018-09-03 10.03.52 1.jpg 2018-09-03 10.03.55 1.jpg 2018-09-03 10.03.54 1.jpg
    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

    The FH5’s shell is large but ergonomic, fitting snugly but comfortably inside my small ears. The outer face sits almost flush with my ear surface and I was able to wear the FH5 to bed without issues. The FH5 has a shallow insertion depth but a relatively wide nozzle. Isolation is average.

    2018-09-03 10.03.53 1.jpg

    SOUND

    I used the “bass enhanced” silicone tips for most of my listening. These tips provided the best seal of the included assortment, but I felt I never got a perfect seal with any of the stock tips because of the shallow fit of the IEM. I would strongly recommend using a tip like the SpinFit CP240 with these.

    The FH5 has a mild w-shaped sound signature with elevated sub-bass, warm but less prominent mid-bass, slightly forward mids (especially upper mids), and a relaxed treble that is present but smooth.

    Sub-bass extension is excellent. Mid-bass has adequate slam on tracks that demand it, but is controlled and not overpowering. Bass articulation is very good. Bass is very textured. The bass does not bleed into the lower midrange. Mids as a whole are a bit forward for my tastes. Male vocals are less elevated than female vocals. Mids have presence without being abrasive. Lower treble is detailed but not amazingly so, and lacks sparkle compared to more V-shaped IEMs. Upper treble is rolled off.

    The soundstage is intimate, but imaging and instrument separation are superb.

    2018-09-03 10.03.57 1.jpg

    EQ

    I was able to bring the FH5 more in line with my personal listening preferences with a -2dB cut at 1000hz, a -4dB cut at 2000h, and a 4dB boost at 12500hz. This helps with the forward midrange and non-sparkly treble.

    2018-09-03 10.04.04 1.jpg

    COMPARISONS

    Fiio FH5 ($260) vs Mee Audio Pinnacle P1 ($200)

    The FH5 is much easier to drive. P1 isolates better and is much easier to achieve a good seal with. FH5 is an overall warmer IEM with more elevated mid-bass in contrast to the P1’s restrained bass region. I prefer the rise in the upper midrange on the P1 in to the FH5’s more uniformly forward midrange. The P1 has a more exciting treble response. With EQ, the FH5 is a more universally likeable IEM.

    Both IEMs have a good selection of tips. The P1 comes with two braided cables (one black with mic + controls, the other SPC), but the FH5 cable is better designed for longevity. I liked the FH5 cable so much I ordered one to use with my P1.

    2018-09-03 10.04.06 1.jpg

    MEASUREMENTS

    My measurements were conducted with a Dayton iMM-6 microphone using a vinyl tubing coupler. These measurements are uncalibrated and uncompensated.

    FH5.jpg

    P1 vs FH5.jpg
    Fiio FH5 (blue) vs Mee Audio Pinnacle P1
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS AND SOURCE PAIRING

    At an impedance of 19 ohms and a sensitivity of 112dB, the FH5 can be easily driven by a smartphone. I do not feel that they benefit noticeably from having more power on tap. I did notice some hissing while using my smartphone to power the FH5, but it was not egregious.


    2018-09-03 10.04.05 1.jpg
    CLOSING WORDS

    The FH5 is an easy-to-drive, easy-to-recommend IEM with immaculate build quality.


    2018-09-03 10.04.07 1.jpg
      Gilmartz likes this.
  6. mhoopes
    FiiO FH5: Movin' On Up
    Written by mhoopes
    Published Aug 28, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Good build quality
    - Premium Knowles BA drivers
    - Excellent comfort (with minor adjustments for some)
    - Easy drivin'
    - Responds well to mild EQ
    - Good dynamic/BA phase coherence
    - Nice stock cable
    Cons - "W" tuning coloration (warm mid-bass, recessed lower midrange, accentuated canal-resonant peak).
    - Moderately shallow insertion depth
    - Minor treble roll-off
    - Excessive packaging (industry-wide issue; YMMV)
    My POV:

    Historically, I've garnered mediocre measurements in public school audiometric testing, starting with the following in junior high, and continuing on to the literal short bus in high school evaluations:

    Hearing test checklist 1979-10-31.png

    However, my father managed to maintain a generally above-average gear selection (amongst my peers’ progenitors), so decent speakers and headphones were on offer throughout my formative years: Vector Research VRX-9000 receiver w/270 Ohm H/P outputs, AR91 speakers, Koss HV/1A headphones. My first personal earphone purchase was the Koss Porta Pro. In my 20s and 30s, the Sony MDR-V6 likely contributed greatly towards my current tonal expectations. I tend to gravitate towards neutrality, with increasing help from the sliders as technology trends and nature inexorably diverge.

    Evaluation period (as of this review): 2018-07-24…2018-08-27

    Build quality:

    Excellent fit & finish.

    Aesthetics:

    Matte titanium/semi-gloss gold anodized colors look nice, and should have broad appeal. Given a choice, I'd opt for something more "pro", such as a matte black body/semi-gloss black trim. I'd trade in for that look for an extra $30.

    FiiO FH5 close.png

    Comfort/tip fit:

    These are the most comfortable earphones of any kind that I've encountered, and I've been using the Sennheiser HD 545 for 20 years, with a couple of OEM pad replacements. From the Head-Fi posts I've seen so far, I think most ears will be compatible right out of the gate.

    Part of what contributes to its easy comfort is the way the shell clears the outer folds of the pinna. There is very little force directed along the axis of the ear canal, which means that seal maintenance is completely dependent on the ear tip.

    There was an uncomfortable inferior crus interference with my ears (and resultant lack of seal) that was remedied once I biased the included L bass tip stems +2 mm up the nozzles with some DIY spacers trimmed off of the M bass tip stems. The picture below shows them at > 3 mm thickness, which I subsequently adjusted to ~2 mm. Once I did that, I found that the FH5 has a very good balance between insertion effort and self-retention. FiiO, please don't extend the nozzles - just include spacers for us outliers. There's no need to change any tooling.

    FH5 DIY spacer.JPG
    TK-421 modification.jpg

    I tried Comply Ts-500 M tips, but the FH5's relatively wide nozzle (measuring 5.88 mm minor dia., 6.54 mm major dia.) suggested that the 600 series would be more appropriate (according to Comply's non-committal support response).

    The 500s had excellent isolation, but were uncomfortable for me, and the resultant treble attenuation was not a good match for me with the FH5 (unlike the F9).

    @Brooko said his wide canals were properly accommodated with MandarinEs Symbio W tips; however, the S and M Symbio W tips didn't seal for me. I have a pending order for the L Symbios, so I'm still holding out hope for that.

    The modified L bass tip is working well for me, regardless.

    Other users have reported good results with double-flange or deeper-inserting tips (such as the SpinFit), so I'm leaning towards recommending that FiiO include a couple of double-flange options, instead of the 3 pairs of same-size foam tips. I'd gladly trade the clear hard case for more tip configurations.

    Cable:

    (1) Single-ended TRS 3.5 mm: P/N LC-3.5B. Length 1.2 m, Ag-plated 24/44 (24 AWG eff., calculated 0.866 Ohms DCR).

    Very attractive, supple, and tangle-resistant. The slider is a welcome addition, and the bend radii at high-repetitive-stress cable transitions are confidence-inspiring, in terms of perceived durability. The strain relief closest to the 3.5 mm plug could stand to be a bit more compliant, but is not much of an issue for a right-angle configuration.

