FiiO FD3 Dynamic Driver IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO FD3 Dynamic Driver IEM Review

 

 

Introduction:

The FD3 is the latest member of the FD Series (FiiO Dynamic Driver Series) that features a pretty large 12mm Diameter Dynamic Driver with DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) Diaphragm Driver that is equipped with a robust magnet of 1.5 Tesla magnetic flux paired with an ultra-fine copper-clad aluminum Japanese Daikoku voice coil. Moreover, it comes with some interesting features such like an acoustic prism design, changeable sound tuning tubes and a semi acoustic open design.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing the FiiO FD3 as review sample. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and all these words are reflecting my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

 

 

Price & Availability:

FiiO FD3 is available for about US $109.99, while there is also a FD3 Pro variant that comes with the 8 core High Purity Monocrystalline SPC upgrade cable, which is available for $149.99. More information’s can be found under the links below;

 

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The FD3 came in a rectangular fancy looking black box with that features the product illustration in form of an iridescent (shimmering) drawing on the top along with some Hi-Res Audio brandings.

This box is contains the following items;

 

  • 1 pair x FiiO FD3 In-Ear Monitors
  • 1 piece x Detachable cable with MMCX connectors
  • 1 pair x Interchangeable Sound Tubes
  • 3 pairs x Bass Ear tips
  • 3 pairs x Vocal Ear tips
  • 3 pairs x Balanced Ear tips
  • 2 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x Storage Case
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Brush
  • 1 piece x MMCX Assist Tool
  • 1 piece x Warranty Card and User Manual

 

The FiiO FD3 comes with a very rich package of accessories that includes a wide variety of ear tips collection. This collection includes 9 pairs of silicone ear tips (Bass, Balanced and Vocal) and 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips. 1 pair of Interchangeable Sound Filter Tubes are placed on one of silicone ear tips holder sheets.

The pelican style storage case has is the one we know from previous FiiO products that I really like to use.

Tools like the Cleaning Brush and the FiiO MMCX Assist are some very useful additions.

 

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The FiiO FD3 has a very robust monitor shell that is made of aluminum-magnesium alloy material, which has been processed with the latest five-axis CNC process that was finally hand polished. Each of the monitors weights about 7 grams that increases the premium feel of the monitors.

The faceplate of the monitor shell is one for sure one of the eye-catching highlights that the FiiO FD3 offers to the consumers. The faceplate design is based according to FiiO advertisings on the theme of “Curves”. It is made of a unique celluloid panel that has been covered with a special 2.5D film coating glass, which shows the FiiO brand logo on the top.

The monitor sports a protruding part with the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connectors on the top and the unique semi-open acoustic opening at the bottom. Both on the top and the bottom are left and right color indicators, from which the blue one is on the left and red on the right side of the monitor.

The semi-open design is based on FiiO’s patented technology for balanced air pressure. This design brings several advantages beside the improvements to the sound performance, such like hear protection by balancing the air pressure within the FD3 leading to less pressure on your eardrums.

The rear shell of the monitors has Left and Right markings and do feature a slightly angled sound nozzle with a fine metal mesh on the top to prevent the insertion of particles like dust or earwax.

The sound nozzle has an “Interchangeable Sound Tube” design that we have already seen on the bigger brother FD5. The FD3 offers also two different Interchangeable Sound Tubes like the FD5, one bass and one balanced sound tube. The large sound tube has a more balanced sound signature, while the bass tube offers a slightly more lively and bass-focused signature.

 

 

 

 

The Cable:

The FiiO FD3 comes with detachable cable that is made of 4 core High-Purity Monocrystalline Copper wire material.

The cable has a nice braided design and features a fairly soft insulation that shows a very low amount of microphonic effect. This cable sports a nice looking chin slider and Y splitter with a FiiO branding on the top that are made of metal material.

These MMCX male connectors are sitting pretty tight on the monitor and should last for years without any problem. The MMCX connectors have a transparent housing and on each connector are right left indicators, which are a red ring on the right and a blue ring on the right connector.

The detachable cable comes with a 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) headphone plug that has a L angled housing made of plastic material that features a strain relieve for extra durability.

The overall build quality of the cable is pretty good for a product at this price level.

 

 

 

Comfort & Isolation:

The FiiO FD3 offers a pretty ergonomic cylinder shaped monitor design, which makes it ideal for the use for longer listening periods without to hurt my ears that has an ear concha with an average size.

The passive noise isolation is on an average level, since it comes with a semi-open design. However, the isolation is efficient enough for the use it in fairly noise environments such as metro, bus or train, while it is not suitable for the use on the stage.

 

 

Drivability:

The FiiO FD3 is a quite efficient In-Ear Monitor thanks to an impedance of 32 Ω and a sensitivity of 111dB/mW. This makes the FD3 pretty compatible with most audio sources like Smartphone’s, Tablets or small Digital Audio Players/Mp3 players that do have in general a relative weak amplification.

