Despite all the current ups and downs of the electronics market, FiiO regularly expands and updates its range of portable audio devices. One such recent update is the FiiO FH5s hybrid in-ear headphones . The main model FH5 appeared about three years ago and, incorporating the modern technologies of the time, became popular and sold well. But, pardon the hackneyed phrase, progress does not stand still. Therefore FiiO decided to update the FH5 and released new FiiO FH5s. On the one hand, only one letter was added to the model number, but on the other hand, as is often the case with FiiO, it turned out to be a completely different device in all respects. From the pleasant – the price remained at the same level, which is good news.
In the review I will describe the new product from FiiO represented by the FH5s, as well as make a comparison with the FH5, which, in my opinion, have not lost their relevance yet.
Headphones FiiO FH5s come in a black oblong beautiful and presentable packaging. Above the dust jacket is a photo of the right earpiece and, in a less noticeable silver color, is the original drawing showing the internal structure of the case. Also, the names of the company and the model are printed on top in silver in large letters, the technical features of the FH5s are listed in small print, and the Hi-Res Audio logo is in the upper right corner. On the sides of the box, additional structural elements of the headphones are graphically shown, and on the back side there are options for sound tuning. There is a lot of information on the outer packaging, but it is presented very unobtrusively, so it does not spoil the overall look.
The main package is made of very dense black cardboard, on top there is no longer a photo, but a drawing of the right earpiece, made in the same silver color. Below is the slogan of FiiO – born for music. I associate this box with a box – a lid with magnets opens on top, and inside there are headphones and a generous range of accessories for them, neatly placed in the foam protection.
The FiiO FH5s bundle is very different from the FH5 and is more reminiscent of that of the FiiO FD5 headphones . The FH5s comes with the following. 4-core braided cable (120 copper strands) with transparent insulation, material – silver-plated copper. It is of medium thickness, not prone to tangling. The cable has a splitter with a slider, Velcro for winding the cable, formed earhooks and MMCX connectors, marked in red and blue. Jack for connection to a direct source with the ability to change connectors. 3.5 mm installed out of the box; the set additionally includes 2.5 and 4.4 mm connectors.
A separate block in the package contains interchangeable nozzles , there are as many as five types of them: silicone, including two-flanged, and foam. All earpieces, except for the two-flange (only size M), are presented in sizes S, M, L. What is already the standard for FiiO headphones, the earpieces are additionally sound filters and are divided into three sets: the first – to obtain a balanced sound, the second – with an emphasis bass, third – Vocal.
The FiiO FH5s case is identical to that of the FD5 and is combined of two colors – blue and light brown. The cover is solid, looks like a small suitcase. Magnetic lid. The inside of the cover is upholstered in a black fleecy fabric. Additionally, there is a rigid fabric strip with Velcro, designed to divide the inner space of the cover into the necessary compartments. If necessary, this strip can be removed altogether. The case contains another accessory in the form of a metal plate for disconnecting the cable from the headphones. Note that the FD5 tweezers for changing the cable were more convenient.
The headphone cleaning brush ends with a sharp needle, the function of which is to switch the toggle switches on the headphone cases. More about this will be discussed below. Since in the FH5s model you can change the cable, connectors and even the sound, a separate graphic instruction is devoted to all this, enclosed at the very bottom of the package along with the warranty booklet.
Thus, for its price segment, FiiO FH5s have beautiful packaging and a premium set of accessories.
Design and ergonomics
If the FH5s package was largely borrowed from the FD5, the wave-like design of the faceplates reveals the main features of the FiiO FH5, FH7 and junior FH3 hybrid models . The FiiO website says that the FH5s uses a certain Trishell design, borrowed from supercars. Omitting technical issues, according to the manufacturer’s assurances, this gives the structure rigidity, reducing resonances and vibrations.
The headphone housings are made of magnesium-aluminum alloy and come in two colors – black and silver. The headphones are of a semi-open type and gold-colored nets are visible through the slots on the faceplates. The faceplate bezel is also golden. If you liked the design of the previous hybrid models listed above, then the new FH5s should also suit your taste.
A separate part of the FH5s presentation on the FiiO website is also devoted to improved ergonomics. The new earbuds are the result of the third generation of research into body curvature for maximum wearing comfort. But the ergonomics of any headphones is individual, therefore it is better to evaluate it yourself. My experience with FiiO hybrid headphones may not be indicative, since all previous models did not cause any discomfort to me. The new FH5s also proved to be quite comfortable, they fit well in the ears and did not fall out when walking or turning the head.
