Fiio F1 & F3

REVIEW: Fiio F1 & F3


Website: FIIO

Products links: F1  , F3 



Specifications:


F1

Driver Type: Dynamic 9.2mm
Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Sensitivity: 97dB
Impedance: 16Ω
Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped gold-plated stereo jack (CTIA standard)
Cable length: 1.2m
Weight: 19.8g


F3

Driver Type: Dynamic 11mm
Frequency response: 15Hz ~ 20kHz
Sensitivity: 98dB
Impedance: 40Ω
Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped gold-plated stereo jack (CTIA standard)
Cable length: 1.2m
Weight: 19.6g





Price (MSRP):

F1 – U$D 15. 
F3 – U$D 25.
both currently available at PenonAudio (F1, F3)

 


Accessories

·         3 pairs of eartips (S/M/L)
·         1 case
·         1 pair of earguides (F3 only)
·         3 pairs of replaceable covers in red, blue and black (F3 only)







Design

Design on both F1 and F3 is practically the same for shell material, cable and plug. They only differ in their shape, being the F1 meant for cable down fit and F3 for over-ear. Build quality is very solid for the low price and the design is well thought. The housings are made of semi-translucent polycarbonate plastic type material with looks solid enough and is also very lightweight. The finish is very smooth and very well rounded as well. Nozzle is of standard length and width. Strain relief at the shells is lacking a bit.
As an extra, the F3 features replaceable cover in 3 colors; a cool feature, and makes it easier to differentiate between R and L sides.
The cable is one of the advantages on both F1 and F3 models. It is thick, but not too much, and very soft and easy to handle. You can see the results of the Dunu & Fiio partnership from the previous EX1 model in these two new ones, having a very good cable quality and obviously including the once “Dunu patented” attached cable wrap. The plug is similar (if not identical) to the Fiio EX1 and the Dunu Titan and other series, very sturdy and well relieved. The 3-button in-line control is placed on the right side, made of aluminum alloy. The only part that might be missing should be the y-split, which is a bit small and lacks a proper relief, nothing to complain about for the low budget price though.

Fit is very easy on both F1 and F3. The shells on the F1 adopts a 45º angled design and while it’s meant for cable down wear it can be easily used over-ear by switching the sides. On the other hand, while the F3 is larger and more rounded, it’s meant for over-ear configuration, but can also be used in a cable-down fit. Both are quite comfortable with a decent level of isolation with the included eartips, however I’ve the F3 model to be the more ergonomic and comfortable one for daily use. The F1 fit is a bit tighter despite having smaller housings.









 


The Sound


F1

For a low budget IEM, the F1 has a more unique tuning. The F1 is very warm, a bit sweet and very relaxing without being too laid-back or boring. Forward in its presentation and a bit more mid-focused.

Bass has decent impact and speed but it is small quantity-wise and soft in character, gently rolling off passed down the mid-bass region. Punchy but not particularly tight, average in resolution, although well controlled and not muddy thanks to the less mid-bass focus. Depth is average but fairly smooth and well-rounded for most genres, just not for bassheads by any means.

Mids are slightly sweet and very smooth with good texture on the vocal part being a little more forward. Still shows good sense of space and balances well with the low end that gives a fuller and warmer overall tone. The F1 does give up a bit in terms of detail and clarity for a more relaxed and laid-back midrange presentation.

The treble is pleasant, and again very smooth and non-offensive at all. More laid back in comparison to the rest of the frequencies and free of any hint of sibilance in expense of sounding a bit dark and off and also lacks energy and crunch for upper instruments. Detail is about average and the lack of air contributes in making the F1 to sound more congested and closed. The limited extension and forward midrange also give a more narrow stage effect. For the $15 price it’s still hard to dislike especially for its more relaxed and easygoing presentation.


F3

The F3 takes a fairly balanced sound with a more consumer friendly U-shaped frequency response. For a lively presentation, the sound presentation is relatively forward, but not overly thick or too rich. Overall it’s full, energetic, dynamic and with a fairly strong bass emphasis.

The low end is what should be expected from a u/v-shaped type of sound at this prince point, trying to appeal the larger consumer masses. The enhanced bass is quite voluminous with most of the sources, with a very strong impact. It is dominant, however it shows a very good speed that prevents it from being muddy. There’s still a certain mid-bass bloat and mid/up-bass peak that can be annoying sometimes. Quite effortless and reaches down to the sub-bass with ease, though lacks some extension and texture, and the sub-bass nature is a tad soft next to the mid and upper bass regions that prevents the F3 to be defined as a true bass type IEM.

Midrange is just a tad recessed but the aggressive nature helps to make it less distant than should be expected from a v-shaped signature. The bassy low-end adds a strong sense of warmth and fuller tonality. Despite the mild bleed midrange clarity and resolution are a strong point on the F3. Vocals and instruments are mostly equally leveled, though female singers might get an extra highlight, but also can be edgy and a sibilant at moderate to higher volumes.

Treble is forward and similarly prominent as the low end. It extends very well, though it has more than enough energy that can be a bit fatiguing and not sibilance free. Not an entirely smooth top end and there’s just a bit of unevenness towards the upper midrange and lower treble; nothing bad for the low price, but less natural sounding than more expensive sets.

Soundstage is about average due to the more forward presentation. Even though, the F3 doesn’t feel closed nor it lacks a decent sense of air, and separation is good. The 40ohm impedance is not an issue for any portable player, just asks for a higher volume compared to the standard 16ohm on the F1. Overall speed is another advantage on the F3 and decay is quite natural. The strong bass can still affect the dynamics and layering, but lower notes weight and resolution are quite good for its low price and the F3 remains a very competent in-ear. I’d still pick the F1 for a more casual listening for its more relaxed or more mid-centered sound or for vocals alone, but the F3 is the more all-rounder type.



Value

There’s not much to add about these new Fiio earphones. They’re both solid options for their price with a solid construction, friendly design and easy going sound presentation. For more accuracy and control there are some more expensive products going around, and a few hidden gems that can still triumph over the F1 and F3 in pure sound quality, however, taken as a whole package they both have some advantages.

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