FiiO FT3 Headphone Review
FiiO FT3 Headphone Review
The FiiO FT3 is the first open-back headphone of the company and is equipped with a 60mm diameter large Dynamic Driver that has a high-quality beryllium-plated gasket + DLC material composite diaphragm. The FT3 features solid all-aluminum metal frame and comes with a detachable high-purity Furukawa single-crystal copper wire cable that offers a swappable headphone plug design.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the FT3 Headphone for review purposes. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actual price of the FiiO FT3 Headphone is 299.00 US$. More information’s can be found under the links below;
Inside the Box:
The FiiO FT3 comes with a rich set of accessories that includes the following items;
- 1 x FiiO FT3 Open-Back Headphone
- 1 x Detachable Cable with interchangeable headphone plugs
- 2 x headphone plugs (4.4mm Balanced & 3.5mm Single Ended)
- 1 x 4-Pin XLR Adapter
- 1 x 3.5mm to 6.35mm Male Adapter
- 1 x Premium Storage Box
- 1 x Suede Ear pads (pre-installed)
- 1 x Pleather Ear Pads
- 1 x Carry Bag
- 1 x Pint Material
Design & Build Quality:
The FT3 is the first open-back headphone by FiiO that combines an eye-catching design in form of a solid looking industrial appearance.The main body and ear cups do are made from solid all-aluminum material with a hollow-mesh structure that is part of the open back cavity design. The overall build quality is one of the best I have seen at this price level.
Right at the center of each ear cup is the FiiO brand logo.
FT3 shows a solid all-aluminum structure. The headphones have a hollow-mesh structure with a open back cavity design.
At the bottom of each ear cup is a 3.5mm female connector that has a tight and durable feel. Near the connectors are L (Left) / R (Right) indicators that are engraved right on to the surface.
The inner surface of the ear cup rotating mechanism sports L (Left) / R (Right) markings.
The FiiO FT3 comes with two different type removable ear pads that can be easily replaced. Once you remove the ear pads you will see a large, which is a combination of a high-quality beryllium-plated gasket + DLC material composite diaphragm, which is located behind a fancy looking plastic grill. The dynamic driver features a dual magnetic structure design with an asymmetrical internal and external magnetic circuit in order to produce a stronger magnetic flux resulting in the swift movement of the diaphragm coil and enhancing the output with low distortion and improved driver control. The drivers of the FT3 are positioned in an angled way to bring them in parallel to the ear in order to minimize standing waves and possible distortions.
One pair has a suede surface, while the other pair comes with a pleather coating. Each ear pad offers a different sound profile that I’ll explain later.
The headband frame of the FT3 is a combination material combination of spring steel material and a leather/pleather material overlay that looks and feels pretty sturdy.
This headband has an elastic suspension type band mechanism that is covered with a leather/pleather overlay on the top and a soft suede inner layer.
The FiiO FT3 comes with a high-purity Furukawa single-crystal copper wire cable (PCOCC-A (3/20/0.8X2AWG23) with interchangeable / swappable headphone plug connectors. The package for FT3 includes 3.5mm to 6.35mm and 4.4mm to 4-pin XLR connectors as well. The swappable headphone plugs are available with a 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) termination plug system that features the same straight profiled metal housing like the connectors.
The outer shell of the cable is made of flame-retardant shockproof nylon braided strap, while the inner insulation is made of TPE material.
This cable has a length of approx 3 meter and sports a metal Y splitter in black color with the FiiO brand logo on the top.
The 3.5mm male headphone connectors do have a straight profiled metal housing that sport the L (Left / R (Right) indictors on the surface.
Comfort & Isolation:
The FiiO FT3 offers a pretty comfortable wearing experience thanks to the very comfortable sued and pleather ear pads, the fairly low clamping force of 4.0N±0.3N and the 3-axis swiveling design. The ear pads are a bit small in terms of inner diameter, which may an issue for people with a large ear anatomy. However, I didn’t experience any issue since the pads do cover my ear perfectly.
When it comes to the passive noise isolation, I can say that it is on a quite efficient level for a open-back headphone.
Pairing & Synergy:
The FiiO FT3 is equipped with a 60mm diameter large Dynamic Driver unit that has an impedance of 350Ω and a sensitivity of 105dB, which explains that it needs a good/powerful source to show its true potential. But don’t get me wrong, a small dongle DAC/Amplifier like the FiiO KA5 was able to drive the FT3 to relative high volume level. However, If you want to archive the best performance I do highly recommend to pair the headphones at least with a DAP like the FiiO M11/M11 Plus or with a desktop DAC/Amplifier like the FiiO K7. The K9 was the pairing with the best performance and overall synergy, which is a device that I highly recommend for any sort of headphone.
- Model : FT3
- Headphone Design : Open Back
- Driver Type : 60mm Diameter large Dynamic Driver
- Frequency Response : 7 Hz – 40 kHz
- Impedance : 350Ω
- Sensitivity : 105dB (1Vrms)@1kHz
- Cable Length : 160cm
- Headphone Plug : Swappable 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced termination plugs
- Ear Cup Plugs : Dual 3.5mm
- Weight : 391g (exclusive cable)
Equipment’s used for this review:
- Headphones : FiiO FT3, SIVGA Luan
- Sources : FiiO K9, FiiO K7, FiiO KA5, FiiO M11 Plus ESS
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (TIDAL)
- 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)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- 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. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Nobody Weird Like Me (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Rok Nardin – Berserks (Spotify)
- Bear McCreary – Valkyries “God of War OST” (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Alboran Trio’s – Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- 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)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The FiiO FT3 comes with a large 60mm dia. Dynamic Driver unit that has an impedance of 350Ω, which means that it needs a proper source to show its true potential in terms of sound performance. The FT3 shows a mildly warm tonality and offers in general a pretty natural and realistic timbre. The sound profile is pretty close to the Harman target frequency curve. The bass is deep and impactful when called open, especially with the suede ear pad that offers more volume, impact and body in this area. The midrange is clear, a bit warm, pretty lifelike and detailed. The upper midrange and lower treble region shows an efficient level of presence and resolution that is more audible when you use the FT3 with the pleather ear pads. The general treble presentation is pretty controlled and extends well with a nice amount of sparkle.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of 85 – 90 hours. My sound impressions below are mainly based on my experiences with the suede ear pads that do offer a more versatile presentation. Sources are the FiiO K7 and K9 desktop DAC/AMP, FiiO M11 Plus ESS DAP and FiiO KA5 USB DAC/AMP dongle.
Difference between Suede and Pleather Ear Pads:
The suede ear pads do sows a slightly increase in the subbass region in form of additional depth and rumble, while the midbass has a bit more body and impact compared to the pleather pads. The pleather ear pads on the other hand do show relative closer to linear overall bass response with a tad higher grade of speed and clarity that were audible in the midbass area.
The midrange of the FT3 with the suede ear pads has a tad warmer tonality compared to the pleather ones, which is created in the lower midrange area that is shown in form of some additional body and fullness. The pleather ear pads on the other hand do offer a slightly increase in terms of clarity and resolution in the lower midrange register. The upper midrange is the area where the pleather ear pads do offers a bit more presence, dynamisms and extension, which sounds relative smoother and relaxed with the suede ones.
The lower treble area of the FT3 is slightly more accented and offers additional clarity and definition with the pleather ear pads, while this area sounds a bit smoother and controlled with the suede pads. There is bit of boost in the upper treble register when I do use the pleather ear pads, the result is a slightly increase of the sense of air and sparkle in this area.
The FiiO FT3 has a relative balanced subbass response that is able to show a decent sense of depth, rumble and extension when you use a proper source like the FiiO K9 or HiFiMAN EF600. It is not very dominant and is produced with a pretty adequate amount and emphasis when I do listen to songs like Bear McCreary’s “Valkyries” Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right” or Rok Nardin’s “Berserks”. The midbass region on the other hand is the main actor of the lower frequency area. It has a mildly warm tonality and an above average sense of clarity. What I really like about the FT3 is the sense of authority, tightness and realism of the midbass area, especially when paired with sources like the FiiO K9.
The FiiO FT3 offers a solid performance in terms of authority and layering in this area that was pretty audible while listen to complex bass passages such like Photek’s “The Hidden Camera” or Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” and “Murmuration”. Instruments like cross-drums, trumpets or bass guitar do are produced in a pretty fast and detailed manner, without to show remarkable negative conditions such like muddiness or mixings.