A small digression. Several years ago, FiiO began slowly introducing the possibility of small sound tuning into their models. So the FH5 has replaceable tips, divided into Balanced, Bass, Vocal, the FH7 has replaceable metal acoustic filters, and the flagship FA9 has mini-toggle switches on the cases of each of the headphones. Another option for changing the sound of headphones is the ability to connect them to various source outputs (balanced and unbalanced). At FiiO, this has been done with replaceable cable connectors in the FD5 model. The updated FiiO FH5s incorporate all these sound customization options, except perhaps for the metal filters for the sound guide.
The main sound description is made on balanced attachments, the position of the switches – Standard and with a 3.5 mm jack.
The first thing I would like to say is that the sound of the updated FiiO FH5s is noticeably different from the usual FH5. The newer FH5s play more openly, with better detail in the upper range. The stage with headphones is above average, and the sound provides a sense of space and distance between the imaginary stage and the listener.
The bass transmission of the FH5s is different than that of the FH5. The bass of the updated model is less massive, while it has good detail, control and percussiveness. In the overall sound, the low frequencies are not specially emphasized, but rather are presented in a balanced manner. Headphones are great at transmitting “live” bass, for example, double bass in jazz. The bass guitar parts in classical rock are also clearly played out. Everywhere the bass sounded contoured and natural. For electronic music, I would rather choose the previous model FH5. In my ear, the FH5s have enough bass, but the model is not for bassheads.
In the middle, the instruments are well separated, but there is no micro-contrast in the headphones. The instruments play naturally and dynamically. In FH5s, the upper mids are slightly accentuated, which affects the accentuated sound of some instruments, including various percussion. But in general, the middle is transmitted quite naturally and bodily.
HF is another notable difference between FH5s and FH5. The sound accent of the FH5s, starting at the upper mids, goes into the treble region. Highs play transparent and detailed. Some tracks may show aggression in this range, which should be taken into account by people who are sensitive to high frequencies. Compared to the FH5, the upper frequencies of the FH5s sound better and more airy. The decays of the corresponding instruments are much better audible, especially the cymbals for drums.
I will briefly dwell on the possibilities of sound tuning. None of the proposed options radically changes the sound of the headphones, which seems logical, but only slightly changes it in one direction or another. For example, with a 4.4 mm connector, the stage widens slightly, and the sound itself becomes more open. Bass nozzles not only add a little low, but also smooth the high frequencies. The “B” (Bass) switch on the headphone body adds massiveness to the low frequencies, keeping them readable. In my case, the effect of turning on the mid-range toggle switch turned out to be weakly noticeable. I didn’t like the addition of the treble switch. Their number was sufficient for me in the “standard” version, and when added, synthetics appeared and in some tracks a little discomfort was already felt.
The idea of additional adjustment of the sound of the FH5s is interesting, it gives many different combinations and allows you to spend a lot of time doing this. However, this is individual, for example, I am not a fan of going through many options and am in constant search of the best sound, but rather prefer headphones with an initially built sound “out of the box”.
FiiO FH5s specifications:
- • Type of construction and emitter: in-channel hybrid;
- • Drivers: 2 dynamic (12 and 6 mm, beryllium-coated diaphragms) – for low and medium frequencies; balanced (coupled) armature Knowles TWFK 30017 – for high frequencies;
- • Resistance: 40 Ohm;
- • Sensitivity: 106 dB;
- • Frequency range: 10–40,000 Hz;
- • Detachable cable, length 120 cm, MMSH connectors;
- • Weight of one earphone: 8.8 g.
For me, the FiiO FH5 update turned out to be so global that the new FH5s headphones could well claim a separate number in the lineup. FiiO FH5s has changed the design, now these are half-open headphones , the technologies used have changed. The main differences between the FH5s and the previous FH5s are as follows: a new combination of dynamic and reinforcement drivers, beryllium coating, original sound, the ability to tune the sound with switches on the cases, an updated cable, interchangeable plugs, and expanded equipment. Despite the large number of changes made, the price tag of the updated FH5s remained the same and this is a big plus. The listed features of FiiO FH5s make this model a very good option for choosing mid-range headphones and will also be of interest to owners of the previous version.