FiiO FH5 Hybrid IEM Review

INTRODUCTION

FiiO have been very busy in the portable audio world of late, and it seems like only a short time ago they debuted their F9 series, and then followed up with a more consumer tuned (warm and smooth) FH1. With each release FiiO have progressively learned from previous versions, and they have got a lot of things right quite early – which other manufacturers still struggle with (like fit and comfort).

So when they announced the new 4 driver hybrid FH5 and at a very competitive $250-300 price point, it was natural for many people (including myself) to take notice. Most multiple driver IEMs (including hybrids) by other well known audio companies tend to be at the pricier end of the scale ($400 ++). So how well would the FH5 stack up against not only IEMs in a similar price point, but also well established products at a much higher end of the cost scale? Lets take a look together.

ABOUT FiiO

By now, most people with an interest in personal audio (and especially portable audio) should know about the FiiO Electronics Company. If you don’t, here’s a very short summary.

FiiO was first founded in 2007. Their first offerings were some extremely low cost portable amplifiers – which were sometimes critiqued as being low budget “toys”. But FiiO has spent a lot of time with the audio community at sites like Head-Fi, and continued to listen to their potential buyers, adopt their ideas, and grow their product range. They have a full range of digital audio players and many of these are on their 2nd or 3rd iterations. And their flagship products can comfortably sit amongst other other creators of audio products, and often at higher price levels.

They’ve now developed new cables, desktop and portable amplifiers, DACs, ear-buds and earphones. In the earphone line, they have rapidly matured, particularly in the hybrid segment, and their F9 series and first of their FH series was well received.

FiiO’s products have followed a very simple formula since 2007 – affordable, stylish, well built, functional, measuring well, and most importantly sounding good.

DISCLAIMER

The FiiO FH5 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me freely as a review sample. FiiO have asked me to keep it for my personal use, or for follow up comparisons, and I thank them for this. The retail price at time of review is ~ USD 260.

PREAMBLE

If you haven’t read any of my reviews, I suggest starting here, as it will give you an insight into my known preferences and bias.

For the purposes of this review – I used the FiiO FH5 straight from the headphone-out socket of many of my portables, but predominantly the X5iii, M7, X7ii, N5ii and my iPhone. I did not generally further amp them (I did test them with my Q1ii, Q5, XRK-NHB, and E17K), as IMO they do not benefit greatly from additional amplification (YMMV and it may depend on your source). In the time I have spent with the FH5, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in).

This is a purely subjective review – my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt – especially if it does not match your own experience.

THE PACKAGE

The FiiO FH5 arrived in quite a large (~ 155mm x 209mm x 73mm) retail box with very simple black over-sleeve (just the words FiiO, FH5, Hi-Res Audio logo, and a graphic image of the FH5 on the sleeve). Inside is a large book style case, simply embossed with the FiiO name/logo. Opening this reveals the FH5 safely held inside a foam cut-out. Under the cut-out are two compartments – one holding the large array of tips and the second holding the carry and storage cases. The storage case is very similar to their other Pelican type cases and provides pretty good protection as well as storage. Because of it’s size, its more suited to jacket pocket than pants pocket use.

There is also a pocketable soft-case (similar to the one from the F9 Pro). Its essentially a neoprene fabric clamshell (zipped) which has sufficient padding to protect, but is small enough to fit in a pants / jeans pocket. Its a perfect size.

This full accessory package includes:

  • 1 pair FiiO FH5 IEMs
  • 1 x 3.5mm MMCX stereo cable
  • 3 sets of “balanced” silicone ear tips (S M L)
  • 3 sets of “vocal enhanced” silicone ear tips (S M L)
  • 3 sets of “bass enhanced” silicone ear tips (S M L)
  • 3 set of Crystal foam tips (inexplicably all in medium)
  • 1 x cleaning tool
  • 1 x velcro cable tie
  • 1 x rigid Pelican type case
  • 1 x soft neoprene carry case
  • Instruction manual & warranty card

The tips are interesting – the tuning ability seems to come down to aperture width and also material rigidity (unfortunately none of the supplied tips were able to give me a proper seal). The supply of 3 sets of “M” foam tips was also puzzling. My ear canals are large so of course none fit me.

For the price though – its a pretty comprehensive overall package.

THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

ModelFiiO FH5
Approx price$260 USD
Type4 driver Hybrid IEM
Driver DD1 x 10mm polymer nano-composite
Drivers BA1 x Knowles ED3062 and 1 x Knowles dual TWFK-31082
Driver Config1 x DD bass, 1 x BA mid-freq , 1 x dual BA high-freq
Freq Range15Hz – 40kHz
Impedance19Ω
Sensitivity112 dB/mW
Cable ConnectionStandard MMCX detachable
Cable Type1.2m mono-crystalline silver plated copper (TPU sheath)
JackGold plated, 90 deg angled, 3.5mm SE
Weight (FH5 + cable + tips)~40g
Casing materialCNC machined aluminium-magnesium alloy 

MEASUREMENTS

The graphs I use are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget. I suspect it is slightly down at around 9-10 kHz, and tend to dip slightly at sub bas with foam tips), but seems reasonably accurate through the rest of the spectrum.

I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else’s, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response – especially if you’ve followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I usually always use crystal foam tips (medium bore opening) – and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements – and output is under 1 ohm.

The graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I’ve included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.

Channel matching is extremely good (practically perfect) over the entire frequency range with just a small difference at 4-5 kHz (crossover on this pair?). It is rare to find an IEM with such perfect matching at this price point (in my experience).

BUILD

The FiiO FH5 has the type of shape you would normally associate with higher end customs, and is almost a cross between a wing type and peanut/jelly-bean shape design. Basically its designed to ergonomically fit snugly inside your outer ear cavity, securely held inside the Concha with the skinny end inside your Intertragical notch.

It is by no means a small shell – measuring approx 22mm across, 18mm high and 12mm deep (main body) with the nozzle extending a further 5mm (slightly forward and upward). The shell is in 3 pieces (see diagram) and CNC machined from aluminium-magnesium alloy. The outer shell is decorated with a brass coloured outline, and textured lines across the body. The inner shell has an internal bass port, R/L indicator and very smooth contoured lines with no sharp edges.

The nozzle extends 5mm (forward and up) and has a reasonable lip. It has been a very good fit with Symbio Mandarine tips. The nozzle measures 6mm across, and is covered by a foam safety mesh covering the 3 sound tubes (one for each driver – low, mid, high x2). I did try removing the mesh and measuring the sound difference between with mesh and without, and there is no frequency response change. I couldn’t discern a difference either (subjective).

At the top rear of the FH1 shell is an almost flush fitting standard MMCX socket (protrudes by about 1mm). The socket is firm with the supplied cable, and has a red or blue ring on the body for easy identification. The FH5 comes with a single ended SPC cable. FiiO have used a high purity mono-crystalline silver plated copper encased in a very flexible transparent TPU sheath. From the MMCX connectors to the Y-split is a single twisted pair on each side, and then from y-split to jack is two side-by-side twisted pairs. The FH5 cable has preformed ear-loops – again with a colour coded (blue or red) indicator. I find these loops really comfortable and work well. Both the Y-split and Jack are metal, and there is a cinch above the Y-split which works well for snugging the cable tight. The cable has low microphonics – essentially non-existent when using the cinch.

Internally the FH5 uses a 3 way driver system – single 10mm polymer nano-composite dynamic driver for the lows, single Knowles ED3062 BA driver for the mid-range, and dual Knowles TWFK-31082 for the highs. Each driver has its own sound tube, and FiiO says this adds to separation, imaging and also extension.

All in all, the design and build quality is pretty much faultless, and what I would personally expect from an IEM in a much higher price bracket.

FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

Isolation is generally average for a Hybrid IEM (you will always likely get some form of external noise through the bass port in a high noise environment). It does ultimately depend on tip choice and seal. I have used these on our suburban streets and the isolation is pretty good – but I did try on a flight a couple of weeks ago, and for me personally it was not strong enough to isolate the noise of the aircraft engines – especially with my normal low listening levels.

Fit and comfort thoughts are very subjective, and will vary from person to person. My experience has been one of complete satisfaction. The FiiO FH5 has been designed for a completely ergonomic fit (much like a custom monitor). For me they are a perfect, sit flush with my outer ear, and basically disappear within a few seconds of wearing (I could forget they are in). I have slept with them intact, and woken hours later with them still there and no discomfort. The lack of hard edges and the smooth internal finish contribute to an extremely positive experience. The FH5 is designed to only be used cable over ear.

