FiiO EM5 Review
FiiO EM5 – One ear bud to rule them all
Pros: – Finally an open ear bud with real bass
– Spacious and open sound
– Natural tuning
– Very comfortable
– Top tier excellent cable with swappable plugs included
– Full accessory pack
Cons: – Requires excellent fit to sound correct
– No ear hooks included
The review sample was kindly provided by FiiO and is still under their ownership.
This is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.
You can get it from FiiO.eu
Do you hate iems penetrating into your ears?
No problem we have the solution for you!
Do you remember open fit ear buds?
They were once the only available in – ear headphones that they ruled supreme till the introduction and evolution of the iem’s which eventually almost whipped them out.
Well almost because there has always been a small limited audience that continued to prefer them because of their unique ability not to penetrate deep into the ear canal.
Some companies continued to produce ear buds , among them FiiO which has always had an usually entry level model in its catalog.
And suddenly they decided that ear buds users have equal rights to audiophile sound and so they presented us with the EM5.
Behold FiiO EM5
The modern looking and luxurious finished FiiO EM5 is a single dynamic driver ear bud featuring a large 14.2mm beryllium coated diaphragm which is very light and at the same time very rigid.
The beryllium special properties in combination with the long stroke structure of the driver allow for a better bass performance with lower distortion.
The usual disadvantage of ear buds is the early low end roll off and FiiO in order to address this problem they have opted for a unique solution.
Thanks to the special 3D printing manufacturing process the EM5 contains inside a flute inspired acoustic bass tube that acts something like the bass reflex of the speakers and effectively boosts lower frequencies.
The EM5 features a fixed non detachable cable , a choice thoughtfully made by FiiO in order not to compromise the excellent anatomical fit of the ear bud.
The cable itself is a marvel made of high purity sterling silver in litz braiding featuring a twist lock swappable plug that allows us to switch in seconds between 2.5mm/3.5mm/4.4mm heads to cover all possible use scenarios.
A truly unique cable that we would definitely like to see from now on in all the future mid tier and up FiiO iem’s.
FiiO suggests that for better sound quality we should use the EM5 with the provided foam ear tips which fine tune the sound and help with the fit.
There are three sets (bass boot , treble enhancing and balanced) with six pairs of tips for each set stored in their own plastic case.
Sadly no ear hooks are included and that’s a pity because they help a lot with fitting
Finally an extra leather carrying case (HB3) is included to safely store everything in it.
Thanks to the new swappable heads cable changing from single ended to balanced was easy as a breeze and we used various dacs and daps like the award winning FiiO M11PRO lately awarded with the EISA prize.
Of course there is no need to use something exotic to drive the EM5 as it will play with everything you have at your disposal thanks to the 32Ω impedance with a high 109dB sensitivity.
Fit and comfort is just excellent as it is to be expected from an open fit ear bud but we should definitely keep in mind that proper fitting is of utmost importance for the sound quality.
So assuming that the EM5 are properly fitted then they sound exceptionally balanced with a pleasant and natural tone full of harmonic richness.
The big surprise was that we actually heard bass yes real bass (not bloated mid bass pretending to be bass) not ever heard in an ear bud so far and we have heard a lot.
Low end extension is good without much roll off with excellent quality characteristics making for a tight and well layered bass with adequate body and fullness.
Of course do not expect subwoofer performance or super intense dynamic behavior , let’s not forget that we are talking about an ear bud here , but in real life you are going to enjoy most types of music and most listeners will be satisfied well except the hardcore bass heads.
The mids – that are more or less fit agnostic – stand out as the star of the show with a tastefully done emphasis resulting in a lively and full bodied presentation with a very natural timbre.
Higher above there is enough energy to resolve details clearly and the EM5 sounds airy and transparent with good note extension and decay but never being sharp or sibilant.
With open fit ear buds that we lose in passive noise isolation – that is practically non existent – we gain it in space allocation due to their open nature
And here is where the EM5 really shines with a sound presentation reminiscent of large good open back headphone.
The EM5 has the unique ability to project a spacious and holographic scene with excellent imaging and the correct proportional placement of instrument individuals and groups even during the most complex passages.
A superb performer that will surprise you by the openness and the unique out of the head experience.
The supplied foam ear tips provide some very welcomed fine tuning while they help a lot with the fit of the ear buds.
Let us close the sound impressions by emphasizing once again the importance of the proper fitting since in any other case we will surely experience loss of low end and/or unwanted exaggeration of the higher frequencies.
At the end
Well it just can’t get more simple and straight by expressing our honest opinion that to our ears the EM5 is the best audiophile ear bud on the market right now.
At last after so many years of lying into the shadows an almost forgotten headphone species is reborn from its ashes.
We have in our hands an excellent sounding top tier open fit ear bud with a performance that is not that far behind from the same priced iems while in some areas it even surpasses them by a fair margin.
Ear bud devoted friends should rejoice because thanks to FiiO’s EM5 you can still enjoy your beloved comfortable fit but this time without any loss of sound quality.
The test playlist – http://open.qobuz.com/playlist/5669033
Copyright – Petros Laskis 2020.