Fiio FW5 ($149)
Upon receiving the news that Fiio was going to take another shot at a true wireless iem again I had to check this one out. So, of course I forked over $150 US to Amazon and had my new set of Fiio tws in a matter of about two days. True wireless is not my preferred listening method but when I am out and about you can trust that 100% of my life, I will have a set of tws in my jeans tiny extra pocket. Everywhere I go I have a method for listening to music or videos or podcasts. Lately that set has been the Fiio FW5 which I’ve faithfully carried around for about a month, or just under that. I will try my best to explain this new set and all it does well, and all it does…not so well. With that, let’s get on with it…
True wireless is inching closer to its wired counterparts in overall fidelity and sound quality. However, to an audiophile or practicing audio fanatic this might as well be a mile away. True wireless is very convenient though. The convenience is unmatched in the Audio world. Now I have at least five different Bluetooth dac/amps (ie: IFI Go Blu, FIIO BTR7, Qudelix 5k, Fiio BTR5) which attach to wired iems as well as the Fiio UTWS3 & Fiio UTWS5 and yes, they replay better than any tws by a wide margin. However, I love being able to pop some tws in my ears and get pretty darn good sound quality in such a portable form.
Figuring it all out
The reason I purchased the FW5 was to see if Fiio could actually make a set of tws iems which can buck the trend and sound… full, articulate, dynamic and not so compressed. Is the FW5 tuned in a traditional manner, or is the DSP (digital signal processing chip) doing the leg work, or maybe a little bit of both? Fiio has had plenty of time to figure out the obstacles and quandaries associated with wireless audio. Fiio actually has a very extensive list of wireless devices and I have personally owned a few of them…Fiio Lcbt2, Fiio Utws3, Fiio Utws5, Fiio Btr5, Fiio Btr7. If ever there was an audio company with the proper resources and advanced knowledge in the creation and tuning of wireless audio… It’s Fiio.
Now, tws will always sound a bit more compressed, smaller in stage, possibly less dynamically vivid and simply less refined than wired audio. It is in this vein which I am judging the FW5. I know where true wireless stands as far as the actual restraints of the technology is concerned. Through this lense I can gauge just how close Fiio has been able to come to my preferred wired iems. Also, I want to compare the FW5 against a few other true wireless iems concerning sound quality and a couple other metrics. Thank you so very much for reading, I hope this review helps… The Fiio FW5…
-Very ergonomic and feather weighted
-Triple Driver in tws form is more rare
-Great looking set, beautifully designed
-Battery is fantastic for running this Dac Chip (7hrs)
-Two Physical Buttons for controls per earphone
-On board AK4332 Dac Chip
-Fantastic app after update V1.26
-Movies & Videos sound great
-Multi-point connection (connect two devices… latest update)
-Isolation is fantastic with the right tips
-Most any eartips fit in the case (this is a big deal… Lol…Trust me
-Fantastic sound quality in general
-Huge Soundstage for a tws
-Vocals (Male & Female)
-Future updates promise LDAC, Ambient Mode
-Call quality is average at best
-Lack of features (No ANC, wireless charging, Passive mode etc. etc.)
-Cheap Plasticky case
-May be too bulky for some
-BA Timbre at rare times
-Some slight latency issues unless on gaming mode
-Samsung Galaxy Z-Fold 4
-Shanling M6 Ultra
*Note: really quick before I begin, I’d like to preface this entire review by letting all my friends know that I do not use EQ in a review when judging tws. I may add mention of some adjustments within the review that I’ve made, but I do want you all to know, I use the base sound without manipulation of equalization. Also, I switched out tips to the KBear 07 Large tips. I will explain further in the review why that is. I used UAPP as my Android media/music player as well as Poweramp and listened mainly to Flac/WAV/Mp3 files stored on my device.
No matter the device, we can rest assured that Fiio will go above and beyond to give a small bounty of packaging and accessories. Now, accessories in a true wireless package are normally not very extensive. No nice cable… obviously, no nice zipper case etc. That said, Fiio understands the importance of a nice presentation. This is what you will get with the Fiio FW5.
Inside the box
The FW5 arrived at my door in a larger than necessary rectangular black box. The box feels so sturdy as it is cardboard yet somehow has a plastic feel to it. There is a great looking picture imposed onto the cover of the FW5 and the case hovering over…water? Who knows. Anyways, it’s still pretty cool looking and actually feels neat as well.
