Fiio FH5 Review
Title: The IEM with the beauty of a Butterfly
Fiio is a Chinese HiFi brand that was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types, and sell Fiio-branded products through sales agents worldwide. The brand name Fiio is composed of Fi (fidelity from HiFi) and iO (number 1&0), representing the real feeling and convenient life that digital brings to life. Meanwhile, the Chinese “飞傲” is the transliteration of Fiio, indicating the positive and innovative spirit as thriving as spring.
After the success of Fiio’s most popular IEMs the F9 PRO and FH1 they launched their latest flagship the FH5 that has a 4 driver Hybrid (3 Balanced + 1 Dynamic) configuration and that I will now review for you.
I would like to thank Fiio for providing me the Fiio FH5 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.
The MSRP price for the Fiio FH5 is 259,99 USD
- Purchase Link Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RPBiCz
- Purchase Link AliExpress: https://bit.ly/2NHNCl7
- Product Website: https://www.fiio.com/fh5
Package and Accessories:
The Fiio FH5 In-Ear Monitor is coming in a relative big cardboard box compared to the F9Pro that came in a smaller packaging. This box has a sleeve cover that displays a drawing of the FH5.
After you open this cover you will see the FH5 that is placed in a removable foam pad. The first appearance of the FH5 is pretty impressive and gives you the impression that you have bought a special product.
Right after you remove the foam pad you will see the nicely placed foam and silicone ear tips and the pelican case with Fiio branding.
Each silicone and foam ear tip has a short description about the sound effect and the size.
They are 2 pairs of balanced ear tips (small/large size), 3 pairs of vocal ear tips (small/medium/large size), 3 pairs of bass ear tips (small/medium/large size) and 3 pairs of memory foam ear tips ((small/medium/large size).
The pelican case with Fiio branding has a nice pattern on the top cover and is a safe place for your FH5.
There is also a small and carry pouch with zipper that is made of fabric material and a cleaning tool, which are some nice additions.
Design, Build Quality and Fit:
The Fiio FH5 has a very nice looking unique design that gives you a nice impression. The rare monitor housing has a patented “TRISHELL” structural design, made of a 5-axis CNC machined aluminum-magnesium material.
The faceplate (front cover) is fixed (according to Fiio) tightly together with multiple screws to the rare body to reduce resonance and distortion. The faceplate of the FH5 continuous Fiio’s design language that you can find on the Fiio F9 and F9 Pro, which looks like a see shell.
The Monitor is in grey color with exception of the golden frame on the front surface that gives the FH5 a premium feel.
On rear body of the monitor housing is a small vent and the left/right markings together with the sound nozzle which has a metal grill on the top to prevent the insertion of dust and ear wax.
On the top of the monitor housing is the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connector that sports a red ring on the right and blue ring on the left monitor.
The Fiio FH5 has a nice shape which makes it very comfortable to wear. We have tested it with some of my friends in the community that have an bigger an smaller than average ear anatomy who where very happy with the comfort of the FH5.
When it come to the noise isolation of this IEM; I can say that it is on a average level that gives right enough isolation to use it pretty noise environments such as metro, bus or train without to disrupt peoples around you.
The Fiio FH5 comes with the 3.5mm single-ended LC-3.5B detachable cable that can also purchased separately to use with other IEM’s with MMCX connector. The LC-3.5B looks and feels very solid, which is made of high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper wire and that features an environmentally-friendly (according to Fiio) transparent TPU coating.
This 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 is right left indicator, which is a red ring on the right and a blue ring on the right connector.
There is also an ear guide near the connector to wear this IEM comfortable over the ear.
The 3.5mm single ended (unbalanced) headphone jack has also a high quality craftsmanship and sports a grey metal housing with L angled profile in the same color as the monitor housing.
The cable sport also a Fiio branded Y splitter and chin slider made of the same metal material expect a small plastic part on the splitter.
The LC-3.5B has very low microphonic effect and don’t shows this very annoying cable mixing issue you must handle with other cables.
Other Remarkable Features:
a) The Quad Driver:
The FH5 comes with a hybrid driver design that combines balanced armature and dynamic drivers. Low frequencies will be produced by the 10mm polymer nanocomposite dynamic driver.
The Mid frequencies are produced by the Knowles ED30262 balanced armature driver, while lower and the higher treble frequencies are created by the Knowles 31082, which is a improved over the older Knowles 30017.
b) S.TURBO Technology:
The FH5’s low frequency sound tube adopts Fiio’s patented S.TURBO technology, which is a structural design that filters out unnecessary mid and high frequencies produced by the 10mm dynamic driver that is responsible to create the sub-bass and bass frequencies.
The Fiio FH5 has quite low impedance of 19 ohm that makes it to a very easy to drive In-Ear Monitor. The FH5 is an ideal IEM to use with portable sources that have weak amplification such as mobile/smart phones, tablets and small audio players.