The FH5 has a good lip on the nozzle. I’ve tried Spiral Dots, Spin-fits, Ostry tuning tips, Sony Isolation tips and Symbio Mandarines. The best seal for me was the Symbios (because of the relatively shallow fit.

SOUND QUALITY

Most of the testing at this point was done with my X7ii, no EQ, and Symbio Mandarine tips. I used the X7ii simply because paired they not only gave me a very transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power. There was no EQ engaged.

For the record – on most tracks, the volume level on the X7ii (paired with AM3A) was around 30-40/120 on low gain (depending on the track) which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list https://www.head-fi.org/f/articles/brookos-test-tracks.17556/

While testing I constantly switched with my reference pair (Alclair Curve + E17K with +4 bass) to give me a good base-line.

Relativities

  • Sub-bass – Good extension and nice rumble (Lorde’s “Royals), but does not overpower the mid-range, and is not loose or uncontrolled. Elevated compared to mid-bass.
  • Mid-bass – reasonably linear with good impact, but not quite as dominant as sub-bass. The bass timbre is good and I was surprised at its overall speed. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” showed plenty of thump but again I was surprised that despite the ability to be reasonably visceral in intensity, it again does not overshadow vocals. The one thing I noticed overall with both sub and mid-bass is that its there when needed, but isn’t the focus when its not in the track.
  • Lower mid-range – recessed compared to both bass and upper mid-range and lower treble. Male vocal fundamentals are very good, but female vocals are a little more dominant than male. There is the slightest bit of distance with male vocals, but overall weight and timbre are good.
  • Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a quick rise from the lower mid-range to a peak at 2 kHz, then a drop down to ~ 3.5 kHz. The transition from lower to upper-mids is reasonably cohesive, but the somewhat early rise can be quite forward depending on the tracks used (happens more often with female vocals). Guitar can also be quite forward, and my one concern with the FH5 is that the peak and consequent drop could tend toward a slight fatigue after extended listening. Of course, I am quite sensitive in this area – but its worth noting. In tracks like Sarah Jarosz “Mile on the Moon” when switching between the Curve (my reference pair) and the FH5, there is just a better balance with the Curve’s mid-range, and the mids overall sound a little more natural. The forwardness is not blatantly overdone though and does lend toward a very clear and clean vocal presentation.
  • Lower treble has very good extension, and a nice overall balance throughout. It is also quite linear with a very slight emphasis at 7 kHz for cymbal brilliance. This provides gives good clarity with cymbal strikes, and the subsequent decay is also very good. Its worth noting here that the lower treble is not overdone, and if anything provides reasonable detail without over-emphasis. Interestingly if you adjust the upper mid-range via EQ, the lower treble is almost as good as I’ve heard with respect to extension and balance.
  • Upper treble rolls seems to extend quite well with some decent “air”, but is difficult to capture properly on my budget measurements set-up, and with my “aged” hearing I no longer notice much over 12 kHz anyway.

Resolution / Detail / Clarity

  • Clarity overall is extremely good. Upper-mids have that emphasis to give guitars bite and definition (although I would question whether it errs on the side of slightly too much). Micro details are quite evident and easily discernible.
  • Cymbal hits have good clarity and presence but aren’t over-emphasised and sit quite slightly back in the overall mix compared to vocals. Decay is very good, and trails off nicely after the cymbal strike.

Sound-stage, Imaging

  • Directional queues are good – clean and clear . Presentation of stage is just on the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks, so not what I would call expansive.
  • I have a live recording of Lakme’s “Flower Duet” which has two sopranos (Netrebko and Garanca) moving to the rear of the stage at the end of the song, and continuing the last chorus from there. This is a good track to capture the impression of stage depth. The FH5 captured the transition well – although the forwardness of the vocals again is not as good as the presentation on the Curve.
  • The applause section of the same track showed a very good sense of immersion (the sound of the audience flowing around me), and the tonality gave a reasonable touch of realism. Width and depth seems nicely matched if a touch small dimensionally.
  • “Let it Rain” (Amanda Marshall) gave a nice three dimensional feel (the way the track is miked) with good guitar and vocal focus. There was the usual sibilance with Amanda’s vocals – and it should be there because its in the recording, but it wasn’t over done (in fact it was a really good experience).

