BROOKO'S REVIEW & DISCUSSION - FIIO F9 IEM
Sep 3, 2017 at 5:36 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 70
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"FiiO F9 – High Value, Low Cost"
Pros - Sound quality, build quality, balance, fit, comfort, value.
Cons – 7 kHz peak is overdone
Rating - 5 star

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Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click to view larger images.

INTRODUCTION
FiiO has been on a bit of a roll lately – introducing new product lines, and updating old ones. They also branched out into earphones and ear-buds – starting with the F1, EX1, and more recently the F3 and F5. They've proven to be very good – especially at the more budget end of the scale. I remember suggesting to FiiO a while ago that I'd love to see what they could do if they were to put their mind to a truly ergonomic IEM – similar to other offerings from Shure or Westone. They must have been of a similar mind-set, because we now have newly released their F9 – a triple driver hybrid at an unbelievable USD 99.

So lets take it for a little spin, and see what they've come up with


ABOUT FIIO

By now, most Head-Fi members should know about the FiiO Electronics Company. If you don’t, here’s a very short summary.

FiiO was first founded in 2007. Their first offerings were some extremely low cost portable amplifiers – which were sometimes critiqued by some seasoned Head-Fiers as being low budget “toys”. But FiiO has spent a lot of time with the community here, and continued to listen to their potential buyers, adopt our ideas, and grow their product range. They debuted their first DAP (the X3) in 2013, and despite some early hiccups with developing the UI, have worked with their customer base to continually develop the firmware for a better user experience. The X3 was followed by the X5, X1, X7 and most of these DAPs are now into their 2nd or even 3rd generations.

They've also developed new cables, desktop and portable amplifiers, DACs, ear-buds and earphones. FiiO’s products have followed a very simple formula since 2007 – affordable, stylish, well built, functional, measuring well, and most importantly sounding good.


DISCLAIMER

The FiiO F9 IEM that I’m reviewing today was provided to me gratis as a review sample. Although I have made it clear to FiiO on many occasions that I still regard any product they send me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request, they have told me that the product is mine to do with as I see fit. So I thank them for the ability to continue use of the FiiO F9 for follow up comparisons. I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also FiiO themselves.

I have now had the FiiO F9 IEM for around 4 weeks. The retail price at time of review is ~ USD 99.

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and it has mainly been with my own personally owned IEMs - the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not overly treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.


I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.

For the purposes of this review - I used the FiiO F9 straight from the headphone-out socket of many of my portables, but predominantly the X5iii, X3iii and my iPhone. I did not generally further amp them (I did test them with my E17K and A5), as IMO they do not benefit greatly from additional amplification (YMMV and it may depend on your source). In the time I have spent with the FiiO F9, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in). Time spent now with the F9 would be approximately 25-30 hours.

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.

One last thing – I've notice of late my reviews have been getting too long, so this is my attempt at abbreviating them a little. Feedback is welcome


THE REVIEW

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The FiiO F9 arrived in their usual approximately” 110mm x 165mm x 53mm retail box with a picture of the F6 on the front cover and specifications and package contents on the rear. The retail box is black with the occasional red highlight, and white easy to read text. Inside the retail outer is a black box and lid – simply adorned with the FiiO logo.

Inside you get a black glossy Pelican case and a cardboard mini box containing the cables. Inside the Pelican case is a foam cut-out with the FiiO F9 safely nestled in the provided grooves. There is also two cardboard plates which house the included tips. The tip selection includes 6 sets of silicone single flange tips. There is also a warranty card and manual.

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Retail boxFull accessory packageF9, cables and carry case
The tips come as “Bass” or “EQ” options – and the “bass” ones actually seal a little bit better for me (hence the bass designation I guess). The “EQ” once don't seal for me personally so not my ideal combo.

The storage case is very similar to the Dunu Pelican type cases, has internal measurements of ~ 98mm x 58mm and approx 34mm deep. It is rigid with felt like internal padding and provides pretty good protection as well as storage. Because of it's size, its more suited to jacket pocket than pants pocket use. FiiO includes two replaceable cables (MMCX) – a 3.5mm standard stereo option (with on-cable controls) and a 2.5mm balanced option.

