The FiiO FH1s is a hybrid entry-level universal monitor featuring a 13.6mm dynamic driver and a single Knowles BA driver. It is priced at $59.99
Disclaimer: The FiiO FH1s sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank FiiO for this opportunity.
To learn more about FiiO reviews on Headfonics you can click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
A few weeks ago, FiiO sent me a package that contained their newish FH1s IEM. Ever since the initial impression phase, I’ve been in a bit of a conundrum over what is possible in today’s audio market. Let’s dive in and see what the FH1s is all about!
Package and Accessories
A fairly basic setup here. Just a standard cardboard box, some ear tips, and a small case. The case is fairly standard as well, which is to be expected at the price point of roughly $60.
I don’t even need a case these days, I doubt most of us audiophiles do. We likely have a bunch already. But, for new consumers to the hobby, I guess it is important to have one in this budget tier.
In my opinion, I wish that audio companies would stop including them unless the IEM is very expensive. Usually, those on a budget would likely prefer a lower price tag and I am one of them.
Maybe from here on, all portable headphones can have a case add-on option on checkout? Nothing wrong with the inclusion of one, of course, just speculating here if add-on options would drop the price of the IEM even lower. I want that, I think general consumers might want that too.
Although, I give them a ton of credit for not using a standard case that is a solid color. This one is clear and ribbed and interesting! Unique, even. I’ve not seen one like this before.
The FH1s are standard acrylic, housing a hybrid design that is composed of a single BA, (Knowles 33518BA), and a dynamic 13.6mm driver as well. The exterior was a nightmare to photograph! It is a deep, marbles purple that reflects vividly only in specific lighting that I almost could not capture.
The photos don’t do this justice, the IEM is stunning and looks like it is expensive, despite the price point of $59.99 on it.
The grill nozzle that the ear tips slip over is solid metal grating and the cable is a twisted standard variant, nothing special there. The 3.5mm adapter and the center “FiiO” splitter on the cable feels solid as well.
Overall, I would rate the build quality good, but not spectacular. You get what you pay for and at this price, I’ve zero complaints. The coloration and slight marble-effect look pleasing to me and something I enjoy a lot. I want to paint my car the exact same color here. I think this is called Midnight Purple but I could be wrong.
Comfort & Isolation
As with most of the standard over the ear IEM’s of this variety, I find the comfort factor to be just fine and tolerable. I never experienced any fatigue, even after hours of usage.
However, compared to something like the Moondrop Starfield, this FiiO is a bit chunkier, which results in a thicker fit, a snug fit, something more akin to what I would consider average vs the Starfield’s incredible comfort factor.
But, is it fair to judge a thinner shell vs a bigger shell in the realm of comfort? I’ll leave that up to you as a consumer. For me, personally, the FH1s is just fine in comfort and fit overall.
I receive a better seal with Comply, but also the bass end gets totally wrecked with the foamy replacements I have. Stick to the stock tips, you won’t regret it.
Whoa. This is the bass champ at under $100. We have a new budget bass king in terms of quantity and EQ response. If you like your bass quantity and enjoy DSP or EQ, then grab this.
Stop what you are doing, go buy this now if you are on a $100 and under budget. Nothing else in this tier that I’ve ever heard can do what this IEM can when EQ’ed properly.
With something like MSEB (a DSP system in Hiby’s free music app), the experience is sublime on the low-end when regarding physical quantity. You get serious depth and weight.
Pushing upwards of +7dB, you can really feel the immense and crushing weight of the low-end come to life, it seems that is the tipping point. Beyond that, things get odd in a negative way, but wow! A +7dB for a $60 IEM? That’s absurd. The tech is evolving and we are seeing it (rather, hearing it) first hand!
As far as fidelity goes, at $60, I am more than happy. I have an older Fischer Audio Silver Bullet which is my pick for the purity low-end king, even now. But, I don’t think this FH1s is too far off.
What it lacked in fidelity is replaced with excellent vivid quantity and just good fidelity overall. And for us musicality enthusiasts, that is the best route we prefer, especially with a budget on our minds.
The purity factor is above average, but I feel that FiiO aimed for fun factor on this one and not a neutral or accurate presentation. The thickness and weighted appeal are yummy, no doubt. So, at least in my opinion, FiiO has a fun IEM here that I would highly recommend you EQ. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on what this IEM can do.
If you are into the neutral tone, the stock sound, without any EQ at all, is just fine. But, this is like buying an offroad truck to go for a casual drive down a freshly paved road in the middle of nowhere. You just don’t do that. This offroad truck needs a fun road to drive down, so give it one.
Again, for the price, this is just fine overall and I keep using that word, I know. But, it is fitting here because I consider this FH1s an above-average player in the current market with regard to fidelity overall.
