FiiO FH9 Hybrid IEM Review
FiiO FH9 Hybrid IEM Review
2021 was a very productive year for FiiO, especially when it comes to In-Ear Monitors, whether Hybrids (FH5s/FH5s Pro), Single Dynamic Driver (FD3, FD5, FD7/FDX) and Pure Balanced Armature Driver (FA7s) In-Ear Monitors.
The FH9 is the brand new flagship Hybrid IEM of the company that features a 6BA+1DD driver configuration. The Hybrid Driver configuration is a combination of 6x Balanced Armature Drivers + 1x Dynamic Driver with a 13.6mm Diameter Self-Developed DLC (Diamond like Carbon) Diaphragm. The High frequencies are produced with the Knowles SWFK-31736 drivers.
Some other remarkable features are a Titanium Alloy Construction, Interchangeable Audio filters and a Semi Open Acoustic Design.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing the FiiO FH9 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 actual price of the FiiO FH9 is 599.99 US$. More information’s can be found under the links below;
Package and Accessories:
The FH9 came inside a rectangular box that was wrapped with a fancy looking cardboard sleeve that features the product illustration and some product related brandings on the top.
After you remove the cardboard sleeve you will see the main box in black color that sport a sketch of the FH9 on the top and the motto of the company, which is “born for music”.
This box of the FiiO FH9 contains the following items;
- 1 pair x FiiO FH9 Hybrid In-Ear Monitors
- 1 piece x 8 Core detachable cable with MMCX connectors
- 1 piece x Interchangeable Headphone Plugs 4.4mm TRRRS, 2.5mm TRRS & 3.5mm TRS
- 3 pairs x Interchangeable Audio Filters (Green, Black, Red “Black came Pre-installed”)
- 3 pairs x Bass Ear tips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs x Vocal Ear tips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs x Balanced Ear tips (S/M/L)
- 3 pairs x SpinFit Ear Tips (S/M/L – 1 pair came preinstalled)
- 2 pairs x Double Flange Ear tips (M/M size)
- 2 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips (M/M size)
- 1 piece x HB5 Storage Case
- 1 piece x Cleaning Brush
- 1 piece x SK1 Magnetic Cable Organizer (can also be purchased here separately)
- 1 piece x MMCX Assist Tool
- 1 piece x Warranty Card and User Manual
The FH9 comes with a very rich ear tips collection same like other FiiO products that I have reviewed in the past, which has been placed in to a foam layer that is showing a short description about the sound effect and the size.
Here are 3 pairs of balanced ear tips (S/M/L size), 3 pairs of vocal ear tips (S/M/L size), 3 pairs of bass ear tips (S/M/L size), 2 pairs of SpinFit Ear Tips (S/M/L – 1 pair came preinstalled), 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips (M/M/ size), 2 pairs of Double Flange ear tips (M/M Size).
The HB5 storage case is a premium looking accessory in blue and brown color.
Inside the box are also 3 different Interchangeable Headphone Plugs (the 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced plugs), which are part of the 8 core High Purity Monocrystalline Pure Silver upgrade cable.
The FH9 came also with some nice additions such like the SK1 Magnetic Cable Organizer, a cleaning tool and the FiiO MMCX Assist Tool.
Design & Build Quality:
The FH9 is an extremely stunning looking In-Ear Monitor that reflex FiiO’s next generation industrial design language. The FH9 features a Pure Titanium Alloy construction that is a very rigid material, which is also according to FiiO, able to greatly minimize unwanted harmonics and resonances to improve the overall sound performance.
The monitor shell of the FH9 is precisely made with five-axis CNC machining since titanium is a harder to process material compared to aluminum and stainless steel material.
Inside the heart of each monitor is a Hybrid Driver configuration, which is a combination of 6x Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers (SWFK-31736) + 1x Dynamic Driver with a 13.6mm Diameter Self-Developed DLC (Diamond like Carbon) Diaphragm.
The inner shell design is engineered to eliminate unwanted harmonic resonances generated and reduces negative conditions such as sibilance in combination with the new sound tube design.
On the front of the monitors that we also describe as faceplate is are two openings with a impressive looking design shape that features a fine woven mesh, which is part of the latest Semi-Open Back Cavity design.