All in all, the accessory package is very good at this price point – especially having the two cable options.



TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
(From FiiO's packaging / website)
ModelFiiO F9
Approx price$99 USD
TypeTriple Driver Hybrid
Driver DD1 x 9.2mm Titanium DD
Drivers BA1 x dual BA unit
Freq Range15Hz – 40kHz
Impedance28Ω
Sensitivity106 dB /mW
Cable1.2m, replaceable (MMCX) x 2
Jack3.5mm gold plated straight
Weight21g with default cable
Casing materialAnodised CNC aluminium alloy

FREQUENCY GRAPH

The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.

I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I always use crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm.

The graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.


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My quick sonic impression of the FiiO F9 – written well before I measured:
  • Bass is very linear but also has good extension, with a small mid-bass hump. There is audible sub bass rumble but it is in balance with the rest of the signature and does not overpower.
  • Lower mid-range is also reasonably linear, with a light recession. Both male and female vocals are well represented and sound quite natural. Upper mid-range is emphasised, and reaches a peak in the presence area. Female vocals have a a very good sense of euphony, and there is good cohesion and transition from lower to upper mid-range.
  • Lower treble extension is good but there is a strong peak around 7 kHz. Detail is extremely good but there is some definite heat at 7 kHz.
  • Overall a nicely well balanced earphone with good extension both ends, and just one troubling peak in the lower treble.
  • Channel matching is extremely good on the pair I have.

BUILD

The FiiO F9 is beautifully built and seeing what FiiO can do for sub $100 really does make me question how so many other companies struggle to get ergonomic design right. The main body is CNC'd, sand blasted and then anodized for a really nice metallic finish. There is a design on the outer shells, but even that is devoid of hard edges. The entire shell is beautifully rounded and sized to perfection

The F9 measures approx 21mm across with a total height (including cable exit) of 17mm, and depth of 12mm.The nozzle is angled forward and extends approx 6mm from the main body (so relatively shallow fitting). It is 5mm in diameter with a generous lip and mesh protective cover.

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External viewFront viewInternal view
On the internal face of each unit are two ventilation ports and an engraved L or R designator. The cable exit uses an MMCX connector and this is situated on top of the main body, and naturally forward. FiiO have taken the critique of their F5 on board and this time the connectors are tight – although they still do not sit entirely flush with the body.

The F9 comes with two included cables – a standard 3.5mm stereo which has in-line mic, volume and playback controls, and also 2.5mm balanced cable option. Both cables have a hard rubber / moulded plastic housing for the MMCX connector which then joins to preformed flexible ear-hooks which are extremely comfortable and keep the IEM in place brilliantly (I love this design). On the housing is either L or R markings, but the black on black is quite difficult to see. The left cable does have a raised bump though which makes things slightly easier.

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Rear viewNozzle lipConnectors
The SE cable has a control unit on the right side which hangs just about equal with my jaw if worn cable down (so ideal height for the mic). The on-cable controls are designed to work with Android devices and do so brilliantly with FiiO's X1ii, X3iii, X5iii and X711 devices, allowing play/pause (one push), next track (two pushes), and previous track (three pushes). The volume control rocker also works. The microphone is crystal clear for calls (with my iPhone SE), as is the audio. I also tried the F9 with my wife's Galaxy, and everything worked as it should.

Below this (about mid-chest) is a small tubular y-split with good relief below the split, but no relief above it. Y splits tend to be a little more forgiving in terms of wear, so no real issues with this. The jack is gold plated, 4 pole (for the in-line controls) and nice and skinny for use with smart-phone cases. It is also well relieved. The balanced cable is a very soft and pliable twisted pair, and FiiO tells us it is silver plated OFC. There are the same formed ear-loops and this time a 2.5mm balanced jack.

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Control unit3.5mm jack2.5mm balanced jack
Both cables have a very “Dunu like” rubber cable tie intact with the cable – the same as that used on their other IEMs and pretty much all of Dunu's releases now. This is a really simple mechanism that is unobtrusive - but means that whenever it's time to store the IEMs, the cable is always tidily looped. This remains one of the most simple, yet practical, methods of cable ties I have ever seen.


FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

I'll start with the easy one (isolation), and we can then look at fit and comfort. Isolation will be a little dependent on tip selection, and if you get a good seal, it is slightly above average for a hybrid with a dynamic driver. It is pretty good for most situations, but as soon as things start getting too noisy (public or air transport etc), you may find yourself wanting something with a little more isolation. The F9 are designed to be worn cable up. Fit and comfort is exemplary – especially with the formed loops.

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Most tips fit pretty wellAnd the F9 are superbly comfortable
I have one ear canal slightly different to the other one (my right is very slightly smaller) - so I tend to find that usually single silicon flanges don't seal overly well. This is often even more of an issue with shallow fitting IEMs. Because the F9 has a nice nozzle lip, I had no issues fitting any of my tips, and had great success with Ostry’s blue and black tuning tips, Sony Isolation tips, Spin-fits, and also Spiral Dots. I've just ended up using standard large Complys though – for a great combo of seal and comfort. And seems to dull the 7 kHz spike just a little.

The FiiO F9s sit nicely flush with my outer ear, and are extremely comfortable to lie down with. I've slept with them more nights than I can count now, and have had no discomfort on waking. The combo of the in-line controls with a FiiO DAP makes them brilliant for late night.

So how do they sound?


SOUND QUALITY

The following is what I hear from the FiiO F9. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my X7ii, no EQ, and large Comply tips. I used the X7ii simply because paired they not only gave me a very transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power – but also allowed me to use the balanced option. There was no EQ engaged.

For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7ii (paired with AM3a) was around 45-50/120 (on low gain) which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.


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Relativities

  • Sub-bass – good extension, nice audible rumble, balanced with rest of spectrum and doesn't over-power.
  • Mid-bass – very slightly elevated almost like an HD600. Sounds natural and gives good impact without masking the mid-range.
  • Lower mid-range – slightly recessed compared to bass and upper treble, but not enough to make vocals distant. Male and female vocal fundamentals are really good – rich and full.
  • Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a very rise from 1 kHz to the first peak at ~2.5 kHz. Cohesive transition form lower to upper mids, and very good euphony for female vocals.
  • Lower treble has a nice balance throughout, but a strong peak at 7 kHz (very similar to HiFiMan's new RE800). There is great detail, but also some heat which can make it fatiguing.
  • Upper treble rolls off like most headphones from about 14 kHz onward – but enough extension to provide “air”.
Resolution / Detail / Clarity
  • Clarity overall is really good. Upper mids and lower treble have enough emphasis to give guitars bite and definition. Micro details are very evident.
  • Cymbal hits have a lot of clarity and presence but because of the 7 kHZ peak, they are also over emphasised and a touch hot or harsh. Cymbal decay sounds overdone.
Sound-stage, Imaging
  • Directional queues are good without being over emphasised. Presentation of stage is mostly just on the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks, but the violin in Tundra does sit outside (nice portrayal of width).
  • Elliptical sense of sound-staging – with slightly more lateral L/R leaning rather than depth.
  • With the applause section of “Dante's Prayer”, the FiiO F9 shows a good sense of immersion (the sound of the audience flowing around me), but there is more width than depth. “Let it Rain” is usually my next track to listen to and it gave a nice 3 dimensional feel (the way it is miked). Guitar is crisp and clear. There was a lot of sibilance with Amanda's vocals – and it should be there because its in the recording – but the F9's peak at 7 kHz is embellishing it for me.
Strengths
  • Overall clarity and balance of the signature.
  • Reasonable sense of stage and imaging
  • Good cohesion with lower and upper register vocals
  • Great for both female and male vocals and with enough bass warmth to stop things being too dry or sterile.
Weaknesses
  • Lower treble spike is just too prominent. It is the only issue with an otherwise excellent close to reference signature.
AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The FiiO F9 doesn’t need amplification for overall volume – and because its impedance isn't overly low, any source with an output impedance of less than 3 ohms should pair OK.

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With my iPhone SE around 35-45% volume is more than enough with most tracks, and the FiiOs are generally at around 45-50/120. I tried the F9 with the E17K and A5and none of them seemed to be adding anything to my listening set-up other than some extra bulk. The A5 was really overkill, and I had to be careful to use variable line-out to get a usable volume.

RESPONSE TO EQ?
This is an easy one – drop the 7 kHz spike, and you get a far better overall signature. With the X7ii, this was simply a matter of dropping the 8 kHz slider by -6dB and upping the volume a bit. This took the heat out of the overall signature and brought a lot of realism to the modified signature. I'd go as far as saying that with this EQ applied, the F9 could easily sit with monitors in the 250-300 range.

BALANCED VS SINGLE ENDED
I measured these, and there was no difference with the X7ii's AM3a amplifier module apart from volume. Even the slight change in impedance wasn't enough to change the overall frequency response. I'm not a great believer in the adage that balanced makes a huge difference. Yes, if the implementation is vastly different you can sometimes notice a difference, but more often than not the changes to cross-talk are already below the audible barrier, and most modern set-ups don't have crosstalk issues anyway. There was no difference perceptible to me once I'd volume matched and the measurements I took bore this out. Its nice to have the option – but sonically I don't hear any benefits.


COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS

These comparisons were all done with the X5iii this time, (no EQ) – and volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first. I could have used a number of different DAPs but I'd been using the X5iii a lot this week (for its review), and simply wanted something not too bright. I wanted to compare against some reasonably well known IEMs in a similar price and signature bracket – so I chose the Meze 12 Classics, Fidue A73 and Dunu Titan 5. And because (IMO) the F9 performs so well for its price bracket, I also put it up against the $200 P1, $250 Alclair Curve and $700 HiFiMan RE800.

FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs Meze 12 Classic (~USD 79)

The Meze 12 Classic has a cartridge style with a wood body. Build, fit and comfort are very good. However, the FiiO F9 has the better overall build materials, quality, and it has the benefit of replaceable cables, and the choice of two. It also has the better on-cable controls. Comfort goes to the F9's more ergonomic shape (although both are good).

Sonically they are similar in their overall balance. The F9 has more low bass extension, and more lower treble impact. I really rate the Meze 12, it is a brilliantly balanced non-fatiguing signature. The two are variations on a similar signature – with the major difference being the lack of lower bass impact, and the F9 having that extra zing in the top end. If I was judging purely on default sound, I'd probably take the Meze. If I take the rest of the package into account, the F9 draws even and probably goes ahead. If I lessen the 7 kHz peak on the F9 (simple EQ), then no contest – the F9 is the much better deal in my eyes.


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FiiO F9 vs Meze 12 and Fidue A73Frequency comparison
FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs Fidue A73 (~USD 120-130)
Build materials are in favour of the FiiO F9 with it's alloy body vs the formed plastic of the A73. Ergonomics and fairly fit are evenly matched – both are comfortable to wear. The smooth lipless nozzle on the Fidue means you may be slightly limited on tip options. The FiiO F9 slips ahead on cable options (including the fact that its replaceable and has better controls).

Sonically the two are again quite similar with main differences being the warmer bass signature of the A73, and the position of their respective lower treble peaks (F9 at 7 kHz and A73 at 9 kHz). The two actually sound really similar with most tracks – but on default signature I'd take the sightly leaner F9. Under EQ (dropping the 8 kHz slider) is interesting. Both IEMs improve IMO, but again the leaner signature of the F9 is my preferred option. Taking the cheaper price, better build and cable options – this one again is firmly in favour of the F9 for me.


FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs Dunu Titan 5 (~USD 130-140)

I've talked about the relationship between Dunu and FiiO before – we've seen it in the similarities of the FiiO EX1 to the Dunu Titan 1, and also in FiiO's use of very similar cables and also the brilliant Dunu on-cable ties. So why did I choose to compare the F9 to the T5 – simply because the F9 is so close sonically with the main difference being the positioning of the lower treble peaks.

