Review: FiiO JH5 – Heavy Cream

The all-dark aesthetic makes it impossible to tell that these aren't kilobuck IEMs.
The all-dark aesthetic makes it impossible to tell that these aren’t kilobuck IEMs.

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The FiiO JH5 fall a tad short on technicalities whilst providing a Harman-esque tuning with extra midbass girth.

FiiO JH5

Our Review Guidelines ⧉
Evaluated over: 1 week
Bottom Line

For fun-seeking audiophiles, the FiiO JH5 are a lively choice. While their stock tuning may seem quirky, they are surprisingly adaptable to various music genres. In true FiiO fashion, the presentation is spot-on. The midbass-centric tuning brings a unique punch, and FiiO's longstanding experience in audio shines through. The JH5 may not revolutionize technicalities, but they signal a promising evolution in FiiO's headphone prowess.

General Usage
Audiophile Usage
  • Design
    outstanding 100
  • Build Quality
    good 80
  • Comfort
    good 80
  • Pairing
    good 80
  • Value
    good 80
  • Bass
    average 60
  • Mids
    good 80
  • Treble
    good 80
  • Sound Quality
    good 80
Dynamic, BA
13 ohms
111 db/mW
IP Rating
8 g
What We Like 😍
  • Great dynamics
  • Neutral and insightful midrange
  • Well-extended highs
  • Superb ear shell build quality
  • Easy to drive
What We Don't Like 🤢
  • The bass shelf extends too far into lower-mids
  • Midbass emphasis makes the sound a bit muddy
  • Technical performance is only okay
  • No real carrying case is included
  • Very sensitive to noisy sources
Thank you to FiiO for providing the JH5 IEMs for review purposes.

Can you forget your first love? The FiiO E10 was my first DAC/AMP when I had just started out in personal audio. The E10 featured a nice Wolfson DAC chip, a simple opamp drive circuit, and a functional volume control. After all, it was 2011, so what more could you ask for?

FiiO has been a personal audio electronics staple for more than a decade, and in recent years, they’ve been trying to squeeze into the brutal headphones and IEMs market.

I always order their simplest burger when I try to get an impression of a burger joint. With FiiO my choice fell on the JH5 – a relatively affordable 3-way hybrid. I was very impressed with their FT3 full-size headphones, but does that mean they can pull off the same magic with IEMs?

Read on to find out!

Unboxing and First Impression

Watch: FiiO JH5 (Unboxing + First Impression) #shorts

Design and Build

The JH5 is no exception to FiiO’s attractive product lineup. These IEMs employ a sandwiched ear shell construction that combines a medical 3D-printed resin lower part and a cast alloy metal faceplate. The metal is anodized black and lacquered.

I love the elegant finish; it doesn’t easily gather fingerprints.

Has there ever been an ugly FiiO product? I’d say no, but there have been so many that I haven’t seen them all.
The dynamic driver is ported.
The dynamic driver is ported.

The acrylic used in the JH5 is translucent and darkened – making out the inner workings of the IEMs is possible. As for the nozzles – they’re not tiny, but it’s the same deal with most IEMs these days. I like that there’s a retaining lip that keeps the tips from slipping off after a long listening session.

The JH5 are also available with a silver faceplate and a fully transparent acrylic shell.


The FiiO JH5 come bundled together with a silver-plated copper cable. It looks okay, and the paracord-style braid keeps it from being microphonic. There’s only a 3.5mm TRS termination option, so conversion to balanced will require breaking out the old soldering iron.

The 2-pin connectors on the JH5 are angled.
The 2-pin connectors on the JH5 are angled.

While I don’t really lament the exclusion of balanced option as the JH5 are exceptionally sensitive, there is one reason why it would have helped. Due to its intrinsic common-mode noise rejection, often balanced outputs are less noisy than single-ended.


I find that with 3D-printed acrylic IEMs, comfort is pretty much a given.

With the FiiO JH5, only those very sensitive to chunky nozzles should be careful. The earshells agree with the shape of my ears, so I can listen to JH5 for almost a full day. Good job, FiiO!

Under the Hood

The FiiO JH5 are a 3-way hybrid design with 10mm carbon diaphragm dynamic drivers taking care of the low-end and a twin balanced armature array for mids and highs each. There’s no info about the make of these BA drivers, but it’s not like there are many options.

Due to superb efficiency the JH5 will only sip the battery of your portables.
Due to superb efficiency the JH5 will only sip the battery of your portables.

FiiO claims that the bass driver uses “negative feedback.” Judging by the diagram, it’s more of a porting scheme used to enhance low-end sensitivity. “Negative feedback” would typically imply a control scheme, which I can’t see working here.

How Do the JH5 Sound?

The FiiO JH5 were tested using my Schiit Jotunheim 2 amplifier with the SU-9 Ultra DAC. On the go, I used my trusty Qudelix 5K. I listened to a diverse set of tracks, both locally stored and streamed. For listening, I used the larger bore translucent tips as they better highlight what’s good about the JH5.

Before we delve into analyzing sound, let’s look at how the FiiO JH5 play with various audio sources. 130dB/V sensitivity and 13-ohm load impedance mean that almost everything out there will drive them with tons of headroom. With desktop systems, noise can be an issue, and higher gain amps might not have enough usable volume control.

The JH5 is tuned close Harman IEM curve with the addition of a massive midbass boost. (From:
The JH5 is tuned close Harman IEM curve with the addition of a massive midbass boost. (From:

FiiO themselves give little info about tuning goals when designing the JH5. Their measurement curve shows a comparison with the well-known Harman 2019 IE target.

Immediately, one sees that the usual IEM low-end shelf starts very early, around 2 octaves higher than is common.

Around the ear-gain region and higher, we see more peaks than usual. However, whether they’re of the offending kind remains to be heard. Usually, an electrical impedance curve is very handy to detect these issues.

The 3D printed shells of the JH5 assure very high comfort.
The 3D printed shells of the JH5 assure very high comfort.

After listening to the FiiO JH5, it’s immediately apparent that the midbass emphasis greatly impacts the technical performance of the IEMs. The impact capability is paid for with muddiness in the lower mids. I will add that the effect is slight and not something one would find in, say, cheap closed-back headphones.


So, you want bass, huh? Well, the FiiO JH5 has all of it.

Sub-bass, bass-proper and even midbass. The midbass emphasis over 100Hz makes the low end a bit more wooly and works best with rock and metal.

Don’t tell Moondrop’s CEO, as this tuning is as anti-Herbert as it gets.
The LEGO-like structure is a peculiar addition on the storage box.
The LEGO-like structure is a peculiar addition on the storage box.

Classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep significantly benefit from the early bass shelf. Other, more prog-inclined outfits do too. Electronica is a mixed bag because it relies more on the deep end. While the bass is emphasized, it’s not very technically capable.


Despite the slight tonal masking from the midbass emphasis, I like what FiiO has done here. The mids are reasonably neutral and transmit enough info to keep the listener involved. Guitars soar, voices have appropriate fullness, and there’s no feeling of shoutiness in upper-mids.

The 3.5mm jack will work fine with most portables.
The 3.5mm jack will work fine with most portables.

Again, the JH5 mids gave the best impression with metal and harder rock. Especially older, more acerbic Scandinavian metal like Edge of Sanity retains the intended evilness without the edge that tends to shred my eardrums. And there’s enough driver agility to actually make out vocals.


The FiiO JH5 employ dedicated treble drivers which add a welcome sense of extension in the top octave. It’s not as delicate or resolving as I’m used to. Probably due to the multiple resonant peaks the graph showed. At the same time – I respect that there’s no artificial detail that tends to cause early ear fatigue.

Even those with more treble-some systems should be safe with the FiiO JH5.


Two prominent releases in the price range are Moondrop’s Aria 2 and May, both of which I very much enjoy. Compared to the JH5, both come with richer accessories like a carrying case. Aria 2 has a convertible cable that supports balanced drive, and the May work on modern smartphones because of their DSP dongle-cable.

The JH5 earshell is the largest of the bunch.
The JH5 earshell is the largest of the bunch.

Build-wise, I deem all three roughly equal.

In terms of sound, it gets interesting as all three offer a different yet equally worthwhile package. If technicalities are a must, then the May reigns supreme with the Aria 2 second and the JH5 last. Overall coherence is the single-DD specialty, with the Aria 2 taking the lead and the JH5 surpassing the May.

The JH5 has a very sculpted inner shell structure.
The JH5 has a very sculpted inner shell structure.

Where FiiO JH5 outshines the competition is overall ease of listening. It has by far the least potential of causing hearing fatigue. And that’s despite its more punchy and energetic sound signature.

I call the JH5 a metalhead’s delight! Just try to get the black version, lest you anger the Norse gods!

Where to Buy

Who Should Buy This?

Do you like fun? Then get them! For one, I can’t really see anyone being seriously disappointed with the FiiO JH5’s stock tuning. It’s a bit idiosyncratic but ultimately safe enough to work with most kinds of music. Only jazz and classical connoisseurs should look at more introspective sets.

Final Thoughts

It’s classic FiiO – they’ve nailed the presentation to a “t.” As for performance – love it or hate it, but there’s much to respect. The midbass-centric tuning is pretty unique and hopefully will find punch-hungry ears. The technicalities do not blow me away, but in my experience, overall sound signature beats cutting-edge resolution when I reach for IEMs.

FiiO’s been in the headphones game for over a decade, and it clearly shows. Admittedly, their electronics have long stolen the spotlight, but if the JH5 is a sign of things to come, then we’d better get a bigger spotlight!

What’s in the Box?

  • JH5 IEMs
  • 1.2m cable
  • Plastic storage box
  • 2x sets of S/M/L size ear tips
  • User manual

Technical Specifications

  • Form: IEM
  • Driver: 1x 10mm carbon DD + 2BA mids + 2BA highs
  • Impedance (Ohm): 13ohms
  • Sensitivity (dB): 111dB/mW
  • Weight (g): 8g (per IEM)
  • Frequency Response (Hz): 20Hz – 40kHz
  • Removable Cable: Y
  • Source Jack: 3.5mm
  • Cup/Shell Jack: 0.78mm 2-pin

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