At the rear side of the monitor housing are L (left) / R (Right) markings, a pressure relief vent and the slightly angled sound nozzle.
The FH9 features 3 pairs of Interchangeable Audio Filters, which are the Green (Treble), Black (Balanced) and Red (Bass) filters.
You can install one of the 3 filters that do have a fine metal mesh on the top to prevent the insertion of strange particles such like dust and ear wax.
The top of monitor shell sports a new expanded female MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) connector design with blue (left) / red (right) blue indicator circles. This new design offers a more stable connection.
The overall build quality of the monitors is top notch same like other FiiO products, without to show any imperfections such like gaps, burs, etc.
Detachable MMCX Cable:
The FiiO FH9 comes with a very good stock cable, which is made of High-Purity Monocrystalline Silver wires. It has 8 cores and 28 strands per core that makes 224 wires strands in total. Each wire is individually isolated and all are braided together in the Litz style.
The cable features special isolation made from environmentally friendly TPU material in grey color. This TPU material is also resistant against yellowing after long-term use and against stiffening when in low-temperature environments.
The MMCX connectors are made from stainless steel material and do have a curve shaped that is based on scientific research to make the FH9 more comfortably for longer listening periods and on the go.
The expanded angled MMCX connectors with left “blue” and right “red” indicators make it easy to connect and detach the FH9.,
Near the MMCX connectors are transparent heat-shrink ear hooks for a better over the era wearing experience.
The cable sports a chin slider and y splitter made of metal in silver color. The y splitter has the FiiO branding on the top.
The detachable cable of the FiiO FH9 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 silver metal color.
Comfort & Isolation:
The FiiO FH9 is maybe not one of the smallest IEM’s on the market since it features 7 drivers per earpiece and a very complex acoustic design. However, the shape of the monitor shell fits perfectly in to my ears with an average ear concha, and doesn’t hurt them even after longer listening periods.
When it comes to the passive noise isolation, I can say that it is on an average level, since it has a semi-open back design and a monitor shape that doesn’t allow a very deep insertion of the nozzle. But don’t get me wrong, 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.
Efficiency & Pairing:
The FiiO FH9 is a relative efficient to drive In-Ear Monitor thanks to an impedance of 18Ω and a sensitivity of approx. 108dB/mW. This makes the FH9 to a pretty compatible IEM for most audio sources form Smartphone’s to Tablets or small Digital Audio Players/Mp3 players with a relative weak amplification.
- Driver Configuration : 6x Knowles BA +1x DD Hybrid Driver
- Frequency Resp. : 10Hz ~ 40kHz
- Sensitivity : 108 dB/mW
- Impedance : 18 Ω
- MAX Input : 100mW
- Plug : Interchangeable Plugs (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 4.4mm Balanced)
- Connector Type : MMCX Connector
- Cord Length : 120cm
- Wearing Type : Over the Ear
- Weight : 12.8gram (Single Monitor)
Sources used for this review:
- IEM : FiiO FH9, Final Audio B1, Oriveti O400
- DAP/DAC/AMP : FiiO M11 Pro, FiiO Q5s
Albums & Tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- 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)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- 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)
- B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- 2Cellos – With or Without You (Spotify)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (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)
- 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 FiiO FH9 is a Hybrid In-Ear Monitor with a mildly warm tonality, which offers pretty dynamic, lively and entertaining sound profile from the lows up to the highs. The bass of the FH9 is powerful yet controlled; the midrange is nicely transparent and detailed from the lower midrange up to the upper midrange, while the treble area is shown with a decent sense of extension and clarity.
Tuning Filters Explained:
- Black Filter : Reference Tuning that shows the most balanced frequency response
- Red Filter : Increase of Bass intensity, slightly reduced Treble forwardness
- Green Filter : Treble Boost, mildly increase in treble intensity and overall brightness
Please note that my review below is mainly based on my sound impressions with the Balanced Silicone Ear Tip Black in combination with the Black Audio Filter, which is the default Reference Filter of the FH9. I have used the stock 8-core Pure Silver cable and have paired the FH9 with the FiiO M11 Pro and FiiO Q5s.
