Fiio may not be the most well-known headphone-maker out there, but the company has slowly but surely been making a name for itself, largely with its headphone amplifiers. We recently took a look at the Fiio F3 in-ears, which we actually quite liked. Now, Fiio is at it again with the Fiio F1’s.
The Fiio F1’s are even cheaper than the $25 F3’s, coming in at only $15. But are they worth buying? Or should you save up the extra $10 and spring for the F3’s? We put the Fiio F1 in-ear headphones to the test to find out.
The Fiio F1 in-ears aren’t going to win any awards for great design, but that doesn’t mean they look bad — rather, they’re a little bland.
The headphones themselves are all black, with a somewhat cubed design — and that’s really all there is to say about them. The cable on the in-ears isn’t braided but it feels a little like it. Unfortunately, it’s still made of plastic, but thankfully it doesn’t tangle very often.
A little down the cable of the right in-ear, you’ll find a small module for in-line controls. The module features three buttons in total — a multi-button for playing and pausing tracks as well as skipping to the next track or going to the previous track, a phone control button, and a microphone on button. It’s really somewhat complicated, however you’ll get used to it after a few days of use.
In the box you’ll find the in-ears themselves, along with a small clamshell-style hard case, and three extra pairs of ear-tips — so including the tips pre-installed you’ll get four pairs.
In general the Fiio F1’s don’t look bad, but they’re a little boring. The addition of the clamshell case, however, is a nice one — especially for a pair of in-ears this cheap.
The comfort level of the Fiio F1’s isn’t exactly inspiring. Sure, the headphones aren’t overly uncomfortable, but they could use some work. After around half an hour of listening, they’re going to get increasingly uncomfortable. On top of that, they seemed to relatively easily fall out — so if you’re planning on running or working out with them, you may want to look elsewhere.
We would have liked to see a pair of Comply memory foam tips with these headphones — although its hardly fair to expect that at this price point. If you do have an extra pair of Comply tips lying around, however, it might be nice to pop them on for use, something that will help the in-ears stay in your ears.
In general, when it comes to comfort these headphones are really only best for those who don’t intend to use them for long.
Sound is obviously far more important than anything else, but can the Fiio F1’s regain some points lost in comfort and design?
Let’s start with the bass — which actually isn’t all that bad here. While we could certainly use a little more sub-bass, in general the mass frequencies are the most well-tuned frequency range on offer. Kick drums are reasonably punchy, while bass guitars are solid too.
The midrange is a little more troubling, but not terrible. There seems to be somewhat of a bump in the lower mids that causes the headphones to sound a little muddy, while the higher mids are cut, getting rid of some crispness we would normally expect from vocals and guitars.
High end is the most neglected area of the frequency spectrum in headphones, and that’s no different on the Fiio F1’s. We would have liked a lot more high end, and better tuning in the high end that is there. Vocals don’t really cut through a mix like they should, and instruments like synths and guitars don’t have that bite that we normally like to hear.
The Fiio F1’s are closed-back, and offer decent stereo separation — although certainly nothing to write home about.
The Fiio F1 in-ears aren’t exactly a home run, but for the price they’re not bad. They don’t stun in the design department, they’re a little uncomfortable, and they have some sound issues — but they’re about on par when it comes to headphones $15 or less.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||9.2mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
|Maximum input power
||No||Cable length||1.2m (4ft)|
||3.5mm||Case type||Hard case|