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Fiio FH1s Review: An Affordable Dual Driver Hybrid

Great Sound, Better Price

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Fiio made its name on delivering high-end audio at an affordable price. The FH1s takes that to the next level by delivering dual drivers and an even lower price than the original FH1 at $69.99.  Paired with the LC-BT2, they can even be made wireless. Are these the budget banger headphones you’ve been waiting for? Let’s dive in and find out.

Specifications

Fiio FH1s In-Ear Monitors
  • Current Price: $69.99 (HiFi Go)
  • Dual Driver Hybrid setup, One Knowles 33518 Balanced Armature Driver  and One 13.6mm graphene Dynamic Driver unit
  • Impedance: 26ohms
  • Sensitivity: 106dB
  • Frequency response range: 5Hz-40kHz
  • 120-Core high-purity monocrystalline copper cable
  • 2-Pin 0.78mm connectors
  • Celluloid designed unique faceplates
Fiio LC-BT2 Bluetooth Upgrade Cable
  • Current Price: $79.99
  • Qualcomm Bluetooth Chip, CSR8675
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • MMCX or 0.78mm Two Pin Connector Type
  • Independent DAC Chip AK4431
  • Supported Codecs: SBC/AAC/aptX/aptX HD/aptX LL/LDAC
  • Output Power: 23mW
  • Frequency Response Range: 5Hz-40kHz
  • Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms-100 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 109dB
  • THD+N: 0.00002
  • 360mAh Battery
  • Battery Life: Upto 24Hours
  • Standby Time: Upto 350Hours
  • Charging Slot Type: USB Type C

Fiio FH1s

As a budding audiophile, Fiio is one of those brands I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t had the chance to spend much time with myself. Nearly a year ago, I reviewed the Fiio FA1s, a gorgeous pair of $99 in-ear monitors, and walked away impressed. When HiFi Go reached out to see if I’d like to take the new FH1s’ for a spin, I wasted no time saying yes. Fiio has a reputation for over-delivering for their price point. What exactly would a  $69.99 in-ear bring to the table, especially in an age where Bluetooth is gaining traction daily.

As it happens, quite a bit. Like the KZ S2’s I reviewed last week (and, of course, the original FH1), they’re dual-driver hybrids. Inside the ear-moulded shell, they feature a massive 13.5mm dynamic driver and a Knowles 33518 balanced armature. Dynamic drivers are the most common in consumer headphones and are typically what people imagine when they think of a speaker: the conical design and wide diaphragm make it excellent for bass and mid-frequency response, which is what it’s responsible for hear. The balanced armature, customized by Fiio and Knowles for the FH1s, is frequently found in detail-oriented IEMs and hearing aids. It excels in delivering detail in the upper register. Together, the split the frequency range to deliver a clear, articulate sound with lots of detailed highs and thumpy lows.

Dynamic Driver Hybrid

The FH1s also packs an extended frequency response range of 5 - 40,000 Hz, achieving Hi Res Certification. That’s an expansive range and is, in fact, well outside the range of human hearing which is typically considered 20 - 20,000 Hz. So, why feature such an extended range? Clarity. If a driver is going to distort, it will typically happen at the edges of its frequency response range. By pushing those boundaries outside of what you can hear, you ensure that what you do hear is just as clear and detailed as the artist or sound designer intended.

As a wired headphone, the quality of the cable is important. What Fiio has included here is quite good. Much better than what you’ll find with any department store IEM. It’s composed of 120 high purity Litz wires that Fiio claims improves the sound. I can’t say that I heard any difference between cables (or am completely sold on cable enhancing sound quality period) but I can appreciate that you’re getting something decent and not prone to tangling here, even if it’s not the absolute best I’ve seen for the price — TIN Audio outperforms them here with the cheaper T2 Pro headphones, for example. If it’s not your cup of tea, you can easily change it out thank to the 2-pin detachable ends, which are also an upgrade from the MMCX connector found on the original FH1.

Case and Tips

Like the FA1, the FH1s ships in a nice hardshell case that easily slips in a bag. It’s foam lined on one side to keep them from rattling and makes for a perfect storage case for the assortment of silicone and two foam tips that are included. Like all IEMs, finding a good fit is important for achieving the proper bass response, so take your time with all IEMs to sort through the tips.

Fiio FH1s Texture

But onto the most important question: how do they sound? The FH1s’s have a full low end, which provides a good amount of thump without being a bass-centric headphone. This allows songs like Final Cut by Coheed and Cambria to sound full and rhythmic without losing detail in the guitar lines, clean and driven. Likewise, Hands Like Houses’ Division Symbols kick drums thump away but the keyboard refrains come through crystal clear.

For gaming, this means you can enjoy cinematic moments while still having the competitive edge that the high-end response provides. I had no trouble picking out footsteps, callouts, and the direction of far-off gunshots and revving engines. At the same time, the sound stage isn’t exceptionally wide, so you’ll want to enable Windows Sonic to add spaciousness and full 360 positioning.

And, not for nothing, but I love the look of them. The light texture and swirl in the shell is beautiful.  I received the black version but found myself longing for the purple for the added flair.

Fiio LC-BT2

Fiio LC-BT2: Cut the Cord and Go Wireless

If you’re dying to go wireless, Fiio has an answer for that: the LC-BT2 bluetooth neckband. This headband is available in 2-pin or MMCX connectors (you’ll need 2-pin for the FH1s) and will work with any earbud with the right connection. They’re a perfect fit for the FH1s with a matching frequency response for and high-res audio transmission.

Fiio threw the kitchen sink at the LC-BT2, and that’s a good thing, because those detachable ends mean you can use it with a wide array of headphones; you want it to live up to any IEM you throw at it. It features a premium AK4431 DAC, which is good on its own, but also supports all of your common high-res codecs: AAC, aptx HD, low latency, LDAC, and includes support for Bluetooth 5.0.

The neckband performed wonderfully. With 24 hours of playtime, I only had to charge it a couple of times a week and in all of my listening, I wasn’t able to tell any difference between wired and wireless playback. It absolutely impressed me.

Additionally, it adds a microphone to the FH1s which proved to be quite good for taking calls.

Final Thoughts

The Fiio FH1s is an excellent pair of IEMs. The build quality feels slightly lighter than more expensive pairs, and them materials used in the diaphragm aren’t quite to the standard of some of Fiio’s more premium offerings, but the sound quality is outstanding. Paired with the LC-BT2s, you can even cut the cord. If you’re on a budget, the Fiio FH1s are an excellent option.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

8.0Great
Pros
  • Dual driver design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Detachable cable
  • 2-pin connection
  • Affordably priced
Cons
  • Feels slightly less premium in the build
  • Cable isn’t good but falls short of even some cheaper competition
  • Lower quality materials inherent in more affordable price


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight