Are you annoying to google the Fiio FA1 review and read them everywhere ?
If yes, you are at the right place.
Following you can find all the reviews of Fiio FA1, including the article review and Youtube video review.
Customized Balanced Armature
If you are not familiar with Knowles logo printed on top of the packing, Knowles is the largest supplier for balanced armatures designed for higher end custom monitors, multi-driver IEMs and hearing aids.
Spotting the ED33357 single balanced armature as you look inside the translucent shell, this is a variant of the driver being customized for the project. It is designed after the ED29689 driver famous for its implementation in the Etymotic ER4 series.
With this driver on the IEM, it suggests a higher level of tolerance, possibly better channel and phase matching from the simple single driver configuration. It should also result in a more accurate presentation of space and positioning.
Looking through the opening of the bores you will see no metal meshes but acoustic dampers applied before the drivers that fit securely near the nozzle opening.
FA1 is built with the same exceptional craftsmanship as we can see on the FA7. The solid-filled finish let you see through the earphone’s translucent body with no bubbles spotted, whilst the seamless solid fill design produces a better resonance response as well as adding more toughness to the design.
The exterior of the build is remarkably smooth and polished. It is similar to what you would expect on pricey custom monitors. The relatively small size is very comfortable to wear over 2 hours and the solid build quality is very convincing.
DLP 3D printing
The FA1 uses the same 3D printing process as the FA7, to produce the FA1. FiiO collaborates with HEYGEARS, which is a 3D printing manufacturer equipped with Texas Instruments DLP technology based printers and imported EU IIA medical grade resins from Germany, ensuring an allergy-free user experience.
The print makes use of UV light sources flashing thousands of time to solidify resins layer by layer accurately with stunning 25um tolerance.
This single balanced armature sounds like you expect a single balanced armature to sound: balanced. The FA1 provide a neutral signature, on a reference side, with a touch of color on the upper midrange.
Because they are pretty easy to drive, the bass is quick and punchy, while remaining very well controlled. It’s not an enhanced bass, so my impressions are far from a fun sound. It’s neither one of the best things of these earphones, actually: even though the sub-bass extension is pretty deep, the body of it is just average, but it feels smooth overall. But this is good for a single armature, considering that usually that work is assigned to specific armatures or dynamic drivers. If you are a basshead, for me it would be difficult to suggest the FA1, which are more on a flat – yet sparkly – side.
Mids are the best part of the package: they sound full, well-layered, giving the right space and harmonics to vocals. The clarity is stunning, thanks to the body given to the upper midrange. The only less convincing thing is the artificial/metallic feel which sometimes comes in the lower midrange, which may thin the body of it.
The treble is also really convincing: luckily, it’s not picky or bright, nor sibilant, which are the aspects I’m more sensitive on. Like the rest of the frequency range, the highs are well-tuned and controlled, but airy and energic.
I wouldn’t say the soundstage is very wide, but the emphasis on the upper midrange helps to widen it, for sure. You don’t feel a congested sound, neither like it’s in your head. It fairly expands in width and depth and it gives a holographic feel, which you may appreciate or not – I’m not sure on its precision. Imaging is average, even more than average if you think of the price of these IEMs. The isolation is top notch, which is a great thing.
I would suggest the FA1 to all customers looking for a neutral/lean presentation with
Bass & Sub Bass
The FiiO FA1 bass is fairly punchy but not very deep. Their lower end is rolled-off and will not provide an intense response for EDM tracks but will grant a clean, non-boosted bass that will never get out of control nor step over the sound signature.
We would not rate them as an overly shallow earphone but listeners will well-notice that their sub-bass will not get as deep as many other consumer earphones.
Usually, budget models tend to be tuned for the general consumer that enjoys bassy sound, the FiiO FA1 is a budget model from the brand but has aimed for a totally opposite sound signature. To avoid confusion it is fair to highlight that this is not a basshead earphone – we can, even, safely say that this is not a bassy earphone. As so, listeners looking for intense bass, crazy-deep sub-bass or a bass-centered sound signature should look elsewhere; for example, check the headphones in our Top Fun Sounding Earphones Chart or our Best Basshead Earphones Chart.
