FiiO FD5 IEM Review: The Single-Handed Performer!!
FiiO is well-reputed audio equipment manufacturing brand based in China. They cover all the different categories of HiFi audio such as portable/Desktop DAC/AMPs, portable Hi-Res audio players, high-quality In-ear monitors, and more. When it comes to in-ear monitors, they have their wings spread across different price segments from entry-level to premium high-tier products. FiiO runs multiple earphone series such as “FH”, “FA”, “FD”, and “EM”. FH series houses hybrid driver IEMs, FA series houses All-BA driver IEMs, the FD series have single Dynamic Driver IEMs, and the EM series is their earbuds lineup. Today I am gonna share my review for their latest flagship in the FD single Dynamic lineup, the FiiO FD5.
The FiiO FD5 is a single-dynamic driver flagship pair of in-ear monitors priced at 320$. It features stainless steel metallic ear shells with semi-open back architecture and a large 12mm dynamic driver unit with beryllium-coated diaphragm material. Before wasting any more time, Let’s begin with the review.
Packaging & Accessories:-
FiiO FD5 comes in a big package. It has an outer cover with an image of the pair along with FiiO and FD5 branding logos. Under this cover lies a matte-black thick cardboard box that holds the contents in layers of foam. The first layer has the FD5 earpieces sitting firmly connected to their cable. There is also a high-quality leather carry case alongside the pair on this first layer. On the second layer, we get a complete set of ear tips and a small box full of accessories. The box contains accessories such as two thin sound nozzles, 2.5mm & 4.4mm termination plugs, an MMCX opener clip, and a small cleaning brush. In the ear tips collection we get a total of eleven pairs of silicone tips, and two pairs of memory foam tips.
The unboxing experience of FD5 is similar to that of the other flagships from FiiO such as FH7 and FA9. FiiO nails in the accessory department bundling all the things one might need inside the box. They even included an MMCX clip to remove the earpieces from the cable comfortably. Enjoyed every bit of unboxing this gem.
>Pair of FD5 IEMs.
>MMCX cable with swappable termination plugs.
>Denim-look leather carry case.
>2.5mm termination plug.
>4.4mm termination plug.
>Thin nozzle tips.
>Memory foam tips.
>One pair of thin ear nozzles(sound filters).
Design & Build Quality:-
With shiny polished stainless steel earpieces, the FD5 is one of the best-looking pairs in FiiO’s lineup. They carry a slight bit of extra weight if you compare them to other Resin material shells such as Audiosense T800 or BGVP DM8. The earpieces have a semi-open back architecture with small grills on the faceplates. The faceplates actually have an elevated grill design on one side that makes them look like crowns on the pair. Both the earpieces are color-coded on the opposite side of the MMCX connector(Red for Right, Blue for Left). Users can change the ear nozzle with the thin one provided in the package. The earpieces are completely made up of high-quality stainless steel material and look simply elegant.
The cable included in the bundle also has a solid build. It doesn’t feel too stiff or too soft and has no microphonics issues. The termination plug can be replaced easily, just unscrew the metallic shell around the plug and push it backward. Now pull the termination plug, it will come out easily. Insert the other plug matching the 4-pin connector inside the metallic shell.
Other included accessories such as the ear tips, leather carry case are also of ultimate quality. The leather case in fact has a premium velvet finish on the inside.
Fit & Isolation:-
FiiO FD5 earpieces have a cylindrical, small form factor. Despite being slightly heavier than other Resin material IEMs, the pair fits perfectly and provides a comfortable fit for long listening sessions. I find a perfect fit with stock balanced tips, but I use it mostly with KZ Starline tips as they gave me a better fit. The pair covers the entire ear canal and provides good isolation from surrounding noises.
Driving the FD5:-
The FiiO FD5 is a very sensitive pair to power. It gets quite loud even at about 50% volume on the Cayin N3 Pro(medium gain). I tested the pair with Topping E30+L30 Combo, Topping NX4 DSD portable amplifier, Cayin N3 Pro. Here are my findings with these pairings.
With Cayin N3 Pro:-
The pairing is simply perfect, beautiful smooth sounding, clean dark background, wide soundstage, punchy bass, and crisp vocals. Tube mode of Cayin N3 Pro gives a warm touch to the output.
This pairing sounds cleaner with similar dynamics as that with the N3 Pro. The slight warmth that was with the N3 Pro is gone here, output is more natural here. It is adequately loud at about 40% volume on low gain(-9dB).