The box is a flip-open style with a good magnet holding the flap. Open the flap and you are presented with the case on top as well as six sets of eartips. Below the eartips is a small box stuffed into a foam insert which holds the usb-c cable for charging. If you lift out the large foam insert there is one more box with some very compelling reading material, that is if warranty info and quick start guides are your thing. That’s about it. Also, you will find two nozzle cleaning tools and one of them comes with a pointed end and a magnetic end for removing Nozzle filters for cleaning. The other is a tiny brush. Not bad at all Fiio.
The charging case is not the most robust in terms of build, yet it also isn’t the worst I’ve ever encountered. The case is just small enough to fit in my extra little jeans pocket. It is of good size in terms of portability and won’t stick out too far from the pocket looking weird or anything. You will notice four small lights on the front of the case indicating overall battery life of the case as well as some other info pertaining to the FW5.
One fantastic thing about the FW5’s case is the fact that it is deep enough to allow 3rd party tips to actually fit inside. This is a bigger deal than it should be. I have owned around 30-40 tws over the years and one of my biggest issues comes from inability to swap tips because the stupid case won’t allow these 3rd party tips to fit inside and actually close. Fiio! Great job!
Fiio added three pairs (L, M, S) of their own “HS18” Vocal tips. Truthfully, I don’t like these tips. They are very flimsy at the flanges, where the seal is made. It’s hard to even know if you have a good seal. However, these tips have their benefits. They have a medium-wide bore and do give off a more open sound, bigger stage, less low-end, they do well to accentuate vocals etc. Also provided in the package is three pairs (L, M, S) of Gray “Balanced” tips. I don’t know how these tips would give a balanced sound as they are narrow bore and a stiffer flange, more rigid stem. Neither are bad accessories but for me to get the most out of the FW5 I went directly to the KBear 07 tips. The sound opens up, tighter Bass and more of a crispy attack/decay.
As far as features go, the FW5 is slim in some areas and very full in others. The FW5 are heavy in features which promote good fidelity and better sound quality. FW5 supports Snapdragon Sound with 96kHZ/24bit transmission and LHDC with up to 900KbPS bit rate, using Qualcomm flagship TWS SOC Chip QCC5141 + AKM independent DAC/Amp AK4332. The FW5 works off of Bluetooth 5.2 which gives a great connection and audible range from the source. At the moment the FW5 has Lhdc, Aptx, Aptx-Adaptive, AAC, SBC audio codes. Fiio has promised to upgrade to LDAC in the near future so I will edit this review when that does happen.
Guys & gals, this is almost unprecedented to have a true wireless with such an established on-board dac chip in the AK4332. Known for its dynamic yet velvet sound technology, a chip such as this would normally be included in a nice dongle dac. Along with this dac chip, I do know that it has its own amplification which really gives the FW5 some good volume and fullness. In fact, this set can get very loud. Fiio also uses this same dac chip within the Fiio UTWS5, however, the UTWS5 also has an independent amplifier.
The FW5 has four physical buttons, two on each earpiece. I love this, I will always enjoy physical push buttons rather than the easy to screw up touch controls. Plus, Fiio put them in a perfect place at the top of the FW5. Also, having those buttons up top leaves the Faceplate free of unwanted and accidental touches. Having been an owner of many tws iems with a touch surface, I can probably count on my hand the number of sets which can do it right. I have always preferred push button and I am personally glad that Fiio went this route.
Off the cuff, 7 hours doesn’t seem like a ton of battery life on a set of tws earphones in this day and age. However, let me just remind you of what is under the hood of this set so that you can recognize the feat here. We are working with a Velvet Sound AK4332 Dac/Amp Chip along with a beefy SOC Chip QCC5141. Both of these guzzle battery life like a fat… Never mind, I’ll just stop right here, you know what I mean.
The battery life is fantastic for having these onboard chips. Along with these chips is Snapdragon Sound which enables 24 bit/96 kHz transmission. All of these sound features normally equates to less actual listening time. I didn’t actually try to test out how long the battery can last in real-world testing, but I have used these all day in my office and have yet to come even close to a depleted battery.
