Hover over the image for rating details. Quarks rating explanation here.

Fiio EM3 in Box

Fiio is an Asian company well known for their audio equipment (portable headphone amplifiers, desktop amplifiers and DACs). The EM3 is their entry level headphones offering, read on to find out how they perform.

Hardware Design

Rating: 5.5/10

Design is pretty sober. A combination of mate and shinning black gives them an elegant look. There is an in-line control (pausing, back/forward tracks, microphone, no volume control) and an L-shaped 3.5 mm golden plated plug, making them unobtrusive when connected to portable devices.

The actual drivers are pretty wide, which I think helps producing an spacious sound (more on that later). Since the headphones are not designed to be inserted in the ear canal, they allow sound (and noise) around you to be heard. Depending on your use case, that might be either and advantage or a disadvantage to you.

Fiio EM3 Main

Hardware Quality

Rating: 5.5/10

The headphones are pretty plasticky. However, they feel well constructed for this price range. The cable is particularly nice as it takes a lot to get it tangled, it feels almost rugged.

Fiio included foam covers with the headphones. Unfortunately, I didn’t find them comfortable and decided to wear them without the covers most of the time.

General Performance

Rating: 6/10

This section of the review is obviously the most important. I’m being as objective as I can, putting all other sections in this review to a side and comparing them with other headphones in similar price range (like the ones included with smartphones).

Fiio EM3 Size

I tested the EM3’s with high resolution audio. That is, music encoded at (at least) 96KHz/24 bit, which is effectively better quality than CD audio (and hence, better quality than MP3/AAC compressed lossy audio). The files were in either Flac format or Apple Lossless format and were played/decoded through a DAC capable of reproducing them at 96KHz/24 bit resolution.

I would say that for the price range, these headphones perform well. I’m not particularly thrilled by their sound signature. Although mid tones and treble are nicely reproduced, bass response is almost nonexistent. The only way of getting an acceptable low frequency response, is by using an equalizer.

The EM3’s provide a pretty open soundstage, I think it has to do with the fact they don’t sit inside the ear canal (same reason low frequency response is not ideal).

Ease of Use

Rating: 10/10

Using these headphones is as easy as it gets. They are even easier to wear than the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. They stay in place and don’t produce any ear pain at all.

Fiio on table

Price

Rating: 10/10

The Fiio EM3’s retail for $15. That’s truly an excellent price for these headphones, even if you are not a fan of their lackluster low frequency reproduction.

Other Reviews

Rating: 4.2/5

At the time of this writing, the EM3’s are rated with 4.2 stars on Amazon, out of 12 reviews. This rating has been used to calculate the final Quarks Rating. There are no reviews available on Newegg.

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