 

 

 

 

Remarkable Features:

 

12mm Dynamic Driver with Diamond Like Carbon “DLC” Diaphragm Technology:

FiiO FD3 comes with the latest DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) Diaphragm technology. The newly designed 12mm Dynamic Driver for FD3 do feature a robust magnet of 1.5 Tesla magnetic flux paired with an ultra-fine copper-clad aluminum voice coil from the Japanese company Daikoku.

 

Acoustic Prism:

The engineers of FiiO have installed a conical device close to the front end of the drive diaphragm, so that it was possible to precisely control how the sound waves travel in the sound tube, which brings benefits such as eliminations of high frequency standing waves and enhancing the overall sound wave diffusion.

 

Semi-Open Design:

The semi-open design of the FD3 is based on FiiO’s patented technology for balanced air pressure within brings several advantages. Not only does such a design improve the sound performance, it also effectively protects your hearing by balancing the air pressure leading to less pressure on your eardrums.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Driver                          : 12mm Diameter Dynamic Driver with DLC Diaphragm
  • Frequency response  : 10Hz-40kHz
  • Impedance                  : 32Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity                   : 111dB@1mW
  • Max input power         : 100mW
  • Cable Material            : 4 core High Purity Monocrystalline Copper Wire
  • Cable length               : approx. 120cm
  • Weight                        : approx. 7 grams (Single Unit)

 

 

 

 

Sources used for this review:

  • IEM                             : FiiO FD3, TinHiFi T5, Final Audio B2
  • DAP/DAC/AMP          : FiiO M11 Pro, FiiO Q5s, xDuoo XA-10

 

 

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama “Party Favor Remix” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Christian Reindl (Lucie Paradise) – Cernunnos (Spotify)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Deezer HiFi)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – The Magelan Matrix (Spotify)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The FiiO FD3 comes with a nicely tuned V shaped sound signature that shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality. The lower frequency region shows a great level of depth and body along with a nice breeze of warmth, the midrange on the other hand is slightly recessed due to the V shaped sound signature that sounds pretty crisp and transparent, while the treble area is fairly energetic, bright yet controller.

Please note that this review has been written after a burn-in period of 80 hours. I have mainly used the red interchangeable sound tubes along with the balanced stock silicone ear tips that shows a good balance between bass intensity and treble brightness. Main audio sources are the FiiO M11 Pro, ddHiFi TC35 Pro and the FiiO Q5s.

 

Bass:

The bass character of the FiiO FD3 is in general pretty soft, warmish, well-bodied and entertaining. It is able to produce a great sense of subbass depth, quantity with a fairly fast response and decay thanks to the well-adjusted 12mm diameter dynamic driver with a DLC Diaphragm. The tonality is nicely warm, bold and soft, while the level of control is pretty good when I do listen to songs like Bro Safari, UFO! “Drama”, Christian Reindl’s “Cernunnos” or Lorde’s “Royals”.

The midbass redion of the FiiO FD3 has a good sense of impact, depth and intensity, which hits nicely soft, without to sound dominant. This tuning avoids any unwanted muddiness or mixings, which is a pretty remarkable ability for a product at this price range. The midbass are fairly pronounced, from instruments like the cross drum, up to the trumpets, while the general presentation is musical and entertaining. This makes the midbass presentation of the FD3 very successful with genres like Pop, EDM or Rock music.

Instruments like bass guitars or the contrabasses are shown with a good amount of warmth, depth and thickness. The FD3 was also surprisingly successfully with deep and complex bass passages that are audible on tracks such like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven”.

 

Midrange:

The midrange of the FiiO FD3 has a mildly warmish tonality with a pretty transparent, airy and lively character. The sense of transparency and airiness in this area is quite impressive when I do listen to vocals or instruments. It is not a detail monster, however it offers a good level of resolution for an In-Ear Monitor at this price range that makes it to a real bargain.

There are no negative conditions such as sibilance or harshness, even with the black sound tuning tube that adds a slightly boost to the upper midrange region.

The lower midrange region of the FiiO FD3 shows a good sense of depth and warmth and body, which makes the male vocal presentation more musical and pleasant, when I do listen to voices like Elton John or Sting up to Barry White and Isaac Hayes.

The upper midrange of the FD3 shows a good level of intensity and airiness. Female vocals do sound in general a tad warm, pretty transparent and lively. It is possible to hear to emotion and details such as sadness, sharpness and softness in the voice of Edith Piaf or Aretha Franklin.

When it comes to instrument presentation in this area, I can say that the FiiO FD3 shows a warmer than neutral tonality, along with a pretty vibrant, musical and smooth character.

Instruments like pianos are slightly bright, pronounced and vibrant, while the brightness and intensity is increasing from the midrange towards the upper midrange. Acoustic guitars on the other hand do sound warm and musical, while violins are slightly bright and fatigue-free in most track I have listen to the FD3.

