FiiO FT5 Headphone Review
FiiO FT5 Open-Back Planar Headphone Review
FiiO has released their brand new flagship headphone, the FT5 Open-Back Planar headphone. The FT5 is the first headphone of the company that is equipped with Planar Magnetic Drivers. Each driver has a 90mm large nanoscale diaphragm with a thickness of 6µm that is driven with 20 neodymium magnets per side, which have been implemented in to a sturdy magnesium alloy shell.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the FT5 Planar 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 MSRP price for the new FiiO FT5 is 459.99 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below.
Inside the Box:
The FiiO FT5 comes inside a relative large box in black color with some geometrical shapes, the FiiO FT5 branding and the Motto “Born For Music” on the top. Inside the box is a rich set of accessories that includes the following items;
- 1 x FiiO FT5 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:
FiiO FT5 is an Open-Back Planar Headphone that has a lightweight and durable construction crafted using high-quality magnesium-aluminum alloy material. The design of the FT5 looks gorgeous with its modern industrial design that shows some similar elements found on some of their portable product like the M11 Plus (DAP) and Q7 & Q15 DAC/Amplifier.
The FiiO FT5 features a brand new 90mm large Planar Magnetic Driver unit, which adopts a 6um ultra-thin diaphragm with a precisely crafted micron-plated aluminum silver alloy voice coil.
The headphone has a scientifically open-back grill designed in order to control and precisely accelerate the air flow when the driver is moving. This design intended the goal of offering a much wider and deeper sense of soundstage atmosphere.
Right in the center of each of the grills is the FiiO brand logo.
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 three-way swiveling ear cups design improves the comfort as well.
The FiiO FT5 comes with two different type removable ear pads that can be easily replaced. 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.
Once you remove the ear pads you will see the brand new 90mm large Planar Magnetic Driver unit, which adopts a 6um ultra-thin diaphragm with a precisely crafted micron-plated aluminum silver alloy voice coil. The driver is produced using a nanoscale-level coating process for enhanced sound reproduction. The 6um ultra-thin diaphragm is driven by 20 (N52) neodymium magnets per side. 11 magnets are placed on the inside, while the remaining 9 magnets are located at the outer surface. This Planar Magnetic Driver is behind a thin layer of filter in black color in order to protect the surface of the driver from strange articles like dust.
The headband frame of the FT5 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 FT5 comes with a High-purity Monocrystalline Copper Wire Cable with interchangeable headphone plug connector design. The cable has 392 wires in total with a diameter of 23AWG that features a fabric outer layer. This cable has a length of approx 150cm and sports a metal Y splitter in black color with the FiiO brand logo on the top.
The 3.5mm male connectors for the headphone ear cups do have a straight profiled metal housing that sport the L (Left / R (Right) indictors on the surface.
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 package for FT5 includes also a 3.5mm to 6.35mm and 4.4mm to 4-pin XLR adapter that are some nice additions.
Comfort & Isolation:
The FiiO FT5 offers a pretty comfortable wearing experience thanks to the very comfortable sued and pleather ear pads, the fairly low clamping force and the 3-axis swiveling design. The inner diameter of the ear pads perfectly surrounds my medium sized ear. At 456g, the FT5 isn’t the lightest planar headphone on the market, but it felt surprisingly comfortable to me, even after using heavier ones.
When it comes to the passive noise isolation, I can say that it is on an average level due to the nature of an open-back headphone.
Pairing & Synergy:
The FiiO FT5 boasts a large 90mm planar dynamic driver unit that’s surprisingly power-efficient with an impedance of 36Ω and a high sensitivity of 110dB. While it works decently with small USB DAC/AMP dongles like the FiiO KA5, it truly shines when paired with a more powerful source. This could be a dedicated DAP (FiiO M11/M11 Plus), a portable DAC/Amplifier (FiiO Q15), or a desktop unit (FiiO K7 or K9). With these pairings, you’ll unlock the full potential of the driver and experience the true capabilities of the FT5.
- Model : FT5
- Headphone Design : Open Back
- Driver Type : 90mm Diameter Planar Magnetic Driver
- Frequency Response : 7 Hz – 40 kHz
- Impedance : 36Ω
- Sensitivity : 110B/Vrms
- Max Power Input : 2000mW
- Cable Length : 160cm
- Headphone Plug : Swappable 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced termination plugs
- Ear Cup Plugs : Dual 3.5mm
- Weight : 456g (exclusive cable)
List of Features:
- Open-Back Design
- 90mm Large Planar Magnetic Driver
- 6µm Nanoscale Ultra-Thin Diaphragm
- 20 neodymium Magnets on each side for a strong magnetic flux
- Micron-Plated Aluminum-Silver Alloy Coil
- Lightweight Magnesium Aluminum Alloy Construction
- High-purity Monocrystalline Copper Wire Cable
- Two Types of Earpads included
- Four types of Termination Plugs
Equipment’s used for this review:
- Headphones : FiiO FT5
- Sources : FiiO K9, FiiO M11 Plus ESS, FiiO Q15, FiiO KA5
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Norah Jones – Come Away With Me (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Adele – My Little Love (Deezer HiFi)
- 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)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (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)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Radiohead – Live in Berlin “Album” (Deezer HiFi)
- Radiohead – Pyramid Song (Deezer HiFi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Nobody Weird Like Me (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Bear McCreary’s – Valkyries (Deezer HiFi)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Instant Crush (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- 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)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5 (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Clair de Lune – Claude Debussy (Spotify)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Miles Davis – So What (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 – Dyers Eve (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Tom Sawyer (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The FiiO FT5 delivers a surprisingly powerful and impactful bass for an open-back planar headphone, with a touch of warmth and good extension. Its midrange balances neutrality with subtle coloration, showcasing details like cymbal sparkle and nuanced vocals. The treble adapts to your preference, offering either a smooth and forgiving sound with suede pads or a crisper and airier presentation with leather pads. Overall, the FT5 provides a versatile and balanced listening experience, perfect for exploring diverse genres from electronic to classical.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of 100 hours. My sound impressions below are mainly based on my experiences with the suede ear pads. Sound sources are the FiiO K9 desktop DAC/AMP, FiiO M11 Plus ESS DAP and FiiO Q15 Portable DAC/Amplifier.
