FiiO FH5s Hybrid Driver IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO FH5s Hybrid Driver IEM Review

 

 

Introduction:

The FiiO FH5s that I will now review for you is the successor of the original FH5 and also the latest member of the FH series Hybrid In-Ear Monitors. The FH5s comes with 2x Balanced Armature Drivers (TWFK-30017) + 2x Dynamic Drivers with 12mm Beryllium + 6mm Beryllium coated diaphragm. Other interesting features are the Semi-Open Back design, 3 Sound Tuning Switches, 3 Swappable Headphone Plugs, a New Acoustic Tube Design and many more.

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing the FiiO FH5s 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:

The price for the FiiO FH5s is around 259,99 USD and can be purchased under the links below;

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The FiiO FH5s came in a nice looking rectangular black box with a silky smooth surface coating that shows the product illustration and the motto “Born for Music” on the top.

The box was wrapped with a cardboard that features some product related brandings, drawings and the illustration of the FH5s on the top.

Inside the box of the FH5s are the following items;

  • 1 pair x FiiO FH5s In-Ear Monitors
  • 1 piece x Detachable cable with MMCX connectors
  • 3 pieces x Interchangeable Headphone Jacks (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced)
  • 9 pairs x Silicone Ear tips (Balanced, Vocal, Bass and Bi-Flange)
  • 3 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x HB5 Storage Case
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Brush
  • 1 piece x Metal MMCX Assist Tool
  • 1 piece x Warranty Card and User Manual

 

The FiiO FH5s came with along 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 (Balanced, Vocal, Bass and Bi-Flange) and 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips.

Inside the box of the FH5s are also 3 different Interchangeable Headphone Jacks (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced).

The HB5 is a nice looking storage case with a premium appearance.

Tools like the Cleaning Brush and the stylish metal MMCX Assist tool are some useful additions.

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality: 

The FiiO FH5s has a very nice looking robust monitor shell that continuous the design language of the FH series In-Ear Monitors. The FH5s comes with a TRISHELL “sandwich” structural design, which is a combination of a 5-axis CNC machined aluminum-magnesium alloy rear shell, body and front cover that are fixed together at 3 points to reduce excess resonance and distortion.

The FH5s is available in two different color options, which are silver and the one in black color like my review unit.

On the front of the monitor shell is a unique looking “Dragon Scale” motive with a semi-open back design. The cavity was refined through computer simulations to ensure the air pressure at the front and rear cavities are balanced. The open-air mesh guides do blend the “Dragon Scales” nicely, which are in the same gold color like the metal frame around the faceplate.

At the rear body of the monitor housing are the L (left) and R (Right) markings and the sound nozzle that do have a fine metal mesh on the top to prevent the insertion of strange particles such like dust and ear wax.

On the top of the monitor housing is the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connectors with left and right color indicators, which is in blue for left and red for the right connector.

At the rear side of each monitor are 3 sound tuning switches to adjust the lows, mids and the highs.

The craftsmanship of the monitor shells is of very high quality!

 

 

 

The Cable:

The FiiO FH5s comes with detachable 4 core High-Purity Monocrystalline Silver-plated Copper wire with 120 strands in total. The cable features a transparent soft plastic insulation, with low microphonic effects that has a nice braided design.

The MMCX male connectors are protected with a transparent plastic housing that do have Left (blue) & Right (red) ring indicators.

The cable features a metal Y splitter with the FiiO branding on the top and comes with a metal chin slider made of the same metal material in silver color.

The detachable cable has a unique Interchangeable Headphone Plug design and offers 3 (three) plug variants, which are the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) plug, 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) plug and the 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) Pentaconn plug.

The housing of the headphone plug has a strait profile and is made of the same metal material in sliver color.

 

 

 

Fit – Comfort & Passive Noise Isolation:

The FiiO FH5s has a quite ergonomic monitor shape that fits comfortable to my ears with an average ear concha. It doesn’t hurt my ears even after longer listening periods.

The passive noise isolation of the FH5s is on an average level, due to the semi-open back design. However, the passive noise isolations is fairly enough for the use in environments such like a bus, metro r train.

 

 

 

Drivability & Pairing:

The FiiO FH5s has an impedance of 40 Ω and a sensitivity of 106 dB, which makes it to a relative easy to handle IEM. Sources with relative weak amplification such as Mobile Phones, regular Headphone Adaptors and Tablets are able to power the FH5s to pretty high volume levels.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Driver Configuration   : Hybrid Driver Configuration
  • Driver type                   : 
  • 12mm Beryllium-plated Dome + PU Gasket Dynamic Driver (Bass)
  • 6mm Beryllium-plated Dynamic Driver (Midrange)
  • 2x Knowles TWFK-30017 Balanced Armature Driver (Treble)

 

  • Frequency response  : 10Hz ~ 40kHz
  • Sensitivity                   : 106 dB/mW
  • Impedance                  : 40 Ω
  • Plug                             : Interchangeable Plugs (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced)
  • Connector type           : MMCX Connector
  • Cord length                 : 120cm
  • Wearing type              : Over the Ear

 

 

 

Sources used for this review:
  • IEM                              : FiiO FH5s, Dunu DK-2001, FiiO FH5
  • DAP/DAC/AMP          : FiiO M11 PRO, FiiO Q5s, Ipad Air2

 

 

 

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)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – The Magelan Matrix (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • 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)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • 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)

 

 

 

 

Sound Tuning Switches:

The FiiO FH5s comes with 3 Sound Tuning Switches same like the FA9 that I have reviewed before. The switches do show small changes that do mostly affect the lower and higher frequency areas.