The bass of the FH9 is produced by FiiO’s self developed second generation 13.6mm diameter DLC (Diamond like Carbon) diaphragm dynamic driver that is able to create an decent subbass performance, which shows great sense of power, depth and extension when needed. What I really like about the subbass character of the FH9 is that it shows a good level of rumble and intensity without to affect the clarity in this area, when I do listen to string instruments such like a contrabass and bass guitar or to percussion instruments like kick drums. The subbass depth and rumble of the 13.6 diameter DLC diaphragm dynamic diver in songs like Lorde’s “Royals”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” or Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici” is very exiting.
The midbass area of the FiiO FH9 shows an above average intensity that is always in control, especially with the Back Balanced Audio Filter. It is punchy, shows a good level of resolution and the best part is that is offers a fast response and quick decay for such a large dynamic driver, which shows how further FiiO has come with its second generation DLC diaphragm Dynamic Driver. Percussion instruments such like cross drums or brass instruments like trumpets do sound pretty accented and are reproduced with a mildly warm and nicely soft tonality.
While the FH9 has not a reference oriented bass presentation, it offers a solid bass performance whatever you listen, from pop to electronic from rock to dub step.
The FiiO FH9 shows a highly transparent and spacious midrange presentation and offers a decent performance in this area in terms of resolution. The tonality of the midrange is slightly warmer than neutral while the sense of airiness is on an impressive level thanks to the well-adjusted Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers that are dedicated for the midrange as well as the new Semi-Open Back design.
The lower midrange has a moderate level of depth and intensity that is sufficient to show a good sense of depth and body when I do listen to romantic male voices such like Barry White and Isaac Hayes or Sting. The level of clarity and resolution of this area is impressive and can easily hold up with higher priced Top Tier IEM’s, while I maybe would wish a tad more body in this area.
Female vocals on the other hand are reproduced in a very lively, detailed and controlled manner, without to show any remarkable sibilance or harshness, even while listen to soprano voices such like Hayley Westenra or Sertap Erener, when I do use the Black (Balanced) and Red Audio Filters. The Green Filter on the other hand is a slightly more prone to sibilance, especially if I do listen to records with poor quality. The level of detailed retrieval and realism when I do listen to Adel, Aretha Franklin and Diana Krall was quite impressive.
The FiiO FH9 shows a fairly natural, lively and detailed instrument presentation with decent sense of airiness and separation. Instruments pianos and clarinets do sound pretty vivid, clear and are shown with an above average level of extension, while violas and trumpets do sound moderately bold, pretty natural and detailed.
Upper Midrange & Treble:
The both the upper midrange and the lower treble area of the FiiO FH9 are quite pronounced, while the transitions are in general pretty controlled, especially with the Black and Red Audio Filters. The FH9 offers a good sense of authority when instruments do play with high level of distortion, only the Green Audio Filter sounds a bit prone to sibilance and sharpness.
The lower treble area sounds fairly bright and is able to produce an above average level of clarity and definition. Instruments such as organs, pianos and soprano voices are shown with a good grade of presence.
The upper treble range of the FH9 sounds pretty natural and detailed, especially for an In-Ear Monitor at this price level. It is able to create a good sense of airiness and sparkle when I do listen to tenor saxophones, tenor and soprano voices.
Instrument such as hi-hats in metal music do come slightly from the background, while the hits still quite audible. Crash cymbals on the other hand do sound in general pretty realistic and detailed, while the extension is on an efficient level.
Overall, the general treble quantity and intensity will satisfy most users. I really liked the balance of the treble range when I do listen to the FiiO FH9, especially with the Black Audio Filter and Balanced Silicone Ear Tips.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The FiiO FH9 offers an impressive performance in terms of separation and placement of both instruments and vocals offers, thanks to the very spacious and airy soundstage atmosphere that is additionally supported by its Semi-Open Back design. Both the depth and the wideness of the soundstage are on an above average level.
FiiO FH9 (599 US$) versus Final Audio B1 (699 US$):
Both the Final Audio B1 and the FiiO FH9 are hybrid driver IEM’s, while the FH9 has a 6BA+1DD and the B1 a 1BA+1DD diver configuration. The Final Audio B1 needs much more power do show its true potential, while the FiiO FH9 is much easier to driver. Both IEM’s do have a solid build quality and do shows a pretty good fit and isolation, while the B1 is slightly pricier.