    The only caveat I can state concerns the unnecessarily thick ear hooks, which can result in mildly-annoying squeaky microphonics with sunglass arms on the move. The angled MMCX connector transitions nicely to the ear hook entry, the connector has a satisfying insertion click & rotation friction, and the increased hook thickness does help with grip when attaching and detaching the cable. That said, if the ear hook covers went away, I'd be ok, too. Overall, nice job, FiiO.

    I don't have an issue with the omission of a balanced cable. Twisted GND/signal pairs are maintained all the way from the 3.5 mm connector, so crosstalk is entirely a function of the source. I don’t think anyone is going to have an actual audible problem with S/N, crosstalk, or driving voltage with the FH5, with well-behaved SE sources.

    FiiO FH5 cable.png

    Accessories:

    Other reviewers have adequately detailed the tip and case options. I like the soft zippered case and bass tips, and have little use for the rest. My preference, in general, would be for consumer electronics companies and their customers to lose their collective fetish for ta-da! unboxing, and get the packaging down to the essentials. Give me a double-flute Kraft box with some suspension film, let my wife buy her own sewing boxes, and give our landfills some relief.

    Sound quality:

    The tuning, as described in the summary, probably won't pose an issue for most users coming from down-market IEMs. It is a bit puzzling to me that FiiO went for a modified-V tuning, with such contrast between the lower and upper mids, considering the more discerning expectations of the market at this price point. Are they being influenced by iBasso here?

    A modern Goldilocks will rummage around for the figurative microwave oven and memory foam topper (see below). Fortunately, this seemed to work well for me:

    FiiO FH5 - EarStudio EQ.png

    The FH5's marketing materials claim the dynamic driver uses a 10 mm "polymer nanocomposite" diaphragm, as opposed to the FH1's same-sized "titanium" construction. Are they the same, or is the FH5 compositing polyether ketone with graphite or graphene, rather than titanium (or TiO2 nanotubes)? Inquiring minds want to know...

    At any rate, the FH5's spiral "S.TURBO" transmission line does a better job of taming the DD's bleed away from the Knowles ED30262 midrange BA's lower cutoff, and damping is improved, with noticeably tighter decay. The transition between those drivers Is accomplished much more seamlessly than in the FH1. Bass extends well; let's not get silly and expect ortho performance here, but it's not found wanting in this area for me.

    Treble extension is good, once I bumped it up from 8 KHz and up to compensate for my admittedly deteriorated cochlear hair cells.

    Perceived distortion seems pretty low. You'd have to compare these a ways up the price scale in IEMs, I suspect, to see a difference. I do wish there were some measurements out there to corroborate this.

    Music evaluation:

    The FH5 does a really good job with electric bass guitars, in my experience: take a listen to Victor Wooten's opening to “Stomping Grounds” in the Flecktones' Live Art album - it spans a wide swath of frequencies across the dynamic/BA crossover point, and is exceptionally well-located, indicating good phase coherence. The rosiny rasp of the stage-left bass clarinet in its album-mate “Bigfoot” is, likewise, imaged with pinpoint focus.

    Soundstage seems intimate, in that, with the EQ I've applied, it doesn't seem as deep as others have reported, but is decently wide, given some boost in the higher frequencies. The source material should be providing the stage width. Audience noises in Live Art seemed to emanate from well outside of my head, though not so much from the front or back. Perhaps low distortion is keeping higher-order harmonics from creating even more of a wide-stage illusion, and I may have EQ'd out some of the HRTF effect. My Phiaton PS 200 had a wider stage, but I'll bet their > 1% high-mid distortion was part of that equation.

    However, I can't discount back-wave effects, given the diminished cavity-damping potential of IEMs; there's a reason that the best-imaging headphones are of the open persuasion.

    Bass response has just the right amount of extension and punch for me, and never gets boomy. I have a couple of tracks with some tricky low-frequency apportioning, both handled by the FH5 with aplomb: “4 on 6” (Lee Ritenour) and “Someone to Call My Lover” (Janet Jackson). The latter track cost me 6 dB on all my EQ preamp stages (major clipping distortion, if not adjusted!), except for the FH5, which is already -6 dB due to its high sensitivity (and 0 dB @ 31.5 Hz on my EQ).

    For the record, Janet's STCML (track 16 on All For You) scores a dismal dr-war-05.png on dr.loudness-war.info. Despite that, it still sounds pretty good to me.

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    Tracks that might sound congested on many down-market IEMs are handily disambiguated on the FH5; witness the swirling, snappy thicket of tom-tom/Chapman Stick/keyboard and alternately hard-panned guitars that opens "Acid Rain" from Liquid Tension Experiment 2, or the swelling crescendi of drumline-style orchestra and rock percussion that features throughout Stewart Copeland's "Grace", from his Orchestralli album.

    Driveability:

    Excellent; the FH5 is 19 Ohms and 112 dB/mW. Most modern sources below 4 Ohms shouldn't contribute noticeably to their coloration, and volume should not be an issue with any of them. A Topping A30 (~10 Ohms) or similar non-FiiO TPA6120 implementation might require some additional EQ for picky listeners. An impedance graph would be useful, in that context. My Lenovo Yoga 720 notebook’s Realtek headphone output must be low-grunt/high-impedance...very "thin-sounding" would be a charitable description; even my Denon AVR H/P output has a more Platonic relationship with the FH5. An external amp is an absolute must for the former combination.

    I tried the FH5 with the iPhone 6s headphone output (and EQu app), the Radsone EarStudio ES100 (with the above custom EQ profile, with iPhone 256 Kb/s AAC and Sony UBP-X800/SACD 990 Kb/s LDAC BT sources), and the Schiit Magni 3, fed by iTunes 256 Kb/s VBR AAC & Foobar2000 FLAC, through a Topping D10. I actually liked the ES100 result best; perhaps it was a better match than the Magni, gain-wise, for the sensitive FH5, or the EQ worked better for me there than in iTunes and Foobar. Really, too close for me to call, definitively.

    Comparison:

    I don't have any experience with higher-end IEMs, so I can't speak knowledgeably of their differentiation from the FH5. I can compare it to other audio touchstones within my sphere. Without EQ, its relative neutrality blows the doors off of its FH1 and F9 stablemates. I haven't tried the F9 Pro, but I've read that it's more neutral than the other three, excepting the 8 KHz peak. With EQ, the neutrality advantage narrows, but comfort and midrange resolution are still noticeably better, and worth the additional expense to me.

    A common non-IEM reference point within the audio community that is now converging in price range with the FH5 is the Sennheiser HD 650, in Massdrop HD 6XX form. That one is a trickier comparison. With the HD 650, you could spend your way well past the FH5, chasing quality amplifiers, but there are affordable options that will satisfy many tastes.

    The HD 650 delivered marginally better resolution throughout the midrange, more realistic upper treble cymbal rendering, and a meatier mid-bass punch with both the ES100 (in 2x voltage balanced mode) and the Magni 3, with a potential nod to the desktop amp with regards to amplification headroom and low-frequency agility with the more difficult load - excepting what I perceive as elevated top-end distortion on the M3 at high volume. I think I need more time with the Magni 3 (just got it last week) to appreciate it fully. Note that low bass extension will favor the FH5, regardless.

