The FiiO FH5s is a dual dynamic and dual BA driver universal IEM with a semi-open and triple switch sound signature design. It is priced at $259.99
Disclaimer: The FiiO FH5s sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank FiiO for this opportunity.
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Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2021 which you can read up on here.
On rare occasions, an IEM is introduced into the market that appeals to the treble head, the bass head, and people who want an IEM with good staging capabilities or that enjoy smooth midrange. The FiiO FH5s can deliver on all those fronts.
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FiiO is a company that likes to push forward all the time. So much that they like to outdo themselves many times by improving on their own products on top of stepping up to their competitor’s offerings and often go beyond them successfully.
The FiiO FH5 received lots of very good write-ups. Although I must admit I have not had the pleasure to listen to them, it does seem a lot of people really enjoyed them plus they were well-accessorized so most would say leave well enough alone right? Not FiiO.
The engineers at FiiO now offer us the FH5s and sent one in for review and it is certainly different from the FH5 in many ways. I think the added S at the end stands for semi-open or perhaps it stands for selectable or switchable which denotes something new added into the mix here.
A semi-open back concept on an IEM is nothing new. FiiO is not a newcomer in this segment either when it comes to semi-open back IEMs as they also made the recently reviewed FD5, which I do have and did like but I did say a while back that open back IEMs are becoming increasingly popular.
I feel a three-way dual tweeter speaker vibe here with the FiiO FH5s from their two-plus-two driver setup architecture. Two dynamic drivers plus 2 BA drivers team up to handle the entire frequency spectrum in three main sections, bass, midrange, and, treble just as in a 3-way speaker system. And with a semi-open back design, the ported cabinet speaker design comes to mind.
The FiiO FH5s uses totally different drivers from its predecessor. The FH5s steps up the bass driver size from the previous 10mm on the FH5 to a 12mm Beryllium plated PU dome dynamic driver with a Polyurethane Polymer surround gasket with an N52 1.5 Tesla capable magnet assembly.
The 12mm bass driver transitions to a 6mm dynamic driver which is also coated with Beryllium but tuned for a more precise midrange frequency curve. Then the final transition goes to the highs and over to a twin set of Knowles tried and true 30017 balanced armature drivers placed directly at the tip of the sound output tube.
Tri shell Acoustic Design
The shell structure of the FiiO FH5s is a TRISHELL design that uses 3 individual pieces that when assembled solidly affix together at 3 points. FiiO claims this particular type of construction greatly reduces internal resonances and I have to be honest here they do feel solid in the hands.
The IEM shells are described by FiiO as having a supercar rigidity chassis and I am really feeling the exotic design within the fin backplate artistry. To me, they resemble auto body fins and I like the design.
The main shell and the other 2 pieces are all 5 axis CNC formed from solid pieces of aluminum and magnesium alloy using a process FiiO calls modeling design concept, and they made a video about it demonstrating the fabrication process of the FH5s shell pieces.
Sound Tuning switches
The FiiO FH5s have a set of 3 DIP switches similar to what is found on the FA9 which can subtly elevate each one of the 3 frequency bands, meaning the FiiO FH5s is actually an IEM with more than one sound signature.
Bass, midrange, and treble can be accentuated but the boost is very subtle, I would say 3 decibels max to my ears which is quite nice considering it does not take them into the bloated territory and is a good feature to include since not everyone has the same taste in sound signature and this will facilitate to cover most tastes.
Personally, I like some color when it’s properly done. I always find myself raising low frequencies a few decibels while leaving the midrange and highs alone. I prefer a heavy bottom end with the rest of the spectrum flat and for example, using the bass DIP switch on the FH5s allowed me to ditch bass boost completely and it bought them more in line with my particular taste.
The FiiO FH5s tri-shell and dragon scale fin design contain a rear cavity venting system to quickly relieve air pressure from the ear and away from the dynamic drivers. FiiO found this design to relieve a type of listening fatigue, and this should make the FH5s an IEM easy on the ears and good for hours of continuous listening time.
Some IEMs users consider isolation a desired feature but that’s not so with full-sized headphones which take a different approach by exploiting the benefits of the open back design to improve on sound quality because after all, that is why we are here and it is what was done here. But to be honest, they isolated better than what I expected so you get the best of both worlds.
One thing I was worried about was sound leakage. I remember leaving them on in the living room to get something in the kitchen and heard them over at the kitchen. So I walked up to them and yes there was leakage. Then I covered the sound nozzles and realized it was the sound coming from the nozzle. So to make a long story short, leakage was not bad at all either.
FiiO used their familiar design and shape which FiiO uses on their FA and the rest of the FH line and gave the FH5s a shape which to me was comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Weight was not too bad either at 8.8 grams per side. They do look chunky and feel substantial in the hands, but it seems the angles are correct, and I particularly do not feel any pressure points or other uncomfortable characteristics wearing them.
The angle of the output nozzles seems correct for my ears and sort of anchor in enough as to stay in. I am fairly certain you could go running with them or conduct some vigorous physical activity and not encounter issues with them constantly falling out.
FiiO has once again included their multiple-tip FiiO branded silver cable assembly with the FH5s which I prefer over other models that just include dongle wires to convert the plug. This cable comes with 3 tip sizes and they integrate into the cable assembly as if they were an affixed plug.
The available connections are the common 3.5mm TRS single-ended, a 4.4 Pentaconn TRRRS balanced connector along with a 2.5mm balanced TRRS and I cannot think of another type of plug you need to get going. You could always convert the 3.5mm to a 6.35 and get a 4.4mm to XLR giving you the ability to use every possible connection available out there.
The construction of the cable itself is rather nice and uses a silver 120-core Litz Type-2 4-core cable with aluminum plugs and hardware. The MMCX connectors are the expanding type and securely affix themselves to the IEM.
Packaging & Accessories
Past FiiO IEMs come well accessorized and presented in a nice box which gives the buyer a good unboxing experience and the FH5s are no exception and also comes with ample amounts of flanges with other necessary and useful accessories.
To start, there are a total of 13 pairs of tips all organized by sound signature. 3 sets are marked as vocal ear tips, 3 are marked as bass, 3 as balanced, and 3 foam tips. The 13th pair is a preinstalled bi flange tip set in a medium size.
The other accessories consist of a carrying case which is similar to the one included with the FD5. I do like the case but it is rather large. A cleaning brush also comes in the box with a magnetic tip on top and a tool at the tip to help you flip those switches.
There’s also a tool to remove the plugs off the MMCX IEM connectors which comes in handy since these are the expanding type and hang on rather tightly. The tool makes it easier to remove the plug.
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