Strengths

  • Overall balance of the frequency range.
  • Very good presentation of both sub and mid-bass.
  • Precise imaging and a nicely shaped (if intimate) sense of stage.
  • Overall cohesion with lower and upper register vocals
  • Good for both female and male vocals.
  • Lower treble is extended and nicely balanced overall.

Weaknesses

  • Forwardness of the mid-range tends to dominate and can become fatiguing (at least for me)
  • The early rise into the vocal harmonics area, and then subsequent fall can introduce very slight stridency with some artists – especially with female vocalists.

AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The FiiO FH5 doesn’t need amplification for overall volume – and because its impedance isn’t overly low, any source with an output impedance of less than 2 ohms (to meet damping requirements) should pair OK.

With my iPhone SE around 25-35% volume is more than enough with most tracks, and the FiiOs are generally at around 30-40/120 single ended. I also tried the FH5 with the Q1ii, A5 (too much gain), Q5, E17K and XRK-NHB, but noticed no real differences in dynamics on any except for the XRK-NHB. The second order harmonics with the XRK-NHB were very enjoyable and did tend to add a little more body to the lower mid-range as well as softening some of the forwardness of the upper mid-range.

RESPONSE TO EQ?

By now you already know where I consider the FH5’s single weakness to be – the slightly forward mid-range. Unfortunately this was one issue the E17K wasn’t going to solve, so it was just a matter of applying some straight EQ using the X7ii’s 10 band EQ. Dropping the 2 kHz by 4 dB and the 1 kHz by 2dB was enough to take some of the forwardness from the overall frequency range, and (for me anyway) completed the overall balance. If this had been the default signature, I do think FiiO would have been close to the perfect overall tonality. Fortunately its an easy change to introduce.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS

These comparisons were all done with the X7ii, (no EQ) – and volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first.

I’ve had a lot of requests for comparisons to many different IEMs, so please excuse some of the choices – especially given the price points.

Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs FiiO FH1

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 75
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Dual Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityFH1 includes a balanced and single ended (mobile on cable controls). They are reasonable quality for the price. FH5’s cable is single ended only, but vastly superior build quality.
AccessoriesFH1 has good accessories for the price (reasonable tip selection and carry case). The FH5 has more accessories and higher quality.
Build QualityThe FH1 is a poly-carbonate shell with bass nozzles. The FH5 is a lot better build with its aluminium-magnesium alloy shell.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are very comfortable with very ergonomic designs and could be worn for hours.
 
Sound Quality OverallThese two are incredibly close tonally. And the main difference to me is that the FH1 sounds a little looser, and not as defined overall. The FH5 has more clarity and sounds cleaner. The FH1 also has a little bit of haze – particularly in the lower treble. FH5 has a little bit more bass impact, and it is both cleaner and quicker.
My PreferenceThis is an easy one. The FH1 represents considerable value at its price point, but for my tastes, cannot compete with its cleaner and clearer “brother”. The FH5 is a worthy upgrade, and the bonus is better sonics and build quality.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs FiiO F9 Pro

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 140
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Triple Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityF9 Pro includes a balanced and single ended (mobile on cable controls). They are reasonable quality for the price. FH5’s cable is single ended only, but vastly superior build quality.
AccessoriesBoth have comparable quality and quantity of accessories which does show the very good accessory value included with the F9 Pro.
Build QualityBoth have an aluminium alloy shell. And both are finished really well. I can’t fault the build on either IEM.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are very comfortable with very ergonomic designs and could be worn for hours.
 
Sound Quality OverallThe FH5 has deeper presentation of bass overall, and presents male and female vocals with better balance. The F9 Pro tends to be a little lean with male vocals, but very good with female. Both are very mid-forward. The F9 has far more treble emphasis, and those sensitive to this should probably avoid. Both are quite clean and clear, but again the FH5 sounds clearer overall to me.
My PreferenceThis is a tough one because I like the FH5’s overall tonality better, but I do think the F9 Pro has a nice transition from upper mids to lower treble (although it is clearly a more coloured IEM). As long as I can EQ the FH5’s 2 kHz peak back a little – the FH5 is worth it for the better tonality and overall build presentation.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs Mee Audio P1

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 199
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Single Dynamic
Cable QualityThe P1 includes two cables – a single ended (mobile on cable controls) and another single ended higher quality SPC cable. FH5’s cable is also fantastic build quality, and the sheath design means it will never unravel (the P1 cable is starting to). The two IEMs are comparable in cable quality, although ultimately the FH5 cable is likely to last longest.
AccessoriesBoth have every good accessories for the price – well thought out with very good tip selection and cases
Build QualityBoth have an alloy shell – the P1 is zinc whilst the FH5 is aluminium-magnesium. And both are finished really well (although I know over time that the finish on the P1 can deteriorate). But I can’t fault the build on either IEM.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are very comfortable with very ergonomic designs and could be worn for hours.
 
