FiiO once again partners with their sub-brand, Jade Audio, to deliver another very affordable IEM.
This time it’s the JH5 which is another universal IEM alongside the likes of the equally budget-conscious JD7 and JD3, two IEMs previously launched under the Jade Audio and FiiO partnership label.
However, this time FiiO JH5 feels a bit different and perhaps more ambitious compared to the current lineup. Its hybrid driver configuration might make it the brand’s most ambitious IEM offering we have reviewed to date.
Its $79.99 price point is still relatively modest compared to FiiO’s main IEM lineup so let’s see if it’s a low-risk bargain in today’s review.
The FiiO JH5 has a driver setup of 1 dynamic driver and 4 balanced armatures in a three-way crossover design. The dynamic driver is a carbon-based one while the 4 balanced armatures are custom-made.
The balanced armature also has three independent driver chambers. Those independent driver chambers create better separation for the bass, mids, and treble.
FiiO claims that a tweak to the carbon-based dynamic driver results in better transient control while reducing the overall distortion and noise. In simpler words, the bass will be cleaner and have better quality overall.
For the custom balanced armatures, FiiO was inspired by the balanced armatures used in the FiiO FH7 and FH9. The precise configuration is 2 balanced armatures for the mids while the other 2 handle the treble-air region.
Specifically, the balanced armatures responsible for the mids are designed along with the dynamic driver to create natural transients. The balanced armatures responsible for the treble were placed closer to the nozzle to tease out a more vibrant performance.
Since the FiiO JH5 was a collab with JadeAudio, it does resemble some aspects of Jade. This sample I have here is in black with a polished faceplate creating a shimmering effect.
The shell of the JH5 is opaque black and semi-see-through under the light. You can see the internals, chambers, and drivers due to this design.
Its shell is designed to feel more like a CIEM or a custom-made IEM. It has grooves and curves to make sure it rightfully fits inside your ears. This design choice is smart and is good from my experience. It should fit most ears since it’s not that chunky or big like other IEMs.
It also has one vent to prevent pressure build-up in the ears. The vent is grill-like and not just a large hole like other IEMs.
But from an aesthetics standpoint, it looks basic. Despite the allusion to creating a jade-like aesthetic it’s boring to look at. This is not a looker at all. The competition beats it out in terms of design appeal.
Comfort & Isolation
The comfort of the FiiO JH5 is, however, unmatched by almost every IEM I have tried at this price point. This is a wonderful set that has a lot of focus on fit and comfort.
Having grooves and curves for the ears to prevent long-term usage pain is great. It feels like a custom-made IEM when using it. I can use this as a daily driver for desk work, sleep, and even commute. Even as a side sleeper, the JH5 doesn’t feel intrusive to me.
Isolation is good as well. It blocks around 60% to 70% of the outside noise from my experience. It’s a nice alternative to earplugs if you’re not playing music. The great comfort experience helps make these into premium earplugs.
Surprisingly, the FiiO JH5 has great stock tips. It has, which I assume, DUNU Candy ear tips which a great for sealing and keeping their position well in the ear canal.
Out of the box, the DUNU Candy ear tips are already attached to the JH5. There’s also a large and small size for the DUNU Candy ear tips inside the box.
Aside from this, there’s also the standard black silicone ear tips. It’s something most IEMs will have in the box, so I’d recommend you just use the DUNU Candy ear tips instead.
With it having the wonderful DUNU Candy ear tips, there is no need to buy 3rd party tips. Unless you would like to do tip rolling, the ones out of the box will suffice for you.
Seeing the stock cable of the FiiO JH5, I was genuinely surprised by how great in quality it was. This is a cable I would’ve bought from a 3rd party audio accessories seller.
The cable is high-purity silver-plated copper wires. The main cable has 4 strands that split into 2 strands for the 0.78mm pins.
According to FiiO, this cable has a total of 392 wires. Every wire is independently insulated and Litz braided which should give it better conductivity and detail retrieval.
In my opinion, you don’t need to spend anything more for the JH5. It already has great stock tips and an excellent stock cable.
Packaging & Accessories
This is the weird part of the FiiO JH5. Opening the box, you get something that should be a container that resembles toy blocks.
I wouldn’t want to assume but this might be the carrying case for the JH5. Due to its bulky, solid, and large design, it isn’t something anyone would use for portability.
From the great stock tips and stock cable, FiiO forgot about giving it a usable carrying pouch. I guess we do win some and lose some.
Straight up, this is wonderful bass. FiiO claiming their carbon-based second-generation dynamic driver would give better bass, it’s simply true.
The bass is well-balanced and doesn’t overpower anything. Unless you’re a super bass head, I would say this bass is a great example of doing enough but not too much.
The FiiO JH5’s subbass and midbass are well-balanced. I’ve never felt either of them was overbearing in any track or music.
I get all those lovely rumbling experiences and heavy-hitting slams if the music calls for it. This is great since there are no weird bass interruptions when it’s only vocals or instrumentals.
For bass bleed, it simply doesn’t exist here. Making the dynamic driver and mids-focused balanced armature together definitely helped in this aspect.
With mids, it can be a rollercoaster ride. At times it sounds musical, but sometimes the timbre sounds off.
The vocals here don’t sound as forward as I’d like though. In the J-Pop I listen to, the female vocals are either at the same level as the bass or even behind it. With other music, the vocals are only slightly forward. Having forward vocals is my preference, so if you’re like me, then do take note.
The timbre issue I have with the FiiO JH5 can be heard with male vocals. It sounds hollow despite the amount of midbass it has.
Meanwhile, it’s female vocals that are more prone to not being forward but have correct timbre. With male vocals, it’s the opposite where it’s forward enough but the timbre sounds off. But when it’s correct on both sides, it lives up to its musicality. It’s not consistent but when it ticks all the boxes, it’s simply wonderful vocals.
The FiiO JH5’s treble is average to good. It doesn’t have great detail retrieval but there are no piercing highs or sibilance.
The detail retrieval it has is something you’d get from other single dynamic driver and 4 BA driver sets. It’s nothing superb but it does its job well. Other sets, planar IEMs in this regard, would give you better detail retrieval. What they won’t give is the zero sibilance and no piercing highs that the FiiO JH5 has.
The treble, along with its fit, is made for long listening or long usage sessions. It won’t give you a headache or pain since the treble is tame.
The layering is done well. Nothing gets on top of anything here, in other words, the FiiO JH5 has a great take on separation. Despite the average treble performance, this makes it enjoyable for casual sessions. You still check the boxes for a good treble experience with it.
Staging & Dynamics
Just like its treble, the JH5’s staging and dynamics are average. It’s nothing note-worthy or impressive at all.
It doesn’t have a small soundstage, but rather just average. The sense of space you get from it is just enough for proper enjoyment. Imaging is accurate enough, but it could be better. Due to the soundstage, where instruments and vocals are placed are just limited and restricted.
The dynamics aren’t great as well. There are issues with which part of the music should be the lead or the support. When times you feel the vocals should shine, the instruments are given more priority. I’d say there’s more to be desired in terms of dynamics.