- Driver Configuration : Quad Driver with Hybrid Configuration
- Driver type : 1 x 10mm Dynamic Driver + 3 x Balanced Armature Driver (Knowles)
- Frequency response : 15Hz ~ 40kHz
- Sensitivity : 112 dB/mW
- Impedance : 19 Ω
- Max. input power : 100mW
- Plug : 3.5mm gold-plated L-shaped plug jack (CTIA standard)
- Connector type : MMCX Connector
- Cord length : 1.2 m
- Weight : 8 g (single monitor)
- Wearing type : Over the Ear
Sources used for this review:
- IEM : Fiio FH5 and iBasso IT04
- DAP/DAC/AMP : Fiio M7, Cayin N5II, Chord Mojo, Fiio BTR3, Sony WM1A
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Spotify)
- London Grammar – Interlud (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
- Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Minor Empire – BulbulumAltinKafeste (Spotify)
- Leonard Cohen – You Wnt it Darker (Spotify)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Eric Clapton – Unplugged (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Casey Abrams – Robot Lover (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Alboran Trio – Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti (Flac 16bit/44kHz)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
- Future Heroes – Another World (Tidal Hi-fi)
- Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
The Fiio FH5 has a rather W-shaped tuning unlike most IEM’s in the market, which prefer a V-shaped sound signature. This W-shaped sound signature shows a dominant / boosted sub-bass and upper midrange, with male vocals in the background and female vocals in the foreground.
The tonality of the Fiio FH5 is slightly warmer than neutral and forgiving presentation.
The Fiio FH5 has a powerful, deep and well extending sub-bass performance. It is possible to hear and to feel this deep and powerful sub-bass in tracks such as, Lorde’s “Royals”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” and Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici”. The sub-bass region has more impact/emphasis and quantity than the mid-bass area, which is a result of the W shaped sound signature. This amazing sub-bass performance is replaced in a very controlled manner by the mid-bass, which leads to an airy, fast and detailed presentation..
b) Bass and Midbass:
The mid-bass of the Fiio FH5 has slightly less emphasis than the sub-bass, but shows a pretty strong slam effect, which will be sufficient for most peoples except basshead’s in terms of quantity and intensity.
The Fiio FH5 has a very fast and controlled bass, which is rarely seen at this price level. Furthermore the bass speed and tightness in genres such as edm/trance or metal music is well above average.
There are no negative situations such as looseness, hollowness and speed drops that makes the bass presentation quite clean and transparent.
The Fiio FH5 sound natural and controlled with percussion instruments such as bongo, drum, cajon etc. and represents them in a quite natural tonality.
Instruments like the bass guitar does not sound too thick or thin and have a good speed and emphasis, with a sufficient brightness in higher notes. GoGo Penguin’s pretty harsh contrabass performances sounds fast and clear, while Alboran Trio’s contrabass has a softer and musical tonality.
The midrange of the Fiio FH5 is recessed due to the W shaped sound signature and shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality, with an airy, transparent and clean presentation.
The Fiio FH5 is quite successful with the presentation of vocals. Male vocals are sounding slightly more recessed and distant than female vocals. The lower midrange is not as emphasized and in front like the upper midrange, which is the reason that male vocals are not as pronounced sounding as female voices. Male vocals are pretty clean and transparent and there is no hollowness or mixing. Vocals such as Dave Gahan, B. B. King or Eric Clapton are enjoyable and musical.
One of the main focus points of the Fiio FH5 is the female vocals, where I find it very successful. Female vocals sounding mildly warm, transparent and very lively, and it is possible to hear every feeling like sadness, enthusiasm, stiffness and softness.
The detail level and extension, which comes from the upper midrange, makes the Fiio FH5’s female vocal success far above average. One other good ability of the FH5 is the sibilance free presentation in the upper midrange region, when I have listened to female vocals like Laura Pergolizzi or Celine Dion.
The instrument tonality of the Fiio FH5 is clean vivid and on the warmer side of neutral, where instruments have a balanced presentation without to be too thick or thin. The sound of instruments such as pianos is emphasized, lively and bright, while the brightness increases towards the upper midrange.
String instruments such as acoustic guitars are showing a hint of warmness and are transparent and fairly musical presentation in Eric Clapton’s Unplugged Album, which was a joy to listen.
When it comes to the separation of instruments, I can easily say that the FH5 performs ways above its price tag.
c) Upper Midrange:
The upper midrange of the FH5 is nicely pronounced in the 1 – 3 kHz region, which is improving the detail level and is adding air/space to the sound. The general tonality of the upper midrange is quite neutral and transparent.
The upper midrange of the FH5 is more forward and detailed than the treble range and sounds also pretty controlled and fairly detailed in moments where instruments are showing high distortion. The upper midrange extensions and energy with female vocals and instruments doesn’t show any remarkable deficiencies
The Treble Range:
The Fh5 has a soft and forgiving treble presentation, which is not as dominant as the upper midges and subbass region.
a) Lower Treble Range:
The treble extension, emphasis and detail decrease in the transition the upper treble range, that means that the lower treble range is more detail the upper treble region.