Sound Quality OverallSimilar overall tonality with both offering very consistent quality and timbre in the bass response. P1 is a little richer and fuller tonally particularly through the lower mid-range. They are both very clear, but I do think the P1 has slightly better transition from low to high mids and from there to lower treble. The P1 is a little more coloured in the upper mid-range, but for a female vocal lover its a good colouration (nicely euphonic).
My PreferenceAnother tough one – because the P1’s Achilles heel is its sensitivity (its hard to drive and needs an amp). But as far as OOTB tonality goes, the P1 has fewer flaws and there is a reason its regarded as one of the best in its price range. But for personal preference (and as long as I can apply simple EQ), I do like the fit and overall tonality of the FH5. Both are good choices though.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs Alclair Curve

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 250
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Dual BA Driver
Cable QualityThe Curve’s cable is a simple twisted pair – but it is 2 pin connection (which I prefer). The FH5 cable is higher quality though.
AccessoriesFiiO takes this. The Curve’s accessories are good (including a very good carry case), but sparse in comparison to the FH5.
Build QualityBoth are incredibly well build, and the Curve has the best overall ergonomic design I’ve experienced on a universal IEM. It also isolates incredibly well. The FH5 has better overall materials (alloy vs polycarbonate) in its build – but realistically this is a tie due to the overall quality and design of each.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are incredibly comfortable – but ultimately nothing I’ve tried yet matches the Curve for overall comfort.
 
Sound Quality OverallThe Curve is my reference pair. It has one of the most beautiful transitions I’ve heard from mid-range through to treble, and its one fault is that can be a little bass light. The FH5 comparatively is more bassy but also more etched and coloured in the upper mid-range (and it is unnaturally so when listening to the Curve for a while).
My PreferenceI’d have to EQ both to get my desired signature. A drop in the mid-range on the FH5 (2 kHz) and a linear rise in the bass (centered at 50-100 Hz) on the Curve. Both sound really good with EQ applied – but ultimately OOTB or EQ’d, I’d stick with the Curve.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs LZ A5

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 260
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs 5 Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityThe LZ A5 cable is pretty well built, but being cloth covered carries more microphonics and is not on par with the extremely well built FiiO cable on the FH5.
AccessoriesThe two are comparable. The LZ-A5 has less tips, but does have the tuning filters. Both have very good storage cases. Overall I’d give the nod slightly to the FH5.
Build QualityBoth have an aluminium alloy shell. And both are finished really well. I can’t fault the build on either IEM.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are very comfortable with very ergonomic designs and could be worn for hours.
 
Sound Quality OverallNote this comparison is with the new LZ filters (I’m using the black one which is the most balanced). The LZ-A5 is very V-shaped and there is a lot of bass warmth and emphasis, but this is countered somewhat by the upper-mid and lower treble intensity. The FH5 in comparison has less bass impact, but has more overall balance and sounds slightly cleaner. The LZ-A5 has better transition from lower-mids though to lower-treble (more coherency) – but is also a lot brighter overall.
My PreferenceOn overall build and balance my choice would be the FH5. I’d want to EQ both, and both respond incredibly well to minor tweaks. OOTB (with the new filters) the LZ-A5 gives more tuning options, but they remain very V shaped no matter what you choose. The FH5 is easier to EQ to my tastes and ultimately would be my personal choice.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs Jays Q-Jays

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 299
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Dual BA Driver
Cable QualityThe q-Jays cable is again very well built, with a kevlar reinforced sheath and its strength is much better than it looks. It also has a proprietary screw on MMCX design which is very good for longevity. The FiiO cable is undoubtedly slightly better looking and almost indestructible – but the q-Jays is easier to manage (less bulk). Call this one a draw.
AccessoriesBoth have a very good selection of tips and very good overall accessory packages. The q-Jays has the best hard carry case I’ve come across. Both are very good value for the investment.
Build QualityThe two are chalk and cheese in terms of size with the q-Jays being dwarfed by the FH5’s larger footprint. The build quality is simply immaculate on both – but this is one instance where the q-Jays overall attention to detail and design points (eg screw off filter for cleaning) are just slightly better than the FH5. The build material on both cannot be faulted.
Comfort / ErgonomicsBoth are incredibly comfortable and simply disappear when worn. The q-Jays can get a comfortable deep insertion, and their isolation is extremely good.
 
Sound Quality OverallLike their build, the two are again chalk and cheese. The q-Jays are a lot flatter and more balanced, and the 7 kHz peak decreases audibly depending on insertion depth and tip choice (it’s never bothered me because I wear them reasonably deep). The q-Jays bass perfectly matches its mid-range and there is great coherency. It’s only drawback for me is the sub-bass rolls off a little. Comparatively the FH5 is more V-shaped, and more etched in the mid-range – but the bass is clearer and has more impact.
My PreferenceReally tough one. With FH5 EQ’d I very much like both, but with the q-Jays I’ve never felt the need to EQ (which is why I purchased the review sample from Jays). Due to the equivalence on things like build and comfort, and the fact I can wear the q-Jays OOTB and they isolate better – my preference would be the q-Jays.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs FLC8S

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 299
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Triple Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityNo contest – the default cable of the FLC8S is unruly, highly microphonic and difficult to manage vs the FH5’s very good build and pliability.
AccessoriesBoth are extremely well thought out accessory packages. The tip selection is slightly better on the FH5, but the FLC8S has the filters. Both have very good cases.
Build QualityThe FH5 build is undoubtedly better with the alloy vs carbonate materials. The FLC8S is a lot lighter overall though and the actual design (filter system) and tunability is a very big plus.
Comfort / ErgonomicsWhile both are comfortable (and relatively ergonomic), and the FLC8S is smaller, I have to give this to the FH5. It simply fits better and doesn’t come out. For me the FLC8S has an issue with staying in at times (despite the formable ear-loops). Because it has no angle on the nozzle (usually forward and up), over time I can have issues with the seal breaking. This may be just my particular physiology – but for me its a very real issue.
 
Sound Quality OverallThe first thing which has to be stated is that the FLC8S has a distinct advantage in that you can tune it to your preference using their innovative filter system, and the variety is simply stunning. In this comparison I used the red, grey, gold combo as its measurably the closest to the FH5. Using this combo the two sound eerily similar with the main difference being the FLC8S vocals sitting in harmony with the overall signature, whilst the FH5 is comparatively a lot closer and more intimate. The rest of the frequency range is comparable to the point that you may as well be listening to the same IEM – with the exception that the FH5 bass is more prominent and cleaner.
My PreferenceIf this was an OOTB situation, and I couldn’t use EQ – there is no doubt I would choose the FLC8S. It’s filter system is wonderful, and a more ergonomic cable may even solve the issue if have with maintaining a long term seal. But under EQ – there is the advantage of better bass, better build quality and better cable. If you like the default signature of the FH5 (and I do – with the exception of the 2 kHz peak) then the FH5 simply ticks more of my personal boxes.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs Dunu DK3001

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 469
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Quad Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityWith the DK3001 you get a balanced and SE option – both very pliable with formable ear-loops. The FH5 you get a single cable – but slightly better in terms of aesthetics and overall build quality.
AccessoriesThis is definitely in favour of the DK-3001. Better selection of tips, and more overall accessories. Mind you – it should be, considering the price differential.
Build QualityBoth are well crafted from quality metal (alloy) and built to last the distance. The DK3001 is smaller but does have one design fault (lipless nozzle) which limits tip selection a little. The FH5 is bigger but its nozzle is more tip friendly.
Comfort / ErgonomicsFH5 – and I can’t stress this enough – my only issue with the DK3001 is comfort and ergonomics. Dunu put hard ridges on the inside of the DK3001, and it really does spoil comfort for me. It can be fixed using formable silicone putty, or even tape – but you shouldn’t need to. This was simply poor design on Dunus part. Comparatively the FH5 is brilliant to wear.
 
