The FiiO FF3 is an earbud you need to hold in your hands to understand just how nicely built it is. Its polished and electroplated 316L stainless steel shells look and feel nothing short of premium.
The shells are termed as a “drum” type due to the fluted shape that looks a bit like a drum. Polished glass covers the rear face of the earbuds which changes its appearance when viewed from different angles under the light.
A long, thin stem hangs down from the housings making it easier to handle the earbuds and also acting as strain relief for the fixed cable. The cable is monocrystalline silver-plated copper and is covered with a smooth TPU sheath. At its end, the cable has a modular plug system that lets you easily switch between the 3.5mm and 4.4mm terminations. The cable doesn’t quite match the beauty of the earbuds but it handles reasonably well and doesn’t have any noticeable microphonics.
I find the FF3 earbuds to be more comfortable than most. They feel stable in my ears, even without using the foam covers. Of course, noise isolation is next to nothing but that’s a big part of the reason earbuds can create such an expansive soundstage.
The FiiO FF3 has a sound signature that’s slightly warmer than neutral. It has a full-bodied rich sound that’s fairly balanced between the bass, mids and treble. In addition, FF3 has an upfront and full-bodied presentation.
As with most earbuds, you can change the character of the sound easily by using them with or without foam covers and by adjusting the depth of the fit. If you push them further into your ears the sound becomes thicker with more bass emphasis. A shallower or looser fit makes the sound airier and lighter in tone.
The FF3 has generous levels of bass, delivering lows that are north of neutral. Most of the focus is on the mid-bass but there is plenty of sub-bass action too (especially if you push the earbuds deeper into your ears). You won’t get the same thunderous rumble that you can get from in-ear monitors but you shouldn’t find it lacking.
Midrange notes are slightly thick, resulting in a warm, rich sound. Articulation is pretty good, although if you push the earbuds too deeply into your ears the sound can become muddy.
There’s plenty of weight behind vocals and instruments, adding to the fullness. There’s some colouration here too, so if you’re looking for a neutral sound you won’t find that here. But for an emotive, engaging experience, the FF3’s midrange tone will provide.
The FF3 has a safe and inoffensive treble tuning. You shouldn’t feel any fatigue from the highs, even during longer listening sessions. Treble notes are rounded and softened. This makes them easy on the ears but at the same time, it means there’s not a great deal of precision in the top end.
Soundstage and Technical Performance
Well, it’s an earbud so you know it’s going to have a pretty big soundstage. It’s not as wide as some other earbuds but it has added depth courtesy of its full-bodied bass. With the FF3, the music isn’t isolated in your head like with most in-ear monitors. Instead, it’s all around you and becomes a living, breathing part of your world.
The overall resolution is middling, as is instrument separation. As a result, the sound becomes a little blurred during complex tracks. Imaging and placement are a bit vague. The stage is vast but it’s not exact and lacks stability.
Before you even hear the FiiO FF3, they will impress you with their design and build quality. I mean, how many earbuds do you own that are made from stainless steel and polished glass? Throw in a modular cable and warm, musical sound and you’ve got yourself a solid pair of earbuds that are perfect for casual listening.