Seven hours is not bad at all considering what lays underneath. Also, you will receive another 14 hours using the case which brings the total to 21 hours of battery life. I think it’s great. When I heard they’d actually use this particular dac chip, I thought for sure… 4 hours max… Pretty darn nice. Plus, who of you has these in your ears that long? Seriously people, how much do you need? Do any of you actually listen to seven hours of straight music… In your ears?
Along with some of the sound features, Fiio is adding IPX4 waterproofing to the earpieces themselves. This means there is a layer of protection using a light film over every gap on this set. This protects from droplets of rain or stray splashes. This is the least they could do for $150. To be honest I’d like to see a bit better rating but, sacrifices.
This is another feature which I like to see. This is a “box switch”. It is a fantastic feature but hardly recognized. It basically means that the second you put the earphones back into the case the FW5 will shut down. Also, whenever you open the case the FW5 will turn on and pair with the last device.
Fiio also added multi-point connection to the FW5 in the most recent firmware upgrade. This simply means what the name implies, you can connect to two different devices at once. This is so very handy for me. I use it often with my Qudelix 5k. However, I have yet to actually try this feature out on the FW5. Mainly because I have to go through and figure out how to complete the task. Still, as far as the functionality of multi-point connection is concerned; you don’t know how great this feature is until you’ve gotten used to it and suddenly had to deal without it. I think this feature will become much more commonplace as the Bluetooth tech moves along. We are beginning to see this much more than even a year ago. I will edit this section when I have actually connected with two devices. Sorry.
Fiio has promised within a future update to add ambient mode. I will surely edit this review and add it to the feature list as well as how it performs when this update takes place.
CVC Mics / Call quality
Fiio also added four CVC microphones in total, two per earphone. I might as well add in the call quality into this little paragraph. Honestly, I haven’t had any issues answering calls and my voice has come through clean and clear to my wife and my kids. I even used the FW5 at my office and I have not heard any complaints. The mics do a decent job picking up voices and canceling out other noises during phone calls. I haven’t been in a crowded area making any phone calls so… sorry, I can’t speak on how well the FW5 cancels out noise in busy areas.
Fiio describes this as “Game Mode”, but it can also be considered a low-latency mode as well. This makes gaming really nice on the FW5 and particularly good for watching videos as well. One thing I have noticed when this mode isn’t on is that latency isn’t perfect all the time. On YouTube for instance, sometimes I’ll have to pause the video and hit play a couple times before words are synced up correctly to what the screen is showing. With game mode toggled on this is not a problem at all. Please understand, this latency issue is barely recognizable, I am simply ridiculously petty about how voices sync up to lips. Also, this is rarely ever an issue, in fact this has only ever happened a couple times in about a month so… YMMV.
Independant Volume System
Just like Fiio’s own UTWS5, the FW5 has its own unique volume system which enables up to #32 steps of volume which is much more than most Android or Apple systems allow. This is an independent volume system which gives the user a much more precise listening level and is handier than it sounds. Fiio does suggest that you crank your source volume all the way up and use the FW5 button volume controls to dial in your earphones so that you can acquire complete audio dynamics from the Bluetooth transmission process.
One last thing I need to add is the two apps (“FIIO Control” & “Fiio Music”) which can be used to switch things up on the FW5. Inside you can do things like, read battery percentage, mess with the lights, toggle “Game Mode”, set your idle time clock. The app has a low-pass filter setting as well as volume controls for various functionality. In the app you can conduct firmware upgrades as well. It has been stated that in the next Fiio Control App and Fiio Music App update that they will add “PEQ functionality” to the FW5, um… how cool is that?
Build / Design / Internals / Fit
Build quality is fantastic. Flat-out and hands-down. This set is built wonderfully. Of course, the FW5 is made out of hard plastics, but this isn’t any cheap feeling type of plastic. There is density to the feel of this set making it feel premium in hand. Almost like a certain sense of quality in the materials used to build the FW5. There is also a semi-open looking grill on the faceplate but I’m fairly positive that the FW5’s Faceplate grill is mostly ornamental being that there is a waterproof rating. There is one noticeable small vent near the nozzle stem as well.
