FIIO JH3 Review: Basshead analytical

THE PLUS:
-High resolution
-fast treble attack
-good powerfull bass (weighty, flexible, gently textured)
-great imaging
-not too agressive for an energic bright IEM
-cheap FH3 little brother

THE SO-SO:
-thin bright timbre
-lean mids
-some splashyness harshness can occur
-highs can feel too excited
-technical sound might lack musicality for some

TONALITY: 7.5/10
TECHNICALITIES: 8.2/10
CONSTRUCTION:7.5/10
SOUND BENEFIT: 8.5/10

FIIO doesn’t need presentation since they are among the most famous chifi companywith audio products that can be found even in Bestbuy stores. They have more than 10 years of audio experience, from DAP to Dac to amps to dynamic and hybrid IEM of price range going from 10$ to 1500$. My personal favorite earphones from this company is the FIIO FH7, which is a 1 bery plated DD+3 knowles BA hybrid.
Let’s see in this review how their ultra budget hybrid sound.

CONSTRUCTION

Good enough, similar to KZ IEM of similar price range. Hard plastic for the body with a rather nice looking metal back plate. Nozzle is made of metal. Something new for FIIO is the use of 2pin connector, which is appreciate for durability since MMCX tend to devlop issue faster with time. Overall construction feel sturdy and well crafted.

The cable included is above average for the IEM price range and way better than those included with KZ, TRN IEM, it’s a braided high purity copper cable that fit well JH3 tonality and doesn’t justify urgen upgrade.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS

TONE:
Signature in balanced W with vivid attack in the highs. Dry and poor in body and overall roundness. We can also say bassy analytical, because the bass is really tapping and represents the only part of the spectrum with a bit of timbre density and attack weight. Overall presentation is more technical than musical and have for goal to magnify the sens of clarity.

TECHNICALITIES:
It lacks refinement but it’s very fast in the attack and high in resolution with good transparency, although a little darkened with parasitic noise that can make you think of texture when in fact it’s more like micro- balanced driver distortion or dampened resonance peak. Still, when on sale at 35$, level of technicalities are way above average.

The bass is, in my opinion, the best the JH3 has to offer, even if it may seem detached from the whole in term of timbre density and attack weight and flexibility. They take the lead, due to their relief and body seeming anachronistic in presence compared to the mids and highs supported by entry-level BAs which are thinner, dry, distant and artificial in their rendering. They are fast, nuanced in texture, round and fleshy with no softness on the attack. In jazz, they monopolize (and charm) our attention. It’s not very clean or very deep, but still have good bass line and kick presence articulation as well as a natural texture to it.

The mids are the leanest part of the JH3s, it’s a bit thin, dry, flat and vaguely distant. The amplitude being located especially in the high harmonics, all the acoustic instruments sound a bit blend. The piano seems to come from a transistor radio hidden under a bed. The male singers seem to come out of a small elevator corner loudspeaker with extra low harmonic that affect its proper definition. For female vocals it still works, although it’s a bit scratchy and garish. The presentation is also ultra centered, intimate, compressed. With big bass, it will be veiled, making their rendering hazy. Nonetheless, the mids resolution can be preserve well when not a lot of bass occur and offer a good precision in attack.

The highs, and well what to say except that they are put energically ahead. This time the tone marry better with the mediums, but it will not give strong children. It will be spicy in places, metallic, with a digital rendering that has abused compression filters. It will lack substance in the instruments and percussion. Talking about percussions, they are emphasized in artificial brilliance, without the feeling of fall and impact one wonders with what it was struck: a brush or a stick? In short, it’s not glorious but it bombards you with sound info without killing you too much, you have to give them that. Still, we have air and sparkle and attack is fast in sustain-release with good snap.

SPATIALITY:
Tunnel + hall type(?!) , compressed and all depth of field. It’s not at all open, nor airy. There is an impression of distance from the instruments, so we are in a small room with 5.1 speakers cracked in the carpet, at the other end of the room.

SOUND IMAGING:
It’s very good when the music isn’t too fast or crowded, the transparency is still there to delve into the layers of sound…but it can quickly becomes chaotic and diffuse in micro-definition. It seem higher range is more precise in instrument placement and have more space for separation too.



COMPARISONS

VS KOTORI DAUNTLESS:

Bot these IEM are analytical and bright but the Dauntless have leaner bass with more rolled off sub bass. Biggest difference here is in timbre, the Dauntless being a bit more realist and more nuanced in its texture. Female vocal sound fuller and more upfront with Dauntless too. Treble is even more agressive than JH3 and that even if it sound thicker and less metallic-brilliant.
Due to the recessed bass, overall balance of JH3 is better rounded, technicality like imaging is on par but highs attack a bit more shouty than Korori.

VS FIIO FH3
Well, these too are pretty similar in tonal balance, the FH3 being a bit warmer, more thick

and boosted in sub bass compared to mid bass for JH3. Timbre is more transparent and natural with the FH3, which is to be expected since it use Knowles balanced armature. Bass tend to more more air on mids with FH3. Biggest difference is in soundstage, the FH3 being wider and less compressed. Highs are better controlled too. Vocal are smoother.
To be honnest, i’m not even sure which one i prefer since I find both lacking in musicality.


CONCLUSION:

The FIIO JH3 came into an audio market fullfill with ultra budget hybrid from competitors like KZ, BQEYZ, TRN. To some extend, they are both technically and tonaly superior to alot of them and proof that FIIO can be competitive in sub-100$ price range.
If you favor technical sound over romantic tonality with natural timbre, the FH3 sure impress in that regard delivering a crisp analytical sound with added bass fun.


——–

PS: I wanna thanks FIIO for sending me these IEM for review purpose. I’m not affiliated to this audio company nor compensate financialy.
You can buy the FIIO FH3 from official Aliexpress JADEAUDIO store here:
https://jadeaudio.aliexpress.com/store/5077046?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.7fe257ddPNQE2A

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