FiiO, the brand which doesn’t need any introduction in the first place since this is the King of the Chi-fi earphone manufacturer producing a wide variety of audio gears ranging from the earbuds, iem to the high end DAP’S,AMPS etc. Their latest flagship earphones are the FH7 and the FA9 which gained a lot of popularity among the consumers. The FD5 is the latest offering which possesses the large 12mm dynamic driver having a beryllium coated diaphragm. I have a lot of expectations since this has the Beryllium in it and in this review let’s check out whether this IEM stood upto my expectation.
Driver Config – 12mm Beryllium-coated diamond-like carbon (DLC) dynamic driver.
Frequency response – 10 – 40000 Hz
Impedance – 32 Ohm
Sensitivity – 109db/1mW
Type – In-Ear/ Metal
Cable – 8 strands of mono crystalline silver- plated copper cable
Cable length – 120cm
Connector – MMCX
Plug Terminations – 4.4 mm TRRS Balanced, 3.5 mm TRS Single-Ended, 2.5 mm TRRS Balanced
PACKAGE AND ACCESSORIES:
The box that the FD5 comes with is pretty big and has an outer sleeve. The sleeve is white coloured with the FD5 image over it. Sliding the sleeve there is the balck box with the subtle FD5 silver lined outline image. Inside you are welcomed with the Earpieces and the case. Underneath them are the eartips.
The case is one of the best or the best I have ever seen. I’m not sure whether that’s the pure leather but seems very nice with the blue jean tint. The locking mechanism is pretty nice with subtle magnetic attachment.Inside the case the whole base is lined with the soft velvet cloth which is very soft to touch. Separate mini compartments are given in the case for the placement of the earpiece so that they don’t get scratched which is a quite nice touch in the premiumness factor.
The cable and the sound tubes are present inside the case. The cable is of great quality and is available in different terminations which the user can choose while purchasing it. The cable is quite supple and feels very premium in the hands. The cable doesn’t get tangled very frequently which is quite nice. The connector is L shaped and the connectors are pretty rigid with strain relief.
DESIGN AND FIT:
The design of the FD5 is similar to that of the TIN Audio’s usual design language. The shell is bullet or cylindrical shaped and quite big in size. The shell faceplate is a semi open back design accompanying the rear volcanic field system. The mmcx connector area is neatly marketed in red and blue colour for the identification of the side. The nozzle is of medium length and the width is actually the sound tube dependent. The wide bore sound tube is pretty good in width and the eartips get inserted well but the narrow tubes are very small in diameter hence the eartips doesn’t get fully engaged within the sound tube.
The whole body is made out of stainless steel which is excellent for the price. Due to this build the weight can be bit heavy but using any foam tips this can be rectified which will absorb the weight of the earpieces. The build is very sturdy and strong. Since this is stainless steel, the magnets inside them being very strong, the earpieces get attracted towards each other if they are brought together. The faceplate is designed very beautifully with a nice pattern also accommodating the semi open back design.
- Acoustic Prism
- Rear Volcanic Field System
- Anti Standing Wave and Semi Open Back Design
- Beryllium Coated + DLC Diaphragm
The overall sound signature of the FD5 is more of a balanced sound signature with a touch hint of the warmth and the upper midrange presence to give that sparkle in the top end. The sound is close to that of the Harman Sound which I’m generally not a fan of since they have a lot of presence in the upper midrange which causes that shrillness.
The sound is pretty good in my first impressions with nice impactful bass and forward midrange which is pretty surprising since the graph shows the dip in the midrange. In this review let’s dive in detail about each frequency.
SOURCE: iPhone + Zorloo Ztella MQA, FiiO Q3
The FiiO has given a generous amount of ear tips to choose from but I have gone with the balanced white ear tips because I found the best sound out of it. The foam tips are personally not a go for me hence i haven’t used those tips. The vocal tips made the sound more relaxing and the treble very smoother.
There are two sound tubes, the large one and the narrow one. The narrow one made the sound very relaxed and the sound less aggressive. The wide bore tube made the bass a little bit tighter and gave the sound some aggressiveness and overall I found the wide bore tube to be very pleasant.
The low end is pretty impactful and faster is the first thing that I noticed. The bass is pretty fast and those who like the slow bass and that rumble produced by them will be quite satisfied with this fast bass too which is pretty surprising. The bass overall has nice impact,resolution, detail, separation but the thing it lacks is the weight!
The weight is lacking here hence the bass sounds very lean and has a sense of absence of body. The quantity is ofcourse richer but due to that faster bass by beryllium the weight and the rumble in the low end can be missed here. For sure this is not a Basshead IEM since this is mostly balanced in sound profile and the bass is pretty balanced too.