Sound Quality OverallThis was one of the most requested comparisons and its easy to see why. The two are extremely similar in frequency response with the DK-3001 having a higher overall mid-range peak, but also more treble quantity and extension. On its release it was lauded almost universally as one of the most cohesive sounding IEMs around for its price range – and for me the default frequency still works perfectly (although funnily enough if I apply the same EQ to both, both IEMs improve – for my tastes). Overall the DK3001 is slightly brighter, but also richer through the mid-range. Both have similar quantity and quality of bass. The DK3001 has better transition from lower mid-range to lower treble.
My PreferenceIf I correct the DK3001 comfort, it would be the Dunu. Its default signature is very, very good. But with the simple EQ, I can correct the one mid-range fault I find with the FH5. For me personally, the FH5 is almost the same price, has similar build quality, but much better overall design and comfort. The easier fix is via EQ.
Feature / Attribute

FiiO FH5 vs Fidue A91 Sirius

PriceUSD 260 vs USD 899
IEM TypeQuad Driver Hybrid vs Five Driver Hybrid
Cable QualityComparable. The Sirius is cloth covered which I’m not particularly fond of, but has one of the best modular designs (for conversion between balanced and SE) I’ve seen. It also has a very good screw on design for the MMCX connectors – although you can also use standard connectors. FH5 cable is better for aesthetics and microphonics.
AccessoriesComparable. The FH5 has better tip options, while the Sirius has better other options (adaptors etc). Storage cases are both good quality, but the FH5’s soft carry case is a plus.
Build QualityThese two almost look like they are from the same family. Both are made from high quality alloy, and on both the CNCing is very precise. I can fault build quality on either – but I do have issues with the lipless nozzle on the Sirius which limits tip options.
Comfort / ErgonomicsThis goes to the FH5. With the Sirius (inexplicably) having a sharpish front corner and also relatively flat top edge with hard edges (the FH5 are bevelled). Comfort isn’t terrible on the Sirius but its worse than the FH5, and it shouldn’t be. A softer front angle and bevelling on the external edge would have made the Sirius perfect – unfortunately it isn’t.
 
Sound Quality OverallYou’ll note with the graph that there are two plots for the Sirius. Its bass port is located on the inside of the IEM and is therefore affected by physiology, and the bass varies depending on how they fit you. Completely unblocked, the bass would be linear and quite light. Completely blocked, and the bass would be stronger than the FH5. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle but without an ear simulator, I can’t measure it. For me personally, the bass is stronger on the FH5, but both have good quality bass. Mid-range is slightly more intimate on the FH5. The two sound very similar though – both very clean and clear, although I do like the FH5’s balance end-to-end a little more.
My PreferenceFor me this goes to the FH5. At less than a third of the price you get a similar signature with better ergonomics, better frequency balance and the slight stridency with the FH5 is an easy fix with EQ.

 

VALUE

Probably the easiest section I’ve ever had to write. The FH5 provides exceptional value due to the quality build, cables and accessories combined with a signature that has a lot of overall balance, and for me is very close to being perfect. As you can see from the comparisons, the FH5 sits very well against comparable IEMs, and can compete with those in higher price brackets. It represents a very high value proposition.

FIIO FH5 – SUMMARY

The FH5 is an easy recommendation. It has almost immaculate build quality, ergonomics, and its cable is both aesthetically impressive and designed to last. The FH5 comes with a well thought out accessory package, and the carry cases in particular are very handy (especially the neoprene portable case).

Sonically the FH5 is almost perfect with good overall balance, very good extension end-to end, and extremely good clarity. It portray male and female vocals equally well. The FH5 exhibits only one minor flaw which (for me) is in the mid-range. Instead of a slow transition from ~ 1 kHz to 3 kHz, the FH5 has an early rise to 2 kHz, and this creates a very forward overall signature which can be slightly strident at times. Fortunately for me it is an easy fix via EQ, and once the EQ is in place, it really is a very coherent monitor.

At their asking RRP, I consider them to be exceptional value, and if you like a more mid-focused signature – chances are these will tick most of your boxes. My thanks once again to Lily and the team at FiiO for their continued faith in me as a reviewer. You have an extremely good IEM here, and I am very interested to see where you go next in your journey.

FiiO FH5My ScoreOut ofWeightingWeighted Score
Accessories8105.00%0.40
Build101010.00%1.00
Design10105.00%0.50
Fit/Comfort91015.00%1.35
Bass quality9108.00%0.72
Mid-range quality7108.00%0.56
Treble quality9108.00%0.72
Overall tonality7108.00%0.56
Clarity8108.00%0.64
Stage/Imaging7108.00%0.56
Value91017.00%1.53
Total93110100.00%8.54

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