Today we review the FiiO FD11, the all-new dynamic driver IEM Series the Chinese brand. A new model available for just €/$39.
Disclaimer: the FiiO FD11 was sent to us free of charge by the brand, in exchange for our honest opinion.
Founded in 2007, FiiO has steadily risen year after year from a relatively small brand that manufactures portable headphone amplifiers to become one of the biggest companies in the audiophile industry.
Thanks to their ever evolving range of (usually) affordable but (mostly) excellent products. IEM, headphone amps, DACs, and obviously DAPs, they did it all and did it well. So much that when a new player/amp/IEM comes out, they usually become the benchmark that other brands have to refer to, like the mighty FiiO M17, the FiiO Q7 or even the good old E10K-TC.
But today, it’s all about IEM with the FiiO FD11, an affordable single dynamic driver. Another addition to the new FXnn series (X indicating the type of product and xx the range) following the FF3 and FF5, two earbuds aimed at audiophiles seeking this (strange) kind of in-ears.
A new model, that follows the JD3 and JH3, sharing the same low/price but high/quality goal – that isn’t a Jade Audio one.
Design & Build Quality
As usual with FiiO, build quality is absolutely flawless. Even with low-budget in-ears like this one, the brands seemed to put the same attention they give on higher end devices like the FA7S – even if, to be fair, the latter feels even more premium .
Entirely made of liquid die-cast zinc aluminum alloy, the FiiO FD11 is a complete revamp of the brand’s previous DD entry level IEM, the FD1. While the previous model was made of plastic, this new one is now fully metallic, falling in line with the rest of the brand’s actual line-up. Some might prefer the classic design of the “old” FD1, but personally, I’m all-in for this new trend as it makes the FD11 a lot more distinctive, even premium, punching way above its price tag.
Same goes for the visual aspect: there’s a distinct TinHifi vibe here, and anyone who has owned a pair of P1 will understand what I’m talking about. The smooth mirror surface, the grey/black starry faceplate, and even the “conch-like” aesthetics—everything about the FiiO FD11 allows it to stand out in the higher category.
The only drawback I could spot would be its relatively light weight, but some might see that as an advantage. We’ll see once we wear them!
Compared to CNC-milled cases, die-cast one are more durable and allows much faster production, which is ideal in this kind of product, but you don’t get the same latitude in terms of design – no carved waves here or any fancy tricks you’ll see on models like the FiiO FH3 or FD3. Of course, with a shell made of aluminum, the FD11 is supremely robust and should easily withstand the stand of time.
That said, apart from the slim slit separating the two part of the case, the FD11 is impeccable – and at this level that’s just me nitpicking. No shards or misplaced elements, a smooth shell with mirror-like finish, and a super rigid stem giving a good level of comfort, once the earphones are placed in your ears. Even the socket input enjoyed some extra care as FiiO added a little lid, overcoming the classic 2-pin port, for better durability and grip with the default cable.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the cable: for a sub-$50 IEM, the stock cable is quite impressive. Light, braided, robust the cord is made of OFC copper assembled in 4 strands then braided. No swappable system this time, but you can always change that for a new cable.
So far so good, so let’s see how they fit.
In the ears
Comfort-wise, the new “bionic conch” design proved to be quite comfortable on the go.
The rounded shape perfectly filled my ears, and when paired with the right tips, the FiiO FD11 were as comfortable as any mid-end IEM from the brand. To be fair, they aren’t as cozy as a semi-custom fit could be, but I’d still rate them a solid 8 out of 10 in this aspect. I’d place them somewhere between the FiiO FA7S and FiiO JD7 in terms of comfort.
Finally, to my surprise, the brand didn’t provide us with a plethora of tips as it used to, but only three pairs – luckily, they come in different sizes (S/M/L).
With a solid shell, good tips and an ear-filling design, the FiiO FD11 were good noise-blockers – which was to be expected. On my daily commute, they perfectly dampened the noise coming from the train, and the subway. Same at the office: once plugged in, the ears completely cut me off from my colleagues, when music played.
