Fiio FH5: The overlooked child

Some stage depth and height
Immersive and not fatiguing
No bleed into the mid-range

Treble is a bit wonky

Disclaimer: This unit was sent to me as a loaner by Rinderkappajoe for a spin and to share my thoughts on it, and as a result of it I can’t comment on the overall packaging or including accessories. No incentives of any kind were given and the review you are about to read are my own thoughts and opinions. 
Thanks once again to Rinderkappajoe for the opportunity and support.

Table of Contents

  1. Prologue
  2. Sound
    1. Sub-Bass
    2. Mid-bass
    3. Mid-range
    4. Treble
    5. Technicalities
  3. Thoughts versus the competition
    1. Fiio FH3
    2. Sony N3
    3. Blessing 2: Dusk
    4. Mangird Tea 2
  4. The verdict

Driver Setup: 1 Dynamic + 3 BA (Knowles)
Price: $280
Purchase link and info: Fiio website

Comfort, fit and isolation: Great.
Source used: Topping E30 + L30 stack, Qudelix 5k, iFi Go Blu
Tips used: Final E
Test playlist with some of the songs used: Despite my usual playlist, Rinderkappajoe sent me a playlist with songs that he thought I would enjoy. I knew some of them already so I decided to also include those in this review, as a thank you gesture.


Fiio has been a well known player in the game by now and also a polarizing one. There are some models that keep coming up over and over again, like their older models FH7 and FH5 with almost a cult following of believers that swear by them.

Today I have the chance to finally try the FH5 and without further ado, let’s jump right into the sound analysis.



James Blake – Limit To Your Love (0:55m)

While not being as impressive as its mid-range part (spoiler alert), the sub-bass on the FH5 is respectfully well done and let me just say the whole bass is not just “good for the price” – it is good.

Around the 55 second mark, James showed me that there is no “limit for my love” of FH5’s bass, showing a good sense of rumble, speed and control, with enough extension to make you feel massaged.

Hans Zimmer – Why So Serious? (3:25m)

Once I spinned “Why So Serious?” and skipped to the 3:25m mark I knew what I had in front of me: a stellar replay with a sense of claustrophobia due to all the qualities mentioned above. Oh boy do I like it. 

But I did say the mid-bass was the best part, right?


Infected Mushroom – Avratz (5:57m)

Once I reached the drop around 5:57m I stopped this review: I grabbed my Q5k and called it a day off, leaving my desk to enjoy some music on my balcony.

The tacticality of FH5’s mid-bass is not just great, it’s stellar instantly stealing my heart. Still controlled, textured and fast, but strong as a mule’s kick while vacuum cleaning your ears with a nice quantity of air slammed into your canal. But I wasn’t satisfied yet.

Gesaffelstein – OPR (0:38m)

Watching closely the 0:38m mark, the Dark Prince’s tune just made my jaw drop a little. Did I hear better replays of this track in other sets? Yes. Did I hear better up to this price range? I don’t think so. Am I impressed? Yes.

Articulated and on point, you get all the information that there is to be heard and it screams electronic music all over for sure. But what about “real instruments”, some may ask?

Larnell Lewis – Change Your Mind (Drum solo around 4:29m)

Snares, tom toms and pedals? Check. Nicely positioned backed up by good texture and sense of impact. Impressive clarity for this range, especially on a set bass focused.

I have to admit that this is far from a perfect replay, mainly due to FH5’s treble and for sure not its bass, but before diving into that, we must check how this bass affects the mid-range.


Hania Rani – Leaving

The mid-range falls into the neutral or slightly south of that regarding its presentation. But don’t let the word neutral fool you, as there is warmth and weight added, in a very moderate amount, into the mid-range.

Translated into another words, what this means is that the mid-range won’t feel thin or lacking note weight, on the contrary, but also not showing signs of extreme warmth. This frequency range, when portrayed by the FH5, is just good enough – as in there’s not much shining but not to be faulty at the same time.

Clarity is average, especially due to the combination of a hint of warmth, shy pinna gain elevation and not being ultra detailed like some of the offers in the competition or using different driver setups like the fever of the month planars.

