We’ve reviewed a number of headphones from Fiio in recent months, with each one seemingly better than the last — multiple drivers, attractive aluminum housings, luxurious cables, and generous accessories.
Today we’re looking at a new headphone from Fiio — the FB1. It’s a very low-cost Bluetooth headphone that, unfortunately, doesn’t quite keep step with the exciting trend we’ve been following with Fiio so far.
The FB1’s housings are entirely made of plastic — not a bad thing per se, but there is a lack of ‘premium’ feel with this headphone. These white and chrome-accented housings are round and bulbous, evocative of the (extremely expensive) Devialet Phantom wireless speaker that you may either love or hate.
Either way, a substantial portion of this headphone hangs outside the ear; this is mitigated by Fiio’s inclusion of silicone wings that should help the FB1 stay in place. We tried all three sizes of wings (and tips) in the box, but didn’t find a size combination that made the FB1 fit properly in our ears — of course, your experience may vary.
The FB1’s cable is thin, but no worse than anything we’ve seen on similarly-priced Bluetooth headphones. Its control pod has a familiar three-button layout and control scheme — up and down buttons for volume and track control with a center button for play, pause, power, and pairing. The FB1’s volume is linked to that of iOS and its volume is reported in the iPhone’s notification area.
A single status LED is also located on the control pod — inexplicably, this LED flashes blue non-stop when the FB1 is powered on. Three sets of ear tips, three sets of wings, a soft zippered carry case, and micro USB charging cable are included in the box.
Inside the FB1, things improve somewhat. Its Qualcomm CSR8645 Bluetooth chip can be paired (although not connected) to two devices at a time, and it supports aptX and AAC. Its battery lasts a respectable 8 hours.
Fiio advertises a 30-foot range for the FB1; this was borne out in our testing line-of-sight, but we did experience frequent dropouts when the FB1 was cross-body from our phone. Sound comes from large 13mm dynamic drivers. In our listening, we found the FB1 to have a bit of a thin, sometimes harsh sound that just didn’t engage us.
What constitutes a “basic” Bluetooth headphone has changed greatly over the years. It used to be that affordable wireless headphones truly were basic, supporting only the SBC audio codec and being made only out of the cheapest materials. With products like those of Anker on the market — competent and well-built headphones available for about $20 — we’d love to say those days are gone.
Though the FB1 has some things going for it — good codec support and battery life — we still see some of those entry-level-and-not-in-a-good-way characteristics in its design. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by Fiio’s higher-end aluminum-clad audio gear, but Fiio didn’t quite wow us this time around with the FB1.