Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
Patientia vincit omnia
Pros: - Balanced tuning
- Precise and transparent yet musical and engaging
- Reference bass performance
- Highly dynamic
- Excellent midrange quality
- Excellent head stage
- Brutally honest
- Detailed yet not analytical
- Tuning switches
- Very comfortable and lightweight
- Cable with switchable plugs
- Large accessory pack
- Great build quality
Cons: - Requires massive burn in
- Highly exposing
- Treble timbre slightly lagging behind
- Not suitable for poor quality material
- Requires dedicated dac/amp or player
- May not suit laid back listeners
- Semi open design will not isolate well
The FH5s was kindly provided by FiiO as a long term loan and doesn't need to be returned.
FiiO never asked for a favorable review and I am providing my honest and subjective evaluation of it.

Introduction

The FH5s is the brand new iem from FiiO which is the successor of the highly acclaimed but now discontinued FH5.
It is selling for €249.99 and you get it from FiiO.eu

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Technical information

Although the FH5s is considered as a successor of the FH5 it is not a mere upgrade but rather a totally different design starting from the driver configuration and extending to the outer design.

Let's remember that the FH5 is a quad driver closed principle iem.
A 10mm polymer nanocomposite dynamic driver in combination with three balanced armature drivers for the middle , high and ultra high frequencies.

The FH5s is still a hybrid quad driver iem but this time in a semi open shell with a different configuration of two dynamic and two balanced armature drivers.

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Driver configuration

A third generation 12mm beryllium plated dome plus PU gasket dynamic low frequency driver which is
engineered to give extremely high-quality bass.
With its rigid yet flexible
polyurethane polymer surrounding gasket + beryllium-plated diaphragm
dome and N52 magnets capable of 1.5 Tesla, this driver is capable of some seriously deep and potent yet controlled bass.

The big surprise is that the mid frequencies are allocated to a 6mm beryllium-plated diaphragm dynamic driver which is carefully tuned to smoothly connect to the other drivers.
Replacing the balanced armature used for mid frequencies in
the original FH5, the new mids dynamic driver provides better vocals and soundstage in the FH5s.
The dual dynamic driver setup connects the bass and mids together more smoothly and coherently as well as covers a wider range of frequencies and provides
a larger soundstage.

A pair of the time tested Knowles TWFK-30017 is used to handle high and ultra high frequencies.
Both drivers are placed directly in the sound tube to be as close to the ear as possible for less high frequency loss and better extension.

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Active crossover

The FH5s is utilizing an active crossover like the one that was firstly introduced with the FA9 (review) and can be customized with three micro switches that are located at the bottom of the shell.
There are three tuning switches for lows,mids, and highs that combined can result in eight different sound profiles.
While the default sound tuning will suit the taste of most
audiophiles, there are also three tuning switches controlling
the bass, mids, and treble for further customization.

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Outer shell design

The semi-open design at the rear cavity was refined through
computer simulations to ensure air pressures at the front and
rear cavities are balanced , resulting in a larger soundstage , a more comfortable listening experience , as well as a natural sound.

The FH5s employs the TRISHELL "sandwich" structural design,
with the 5-axis CNC machined aluminum-magnesium alloy rear
shell, body, and front covers solidly fixed together at 3 points to
greatly reduce excess resonance and distortion.
The shell is made of CNC-machined aluminum-magnesium
alloy, which is firm enough to even reduce the unwanted
resonances within.
Here, the sturdiness of the shell actually improves music.

Cable

The detachable cable features an interchangeable audio jack.
The included twist-lock swappable audio plugs are made of stainless steel making them durable.
2.5/3.5/4.4 plugs are included
so that one cable satisfies the needs of many different kinds of listeners.
The cable utilizes the stable expanded MMCX connector Litz Type 2 braided cable with blue and red markings to easily distinguish the left and right channels.
It's a litz Type 2 braided cable with four-strand 120 core, high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper
that faithfully reproduces music.

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Accessories

As always FiiO is very large with the included accessories.
Except for the cable with three swappable plugs we get a large selection of ear tips plus the luxury hard case HB5 to store everything inside.
The tips include three pairs of vocal , bass and balanced tips for fine tuning the sound plus a pair of bi - flange and three pairs of foam ear tips.
Everything is stored in a foam case and for last we have a cleaning brush and the MMCX assist tool.

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Build quality and fit

Our unit is the black variant with gold accents which is very beautiful looking with a luxury finish and a modern twist to it.
A silver model with gold accents is available for the Asia market and there are chances that it may be sold to other markets too.
Build quality is excellent without any visible signs or spots on the surface of it.
The FH5s is not bulky , especially considering that it is a four driver iem and fits very comfortably and quite discreetly.
The shell is anatomically designed and the nozzle is extended so it can be flushed tight against the ear without causing any discomfort , staying in place even after heavy movement.
We have used it non stop for more than a couple of hours with great success.
Passive noise attenuation is above average but not the absolute best since this is a semi open design.
Overall fit and handling experience is better than the original FH5.

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Burn in and set up

After some early and quite rushed reviews that were on the negative side, FiiO contacted us , strongly insisting that the FH5s should be burned for at least 200 hours before any critical listening.
So after some preliminary listening sessions we left the FH5s playing music 24/7 checking sound performance every 24 hours and stopped the process at the 250 hours mark.

First impressions were that FH5s is a balanced and well sounding iem with a few quirks , namely dynamic drivers lacking in absolute control , sound slightly missing in cohesion between the crossover transition points and high treble sounding slightly metallic or artificial.
Intermediate check suggested that things were indeed improving and at the end of the process the iem truly settled down transforming from the ugly duck to a gorgeous swan.
Timbre settled down , sound became more cohesive and homogenized while the beryllium drivers gained absolute control.

So the impressions that follow are noted after the lengthy burn in process with the balanced ear tips and all crossover switches set to off unless otherwise noted.
To keep things simple we have used only a couple of sound devices , namely the THX Onyx , FiiO M11 Plus LTD/ddHiFi TC44B from the balanced outputs and the Periodic Audio Rhodium for the budget conscious audiophile.

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Well , how does it sound?

The original FH5 was a very enjoyable and good sounding iem with a slightly colored bass to mids response and slightly rolled treble.
Nothing wrong with that but for it's successor FiiO opted for a more reference and natural tuning adding a bit more treble energy and mids presence.

The overall sound signature is exceptionally balanced with an even tuning that sits close to the natural target response.
All four drivers are well integrated without audible transition at the crossover frequency points while nothing sounds detached or out of phase.

There is a slight emphasis at the brilliance range (around 8kHz) that is very carefully implemented in order to add air and detail , clarity and definition without making the iem to sound fatiguing or harsh.
By doing so without simultaneously overly boosting the presence area , FiiO has successfully succeeded to make an open sounding iem that is transparent and of a revealing nature but not bright or sibilant.

The FH5s is engaging and musical without being boring or artificial and at the same time is to be considered highly exposing of the recording and gear quality alike.
During our listening sessions the FH5s always felt at least lucid if not slightly accentuating all the flaws of the mastering so don't expect it to be forgiving.
Potential users should be well aware of that and strongly consider that the FH5s is transparent and not suitable for poorly mastered tracks.

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The Bass Master

Bass on the FH5s is fully extended reaching down to the lowest notes without any significant roll off.
It is a strictly reference tuning gradually sloping down to the mids without mid-bass bloat and extra emphasis at any given point of the bass region , really uncolored and without any added boost.
The quantity is exactly the one that was captured inside the recording, nothing more , nothing less , so we may call it a purists approach and extra bass lovers may not be satisfied.

The quality is top of the line with a clean and crystal clear presentation that it is full bodied and weighty while remains super tight and controlled.
The rigid driver is ultra fast with exemplary reverb and decay and the large surface can move plenty of air adding great dynamics and plenty of realism.

Masking is an unknown word for this iem and the listener can easily follow the bass line no matter how many different instruments are playing together.
Bass depth and layering are spectacular and the FH5s is a reference bass performer with top notch technicalities that are to be envied by far more expensive earphones.

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Voices come alive

We are very pleased that FiiO decided to go for a dynamic driver in the critical mid range region.
Mid frequency tuning is also to be considered reference neutral with a gentle rise while reaching the upper mids but it is not the tuning but rather the great timbre that sets the FH5s mids apart.

Mids are voiced naturally with the dynamic driver performing miracles at setting a very analogue timbre without artificial flavor while at the same time adding weight and scale.
Clarity is spectacular and everything sounds present and alive with voices breathing stunning realism , blending together with the instruments in a cunning manner and with the finest articulation.

Solo voices sound eerie and some tracks like this tear shredding lament may haunt your nights.
Be it solo voices , instruments or large choruses the FH5s can successfully portray all the harmonies with an extended sound palette full of the most natural colors.
Great performance that breathes life into the mid frequencies without being mid - centric.

Clarity and precision at command

High and ultra high frequencies are handled by the two balanced armature drivers that are placed very close to the ear resulting in a lively presentation giving the FH5s a forward and energetic character.
Both drivers sound quite well integrated and not detached while their speedy nature is easily followed by the two dynamic drivers that are equally fast.

Upper mid-range and presence area are evenly tuned without any alarming peaks which translates in a fairly smooth behavior free of brightness and sibilants.
There is a slight loss of timbre and articulation quality compared to mids and lows but nothing so wrong to be alarming and spoil the overall experience.

Treble note thickness is almost on par with the rest frequencies and sounds quite full with good overall decay that can follow lower notes without lagging behind , so the overall sense is very natural with great timing across the whole frequency range.
This is a fast and lively sounding iem that calls for your attention , full of energy and transparency but without being bright or fatiguing.
We have listened to a lot of difficult and treble stretching tracks (playlist is available at the end of this text) and the only times we have spotted fatiguing behavior was when it was present at the specific recording.

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Time lapse

Detail retrieval is exemplary for the category and the listener can reach deep inside the recording to listen to all the available information in a holistic and focused approach.
The FH5s should not be considered analytical since it takes advantage of it's revealing nature in order to present us the inner space of the recording venue in the most convincing manner.

This time frame is magnified by the amazing soundstage that is one of the best we have ever heard of an earphone at this price point and more.
Greatly extended from left to right and proportionally arranged in it's depth layering it is always accurate and in no way artificially expanded.
The feeling is very spacious with ample room for every instrument to breathe and pinpoint positioning , a truly glorious experience with large symphonic works.

Fine tuning

Users who own the FiiO FA9 should be familiar with the fine tuning system utilizing the three switches that can slightly affect the frequency response.
In the FH5s the sensitivity switch is ditched for a mid frequency switch that is absent at the FA9.
We have three switches , one to boost the bass , one for the mids and one for the highs.
They can be set independently or in all the available combinations to tune the sound according to the user's tastes.
Don't expect huge differences as these are meant for fine tuning but they do work and are worth while experimenting.

We did like the bass boost option enabled , sometimes combined with the mids switch set to on.
The bass boost will not accentuate the low frequencies but is rather cutting a touch of the brilliance peak.
As a result the bass region is slightly highlighted (not emphasized) and treble sounds a little less forward with the overall result being more natural and less aggressive.
At the end and after a lot of experiments we have settled down with the bass switch set to on.

A brief comparison against the FiiO FD5

The FiiO FD5 is a single dynamic driver iem that is selling for €299.99 and we have liked it a lot as you can find out reading our related review
The comparison was done from the balanced output of the M11 Plus LTD level matched by the ear.

The two earphones are different not only in their tuning but also in the overall sound projection.
The FD5 bass tuning is a rather colored one boosted a little starting from low bass and stretching up to the mids.
The listener can clearly hear (feel) more sub bass level with greater thump and rumble plus the presentation is more visceral and full bodied.
But at the same time , compared to the FH5s , there is a loss in firmness and layering depth while the bassline is less defined.
Masking creeps in and mid bass bloat is heard so we cannot follow the bass line so clearly and everything sounds massed and homogenized.
Of course there is no right or wrong here because some users might prefer the FD5 which works better for EDM and electronic music but others will clearly choose the FH5s which is much better for classical and acoustic music.

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The FD5 is slightly recessed at the mid range with a more accentuated presence area so it sounds kind of V - shaped compared to the FH5s.
So although from a tuning point of view it is not to be called less treble emphasized it is the use of the single dynamic driver that sets the overall feeling as less forward and aggressive , so at the end you may find it more smooth and with better timbre characteristics compared to the FH5s.
Another difference regarding the treble is that the FD5 sounds just slightly more cohesive with a touch of extra body and a finer articulation.

Going back and forth the listener is to discover that the FD5 presentation feels closer to the listener , more intimate , cozy and easy going while the FH5s is third row seating , fast and distanced with a leaner character.

Clarity and detail retrieval are on the FH5s side as is the head stage which outperforms the FD5 by a fair margin.
Both earphones are very capable performers and are going to suit different moods and musical genres.
In our opinion the FH5s is something like a classical music master while the FD5 is better suited for modern material and laid back listening.

So is the FH5s a tragic scar in FiiO's history or just another winner?

This was a long and time consuming review but after all this controversy regarding the FH5s sound performance we were obliged to be very cautious and careful regarding our approach and final verdict.

Well it is pretty obvious that we liked it a lot and we can't think of anything really negative in order not to award a five star rating considering the overall performance to price ratio.
For €249.99 we buy an iem with a fairly balanced tuning , reference bass and soundstage performance , excellent overall timbre , great build quality and large accessory pack.

The FH5s is fast and precise with an exposing and transparent nature.
Brutally honest with a restless and nervous character should appeal well to purists and attentive listeners that prefer a lively listening experience.
Just feed it with good quality material and be patient to let it's virtues unfold.

Test playlist

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021
Last edited:
Ichos
Ichos
If you are happy then that is good!

Actually I am not alone here.
I was watching Currawong video review and he seems to find the FH5s a very good earphone and much better than the FH5 .
Another Audiophile
Another Audiophile
I didn’t return it because is bad. I returned it because is not what I want or what Currawong described it to be like. It’s not a better version of the FH5. Is a different iem all together. I wouldn’t call it better but different
Ichos
Ichos
Yes indeed better is so subjective.

asifur

100+ Head-Fier
FiiO FH5S - All New Hybrid and a clear successor with better sound
Pros: + Good build quality & design
+ Comfortable for long hours listening
+ Mids with great clarity & texture
+ Good & clear Bass with texture
+ Above average Soundstage & Imaging
+ Switches to change tuning (Bass/Mids/Treble)
+ Good accessories package
+ Cable with inter-changeable plug system (3.5mm/2.5mm/4.4mm)
+ Nifty MMCX assist tool which comes very handy while changing cables
Cons: - Cable not as good as the FD5 one in terms of sound performance
- Peak found in Treble region... mainly due to the BAs sitting directly into the nozzle
- Speed not as good as FD5
FiiO FH5S - All New Hybrid and a Clear Successor with Better Sound

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Disclaimer:

This unit was supplied to me by FiiO for the purpose of an honest review. Everything mentioned in this review are purely my own based on my experiences with the IEM.