    Still, the fact that I'm even comparing the two says something. If you haven't spent FH5-level money yet, I say heed Tyll Hertsens's advice and get a Sennheiser 6xx-series set, a decent amp, and spend 5 purchase-free years acclimating to them. Also, take my advice, and get the FH5 and ES100. You won't regret either.
      Gilmartz and audiobean like this.
  7. Dobrescu George
    FiiO FH5 - Beauty In Detail
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Aug 19, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Price Peroformance Ratio is Crazy Good
    - Clarity
    - Detail levels
    - Number of tips included
    - Noise Isolation
    - Comfort
    - W-shaped sound with good impact and dynamics, nice sub-bass, treble expression and midrange
    - Design and build quality are out-of-this-world
    - Imaging, Separation and Layering are all great
    Cons - - Is a little sensitive to hiss with sources that have hiss
    - Treble extension could have been a tad better
    - Soundstage is on the intimate / personal side
    FiiO FH5 - Beauty In Detail

    FiiO FH5 is the current flagship made by FiiO, one of the titans of the Audiophile Industry. It comes at an interesting moment, as it has a lot of competitors, and needs to do a lot to justify its price, but we're going to give it a run through our tests and report back on how it performs.

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    Introduction

    FiiO became an unbliquious name with Music Lovers from all over the world, and for a good reason. They have been among the first to offer affordable solutions for an enjoyable portable experience, and we even started with FiiO Players many years ago. If you need the best warranty there is, FiiO tends to fix all stuff you send their way, they offer excellent promotions for their products, and you can always find something that does much more than its price dictates it would do, among their offerings. Truly, FiiO is a sweet dream of a company for anyone with a limited budget who wants a great bang for their buck.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with FiiO, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by FiiO or anyone else. I'd like to thank FiiO for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with FiiO's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with FiiO FH5. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO FH5 find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    The package for FiiO FH5 is exactly what you'd expect from a proper flagship. They come packaged in a large box, with beautiful renders, along with the technical data on the back.

    Inside the package, you get a really sexy new carrying case, transparent this time, which is just lovely. We like this one much better than the previous one for aesthetic reasons, although we should mention that the black case included with F9 and F9Pro is still part of our portable setup, regardless what IEMs we take on for a listen.


    There is a really large number of tips, 4 types in total, with each type sporting 3 sizes of the tips, resulting in an amazingly large selection selection of tips, comparable, or even better than some of the best known flagships out there. Compared to IEMs at a similar price, FH5 has at least as many, or even more tips included in the package. The only thing that is missing are spinfit tips, but happily, the stock ones are so good that we didn't feel the need to experiment this time around.

    There is a secondary carrying case included in the package, made out of soft leather, which you'll probably want to get on for a lighter walk.


    The IEMs themselves are seated in a soft foam cutout and the whole packaged is designed very nicely, with most things you may require included there by FiiO. Happily, FH5 does not suffer from microphonics, so no shirt clip is needed for them, and the default cable is absolutely lovely, the only thing that some might be looking for in the package being a balanced cable, which isn't included with FH5, but FiiO offers one if you grab a FH5 while the promotion is still running. This being said, Balanced vs Single Ended is a complex subject and both sides have excellent arguments, so we'll just say that for a Balanced cable you may require purchasing FH5 while it comes bundled with a free Balanced cable, or look for an alternative.

    All in all, the package reaches the golden standard, and you won't feel like anything is missing with FH5.



    What to look in when purchasing a flagship In-Ear Monitor

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

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    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

    Starting with their body, FH5 is made out of metal. They are cold to the touch, and you can feel that they are a slightly hefty IEM that feels really well put together. FiiO used MMCX connects on FH5, but those are different from the ones used in the more entry-level IEMs they sell, feeling much more secure and rugged, clearly being able to take more of a beating and still keep working.

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    The IEMs themselves have a vent hole, so there is no driver flex to speak about, which is amazing. Compared to most competitors in this price range, this is interesting, because most do have a solution to avoid driver flex, but not all of them work equally well, FH5 working exceptionally well.

    The cable included with FH5 is one of the thickest cables we ever seen to come with an IEM. It is ended in a 3.5mm Single Ended connection, but the cable itself has the correct wirings to be ended in a balanced connector, if one desires as such. Where the IEM connects to the cable, the ear guides are rubbery and not made of memory wire, but rather a rubbery part which is soft enough to adapt to the ear, but not hard enough to remember the shape after it has been applied. In practice, it works just as, or better than the typical memory wire, we noticed an improved comfort compared to most typical memory-wire cables using this one. The cable is transparent and slightly golden in color. The cables are on the stiff side overall, they are not very nimble or flexible, but given their thickness, this is not an issue and it is rather normal.


    The Aesthetics of the IEM are simply beautiful, an elegant matte gray for the IEM body, with a golden lining around the face plate, along with a modern model on the face plate. While it doesn't strike one as colorful, it surely strikes us as being modern, elegant and well-made, making FH5 a good fit for both a business environment, as well as a more casual environment. They are small enough that they won't catch unwanted attention, although the cable is quite thick and different from most IEMs.

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    FiiO FH5 is one of the most comfortable IEMs we ever tested. We aren't even sure why, since the body is not very small, the cables don't look very ergonomic, and they don't look like a custom IEM, but it simply sits so comfortably in the ear, that you forget you're wearing them. The mere fact that the anti-drive-flex vent works so well means that it doesn't express any kind of pressure on your eardrum. FiiO FH5 is fairly good at isolating, and we could say that it is one of the least leaking and best isolating IEMs we tested as well.

    All in all, the build quality, aesthetics and comfort are all golden with FH5, and we consider them an excellent overall choice from those points of view.



    Sound Quality

    The sonic signature of fiiO FH5 is slightly different from the FiiO IEM House Sound we're used to from F9 and F9Pro. If you had either, you need to forget everything about their sound before imagining how FH5 sounds like, because FiiO redesigned the sound from the ground up.

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    The sonic signature can be generally described as mildly V-shaped, or rather W-shaped, since the sub-bass has a good amount of emphasis, then it gets to a lower point around 600 Hz, after which it gets a bit of an enhanced area around the midrange, after which it gets stronger in the treble, leading to what can be considered a fairly natural overall presentation. Since the midrange is not exactly backwards, many will feel that FH5 is a little midrange-forward, at least compared to a true V-shaped IEM like F9Pro, but in all fairness, both the sub-bass and the treble make enough of a presence to balance the overall signature well.

    Starting with the bass, most of the focus is in the sub-bass, with a powerful and quick slam, fast speed, yet large size for impact. FH5 is able to resolve finer textures fairly well, especially useful for metal music, where speed is important in the bass. The mid-bass is still fairly enhanced compared to the lower midrange, so the bass feels pretty warm yet quick, on an overall level.

    The midrange gets a little playful, but not enough to be colored. The lower midrange is less enhanced compared to the main midrange body, while the upper midrange also gets a little less enhanced compared to the treble and the main midrange body. Those peaks and valleys are very smooth though, and with no acute drops or peaks, this means that the overall sound is balanced, and feels rather natural.

    What is actually intriguing in the midrange is the amount of detail FH5 is able to push. Compared to most 500USD flagships, it still does an amazing job, and the price of FH5 is about half of that, priced at about 260USD at the moment of writing this review. The imaging and layering are also out-of-this-world good, being at the level of Sennheiser IE800, which is our flagship standard for imaging and layering, all while having a much more balanced overall midrange presentation.


