Fiio has been a major player in the DAP market for a while, recently they launched the power house named M19, their flagship DAP with desktop level power. Along with daps, Fiio has been more active in another segment too, IEMs. They have been coming out with some of the most capable IEMs in their respective price ranges. It all started with the FD5, which for me was a mixed bag. It lacked a bit of consistency. Then came the FD3, to be honest, I loved it. It’s one of the best single DD IEM around $100. It even felt like a replacement for the FD5, that’s how close FD3’s performance is to the FD5. Then in came a few heavyweights, FD7, FA7s and FH9.
FD7 replaces the FD5 as the flagship DD, FA7s replaces the old FA7 while the FH9 takes over from the FD7 as the flagship Hybrid IEM. What’s common with all these IEMs is the metal shell. FH9 doesn’t have the straight barrel design like the other two but looks more comfortable and houses the most impressive set of drivers. It has a single 13.6mm DLC DD paired with 6 BA drivers, comes in two colors, grey and black, and is priced at $599.
It faces competition from similarly priced IEMs like Campfire Honeydew, Dunu EST112, Shanling ME800 and other hybrid IEMs.
Get one from here:
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:
This type of packaging is not new from Fiio. We have seen this with FD5. All black flap open box with some diagrams and info on the paper cover where the IEM and carry case are placed upfront, stuffed in foam. The cable is placed right under the earpieces in a compartment closed with paper, while the whole set of tips are placed under the cable. We get a lot of tips to be precise. FH9 has red core grey flange bass tips, red core white flange vocal tips, grey balanced tips and spin fit tips in S/M/L sizes. It has two pairs of foam and bi-flange tips each, this concludes a long list tips… The 2.5mm and 4.4mm plugs are placed aside the set of tips along with the cleaning tool.
One can find a magnetic cable tie and a MMCX removal tool along with all these things. What else you get is a booklet for new users.
Fiio has been pairing their IEMs with very good cables and how will the Flagship miss out. It ships with their high purity mono crystalline pure silver cable. This 8 core cable is fortified with twist lock swap-able Jacks, giving it the freedom to be used with most of the popular sources. Unscrew the jack from the metal jacket, pull the plug out and insert the desired termination with the notch lined up with the groove on the plug, put the metal jacket on and you are good to go. This cable uses an environmentally friendly TPU outer layer which doesn’t get hard in lower temperatures and is resistant to yellowing in long term use. Give that this is a grey cable, I am not worried about yellowing here..
Build quality of this cable is superb, Fiio has used stainless steel jackets for the MMCX connectors which are rare with out of the box cables, it feel super sturdy and strong. The cable itself is strong and can handle a yank or two without any problem. It feels soft to the hand, has a supple, non bouncy feel and barely has much memory problem. Yes, the tightly braided cores can feel a bit stiff but not annoying. Cable guides too are on the supple side, I have seen stiffer cable guides from more premium brands.
FH9 is practically built like a tank. Made with pure titanium, this shell is built to last for ages. Thanks to its properties, this shell reduces unwanted harmonics and resonance. FH9 is designed to be worn cable up but it’s not the most ergonomically designed IEM. Yes, this design isn’t as bland as Campfire or Dunu EST112 thanks to its curvier edges but is not as plush as custom shells either. Thankfully the size isn’t huge and one can use it without any discomfort. Its semi open back plate gives FH9 a classy look. Does it leak? Ever so slightly.. This semi open design is really intriguing and guess what, it doesn’t let any vacuum pressure to build, no driver flex at all. Fiio says they have placed a notch filter inside for the treble drivers, which reduces resonance and undesirable sibilance.
Due to the metal build, the earpieces are on the heavier side but the longer nozzles and cable guides manage to balance the weight without much problem. This nozzle with swappable filters is slightly on the wider side, I think it’s 5mm wide and one can fit T500 and T400 size tips without any problem.
PAIRING WITH SOURCES:
FH9 has a nominal impedance of just 18 ohm and riving it out of any source is not difficult. Just like any other good quality IEM, FH9 enjoys some power. When driven out of mobile phones, it sounds reasonable, but it is not as clean and separated as a dedicated dongle or USB device.
Given that the FH9 is a bit in the V, has plenty of bass and treble energy, pairing it with a source which is analytical or sharp may result into a bit less desired output. I still have paired the FH9 with the Shanling UA5 and Fiio K3, yes, it is not the most musical or relaxed but with slow roll off filters and foam tips on the FH9 and the output is a lot more neutral and less offensive.
Pair the FH9 with a musically inclined source like Hip DAC and Tri TK2 and enjoy!! These pairings deliver better cohesion and one can just sit back and relax.
sound quality and everything else on the next page..