Switches Explained:

  • B Switch On   : Increase of Bass intensity, reduced Treble forwardness
  • M Switch On   : More forward Midrange Character (Vocals are slightly more intimate)
  • T Switch On    : Treble Boost, mildly increase in treble intensity and overall brightness
  • Switches Off   : Reference Tuning that shows a linear bass response

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The FiiO FH5s has a tad warmer than neutral tonality and a pretty airy and spacious atmosphere thanks to its semi-open back design and new hybrid diver tuning. The bass of the FH5s is pretty fast and shows a linear character, the midrange sounds transparent/airy and quite detailed, while the treble range offers a good sense of sparkle, definition and extension.

 

Please note that I have written the FH5s review after a burn-in period of 180 hours. My impressions below are mainly based to the FH5s in “Reference Mode”, which means all 3 switches, has been set to the position “OFF”.

 

 

Bass:

The FiiO FH5s shows a fairly linear bass response with moderate level of subbass depth and extension when the bass switch is OFF. However, If you activate the bass switch, the subbass shows slightly better sense of depth and rumble, while it still nicely controlled and detailed in its presentation, when I do listen to Lorde – Royals or Massive Attack’s “Angel”.

The midbass area sounds in general fairly thigh and show a nicely tuned natural intensity, depth and decay. The sense of resolution, speed and clarity is top notch thanks to the well tuned new generation 12mm diameter Dynamic Driver with Beryllium Coated Diaphragm.

If you switch activate the Bass Switch, the midbass of the FH5s shows slightly more weight, body and a better level of impact when I do listen to electronic songs like Toutant’s “Rebirth” and Really Slow Motion’s “Deadwood” or to songs with complex passages such like Gogo Penguin’s Raven. The midbass bass remains controlled and detailed when the Bass Switch is activated, without to affect the overall clarity and resolution.

Instruments such like a bass guitar, a contrabass or viola do have in general a natural and sufficient sense of body and depth.

The FiiO FH5s offers in general a good sense of bass intensity, speed and emphasis, when you activate the “Bass Switch”. However, the biggest audible improvement happens after some intensive burn-in (about 150 – 180 hours) and with a “Pure Copper Cable” instead of some sort of hybrid or silver plated ones.

 

 

Midrange:

The first noticeable character of the midrange is the very transparent, lively and spacious presentation that will sound even more impress over time. The FH5s shows a good level of clarity and resolution thanks to the New Dynamic Driver with a 6mm diameter Beryllium Diaphragm in this area, while the tonality is a tad warmer than neutral.

The lower midrange has an average level of depth and intensity, when I do listen to male vocals like Sting, Elton John or Isaac Hayes and to instruments such like an acoustic guitar, viola or trumpet. Moreover, the FH5s offers a pretty transparent and detailed female vocal presentation thanks to the nicely pronounced upper midrange tuning. Female voices from Hayley Westenra and Sarah McLachlan or instruments like flutes, pianos or strings are reproduced with a good sense of extension and liveliness.

The “M Switch” gives/adds the midrange a slightly boost of body and vocals and instruments a bit more intimate. However, I would wish slightly more body, warmth and fullness in this area that can be slightly improved with a Pure Copper Wire cable.

 

 

Treble:

The FiiO FH5s has a treble range with a fairly bright tonality that offers an above average clarity and definition that is produced with 2x Knowles TWFK-30017 Balanced Armature drivers, which are positioned near the sound nozzle.

The transitions from the upper midrange towards the lower treble (presence) area are in general pretty controlled that has a slightly peak around the 3 kHz region.The upper treble range is more highlighted, which makes this area more energetic and detailed compared to the lower treble region. The treble extension, detail and speed of the FiiO FH5s are quite impressive when I do listen to instruments like such like a hi-hat, ride or a crash cymbal in genres like metal music.

Instruments in jazz music such like a piano do sound nicely clean and detailed, with above average extension. I didn’t notice any remarkable treble sharpness and mixings, while listen to modern genres such as Electronic or Pop music, when the “T Switch” is OFF.

So, what does the T Switch?

The “T Switch” adds slightly more airiness, clarity and sparkle to the treble area, while it makes the general treble presentation less forgiving and a bit unnatural, which is the reason I don’t recommend to use it, unlike you are a real treble-head.

