FiiO JH3 Review: Iridescent

  • Rich low end
  • Great technicalities
  • Striking build quality

  • Treble can get too much

FiiO is a well-known brand from China that was established in 2007. The "Fi" in the brand name was derived from fidelity (as in Hi-Fi), and "iO" from 1 and 0 (digital signals). FiiO is one of the most versatile brands in the industry, offering a wide range of products including digital audio players, amplifiers, digital to analog converters, in-ear monitors and many more. The JH3 is one of their most recent product, that currently retails for 60 USD. The Philippine circle of reviewers was provided by FiiO a unit of the JH3 for review purposes.

Driver units: 13.6 mm dynamic + 2 balanced armature
Impedance: 28 ohms
Sensitivity: 106 dB
Frequency response range: 10 Hz - 40 kHz

Poco X3, Redmi Note 10 Pro paired with Cayin RU6, Xduoo Link2 Bal, FiiO KA3, Tempotec Sonata E35 and Zishan U1

Test tracks:
Africano - Earth Wind and Fire
Dark Necessities - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Gurenge - Lisa
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Monsters - All Time Low
Ours - Taylor Swift 
Stay - Mayday Parade
Snuff - Slipknot
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters
So Slow - Freestyle
Aurora Sunrise - Franco
Attention - Pentatonix
Blue Bird - Ikimono-gakari
You're Still The One - Shania Twain
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is(Will Understand) - Irma Thomas
Salamin - Slapshock
AOV - Slipknot
Hey Jude - The Beatles
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
...and a lot more.

Unboxing and Accessories:
The JH3 comes in a compact black cardboard box with the opening located at the top. Upon opening, there is a smaller box that contains two sets of silicone eartips; one with wide bores and another with regular sized bores. There is also a single pair of medium foam tips. Underneath is the instruction manual and a clear plastic waterproof case. Inside is the earphones inserted in a small piece of foam, and the cable that comes with a velcro strap and a plastic cap for the plug.
The shells are a mixture of plastic and metal. The faceplates are made of aluminum alloy and have this wavy stripe design. Each stripe has a matte surface that greatly reduces smudge. Right beside the female connectors are side indicators and a small vent. The bigger portion of the shell is made of translucent plastic with a smooth, glossy finish. At the back side, there is another vent situated at the center of the dynamic driver. The nozzles are made of metal with a small lip to help eartips stay in place and also equipped with a fine metal mesh filter.
The cable is a twisted 4-core high purity monocrystalline copper. It is lightweight and has good flexibility but the surface of the insulation is slightly sticky. There is also a moderate amount of microphonics. The angled 0.78 mm 2 pin connectors are made of plastic, the splitter and the chin slider are made of metal, and the L-type 3.5 mm gold plated plug is made of hard rubber.
Now let's get to the sound.

The lows are partially elevated, especially the subbass. There is very good depth and the vibrations stay perceptible in the background for quite some time before rolling off. Midbass has a slightly above average weight but does not bleed into the other frequencies at all.

Overall, FiiO advertised these to have "vigorous forceful bass", but the lows are a lot more relaxed than what I expected them to be. These IEMs do have a stronger than average impact but certainly not basshead levels.

The mids present itself with good clarity. There is a very small recession in the vocals, and note weight leans partially to the thin side with minor hints of aggressiveness. Instruments are reproduced with great definition, especially string and wind instruments.

Overall, even though there is a slight recession that is more evident in the lower region, the mids of the JH3 can still be quite enjoyable on vocal centric or acoustic genres. It does have a tendency to become marginally shouty, but this is only present on a number of tracks.

The highs take the front seat. The reach in the treble is above average as well as the decay. There is abundant sparkle in this section that adds excitement to each track but can go over the top to such an extent that it causes discomfort.

Overall, the highs are both the strength and weakness of the JH3. It has an impressive level of detail on some tracks, but it can also become slightly overwhelming or sibilant on others that may induce fatigue in long listening sessions.

Soundstage and Imaging:
The stage has decent expansion. The height slightly expands more than the width. Although the layering is affected by the forwardness of the treble, especially when it overlaps with the mids, the quality of imaging and instrument separation are actually very good. Small amounts of congestion can also be heard in complex tracks.

FiiO JH3 (1 DD + 2 BA, 60 USD) vs. TinHiFi T3 Plus (1 DD, 69 USD)
The lows of the JH3 are more prominent. Deeper reach in the subbass, rumble is stronger and more extended. The JH3 also has thicker, heavier slam in the midbass. The T3 Plus has more natural sounding mids, with a more upfront approach and slightly warmer tonality. Clarity and definition of instruments in this section are a bit better on the T3 Plus. With the highs, the JH3 evidently has the edge, especially in the upper region. Details are more solid, and there is more air in the JH3. However, the T3 Plus is a lot more comfortable with its relaxed upper treble. Soundstage is a bit bigger in the JH3, noticeably more in the height, but very, very small difference in the width. Imaging is neck and neck, but the T3 Plus takes the edge in the layering and instrument separation.

Build quality was always one of FiiO's strongest attribute that can still be observed even in their budget priced offerings, and that includes the JH3. FiiO also managed to give the JH3 relatively good technicalities that are always desired in this price range. That being said, this in-ear monitor could have been a whole lot better if the upper treble was toned down a bit in such a way that the details are preserved, but with more comfortability for long term usage.

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