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Product review: Fiio F5 in-ear monitors

Disclaimer: The Fiio F5 was loaned to us free of charge in exchange for our review by our good friends at Gears for Ears.

The domination of chi fi has been at an alarming rate for the past few years, and Fiio, renown chi-fi audio brand has been in the front lines for providing premium audio at an affordable price. Initially, Fiio was known for it’s dirt-cheap headphone amplifiers and digital-to-analog converter units such as Fiio Q1, Fiio E10k etc. It hasn’t been long since Fiio has started it’s journey in In Ear Monitors (IEMs), with brilliant products such as Fiio EX1, EX1 2nd Gen etc.

The F5 is the successor to Fiio’s EX1 series, albeit with a different sound signature, drawing from the criticism of it’s previous iterations. Previously catering to an acquired taste, Fiio F5 has since evolved into a more consumer friendly sound signature with plenty of detail hidden within these IEMs.

Accessories and price

The unboxing experience of the headphones is exceptional as it comes with a lot of accessories to play around with. Build quality and accessories are something that Fiio never skimps on, no matter how cheap their products may be. The Fiio F5 is available from Gears for Ears for only 5,300 BDT, and offers a plethora of customization. Thanks to it’s detachable mmcx connector, one can use both the 2.5mm balanced detachable cable alongside the 3.5mm detachable cable.  They also come with six pairs of eartips, in small-medium-large sizes. The headphones also come with a beautiful sturdy black box for storage, lest you are concerned with blemishes on the IEMs with future use.

Comfort and build quality

The Fiio F5 IEMs sit outside of one’s ears with ease and it can be worn over ear as well; though one needs to switch channels. The nozzles however are relatively big, but it shouldn’t be a problem for people comfortable with headphones such as the Xiaomi Piston 3 and Dunu Titan headphones. Since the IEMs are plastic, weight-wise it helps with comfort a lot. However, this took a hit in build quality as the IEM units dont feel as premium.

The IEMs use detachable mmcx which I personally consider as an essential for headphones, as the cables are the first thing to break in a pair of headphones for me. Production blemishes and cost-cutting also sometimes takes a hit on this integral part of a pair of headphones. Thankfully, using a detachable connector fixes this problem, as the cable can be easily replaced with an aftermarket cable.The cables are sturdily built, with tidbits of aluminum in both the cables, and the 3.5mm cable compatible with both Android and iPhones.

Sound

The F5 was the former flagship IEM of Fiio, as a result they paid attention while tuning this pair of headphones. The sound is tuned warmly that is quite easy to listen to. The bass isn’t overpowering, and the focus of the sound is on vocals and mids. Extension is quite good, but the emphasis isn’t on treble. The bass is mildly punchy. I’ve found myself listening to songs with these for hours, thanks to the comfortable weight and tuning. Another noticeable trait of the sound is the exceptional sound-stage. It’s one of those weird headphones that doesn’t have to cater to boosting the treble in order to emphasize the sound-stage. The directional accuracy isn’t dead-accurate, but the instrument placement feels like it’s out of place, creating a sort of holographic stage.

Good thing about these headphones are, you don’t really need much power nor a great smartphone or music player for these to shine. They are quite efficient and can bring out a lot of details from the mid-range if called upon.

However, things improve when ran through a balanced output. Bass gains speed, impact and body, vocals sound more vivid and the treble opens up a but more.

Verdict

Fiio F5 is a great starter for people who want to test the myth of balanced output. With plentiful accessories and nicely tuned sound, The F5 is the definition of bang-for-buck within this range, especially for the treble-sensitive looking to discover more from their music.

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