You can get specialists for under $100 that do any one element of the spectrum better, but as a generalist, not likely to find many more that are better. You will find a lot just on par with this FH1s and just a few better here or there.
With regard to vocals, the entire spectrum is gently relaxed, this does not feel too forward to me. This feels classic old school FiiO and that is a good thing when you factor in the imaging experience, which I will talk about in a bit.
The upper midrange lacks the drive to gather itself into what I would consider “energetic”. This is a relaxing, head-bobbing experience of a product and not one that I would call highly physically engaging, or potent on slam effect or shoulder shrugging and wincing at sudden loud vocalists.
Seth McFarlane is one of my favorite Jazz singers and he can go from lush to very loud so fast sometimes that I cannot help but to go whoa, easy there, mate. And in that regard, the FH1s has no issues, because it is relatively soft-spoken and reacts in a slightly dimmed sense when it comes to sudden instances of upper mid frequencies. If you like mellow sound, this is for you.
The entire top end is very tame, but with a slight sparkle factor that is just inching toward bright. I found this a stark contrast to the upper midrange, a sudden bump of treble that makes the top feel just a little more lively. But, at the same time, still not what I would consider plentiful or bright overall up top.
What does that mean? Well, to use fusion guitar as a reference point, harmonics and piano key strikes (sudden treble out of nowhere) have a great sense of dynamic flair and enjoyable flavor. That brightness and engaging factor are there, but the top end is not omnipresent with this tonality. It comes only when called for and for the rest of the experience, it is laid back in regard to physicality.
If you enjoy classic rock, you’ll love this IEM. I’ve spent hours amazed as electric guitar riffs, truly, you will not be let down if you listen to Guthrie Govan, Marco Sfogli, Malmsteen and similar fusion and neoclassical artists out there.
Sublime really. Exactly what I want in an audio product when I use this genre: mellow for the most part, until screaming harmonics appear…then, I want that bite!
Glad to see the FH1s responding nicely to very high frequencies like this, without sounding troublesome or very painful. Usually, budget IEM’s are either painful or just lacking and overly tamed up top. The FH1s doesn’t have that issue.
I’ve heard products 4x as expensive that sound audibly inferior in imaging stage-forward. Damn, FiiO! What did you feed this thing? The stage-forward sense of space is absurd for an IEM in this pricing tier.
The only IEM I’ve ever reviewed or owned that was in the $100 range that could match it was the older Fischer Audio Eterna, which is very hard to come by and also doesn’t sound as pure as this FH1s in raw fidelity.
The FH1s offers a great sense of realistic flare and air out in front of you at the 12 o’clock position but dims down when we get into stage right and left. I consider this IEM taller than wide, akin to looking down a massive hallway with a solid sense of space and arm width, but something certainly more deep than wide.
I do not consider stage-left and right (width) to lack in any way, as again, the air factor and separation of instruments is fairly good. But, it is hard to even care that the provided width factors are a bit above average, at best, when the depth of field is significantly better.
Regardless of what DAP or amplifier I am using, the stage depth always sounds much better and more spacious than the sense of width factors. If you like Jazz standards, you are going to love this IEM.
The intimacy factor is sublime and live recordings, where band members are recorded with some depth and space between (as in recording a live concert and not listening to the mixed version of the performance) is quite shocking in a positive manner of speaking. If there were a crown for the best overall stage depth in a budget IEM, this would win.
As my Alpha and Delta KS3, the Kinera’s and the most recently reviewed IEM’s I’ve had in the sub $200 field all sound noticeably less deep than this FH1s.
The FH1s is a monster bass enthusiasts dream and if you like your bass + imaging, or basically, if you are me on a subjective preference level, then this is that one dream budget IEM out there that nobody else has made that you need to buy.
EQ up a lot, receive great things. Enjoy that depth of field, it is quite special for this price. Let me tell you if you use this for Podcasts and just listening to people speak in general, the experience is very good.
Physicality + good low end for male vocals + great forward imaging = one of the best-spoken word IEM’s you can buy in the budget tier. This is that one IEM that we musicality buffs wanted and never received. It looks nice, sounds nice and responds very well to casual usage.
True, there are other IEM’s I’d use for specific genres, but if you like your low end and are looking for a solid generalist, this is probably one of the best out there sub-$100 that I’ve ever heard. I’ll be recommending this as a generalist, but as mentioned, there are plenty of other IEM’s on the market that has better fidelity in the mids and treble experience for under $100…but none of them sound as deep or aired out with that much yummy bass.
FiiO FH1s Specifications
- Vocalism Principle: Hybrid technology
- Style: In-Ear
- Sensitivity: 102dB±5dBdB
- Plug Type: L
- Connectors: 3.5mm
- Resistance: 26Ω