So, time to check the specs!
For the nitpickers and nerdy ones here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets. For all the others, you can just go to the next page to see how the FiiO FD11 performs.
Carbon-based diaphragm + new magnetic circuit
With the FiiO FD11, the brand steps down from the ultra-wide 14.2mm DD found in the FF5, to put smaller, but still wide, 10mm dynamic driver.
That said, FiiO’s new driver, which they advertise as “punching above its weight,” still utilizes a carbon-based diaphragm, similar to the FH15 and FF5. A material that’s chosen for its mechanical prowess – being 9 times stiffer than steel and 4 times lighter than beryllium – effectively reducing breakup during driver movements and thus minimizing distortion. Lighter and stiffer, this new diaphragm allows deeper lows and quicker transients for an “excellent treble resolution”, something that FiiO has been working on for the last decades as it seems.
Upstream, FiiO also employs second-generation asymmetric internal and external magnetic circuit systems. This design has been optimized to generate a stronger magnetic field compared to a typical magnetic circuit system, resulting in a higher magnetic field density for a “more robust sound.” To push things further, the FiiO FD11 is equipped with N52 neodymium magnets, rated at 111dB/[email protected], ensuring powerful sound reproduction even with low-powered sources.
Sadly, no “ultra-fine copper-clad aluminum Japanese Daikoku voice coil” here but for the price, it’s hard to complain.
Zinc alloy shell + Dual cavity dynamic driver
To my surprise, the FiiO FD11 doesn’t carry on the 316L Stainless Steel lineage of the FF3 and FA7S, but prefers to rely on zync alloy instead. Why? To reduce weight while maintaining high durability – which is a very good reason if you were to ask me. Still, this die-cast shell remains a marvel to behold and as I’ve written before, in hand this doesn’t feel like a sub-$40 IEM.
What’s even more intriguing is the fact that FiiO opted for die-cast construction for acoustic reasons as well. The slightly uneven internal surface allows the brand to effectively minimize sound wave convergence and standing wave generation, thereby transforming what could be considered a flaw into a distinct advantage.
On top of that, the FiiO FD11 gets a whole new feature called dual-layer cavity – which is quite explanatory – allowing damping control in both the inner and outer chambers, to precisely control air flow. The result? Reduced distortion (once more) and more resolving bass.
Last but not least, the shell “conch-like” design features an acoustic flute designed to conduct the air through a separate vent, located in the bottom part of the FD11. On paper, this C-shaped acoustic flute should help to increase the viscosity of the air and reduces the resonance frequency, improving both mid-bass and sub-bass quality. We’ll have to check on that.
A nice curiosity!
Inside the box
The FiiO FD11 comes with a scarce bundle, reminiscent of its entry-level positioning. In the box, you get:
- the FiiO FD11
- an OFC 0.78mm (2-pin) cable with 3.5mm termination
- 3 sets of eartips (S/M/L)
- some documentation
A basic bundle that puts the FD11 more in line with the JD7 than the FD3 Pro.
There are three things you could get for your FiiO FD11:
- first, a good source like a DAC/AMP or a DAP, I’d suggest something small and simple like the KA5, iBasso’s DC04 Pro or ddHiFi TC44C;
- second, a balanced cable, in case you took a DAC or DAP like I offered you before
- last but not least, a case – even if those IEM should outlast you
- Model: FiiO FD11
- Type: IEM
- Drivers: proprietary 10mm dynamic driver with carbon fiber diaphragm
- Socket: 2-pin 0.78mm
- Cable: OFC copper braided
- Shell: die-cast zinc aluminum alloy
- Frequency Response: 20Hz- 20kHz
- Sensitivity: 111dB
- Sound Isolation (up to): 27dB
- Cable length: 120cm
- Weight: 10g per ear
- Price: $39 USD
The article continues on Page two, after the click here.
Page 1: about FiiO, design, specs
Page 2: Sound performance