Comfortable and well-isolating hybrid design, Good build quality, Clean and balanced midrange, Dynamic yet well-controlled bass, Linear lower-treble with excellent texture
Notable sub-bass bias affects bass timbre, Soundstage on the smaller side
So long as you take into account the narrower soundstage and notable sub-bass bias, the FH3 is an excellent in-ear that represents very strong value.
Fiio is a hugely prominent name in the audio industry, initially due to their range of affordable yet well-rounded source devices, soon their DAPs and lately, their IEMs. The company has come far in this regard, their initial offerings being admirable first efforts, but clearly lacking refinement by comparison to companies specialising in this form factor. It’s been a few years now and the company has taken leaps and strides to the extent that their models are proving very competitive. The FH3 is their latest model, and not only is it a continuation of the hybrid FH-series, it is also a successor of the older, but also very popular F9 Pro. It implements a 3-driver hybrid design with the S.Turbo low-pass first seen on the FH5, alongside a new Be DD and latest Knowles drivers. In turn, it promises a very similar experience to Fiio’s more premium offerings at a drastically lower cost.
The Fiio FH3 is available for $149.99 USD. You can read all about it on Fiio’s website here and treat yourself to a set on HiFiGO.
I would like to thank Sunny from Fiio very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the FH3 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 40kHz
- Drivers: 10mm Be-plated DD, Knowles ED30262 midrange driver, Knowles RAD33518 tweeter
- Impedance: 24 ohms
- SensitivityL 114dB
- Weight: 7.3g per earpiece
The Pitch –
This is a low-pass filter that prevents the DD from encroaching upon the other frequency ranges. The long 41.5mm tube length provides enough acoustic resistance to roll-off higher-frequencies by up to 32dB, ensuring that the DD is only responsible for delivering bass. From Fiio’s info-graphics, it also appears to act as a kind of pressuriser, which will enhance sub-bass extension and the sensation of moving air. This works in tandem with a dual vent system balancing pressure on either side of the driver.
Knowles BA Drivers
Two Knowles drivers have been implemented to cover the mids and highs. They are placed near the opening of the sound tube to minimise unwanted reflections and resonances. In listening and measurement, this is indeed the case as we observe minimal obtrusive peaks and troughs, insinuating smooth crossover points and generally sound acoustic design. Fiio implements a 3-way hybrid physical and electrical crossover to aid these qualities.
The included cable appears similar to that on the FA7. It implements monocrystal silver-plated copper conductors with 4 wires, 96 strands total. The high strand count ensures that the cable is pliable while retaining a low resistance. It also enables the company to subtly alter the sound via the skin effect.
The FH3 has a pleasing unboxing experience similar to their higher-end models. The buyer receives a terrific pelican-style case that feels tough with weather-resistant seals. Inside is a more compact soft zipper pouch for portable use. Fiio include a whopping 11-pairs of eartips, 3 sizes of bass, reference and vocal tuning silicone tips alongside 2 pairs of more isolating memory foam tips. A cleaning tool is also provided but there is a nice fine metal wax filter already in place on the earphones.
Those familiar with Fiio’s other FH earphones will find a very similar experience here. The shells are all-aluminium with signature ripple faceplate design that catches light in fascinating ways. The inner face feels well sculpted, more so than the FH5, so as to achieve a good fit depth and enhance stability. Furthermore, in line with its lesser driver count, the FH3 assumes generally smaller dimensions – albeit a similar design language and feel in-ear to the FH5 and FH7. The quality is impressive too, with a well-refined finish as one would expect from the large and experienced company. There aren’t any rough edges or surface defects alongside impressive faceplate matching that you won’t get from more boutique manufacturers. Finally, the all-black colour scheme looks clean and streamlined if not quite as regal as the two tone higher models.
The cable appears similar to that included with the FA7 but is noticeably more flexible if not quite as nice as the higher-end FA9, FH5 and FH7 units. It uses an MMCX interface and high-purity SPC conductors with a high strand count. Ergonomically, it features an internally braided structure with a tough, albeit slightly tacky smoke jacket on top. Below the y-split, the two channels are divided rather than being unified so handle with care to avoid separation of the wires. Otherwise, the connectors feel well constructed and relieved. This feels like a sturdy cable if not the most soft and supple one, but maintains low memory with minimal microphonic noise. The pre-moulded ear guides also offer a comfortable and stable experience, especially combined with the smaller and lighter housing design.
Fit & Isolation –
The FH3 was a very comfortable earphone during my weeks of testing. The more compact and ergonomically sculpted housing (as compared to the FH5), makes it feel appreciably more conforming to the bends and folds of the ear. In turn, it feels more stable and locked in than that earphone, in addition to being very comfortable during long listening sessions. I experienced no hotspot formation and it provided a low-profile fit suitable for sleeping, they are impressively svelte. Two vents are apparent, one on the inner face of the earphone, one on the front. Despite this, they are not too prone to wind noise that can pester on many vented earphones, making the FH3 a strong choice for portable use.
The stronger seal is another factor that supports this, aided by a slightly deeper fit than most hybrids. They don’t feel like a fully-sealed BA monitor, of course, but provide surprisingly strong passive noise isolation easily suitable for public transport and perhaps shorter flights; though I would still point frequent travellers towards a fully sealed or custom option. Some driver flex was apparent when intentionally pushing the earphones in once fit, however, I wouldn’t consider this to occur during normal use nor did it negatively affect sound performance.