    The treble of FH5 gets more sparkle in the utmost part of the upper midrange, after the valley around 6kHz, and it stays enhanced in a smooth peak until about 10kHz, after which it pretty much rolls off, until around 12kHz. This means that the treble has a good amount of sparkle, and just as good of a treble expression as most IEMs it competes with, but the extension isn't the highest out there. The texture of the treble is very natural and smooth, and some listeners may not even hear higher than 12kHz, especially those advanced in age, but since most of our test team is younger, the fact that iBasso IT-04 has more extension is easily detectable.

    The treble is fun, has enough extension to be exciting, and it doesn't offend, the treble being rather well balanced with the rest of the sound.

    All those things make FH5 a really universal and versatile IEM, which works amazingly well with any kind of music, from pop to metal, to electronic, to Jazz, all with the exception of large-hall symphonic, which tends to require a presentation that is not quite as personal and as intimate.


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    At the end of the day, the terms balanced, detailed, well layered and well-imaged are what best describe FH5. It is fairly natural, fairly balanced, and for most listeners, this kind of sound will be a real delight, especially as the level of detail FH5 has is much better than the 300USD flagships of a few years ago, competing with most 500USD flagships of today. This being said, a few other companies also made IEMs with those levels of detail, so in the comparison part of our review, it will be a real fight among those.



    Soundstage

    The soundstage of FH5 is its only weakness, if it can be named as such. Basically, the soundstage is pretty intimate, to the levels of either being in the same room as the singer, or in the first rows of a concert. This means that the width is rather restricted, thing which is connected to the treble extension rolling off after 10 kHz. This being said, the depth of the soundstage is rather good, and the excellent instrument separation and layering both make FH5 very interesting to listen to, and the sound doesn't feel congested or mushed together, just intimate. This should be a delicacy for Jazz and room-music listeners, but won't work very well with symphonic or music which is supposed to sound wide.



    ADSR / PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Texturization) is natural to fast, and textures, along with micro-textures are rendered with agility and delicacy, even the micro-textures in the music of Mindless Self Indulgence being rather easy to distinguish and enjoy. This means that most guitars sound really vivid, impactful and playful. This texture speed is kept all across the midrange, so most instruments are really interesting and real to listen to through FH5, but this isn't the case for the treble, where the textures are considerably smoother, so if you dislike having a harsher or more grainy approach, FH5 is totally likeable in the treble as well. With the bass, the textures are natural to slightly slow, so it comes off as natural, quick enough for most technical death metal to sound speedy and well-presented.




    Portable Usage

    The portable usage is good.

    The things you need to keep in mind are that FH5 is really really comfortable, it isolates well, and it is really easy to drive. It will pair lovely with any source, but the fact that it has such an excellent detail and clarity also means that you need a better source to give them life, they do not work well with a typical smartphone, and they will sound much much better from something dedicated, like iBasso DX200, Burson Play, or iFi xDSD.

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    The only downside to their portable usage is the hiss, which is present, and noticeable with sources that tend to have hiss, so you may need to keep this in mind when picking the source to pair with them.

    Other than this, they are pretty much a dream for portability, and they also reach our golden standards in portability.



    Comparisons

    Now, this is going to be fun. Please try to follow and read our reviews on the other three IEMs as well. At this moment, there are 4 major contenders in this price range, which are FiiO FH5, iBasso IT04, Final Audio E5000, and Periodic Audio Be. All of those are incredibly good at what they do, and at the moment, they are the main fighters in the ~300USD arena.

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    FiiO FH5 vs iBasso IT04 - We had second thoughts about starting with this comparison, but at the end of the day, it is necessary to start with something that will keep our readers intrigued. Starting with the package, IT04 has a better carrying case, made out of thick metal. It is heavier than FiiO's solution, but it is better in terms of how much it protects the IEMs from damage. IT04 comes with a balanced cable as well, but not exactly. Basically, they only come with a balanced cable, so there is just one cable included in the package, just like with FH5, but it has a plug adapter from 2.5mm balanced to 3.5mm Single ended. This makes them more versatile, but at the same time means that there is a plug connector in the middle of the cable. The cable of IT04 is braided, much more flexible than that of FH5, and it doesn't have ear guides. The IEM shells are rather different, with IT04 being made of plastic, and being a tad larger than FH5, and although it has vent holes, if you cover those, you can get a bit of a driver flex with IT04, while this doesn't seem to really happen with FH5. The isolation and comfort is comparable between the two, with FH5 sitting a tad better in the ears as it is smaller. Now, the large difference comes with the sound. IT04 has considerably less bass quantity, its midrange feels more forward than FH5, especially in a specific 1kHz area, and it has better treble extension, with a more natural treble. The detail levels of FH5 are a tad better than IT04, but it is hard to tell those two apart. One thing that is more noticeable is the texture levels, which are more expressed on FH5, especially in the midrange, where the midrange of iBasso IT04 feels smoother. The dynamics and impact are comparable, but IT04 has more impact in the treble, while FH5 has great impact all across its sound. The soundstage is quite different though, FH5 is rather intimate and personal, while IT04 is large, wide, energetic and vibrant. This made a lot of people consider FH5 to be midrange forward in comparison to IT04, but it isn't the midrange response which is more forward, as much as it is the soundstage, which being more intimate on FH5, things feel much more closer physically. Now, we consider both to be excellent choices, and really, both make really strong entries in this price range. FH5 is a little cheaper, and if you prefer a bassier, warmer, more impactful, more textured, and more intimate sound, then FH5 is the choice for you, while if you prefer a larger soundstage size, a more extended treble response, more midrange smoothness in the textures, and a more mature overall sound, IT04 makes the better choice for you.

    FiiO FH5 vs Final Audio E5000 - Those two sure are tricky, as the package and the whole concept is rather different. E5000 is a single dynamic driver IEM from Final Audio, who are known to also develop unique technologies for their products, while FiiO (as well as the iBasso IT04 above) are using drivers created by another company. E5000 comes packaged quite differently, in a smaller package, with less tips included in the package, as well as with an entirely different carrying case. While very novel, E5000's rubber carrying case will not protect them as much as the hard carrying case of FH5 protects them. E5000 does not come with a Balanced cable either, and their cables are, like those of FH5, relying on MMCX connectors for their IEM shell to cable connection. Now, the size and shape of FH5 and E5000 are vastly different. E5000 is a bullet-shaped IEM, with a really tiny body, and with great comfort regardless whether you wear it straight-down or over-the-ear. The comfort of FH5 is just as good, as long as you wear it over-the-ear. The sound of the two is not all that different, both have really similar amounts of details, but E5000 is smoother in the treble, considerably thicker across the bass and midrange, and it sports a certain kind of life that most other IEMs don't manage exhibit. FH5 though, has a pretty lively and dynamic sound as well. As for the differences between them, FH5 has a more intimate soundstage, with less width and with a more personal approach, and E5000 does not isolate very well, and E5000 leaks quite a lot compared to FH5. E5000 is also considerably harder to drive than FH5, and less sensitive to hiss, though in all honesty both require a high-quality source to sound their best. If you're looking for a thick, warm, smooth, and open IEM, and if you don't mind sonic leakage, E5000 is a great choice, while if you prefer a more balanced sound, with more sparkle in the treble, with slightly better imaging, and with more isolation, FiiO FH5 is a really sweet option at this moment.