The definition and extensions of instruments such as hi-hats in genres like jazz music is pretty good in this area and there is no remarkable issue except the lack of extensions while listening to crash cymbals.
Instruments such as flute, piano or violin are sounding quite emphasized and exciting in the lower treble range.
b) Upper Treble Range:
The Fiio FH5 has a mild 7 kHz treble peak that starts to roll off fairly fast, which is decreasing the detail level but makes the presentation of the FH5 more relaxed and forgiving.
Fiio aimed at the upper treble a musical and non-fatiguing presentation. For example, hi-hats are more pronounced than crash cymbals and the extension of crash cymbals is shorter than those of the hi-hats.
The Fiio FH5 has a little roll-off in the upper treble range, but is quite successful in most music genres with its non fatiguing presentation.
The soundstage of the Fiio FH5 is not the widest in my In-Ear Monitor collection and shows an average width. However, this performance is suitable for a precise instrument placement. When it comes to the depth of the stage, the FH5 is more successful than its width. The soundstage has good depth which is an important factor for the fairly silence background.
Fiio FH5 versus iBasso IT04:
The iBasso IT04 has the same quad driver configuration such as the Fiio FH5, that is also a combination of 1 (one) dynamic and 3 (three) balanced armature drivers.
The material used or the monitor is different. The iBasso monitor is made of an acrylic shell that sports a carbon fiber faceplate, while Fiio decided to use the patented TRISHELL structure, which is made of CNC machined aluminum-magnesium alloy. Both IEM’s have detachable cables with MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connectors.
The overall built quality and comfort is pretty good on both IEM’s while the choice should be a matter of personal preference.
When it comes to the sound, the Fiio FH5 and the iBasso IT04 are showing a different sound signature. The Fiio FH5 has a W shaped presentation, while iBasso IT04 shows a mildly V shaped sound signature. The tonality is also fairly different; the IT04 has a pretty neutral tonality, while the FH5 sounds warmer.
Both In-Ear Monitors sharing a good sub-bass response, while the FH5 has a stronger and more emphasized sub-bass presentation, which goes also deeper and has more extension, than those of the IT04.
The bass of the IT04 has a linear character that shows an average bass quantity and intensity, while the FH5 is more intensive bass presentation. But the iBasso IT04 is in terms of bass speed and tightness superior to the FH5.
The bass presentation of both IEM’s is pretty controlled while the IT04 a little bit better in this regarding.
The midrange of the Fiio FH5 sounds noticeably more recessed than those of the iBasso IT04. The midrange of the IT04 sounds quite neutral and transparent, while the FH5 has a slightly warmer and musical presentation.
When it comes to the vocal performance and character; the Fiio FH5 is the more suitable IEM with male vocals because of the better lower midrange quantity. But when it comes to female vocals, I can say that the IT04 is superior to the FH5 because of the stronger and intensive upper midrange, which has a peak around the 8 kHz region. However, the FH5 sounds more emotional, musical and warmer while presenting female voices.
The iBssso IT04 showing us a quite neutral tonality and detailed instrument presentation, while the Fiio FH5 has a warmer tonality and musical instrument presentation. The overall instrument detail level of the iBasso IT04 is superior to those of the Fiio FH5, which is quite normal at this price difference.
Both the iBasso IT04 and the Fiio FH5 have an detailed and fairly good extending upper midrange presentation. One of the main differences is the upper midrange transition where the FH5 has better control. However, the upper midrange detail and overall clarity are more successful with the IT04.
The treble range and overall treble presentation of the iBasso IT04 is more upfront and noticeable, than those of the Fiio FH5, which has a smoother/softer presentation. The IT04 is also superior to the FH5 in terms of treble extension, intensity, quantity and detail.
The iBasso IT04 has wild hitting and good extending bells, while the FH5 represents the same instrument with shorter extension and in a softer, non-fatiguing way.
When it comes to the soundstage performance and separation of instruments, I have noticed that both In-Ear Monitors have enough width and depth for a relative precise separation. But there is a noticeable difference, because the iBasso IT04 has more width, while the Fiio FH5 sounds more airy and shows better depth.
It was a real joy to review the Fiio FH5 which has me even more curious about future products of this company. The FH5 is an eye-catching IEM with its beautiful shell design and robust craftsmanship. But this would not be enough if it doesn’t have had a good sound such as it looks like, and YES the Fiio FH5 is a big success and a upgrade over the F9 and F9 Pro. It is even able to compete with IEM’s that have a higher price label.
Pros and Cons:
- + Build Quality
- + Accessories (especially the tips selection)
- + Wonderful Lively Presentation
- + Musical Tuning
- + Very Forgiving
- + Cable Quality
- – Soundstage could be slightly wider
- – Upper Treble Roll-Off