Both have very good build quality and build materials. Both are extremely comfortable. Both have replaceable cables (although the FiiOs are standard cables where the T5 are more proprietary – longer stem on the MMCX).

Sonically the T5 is a little warmer in the bass, and a little more prominent in the mid-range. They both have a heightened upper mid-range which makes female vocals brilliant. Both also have lower treble peaks which some may find troubling (T5s is at 6 kHz). Interestingly enough the lowering of the 8 kHz slider (EQ) again helps both IEMs. Hard to call a winner based on sound – especially after EQ. But in terms of overall package (especially with price taken into account), again the F9 takes it.


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FiiO F9 vs Mee P1 and Dunu T5Frequency comparison
FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs MEE Pinnacle P1 (~USD 199)

So what happens when you pit the F9 against arguably one of the best IEMs (MEE P1) in the sub $200 range? Both earphones have exceptional build quality, ergonomics, and comfort. The both have replaceable cables – the F9 having balanced vs the MEE P1's HQ SPC cable. The MEE P1 is definitely harder to drive. So far – the two match nicely.

Sonically the MEE P1 has a warmer slightly more V shaped sound, and doesn't have the lower treble peaks. Both convey detail well, but with the MEE P1 you get more warmth and also less etch. With the F9, you get a leaner more linear bass and a signature that sounds slightly cooler overall, plus having that spike around the cymbal area. On default sig – I'm MEE P1 all the way – it just has more balance in the upper registers. But EQ the spike out of the F9 and take into account the price, and you do have an IEM at half the price which can go toe to toe.


FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs Alclair Curve (~USD 249)

I know this is getting a little out of the F9's depth, but what happens when I put it against one of my favourites in the sub $250 bracket? The Alclair Curve is the most ergonomic IEM I own (and yes this one I do own). Both IEMs have fantastic build quality – with the F9's shell being alloy vs the plastic/acrylic shell of the Curve. Both have replaceable cables. Both have exceptional comfort. The F9 of course has the balanced cable option – the Curve isolates much better.

Sonically these two have very similar signatures. Linear well extended bass, overall balanced signature, a bump in the mid-range, peaks at 7 kHz. The main difference is that the Curve has better overall balance, where the F9 is a little more coloured (especially in the upper mids and lower treble). Again dropping the 7 kHz peak makes the F9 a much better IEM, and it is not embarrassed in this company. For me – I'd still pay the extra and take the Curve. But the F9 shows incredible value for money – and that’s why I chose this particular comparison.


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FiiO F9 vs Alclair Curve and HiFiMan RE800Frequency comparison
FiiO F9 (~USD 99) vs HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699)

Some of you will look at this and ask me why I chose this comparison. If you take a look at the graph, you'll see why.

Both have very good build, fit and comfort. The F9 has replaceable cables and a choice of SE and balanced. The RE800's cables are fixed, but the revised edition will have replaceable cables.

The similarity in signatures is unmistakeable and both are very close to reference signatures with one glaring fault. Yes you guessed it – the 7 kHz peak. Again with EQ nulling this peak down, both are simply incredible sounding monitors. But here's the kicker. The FiiO F9 is 1/7th the price of the RE800. You could buy the F9, an X5iii, a 128 Gb card, and still have more than $100 to spend on music of your choice.

And that is the real beauty of the F9 – its value proposition.


VALUE

By now you'll already know where I see the strengths of the F9 and one glaring strength is in perceived value. With the F9 its simply off the charts. This is an IEM which can comfortably go toe to toe with IEMs at multiple times its price. I would go so far as to declare the F9 as one of those IEMs which may well set a new bench-mark in the quality/price ratio.

If these were on the market when I was originally looking to buy a higher end pair of IEMs (I eventually started with the Shure SE425 and later the SE535), I doubt I would have spent the money I did. The only thing FiiO need to do with these is take that 7 kHz peak down a little (5-6 dB). Do that and the F9 is a solid gold winner.


FiiO F9 – SUMMARY

FiiO has really pulled out some surprises with their IEM releases this year. But the F9 is a warning shot across the bows of a lot of IEM makers. It is a serious contender at a very low price (almost entry point for some).

It combines good build and design, great ergonomics, and well thought out accessories, with an exceptionally mature and balanced signature. Its one downfall (IMHO) is that in reaching for additional detail, they simply made the error of overemphasising a narrow band at 7 kHz. It is easily EQ'd out, but it really shouldn't be there in the first place.

How do you rank these. They aren't perfect – but they've come so close when you take the price point into account. From my perspective (and weighted for value), the F9 are a 4.75/5, so I'm rounding up. As close as you can get to perfect on this budget. These won't be going in the review sample box – I'll still be using them regularly. And that should say all you need to know. Recommended without hesitation.


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Last edited:
Sep 3, 2017 at 6:55 AM Post #2 of 70

Ahmad313

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Very nice and detailed review ,
Can you please give some comparison of F9 and A4(black + blue combo) specially i want to know about presentation on F9 vs A4.
and you often use F5 in the review instead of F9
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 7:08 AM Post #3 of 70
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Thanks for the F5 notification - they are just typos - I'll fix them now. I'll see what I can dig up on the LZ-A4 in your combo
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 7:32 AM Post #4 of 70
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OK - using the FiiO X7ii single ended. Both IEM's volume matched, no EQ. Volume sitting nicely around 70dB (my ideal listening level).

Bass is about the same. LZ-A4 is brighter in the mid-range, quite nasal and grating (I don't like this filter combo at all - it is very unnatural with far too much upper mid-range presence). With the F9 male vocals sound quite balanced, female vocals have a bit more presence, but its not overly emphasised. The F9 is too hot with cymbals though - a bit peaky in that area.

The KZ-A4 (black/blue) is just really bright and mid-forward. Male vocals are too lean and guitar has too much emphasis. Cymbals aren't as pronounced as the F9 - but its the only frequency that isn't.

I'm sorry - but if you're looking to replicate the A4 with blue/black, the F9 won't do it. I'd suggest looking into some of Trinity Audio's later IEMs. Bob used to put a lot of upper mid-range emphasis into some of his IEMs (Hunter maybe?). Talk to @Jackpot77 - he has more experience with their later models. Here's the graphs - it might help you with what is happening. Just my own personal opinion, but that upper mid-range with the black-blue combo is 5-6 dB over what I would call balanced or natural.

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Sep 3, 2017 at 7:57 AM Post #5 of 70

Ahmad313

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OK - using the FiiO X7ii single ended. Both IEM's volume matched, no EQ. Volume sitting nicely around 70dB (my ideal listening level).

Bass is about the same. LZ-A4 is brighter in the mid-range, quite nasal and grating (I don't like this filter combo at all - it is very unnatural with far too much upper mid-range presence). With the F9 male vocals sound quite balanced, female vocals have a bit more presence, but its not overly emphasised. The F9 is too hot with cymbals though - a bit peaky in that area.

The KZ-A4 (black/blue) is just really bright and mid-forward. Male vocals are too lean and guitar has too much emphasis. Cymbals aren't as pronounced as the F9 - but its the only frequency that isn't.

I'm sorry - but if you're looking to replicate the A4 with blue/black, the F9 won't do it. I'd suggest looking into some of Trinity Audio's later IEMs. Bob used to put a lot of upper mid-range emphasis into some of his IEMs (Hunter maybe?). Talk to @Jackpot77 - he has more experience with their later models. Here's the graphs - it might help you with what is happening. Just my own personal opinion, but that upper mid-range with the black-blue combo is 5-6 dB over what I would call balanced or natural.

Thank you very much friend and i heartily appreciate you take a time and reply/guide me in that details ,
as for Hunters, i had already cancelled my order after a long time waiting for 10 months and get rewarded for two extra months frustration in receiving my funds, i purchase some Kombi tips which they promised to deliver to me within 10 days and finally i received them after 2 months with to much communication/emailing with Jake so no more Trinity products from me,
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 8:10 AM Post #6 of 70

griff06

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Great review Brooko. How would you rate these against something like the 1more Triple or Quad drivers? Or even the the LZ A5 if you have tried them?