The FW5 are rather large and do stick out a little bit from the ear but don’t look stupid or odd at all. The. FW5 won’t make you look like Frankenstein, with giant bolts sticking out of your ears like some tws iems. You’ll find the mics situated closest to your mouth at the bottom of the FW5. Also, you can see that the acoustic cavity is somewhat separate from the area under the Faceplate which houses the tech.
The design is reminiscent of many Fiio iems. Namely, the Fiio FD7, FD5, JD7, FA7S, FDX and the FD3 as they all share the same common look of the round Faceplate and underlying grill, and all share the same basic shape. Truthfully, I think this is one of the most handsome looking tws sets out there at this price. It’s easy to get it wrong with tws. There is so much tech to cram inside of these things and trying to make a set to look like a traditional iem is not easy to do. In one word the FW5 looks… DOPE! There’s no other way to put it. Like I said in the build section, the FW5 has a premium design with nicely contoured lines and smooth edges.
In Fiio’s promotional ads they mention that the same team which created the fantastic Fiio FH9 (My FH9 Review HERE)is the same team which designed this set. I really like the Black color with the angled lines or ridges on the faceplate which are separated by a silver grill. Fiio managed to keep everything as compact as possible and as sleek and modern as can be without looking cheesy or overplayed. It is a minimalist design to a degree and also just damn cool to look at.
Internally, there is quite a lot going on. First off, one thing Fiio set out to do was to actually tune the FW5 mostly through traditional means. Meaning, they aren’t simply relying on the DSP to digitally tune this set. There surely is an acoustic cavity and the FW5 is most certainly tuned as it would if it was a wired set. If you asked me, I would say it’s probably a little bit of both. Below is Fiio’s promotional material describing this tuning philosophy…
This is almost unprecedented in tws. Very few companies go the more difficult route of using traditional methods for their true wireless iems. Not only does it present an issue with size, as now you have to account for not only the acoustic cavity but also the dac chip, SOC chip and any other tech which would add space. Now, look at the FW5 and tell me that they didn’t do one HELL OF A JOB! I can think of a few other companies who went this route, one other is TinHifi with their latest true wireless the TinHifi Tin Buds 3. They too went the more traditional route. There are a handful of others, but they don’t cost under $300.
Fiio went with a hybrid system of drivers in one Dynamic Driver and two Balanced Armature Drivers. The DD is a 10mm DLC Driver with a PU gasket while utilizing N50 Neodymium magnets. The DLC Dynamic takes care of the low-end and part of the midrange. Taking up the highs, Fiio decided to go with two Knowles Balanced Armatures. Fiio went all out trying to put forth a best effort in using good and quality drivers to assist the people tuning the FW5. I already mentioned the other tech crammed within the FW5.
Fit / Isolation
As far as fit goes, these fit me perfectly. I have a fantastic seal every time I put these in my ears. I have absolutely zero idea how they will do in your ears. Thankfully God chose to create us uniquely and so this is obviously very subjective. What isn’t subjective is what happens when a good seal is achieved. Isolation is fantastic, especially for a set without any inboard ANC. Outside noises are attenuated very well as the passive noise isolation is one of the best I’ve seen, well… heard… in a tws to date. Who needs Active Noise Canceling anyways? Its way overrated.
One great feature that I’ve slightly touched on was the button controls. I will always be partial to a button I can feel and push. In the case of the FW5 we have two buttons per earphone. Fiio went this route based on user feedback, adding a “primary button” and a raised dot “secondary button. Both buttons serve different functions, and both are very easy to distinguish between. The primary button is smooth while the secondary button has raised dots, almost like braille. As far as controls, thankfully Fiio gives us control of everything from the buds themselves. This is a bigger deal than I’m letting on. Most tws only offer some controls and many times they leave out volume controls, which… Sucks. Fiio fortunately did not negate this most basic and needed function. Obviously, these commands can change with firmware updates, so be aware.
Left side Primary Button
Single click: Pause / Resume / Answer a call
Double click: Activate voice assistant
Long press for about 1s: Decline a call / Hang up
Long press for about 2s: Power on
Long press for about 5s: Power off
Left side Secondary Button
Single click: Volume- / Answer a call
Long press for about 1s: Previous track/Decline a call / Hang up
Long press for about 8s: Reset
Right side Primary Button
Single click: Pause / Resume / Answer a call
Double click: Activate voice assistant
Long press for about 1s: Decline a call / Hang up
Long press for about 2s: Power on
Long press for about 5s: Power off
Left side Secondary Button
Single click: Volume+ / Answer a call
Long press for about 1s: Next track/Decline a call / Hang up
Long press for about 2s: Reset
Before I go into the sound, I want to put up some specs for my friends here…
Acoustic setup: 1 Dynamic 2 BA
BA drivers: Knowles RAD
Dynamic driver: 10mm DLC diaphragm + PU gasket
Frequency response: 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 106dB/mW (@1kHz)
Impedance: 320-+20% (@1kHz)
Charging time: For charging case about 1h40min
Battery life: About 7h (ear unit) +14h (charging case)
Battery capacity: Ear unit: 65mAh; Charging case: 380mAh
Ear unit weight: About 6.4g
Total weight: About 57.2g
Ear unit dimensions: About 28.4 x 22.9 x 22.6mm
Charging case dimensions: About 68.4 X 43.9X 32.3mm
Quick Sound Impressions
Finally, we can talk about the sound, which is normally why we are all here. It’s true the FW5 is not the most feature rich tws iems out there but I like that Fiio decided that sound quality is their measuring stick for this newest creation. They did well. It is noted that the FW5 do need to go through some usage or burn-in to perform at its peak. I normally do this anyway for every review to take this step out of the equation. The sound most certainly tightened up and there was some BA timbre which somehow is way dialed back from when I first received the FW5.
How does it sound??
The FW5 has a slightly V-shaped sound signature with a definite rise in the bass region as well as the upper midrange. This is a more warm and smooth sound overall with the Independant AKM dac chip. The FW5 is a very musical tws iem and that is a quality which often lacks within many tws sets. I love how there is a definite balance at the peaks as not any area of the frequency takes on any serious precedence over another. Let’s call it a dynamically balanced V-shape…I suppose. If I could describe the sound of the FW5 in one word, it would be… Full. There is a definite profusion of richness which has its benefits but also can also cause some issues too.
I hear a pretty deep and linear sounding bass region with a very nice punch. The midrange is slightly recessed but with nice definition for a true wireless. The highs have nice extension and add good levity and even some details to the mix. All in all, the FW5 is a very fun sounding and clean sounding unit with great dynamic expression which not many tws iems can boast. Soundstage isn’t as hampered as most tws and technicalities are not lost on this one. Fiio did a great job in my opinion. There are slight issues, but they are mostly subjective to my likes and dislikes. The FW5 has a very nice transient response per the tuning with a smooth but pretty snappy sound.
The bass region has nice elevation for genres which cater to a bigger bass section. With that said, the elevation is not too large to become a nuisance. The bass is deep & tight for the size with good texture and nicely linear as well. I can appreciate Fiio’s tuning of the bass as it isn’t overly bloated and doesn’t fall into the midrange to any horrible detriment. Yes, it bleeds over but more so just adds warmth and weight to the lower midrange.
The sub-bass has a rich and deep tactile rumble with nice haptic feedback. The mid-bass slams hard. This is a fun set after all, Fiio tuned it to be fun so take that into consideration. Honestly it just hits hard. Notes could use a hint more refined definition as there is the most subtle softness at note ends but the boom goes deep and sounds really great. Let’s put it this way, you won’t find many tws which have a hard edged and tight transient response while maintaining a bigger bass profile.
Bass guitar has some nice growl, something I always look for. There is a depth to the sound which shows itself very well in the bass region. “Thick” by Breland flat-out thumps on the FW5. However, along with thump you also get a clean bass, there is a roundness and fullness that hardly shows up on tws priced at $150. I would consider the FW5 to have a speedy bass for its size as well. It can handle faster passages of music and is pretty nimble. Remember, I am saying per the quantity of its bass it is agile and sonorous too.
The midrange is pretty lush and nicely energetic, it’s clear and pretty clean too. The low-mids have nicely rendered male vocals with natural enough sounding weight and inflection to male vocals. Like I stated earlier the bass does bleed over into the mids, yet I like the outcome of this. The FW5 sound more like a wired iem to me than they do a tws iem in this region. I hear a lucidity or clarity to the sound with decently separated instrumentation and voices that doesn’t come across muddy or tainted by grain & only rare instances of sibilance.
Females sound forward compared to their male counterparts with a touch of liveliness and even some shimmer. This is not some dark and veiled midrange at all. In fact, everything comes across very clear and with proper resolution. I always enjoy more forward vocals and to me the vocals here don’t sit too far back, and they aren’t overshadowed and really do have decent crispness and authority to the sound.
Not for Everyone
If anything, they (FW5) could possibly be a bit more open sounding and an airier midrange, but we are also looking at a V-shaped tws with ample bass. I do also hear the slightest bit of BA timbre on some rare occasions and seems to show up in more busy tracks and in female vocals. Mostly this is done away with through burn-in or usage.
Obviously not everyone will enjoy this more “fun” style of tuning. Some will feel that the midrange isn’t detailed enough, not neutral enough, not enough air, too much bass for the mids. However, for the tuning that Fiio went with, which wasn’t a shocker, the FW5 does the midrange nicely. “High Enough” by Noah Guthrie sounds absolutely fantastic. Or “Stoned at the Nail Salon“ by Lorde… fantastic, with such nice clarity. Both male and female come across with good note weight and presence.
The treble region has sufficient energy and amplitude to not get excluded from the party. The highs are certainly enough to uplift the whole mix just enough to not sound too warm and dark. There is good information presented past 10k and it is obvious. Secondary harmonics to instrumentation like cymbals actually have some life and come across with somebody while not sounding tizzy or attenuated. The treble region really does a nice job at bringing a more open and elevated sound all together. I hear some crispness and even a bit of shine to the treble region without it offering any pierce or glare, or any sheen to instruments and voices. I was honestly expecting some metallic timbre. Now, when I first got this set, I did hear some off-timbre but after hours and hours of usage that has all but gone away.
Add a bit of luster
What I like about this treble performance is that it takes you just past the point of being too laid back. Instead Fiio added some treble luster with a more luminous feeling to my music while still remaining somewhat safe. No, it isn’t perfect, but the Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers do very well to handle this part of the frequency. The promotional material shows the BA Drivers coupled together at the nozzle. Now, if you have been around the audio scene the last four to five years then you know what BAs in the nozzle can do. Thankfully there is no such issue here. No, the treble does such a nice job of adding that needed boost and really does bring the whole mix together.
The soundstage of the FW5 is pretty massive for a true wireless. In fact, the FW5 is above average for a wired iem. We have a very nice depth of sound field with good width and height. There is a sense of sound all around and even 3D to a degree which I can promise you will almost never hear using tws iems. Very few do the soundstage nicely. They are out there but very rare. This set is one of the few.
Separation / Imaging
Separation of elements within an imaginary stage is pretty good, not perfect though, especially in tracks that are crazy and chaotic. The FW5 can handle chaos okay for a tws iem but even on these standards there are sets which separate better. I mean, the tech alone doesn’t help with compression going on either. That said, I give the FW5 good marks for their separation abilities of instruments and vocals. Imaging is actually pretty spot on too. I didn’t notice anything out of place or veering around the stage or blurring within the placement of elements. Left to right sounded as it should and even front to back does well. There is a sense of layering as well.
Details are nice. The tuning is not one which draws out the minutia within a song but still the quality of the tuning and drivers does illuminate some macro and even some micro details depending on the track. I will say that if you are listening to a loud and congested track, or a low-quality track that things do begin to blur a bit, however that is to be expected on most sets, wireless or wired.
No, the FW5 isn’t a tws detail freak, but it does very well. This is helped by the nice transient behavior and nice ADSR along with a fairly tight response for such a full sound. There is obviously some give and take and no the FW5 isn’t perfect. I hardly think anyone is purchasing this set because they think it will invoke some sort of planar behavior. You are purchasing this set for the fun factor and DOPE look. It just so happens that technicalities do pretty well for this V-shaped tws iem.
Soundpeats H1 ($79)
Soundpeats is a huge tws outfit which makes some banger price to performance sets. One of the best they have ever made is the Soundpeats H1. The Soundpeats H1 have been well received pretty much across the board for their good sound quality as well as great battery life of 10 hrs. on a single charge. The H1 are a Dual Driver (1DD / 1BA) hybrid with a matte finish, black shell and tan/silver Faceplates using a nice soft rubber material and are shaped much like an iem. Really a great set that does very well in the sound quality department.
