In Fiio they develop their line of headphones at such a speed that they step on their heels to themselves. Models go faster than they manage to write, and each next – better than the previous one. EX1-II and F5 (I, of course, exaggerate, the models come out about once a quarter), as in the summer presentation Fiio announced three-driver F9 hybrids that combine affordable price with good quality.
To fix the headphones on the market Fiio decided to go with the trump card and after a number of dynamic models of different price categories released hybrids – headphones, in which the low-frequency range corresponds to a dynamic emitter with a membrane of polyethereketone , and for MF and HF – two radiators with a balance with a strong anchor. Such a scheme makes it possible to get the best from each type of drivers: massiveness and density of the bass, resolution and microdynamics of the middle and high frequencies.
This was supplemented by an interesting aluminum case with a beautiful wavy texture, the inner volume of the headphones was also specially designed to provide a better sound. Despite the very affordable price (the recommended cost is about 110 dollars), the model is equipped with interchangeable wires with an MMCX connector, and in the set even put two cables: with a headset and balanced.
Based on F9 in the company are going to make a whole line of headphones. F9SE (already entering the markets) is devoid of replaceable wires, but costs 10 dollars cheaper. Also, the F9 Pro is planned with other fittings and F9 LE, made of more premium materials. There are no details yet, the Pro version was promised to be released in the second half of autumn, and LE – even later.
However, the current version of the F9 is already quite interesting and competitive, so let's consider it in more detail.
- Radiators: Dynamic + 2 x with a balanced armature
- Frequency range: 15 Hz – 40 kHz
- Sensitivity: 106 dB / mW
- Impedance: 28Ω
- The maximum input power: 100 mW
- Cable: 2 x 1.2 m, interchangeable with MMCX connectors
- Plug: 3.5 mm TRRS, 2.5 mm TRRS balanced
- Weight: 3.76 gr. (1 earphone, without wire)
Package and delivery set
Box – traditional for the company, made in two layers. The outer of the thin cardboard is sustained in dark colors with a minimum of polygraphy. Inside, one more box of solid cardboard of the same black color, into which headphones and accessories are stacked, is concealed. The scope of delivery includes:
- two sets of 3 pairs of silicone tips of different sizes, the nozzles allow you to slightly change the sound
- convenient plastic storage and carrying case
- two interchangeable wires, twisted balanced with 2.5 mm plug and the usual with a three-button Andorid-headset
- instruction manual and warranty card
In general, for this price category, everything is very good.
Design and wearing comfort
The developers have worked hard on the appearance. Taught by previous experience with Fiio X5-3, the company decided to immediately release the headphones in two versions – black and red, I naturally chose black, more suitable in color to my X5-3. The case is made of aluminum and is designed for breezing. The ergonomic shape provides a comfortable fit and comfort even with prolonged wearing, and the wavy texture looks interesting, but it's not catchy. Of course, the quality of assembly is traditionally at a high level, no flaws or shortcomings.
The sound guide is made at a convenient angle and has an average length, so the sound insulation is normal, but not prohibitive, which is traditional for models of this form factor.
Like the F5, the main wire is made for a "balanced" connector with a separate ground. Fiio made it clear that this is the main connection for their products, because everything they presented at the last presentation is equipped with 2.5 mm TRRS. The balance cable is made twisted, it is soft, very comfortable, almost does not harden, the microphone effect is poorly expressed. The second wire looks simpler, but also made qualitatively, it is equipped with a 3-button headset that works with Android phones and players of the company itself, iOS users are left to be satisfied with one central button.
The wires themselves use MMCX connectors, so if desired, buyers can easily find an alternative. The connectors of the standard cables are made more tight than in the F5, offering an almost optimal balance of reliability and ease of replacement.
The following equipment was used for listening.
- Yulong DA9 and Resonessence Labs Concero HP as DAC and amplifier
- Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2016 as a source
- Fidelia in the role of player
- and iBasso DX200 and others in the role of portable players
- High Definition Records in Lossless Formats (Dr. Chesky The Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc and others)
Before listening to the headphones were heated for 48 hours, no noticeable changes in the sound was observed.
By the sound of F9 turned out to be interesting, their moderately V-shaped AFC is oriented to fans of "boring" feed. With the exception of the different accents on the high frequency, according to the AFC model came out similar to the Titan 1, however, to call these headphones similar will be a strong stretch. Traditionally, the nature of the sound depends heavily on the landing, so take a little time and try different types of attachments to select the one that will provide you with maximum isolation and optimum sound.
The F9's bass is full and energetic, there are also deep basses, but the main focus is on the central part of the range, which is logical, since it is there that "useful information" of real instruments is located. Of course, the LFs are not rebar-dry, they are served without excessive fussiness, but they have good dynamics and thanks to this, they are good at their price coping with texture recovery. LFs are decently controlled and do not muffle the rest of the range.
The midrange is slightly lower than the midbas, however, the entire difference there is about 10 dB, so the notorious "taste color" is expressed very little and neatly correlates with a typical hearing perception curve. MF F9 have a good resolution, without breaking into the cold analyticity. However, the headphones also do not add emotion to the "middle", so the model requires quality recordings and a decent source. The imaginary scene is at a good level for this category, the depth is slightly more than average, the width is a little more. Expected for rebar drivers, there are no problems with the separation of tools.
