This version of the FiiO FT3 with 350 Ohm impedance turns out to be a gem of a pair of headphones at a great price. Provided you have a powerful headphone amplifier, these headphones deliver balanced, high-resolution sound enjoyment without compromising on workmanship, wearing comfort or features.
- Convincing sound
- Decorative design
- Attractive price-performance ratio
- 4 possible connection types
The Chinese manufacturer FiiO focuses entirely on the audiophile audio sector and generally offers high-quality products with an attractive price-performance ratio. The same applies to the FT3 model, the first open over-ear model from FiiO.
Design and finish of the FiiO FT3
The concept is straightforward. The FiiO FT3 are headphones designed for sophisticated music enjoyment at home. The open dynamic over-ear design works with a cable and can be connected to headphone amplifiers or mobile players.
In addition to the tasteful packaging and a stylish hard case made of imitation leather, the high-quality and robust design is particularly noteworthy. The black FT3 look really classy and “technically advanced”. This model is also available in white.
The FiiO FT3 has round, easily rotatable and vertically swivelling driver housings made of aluminium. Above these, a double headband which is not adjustable but self-adjusting. The padded inner band elastically adapts to the shape of your head.
The dynamic drivers sit behind comfortable memory foam pads. They have a sizeable diameter of 60mm and work with a comparatively small aluminium voice coil (0.035 mm), which the manufacturer claims is particularly agile. The drivers are powered by N52 neodymium magnets, which are arranged in an “asymmetrical internal and external magnetic circuit system”, through which FiiO aims to achieve better control of sound reproduction.
The diaphragm is made of a stiff and lightweight carbon composite (DLC, Diamond-Like Carbon) with a beryllium-coated seal, which is extremely lightweight and therefore responsive. The result should be a particularly low-distortion sound image with a frequency response of up to 40 kHz and a considerable bass reserve. In addition, the drivers are installed at an angle in the housing in order to be parallel with the ears and thus avoid unwanted diffraction and reflections.
The sheathed connection cable is replaceable and, at three metres, is long enough to be used with a stationary headphone amplifier. It is made of high-purity, monocrystalline copper wire (while stocks last, according to the manufacturer) and comes from the renowned Japanese manufacturer Furukawa.
The package includes four gold-plated plugs/adapters that allow connection to all common amplifiers: 3.5mm jack, 6.3mm jack, four-pin XLR and 4.4mm Pentaconn. The microfibre ear pads are also interchangeable. There is even a second pair of imitation leather pads with different acoustic properties included. Finally, the headphones come with a neat moulded case and a fabric bag.
The FiiO FT3 is available in a version with 32 ohms impedance and this version with 350 ohms. The version with 32 ohms is recommended for mobile use and on devices with less powerful headphone outputs, while the version we tested is intended to provide increased sound quality with high-quality headphone amplifiers.
The FiiO FT3 in practice
The FiiO FT3 sit comfortably on the head. With a weight of just under 400 grams, the headphones are light enough for long listening sessions. The construction feels stable and of high quality, offering the hope for a long product life. Wearing comfort was high thanks to the swivelling and pivoting design, which also provides the necessary seal from the outside world. At the same time, the contact pressure was not too high. Apart from the exemplary flexibility of the connection technology, there was nothing else to note.
How does the FiiO FT3 sound?
Our sound test was carried out with both the powerful RME ADI-2 Pro FS R and the Shanling DAP M3X using the symmetrical connection and a selection of tracks in master quality on Tidal. The level reserves provided were fully sufficient in both cases.
After just a few bars, “Can’t Let Go” by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus showed the effortless dynamics and space on offer, allowing the listener to get excited about a good studio recording of a band with acoustic and electric instruments. The FT3 achieved this at comparably low volumes.
In general, the entire frequency spectrum was reproduced coherently and with a high level of detail across all genres. The large cone ensured a considerable depth, while the open, grille-protected outer side of the driver housing allowed the cones to vibrate freely in both directions.
“Celestial Echo” by Boris Blank and Malia reinforced this good first impression. The production delivered a great vocal performance, intimacy and first-class spatiality as well as allowing the listener to discover various nuances in the arrangement. This made listening fun! This recording demonstrated the balanced tuning of the FT3, as well as its ability to reproduce low bass.
Let’s start with the central mid frequencies. Vocals of all kinds were reproduced harmoniously and naturally. For example, it was possible to hear Brian Johnson’s grating organ playing on “Who Made Who” by AC/DC, while Whitney Houston sounded equally clear and breathy on “Until You Come Back”. The same applied to acoustic, electric and electronic instruments, be that the tremolo guitar on Roy Orbison’s “The Comedians”, the warm grand piano on Adele’s “Easy On Me”, or the widescreen production of the synthesisers on “Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga. If you listen to rock and metal, the distorted guitars of “Fire Your Guns” (AC/DC) and “Check My Brain” (Alice in Chains) pushed powerfully, while in harder genres, it was possible to recognise the differences in the mid-range emphasis of the distorted guitars oo “Repentless” (Slayer) and “Bleed” (Meshuggah).
“Katsching” by Adel Tawil gave these headphones a chance to illuminate the bass range. The constantly changing dynamics and tonality of the 808 bass drum demonstrated the definition and bass capacity of the large driver. Fortunately, this powerfully tuned range did not mask the higher frequencies. I did not notice a disturbing overemphasis of the bass, just a slight emphasis that favoured listening pleasure. With appropriate mixes such as “Morph the Cat” by Donald Fagen, the sound from these drivers was wonderfully powerful, clean and deep, even at high levels.
In the highs, the FiiO FT3 showed the advantages of an open construction. The music was reproduced in a detailed and airy manner. However, I did not notice any harshness outside of the mix. The fast response also offered a precise illumination of the stereo panorama and transients. This allowed the sound sources to be reliably located or their movement to be tracked, for example, in “Arthur Spark” by Yello. To summarise, the results with these headphones were convincing all round, especially considering the price of less than 300 euros.
The FiiO FT3 are high-quality over-ear headphones that could give established competitors a run for their money with their attractive price! These headphones scored points from us with their convincing, coherent and high-resolution sound. However, a good headphone amplifier is recommended to allow you to fully utilise these sound capacities. FiiO also scored top marks for workmanship, design and features, earning them our recommendation in this price class.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)7 - 40.000 Hz
- Impedance350 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)@1kHz/1Vrms: 102 dB
- Weight without cable391 g
- Cable length300 cm
What's in the box
- 2nd pair of ear pads
- Connection cable
- Connector plug (interchangeable) 3.5 mm jack, 4.4 mm Pentaconn adapter 3.5 mm jack to 6.35 mm jack
- Adapter: 4.4 mm to XLR-4 plug
- Fabric pouch
- Hard case