Introduction:

The FiiO FH5S is the new Hybrid universal IEM featuring 2 Dynamic Driver and 2 Balanced Armatures. FiiO claims to be successor to their previous very successful hybrid FH5. The FH5S is priced at $249.99
Fiio has had a long adventurous journey into hybrid IEMs such as: FH3, FH5, FH7 and FA9 and had reasonable success specially with FH5 and FH7.
Now it seems that they are back with a new hybrid IEM as a clear successor to the FH5.

Following details are from FiiO website below:

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Specifications:

Specifications are as mentioned in FiiO website and launch events below:
- Acoustic architecture: semi-open architecture with 2 Balanced Armatures+2 Dynamic Drivers
- Bass Dynamic Driver: 12mm beryllium-plated diaphragm of 1.5T outer-magnet field
- Mids Dynamic Driver: 6mm beryllium-plated diaphragm
- Highs and ultra-highs: Knowles 30017
- Sound tuning Switches: 3 Bass/Mids/Treble
- Connector: replaceable, standard 3.5/4.4/2.5 connectors
- Impedance: 40ohms
- Price: $249.99


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The 3 Tuning Switches:​

The FH5S comes with 3 tuning switches: 1 for Bass, 1 for Mids & 1 for Treble. These switches can bring in some changes in tuning.
I had found these changes to be fairly mild... for example: when Bass switch turned on - I found the bass slightly stronger only in amount. There was no change in the quality.

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Package:


Following items are found in the package:
- Earphone units
- Cable with interchangeable plugs
- Selection of Ear tips
- Carrying case
- Cleaning Brush
- MMCX Assist tool

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Design & Build Quality:


Looks are always subjective, but I think these are just great-looking IEMs. Maybe the best looking Hybrid IEM amongst FiiO Hybrid IEMs till date. Its shell is made out of polished Aluminum alloy, the dragon scales literally glitter in light. The FH5S comes with semi-open design and the outer cover with the golden colored scales have some tiny holes in them just like the FD5. These holes will remove the air pressure between your ear canal and the IEM body, for a much better comfort long term.

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Comfort:

The aluminum alloy shell is quite light-weight, I found them comfortable for longer hours of listening and never felt too heavy on the ears.
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The Stock Cable:

The cable by the looks seem quite durable and is tangle free and comfortable. It also comes with the interchangeable plug system and 2 extra plugs.

But when it comes to sound this is just not the best cable for this IEM and IEMs at this price range comes with better quality cables.

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Amp-ing Requirements:

I have found that this IEM can perform well without any amping at all while being directly connected to devices such as: iPad, iPhone, etc..
However, this IEM really shines when paired with a good and powerful DAC/AMP.

NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE SOUND....

Items used for this review:

DAC/AMP:
Shanling UA2, IFI IDSD Black Label
DAP/Source : Fiio M3 Pro, Laptop & iPad
Streaming Source: QOBUZ

Upgrade Cable: Following upgrade cables used to see how FH5S fares with different types of cables:
- CEMA Electro Acousti 6N OCC + OCC Silver plating 26AWG single crystal copper cable with balanced 4.4mm connector
- CEMA Electro Acousti 22AWG 7N type6 advanced pure silver cable with balanced 4.4mm connector
- MEE Audio Silver-plated 99.99% pure copper stereo audio cable

Ear Tips: Final E series Black tips

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Tracks Used:
The tracks I have used can be found from the below playlist that I have used and generally use for most reviews...


Let's now talk about the quality of Sound....

Sound Signature
:
It's interesting to see that FiiO used the Harman Curve as a reference, tuning their FH5S quite close to it. Here is a picture FiiO posted on their website. I found the tuning to be mildly V shaped... but more on the neutral side.

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These initially sounded clean, undistorted and easy going. There was a feeling of smoothness specially in the Bass & the Mids. Bass felt quite clean and textured, the soundstage was above average, with a perfect positioning of every notes around me.

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The BASS:

Bass felt quite airy and textured, with good layering. There is good extension and depth to the bass. Every instrument sounds natural and there is good depth in the bass also. There isn’t a super long trail in the bass, bass notes are not overlapping with midrange and the rest of the FR always felt precise, defined and clear sounding. To some degree I find them even more detailed compared to multi-driver IEMs. There is always a raw and unpolished feeling with some particular Chi-Fi IEMs, but there is nothing of that in here.

The MIDS:

Midrange felt great specially for instruments like Guitar - the sound is just rich & full of texture. Piano went down and decayed naturally, violins had a longer vibration, and was great sounding. Human voices are happening exactly in this region and sometimes I wanted to boost their presence so I could be carried away by their singing.

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The Treble:

Treble seems to be the weakest point of this IEM. Due to the BAs being placed directly into the nozzle, the Treble on some occasions sound quite peaky.
Turning the Bass switch ON doesn't help much either. However, when used with a pure copper cable and a warm source such as: IFI IDSD Black Label... this peak peak can be minimized somewhat. Other than this occasional peak, the treble is quite natural sounding.

The SOUNDSTAGE:

Soundstage is amongst the strong traits of FH5S though it's not as big or wide like the FD5. It is quite above average, with good depth and layering.
I strongly believe that the soundstage of FH5S is amongst the best in the price range

Imaging & Timbre:

The FH5S produces a good amount of the microdetails and nuances present in recordings. I think it is one of their best qualities. Layering is done well and it gives the user a decent amount of directional information and placement. However, speed is somewhat slower than the FD5 and I have noticed slight coherence gaps on some rare occasions - but that would be nitpicking at this price point.

Comparisons :

FIIO FH5S vs FD5 :
The FD5 is the closest contender of the FH5S. While the FD5 with a single DD architecture - the price range is quite similar FD5 price being just $50 higher than the FH5S.
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Build & Comfort: The FD5 is more premium looking with its stainless steel build & polished finish. It's footprint is also slightly smaller than the FH5S and therefore despite being heavier - I found FD5 to be more comfortable also. Hence, FD5 wins in terms of build & comfort
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Cables: Both FH5S and FD5 come with cables that have interchangeable connector system. However, FD5 comes with 8 strand silver plated copper cable while the FH5S comes with 4 strands silver plated copper cable. in terms of sound I found the FD5 cable ever so slightly better.

Bass: When it comes to bass, both IEMs have similar performances - but the FD5 with the default nozzle just has overwhelming bass , hence I would give the crown to FH5S for the Bass.
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Mids: I found the Mids on the FH5S to have better clarity and slightly more textured than the FD5. Hence, the FH5S wins in terms of Mids.
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Treble: This is where the FD5 clearly excels. It doesn't have the peaky-ness in the treble and is overall more coherent. FD5 wins in terms of Treble.