The mid bass has nice emphasis but still I would like a bit more roundness and full bodied bass overall. The bass doesn’t bleed into the midrange which is nice hence the bass sounds very clean and detailed. The bass is nicely resolved and textured with above average resolution. The separation is top notch too.
The Volcanic field system used in the FD5 plays a very good role here by producing a very good non distorted bass here by reducing the low frequency standing waves. These waves are responsible for the distorted bass and the cause for the bass bleed in the midrange. Thankfully this field system helped in reducing this a lot.
Overall the bass is clean, balanced, resolved, textured, detailed and fast. The weight it lacks thus rumble is very subtle but considering the balanced tuning this is one of the best bass responses and please keep in mind that this is definitely not a Bass head IEM.
- Bigfoot – Malfnktion
- Sirens Of The Sea – Ocean Labs
- Royals – Lorde
The midrange here is pretty nicely brought forward here with a nice presence of vocals. The vocals are positioned well and the instruments in the background are separated very well and sound very clear and undisturbed due to the lack of bass bleed.
Both the male and female vocals are brought out nicely forward even though they appear recessed in the graph. The engaging factor in the midrange is evidently noticed here and has a nice touch of neutrality in the tonality
The tonality is very natural and since the upper midrange is slightly hot here it appears to be a slightly brighter tonality but overall I’m very pleased with this. The timbre issues are not found here since this is being a single DD driver this is very much expectable. In the long run the peak in the upper midrange might cause you fatigue and makes everything slightly brighter but as an overall sound output its very pleasing.
The drums and the piano notes appear very natural and realistic. The overall fine notes appear natural and slightly brighter in tone. This is very surprising to me since this is a very warm set yet has that brighter tone overall. The mixture of the warm and bright plays well along with all the genres.
- The Blowers Daughter – Damien Rice
- Perfect – Ed Sheeran
- Blank Space – Taylor Swift
The treble is here tuned nicely with nice extension and detail retrieval in the upper end. The occasional over sparkle in the upper treble region can be felt in certain tracks which is quite annoying at some times. The treble is quite resolving and well separated which is quite surprising since this is a single DD driver. This ability makes this as one of the best resolving and technical DD available now in this price range.
The extension is done well and the cymbal crashes are very natural to hear and pleasing to listen to in the long sessions. The electric guitar strums can be felt very nicely and well separated. The congestion in the upper end is nil and the overall resolution is very neat and clean.
The treble sounds not harsh overall but the upper midrange hotness might sometimes bleed into the lower treble and that might cause you some inconvenience in the long listening sessions. When the metal genre tracks are played and even in the complex tracks the FD5 is able to represent them clearly without any distortion. Even after raising the volume to the highest level the sound doesnt get distorted at all.
The airiness in the upper end is really nice and spacious. The amount of air in between the instruments is very spacious and fuller. The instruments never sound crowded and crushed hence the separation is above average for the configuration it uses.
Overall the treble is smoother overall with nice detail retrieval being a Single DD and the separation and the resolution are above average in the upper end region. The slight harshness in the lower treble region is only occasional but considering the overall sound output it’s a very great set.
- Atomic Mind – Nick Johnston
- Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
- The First Time – Treble Charger
SOUNDSTAGE:The Soundstage is pretty good here due to that semi open back design and the volcanic field system. They are quite above average in all the dimensions but nothing impressive here. The soundstage has nice width and depth overall but the height seems average and in my frank opinion I have listened to iem with an even bigger soundstage for a lesser price.
The positioning of the instruments are nicely done and the layering is pretty impressive here in the FD5. The precise placements for the instruments made the IMAGING to be one of the best. The transient sweep is smooth and nice with great response. The detail retrieval is above average but they don’t come close to all BA iem, being a single DD they do a pretty good job in this department.
The FD5, one of the flagship offerings from FiiO, was launched in December last year. The FD5 possesses the large 12mm beryllium driver which is known for its impressive low end performance and the technicalities. The FD5 also possesses some impressive tech inside like the volcanic field system, acoustic prism, semi open back design and the interchangeable sound tubes instead of the filters alone! All this tech helped in delivering the impressive sound of the FD5. The low end is fast and accurate with excellent resolution and texture, the midrange is forward and nicely presented, the treble is extended well with a good amount of airiness and the separation due to that semi open back.
They also possess some cons like the weightless bass and the hot upper midrange but as an overall package they sound nice. But……This doesn’t impress me for the price they quote. The same sound or even a better sound I can hear in the IKKO OH10 or the Kbear Believe or the BQEYZ Summer! They are like half the price of this! The value it possess is way more than the sound it’s delivered hence you are spending a hell amount of bucks to get a half the price sound.
PROS AND CONS:
- Nice Dynamic Sound and a technical DD
- Bass Technicality
- Forward Midrange and Airy Treble
- Layering and Imaging
- Not the Fun Bass ( Lacks the Weight)
- Upper Mid Hotness
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.