FiiO FD3 Review
Hard to beat!
Pros: – Balanced with a mild bass emphasis
– Punchy and dynamic
– Good bass extension
– Clear and resolving
– Wide and precise soundstage
– Two sound tubes
– Excellent build quality
– Pro version with upgraded cable
– Full of accessories
– Budget friendly price
Cons: – The black tube can sound a touch bright without the proper ear tips
– Somewhat dry texture
– Bass is little boomy with the red sound tube
– Not the last word in treble extension and holography
The FD3 review sample was kindly provided free of charge and I have only covered import fees and taxes.
FiiO never asked for a favorable review and this is my honest and subjective evaluation of it
All links provided are not affiliated and I don’t get any commission by clicking on them
The FD3 (€99.99) is a new single dynamic driver earphone positioned in the second row of the FiiO single Dynamic driver family after the entry level FD1 (€64.99) followed by the mid tier FD5 (€299.99) and the flagship FD7 (€599.99).
There is also a pro version available, named FD3 Pro (€139.99) with the only difference being the upgraded silver-plated monocrystalline copper cable with interchangeable termination plugs.
You can find them at https://www.fiio.eu/
The FD3 boasts a large 12mm dynamic driver unit with full-DLC diaphragm material. DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) is a highly rigid material that also has an extremely lightweight structure that reduces unnecessary vibrations and makes the driver more responsive and clean sounding.
It uses strong magnets that produce a strong magnetic flux of up to 1.5T. This helps in a deep-diving lower end and a highly detailed, ultra-low distortion in the high-end frequencies.
It also features an acoustic prism in the front cavity that is fitted close to the front end.
This helps in precisely controlling the sound waves travel inside the cavity, reducing high-frequency response, and provides an overall sound wave diffusion.
It also helps in reducing the distortion in the output and enables the pair to produce a clean output.
The semi-open design of the FD3 on FiiO’s patented technology for balanced air pressure brings several advantages.
Not only does such a design lead to more natural sound but it also effectively protects your hearing by balancing air pressure within the FD3 leading to less pressure on your eardrums.
FiiO implemented the replaceable tuning nozzle in the flagship FD5 that is being followed here by the FD3.
It comes with two sets of tuning nozzles, one with a thin diameter and the other with a wide diameter.
The thin diameter nozzle benefits the lower end while the wide diameter nozzle benefits the high frequencies of the FD3 series.
Build quality and materials
The FD3 has a simple, yet beautiful appearance based on the theme of curves.
The unique celluloid panel is covered with Z5D film coating glass for a pure yet fresh transparent look and the aluminum-magnesium alloy of the body makes it exceptionally light, making it easier and more pleasurable to carry around.
The aluminum-magnesium is made with an industrial process combining five-axis CNC processing and hand polishing.
Subjectively speaking the FD3 is very well designed with a beautiful and modern, discreet look.
Build quality as always with FiiO is top notch and I have nothing more to comment.
Fit and comfort
The FD3 has a rounded body with a slightly angled and prolonged nozzle while weight is lower than the FD5, as a result the fit is just perfect, sitting tight in the ear without falling with head movement.
The featherweight combined with the excellent fit make for a stress-free, comfortable user experience even after extended use.
Sound isolation is good but not perfect due to the semi open design but under normal listening conditions everything works just fine.
Cable and accessories
The standard FD3 edition comes with a detachable MMCX cable, made from 4-strands of high-purity monocrystalline copper wire ending in an angled 3.5mm plug.
The cable is certainly better than the one found in the FH3 and furthermore if you have opted for the Pro edition then you get an upgraded silver-plated monocrystalline copper cable with interchangeable termination plugs.
The accessory pack is very generous despite the modest pricing and we are provided with an entry level acrylic carry case, two sound tubes, a MMCX tool, 6 bass ear tips, 6 balanced ear tips, 6 vocal ear tips, 2 foam tips and a cleaning brush.
The FD3 rated at 32Ω with a sensitivity of 110dB is very easy to drive and all entry level DAC/amps are sufficient enough to drive it to its full potential.
During the evaluation process I have used various devices like the ddHiFi TC35B Pro, FiiO BTR3K, EarMen Sparrow and the reference THX Onyx.
Since this is an FD3 specific review excluding the Pro edition, the testing was limited to single-ended sources and as per usual practice the FD3 was burned about 100 hours.
I have started the listening sessions with the default “red” sound tube fitted in the nozzle.