The mid-range is just that: competent. Doesn’t bottleneck but also doesn’t get in the way, not requiring your attention. During Hania’s performance, the keystrokes are subtle and so are her voice reverb effects. The layering effect might also be one the culprit in the range, as it didn’t feel particularly good on this track.

Anette Askvik – Under The Tallest Tree

As for vocals and the upper mid-range, they are once again on the neutral side. Female vocals are slightly smoothed out and lacking a inch of bite, but nothing to be harsh on or even abnormal around most of the IEMs with this pinna gain smoothness. They fall under the category of relaxed and non-fatiguing, never crossing in front of your face or being shouty what-so-ever.

The Dead South – In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company

As for the male counterpart, I do have to give them the edge over female ones. They still suffer from the same problems that the female ones do but due the lower mid-range elevation, thicker voices get a better and more frontal presentation. I actually enjoyed this track on FH5 as far as vocals were called, just lacking a touch of detail on them – words that I cannot replicate about the bajo replay of this song, segwaying us to the last zone analysis.


Balkan Paradise Orchestra – Màntric

During the full duration of the song, I used Màntric mainly to check on the brass instruments and drumkit’s cymbals.

I am gonna go straight to the point regarding the FH5 treble region: it’s not great, but it’s not awful. It is done by the Knowles’ balanced armatures and it sounds wonky due to various reasons, which I will try to explain without rambling much.

The BA timbre is very present in this specific area, more specifically in the lower and middle treble areas. This affects instruments like chords and brass, whose decay just feels short and smoothed out.

This rapid decay will contrast with the small but enough to be felt peak around the 5k area to giving a hint of crunchiness to the attack and losing its naturality, especially when the extension area sounds a bit underdone, despite what the graph tells.

Besides that and tuning wise, the treble is semi-flat, giving most treble tunings nowadays, which I actually enjoy and usually call “plateau” instead of “peaky”.

Pain Of Salvation – Stress

Around 2:02m you find my choking point and once I heard it, I could not unhear it: the guitar just sounds off and, for lack of a better word, nasally.


Wendy Marcini – The Plan
Polyphia – Playing God

Before we finish the sounding chapter, I will just wrap it up by resuming the technical prowess of the FH5, since hints have been given during the tuning analysis. 

Regarding the stage size, I found the FH5 not very wide, still close to your head, but with some depth and height to it, which I appreciate. Imaging, detail and dynamics all fall into the average for the price group. Detail is actually one of the key pillars of this set giving it just enough to not let the tuning collapse and feel dull, since it does show some smooth transients.

What isn’t as great is the timbre, coherency and layering. The other two I’ve covered, so I’ll skip ahead into the coherency: there’s an obvious difference when using busy songs with high dynamic range that the bass is apart from everything else.

Thoughts versus the competition

Fiio FH3

First thing that popped into my mind once I tried the FH5 for the first time was “this is what FH3 should have been”. To me, it’s an upgrade all over minus the stage width, to a point I dislike FH3 and I enjoy FH5.

Sony N3

The Fiio FH5 shows a better bass (both in tuning and in dynamics), also winning in technicalities like detail and stage. As for the rest of the tuning and intangibles like timbre, coherency, separation and dynamics, the N3 wins hands down.

Blessing 2: Dusk

The Dusk is a better IEM overall, only losing to the FH5 in the bass department, as that’s a bloodbath. I still can enjoy FH5 treble elevation better, despite both being wonky to my ears. Great compliment, in my opinion.

Mangird Tea 2

I do prefer everything on the Tea 2, including the sub-bass, but its BA mid-bass shows a struggle versus the FH5, which wins that round.

The verdict

I think I left not much to be said in this verdict as I’ve been quite transparent about my feelings towards the Fiio FH5: a stellar bass performance paired with an almost sum of other parts.

I really enjoyed this IEM and for that, I cannot say anything other than a recommendation if you can still find it. It will now belong on the wall of one of the best basses up to 300$, to be humble about it.

After my experience with the FD5 and FH3 I was skeptical, but I’m glad I tried it – I would be missing out on a lot of fun!

Value ranking: 4/5. Personal rank: B.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with

%d bloggers like this: