Great in-ear monitors at a decent price can be hard to come by. Often times, they’re either too expensive, don’t fit all that great, or they don’t sound great. Fiio, however, thinks it has the solution with the Fiio F3 in-ears.
The F3’s are cheap, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily by them. We put the Fiio F3’s to the test to find out if they were even worth the $25 price tag.
The Fiio F3’s are pretty well designed, and while they don’t seem to be the most durable in-ears around, they’re still relatively well-built. The F3’s are designed for the cable to hook around your ear and enter your ear canal from the top, unlike many other in-ears in which the cable simply hangs out of the ear. At the end of that cable, you’ll find an L-shaped connector, which we really like. Sure, it may not suit all situations, like putting the listening device in your pocket, but if you’re connecting to a computer, or a listening device holstered to your belt, L-shaped connectors are really the way to go.
The Fiio F3’s also pack some interesting customization. While a little trivial, you can swap out a small plate on the in-ears for different colors, and in the box you’ll get red, blue, and black.In the box, you’ll get the earbuds themselves, a pair of earhooks that can be attached to the cable for easier and more comfortable wearing, a hard carry case, four ear tips, and three sets of colored plates, including the ones already installed on the in-ears. That’s really a nice selection of accessories, especially for a pair of headphones that come at this price. Normally, we would prefer if earbuds and in-ears ship with Comply memory foam tips — but we wouldn’t expect a pair of headphones to include Comply tips at under $50.
In general the headphones don’t look bad, but the build is a little cheap, and the plastic looks like it could break easily. Still, at this price the Fiio F3’s are designed pretty well.
Design isn’t important if the headphones aren’t comfortable, but thankfully they really are. To be totally honest we weren’t expecting much from these in-ears. $25 earbuds and in-ear headphones are all over the place and its rare that they’re anything special. Not to say that these are way above the rest, but at least in the comfort department you can go a few hours without any problems. In reviewing them, we wore them for almost a full day, and while they certainly got a little uncomfortable at times, they didn’t get anywhere near as irritating as we were expecting.
They’re also a decent pair for use at the gym — the over-ear design ensures that they don’t fall out as often as they otherwise might, and while you may have to push them back in a little every 10 minutes or so, you’ll only really experience issues in rigorous use. That’s to say, they probably won’t stay in under very rigorous conditions, but most gym rats should be fine.
In general the Fiio F3’s are more or less comfortable, and while they do fall out every now and then they aren’t anywhere near as bad as other in-ears we’ve tried.
Ah, the all-important sound. Let’s be honest, no one is buying these for a superior listening experience, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the hook to deliver at least a decent one anyway.
Let’s start with the bass, which is actually pretty good. There is some bass lacking in the lower bass region, but for the most part the bass is quite present. For most people, there’s plenty of bass to offer, especially fans of rock, pop, and classical. Hip-hop fans may miss those lower bass frequencies that seem to be missing from these headphones, but in general we were quite happy with the bass on offer. The bass does get more pronounced the louder you turn these earbuds, though at the point of being almost enough, they’re probably too loud to be safe.The mids are quite well-defined, and while many in-ears at this price range risk sounding like radios, the Fiio F3’s safely avoid that problem. There’s a good amount of low-mids without sounding muddy, and the higher-mids are present enough to give the vocals and guitars some oomph.
The high-end is also very well defined. High-end is often the most overlooked frequency range in a pair of headphones, but Fiio has avoided that problem, which is very nice. Vocals are decently present and guitars have a bite. Like the low-end, the really high highs seem to roll off a little, taking some some of the shine off of those cymbals, but in general the high end sounds pretty good.
Overall, we were impressed how these earbuds sounded, especially for the price. Sure, you can get better-sounding headphones for a lot more money, but these certainly could be the best-sounding in-ears we’ve tried for $25. Bravo to Fiio.
The Fiio F3’s shoot way above their pay-grade. While they suffer from some issues in build quality, comfort, and a slight lack in bass, for $25 you can’t do much better in the in-ear department.
|Frequency response||15Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||11mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Sensitivity||98db at 1mW||Eartip material||Gel|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
|Maximum input power
||3.5mm||Case type||Clam shell|
||No||In-the-box||Case, ear tips (4 pairs), ear hooks, color shells (3 pairs)|