    FiiO FH5 vs Periodic Audio Be - Just like Final Audio E5000, Periodic Audio Be is a 1 Dynamic Driver IEM with a custom designed driver, made especially for this little IEM. Periodic Audio likes to create custom membranes for their drivers, using exotic materials, thing which allows them to have a unique sound, along with using the inherent properties of each element. When it comes to their package, FiiO FH5 is better equipped, with a larger selection of tips. Both IEMs come with effective carrying cases, and one could say that Periodic Audio Be's case is golden (pun intended). Now, the IEMs themselves are rather different, FH5 being an over-the-ear IEM with a unique metallic build, while Be shares the same IEM shell as its brothers, it can be worn both over-the-ear and straight-down, and it is a barrel-type IEM, with no detachable cables. Both FH5 and Be have a vent in place to avoid driver flex, and both do a great job. The sonic signature is slightly different between the two, and although both are intended to be mildly V-shaped, the midrange coming forward for FH5 does change that, and Be is mostly a smooth, warm, friendly, organic, and natural performer, while FH5 tends to sound more balanced, but less organic, more textured, but less smooth. The treble extension is really similar, with maybe a bit more extension on Periodic Audio Be, but with FH5 being really close. The most major difference between them is that Be is more organic and warmer, with a larger soundstage and similar instrument separation, while FH5 is more natural, more balanced, with more texture emphasis and with a slightly better overall detail. If you're looking for something really organic and large-sounding, Periodic Audio Be surely fits that bill well, while if you're looking for something more personal and intimate, FiiO FH5 makes an excellent choice.



    Recommended Pairings

    FiiO FH5 is rather sensitive to the source it is connected to, being a bit sensitive to hiss, as well as being rather sensitive to the resolution of the source. Most revealing IEMs are able to show the difference between a good and a less good source, and FH5 is no exception, as it really doesn't work its best magic with something like a typical Xiaomi Mi Max 2, but it sings heaven when one adds a FiiO q5 to that Xiaomi Mi Max 2.

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    FiiO FH5 + FiiO Q5 - This is a really lovely combo, not only because of the really accessible price of both components, but also because of the sound. Q5 is a very capable and versatile DAC/AMP, and the same can be said about FH5, which is a really capable and versatile IEM, making the whole combo one that can work wonders with almost anything you can play through them. There's not much hiss with this combo and FiiO made a great job at creating Q5 as a very detailed and clear DAC/AMP with a lot of textures, which plays really well with FiiO FH5.

    FiiO FH5 + FiiO M7 - FiiO M7 is a great option if you're in need of a great DAP, but you're low on cash. Still with FiiO's well-known quality under the hood, M7 does a great job at playing with FH5. M7 is very neutral, thing which works great with the balanced sound of FH5, and it also has a great detail level, especially for its price, along with its versatility, and its small form factor, making M7 a really intriguing option for those looking to power FH5 on a budget.


    FiiO FH5 + FiiO X7mkii - FiiO X7mkii is the flagship from FiiO's DAP line, and for a good reason. It has the software, the hardware, and the sound to support it as an amazing Flagship device. Starting with the hiss, there is none to speak of, with the default AMP module. Furthermore, if you want to make Fh5 sound thicker, you can always add a FiiO AM03B to the mix, which will make music thicker and more impactful. The abilities of X7mkii are vast and it is really versatile, being able to play music from its two microSD slots, to stream music from most streaming devices, and even being able to use multiple AMP modules, the pairing being a really sweet one.



    Value and Conclusion

    FiiO FH5 sells for about 260USD at the moment, making it one of the most affordable entries in the 300USD IEM range. Of course, with a sound like the one it has, it can even stand its ground against some of the 500USD IEMs out there, not to mention even more expensive flagships.

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    Starting with the build quality, FH5 is bullet-proof literally, being made of metal and sporting some high-end MMCX connectors on the IEM shells. They sport wax guards, and they also come bundled with a large number of tips, each selection having a unique sound tuning of their own.

    The package also includes a high-end carrying case, along with a sport / soft carrying case. The only thing that is lacking from this package, at least compared to FiiO's previous offerings, is a balanced cable, for balanced cable fans, but the cable included is good enough for this to not be a large issue, and we're fairly sure you can also re-terminate it to balanced if you want to. If you rush enough, you will be able to catch one of the sales on Balanced cables from FiiO, at this moment, the balanced cable coming as a free add-on to FH5.

    The sonic signature is most impressive, and something we probably need to emphasize more is the detail and clarity of FH5. Those have the detail to be priced at 300USD, and even more, having a really great imaging and instrument separation / layering. The signature is an unusual W-shaped signature, with the sub-bass and the bass being enhanced, the lower midrange being a bit recessed, the main midrange being enhanced compared to the lower midrange, and with the upper midrange being recessed once again, to come to an enhanced treble, which extends until about 10-12kHz. The treble texture is smooth and creamy, so it won't offend anyone, while the midrange is very nicely textured and provides a nice juicy feeling for guitars and other instruments.


    The only thing we would write off as a caution is that FH5 has an intimate and personal soundstage, so personal that you feel like you're sitting in the same room as the singer while they perform, thing which works really well with certain music, like metal, but doesn't work quite as well with symphonic, as it would be complicated to take an entire orchestra in the same room as you.

    FH5 also stands its ground really well compared to its competitors, in this price range all of them making great entries, but each having its own unique sound it can proudly flaunt without you having to worry about their value, as all of them are great value.


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    At the end of our review, we'd like to note that if you're looking for a really balanced sound, with a good imaging, really good layering, impressive soundstage depth, good dynamics and impact, with great detail and clarity, and with an excellent overall emotion, and an intimate staging, FiiO FH5 makes a really compelling entry, and it offers all of those at a really affordable price, 260USD being a really fair tag for the qualities FH5 provides.



    Playlist used for this review


    While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

    Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
    Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
    Obscurcis Romancia - Sanctuare Damne
    Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
    Manafest - Impossible
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
    Eskimo Callboy - Frances
    Incubus - Summer Romance
    Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    SOAD - Chop Suey
    Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
    Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
    Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
    Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
    Fall Out Boy - Immortals
    Green Day - Know The Enemy
    Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
    A static Lullaby - Toxic
    Royal Republic - Tommy Gun
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    Eminem - Rap God
    Stromae - Humain À L'eau
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
    KurageP - Dance VR Dance
    Korn - Word Up!




    I hope my review is helpful to you!


    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!

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    Contact us!

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  8. chupacabra314
    They just get so much right
    Written by chupacabra314
    Published Aug 7, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Design
    Comfort
    Cable
    Balanced and detailed fun sound
    Value for money
    Cons - Blingy color scheme
    Can be too forward for some
    Can be too laid back for some
    Nozzle mesh defeats the purpose of sound ports
    Tip selection could be better
    Disclaimer:
    I purchased the FH5 for personal use with my own money. I didn't participate in the review tour. I'm not affiliated with Fiio in any way. In this review I'll be comparing the FH5 with the Fiio F9Pro and iBasso IT03 (my current benchmark for a U-shaped mid-fi IEM), both of which I've owned and used extensively. My main source is a Hiby R3 and I've been usng them on and off for ~60 hours now.