The Sonic difference between Suede and Pleather Ear Pads:
Bass: Suede pads shows slight increase in sub-bass depth and rumble, with a bit more body and impact in the mid-bass compared to pleather pads. The pleather pads do have a relatively linear overall bass response, with slightly faster and clearer mid-bass.
Midrange: The suede ear pads have a slightly warmer tonality due to additional body and fullness in the lower midrange, while the pleather one shows an increase in terms of clarity and resolution in the lower midrange, with a bit more presence, dynamism, and extension in the upper midrange compared to the suede pads, which sound smoother and more relaxed.
Treble: The pleather ear pads shows an audible boost in the upper treble, resulting in a slightly increased sense of air and sparkle. It has also a more accented lower treble with additional clarity and definition compared to the smoother and more controlled suede pads.
The bass of the FiiO FT5 is surprisingly powerful and impactful for an open-back planar headphone, especially with the suede ear pads. It exhibits a decent sense of extension and control, capably handling diverse genres from electronic to rock and classical while delivering a satisfying bass response that avoids both bloat and thinness. It possesses a slight mid-bass emphasis that adds warmth and body with minimal bleeding into the midrange or obscuring other frequencies.
The open-back design naturally reduces sub-bass prominence compared to the mid-bass, but the FT5 still offers commendable sub-bass presence. Tracks like Lorde’s “Royals” and Massive Attack’s “Angel” showcase good rumble and extension without sounding anemic or excessively boosted. Overall, the FT5’s bass is well-textured and nuanced, showcasing a commendable sense of speed and resolution in complex bass passages such like in Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” and “Murmuration, thanks to its pretty capable 90mm Planar Magnetic Driver.
The FiiO FT5’s midrange shows a balance between neutrality and subtle coloration. While it highlights fundamental tones, it also reproduces instruments and vocals with good accuracy However, the FT5 isn’t strictly flat. A touch of warmth is imparted through a gentle mid-bass boost, particularly noticeable with bass guitars and drums. This adds body and richness to the sound, making it well-suited for male voices such like Dave Gahan, Sting or Isaac Hayes and for instruments in genres like jazz and classical music.
The FT5 exhibits a slightly forward upper midrange tuning, depending on the chosen ear pads. The pleather pads push vocals and instruments closer to the listener, creating a sense of intimacy and liveliness. However, poorly-recorded tracks may exhibit a hint of harshness at higher volumes with these pads. Conversely, the suede pads offer a smoother upper midrange, mitigating potential harshness. Despite these subtle variations, the FT5’s midrange offers a good level of transparency and detail retrieval. The planar magnetic driver excels at capturing subtle details. This is evident in the nuanced articulation of woodwind instruments, sparkle of cymbals, and the clarity of vocals like Adel, Sertap Erener and Diana Krall.
The FiiO FT5’s treble performance is a story of two characters, one determined by the choice of pads. With suede pads, the treble takes a backseat, opting for a smooth, forgiving, and even rolled-off approach. This creates a relaxed listening experience, perfect for those who prefer a warmer tone. However, some may find it lacking in crispness and detail. Switching to leather pads unveils a different side of the FT5. The treble gains balance and definition, showcasing its crispness without veering into harshness. The extension is pleasant but not exceptional, while the timbre remains natural and realistic while listen to instruments such like string, woodwinds and percussion.
However, the FT5’s treble isn’t just about leather and suede. Both sets of pads have their nuances. Ultimately, the FiiO FT5’s treble performance is versatile and customizable. Whether you prefer a smooth and forgiving sound or a crisper and airier presentation, there’s a pad combination that will suit your taste. Just remember, the treble might not be the star of the show, but it plays a crucial supporting role in delivering a balanced and enjoyable listening experience.
Soundstage & Imaging:
The FiiO FT5’s soundstage presents a balance between focused instrument placement and a sense of spaciousness. This approach might appeal to listeners who prioritize clear separation without compromising immersion. While the soundstage width may not match high-end models, its layered presentation helps avoid a congested feel. Imaging capabilities are noteworthy, with vocals occupying a central position and instruments clearly delineated in their own spaces. However, the prominent mid-bass can occasionally mask some of this detail.
FiiO’s debut into the planar magnetic arena with the FT5 is a resounding success. The headphones deliver impactful bass, lively and lush midrange, and adaptable treble, the FT5 delivers a versatile listening experience that excels across genres. Its combination of high-quality planar magnetic drivers, meticulously crafted design, and adaptable sound signature makes it a compelling choice for audiophiles seeking an open-back headphone with exceptional performance and value.
Pros & Cons:
- + Highly Dynamic Presentation
- + Deep Impactful Planar Bass (especially for an Open-Back Headphone)
- + Lively and Lush Midrange
- + Smooth/Fatigue-Free Treble Character
- + Both Suede and Pleather Ear Pads are Comfortable
- + Very Esthetic Industrial Look
- + Excellent Build Quality
- + Great Unboxing Experience (Rich Set of Accessories)
- – A bit on the heavy side for Headphones
- – The size of the ear pads may not be ideal for ears with a large ear helix
- – Slightly-roll of in the treble range
Thank you for the Read!