With Topping NX4 DSD:-
The pairing of NX4 DSD and FiiO FD5 is bright. Dynamics here are slightly less expansive than with the other two pairings above but still an enjoyable combination.
The FiiO FD5 can be powered easily, it can be driven off a smartphone without any trouble. Using a hi-res player or similar device just improves its dynamics and opens up the staging.
Putting on the Thin Nozzles:-
FiiO included a pair of thin nozzles that in some way affects the sound output. Well, yeah they do. Firstly, only the triple flange and vocal ear tips from the package will fit these thin nozzles.
In my experience, The thin nozzles overpower the lower end and tame the treble energy, making the pair sound intimate and less airy. Overpowered bass slightly affects the vocal clarity too. After my testing, I packed the thin nozzles in the original packaging and mostly used the pair with thick nozzles.
For this review most of the critical listening is done with N3 Pro on Tube mode(Ultra-Linear).
FiiO FD5 has a slight U-shaped sound signature with deep, impactful, well-textured lower end, airy, transparent mids, well-extended treble, and an open sound stage. The pair actually feels like a set of small speakers in our ears. Mids are slightly recessed with a wide soundstage that provides a sense of openness with the pair. It has good engaging output with its powerful thumps, great clarity, and good extensions at both the higher and lower ends of the frequency range. The pair shows excellent natural timbre and tonality for vocals and instruments.
FD5 is a non-forgiving pair of IEMs, the output is completely transparent showing the flaws of bad recordings out in the open. It pairs well with warm sources such as the N3 Pro, especially with its tube mode. Actually, with the N3 Pro, I find it melodious and fun. Single DD allows the pair to achieve a much cleaner and distortion-free output. Here’s a frequency-wise description for FD5.
Dynamic Drivers are known for their impactful lower end. The scene is the same here with the FD5, the lower end is pretty impactful with powerful mid-bass full-bodied slams and well-extended sub-bass rumble. The best part is even with such powerful impacts, the bass is not overdone at all and is controlled well within its region. There is no muddiness in the output resulting in a crisp & detailed performance. The punchy lower end complements genres such as Hip-Hop, EDM, and more.
Please note that if you use the thin nozzles, it makes the lower end sound bloated and introduces some muddiness in the vocals. Thick nozzle no such issue.
Mids are showcased well with natural tonality and good airiness among the instruments. The mids section is slightly recessed that also makes the output stage open and wide. Acoustic instruments such as Guitars show good air between the strings. Both the male and female vocals have a rich natural tonality, they don’t sound shouty or too into the face.
Listening to vocal-based artist/Acoustic artists such as Damien Rice, Boyce Avenue Covers, is a blissful experience with the FD5 thanks to the detailed & airy mid-section.
The treble frequencies are presented in a well-defined manner. They show great extensions providing a rich listening experience for their users. Cymbals crashes, Violins, Pianos sounds perfect with long extensions. The treble section has a good sense of energy that makes the pair sound bright. This brightness might not be for everyone, some might like it, some might not. But despite being bright, the pair doesn’t sound harsh or fatiguing even after long music sessions.
Soundstage & Imaging:-
FiiO FD5 has a wide soundstage with above-average soundstage depth. It sounds open and wide with a good level of instrument clarity and detailing. Users can pinpoint different instruments on the stage quite easily thanks to its supreme detail retrieval.
FiiO FD5 Vs UM 3DT:-
I got to experience the Unique Melody 3D Terminator(also known as 3DT) from a friend. It houses three dynamic drivers inside a single shell. Here are my findings between these two.
>FiiO FD5 has better lower end response, sub-bass feels more lively and powerful.
>FD5 mids have a slight warm touch while the UM 3DT sounds more natural.
>Dynamics such as soundstage, layering, imaging are quite similar on both the pairs.
It’s really good to see FiiO achieve such a great performance with a single DD unit while the 3DT is being powered by 3 DD units.
FiiO has amazed me with the FD5. I mean It has an eye-catchy, sturdy stainless steel build, the single 12mm DD unit produces a clean, impactful sound output that complements my music with deep punches, wide, open staging, and detailed clarity. If you ask me about its flaws, it’s very source sensitive, with NX4 it sounds bright, N3 Pro sounds warm, and so on. I personally liked the FD5 too much and using it currently as my daily driver. Its single Dynamic driver does so much that I don’t think most hybrids/multi-drivers can do around its price segment. Nice Job FiiO!!