As for the differences, the FW5 has a cleaner overall sound with a more rich and natural timbre. The lows are a bit tighter and larger in quantity. Note weight is also more weighted and denser. The midrange is more forward on the FW5 with better shimmer for females and better authority for males. The H1 equals the FW5 in the detail department but sound smaller in stage and more closed in.
I think if you cannot afford the FW5 at $150 then settling for the H1 at $79 is a great settlement. I could sit here and list all of the benefits of owning the H1 but that would take too long and…I’m not reviewing the H1.
Lypertek Pureplay Z7 ($150 – $199)
The sound of this set deserves a review by themselves. These too are a 3-driver hybrid setup (1DD / 2BA) with deep and controlled bass, slightly recessed but clean and clear midrange and slightly boosted treble. One of my favorite sets with a nice and almost neutral sound that is very dynamic and musical. The Z7 has a few more features and is pretty highly regarded to those which have reviewed them.
Now, the Z7 has a tighter and snappier bass region but it is much less in quantity. Obviously, you could always EQ. Anyways, the bass of the FW5 is much deeper and authoritative. The midrange of the FW5 is more forward and rich in sound and more musical. The Z7 are drier but also a bit better in detail and separation and maybe more refined to a degree but that is up for debate. The treble region is more lifted on the Z7, but I also hear instances of some glare at times. However, the Z7 is the more detailed and technically savvy of the two by the thinnest of hairs.
I don’t like comparing all the time because sometimes it implies that one is worse than the other. This is simply not the case. I can easily adapt my ears to the Z7, and my review may be different. This is why I like to only show differences. Still, at this point in time, I’d take the FW5 hands down.
I like both sets to be honest but the FW5 looks much better ad the Z7 can sometimes give off that Frankenstein look. Kinda, like you have two large bolts sticking out of your ears. Also, the buttons are more difficult to push on the Z7. Still there is an appeal about the Z7 which few sets can offer at the price as far as sonics are concerned. The FW5 simply does a lot nicely and fares very well against a greatly tuned Z7.
Is the Fiio FW5 worth the asking price?
This is a tough question to answer. For a couple reasons actually. Some people only buy tws for their feature set, some for phone calls, some for ANC capabilities, some for gaming and some just need them to sound good. The list could go on and on to be honest. So, I would say yes and no. I would say no if you needed something which is an all-rounder tws that is full to the brim in features. I could point you toward something like the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro or Liberty 4 among about fifty others which could pounce on the FW5 in this regard. I have owned or tried most of them and can absolutely state with conviction that there are better all round tws iems at the $150 price point.
To profusely counter that I would say that yes, this set is worth every penny if sound quality is worth something to you in your portable audio. Now, there are better wireless solutions like the Fiio UTWS5 with a good iem attached or something like the Qudelix 5k or IFi Go Blu or Fiio’s own Btr7 with wired iems attached. But, if you are squarely talking about tws iems, in audio’s most portable form, then I would be pretty hard pressed to find a better sounding set at $150. The dynamic range and auditory expression are big on the FW5 with a fullness very close to that of wired iems. Great job Fiio… Do not stop in your tws quest, please keep improving and inching this technology closer to that wired sound.
I have had a lot of time spent with the FW5 in my ears. I’ve watched hundreds of videos, countless songs, and simply used them for their passive isolation capabilities. Comfort is top notch on this set, sound quality is very nice, and the look is one of the best I’ve seen in a true wireless iem. Fiio brought out the best in this price point and used all their tricks and came away with a nice product. You can certainly do much worse for $150.
Please, I implore you to take in other thoughts from other reviewers. I say this in every review, and I mean it every time I say it. We are all very different in this most subjective hobby. We all have different likes and dislikes, different hearing capabilities and we aren’t all on similar audio journeys. I would advise you to get to know some reviewers so you may gauge what they like over time to help understand what they are hearing which will in turn help you make an informed decision.
Well, this is the end of my review and take on the Fiio FW5. I want to sincerely thank anyone who chose to read my words and my thoughts. It means a lot and I certainly hope it helps you to make a purchasing decision. With that, please take good care and stay safe.