Fiio EX1 2nd Gen

REVIEW: Fiio EX1 (ii) 2nd Gen





Website: Fiio 

Product page: Link



Specifications:

Driver Type: Dynamic (13mm)
Frequency response: 20Hz-40kHz
Sensitivity: 98dB/mW
Impedance: 16Ω
Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped gold-plated stereo jack (CTIA standard)
Cord length: 1.2m
Weight: 18g


Price: U$D 60~70





Accessories:
  • 9 pairs of single flange silicone eartips in 3 sizes (S/M/L)
  • Carrying case
  • Clip


The accessory pack is the same as with the Dunu Titan 1 or Fiio EX1, with a nice variation of eartips and a solid case. The box and packaging is similar to identical to the F1 and F3 models, which are nice and hassle free.




Design

The newer version of the EX1 maintains the same design as the first gen. which was made in collaboration with Dunu, meaning it keeps the identical form factor and excellent build quality from earpieces to plug. The shells are of excellent quality, mixing stainless steel and aluminum alloy giving the EX1ii an elegant and yet discreet appearance. Currently it is only available in black color.
Despite the large 13mm driver the shells’ size is very compact, easy to fit and very comfortable on the ears. The design is of an open half-ear IEM with an angled nozzle, meaning the fit is very shallow and isolation level is on the low side, but this usually helps for a more open and airy sound presentation. It’s a good option for those looking for a middle ground between more traditional earbuds and in-ear sets, having some more isolation but a less intrusive fit.
The cable is the same one used on the new F1 and F3, which is already of good quality. It’s thick enough, well behaved and almost tangle free. The attached cable wrap is a huge advantage as well. The L-angle plug utilizes in a TRRS (CTIA) to be used with many smartphones (not all models are compatible, though). The in-line control is placed on the right cable side as well. The control might add a bit of weight, but the whole EX1ii remains lightweight enough for the portable use.







Sound

Overall, the new EX1 has a more conventional lively, v-shaped kind of sound, that parts away from the first Dunu Titan 1. Even after a long burn-in time (100~200 hrs.), the EX1 2nd takes a more aggressive presentation, with much more energy on the bass keeping the similar treble tuning from the first version. The bass of the EX1ii is strong, dominant, full bodied and has good depth. Layering and texture are of very good quality coming from the large titanium dynamic driver. Mid-bass is mildly enhanced, with some extra gain towards the upper bass region giving a warmer tone to lower instruments and lower mids in general. Sub-bass extension is great thanks to the open design, very effortless, though a bit less detailed and less controlled and a tad more congested than the so wider sounding Titan 1 due the extra emphasis at the mid bass part, but overall speed is very good with a good decay and very engaging.


The midrange is quite clear and detailed, however, it takes a step back compared to the fuller and more forward bass and treble. Tonally, the mids are warmer than neutral, not too thick but not too lean either. Compared to the Titan 1, the whole midrange feels more distant keeping the traditional v-shaped response and does not sound as open or airy. The performance is still excellent, with very good timbre and dynamics that are quite impressive for a second model that’s being priced even lower. Male vocals sound somewhat recessed, and definitely not the strong point of the EX1, and while female vocals are more upfront, they still are not safe from certain degree of sibilance. The transparency is very good as well, but again not at the Titan 1 or Soundmagic E80 level.


Treble detail and extension are very impressive; again, the open half-ear design is the key here. Texture and resolution are very good as well, sounding very open and airy. Overall tone is towards the cool side, and while the extra treble emphasis brings lot of details, it makes the new EX1 a non-forgiving and too aggressive IEM that at a longer listening time can get tiring. Cymbals and other upper instruments can be more exaggerated making the timbre a bit less natural. Next to the RHA MA750, the treble on the Fiio EX1 is less sharp but stronger at the lower treble region. The Dunu Titan 1 showed a bit more refinement and flatter response while still classifying under the bright signatures. The lively presentation is still spacious and well separated, with above than average stage size and nice positioning, and boasts better separation than LZ A3, AAW Nebula, Shozy Zero and Advanced Model 3.




Summary

With a same design and a new smartphone compatible cable, the second EX1 version brings a more conventional sound than its predecessor while sitting at an even lower price. Build quality is very solid and fit should be very friendly for most users (at the price of a lower isolation level). The new tuning may not be what the fans of the 1st version should look at, but at its current price it has a great value among the sub $100 range earphones.


Pros:

  • Build quality
  • Sound quality; clarity; detail; soundstage
  • Compact and comfortable design
  • Well accessorized
  • Price



Cons:

  • Low isolation
  • Might be too aggressive and too v-shaped
  • A bit source dependent



Value: 4.5/5