Soundstage & Timbre: This is where FD5 Shines over FH5S hands down. The Soundstage on the FD5 is both wider and deeper than the FH5S and in addition also has the 3D like effect. Also, due to FD5 being a single DD IEM, it is more coherent and the beryllium plated driver of the FD5 seems to have better speed than the FH5S. Hence, FD5 clearly triumphs in this area.
But, having said that - when it comes to imaging and in comparison with the default nozzle of the FD5 - The FH5S has better imaging and sense of direction. But it loses when compared to the narrow nozzle performance on the FD5 which improves the imaging on the FD5 significantly.
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Conclusion :

I have found the FH5S to be an overall great sounding IEM that punches much above its price point and is beaten only by it's own brother FD5. The peak in treble is something FiiO can work on - but can also be overcome by changing cables, hence I see that as a minor drawback. FiiO has been putting lot of emphasis on sound lately and I hope they are able to come up with even better performing IEMs and flagships in the near future.

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Ichos
Ichos
@asifur I haven't started full listening tests so till now with M11 Pro balanced , Periodic Rhodium and Schiit Hel 2.
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asifur
asifur
@Ichos i hope you are using the stock cable. Chang8ng cable will change the peak also. I found the peak gone with pure copper cable.
Ichos
Ichos
I am using stock for now and maybe I will experiment with something different.
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Dsnuts

Headphoneus Supremus
Fiio FH5s
Pros: Stunning new design from Fiio with a very nice combination of two beryllium plated dynamics doing mids and bass and a dual BA for treble . Solid built vented aluminum magnesium shells. Comes with a TOTL level of accessories. 3 sets of silicones, a double flange tip, 3 sets of very nice foams. Excellent box case with separators for the shells. Comes with one of the more resolving pack in cables with 3 different screw on terminations in both balanced and single ended. Excellent mids and bass some of Fiios best. 3 switches on the shells that slightly enhance the 3 parts of the sound frequencies. Treble has plenty of sparkle, shimmer, precision and detail. Relatively affordable.
Cons: Treble cause of contention has BA timbre for treble in the nozzle accentuated by one of the most resolving cables for a throw in. Not the best coherency for hybrids. Absolutely requires a longer 200 hours of burn in recommended by Fiio. Highly recommend a change up to your best copper based cable for fans of rock n metal music.
Fiio FH5s
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You all should know by now who Fiio is and what they have accomplished over the years. They have made a name for themselves as premier designers of audio goods and when they focus their efforts on a new hybrid IEM that is the successor to one of their all time best selling hybrids. You have to take notice.

Now we clearly have a bias. We expect and demand Fiio to come out of the gate with something that will push the limits of design and sound, their marketing says so. I am expecting the heavens when it comes to sound. I mean a new advancement in hybrid combination with 2 different sized beryllium coated dynamics and a Knowles dual BA for treble. So expectations was high on this one. Marketing for the FH5s is so good, so eye catching, so through. Descriptions of sound philosophy so good, materials, shell design, packaging the whole thing, so good. You're not going to get this type of eye catching descriptors for just any earphone.

Yet we are getting mixed reviews?
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Before I continue with my take on the FH5s, I would like to thank Sunny of Fiio who was kind enough to ask me to do a review about the FH5s. Don’t get it twisted folks I am an enthusiast first and I so happen to like posting about my experiences of what I hear and how I like or dislike a product, standard disclaimers aside. I would have bought the FH5s just due to the outstanding marketing leading up to their release. As a previous owner of the old FH5, the new FH5s design caught my attention immediately. It seems for some the FH5s is a step backwards while for some it is a clear upgrade. So what is it?, it can't be both or can it.

To me the FH5s is clearly not as bad as what you read and see on the tube yet at the same time at the price point, there is clearly defined competition that makes it a daunting task to make something that lives up to the hype and or eclipses it. Heck even Fiios one FD5 which pretty much lived up to their marketing is fairly close to the RP of the FH5s.
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Marketing will tell you these are the next evolution of hybrid designs. Beryllium plated 12mm for bass, a 6mm version for mids and a dual Knowles BAs in the nozzle for treble. Something similar to the Sony IER-Z1R? I can confidently say for the asking price the FH5s is not nearly as bad as what you read, In fact they are quite good at the price point offering a colored balanced harmonish sound tuning that is both technical and musical at the same time. Catering to enthusiasts of all types the happy middle of sound tuning has to be a difficult task. Too much of one aspect over another in the sound tuning and you get people that say treble is so bright you can’t listen to rock with it. Or some that say the bass is flat and weak. I can most certainly see why there is such a dichotomy of views when it comes to the FH5s. I hope my version of the FH5s review will shed some light and give the prospective buyer of the FH5s a different take of what the FH5s sounds like and how to get the sound to live up to that grand marketing.
I have to give props to Fiio. They can really pour out that glorious advertisement for their earphones. I can tell they are proud of this one. From how I understand it the sound tuning for the FH5s was more catered toward the Chinese market. In fact I was wondering why the FD5 also exhibits a brighter treble range. The answer my friends is because both these earphones have to matter for the masses that buy them. As far as you and I know there are way more Chinese enthusiasts or Asian enthusiasts in the EAST. WAY more. So you tell me who you're going to design and make an earphone for. This being said, the FH5s seem to have a certain coloration that caters more toward the Eastern enthusiast sensibilities, and we are not talking about Metal and rock music here. I will get to this point more so in on the sound descriptions.

All listening was done using my sources, the Fiio M15, yes this is my favorite player and a good reference point for all earphones I review, the M15 sound signature is more neutral and balanced and very dynamic, so it is perfect to get a good sense of what the earphones are doing. Shanling M6pro. More musical with a warmer Shanling tuning. A great compliment to my Fiio M15, Ibasso DX160, Shanling M5s, M3s, Sony ZX300, Cayin N5Ii, Pioneer XDP-30r. IBasso PB3, Fiio E12a, and IFI black label for amping.
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Workmanship.
Everything you read about these are true, the design is world class. It has one of the nicest original designs using a dragon scale motif for the shells with good venting for the dynamics being used. The CNC milled aluminum magnesium alloy shells are comfortable in the ear though a bit bulky but comfortable nonetheless, Fiio should really consider moving onto 2 pin designs in the future. No issues with this reinforced mmcx designs if anything it is very easy to take out the cable as the mmcx has a sturdy protrusion where the female part of the mmcx lies. I have to give props to Fiios design team. The shell designs of both the recent FD5 and now the FH5s are very well thought out as both stand out on a sea of plastic or resin filled shells in the market in the way they look, function and sound.

