FiiO FF5 Review

FiiO FF5 review featured

In this article, I’m reviewing the FiiO FF5 earbuds. The FF5 features 14.2mm carbon-based dynamic drivers and detachable MMCX cables. It’s currently priced at $129.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by FiiO for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

FiiO FF5 Review
Verdict
FiiO has upped their earbuds game up a notch with the balanced and high-fidelity FF5.
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Pros
Clean, balanced and resolving sound
Expansive, airy soundstage
Durable construction
Generous accessories included
Cons
Left and right markers on stock cable are very hard to see
The sub-bass doesn't carry much weight
4
Our Score

FiiO FF5

Specifications
  • Impedance: 45Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity: 106dB/mW
  • Frequency Response Range: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Termination Plugs: 3.5mm+4.4mm
FiiO FF5 design

Design

As if earbuds aren’t inherently open enough, FiiO decided to add vents in the back of the driver housing. As a result, the FF5 has what I would call a “very open back?” design. The shells and stems are made from aluminium alloy which makes them durable but lightweight.

As far as the shape goes, these are just like your average earbuds, although the included silicone rings add an extra level of fit options which is much appreciated.

FiiO also boasts of the FF5’s modular Silver-Plated Copper (SPC) cable that comes with both 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced terminations. The cable is lovely and handles well. It’s a bit stiffer than the average cable which I found helps prevent tangling.

However, there’s one major gripe I have with this cable: the Left and Right markings are almost impossible to see, even in good lighting. Each time I picked up the FF5, I had to spend a significant amount of time trying to identify the left and right sides. This could be easily addressed with coloured dots or some kind of indicator. Considering the effort FiiO puts into the physical design of their IEMs and earbuds, I’m surprised this was overlooked here.

FF5 modular cable

Sound

The FiiO FF5 earbuds are a true audio gem that will delight audiophiles everywhere. With its upfront and transparent midrange, the FF5 delivers a sound that is nothing short of mesmerizing. The detail retrieval is simply stunning, providing a level of clarity and precision that is sure to impress. And, unlike many earbuds, the FF5 is free of distortion, ensuring an enjoyable listening experience every time.

When it comes to the bass, the FF5 takes a nimble approach, providing just the right amount of punch without overwhelming the overall sound. The mid-bass is particularly impressive, with a quick and punchy sound that is both natural and satisfying. Unfortunately, the sub-bass is a bit diluted, so those looking for a deeper rumble should consider other options.

FiiO FF5 with cable

But, it’s the midrange that truly shines on the FF5. The sound is pure and free of the usual warmth and colouration found in most consumer earbuds. And yet, the FF5 still manages to provide a sound that is both natural and full-bodied, making it sound much closer to in-ear monitors than the average earbuds. Vocals are crystal clear, with an accurate tone that sounds organic and lifelike. The midrange is spacious, providing a level of resolution and layering that is one of the best I’ve heard from an earbud.

The upper mids are lifted, providing extra vitality and presence to female vocals. The treble is high-quality, even and free of sharpness, adding just the right amount of sparkle to the overall sound. And, although the treble isn’t pushed forward, it’s given additional presence by the politeness of the bass, making for a pleasing tonal balance.

Finally, snares and percussion instruments sound snappy and instruments in general have well-defined and clean leading edges. Most earbuds have a large soundstage but the FF5’s balanced sound signature and airy treble make it even larger. You’ll be surprised just how far outside the headspace these earbuds can project sound.

FiiO FF3 review featured

Comparison

FiiO FF3

The FiiO FF3 (review here) has a warmer sound signature. It’s fatter in the lows, with rounder mid-bass notes and fuller kick drums. In comparison, the FF5 has better bass definition and cleaner leading edges.

FF3’s mids are also thicker, resulting in a full-bodied presentation that’s inviting and cozy. The FF5, on the other hand, has a leaner midrange but one that is cleaner and more articulated. It’s especially noticeable in the instrument separation and resolution, where it clearly bests the FF3 in its technical ability.

Both earbuds have a laid-back kind of treble but due to the FF5’s leaner sound signature, the treble is more forward in the mix. FF5 sound lighter and more spacious, in addition to having better detail retrieval.

When it comes to the soundstage, the FF5 is the clear winner in terms of stage size and spaciousness. The FF5’s stage is wider and more spread out and it has a blacker background. Which one you’d prefer depends on your personal tonality preference but the FF5 is clearly a step up from the FF3 in fidelity and resolution.

FiiO MM5 with cable and plant

Verdict

The FiiO FF5 earbuds are a standout choice for audiophiles looking for high-quality sound. The earbuds have a very open design and are made of durable and lightweight aluminium alloy.

The excellent modular SPC cable offers 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced terminations, even if the poor left/right markings can make the experience quite frustrating.

The FF5 delivers a transparent, detailed and distortion-free sound with balanced bass and treble, and a standout midrange that is pure, natural and full-bodied. The upper mids are lifted, providing extra vitality to vocals, while the treble is even and free of sharpness. The FiiO FF5 outperforms it’s sibling FF3 with better bass definition, a cleaner and more articulated midrange, and a wider and more spacious soundstage.

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