FiiO FD1: First Impressions
Today we’re taking a first look at FiiO’s new FD1, a single dynamic equipped budget friendly earphone.
Single dynamics have been making a strong comeback in the budget realms in the last year or so. About four or so years back, balanced armatures finally became affordable enough to jimmy into very inexpensive, sub-30 USD earphones (see the KZ ZST and the wave of hybrids that followed). Ever since, a cheap 1+1 hybrid setup (one dynamic, one balanced armature) has been a staple offering in most brand inventories, upending the single dynamic. The last year or so has seen a resurgence of single dynamics flooding the market with models like the Blon BL-03 leading the charge. Since the word “hybrid” no longer stirs up excitement like it used to, what makes single dynamic earphones so enticing? Their dynamic bass, natural timbre, and interesting coating materials of course.
The FD1 is one of the least expensive models to utilize beryllium plating, something normally reserved for much more expensive products given the cost of implementation. It’s worth it though thanks to the low weight and high rigidity, reducing distortion enabling the driver to stay clean and accurate through a wide range of frequencies and volume levels. Does it make sense to use in something like a sub-100 USD earphone? Well, after listening to the FD1 throughout the last week, yes, yes it does.
The first thing that hit me with the FD1 was the low end. It digs deep, hits hard, and is quite tight. I certainly wouldn’t call them bass-lite. No, the low end is far too robust for that. It is notably boosted, though the focus is on sub-bass regions giving the presentation a very physical feel. Add to that the speed and excellent mid-bass control, combined with great texturing and you’ve got yourself a grumbly, visceral, versatile low end, but one that could come across overpowering with the right setup (bassy track, warm source, small bore eartips for example)
The midrange is a hint thin and rests behind the other regions in terms of presence. I find on particularly bass-focused or treble heavy tracks vocals can become overshadowed a bit. I suspect there is a bit of an upper mid spike that makes female vocals a bit aggressive at times (particularly k-pop vocals), but male vocals sound good. Detail and coherence is excellent though, with sibilance kept in check, even at pretty stupid-high volumes. Quite impressive actually, and in line with the KB EAR Diamond when it comes to sibilance management. Timbre is quite accurate too, with just a hint of dryness.
Treble is tight and clean, free of the splashiness I find common to inexpensive single dynamics. Lower treble takes precedence giving the FD1 rock solid detail through the treble and mids. Not as impressive as the FH1S, but a lot cleaner and more pleasant sounding to my ears. Upper treble is pretty relaxed. Sparkle is fairly minimal contributing to the slightly dry sound and good long terms listening qualities.
The sound stage is good too. Quite wide with nice depth and clean channel-to-channel movement. Not razor-sharp but for the price I’ve got zero complaints. Tracks come across quite layered, however, the vocal recession does mean the FD1 can feel a little crowded at times.
Overall I think this is a pretty darn good earphone for the price. A bit heavy handed in the low end at times and with mids that could stand to be pushed forward a hint, but these complaints are minor in the grand scheme of things (ie. when using it as a daily driver and not for bursty, analysis-heavy listening sessions). I’m really liking what FiiO has done here, considerably more than the FH1S, and expect this one to be quite popular.
Look forward to my full review in the next couple weeks. Unless something drastic happens, it’s going to be fairly positive.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: The FD1 was sent over by FiiO for the purposes of review. You can check it out there on their website if interested: https://www.fiio.com/fd1