The subbass region of both the FH9 and the B1 is quite pronounced, while the B1 shows slightly more rumble and intensity towards the midbass region. The FH9 has the upper hand when it comes to the clarity and resolution in this area, while the grade of decay and control is pretty similar. The midbass region of the B1 sounds more pronounced and shows a higher level of impact and intensity. The FH9 offers a better sense of clarity and resolution in this area.
The midrange of the Final Audio B1 is a touch warmer in tonality and shows slightly more body and depth in the lower midrange area, which makes it slightly more successful with male vocals and instruments like acoustic guitars and cellos. The FiiO FH5 on the other hand offer a more natural and neutral tonality with better sense of transparency and airiness. The upper midrange is more highlighted and detailed, which is audible when I do listen to female vocals and instruments such like violins and pianos.
The both the Final Audio B1 and the FiiO FH9 do offer a good treble performance in terms of resolution, brightness and extension without to sound overly sharp. However, the FiiO FH9 is superior when it comes to the lower treble presentation, which shows a better level of extension and detail retrieval. The Final Audio B1 on the other sounds more highlighted in the upper treble region, where it has the slightly edge in terms of airiness and resolution.
The FiiO FH9 is the better IEM if soundstage performance and the separation of instruments and vocals is important for you. It offers a better level of depth and wideness, thanks to its semi-open back design.
FiiO FH9 (599 US$) versus Oriveti OH500 (499 US$):
The Oriveti OH500 is also a hybrid driver IEM that offers a 4BA+1DD configuration, which are located inside a very comfortable resin housing. The FiiO FH9 on the other hand looks more robust and fancy in direct comparison while it is slightly more expensive.
The Oriveti OH500 has noticeably warmer tonality compared to the FiiO FH9, and shows a more V shaped sound signature with emphasized lows and highs.
The subbass region of the Oriveti OH500 sounds more highlighted and shows more depth and rumble in this area. However, the FiiO FH9 is superior when it comes to the resolution and control. The FH9 offers also a better level of layering, tightness and speed especially when I do listen to complex bass passages like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven”.
The midrange of the Oriveti OH500 is warm and soft, while the level of transparency and airiness are on an average level. The FiiO FH9 on the other hand offers a more natural, neutral and transparent midrange character with better sense of airiness and resolution. The lower midrange of the FiiO FH9 is slightly more emphasized then those of the Oriveti OH500, while the biggest difference is in clarity and resolution of this area when with male vocals and instruments such as cellos and violas.
The upper midrange and lower treble regions of the FiiO FH9 are reproduced with a higher grade of intensity and detail retrieval, while both IEM’s are pretty controlled in moments when instruments do play with high distortion. The upper treble range of the OH500 is more pronounced especially around the 8kHz region. However, the FH9 offers a better sense of authority and smoothness.
Both the FiiO FH9 and the Oriveti OH500 are successful in terms of soundstage performance. The main difference is that the FH9 has the upper hand for soundstage width, while the OH500 has the slightly edge when it comes to the depth of the stage.
The FH9 is another solid product from FiiO that has an impressive sound performance with its highly transparent and detailed midrange, airy and well extending treble tuning, and a bass response that is powerful yet controlled. This sound is produced with a brand new 6BA+1DD hybrid driver configuration and semi open-back design, which are located inside a gorgeous looking monitor made from titanium material. All this features are crowned with a very rich accessory package that includes a high quality 8 core pure silver cable with Interchangeable Headphone Plugs, the HB5 leather case and many ear tips.
Pros and Cons:
- + Overall Bass Performance (Power, Control, Resolution)
- + Highly Transparent & Detail Midrange Presentation (with Balanced Audio Filter)
- + Smooth, Airy and Controlled Treble Tuning (with Balanced Audio Filter)
- + Great Looking Ultra Robust Monitor made from Titanium Material
- + Accessory Package (Pure Silver Cable, Interchangeable Audio Plugs & Audio Filters, etc.)
- – Sounds a bit unforgiving in the upper register with the Green Filter
- – Solid Looking Titanium Shell is a bit heavy
- – Average Passive Noise Isolation
Thank you for your Read!