The HF is characterized by a rather noticeable peak in the region of 7-8 kHz, very reminiscent of, strangely enough, the new HiFiMan Re800. So if you belong to the number of non-fans of HF – immediately bypass the model side, you will save both nerves and time. For me, for example, this peak in most cases does not present a problem, especially if it is compensated (about horror!) With an equalizer or simply using a non-bright player with good RF control (who is there suggesting X5-3?). In general, HF is typical for rebar emitters are characterized by speed and attack, and this very peak adds a sense of airiness to so many compositions, however it is still a matter of your personal preferences.
I have neither the opportunity nor the time to compare the F9 with all the models that exist on the market, so I will briefly describe the difference with several models of a similar category from those that were at hand.
Dunu Titan1 / Fiio EX-1 The model, which became one of the most discussed and divided listeners into two camps: for some, the "titans" turned out to be a revelation, someone can not tolerate them. If you compare them to F9, the hybrids sound "more hybrid" (surprisingly, I know): a denser bass that goes a little deeper, slightly less emotional midrange and a different emphasis on HF. The F9 peak is 7-8 kHz higher, while the T1 has a higher rise in the region of 3-6 kHz, although both models are not generally for HFs. Comparison with EX1-II is easily extrapolated by reading any comparative review of the first and second generation EX-1.
Fiio F5 / Dunu Titan 5 Despite the difference between these two models (at least in my pairs), they are very close, which allows them to be viewed together. Titans differ slightly less dense bass feed and slightly softer on the MF, but on the HF they are similar to F9 with the only difference that their peak is at 6 kHz. In general, "all other things being equal," I would prefer F9, in spite of the difference in price, they sound more effective and worn more conveniently.
Meze 12 Classic If you throw aside the difference in price and design / materials and compare only the sound, the Meze headphones offer a more "comfortable" pitch, less spectacular on some tracks, more "universal" for those who do not like HF.
MEEAudio Pinnacle P1 While the new P2 are waiting for me at the post office, P1 remain one of the leaders in their price segment, offering not only unsurpassed build quality and materials, but also an unusual spectacular sound. In general, the main difference in models lies in the field of HF. Both models have quite an accentuated "top", but in F9 this is the peak at 7-8 kHz, while in P1, unexpectedly extended RFs in the 9 kHz and higher region (where the overwhelming majority of other models have already begun a decline). At mid frequencies, the headphones have about parity (the difference is, of course, there is, but it needs to be specially listened to), the P1's bass is a bit more quantitative, but it's also slightly worse decorated, however, the difference here is not great either.
MEEAdio M7Pro A novelty from MEE is intended primarily for musicians, especially those playing in the rhythm section. The model was created in collaboration with several drummers and bass players, hence the more accented, though quick bass, which determines the main difference in the sound of models. The rest of the range, of course, also differs, but it is the attitude to the LF that will play a decisive role here.
Fiio F9 are well balanced in terms of sensitivity and impedance, they are completely swinging different smartphoneplanes, but powerful players will not make too much noise with them. Choosing a source for them is worth looking at players without accenting HF and with good control of other frequencies, but, of course, for most buyers, the main choice will be models from Fiio itself (especially when the offers of "sets")
Stylistically, headphones are very versatile (if you normally treat a peak on the high frequency or are ready to remove it with an equalizer). Of course, poorly-written styles such as different strands will suit them less, but this is again a matter of preferences, personally to me, as they say "norms." To recordings, the headphones are sensitive, somewhere on 8 points out of 10.
Several tracks in the role of example
The Alan Parsons Project – La Sagrada Familia Modern science knows two ways to die from an overdose of serotonin. The first is to burst the puffy knot during sex, and the second – to go to Barcelona and go to the temple of the Holy Family, listening to the song of the same name by Alan Parsons. If you take good headphones like F9 at the same time, then at the moment of entering the main topic, you obviously will be at risk, so much pleasure. Although it is worth noting that many impressionable music lovers are losing consciousness from John Miles's vocals on the introduction.
Perturbator – Eclipse (Remaster) If, after Barcelona, you are transferred somewhere to the night streets of Tokyo and switch the track to this one – you will be guaranteed to hit the cyberpunk film in the mid-80s. Gloomy electronic music with a surprisingly attractive rhythm gives both a sense of the future, in which humanity is almost gone, and paranoia from the fact that someone is watching you. Fiio F9 and then show themselves "at the level" playing out and dynamic bass and lace solo synths.
Leonard Cohen – A Thousand Kisses Deep And to complete this virtual (and maybe real for someone) journey I would suggest somewhere on the rainy streets of autumn New York. Broken heart and flask with whiskey in your pocket – optional, but very desirable. It was for such situations that Leonard Cohen's music was created, with good headphones (well, yes, yes), his hoarse vocals accompanied by female "back" will immerse you to the very bottom, to lead through catharsis and pushing away from the bottom with a powerful kick to send your mood back up …
So, what is before us? Another sensation, pushing the boundaries of personal audio? Of course not. "Killers of the Giants", offering a sound comparable to the models for a ton of dollars? Also not (although some much more expensive models can still be killed in a good blind test, but this is more their own "merit"). Fiio just made another very honest headset, offering a traditionally good value for money, complemented by an excellent design and level of technical performance.