FiiO excels at producing high performance audio gear at a more affordable price than most other leading brands. The FH1 and F5 are two examples of this. With MMCX connections, both of these sub $100 IEMs come with detachable cables, a feature that is hard to find at this price point. There are already quite a few reviews out there about both of these earphones. But this comparison review is for those who are familiar with at least of of these models, but need a second opinion to seal the deal. With only 10 bucks separating the FH1 and the F5, what are the major differences in sound and build between these two models? Let’s find out in this FiiO FH1 vs FiiO F5 Review.
FiiO FH1 vs FiiO F5 Review
If sound isolation in a priority, then go for the FH5. With around-the-ear memory wires and a smooth, ergonomically shaped shell, the FH5 fit perfectly in the contours of my ears. That being said, if you’re not used to fiddling with an around-the-ear memory wire and prefer the quick pop-in design, then the F5 is a simpler option.
The F5 has a single 13.6mm dynamic driver, while The FH1 adopts a hybrid driver setup; a 10mm Knowles dynamic driver powers the lows, while a balanced armature driver is used for the mids and highs. Both, the F5 and the FH1 hare the same standard frequency range of 20Hz to 40kHz.
Though it’s the more affordable IEM, the F5 presents a sturdier build than the FH1. The F5 sports a rugged aluminum shell, while the FH1 has a humble plastic design.
Both IEMs have detachable cables, and both models come with a 2.5mm balanced cable in the box. One thing to note about the remotes. The remote on the F5 is designed for the iPhone (also works for Android), while the one on the FH1 is intended for use with Androids. In terms of durability, the 3.5mm cable on the FH1 appears to have a sturdier connector with more insulation. It also has a right angled plug, which might make it less susceptible to wear. The balanced 2.5mm cables are different with each model as well. Although the 2.5mm copper cable on the F5 has a more solid and protected feel, the braided, silver-coated copper cable on the FH1 is higher in quality.
Overall Impressions: The FH1’s powerful bass and perfect balance vs the F5’s delicate but tinny profile.
You’ll get a punchier and more powerful bass response from the FH1. The F5 conveys a light low end in comparison, and combined with the F5’s bright highs, the balance starts to feel slightly off compared to the more even-keeled FH1. In terms of transparency and detail, the F5 presents the a cleaner and more textured sound when listening to string instruments. On the other hand, cellos had a much more majestic and all-encompassing flavor on the FH1, making the timbre on the F5 seem a little thin.
Both IEMs produce present and well-balanced midranges. But you’ll hear more low-mids from the F5, giving the tracks a slightly meatier feel (bass excluded). That being said, if you appreciate a full-bodied sound, both IEMs should please your ears. With respect to clarity, you can expect tidier separation from the F5, and generally, a more delicate profile. But here’s the caveat; after comparing these two IEMs, I couldn’t help but notice that the F5, though clean sounding, produces a tinny character, which may not be offensive to everyone. In fact, companies, like RHA have done well with this kind of sound signature. But if you’re a purist, you’ll want to go with the more natural feel of the FH1.
If your ears are sensitive to high frequencies, then you should stay clear of the bright F5. The FH1 is much easier on the ears, and therefore less fatiguing after extended listening sessions. Listening to pop, for example, percussion that sounds crisp on the FH1 turns into uncomfortable sharpness on the F5. Still, the F5 definitely holds its own in terms of transparency. And listening to violins, I heard more detail through the F5 than I did from the comparatively smooth FH1.
No competition here. The FH1 not only delivers a more spacious soundstage, but also a precision in imaging that the F5 can’t match. If you love being immersed in 3D sound, note that the FH1 will definitely deliver a much more multidimensional soundscape.
For me, this one’s a no-brainer. I would gladly pay 10 extra bucks for the vastly better sounding and more versatile profile of the FH1. And if you’re a commuter who desperately needs to block out surrounding ambient noise, then the FH1 is the hands down winner.
You can pick up both of these IEMs for the best price here: