This is Fiio’s second over-ear headphones that they’ve launched this year along with the FT3. The FT5 is meant to be the next step up in their new headphone series, with a planar driver this time. It will set you back $449, which is quite the jump in price compared to the FT3, so let’s see what makes the FT5 an upgrade.
What You Get
- 3.5mm interchangeable plug
- 4.4mm interchangeable plug (pre-installed at factory)
- 6.35mm male to 3.5mm female adapter
- XLR-4 male to 4.4mm female balanced adapter
- Leather storage case
- Velvet bag
- Protein leather earpads 1 pair
- Suede earpads 1 pair (pre-installed at factory)
- Headphone cable
- User manual
Look & Feel
The FT5 is a huge step up from the FT3 in terms of build. Instead of plastic materials, the FT5 uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy frame. Everything from the earcups to the yokes holding up the suspension headband uses this incredibly stable material, making for a very durable design. The grille patterns mixed with Fiio’s fresh logo establish a fine aesthetic design as well. Then there are the interchangeable ear pads, which both offer great comfort and are relatively easy to remove. Neither the suede nor the leather pads will impact the fit too significantly.
A whopping 90mm planar magnetic driver with a 6um ultra-thin diaphragm. Micron-plated aluminum-silver alloy coils are used to enhance conductivity and make the headphones easier to drive. Parallel to these coils are N52 neodymium magnets allowing even distribution of power within the magnetic field while allowing for a greater output power.
The FT5 has exactly what you’d expect for a pair of open-back planar headphones in terms of width and spatial imaging. Its sonic presentation is exact, with strict positioning that brings the performances close to you. While it’s not the most expansive headspace, the FT5 can showcase scale realistically thanks to its tallness and wingspan. This is a vast soundstage, granting busier tracks more than enough room to dance around your head, albeit still appearing directly in front of you. If you’re looking for the in-studio style of spatial imaging, then the FT5 will provide that to you almost effortlessly.
For most of this review, I chose to use the leather earpads as opposed to the suede ones. The bass was a big factor in that choice, as its timbre was more my speed. That’s literally in fact, as the lows gain some significant finesse and velocity. I prefer to feel the vibration from the sub-bass rumble, which is a great characteristic of the FT5 when using the leather pads. With the suede ones, the mid-bass gains prominence, and can enlarge the surface of these frequencies for greater impact. There’s nothing wrong with this tone, but I feel it to be less balanced than the subtler response from the leather pads.
Speaking for the leather ear pads, the midrange features a ton of clarity and natural resonance. Every instrument and vocal performance comes off smoothly, with pinches of striking notes dispersed throughout the frequency response. Each sound feels specific and can be pinpointed anywhere in the mix. This is thanks to the wonderful separation ability featured in the soundstage, but the clean tone gives everything structure. Vocals have a strong definition, but it’s the only part of the sound signature that could benefit from even more transparency. My short time with the suede pads gave me a serviceable midrange timbre, with more bodied instruments and warmth, but with less clarity and balance.
I like a bit of bite to my highs, and you’ll only get that with the leather pads on the FT5. With these pads, the highs gain a crispy tail that enhances the texture and detail of a ton of different sound elements. It’s a lively spark that fits with what I like in a treble response, but it might not be everyone’s taste. The suede pads help to make that glinting tone more digestible, smoothing out the edges and rolling off the ends.
The Fiio FT5 is a major step up from the FT3 in many ways. Its huge planar driver boasts a great sound that’s not hard to power. With all of the adapters it comes with, you might want the FT5 to be harder to drive for your amplifier to make the best of like the FT3. However, the FT5 is made to work with everything, which might lessen its audiophile credibility, but still has value to a wider market.
The Fiio FT5 is available at Audio46.