Applying an EQ, a considerable amount of sub-bass can be filled-in but do not expect massive results.
Build & Design
In terms of build quality and design, I’m very impressed. The smoke variant of the FA1 comes with a wave-embossed faceplate layered over with a smooth acrylic surface. It catches light beautifully, showcasing intricately-cut ridges and crests with a metallic sheen. Since it’s layered over with the smoke resin, it also has a neat effect where the resin layer obscures the wave-surface beneath at certain angles.
The FA1’s shells are exceptionally finished, there’s not a single smudge, bubble, or imperfection I can find in the housing. To my surprise, the shells are also completely solid, filled throughout (as opposed to hollow, like many handbuilt C/IEMs) resulting in a slightly smokey, mostly transparent housing that looks and feels premium. I’ve paid upwards of $1000 for custom-built IEMs that don’t come close to the level of consistency in the FA1’s resin shell. If anything’s to nitpick, there are vertical lines that can be seen in the IEM (byproduct of the 3D printing process), but since they’re all uniform it just looks like a design cue.
Comfort is also on the better side of things, as the shell is a ‘universal-custom’ fit. Though my ears are on the smaller side of things, I didn’t notice much pressure or any hot spots on my ears after my longer listening sessions. I would imagine that the fit is even more comfortable for those with average to larger ears. I felt isolation was also fairly good, the ergonomic shell design allowed for a more secure insertion depth. I used these IEMs on the go during my daily walks, as well as in a fairly loud gym environment and had no issue.
Tech inside FA1
FA1 is using a single balanced armature from Knowles, the exact model is ED-33357 that was customized by Knowles according to FiiO specs. It has a very low 15 Ohm impedance, so basically you can drive them with absolutely everything that has a headphone jack.
Of course, a single armature driver means it is a single bore design as well and the sound will pass just thought it. A single driver also means there isn’t a complicated crossover inside, the good part is that sound should be faster and cleaner as the crossover always adds a bit of flavor and slows down the sound performance a bit. Simpler the circuitry means the sound should remain cleaner and faster, will see about that very soon.
Bad news is that a single driver will have problems with crowded passages and in general have weak and rolled-off sound extremities, I am talking about lowest sub-bass and upper treble.
FA1 has a crazy sensitivity of 111dB per 1mW of power so please adjust your volume accordingly before pressing the play button. Having a very wide-bandwidth balanced driver it is however very sensitive to hiss and background noise so I do recommend a hiss-free music source with a blackest background possible.
For the record I’m using a desktop Gilmore Lite Mk2 that in my opinion has a very black background, sadly with FA1 there is a faint noise on the background, with a Burson Playmate or xDuoo TA-10 it is even worse!
FiiO’s own portable solutions worked well, their M6 and M9 are recommended if FA1 is on your radar.
If you own a DAP that has a balanced output, FA1 was among the very few earphones that didn’t scale as much with better power. With A M9 on the 2.5 mm balanced connection I’ve got a better pin point imaging and that basically was it. Going balanced is not a must with FA1 and that is a good thing, student audiophiles rejoice!
Gear used for testing includes the FiiO M6 and my Android phone in conjunction with the Radsone Earstudio ES100 for portable use. On the desktop, it was FiiO’s K3 or the Audinst HUD-MX2.
The general sound signature of the FiiO FA1 is fairly balanced with an emphasis on the upper midrange and lower treble, making it lean towards bright. It has above average clarity and vibrant vocals with very tight bass and energetic, detailed treble.
Like most single BA earphones, the FA1 bass is very nimble and tight but lacks authority and rumble in the lowest ranges. Mid-bass is enhanced and relatively punchy and there’s no sense of anything lacking in regards to this. With a medium attack and fast to medium decay the mid-bass notes have a nice weight and drive.