    What I look for in a IEM:
    I don't consider myself a really discerning listener. In many cases I can't tell between FLAC and 320 MP3, hence I rarely venture beyond the mid-fi market - just makes little financial sense for me.
    My general sound preference is a nice balance between fun and detail - a well extended and mild U-shape, where subbass is a little elevated vs midbass, and the treble's highest peak is at 10kHz. I have small ears, between S and M tip size, depending on insertion depth. To me comfort and design are just as important as sound. My music library includes includes a mix of FLAC and MP3 of classical, jazz, breakbeat, trance, techno, hiphop, pop, hard rock and heavy metal. For a full list of my IEM inventory check my profile.

    Some pics:
    20180807_114912665_iOS.jpg 20180807_114940156_iOS.jpg 20180731_144620332_iOS.jpg 20180731_144623167_iOS.jpg

    Non-sound:
    They are way smaller in real life than the photos would have you believe - as small as the F9Pro, just a different shape. Fit and comfort are as close as you can get to perfect with a universal-fit shell, even with my small ears - slightly better than my F9Pros and much better than the IT03, whose inserion is so deep that the nozzle edges press against my ear canals. The FH5 shells barely stick out of the ear for a very low profile fit. This is partly because of the shallow insertion depth but I have no problems using single flange tips. I actually welcome the shallow insertion depth as I can experiment with a wider variety of tips like double flanges and foams without the shells sticking out of my ears too much - something I rarely achieve with my other IEMs. Another huge pro is that unlike many mid-fi IEMs the nozzles are ridged so the tip fit is nice and secure.

    Speaking of the nozzles the FH5s have 3 separate sound ports for better separation but I'm not convinced the mesh in front of them was a good idea. Sure it protects them from dirt but in my opinion somewhat defeats the purpose of having separate ports, which is why some owners elect to remove it.

    Isolation is very good for a vented IEM. For me it's much better than the F9Pro's and on par with the IT03's, which is my benchmark for good open IEM isolation.

    The cable is simply gorgeous and doesn't tangle easily. It's little heavy for working out but serviceable. It does retain some memory when wrapped for a while but it's not hard to straighten back to shape. The earhooks are pre-formed tubes, not wire, so you have less freedom in shaping them. I don't mind it but I would've liked the tubes a couple of cm shorter. The MMCX connectors are very tight and secure and I love that they are angled and not straight. It takes a bit of effort to rotate them, unlike with my F9Pro, where the right one is really loose. I just hope the cable wont harden or turn green like most transparent sheathing ones do. It's interesting Fiio didn't choose to include a mic or a balanced cable like they did with the F9Pro but I don't mind at all - don't need either of them and this probably kept the price below $300.

    Tip selection is identical to the F9Pro's, with sufficient number of sound enhancing tips. I would've appreciated the inclusion of very wide bore tips for those who want their treble a little more enhanced. My wide-bore shallow-fit Sennheiser tips make the sound signature slightly closer to the F9Pro's. The silicone on Fiio's tips is also a little hard and slippery for my taste. I much prefer using Sony Hybrids when it comes to comfort.

    The included case is a very welcome accessory - same as what's included in the F9Pro but clear. Fits the FH5 perfectly and it's much better than what you get from most other brands in this price range.

    One thing that I personally dislike about the FH5's design is the golden bezel around the faceplates, and the overall glossiness of the finish. They're sexy when they sit on the table but they get too bling-y for me when in the ear. Almost look like cheap jewelry. I much prefer the F9Pro's subtler matte metallic finish. Hopefully in the future we'll see more color options.

    Driving the FH5 is a piece of cake, even with very low power sources. Although their impedance is more than 2x that of the IT03's 8 Ohms, they are the most sensitive IEM I've owned. The 19-Ohm impedance however is not ideal for use with most lower end sources. I get a completely black background from my Hiby R3 on low gain, and directly plugged into my Alienware laptop (Realtek audio chip), but I hear some hiss with my BlueAnt Ribbon bluetooth dongle and my Dell docking station.

    Sound:
    In the sound department my impressions are in line with Brooko's measurements. The FH5 is not a U/V-shaped IEM. It's more laid back than your typical V-shape, but not flat or overly warm. If you're into measurement graphs, like I am, you'll notice it's very close to the updated IEM Harman curve but its treble doesn't roll off steeply after 2 kHz - something I wholeheartedly approve of. I would define their tuning as "smooth, musical and detailed" and it works well with the wide variety of genres I listen to.

    Starting with the sub bass, the rumble is definitely there when called for (on par with the IT03's) and it has substantial extension all the way down to 10 Hz. Midbass drops slightly but is still present and textured, however I find both the F9Pro's and IT03's midbass a little better textured. Because of the elevated mids, the low frequencies often take the back seat, especially on busier tracks like heavy metal. They are back in full strength when playing hip-hop or EDM.

    Mids are much more forward than the IT03's, but even though I generally appreciate slightly recessed mids, I wouldn't call the FH5's mids fatiguing, at least not at low-to-moderate listening levels. Regardless, this mid-forwardness makes the FH5 sound very musical and immersive - the vocals and instruments are articulate and present and don't get lost inbetween the low and high frequencies like they sometimes do with U-shaped IEMs.

    Highs are where I understandably have my doubts. They aren't too rolled off or at all grainy. They are relatively smooth and have presence all the way up to 17kHz (to my hearing). There are three notable peaks - 7kHz, 12.5kHz, and 16kHz - and each peak is around 3dB lower than the previous.
    Unlike some laid back headphones I've tried, "S" sounds don't sound as "SH" and micro-detail and sparkle is there, however cymbal crashes and hihats lack the emphasized sparkle U/V-shaped headphones typically have. This is particularly apparent in tracks where the highs are already recessed. Ideally I would've liked to see another 3-5dB on the second peak, which would increase the sparkle without reaching the piercing levels of the F9Pro. EQing fixes that easily but I prefer not to use EQ if I can.
    The upside is that the highs sound more natural than the sometimes metallic highs of a U-shape, and are much more non-fatiguing for extended listening sessions.

    In a nutshell:
    Design form and function: 8/10 - gorgeous, comfortable, but a bit bling-y, nozzle mesh questionable
    Build quality: 10/10 - top notch; well executed connectors
    Comfort and seal: 8/10 - great comfort even for small ears; good isolation
    Cable: 9/10 - beautiful, comfortable, hard to tangle, a little heavy; earhooks could be better
    Accessories: 8/10 - missing wider bore and softer silicone tips; great carrying case
    Sound: 9/10 - Smooth, musical, fun, and detailed
    Value: 10/10 - Would I recommend them - absolutely, unless you're a treble junkie or a basshead and don't like EQ
    Are they an upgrade over the F9Pro or IT03: Depends. They have a different sound signature. That being said, even if I lean towards U-shaped sound I would still take the FH5 over either the F9Pro or the IT03. The FH5 just get so much right that I'm willing to overlook their small flaws.
      Gilmartz, FiiO, tarhana and 2 others like this.
  9. DarKu
    FiiO FH5 – The Best so far
    Written by DarKu
    Published Aug 3, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Awesome packaging with a good selection of accessories
    - Quality craftsmanship, fit and finish
    - Great tonal balance between all the frequencies
    - Great depth, good soundstage
    - Impressive bass response
    - Sweet and natural midrange
    - Clear and extended treble without being harsh
    - Lots of air between the notes
    - Strong kick, impressive speed
    - Awesome price for the sound performance we get
    Cons - Soundstage is a bit limited
    - A balanced cable is no longer found in the package
    FiiO never ceases to amaze me, few months ago I was testing their new flagship IEM: the F9, a few months later their new F9 PRO flagship and now they done it again with the FH5. I would not be shocked if at this very moment they are already tinkering with a new flagship IEM, FiiO is on fire and I like that.

    FH5 sets apart from the other IEMs they done in the past, from the moment you unpack them you start to understand they are surely in the big boy category with this one. Unboxing experience was like a much higher priced IEM, I’m glad they are making time into thinking better ways to carefully pack a premium product.

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    Package Contents

    FH5 comes in a nice and quality packaging that actually surprised me a bit; especially the 11 pairs of ear-tips put in a foam sheet that shows exactly how each category of ear-tips will sound, so you no longer need to guess if this enhances the bass, the voices or the treble.

    In total 12 pairs of ear tips are supplied with them, 3 sizes for 4 different categories of ear tips as follows:

    Balanced ear tips (standard black silicone ones), Vocal ear tips (transparent with red sound tube), Memory foam ear tips (black foam ones) and the bass ear tips (black silicone with red sound tube).

    I do prefer the Memory foam ones as they isolate better and sound most neutral to me with just a slight boost in the lows.

    In the package can be also found a big transparent waterproof case and a fabric pouch that I use most of the time when I travel because it’s smaller and easier to carry around.

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    Technology inside the FH5

    As with later FiiO IEMs, FH5 is entirely made by the FiiO engineers that many times already showed us that they can create quality in-ear monitors such as F9, F9 PRO and FH1.

    FH5 is again a hybrid design that uses 3 balanced armatures to render mids and treble and a powerful dynamic driver to take care of the bass.

    Now here’s the catch: the dynamic driver of FH5 has the same size as the FH1 of 10 mm that was notorious for really good bass response. By Comparison F9 series have a 9.2 mm dynamic driver that did well with bass but not great in some situations.

    To make bass even deeper and more controlled besides the big 10 mm drivers they also developed what they are calling S.TURBO technology that mimics the work of a dedicated subwoofer with a turbine inspired design that really makes wonders with the bass.

    Three bore design (one bore for bass, one for mids and one for treble) is also a novelty for FiiO that is being used in high-end IEMs around the globe.

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    The shell on first appearance seems much bigger to house all those larger balanced armature drivers including a bigger dynamic one and the S.Turbo subwoofer and again resembles a custom IEM somehow. The shell is machined entirely with CNC technology from blocks of aluminum giving them a premium feel to the touch and to the eyes.

    The cable that is only one in the package is much sturdier and much more resistant than the one found on the F9 series or on FH1. It’s more rigid; it’s thicker and uses high-purity mono-crystalline silver-plated copper (SPC) wire for higher quality signal transfer that minimizes distortion and signal transmission loss for best sound quality possible.

    If you already own a DAP that has a balanced output I highly recommend buying a separate cable such as LC-2.5B (2.5 mm balanced) or the LC-4.4B (4.4 mm balanced) to use it with the FH5, it makes a big positive difference compared to the SE connection.

    [​IMG]

    FH5 to this date are the most sensitive IEMs from FiiO, having an impedance of only 19Ω and a whopping sensitivity of 112 dB per 1 mW they can be powered by pretty much everything that has a headphone jack.

    However there is another catch: because of their very revealing nature and high sensitivity they are pretty picky of the quality and the noise floor of the source. They can reveal hiss and hum of devices you thought have a crystal clear background. For example they hiss a bit with FiiO’s own X5 MKIII, with Sony NW-WM1Z and they hiss more with a Burson Play and with some other desktop headphone amplifiers, be warned about that.

    So my friends, lets get to the most interesting part of the review.

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    Sound Quality

    Well, well, I really was expecting this kind of sound quality from FH5 as they blown me away at the first listen. They are by far the best IEM FiiO designed and can easily outmatch higher priced IEMs from other manufacturers.

    They have deep and layered bass, great mids with clear and vibrant voices, a good treble extension and a great separation of the notes portraying an out of head presentation due to well spread soundstage. Did I catch your attention already?

    I paired FH5 with FiiO’s latest DAP: the M7 that has a very low noise floor and a very black background without traces of noise. M7 also have a very honest and revealing sound so the match was perfect with FH5 and I can easily describe how FH5 are actually sounding.

    At 112dB/mW it was an easy task even for the underpowered M7, so volume was never past 50% almost all the time even on demanding classical pieces.

    The bass response reminded me a bit of F5 and FH1, but this time bass is much more controlled, it goes deep, presenting multiple layers of it and it decays in a natural way, not too fast and not too slow.

    The bass turbine really wakes up the bass on higher quality electronica.

    Daft Punk , Infected Mushroom and The Prodigy was a real treat to listen.

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    FH5 have a much higher impact and kick into eardrums compared to F9 series and that makes me quite happy of the overall sound signature.

    Lower extremities are not cut this time, for example when listening The Prodigy – Invisible Sun there are few bass notes that makes butterflies in my stomach, a thing that never happened with F9 series.

    I do find the bass not only deep but also very controlled due to its fast rises in dynamics.

    The upper bass notes seems a bit more pronounced than the sub-bas, its especially heard on groovy jazz tracks where double-bass is present.

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    Transition from bass to midrange is done in a natural way so the flow keeps going without stuttering or dips.

    Lower midrange sometimes sounds a bit suppressed by the bass notes, but that is the case only on bassier tracks.

    Overall the voices are clear and have the right amount of vibration; violins and guitars have the needed zing and pitch. Most of the time they sound full but on rare occasions few voices do sound like they are sitting further away from the listener, bass comes forward more often. Upper midrange in my opinion does not have this problem.

    Treble sounds crispy and can bite sometimes, but it’s not bright at all.

    Treble is also airy with lots of air between the notes, cymbals and drums never sound crowded, they always sound like two separate entities.

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    There might be a slight roll off in the upper treble as it always sounds clear and detailed but never fatiguing which I find to be a bit weird, balanced armatures always sounded a bit fake to me due to sharp trebles but it is not the case with FH5.

    There is a good tonal balanced across all frequencies and I think FiiO really nailed this time with FH5.

    Due to its fast and airy nature, resolution is at a high level, FH5 do sound detailed with a good extraction of small micro-details.

    In this respect there is nothing to reproach about FH5.

    Overall the sound is clean, fast, has good extension, hits hard and lifts your mood, what more can you ask for?

    Soundstage is good but not great, sincerely it is quite hard to make an in-ear monitor that sounds wide and spread with drivers that are sitting millimeters away from your eardrums. I find the depth to be better than the soundstage. I can easily look deeper into the mix with FH5 however the width and height of the stage is limited and cannot compete with an open-back design for example.

    However for an IEM design it is quite impressive as it is.

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    Comparisons

    FH5 vs F9 PRO

    FH5 have a much better tonal balance with better rendition of bass notes and midrange. Vocals sound meatier and sweater on FH5. Bass also goes lower and has more layers of it. FH5 is more natural sounding, less harsh; you could call it a meatier sound.

    F9 PRO is better in the upper treble where is doesn’t roll off as fast, however for me it becomes a bit fatiguing after some time. FH5 sounds also deeper, portraying a better depth and I can look easier into the mix. With better-layered bass and more presence into midrange and with a higher micro-details extraction the FH5 overall is a better earphone to me.

    FH5 vs FH1

    Ok, I know this is not a fair comparison as FH1 is much cheaper. Also four drivers VS two drivers is not fair as well.

