This article uses affiliate links, which means if you purchase products through these links, we may earn a commission. Click here to see our T&C. For licensing please click here.
Hands-on with the FiiO FD3 Pro
Hands-on with the FiiO FD3 Pro IBTimes / Jeff Li

The Guangzhou based audio electronics company FiiO is on a roll this year, rapidly releasing a series of headphones and devices to further expand its ecosystem. It's especially making the most of its new dynamic driver earphone design, which was successfully launched with the FD5 end of 2020. We were blown away after going hands-on with the FD5 with its stainless steel build, and its impressive sound quality. So it's a smart move for FiiO to follow it up with the FD3 and FD3 Pro.

Based on the same shell design, the FD3 enters the market at a much lower price - less than 50% of the FD5's retail price. The price drop could be due to the lowered cost with shared tooling and design costs, but the question is, does it still retain enough of the FD5 impressive features to be a worthy purchase? We dove in to find out.


Familiar Design with a Classy Twist

The profile of the FD3 is immediately recognizable as an iteration of the FD5. The barrel shaped aluminum magnesium alloy case with the MMCX port tangentially attached is simple and works well aesthetically.


However this time, the iconic stainless steel 'waterfall' design on the FD5 faceplate has been replaced with black turtle shell inlay covered by 2.5D glass. The whole design is then given a classy touch with a polished copper edging and a matching FiiO logo.

When worn, the FD3 may not look as striking as the FD5, but would suit people who just want a decent design that doesn't attract unwanted attention.


Premium Dynamic Driver Sound

Without beating around the bush: how does the new entry level dynamic driver from FiiO sound? Simply speaking, it retains almost everything that the FD5 offers.

The main difference between the FD3 and the FD5 is that the latter has a Beryllium coated DLC diaphragm, while the new rookie utilizes the Diamond-like Carbon material only. They both feature the same acoustic prism that FiiO says is what synchronizes the frequency phases, as well as the Japanese Daikoku voice coil and magnets with a high magnetic flux of 1.5 Tesla.

Just like its predecessor, the FD3 can produce an insane amount of clean bass that is punchy and not muddy. The bass pressure that these Dynamic Drivers produce is something that Balanced Armature drivers can only envy, which remains the key reason why this classic technology won't be easily replaced. The FD3 has a warm and organic mids that suits acoustic instruments and vocals.


Due to the change in faceplate design, the FD3 did have to do its semi-open system differently from the FD5: the air vents were stealthily incorporated into where the MMCX ports are located. The semi-open design does mean a tiny amount of sound bleed that people around can notice in complete silence, but in exchange you get a vastly improved soundstage, as well as relieved pressure in the ear canals that improves the comfort level.

If I was forced to point out something that differentiates the FD3 and FD5, I would say it's the high-end sound. The FD5 high frequencies are comparatively sharper - approaching to what you would get from BA drivers, probably attributed to the Beryllium coating. The FD3 in comparison has a warmer sound, and would suit people who prefer a more relaxed high range frequencies.


Generous Accessories

Though the FD3 Pro is retailing for less than half of the price of the FD5, FiiO did not short change its customers. In fact, there is virtually no difference between the generous included accessories between the two.


With the FD3 Pro you're getting the cable with interchangeable tips that allows for balanced 2.5/4.4 mm jacks or standard 3.5 mm jacks, a hard shell carrying box, as well as a variety of ear tips, MMCX plug removal tool, cleaning brush, and a pair of interchangeable sound ports.

Compared with other high end earphone makers, I would say FiiO is one of the most generous when it comes to accessories, and I've never had to resort to third-party products to enjoy them at their fullest potential.


Final Verdict

The FiiO FD3 may be its new entry level dynamic driver earphones, but you would not know it through listening to them. They sound virtually just as good as their predecessor the FD5, using very similar technology. If you're a lover of energetic bass and an organic warm mid and highs, these are an excellent and inexpensive choice, making them perfect for Everyday Carry (EDC) earphones.

For those who have a sound source that accommodates balanced inputs, FD3 Pro would be the way to go, and for those who stick with the standard 1/8" audio output, the FD3 is available for less than $100.


For its premium performance and the accessible price point, we're awarding the FD3 Pro IBTimes' Exceptional Value badge for its excellent cost performance ratio.

Sam is a production engineer turned tech writer who specializes in seeking out gadgets that enhances productivity while still looking sharp. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travelers.