This IEM will probably not be suitable for bassheads or to a certain degree some types of musical genres, such as EDM and hip-hop. It will suffice in a pinch for sure but those rumbling sub-bass notes remain the one area where single balanced armature drivers simply can’t compete with dynamic drivers. I will say though that the FA1 responded extremely well to the FiiO K3’s bass boost which really added some satisfying body to the sound.
The FA1 excels in the midrange and really flexes its muscles with instruments and vocals. Upper midrange notes are enhanced providing good vocal presence and vibrancy. Clarity and articulation are above average.
Resolution is good and timbre hits the spot too. In “Through The Dark” by Helen Jane Long the piano and string instruments have an accurate timbre and lifelike resonance. Of course, with such a tight bass accompaniment there’s no bleed or congestion from the low end, allowing the midrange to shine.
Build, Comfort, and Isolation
FiiO is making a big deal of their 3D printing process for this earphone, and it’s easy to see why. If I didn’t know this earphone was 3D printed, I would have guessed it was made from the same process as the similarly shaped and equally drop dead gorgeous Kinera Idun. The only thing I can see that gives it away is the inner nozzle and sound tube which contain a layered texturing common to the printing process. Other than that these are basically flawless. The shells are polished smooth and the wavy rippled pattern of the face looks amazing, especially on the black sample I was sent. The MMCX ports are perfectly integrated into the top, while the base sees a small vent on each ear piece to help prevent pressure build up. Thanks for thinking of that! I’m quite impressed with what FiiO has done with the build.
The cable is pretty fantastic too. Silver wires with a copper plating is nothing to scoff at. On first glance I thought the sheath was the same as that for the twisted copper Litz cable Campfire included with the Polaris and Comet. While not the same, they are quite similar. FiiO’s cable is a bit thicker, not as stiff, and has a looser twist to it. The hardware is quality stuff too. The sheath for the MMCX plugs is a ribbed plastic that’s easy to grip with a coloured aluminum ring at each base to denote channel: red for right, blue for left. The y-split is metal with what looks to be a laser engraved FiiO logo. Leading into the bottom is an effective strain relief. Out the top, relief is omitted in favour of a useful chin cinch that also happens to be metal. The 90 degree angled jack is a familiar site, quite similar in design to the one on the older FiiO F1. The sleeve leading down to the 3.5mm plug is extended to avoid interaction with cellphone cases.
Comfort with the FA1 is excellent thanks to their low weight (4.5g per ear piece) and a very ergonomic, semi-custom design that we have seen quite a bit lately on products like the Tenhz P4 Pro, Kinera Idun, and TFZ Secret Garden, to name a few. The design locks into the outer ear and remains stable even under heavy movement. The preformed ear guides keep the cable securely wrapped up and over the ear using a material that slides comfortably across the skin. Some might find them a bit long though, so I suspect FiiO could take off nearly an inch of material without it affecting the usefulness. Due to the shape and size of the ear pieces, someone with small ears might experience issues getting them to insert naturally, but that should affect a minority of users.
As with all earphones of this style I’ve tried, isolation is excellent. The FA1 snugly fills the entirety of your outer ear which blocks a ton of noise. Toss on some foams and you will feel like you’re in a vault. These are awesome to use in noisy areas like the bus or in a busy coffee shop.
To test the sound quality, I used the FiiO M7 DAP. For comparison, I added the FH1 for reference. The songs were typical, I usually go thru, so classical, some OST type, a bit of ROCK and now I also added some drum and bass to the mix. The result was not surprising. The FH1, with its extra dynamic driver, had simply more overall depth. The overall frequency range of the FA1 is shorter, which is quite noticeable. I would still not say that the FA1 is bad or anything like that. What the Knowles ED-33357 is capable to reproduce is very good. Having only one driver, which has just 15-ohm impedance, with a decent 111dB/mW sensitivity, means you can drive this with a very low power source.
FA1 vs FH1?
Now you might ask, which one should I choose? The FiiO FH1 or the new FA1? It all depends on your preference. Currently, if you check the price, FH1 cost less, and you get more accessories, and for my taste a slightly more detailed sound quality. In terms of comfort and build quality the FA1 is clearly a better option, its hard shell, and overall construct gives a lot to the premium feel and sadly, also to the price.
