FiiO FT3 Review

FiiO FT3 review featured

FiiO is a name that’s known well among audio enthusiasts, especially those who follow the Chi-Fi scene. In today’s review, I’m looking at the FiiO FT3 which is FiiO’s first-ever full-size headphones. The FT3 features large 60mm Beryllium-plated drivers, a 350Ω impedance and a modular cable. The price is $299.

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

FiiO FT3 Review
Verdict
The FiiO FT3 impresses with its robust build, exceptional audio, and budget-friendly price. A stellar debut in full-size headphones by FiiO.
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Pros
Neutral, uncoloured sound signature
Tight, controlled bass
High, quality modular cable
Rich, comprehensive accessories
Cons
Micro-detail retrieval could be better
Upper mids can get bright at higher volume
Headphones are heavy
Demanding power requirements
4.5
Our Score
WHERE TO BUY

FiiO FT3

Specifications
  • Impedance: 350Ω
  • Sensitivity: 102dB
  • Frequency Response Range: 7Hz-40kHz
  • Driver Type: 60mm Dynamic Driver
  • Diaphragm Material: Beryllium-plated Gasket + DLC Diaphragm
  • Weight: 13oz (391g)
  • Earpad Pressure: 4.0N±0.3N
  • Cable Length: ~9.8ft (~3m)
The included carry case
In the Box
  • 3.5mm interchangeable plug
  • 4.4mm interchangeable plug
  • 3.5mm female to 6.35mm male adapter
  • 4.4mm female to XLR-4 male balanced adapter
  • Leather storage case
  • Protein leather earpads
  • Suede earpads
  • Headphone cable
  • Instructions
FiiO FT3 design

Design

The FiiO FT3 boasts a modern sci-fi design. The exterior is made from lightweight aluminium alloy that feels durable in the hand. Despite using lightweight aluminium, the headphones are pretty hefty, weighing in at 391g.

The yokes and earcups are attached to a spring steel frame with a floating protein leather headband. The open-back earcups are covered with a hollow aluminium alloy mesh and spoked resin blades which gives the FT3 its sci-fi aesthetic.

Top view of hte FT3

Internally, the FT3 hosts 60mm Beryllium-plated driver gaskets, essential for adding rigidity and minimising distortion of the large dynamic driver. The diaphragm is constructed from (DLC) Diamond-Like Carbon, ensuring an extended frequency response and improved soundstage. These drivers are angled parallel to the ears minimizing distortion and unwanted resonance or reflections.

Hinge and yoke

When it comes to comfort, the FiiO FT3 does not disappoint. Its 3-axis swivelling design allows the headphones to adjust naturally to the shape of your head. In addition, the clamping force (4.0N±0.3N) is enough to create a secure fit without feeling tight. However, it should be noted that FT3 is relatively heavy at 391g – this doesn’t bother me in the least but it might be an issue for some users.

There are two sets of earcups included in the box. The first (attached by default) are suede earpads that offer, according to FiiO “Balanced sound, enhanced ambience, majestic experience”. The second set is protein leather earpads that provide “Clear sound, large soundstage, highly detailed”. Both types of earpads are plush but firm and wide enough to accommodate my large ears.

Stock FT3 cable

Cable

Accompanying the headphones is a 3m Furukawa monocrystalline copper cable with 23AWG diameter wires. The cable has a braided fabric sheath and handles nicely. What’s nice about this particular cable is its modular connectivity – something that FiiO has embraced and features on many of its products. The cable can be fitted with 3.5mm, 4.4mm, 6.35mm and  XLR-4 plugs, all of which are included in the kit. This means the FT3 can be used with a wide variety of amplifiers and DAPs.

Aluminium earcup

Sound

Gear used for testing includes the SMSL DO300 DAC + Feliks Audio Elise headphone amplifier, Topping E70 + L70 and the Earmen Angel.

I feel as though this section needs to be prefaced with some information about sources. The FT3 is 350Ω, so it needs some beefy power to perform optimally. Ideally, the FT3 needs to be paired with either a powerful DAP or a headphone amplifier.

Regarding tonal balance, the FiiO FT3 leans towards neutrality without imparting any noticeable colouration. Balancing precision and richness, the FiiO FT3 treats listeners to a crisply defined sound with notable resolution and substantial body.

Bass

The low frequencies are substantial, powerful, finely detailed, and skillfully tamed. While the bass has sufficient impact and weight, bonafide bassheads should seek alternatives because the FT3 aims at balance rather than a wow factor. For the majority of listeners, the quantity of bass should be sufficient.

FT3’s lows deliver plenty of impetus and rhythmic verve to the music, particularly when using the suede earpads. With the pleather pads in place, the bass takes a step back and the fundamental tonality shifts upwards. This is a good option for those who prefer a little more bite in the treble.

Midrange

The midrange is the FT3’s bread and butter, not so much because the mids are boosted (apart from a lift in the upper mids) but because the bass and the treble are relatively neutral. As a result, FT3 presents a forward midrange but not so upfront that it becomes dominant.

Midrange instruments and vocals are presented with a neutral tone but are warm enough to sound organic and natural. There’s a good sense of spaciousness and a subtle breathy quality to the mids that enhance their transparency and details.

Treble

The treble in the FT3 is simultaneously crisp and resolving, offering a smooth and unabrasive character. While its capacity for detail retrieval is commendable, there are subtle micro-details that remain just out of reach.

The treble maintains a pleasing timbre, devoid of any sizzle or glare, ensuring a comfortable presentation. This quality is further enhanced by the FT3’s open-back design, which contributes to its fairly airy treble, creating an extra sense of spaciousness and depth.

Soundstage and Technicalities

Often the first thing people think about when they hear “open-back” is soundstage. And while it’s true that open-back phones can produce a large stage, it’s not always the case. In the case of the FT3, the soundstage has fairly average dimensions but its strength lies in the stage’s authenticity – it feels authentic.

FT3’s instrument and vocal notes have good density. This, in turn with the speed of the driver, facilitates strong imaging performance, making it easy to pinpoint the location of not only elements in music but also enemies in computer games.

While the detail retrieval is good, it’s not the utmost in revealing micro details. This is a result of the treble tuning which is designed to be fatigue-free rather than razer-sharp. Overall the FT3 scores well in technical performance considering its modest price point.

Headphones on headphone stand

Comparisons

Sennheiser HD650

The Sennheiser HD650 (review here) has single 42mm dynamic drivers. It has a slightly darker tone with similar bass quantity and impact.

The HD650 mids are warmer, however, they boast superior resolution compared to the FiiO. Midrange notes are more rounded on the Sennheiser yet it maintains a similar level of instrument separation. HD650 has more relaxed upper-mids and always bears a calm demeanour whereas the FT3 occasionally exhibits some shoutiness in the presence region.

The Sennheisers have a relaxed treble that is well-defined but laid-back. In comparison, the FT3 has a more forward treble response. This gives the FiiO a brighter tonality, more clarity and crisper transients but as a result, there’s less focus on the midrange where the HD650 truly shines.

HD650’s soundstage is not quite as wide but it has more depth and height. And while the FT3 might pick up more micro details, the HD650 has more precise imaging and placement.

Sivga Luan

The Sivga Luan (review here) has 50mm dynamic drivers. Luan’s frame and overall design seem a lot simpler than the FT3. And while Luan has excellent build quality, the FT3 feels more premium in the hand.

In regards to the sound signature, these two headphones are quite alike when it comes to tuning. The main difference to my ears is the FiiO’s added control and composure under load. Luan is a great performer and is much easier to power but the FT3’s high impedance means it stays more consistent when pushed to the limit.

Luan feels much lighter when wearing and has more spacious earcups, although I found my ears get hot faster than they do when listening to the FT3 (with the suede earpads).

FiiO FT3 profile

Verdict

In conclusion, the FiiO FT3 is a stunning product, considering it’s the brand’s debut in full-size headphones. The balanced, nuanced sound with controlled bass, expressive mids and crisp treble all add up to a great listening experience.

The headphones boast excellent, rugged build quality with a thoughtful design and a good level of comfort. In addition, the included accessories like the storage case and modular cable are top-notch.

With all that in mind, in addition to its affordable price point, the FiiO FT3 is an easy recommendation for anyone looking to purchase some mid-tier headphones.

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[…] Pros: Neutral, uncoloured sound signature, tight, controlled bass, high-quality modular cable, rich, comprehensive accessories9. […]

Arthur H.
Arthur H.
8 months ago

A solid, well balanced review. My only disagreement would be regarding the weight of these headphones. They sit well on the head and any weight concerns are alleviated. My only minor complaint would be that FiiO should have included a second shorter, more manageable cable as well.

I rank these higher than the HD 650 because they offer a more balanced presentation. I consider the 600 Series to be too mid centric.

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