The FiiO FT3 has pretty well-balanced and smooth midrange presentation with good grade of resolution and a mildly warm tonality. Both instruments and vocals are rendered with a fairly natural timbre and with a good sense of clarity. The general midrange presentation of the FT3 impressed me with its ability to resolve complex instrumental passages without to sound congested.
The lower midrange of the FiiO FT3 shows a decent grade of body, depth and clarity when I do listen to vocals like David Bowie, Sting or Isaac Hayes or to instruments such like a acoustic guitar or piano. The upper midrange on the other hand is produced in a smooth and natural manner. This area is not overly emphasized so that it sounds pretty clear and articulated without to show any remarkable sibilance and harshness that was audible with female voices such like Sertap Erener, Diana Krall, Adel or Edith Piaf. The detail retrieval is quite solid for a product at this price level, which is able to show fine nuances of instruments such like a violins, flutes or percussions.
The FiiO FT3 offers a quite detailed and airy treble presentation with adequate level of extension. The general treble tuning of the FT3 is pretty smooth and refined that was pretty audible while listen to songs like Ferit Odman’s “Look, Stop & Listen”, Charly Antolini’s “Duwadjuwandadu” and Alboran Trio’s “Cinque Lunghissimi Minuti”, especially with the pleather ear pads.
The FT3 is quite capable in the treble area when it comes to fine nuance and textures of instruments like percussions and strings that meets my expectation from a product at this price category. The lower treble area of the FT3 has a fairly balanced and natural tuning that doesn’t sounds artificial or too boosted, while the level of extension is on an efficient level. The upper treble region on the other hand is produced in a pretty airy and controlled manner.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The FiiO FT3 is an open-back headphone that shows a good performance in terms of imaging. It was relative easy to understand the positioning of instruments and vocals across the soundstage, which is an important ability for genres like classical music and jazz. The FT3 has a fairly spacious a soundstage atmosphere with decent grade of wideness and height, while the deep of the stage is on a moderate level.
FiiO FT3 versus SIVGA Luan:
The FiiO FT3 has a more balanced and accurate bass response that sounds well-controlled and tight, which can handle bass-heavy genres like electronic or hip-hop with ease. The lower frequency region of the SIVGA Luan on the other hand is slightly less highlighted and impactful, which makes it sound a bit thinner and dryer compared to the FiiO FT3.
The midrange of the FiiO FT3 has a slightly more forward profile along with a livelier and more energetic character that was pretty audible while listen to both instruments and vocals. The SIVGA Luan on the other side shows more neutral midrange tuning that lacks some dynamic contrast that the FiiO FT3 offers. The lower midrange of the FT3 has more body and depth, while the upper midrange of the Luan sounds a bit dry and less dynamic.
Both headphones do have a pretty smooth and clear treble tuning that is in general free of sibilance or harshness. However, the FiiO FT3 has the slightly edge when it comes resolution and extension especially in the upper treble register that will add more air and sparkle to the music. The SIVGA Luan has in general a slightly more relaxed and laid-back treble response
The FiiO FT3 has the slightly edge in terms of general technical performance. The FT3 offers a higher grade of separation capability for instruments and vocals, especially when I use the headphones with the pleather ear pads. The SIVGA Luan has the upper hand when it comes to the depth of the stage, while the FiiO FT3 shows a better sense of height and wideness.
The FiiO FT3 is maybe the first open-back headphone of the company, but it was able to impress me with its overall sonic performance, solid appearance and highly capable 60mm large dynamic driver that truly shine when you pair it with a powerful source. The rich set of accessories that includes a premium leather hard case, a cable with swappable plug design and two sets of ear pads with pretty audible sonic differences are some remarkable additions that you will get with a headphone that comes with a competitive price.
Pros & Cons:
- + Good implementation of the Harman target curve
- + Balanced Presentation with Good Sense of Air and Clarity
- + Rich Set of Accessories (Storage Bag, Cable with Swappable Plugs, 2 Pairs or Ear Pads)
- + Comfortable Ear Pads
- + Esthetic Design
- + Excellent Overall Build Quality
- + Price Performance Ratio
- – Needs a proper source to show its true sonic potential (350ohm)
- – Ear pads are very comfy but small in terms of inner diameter
Thank you for the Read!