FiiO FH3 Review
Redefining value for money.
Pros: – Top value for money without lagging behind significantly in anything
– Audiophile tuning
– Great bass
– Comfort and fit
– Construction quality
– Complete accessory package
Cons: – Heavy and bulky cable
Edit – After the release of FD3 the rating was lowered to 4.5 stars.
The FH3 sample was kindly provided by FiiO and is still under their ownership.
This review reflects my honest and subjective opinion.
You can get it from FiiO.eu
A little while ago, we have tested comparatively the two new entry level iem’s of FiiO the FD1 and FH1s, of which we thought that they reach well above their price point with great sound and accessory pack.
The reviews are available here
In the meantime FiiO presented us with their new model called FH3 which with it’s double the asking price of about 150€ is seated at the top of the entry level category or if you prefer it is the entry model of the FHx category.
The FH3 is a hybrid three drivers iem with a dynamic unit for low frequencies and two balanced armature drivers for the mids and the highs.
It is essentially an upgrade of the all time classic F9 pro combining the best parts of FD1 and FH1s plus a few more improvements.
The low frequencies are handled by a 10mm dynamic driver with a beryllium coated diaphragm which is essentially the same driver found inside the FD1.
This diaphragm is extremely thin and light but at the same time very rigid since beryllium is ¾ lighter than aluminum and four times harder than steel allowing for a thunderous yet lighting quick and dynamic bass.
Two Knowles balanced armature drivers have been used for the medium and high frequencies namely the ED 30262 and the RAD 33518.
FiiO has combined the usual active crossover with a passive one allowing for a better implementation of the three drivers resulting in a more homogeneous sound while the high frequency driver has been placed closer to the ear canal to minimize unwanted reflections.
FiiO’s patented S.Turbo technology helps further to improve low frequency performance thanks to it’s 41.5mm spiral tube which filters unwanted high frequencies delivering clearer bass.
Another innovation of FiiO is the balanced pressure relief technology.
The FH3 is designed as to ensure that the air pressure between the front and rear chambers is balanced making for a stress free listening.
Build quality and accessories
FH3 shell following the FH series tradition is constructed from aerospace grade aluminum – magnesium alloy rather than celluloid.
CNC precision machining is used to give to the FH3 it’s anatomical and aesthetically pleasing design.
Build quality , finish and design are top notch as we are accustomed with FiiO.
The FH3 features a detachable cable with MMCX connectors and a 3.5mm plug.
The material used is high purity monocrystalline silver plated copper and the cable is essentially the LC 3.5B model of FiiO.
The weight of FH3 is 7.3gr per unit and the impedance is 24Ω with a sensitivity of 114dB, a good combination allowing for an easy load while not picking internal noise.
Accessory pack is extra full and we get a hard plastic case plus a neoprene carrying case.
Regarding ear tips there are three categories one for balanced sound , one for enhanced vocals and one for boosted bass with three sizes for each plus two pairs of memory foam tips making for a total of eleven pairs.
Fit and comfort
The FH3 is a bit heavier than the FD1 / FH1s and a little lighter than the FH5.
Fit and comfort for us was excellent thanks to it’s light weight and the anatomical non bulky shape.
The FH3 fit snug but without causing discomfort or pain allowing for continuous use and very good passive noise attenuation.
The cable could be better as we found it bulky , quite heavy and difficult to handle but fortunately it doesn’t cause any microphonic noise.
We have listened to the FH3 among others with two of our benchmark portable dacs the FiiO BTR5 and the EarMen Eagle.
The FH3 is quite easy to drive, but responds very well to extra quality and more power so the more you give it the better it will sound.
The FH3 as is the case with all the latest iems from FiiO is very naturally tuned favoring a musical and balanced frequency response without exaggerating at any given part of the spectrum.
Harmonic richness with the correct timbre rendering all the instruments very close to reality.
It is a full bodied fast and dynamic sound with the right amount of note decay sometimes more mature sounding than the FH5 / FH7 approaching in tonality the perfect FA9.
Bass extends down low to the first octave and it is very neutrally tuned without being accentuated and free of mid bass bloat.
It is fast and tight with enough layering to portray multiple bass instruments and notes with ease even during the most complex passages.
The combination of the beryllium coated driver with the S.Turbo technology makes for an explosive and hard hitting bass without any kind of exaggeration.
Thanks to the properly implemented crossover the cohesion of the drivers is very smooth without hearing any artifacts at the transition frequencies.
The crystal clear mids sound very organic well bodied and rounded with a slight emphasis bringing them a small step upfront.
Higher above while there is full energy and enough detail to satisfy , everything is rendered smoothly and without sharpness in an effortless way suitable for long listening sessions without the hint of fatigue.
The FH3 is able to project a wide and airy headstage with good space cues and accurate instrument poisoning but don’t expect to hear level depth or holographic sound.
All in all is a very satisfying performance not reaching of course the extra insight levels of the higher priced contenders but it is surely not that far behind.
At the end
Honestly we do not know how FiiO succeeds to do so every time but they have surely managed again to present us with an iem that offers a far greater performance than the asking price would suggest.
The FH3 not only justifies it’s double asking price from the entry level iem’s but we are now at the point were spending more does not necessarily buy us equally added performance.
We have reached the sweet spot of price to performance ratio were most buyers will be greatly satisfied without the need to spend any more money.
There is a new King in the value oriented mid tier category to reign supreme over all and it is called FiiO FH3.
The test playlist – http://open.qobuz.com/playlist/5669033
Copyright 2020 – Laskis Petros