Beyond the shells.
The internals and the drivers used for the FH5s is very intriguing. 12mm Beryllium plated larger dynamic for a deep reaching impactful bass, a smaller 6mm beryllium plated dynamic doing some fantastic fluid mids and a Knowles dual BAs handling the treble duties. The issue here is the BA drivers are in the nozzles, which was a design choice closer to the ear for cleaner, better extended treble according to marketing. Here is the cause of contention. Treble notes will be clean and clear alright but at the same time a bit forward in the mix. Treble is not so bad where you will hear a wall of brightness. It isn't like that but at the same time, you will clearly know there is a separation from the mid bands and the treble.
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The packaging is
Excellent. I have earphones that cost a considerable amount more than these that don't have the outstanding accessories packaging of the FH5s. I am a huge fan of what Fiio gives the buyer with their earphones. 3 different sets of silicones, bass, vocal and balanced tips, a set of double flange tips, 3 pairs of excellent high quality medium sized foams, mmcx assist tool ( Hoard these things, why others don't provide something like this is a head scratcher) and one of the very best cases I have ever seen included in the package. The case is so good it has a name.
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Fiio HB5, It is large enough to carry your precious and cable, has separators in it which can adjust to the size of the shells via Velcro attachment. Brilliant design for a case. Beyond that a highly resolving monocrystalline 4 cored SPC cable that has Fiios proprietary screw on terminations in all popular formats. I do believe the FH5s is the cheapest earphone in the market that includes such a lavish accessories package, not to mention screw on terminations in both balanced formats and in single ended. I have earphones that cost 6x as much as the FH5s that don't have this much attention to the packaging so this is very welcomed. You would be surprised how many manufacturers skip on the little things when it comes to accessories for your brand new earphones. In my opinion 3 sets of different types of tips should be the minimum.
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FH5s sonics.
Now with 3 tuning switches, Bass, mids, treble, the foundational tuning of the Fiio FH5 is closer to the harmon curve than their previous FD5. A lesser V shaped signature from their FD5 tuning with a very good balancing between the 3 zones of sound. The FH5s signature represents two distinct tonalities. It is a hybrid with the best of dynamic bass and mids also using Knowles composite dual BAs in the nozzle. Sound can be described as energetic for the upper registers yet technically smooth with a good fundamental balancing, stage and detail for all parts of the sound profile. Sound balance is actually done better on the FH5s than their previous effort the FD5.It is much less of a V shaped signature so should be more versatile for the eclectic music listener. SHOULD is the word.

Tonal quality
Unfortunately, the cohesion of the drivers here are not exactly perfect. You get a fairly clean, rich broad smooth dynamic tonal character with a natural timbre for mids add to that an excellent deep reaching rumbly punchy bass with a proper stage to make it sound spacious and immersive. Then there is the treble with its brighter crisp thinner sparkly treble notes that clearly is distinctive and stands out to be completely different in tonal character than the rest of the tuning. The transition of note weight and tonality from mids to treble is very dependent on the type of music you listen to especially for rock and metal music. Treble stands out on a ledge by itself at times and not really blended together so perhaps this was the real reason for contention among reviews. Some may take issue with this and some will prefer it. No one's gonna deny that the FH5s does not have enough treble sparkle that is for certain. This treble presentation works for slower melodic tunes with vocals as the mainstay of the tune, it actually enhances Jazz tracks with underlying ride cymbal and drum rhythms. For example. Stan Getz Evening in Paris.
which ends up sounding amazing. Where this treble presentation really stands out is for tracks that have lots of aggressive crash cymbals and accentuated high hat notes. Metallica: Sad but true
Rock in general does not benefit from this extra sparkly treble presentation of the FH5s.( This is assuming you're using the included stock cable.)

To me it isn't that the treble is overly boosted, there is a purposefully tuned 8 khz peak that accentuates treble notes for that sparkly treble presentation. More so due to a tonal shift from smooth fuller wider mid notes, which sound very natural to a crisp thinner precise speedier brighter treble notes. There seems to be some truth to the BAs in the nozzles that help accentuate treble notes which has the cohesiveness of the FH5s with two clearly separated regions.

When you hear a percussion set that uses high hats and ride symbols. It is like they put the recording mic closer to the high hats and symbols vs the rest of the drum set. Not exactly natural but for treble fans might dig this type of ultimate clarity/ authority for treble notes. I can't help but notice that treble is forced into your music at times more on certain tracks that don't necessarily belong there. I look at it as Fiio Sparkle with a tweeter-like presentation. Treble enhancement was evident though to a lesser degree on the FD5 and now the FH5s. Treble is energetic and as detailed as I have heard but therein lies the issue. Treble for the most part takes on a supportive role for most of your music but overly saturated high notes for Rock and all of its sub genres, treble can and does stand on their own front and center. Again for an eclectic music listener this tuning works and for the most part FH5s pretty much lives up to the billing but for folks that listen to a lot of rock music these might not be optimal for you. Unless that is, you're willing to do a good burn in and change out the included cable.

I get what the initial reviews are saying about the FH5s. On the contrary I feel the FH5s are quite good at their price range, especially after a good longer burn in with music. The FH5s is not the first earphone I have heard with BAs in the nozzles. This is quite common actually but while this presentation will be very subjective and will have many love it or hate it. If absolute cohesion for hybrids is what you're seeking. The FH5s might not be for you but if you like your sparkly crisp treble with your dynamic full bodied sound tuning. The FH5s can and does live up to Fiios top of the line marketing.
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Too much of a good thing.
I am a big cable guy, I do cable reviews for other manufacturers. I don't claim to be a cable expert by any means but I do have a very good understanding of what cable materials can do for an earphone sound tuning.

The cable that is included is very similar to the cable that was provided for the FD5, it is the same monocrystalline silver plated cable but in 4 cores instead of 8 on the FD5, and I let it be known on that review that I felt the FD5 could have done better with a copper cable. Even more so now with the FH5s. The good news is the BA aspect of the FH5s responds extremely well to cable changes. A copper cable is the fix and was noted by the previous reviewer that also noted a copper cable change fixes that up frontal treble notes. With a good copper cable the treble actually acts like earphone treble and not a stand out tweeter. I know a lot of folks reading this review are not cable believers. Truth is cables affect some earphones more than others. FH5s respond amazingly well perhaps due to the highly resolving drivers they are using on the FH5s. When you throw on one of the most resolving pack in cables on the FH5s. You're gonna hear that dual BA in the nozzle up front and center, even more over the FD5 using a similar cable.
The tuning clearly emphasizes the treble regions with a 3Khz-8Khz treble shelf. Then you add a very resolving cable that accentuates and enhances that detail even further in the regions.
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Try it for yourself.
A copper cable will not be as transparent as the included cable, however you're sacrificing ultimate detail for better cohesion. That to me is a worthy compromise, hence the greatness of mmcx. You can put any cable you want on the FH5s. I know this review is about what was included with the FH5s and how these will sound to the consumer when buying a set. I am telling you it makes a marked difference. It goes from treble that lingers a bit much on overly saturated treble notes. Example Rush Freewill
To treble that mostly stays in place. Test the same track over with a copper cable and you will hear the differences. This aspect alone makes a big difference in how you perceive the sound presentation. It is very clear to me that the monocrystalline cable is so transparent so thoroughly well done it actually accentuates the treble notes to be up front and center. Which is what it did for the FD5 to a lesser extent. If the bulk of your music you listen to is not Rock and Metal music, You're fine using the stock cable, but for folks that like energetic rock and metal music and all their sub genres it is simple. A cable change is a requirement. Gotta include burn in as a requirement as well.
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Where the FH5s excel
Is their dual beryllium plated dynamo dynamic implementation. The mids and bass ends of the FH5s stand out to be very good actually. In fact so good I wish Fiio used yet another, maybe smaller 5mm micro HD dynamic to do the treble notes with a silkier tonal quality to it. Oooo now we are talking. Ultimately this tonaly shift from mids to treble will be an acquired taste in sound presentation. Even with the copper cable change it is just the nature of these hybrids you get two different timbres here. Some like their wine oaky and buttery, some like it acidic and sweet. It is all a matter of taste.

The 3 switches.
Remind me of the switch implementation for Tansio Mirai earphones as all their models utilize something very similar. Switches for bass mids and treble enhancement. There is plenty of treble on the FH5s I think Fiio could have done better for at least the treble enhancement. The default non turned on switch is what the on switch should have been and a good 3 dbs lower for the region for the switch off or default. That would have been better, I have no idea how adding more treble on top of the presentation on default would be a good idea but hey like I said that is all a matter of taste. The mids however is excellent even on default. I actually prefer the mids on the FH5s over the FD5. Vocal fullness and range has better presence especially for the lower mids with the switch in the on position. I don't feel it is necessary to add more emphasis to the bass but that option is there. When tested it seems mid bass gets a slight uptick in presence. Treble I didn't touch, my friendly advice here is get yourself a nice copper cable instead.

