Fiio’s lower F- series earphones were sensational. They were priced competitively, built better than competitors and were tonally brilliant to top it off. However, unlike these models, the F9 sits within a price range overflowing with competition, some that strive for great balance and some greater engagement. There is no doubt in my mind that the F9 offers a great sense of value but what a lot of listeners and critics fail to acknowledge is that $100 buys you a lot of earphone these days and this is demonstrated by models like the Rose Mini 2, Kinera H3 and Meeaudio Pinnacle P2. As a result of this fierce competition, I would argue that even these mostly affordable in-ears can no longer be fully excused for treble peaks, unnatural voicing and uneven bass tuning, at least, not to the extent shown here.
Because, like the K3 Pro, the F9’s sculpted tones come with several inherent caveats that some competing models don’t suffer from. The Meeaudio Pinnacle P2 serves as a great example, that earphone fits better, isolates more and pulls off the same kind of sound but with greater balance and refinement. However, with the right material, the F9 sings like few others around this price with class-leading resolution and clarity within a well-featured and beautifully shaped housing. And at the end of the day, tonality is a preference and though the F9 doesn’t fit mine, those that prefer a clear, resolving V-shaped sound and don’t mind the treble, will find a delightfully technical listen. This technicality also makes them an excellent choice for those who like to experiment with eQ, they are indeed very response with great potential lying beneath wonky tuning.
Verdict – 7.75/10, The F9 is not an outstanding earphone but one that firmly deserves its asking price. For a reasonable price, Fiio provide buyers with an excellent housing, balanced capability and a resolving V-shaped sound. However, while technically impressive, that sound lacks the tonal refinement to stand above the rest.