FiiO's premium cans are here to steal Grado's open-backed thunder

FiiO F5
(Image credit: FiiO)

Chinese audio manufacturer FiiO is looking to muscle in on the open-back headphone market with its latest premium pair of cans. The new FT5 over-ears are FiiO's first-ever open-back planar magnetic headphones, following on from the previously released FT3 open-backs (£289 / $299 / €299). While this open-back category isn't necessarily the most populated corner of the market, it certainly has its star performers courtesy of the Award-winning Grado SR325x and the more expensive Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd generation)

The new FT5 aren't on the T1's level in terms of price, but they'll certainly set you back a pretty penny thanks to that substantial £429 / $499 price tag. Hoping to justify such a figure, FiiO has loaded its open-backs with some decidedly premium tech, including a 90mm planar magnetic driver, for what it promises will be higher sound fidelity as a result. 

FiiO has also designed the new cans to be highly sensitive (not in the emotional sense, of course) while ensuring they are still easy to power without the need for a great deal of amplification. Unlike traditional planar magnetic headphones, FiiO claims the FT5 are easy to drive thanks to 20 neodymium magnets and the brand's nano-level aluminium alloy coating technology, allowing for a sensitivity of 96dB/mW@1kHz.

According to FiiO's Chief Engineer of IEMs, this should also be beneficial for the sound: "With the FT5’s driver diaphragm being driven by many parallel magnets, its planar magnetic driver is extremely responsive and dynamic, providing a truly satisfying level of detail.”

FiiO F5

(Image credit: FiiO)

And, of course, they're open-backed (and we're rather fond of open-back headphones), meaning that, as a general rule, they'll give you a more open and expressive soundstage than their closed-back rivals, albeit with a good deal of sound leakage as the inevitable payoff. 

FiiO says the headphones' acoustic structure is designed so that the rear of the driver housing acts as a sound wave baffle to isolate the sound waves in the front and rear of the driver housing, while the grille controls airflow when the driver is moving for "unmatched treble resolution" and "a wide and vast soundstage to better immerse you in the symphony." If you're actually listening to a symphony, of course.

The wired cans come with a 1.5m cable, as well as a 3.5mm jack, a 4.4mm balance plug, an XLR-4 to 4.4mm balanced adapter and a single 6.5mm to 3.5mm adapter, as well as a leather storage case and a choice of spare leather or suede earpads.

Available in late November, the FiiO FT5 will set you back £449 / $499.


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Read our Award-winning Grado SR325x review

Harry McKerrell
Staff writer

Harry McKerrell is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. During his time at the publication, he has written countless news stories alongside features, advice and reviews of products ranging from floorstanding speakers and music streamers to over-ear headphones, wireless earbuds and portable DACs. He has covered launches from hi-fi and consumer tech brands, and major industry events including IFA, High End Munich and, of course, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show. When not at work he can be found playing hockey, practising the piano or trying to pet strangers' dogs.