Unlike the treble transition to the mids. The mids to the bass transition is seamless in fact I have to wonder if the treble BA was actually a necessity here. I get the philosophy and why they implemented a dual BA in the nozzle. No question there is precision, imaging, sparkle and transient benefits to BA treble but the tonal character here is a bit metallic, crisper than your standard treble notes, again more like a tweeter presentation and much faster for the slower thicker mids presentation. Tunes that don't have a lot of splashy crash strikes and or aggressive drum tracks sound fantastic. Sounds like it is supposed to sound like but when you land on that rock tune it will be like you're hearing a different earphone. It is quite noticeable what the full grunt of the treble can do for the FH5s. (Again this is assuming you're using the stock cable.)
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For the most part mids have a smooth euphoric spacious natural tonal character that is similar to the tonal quality of the FD5 but with more forward presence, hence the FD5 has a wider stage. It has lesser mids.

Bass for the FH5s is done very well with a good level of mid to sub bass emphasis. While not as pronounced as the FD5. Beryllium coated dynamics do bass very nicely which is also on exhibit for the FH5s. Bass is fairly even with the lower mid bands so again seems more linear in approach with a deep low extension. Sub bass rumble is very addictive on the FH5s. No doubt it has a good mix of proper slam and sub bass prowess. Agile enough to keep up with faster drum tracks. 200 hours of burn in affects the mids to bass performance to become much greater than what I heard out of the box. Not necessarily more in emphasis but more so that the mids and bass sounds much more fluid if not outright liquid in presentation vs the more rigid sounding FH5s heard on open listen. It also helps a bit with treble not to stand out by itself so much in the process. If I was to give a score on the mids and bass it would be a solid 8 / 10 score, Very good. But then you get to that treble end and you can't help but notice it is highlighted and actually takes away from the mids performance for rock and metal tracks.
Other genres of music fare much better.

Mids presentation is slightly forward with the switch on which is my preferred sound tweak of the FH5s. Tonal and timbre qualities are very good on the mids and bass. Natural and actually has a smoother richer tone with excellent body and reach. Sound stage again is above average in width with a good amount of depth. It has a clear sideways oval type headstage and when treble notes are recorded to accent the tracks Example Tower of Power what is hip
( This is where the FH5s shines. )
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Beryllium bass
I was told by Fiio reps that their FH5s needs a good 200 hours of burn in. Despite what you think about burn in. This should be an accepted part of what the manufacturers want for their earphones to be firing off at a 100%. The difference from open box to after the required 200 hours is most definitely noticeable. The FH5s has a proper Beryllium plated bass end. I have done reviews of other earphones with beryllium plated coatings and I have yet to hear a one note gimply bass end from using this type of driver and in the FH5s, I am happy to report has some fantastic bass. FD5s has more bass in quantity again is more a V shaped signature because of it. The FH5s has a very good quality low end. It is speedy, punchy and full on with any bass enhanced track. 2 Chinz Forgiven

That sub bass rumble is for real on the FH5s folks. After the required run in the bass end becomes more agile, more impactful, digs a bit deeper and will be every bit the beryllium plated dynamic I have heard from much more expensive examples. When have you heard a bass light gimpy bass for any Fiio made earphone that uses dynamics for bass is my question. Bass is for real on these and if you give it the time it deserves you will be rewarded with a very high quality bass from the FH5s.

In conclusion.
I know this review reads more like a diary excerpt than your standard formatted review but the FH5s is so close to being what the marketing says it is and as a reviewer it is all about what was included in the package. I am gonna tell you folks. These need a cable change to sound much more coherent but again this will depend on the type of music you listen to. In providing such a transparent cable that accentuates the one area I feel could have been thought out a bit better. It is too late the cat is as you say, out of the bag. You see reviews with not so much enthusiasm for an earphone with a very nice design and I can understand the negativity but at the same time It does take an extra outside the packaging material in a much less resolving copper cable to correct the issue at hand. ( Assuming you listen to a lot of rock and metal)

You get all the little micro details associated with a present and energetic treble but it is another matter when that treble takes your attention away from vocalists and the heart of your music. What is clear to me is that the treble aspect of the design is not like this for every tune. I would say about 25% of my eclectic mix of music I listen to has the treble that is front before the vocalist, before the guitars, before the drums. Which is about the amount of Rock and metal music I listen to as well. Dig out your best copper cables and you will eventually hear what I mean. FH5s believe it or not is very versatile even more so than their FD5. But if you're like me and like to optimize each earphone to sound their best. Get yourself a nice copper cable to go along with the FH5s. The design speaks for itself bold in looks, bold in style with a much better sound than you would imagine. As long as you're willing to do a bit of extras that I feel are required. As always thanks for taking the time to read this longer rant/review. Happy listening.
And for the record I would put my rating at a .5% greater than my 4 star review that is with a good copper cable. What cable am I using you ask?

Cable match up. WARNING if you're not a cable believer you haven't made it this far into my review anyhow.
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PAC480, I posted about this cable on the threads and reason why I like this match up is because it is mostly copper so your FH5s will have a slightly warmer smoother effect with this cable but also since the cores have 1/4th of it in SPC or has silver plating it retains imaging and detail better. Slightly better sound expansion, a more musical influence on the FH5s sound which matches up better with the ample treble emphasis that sounds way more cohesive. These cables are affordable and make the FH5s sound even better than their stock cable for all genres of music, not just better with rock and metal. One of the best bang for your money cables on the market today. It mates well with just about anything it is attached to but on the FH5s, this cable does an awesome job to smooth out rough edges for treble while maintaining great imaging and details the designers of the earphones intended. My pick for the cables to get if you want a true upgrade to the FH5s sound.
Last edited:
Leonne
Leonne
where did you read that fiio recommend over 200 hours to burn in? im ordering one right now btw
Dsnuts
Dsnuts
You can PM them. They will tell you. Beryllium plated dynamics both for the bass and the mids absolutely require burn in.. If you listen to them out of the box it will disappoint. Let them play music for about a week n half and then listen to the same tracks your gonna be surprised.
Leonne
Leonne
@Dsnuts my fh5s just arrived today and it sounds good out of the box ngl, i wonder if they have QC problem and people hear different thing , if the sound going to change i hope it wont turn to worse in the future. tonal switch is useless to me, mid tonal boost promote bass too much for my liking while treble tuning switch make the sounds too brittle(?) and weird for me, even i prefer FH1s airy treble compared to FH5s (with treble boost) it sounds airy but kinda forced.

i have a bunch of cables but im still in my honeymoon period that i dont want want to switch cable (yet). I recommend you try ortofon eartips because the nozzle is big and long, the most comfortable eartips so far for this iem.
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RikudouGoku

Headphoneus Supremus
Third time's NOT the charm
Pros: Soundstage width
Treble airiness
Quite clean (fast/tight) bass
Female vocals
No pressure build-up
Cons: Jack of all trades, master of none
Incoherency, BA timbre present
Bass texture
Fatiguing treble during longer sessions
Isolation
Awkward fit
Cable, pretty high resistance and non-working chin-slider
Value
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Disclaimer: I received this review unit from Fiio. Thank you very much