    However the bass response of FH1 almost stands shoulder to shoulder to the one of FH5. FH5 have a better control over the drivers, bass notes on FH1 are looser and sound one-note sometimes, a thing that never happened on FH5.

    The overall sound signature is quite similar, but FH5 has a much better treble response and a more textured midrange. Both sound natural and easy on the ear with no listening fatigue at all.

    Due to much faster sound on FH5, every vibration of the notes is decaying faster showing a better texture of every note. FH5 is crystal clear; FH1 is a bit muddy in comparison. There is no denying it, FH5 is completely on another league, a much higher one.

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    Conclusion

    Great packaging, lots of accessories inside, great design, great craftsmanship and most importantly a great sound, all those words represent the FiiO’s FH5.

    FH5 again raised the bar not only in FiiO’s portfolio but also in affordable high-end IEM market.

    Great sound should not cost a fortune and I thank FiiO for that, this is how it should be done.

    Competition? For now just watch and learn.

    PROS:
    • Awesome packaging with a good selection of accessories
    • Quality craftsmanship, fit and finish
    • Great tonal balance between all the frequencies
    • Great depth, good soundstage
    • Impressive bass response
    • Sweet and natural midrange
    • Clear and extended treble without being harsh
    • Lots of air between the notes
    • Strong kick, impressive speed
    • Awesome price for the sound performance we get
    CONS:
    • Soundstage is a bit limited
    • A balanced cable is no longer found in the package
    Equipment used for review:
    • DAPs: FiiO M7, X5 MKIII, Sony NW-WM1Z
    • DACs: Chord Hugo2, Mojo, Matrix X-Sabre Pro + S/PDIF 2, Burson Play, FiiO Q5
    • Headphone amplifiers: Headamp Gilmore Lite Mk2, HeadAmp Pico Power, Burson Play, Chord Hugo2, Mojo, FiiO Q5
    • Headphones: FiiO FH5, F9 PRO, FH1, Shure SE846, Audeze iSine20, Sennheiser IE80
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      audiobean, FiiO, snellemin and 2 others like this.
  10. Yira
    Affordable High End
    Written by Yira
    Published Jul 31, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Modern features, instrument separation, style and build, high auditory resolving ability for the price.
    Cons - Frequency response can make these headphones not practical for use for some people without access to an EQ.
    Of all the headphones I thought of getting as an upgrade from my previous pair, I did not expect them to be from FiiO.

    I have been disappointed with many headphones for the last few years. Many sound harsh and thin, don’t provide much detail, or don’t fit me. I have used speakers for high resolution listening, but I live in an apartment, so I needed a high end solution that I could also afford. I am very sensitive to sibilance, which is usually the case for cheaper headphones.

    The spec sheet for these headphones, and reported frequency responses from the community would lead you to believe these to have a brash, or tinny sound at first impression.

    The first moment I put these on, they fit perfect. I use the large tips, and have made a spacer to improve the comfort a bit more as pictured. It’s rare that a headphone works for me right out of the box, but these do.
    00369182-3F25-4A48-90DE-F90A33C949FB.jpeg

    The first impression of sound I got was, “wow, these sound like they cost a lot of money!” There was absolutely no sibilance or tinnines. The midrange is forward, but in a way that makes vocals “louder”, and “natural”. It’s like listening to a master project and mixing the vocal channel to be slightly louder. The character of the sound doesn’t t change, it’s just more forward in the mix, without affecting the qualities of the other channels.

    I also listen in a sound treated room, and these headphones reflect that. I personally like the tonality for the kind of music I listen to, but I know it won’t work for everyone. These headphones sound like there is nothing between your eardrum and the drivers. There is no darkness or muffle for me.

    I must point out the most controversial feature that has everyone questioning these headphones. The 2kHz peak. This peak greatly improves the resolving power of the headphones at lower listening levels. If you plan on long listening sessions at lower volumes, these headphones are much more practical as they can make parts of the music more easily discernible. At higher volumes, anything over 86dB, the practicality of this frequency response becomes a detriment. The headphones maintain their resolution and quality at higher levels, but it sounds like it would be too easy to cause hearing damage.

    It’s strange, because this peak could be a technical issue, or it could be a defining feature. These headphones overcome their technical limitation by simply being extremely high resolution and high quality. This frequency response would never pass with using less capable drivers. It does pass here though.
    3498474C-8079-4E93-BEC8-7033CE40D21B.jpeg

    Another point to make is how sensitive BA driver headphones can be when changing ear tips. You should never place your finger on the eartip as to cover it making a seal while pressing down to fit the eartip on the stem. There is a picture on the eartips package showing the user to turn the eartip inside out to prevent this mistake. It should be noted that placing foam tips on is more difficult as you have to be careful not to press them on without completely covering the opening.
    8A394633-F97D-4650-8E5F-E69F026AB86D.jpeg

    These are absolutely, without doubt, the best sounding headphones/speakers I have ever heard. The fact that they fit properly is a huge plus. I still can’t listen at louder volumes with these, but I have tried an EQ app on my PC. It solved the issue. I used -4dB at 2.1kHz, and -1dB at 1kHz. It did not change the tonality or character of the headphones at all, it just brought down the vocal track.

    These have more resolving power than any speaker I’ve ever heard, and the bass goes lower than any subwoofer I’ve ever heard. I had a moment of rethinking the physics of sound as I tried wrapping my head around what is possible with such a tiny auditory solution.

    For this reason alone, I will just have to accept using an EQ. I am kind of a purist in terms of, “if headphones/speakers absolutely need EQ to be usable, they need to be engineered or built better”. The FiiO FH5 don’t break this idea, they are plenty usable and are still the best thing I’ve ever heard without any EQ. EQ can greatly expand the listening levels and genres of the headphones.

    FiiO, if you see this, pleas make a small MFi lightning to 3.5mm like your i1, but have an app that can reprogram the firmware to allow users to EQ parametric headphones. Example of this feature would be the Jaybird Run. This would give an unbeatable portable listening experience for cost for people with iPhones streaming Apple Music or Spotify.

    Thanks to FiiO, I now have great looking and sounding headphones I can enjoy music with without disturbing my neighbors.

    I listen to Romanian pop, Russian pop,
    K-pop, EDM, Christian pop, vocals, acoustic, and very little country, R&B. I don’t listen to classical, jazz, hip/hop, raggae, classical, classic rock, rock, metal.

    I will list some artists I enjoyed with these. They are not ideal for these headphones specifically, but I hope it will give the idea of what kind of personal listening taste works well with these headphones. I also listen to most Eurovision songs. There is so much more, but this is just a small sample.

    The First Station, Elena Temnikova, Amna, Artik & Asti, TamerlanAlena, Yulianna Karaulova, Vanotek, Andra(Romanian Singer).

    I also want to note that the screen covering the bore has been reported by the community as not affecting the sound if removed. This was a big selling point for me because I have had many pairs of headphones that have this simply fall out rendering the headphones not usable. I expect to use these a lot, and that cover is always the first point of failure in a headphone for me.
    33A88791-1063-49E1-BB0D-58BE1C5F6DA6.jpeg

    Final Verdict: highly resolving headphones with excellent instrument separation and control. Be cautious and listen responsibly as it might be easy to cause hearing damage.
      Gilmartz, audiobean, voxie and 2 others like this.