Brainwavz KOEL: even though I think Brainwavz did a good job with their KOEL, providing a flat sounding In Ear Monitor, I think they need more refinement on the 3D printing area, as well as on a comfort side. The FiiO FA1 are more convincing (better cable, better fit, unique design) exteriorly, and for me even interiorly (the sound feels more solid, due a better bass extension on the FA1 and a wider soundstage).
BGVP DMG: I like them and I think they are one of the most intriguing earphones for about 100$ right now. But they are sibilant. Comfort-wise, they are comparable to the FA1 (even considering the different materials and shapes). DMG are more fun sounding, for sure. They sound like they are meant to: their hybrid configuration provides a solid and punchy bass, thanks to the dynamic drivers, while their Balanced Armatures grant a good level of detail. Yet, I’m asking myself how FiiO make a single Balanced Armature sound that good, in comparison. I may consider buying the FA1 for a more reference sound and better accessories, and the DMG for 360° fun (on switching filters, too).
Simgot EM1: this single dynamic is an honest competitor to the FiiO FA1. It’s one of the best sub-100$ earphones, because of the overall balance (price, build, accessories, sound). Being a dynamic gives more bass, a wider and deeper soundstage, but a less balanced sound signature. I’d say, if you need precision and you want entry level monitors, go for FA1; if you want a comfortable listening experience, go for the EM1.
Tin HiFi T3: really difficult choice. The price is a great advantage of the T3, and the cable, the build quality, the versatility of the fit, make them a really interesting choice. They are less flat than the FA1, for sure, and this could be the reason not to choose them. FA1 are good monitors, Tin T3 are amazing for listening (detail, bass, treble extension, soundstage), but less comfortable to wear.
kropka.audio ( Polish)
FA1 to drugi model armaturowych słuchawek od FiiO. Wewnątrz obudów z wydruku 3D, znanych z modelu FA7, są tym razem pojedyncze przetworniki Knowles ED-33357. Nowe słuchawki mają zapewniać wzorową ergonomię i hipnotyzujące brzmienie.
FA1 to pozornie zwykłe, ale w rzeczywistości atrakcyjne słuchawki. Zostały wykonane za pomocą tej samej technologii druku 3D, co topowe FA7, czyli metodą utwardzania polimerów światłoczułych. FA7 okazały się być niezwykle wygodne, więc użycie tej samej technologii to bez wątpienia atut znacznie tańszych FA1. To jednak nie koniec, bo przetwornik ED-33357, dostrojony wspólnie z marką Knowles, bazuje na modelu stosowanym w słuchawkach Etymotic serii ER4, które słyną z niezwykle precyzyjnego brzmienia i topowej rozdzielczości. Czy FA1 są warte około 110 dolarów amerykańskich? A może lepiej wybrać hybrydowe F9, FH1 lub F9 PRO?
Akcesoria są skromniejsze niż w podobnie wycenionych słuchawkach serii F lub FH. Do dyspozycji otrzymujemy:
- pudełko na słuchawki;
- kabel 3,5 mm;
- woreczek strunowy na nakładki;
- nakładki pojedyncze typu „Balanced” (rozmiary S, M, L);
- nakładki pojedyncze typu „Bass” (rozmiary S, M, L);
- przyrząd do czyszczenia;
- instrukcja obsługi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y23Z1m3_Q8o ( Z review 140K followers, FiiO FA7 & FA1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c9qoM48BQM ( Spanish, 840K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUr2bRoLl8E ( 18k followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rafp3rxgKMU （ 13K followers）
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJDWxd5gJpk ( 17K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctcujLDkUxQ （ 2K followers）
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5s2SBf4JXc ( Russian, 17K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TXJFOKNZPs ( Less than 1K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjvUEFXxVXs （ 2K followers）
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdEkwWbDkao (FiiO FA1 vs. Campfire Audio Comet!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVL6WpINHTo ( Russian, 3K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JeCbvY7OqA （ Thai, 13K followers）