 

Treble:

The FiiO FD3 has a nicely airy, bright and detailed treble presentation with a good sense of control, even with the black sound tuning tube that gives a slightly boost to the lower and upper treble regions.

The lower treble area shows slightly more quantity and intensity compared to the upper treble region, while the emphasis drops in a nicely controlled manner, which helps to make the general treble presentation of the FD3 musical and pleasant to listen to with most genres. However, I have noticed that the FD3 tends to a slightly over-sharpness and sibilance when I do use it with the black sound tube analog with balanced silicone ear tips that do push this area more forward.

The lower treble region offers a good sense of clarity and definition when I do listen to instruments such like snare drums or violins that do also sounds crisp and lively, while the extension is on a moderate level.

The upper treble region of the FiiO FD3 is slightly less pronounced and detailed compared to the lower treble and upper midrange area. The level of airiness and sparkle is on a sufficient level when I do listen to songs with strings and pianos or to soprano vocals. Instruments such like crash and ride cymbals do come slightly from the background, while their extension is a bit longer compared to hi-hats.

The general treble extension, intensity and quantity of the FiiO FD3 is on a moderate level, which is fairly enough for a wide variety of genres.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The FiiO FD3 is a pretty successful In-Ear Monitor for its price that offers a pretty airy and spacious soundstage presentation that is suitable for a fairly precise placement of instruments and vocals thanks to its semi-open design. The soundstage is pretty wide for an IEM at this price range, while the depth and height is on an average level.

 

 

 

 

Comparisons:

FiiO FD3 versus Final Audio B2:

The FiiO FD3 shows a more dynamic overall sound presentation thanks to its V shaped sound signature, while the Final Audio B2 comes with a more relaxed and soft sound character.

The FiiO FD3 has the upper hand for both subbass and midbass response and is superior to the Final Audio B2 in terms of subbass depth, intensity and rumble. The midbass of the FD3 has more depth and impact, compared to the B2 that shows a more linear response in this area.

The midrange of the FiiO FD3 has a warmer tonality along with a more musical presentation. The Final Audio B2 shows a more neutral tonality with lower sense of transparency. Th lower midrange of the FD3 has more body and intensity when I do listen to instruments and male vocals, while it is also more successful in the upper midrange where it offers a higher level of airiness, transparency and resolution compared to the B2 that sounds a bit lifeless, dry and somewhat boring.

The treble range of the Final Audio B2 is more relaxed, smooth and shows a shorter sense of extension. The Fiio FD3 sounds more energetic and detailed in this area, especially when I do listen to soprano voices or instruments like cymbals.

The FiiO FD3 has the upper hand in terms of airiness and wideness of the stage, while the Final Audio B2 has a slightly advantage when it comes to the soundstage depth.

 

FiiO FD3 versus TinHiFi T5:

Both the FiiO FD3 and the TinHiFi T5 are successful IEM’s when it comes to the sound performance, especially for products at this price range.

The subbass region of the FiiO FD3 is slightly more pronounced than those of the TinHiFi T5. The FD3 has the slightly edge when it comes to the speed and control in this area. The midbass area of the FD3 shows a better sense of speed and authority, while it is also more impactful, which is especially audible in complex bass passages.

The midrange of both IEM’s offers a pretty good sense of clarity and resolution for products at this price range. The lower midrange of the FD3 has more body and depth which gives it an advantage while listen to male vocals or instruments such like an acoustic guitar or viola. The upper midrange of the TinHiFi T5 is slightly less pronounced and energetic compared to the FiiO FD3 that was audible with female vocals and instruments like pianos or flutes.

The treble range of the FiiO FD3 is more highlighted and detailed especially when you use the black sound tube that increases the treble response. The T5 shows a smoother character with a shorter level of extension.

The soundstage of both IEM’s has a pretty spacious and airy atmosphere. The FiiO FD3 shows slightly more wideness, while the TinHiFi T5 has the upper hand when it comes to the depth of the stage.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

The FiiO FD3 is definitely one of the best IEM options in this price range. It offers a very impressive price to performance ratio, with its attractive design and the highly entertaining sound presentation, which can be fine-tuned over the interchangeable sound tube design and with various ear tips that are included to the package. The useful and fancy looking storage case and MMCX ASIST tool are some great additions, which makes it again to a highly recommended product.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + Highly Entertaining Bass Tuning
  • + Clarity and Detail Retrieval of the Midrange & Treble area for a Product at this Price Range
  • + Design, Comfort & Build Quality
  • + Soundstage Atmosphere
  • + Very Rich Accessory Package (Sound Tuning Tubes, MMCX Assist, Storage Case, etc.)

 

  • – Treble sounds a bit sharp with the black sound tube if you listen to poor recorded tracks
  • – Average Passive Noise Isolation due to the Semi-Open Design

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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