I was immediately impressed with the pleasing and engaging mid range, the smooth and inoffensive highs, the full and slightly boosted bass, which unfortunately sounded a little boomy, hollow and uncontrolled.
Then i cycled through all the available ear tips, even let the FD3 burn for another 50 hours but the issue didn’t vanish.
Suddenly I remembered about the second, “black”, sound tube so swapped immediately and after testing with the same material the miracle just happened!
Bass became tight and controlled, fast, full, with excellent dynamic range, good levels of clarity and layering while mid-bass bloat was reduced and it didn’t mask nor cloud the rest of the frequencies too much.
The bass problem was successfully solved but now the higher frequencies sounded a touch forward and not as smooth as with the “red” tube the balanced ear tips.
A little experimentation and testing with the available ear tips, offered the desired fine tuning and I settled down with the bass boost ear tips which without noticeably affecting the bass quality, slightly toned down the highs resulting in a mostly balanced and natural signature suitable for all kinds of music.
And with this combination i have thoroughly enjoyed the well rounded and full bodied mids blending nicely together with the bass and the highs.
Timbre is quite natural, voices emerging with clarity in a cunning interplay with the instruments only slightly lacking in finesse and articulation compared to the much more expensive FD5.
Sound is cohesive and well integrated, the benefits of the single dynamic driver, while decay seems to be a tad more rushed on the higher frequencies that sound ethereal and slightly thinner.
The soundstage is surprisingly wide and open but not artificially extended with satisfying positioning accuracy although lacking in depth and reverb.
The FD3 offers a musical and engaging listening experience that is fatigue free and suitable for extended listening sessions while there is not one musical genre that cannot handle successfully.
Vs the FD1
Bass on the FD1 (review) rolls a little earlier although lows are tuned more neutrally with less mid bass coloring while there is a certain upper-mid emphasis that can make them sound a little forward and harsh.
A slightly different tuning compared to the FD3 that some users might find more to their liking.
Leaving tuning aside, the FD3 sounds definitely upgraded since articulation is of finer quality, resolves better, it is more dynamic, fuller, more natural and has the upper hand on the soundstage.
Both are lightweight and fit comfortably in the ear while they share the same cable and accessories pack.
The FD1 may be the best budget earphone but if funds allowed i would certainly pick the FD3.
Vs the FH3
There are a few fundamental differences regarding the tonality and the FH3 (review) is slightly more extended on the sub bass with less mid bass emphasis so it is to be considered the most neutral in the lower registers.
Bass on the FH3 is somewhat leaner but cleaner, tighter, better controlled with greater dynamic impact and layering.
The FH3 is tuned with a touch of emphasis in the mids which also resolve better and are of finer articulation while treble is laid back and smoother compared to the FD3 (with both sound tubes).
But in contrast the FD3 sounds fuller and more cohesive throughout the whole frequency range, with a natural decay and timbre whether the FH3 is quite rushed and not that well integrated while the timbre is slightly metallic and artificial.
Accessory pack is the same excluding the FH3 cable which is an old style design of worse quality while we consider the FD3 to fit more comfortably and securely in the ear.
As always the buyer is called to judge and decide which one fits his needs better.
Vs the FD5
The two earphones share almost the same tuning with the FD5 (review) being a touch more prominent in the upper mid range, a difference that is almost ironed out when we fit the FD3 with the “black” sound tube.
Leaving frequency response aside, the FD5 has the upper hand in all technicalities and various sound performance qualities.
Bass is certainly fuller, weightier, more tight, better controlled and layered with greater dynamic contrast and impact.
Mid-range and treble texture is superior, they sound fuller with finer articulation, more natural timbre and less rushed decay while although the soundstage is a tad airer and wider on the FD3, the FD5 takes a clear lead regarding the depth and overall holography.
There isn’t the slightest doubt that the FD5 is far superior and worth the extra cash for the sound performance alone, not to mention the high quality cable with the interchangeable plugs and the luxury carrying case.
At the end
You can’t beat FiiO when it comes to designing budget friendly products with excellent price to performance value.
Don’t let the price fool you, a few years ago you would have to pay twice as that to get the same performance.
The new FD3 is thoroughly musical, quite balanced and smooth, has excellent build quality, comfortable fit and a great accessory pack.
Another winner from FiiO that outperforms the competition and gets highly recommended as a great entry level budget iem.
Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021