 

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The FiiO FH5s offers a spacious and airy atmosphere thanks to its semi-open back design and overall sound tuning, which makes it also to an In-Ear Monitor with a successful performance in terms of separation and positioning of both instruments and vocals. The FH5s has a nice out of the head soundstage presentation with great sense of wideness, height and depth.

 

 

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

FiiO FH5s versus FiiO FH5:

The FH5s and the FH5 do share some similar design elements like the shape, the metal frame in color, while the faceplate of the looks more aggressive and appealing on the FH5s with its Dragon Scale motive. Both IEM’s do have a hybrid driver configuration, while the FH5s offers an All New 2BA + 2DD design instead of the old 3BA+1DD configuration.  Another new feature of the FH5s is the 3 Sound Tuning Switches and the new Swappable Plug design. But how do they sound?

So let’s start from the lows, where the FH5s shows a more linear tuning with less subbass & midbass depth and intensity. The subbass of the FH5 is more pronounced and shows also more rumble. The same goes for the midbass area, where the FH5s do have a more natural and liner response. The midbass of the original FH5 has more impact, depth and body, while the FH5s has the slightly edge in terms of speed and control, thanks to its new Dynamic Driver with Beryllium Coated diaphragm.

The midrange of the FH5 has a tad warmer tonality and has a slightly more upfront/intimate vocal and instrument presentation compared to the FH5s, which offers a bit more neutral and distant character with better sense of transparency and airiness. The lower midrange of the FH5 has more body and depth that makes it more successful with male vocals or instruments such like violas, acoustic guitars or organs.

The upper midrange of the FH5s is more highlighted, bright and slightly more detailed compared to the original FH5, while both are successful with female vocals or instruments like violins or pianos. However the FH5 has a slightly somewhat fuller presentation in this area that I would wish from the FH5s too.

The new FH5s has a more energetic treble character, with better level of extension, definition and detail retrieval. The FH5 sounds less aggressive in this area, especially in the lower treble range. The upper treble range of the new FH5s is more detailed and airy, however it sounds less forgiving compared to the FH5 if you do listen to songs with poor quality.

Both IEM’s are successful in terms of separation and placement of instruments and vocals. Both the original FH5 and the new FH5s do offer a pretty similar performance in terms of soundstage widens, while the FH5s hast the upper hand when it comes to the depth of the stage.

 

 

 

FiiO FH5s versus Dunu DK-2001:

Both the FiiO FH5s and the Dunu DK-2001 are IEM’s that do share a hybrid driver configuration. The FH5s features a 2 Balanced Armature + 2 Dynamic Drivers, while the DK-2001 comes with a 3 Balanced Armature + 1 Dynamic Driver configuration.

The subbass area of the Dunu DK-2001 shows a bit more depth and rumble, while the FH5s is superior in terms of speed and authority/control. The midbass of the Dunu DK-2001 have more intensity, depth and impact compared to the FiiO FH5s, which has the upper hand in terms of decay, tightness and overall resolution.

The midrange of the Dunu DK-2001 sounds a bit fuller and a tad warmer in tonality, while the FiiO FH5s has a higher sense of space/airiness and midrange clarity. The lower midrange region of the DK-2001 offers more depth and intensity that makes it more successful with male vocals. The FiiO FH5s on the other hand has the slightly edge when it comes to female vocals.

The lower treble range of the FiiO FH5s is more highlighted, detailed and shows a better level of clarity and extension, where the Dunu DK-2001 feels more relaxed and engaging.

The upper treble region of both IEM’s is pronounced and sounds pretty similar in terms of resolution, separation and control.

The soundstage of the FiiO FH5s shows a slightly higher sense of airiness and space between the instruments and the vocals. It has also the slightly edge when it comes to depth of the stage, while the performance in terms of soundstage wideness is pretty close.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

The FH5s is another fantastic looking In-Ear Monitor from FiiO with its unique semi-open back “Dragon Scale” faceplate design, which offers a very transparent and open sound atmosphere. It has a fast and linear bass response, clear and detailed midrange character and a treble range that shows a great sense of sparkle, definition and extension. The FH5s is also packed with lots of interesting features like a 2BA+2DD Hybrid Driver Configuration, 3 Sound Tuning Switches, 3 Types of Swappable Headphone Plugs and a TRISHELL acoustic design.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:
  • + Fast & Controlled Bass Response
  • + Airy and Transparent Midrange Tuning
  • + Treble Range with Great Sens of Extension, Sparkle and Definition
  • + Massive Soundstage with Good Sense of Imaging
  • + Sound Tuning Switches
  • + Fantastic “Dragon Scale” Faceplate Design & Robust Build Quality
  • + Rich Accessory Package (Cable with Swappable Plugs, MMCX Assist, Case, Ear Tips)

 

  • – Needs a lot of Burn-In to Show it’s True Potential (at least 180 hours)
  • – Semi-Open Back Design means Average Level of Isolation
  • – Treble Range Unforgiving to Poor Recorded Songs
  • – Scales better with a Pure Copper Wire Cable

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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