Also, you refer to the IEMs quite regularly as 'F5' - Fruedian typo?

Many thanks for your refreshing honest reviews
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 8:14 AM Post #8 of 70

griff06

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Great review Brooko. How would you rate these against something like the 1more Triple or Quad drivers? Or even the the LZ A5 if you have tried them?

Also, you refer to the IEMs quite regularly as 'F5' - Fruedian typo?

Many thanks for your refreshing honest reviews
Ah i see the F5 thing was allready mentioned, sorry for re-mentioning it!!
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 8:22 AM Post #9 of 70
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Great review Brooko. How would you rate these against something like the 1more Triple or Quad drivers? Or even the the LZ A5 if you have tried them?

Also, you refer to the IEMs quite regularly as 'F5' - Fruedian typo?

Many thanks for your refreshing honest reviews


I haven't heard the 1more Quads or LZ-A5 (only the A4). I didn't realise there was an A5 TBH. Anything else you have which I can compare to - just let me know.
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 8:23 AM Post #10 of 70
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Nice review, Paul!

Seems like you like F9 quite a bit!~

I really rate them George. It's not often you get an IEM with so many good things and just the one flaw. I really think the F9 might shake things up not only in the Sub $100 bracket, but maybe the sub $200 one as well.
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 8:31 AM Post #11 of 70

Dobrescu George

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I really rate them George. It's not often you get an IEM with so many good things and just the one flaw. I really think the F9 might shake things up not only in the Sub $100 bracket, but maybe the sub $200 one as well.

I like how you put the problem though.

That one flaw might not bother so many users, compared to say, if they had more flaws, like fit issues, or bad ergonomics.
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 9:01 AM Post #12 of 70

TheoS53

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I really rate them George. It's not often you get an IEM with so many good things and just the one flaw. I really think the F9 might shake things up not only in the Sub $100 bracket, but maybe the sub $200 one as well.

I like how you put the problem though.

That one flaw might not bother so many users, compared to say, if they had more flaws, like fit issues, or bad ergonomics.

Great job, as always, Paul.

And I agree, the only major flaw I can see with the F9 is that sharp spike. Ok, maaaaaybe there's a very slight issue with QC, as when I first got the F9 the MMCX connections were really tight, one of them was so tight that it required me to use a small flat-head to release the cable. But it has become much better after a few removals, and whilst still secure, is easier to remove now.

Honestly, seeing what Fiio have been doing with their DAPs (can't comment on the X7ii), the F9 really took me by surprise. Maybe it's because the F9 doesn't require software :p
 
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Sep 3, 2017 at 9:16 AM Post #13 of 70

griff06

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I haven't heard the 1more Quads or LZ-A5 (only the A4). I didn't realise there was an A5 TBH. Anything else you have which I can compare to - just let me know.
Sorry i meant A4, i think you might of mentiined this in another post though right? I most certainly will, i have a few other iems which I would love for your opinion on. Ill post when i can remember the full names. Best
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 9:18 AM Post #14 of 70

Griffith

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Please ignore this comment as is possibly 78% confirmation bias but I sure am glad that with each passing day the F9 is confirming itself among the community to be as special as I thought it was to order it sight unseen.
 
Sep 3, 2017 at 9:40 AM Post #15 of 70

griff06

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Ok soo..

RHA T10
HiFiMAN RE600
TFZ Balance 2m.

As a side, are the margins of sonic difference or superiority clearly audible when comparing this price bracket with something like Campfire/64 Audio/Noble etc..?? I do not have the financial means to buy anything over £400 really.

I basically am on the hunt for the best iem i can get for upto and including £250.
I like bass but i like a big soundstage too. I love many a genre of music from Mingus and Mahavishnu to alternative to old rock. I listen too various rates of FLAC and DSD (atm that is only 5 albums!)

Any advice you could give @Brooko would be most welcome.
Thanks again in advance
 

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