Price: 260 usd

Specifications:

Frequency Response: 10Hz - 40kHz

Impedance: 40Ω(@1kHz)

Sensitivity: 106dB/mW

Drivers: 12mm beryllium-plated diaphragm/PU gasket + 6mm Beryllium-plated + Knowles TWFK-30017 compound BA

Max Power Input: 100mW

Weight: Approx. 8.8g (single ear unit)

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Accessories:

S/M/L foam tips

S/M/L bass silicone tips

S/M/L vocal silicone tips

S/M/L balanced silicone tips

M double flange silicone tips

Cleaning tool

Modular cable (2.5/4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm SE)

Pleather carry case

MMCX Assist tool



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Cable: The cable with the 3.5/4.4mm adapters have a resistance of 0.53 ohms while the 2.5mm adapter has a resistance of 0.57 ohms. Non-working chin-slider and plastic at the mmcx connectors while the divider and 2.5/3.5/4.4mm connectors are metal. Not a really good cable besides the aesthetics…


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Build: Made out of aluminum-magnesium alloy and the nozzle is also out of metal with a lip and metal dust filters. Looks very similar to the FH3 but is a bit different in its shape and is bigger as well. It has a lot of vents on the faceplate and is semi-open because of that, helps a lot with pressure alleviation. The text on the switches however is quite small, small enough that its impossible to see without the use of a flashlight.

Fit: Not a very good fit, it works but does tend to need readjustments from time to time. Size might be a little bit too big if you got very small ears but no problems for me.

Comfort: No problems with comfort during longer sessions because of the vents helping with pressure alleviation.

Isolation: below average due to the semi-open back design. Not recommended if you need isolation.



Switches: As is the case with pretty much all iems with switches, they are just a gimmick. They really don’t affect the sound much at all and is more of a way to fine-tune the sound more towards your personal preferences.

Setup: Ibasso DX160 (low-gain, volume around 33), Elecom EHP-CAP20 L tips, stock cable 4.4mm, stock switch config

Lows:
Elevated bass so it’s not neutral but it isn’t enough to make it fun (for me) either. Slightly sub-bass focused over mid-bass and it is overall on the tighter and faster side. It is lacking some texture when compared to others in this price range though. Nothing really special here but it doesn’t offend me by having muddy bass at least.

Mid-bass: Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), tight, fast and average texture, but lacking quantity. The (02:55-03:01) section with the chopper isn’t very clear.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), good texture and is fast and tight so it is clean but lacking quantity to make it fun.

Sub-bass: Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extension is below average and also doesn’t rumble a lot. Punch quantity is also a bit low but is tight and fast so it’s clean. Texture is below average.

Will Sparks – Sick like that (03:08-03:22), Average texture, speed and tightness. Quantity is elevated, but needs more to make it more fun.

Mids: Not forward nor recessed vocals but leaning a bit more towards female vocals in terms of both quantity and quality. Tonality with the female vocals is very good but can be slightly shouty sometimes. Male vocals however, usually lacks some warmth and is a bit behind the female vocals. They are both quite clean and detailed though. There is some slight BA timbre in the vocals, likely due to the treble (BA timbre in the treble) affecting my perception of the mids.

Female-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Very good tonality with the vocals and instruments, not too forward nor recessed either. Details and clarity are pretty good as well but naturality isn’t that good since it has some BA timbre and coherency isn’t that very good.

Yuki Hayashi – MightU (01:58-02:55), Tonality with vocals and instruments are pretty good but the vocals do need to be more forward and slightly brighter. Some BA timbre here as well.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), shouty and fatiguing.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Crescent (02:07-02:26), sharp and very fatiguing.

Male-vocals: Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (00:57-01:17), Lacking warmth and thickness with the instruments but vocals are pretty good.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), Lacking warmth and thickness for both vocals and instruments. Not very natural due to both the tonality being wrong and because of the BA timbre (with the instruments).

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), electric guitars aren’t sharp but it is fatiguing.

Deuce – America (03:03-03:16), very fatiguing and lacking warmth due to low bass quantity.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality lacks warmth and texture, but details, clarity and timbre are average. Violin tonality lacks brightness and has BA timbre. Texture, details and clarity are average.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), tonality lacks warmth but has average details and clarity.

Soundstage: Quite wide and is also very airy but not very deep.

Tonality: Slight U-shape with more treble than bass and also leaning towards brightness and with slightly thinner note weight than average (not thin enough to be called analytical though).

Details: Macro details are pretty good due to it not having a lot of bass and also elevated treble (fake details). Micro details are below average though.

Instrument Separation: Both the separation and imaging are pretty average but is mostly helped by the tuning.

Songs that highlight the IEM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8JN3gFWm3c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pVj82EEglU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mSskFS0vn4

Good genres: “
Jack of all trades, master of none” but works better with electronic music than

Bad genres: acoustic music.





Comparisons:

IEM: Fiio FH3, Final Audio Type E LL tips, Cable A3 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), Extends a lot deeper and rumbles more as well on the FH3. Punch quantity is a lot higher with a bit better texture as well on the FH3. But the FH5S has a tighter and faster bass.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), faster and tighter on the FH5S but a lot more quantity on the FH3 so it makes the FH5S sound dull in comparison.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), cleaner due to it being faster and tighter on the FH5S. But is more fatiguing with the treble as well.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), more forward vocals on the FH3 but similar tonality. Instrument tonality is also similar but timbre is better on the FH5S as well as detail and clarity.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), more relaxing and a lot less fatiguing on the FH3.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), Tonality with both vocals and instruments are a lot better on the FH3, lack warmth and thickness on the FH5S. Although timbre is better on the FH5S.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), more relaxing on the FH3 but more natural timbre on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality and texture are better on the FH3 but more detailed and cleaner on the FH5S with similar timbre. Violin tonality, timbre, details and clarity are better on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), tonality is slightly better on the FH3 but timbre has a lot more BA timbre so overall naturality is better on the FH5S.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), Soundstage is a lot bigger on the FH5S both in width and depth (mostly in width though). Details, instrument separation and imaging are also better on the FH5S along with more natural timbre.

Overall: The FH3 has a better tuning IMO, but the FH5S has better timbre and technicalities. If you want a more “audiophile” tuning, then the FH5S is certainly better than the FH3 but the FH3 Is a lot better in terms of value.



IEM: Sony XBA-N3, Final Audio Type E LL tips, Cable A6 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extends a lot lower and rumbles a ton more on the N3. N3 has a ton more punch quantity as well. FH5S has a bit faster and tighter bass but is more textured on the N3.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), a lot more quantity and is more textured on the N3, but cleaner on the FH5S due to it being faster and tighter.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), cleaner due to faster and tighter bass on the FH5S.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Instrument tonality and timbre are a lot better on the N3. Vocal timbre is also better on the N3 but tonality is a bit better on the FH5S due to it being brighter. More detailed and better clarity on the FH5S.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), a lot more relaxing and non-fatiguing on the N3.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), Vocals and instrument tonality and timbre are a lot better on the N3 as well as masterfully coherent.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), a lot more relaxing and non-fatiguing on the N3.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre and texture are a lot better on the N3 similar details though but better clarity on the FH5S due to its tuning. Violin timbre is better on the N3 but tonality, texture, details and clarity are better on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), tonality and timbre are a lot better on the N3. But better details and clarity due to the tuning on the FH5S.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), Soundstage is wider and deeper on the N3. Timbre and coherency are a lot better on the N3. But details, instrument separation and imaging are better on the FH5S due to its tuning helping it a lot more in those factors while the N3´s tuning is a bottleneck for them.

Overall: Very different tuning on them, if you want a bassy and relaxing iem the N3 is a lot better. But if you want a brighter and more neutral tuning the FH5S is better.



IEM: KZ DQ6, Elecom EHP-CAP20, cable A6 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), lower extension and a bit more rumble on the DQ6. Punch quantity is higher on it as well, with similar speed but a bit tighter and a bit more texture on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), similar speed, tightness and texture but more quantity on the DQ6 and it is more fun and tonally correct.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), a bit cleaner on the FH5S due to it having lower bass quantity.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), similar vocal tonality and quantity but better timbre on the DQ6. Instrument tonality and timbre are better on the DQ6. More detailed and cleaner on the FH5S.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), peakier on the DQ6 while it is more fatiguing (brighter) on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better tonality and timbre on the DQ6.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), similarly fatiguing but a bit sharper electric guitar on the DQ6.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality and texture are better on the DQ6, similar timbre but a bit more detailed and cleaner on the FH5S. Violin timbre is better on the DQ6 with similar tonality, details and treble extension.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), tonality and timbre are better on the DQ6 while it is cleaner on the FH5S.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), soundstage is wider on the FH5S but deeper on the DQ6 and makes it sound more holographic. Details, instrument separation and imaging are better on the FH5S while timbre and coherency are better on the DQ6.

Overall: DQ6 has better tonality (for my library) and also better timbre and coherency. Technicalities are better on the FH5S though. I recommend the DQ6 over the FH5S unless you prioritize technicalities over anything else.



IEM: Tanchjim Oxygen, Final Audio Type E LL tips, Cable A6 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), similar extension and rumble. Punch quantity is slightly higher on the FH5S but tighter and faster on the Oxygen while texture is similar.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), similar quantity but tighter, faster and more textured on the Oxygen.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), Cleaner on the Oxygen due to it being faster and tighter. Similar texture and quantity. More fatiguing on the FH5S due to the treble being peakier.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), similar instrument tonality but better timbre on the Oxygen. Vocal tonality and timbre are a lot better on the Oxygen as well as more forward. Details and clarity are better on the Oxygen.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), both are fatiguing, but peakier on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), similar tonality (both lacking warmth) but better timbre and more detailed on the Oxygen.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), sharper and a bit more fatiguing on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello timbre, timbre, texture and details are better on the Oxygen but similar tonality. Violin timbre, texture, treble-extension and details are better on the Oxygen and also slightly better tonality.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), similar tonality but better timbre and details on the Oxygen.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), wider soundstage on the Oxygen and also a bit deeper and is more holographic. Timbre, details, instrument separation and imaging are all better on the Oxygen as well.

Overall: After this fight, the FH5S is running out of “oxygen” …. well, jokes aside, the Oxygen is pretty much beating the FH5S on all aspects and tonality is overall quite similar.



IEM: Fiio FD5, Elecom EHP-CAP20 L tips, stock cable 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), a lot lower extension and more rumble on the FD5. Punch quantity is a lot higher on the FD5 but is also tighter, faster and more textured. Tonality is a lot better on the FD5.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), quantity is higher on the FD5 and is also tighter, faster and more textured on it.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), cleaner and more fun on the FD5 because of it having more quantity and yet faster, tighter and more textured at the same time. Also, less fatiguing with the treble (and because of the added bass quantity) than the FH5S.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), Instrument tonality and timbre are better on the FD5. Vocal tonality is similar but better timbre on the FD5 with a bit more forward vocal on the FH5S.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), less fatiguing and better tonality on the FD5.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better vocal/instrument tonality and timbre on the FD5.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), sharper electric guitars on the FH5S.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), cello tonality, timbre, texture and details are better on the FD5. Violin tonality is a bit better on the FH5S but better timbre, texture, details and treble extension on the FD5.

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), better timbre, tonality and details on the FD5.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), Soundstage is wider and deeper on the FD5 and is a lot more holographic. Timbre, details, instrument separation and imaging are better on the FD5 as well.

Overall: The FD5 is superior in pretty much all aspects, I recommend the FD5 over the FH5S.



IEM: LZ A7 (pop-red), Final Audio Type E LL tips, Cable A3 4.4mm

Bass:
Djuro – Drop that bass (01:15-01:30), extends a lot lower and rumbles more on the A7. Punch quantity is a lot higher on the A7, similar speed and tightness though but more textured on the A7.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Pretenders (01:18-01:47), similar speed and tightness, but more quantity and textured on the A7.

Metallica – fight fire with fire (01:11-01:52), a bit cleaner on the FH5S because of the lower quantity. But more textured on the A7 while speed and tightness are similar. Although the treble is more fatiguing on the FH5S.

Mids: Hiroyuki Sawano – OldToday (01:25-01:52), instrument tonality and timbre are better on the A7. Vocal timbre is also better on the A7 but better tonality on the FH5S. More detailed on the A7 but better clarity (because of it having more treble and less bass) on the FH5S.

Evanescence – Bring me to life (01:18-01:35), a lot less fatiguing and better tonality on the A7.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Scapegoat (00:57-01:17), better tonality, timbre and coherency with the A7.

Treble: Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day (03:24-03:42), sharper electric guitars on the FH5S and worse timbre as well.

Hiroyuki Sawano – Lose (string version) (01:22-01:59), Cello tonality, timbre, texture and details are better on the A7. Violin tonality is better on the FH5S but more textured, better treble-extension and details on the A7. Timbre is unnatural on both, with piezo timbre on the A7 and with BA timbre on the FH5S (I personally dislike BA timbre more than piezo timbre, but both are unnatural anyway).

Hiroyuki Sawano &Z (02:18-02:57), better tonality, timbre and coherency on the A7 as well as more detailed.

Technicalities: Shiro Sagisu – Hundred years war (02:24-02:57), soundstage is a bit wider on the FH5S but deeper and is holographic on the A7. Instrument separation, imaging and micro-details are better on the A7. But macro-details are similar because of the brigher tonality the FH5S has. Timbre and coherency are better on the A7.

Overall: The A7 is superior in pretty much all aspects, I recommend the FD5 over the FH5S. The A7 is also a lot more versatile due to the tuning filters it has.





Conclusion: If this was released like 2 years ago, it might have been a great iem. But with the current iems in the market, it is simply not able to compete against them. It is too much of a “jack of all trades, master of none” without anything special that makes it stand out in the market. Unfortunate, I can’t recommend this iem. Thanks for reading.

Graph:
FH5S 000.png
FH5S 001.png

FH5S 010.png

FH5S 011.png

FH5S 100.png

FH5S 101.png

FH5S 110.png

FH5S 111.png

FH5S ALL CONFIGS.png


Cable source:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...zTm4ei7HEfP8AI1zxswrMw2ho/edit#gid=1801072063

Reference/test songs:
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RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@senorx12562 A wise choice lol, the DK3001 pro seems to be another great iem. Although perhaps the MSRP price is a bit too much now (especially since the EST112 is around that price).
A
alamnp
thanks for the review, awesome... I hate Jack of all Trades. I like king of something better.
Have LZ A7, but not the most liked IEM that I used due to Jack of all Trades label and performance.
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@alamnp the a7 is outclassing the FH5S, so no need to get it anyway...
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