FiiO unveils luxurious FT5 planar magnetic headphone with reasonable price tag
FiiO, which is best known for its excellent yet budget-friendly portable audio players, amp/DACs and IEM style earphones, has just extended its range of hi-fi audio products with the release of its first planar magnetic headphone, the FT5. Featuring an open-back design and premium build quality, it is aimed at the growing audiophile market, while still being somewhat reasonably priced for its category.
The FT5 features 90 mm drivers with 20 neodymium magnets per driver. FiiO claims that the 6μm diaphragm is specially engineered to balance lightness and durability, and has lightweight aluminium-silver alloy coils printed onto it. This results in high sensitivity which, coupled with the low 36Ω impedance, makes it easy to drive the headphone from portable devices, instead of requiring a dedicated amplifier.
The magnesium aluminium alloy construction makes it strong yet lightweight. Justifying it as a premium offering are two pairs of included earpads (in “suede and protein leather”), a leather case, a velvet carrying bag, a premium silver-plated, monocrystalline copper cable, and 4 different audio connectors (3.5 mm, 6.35 mm for unbalanced, and 4.4 mm, XLR-4 male for balanced audio).
Planar magnetic drivers have an inherent advantage of being more accurate than dynamic drivers. In the latter, a stacked voice coil is responsible for moving the entire diaphragm, resulting in distortion at higher frequencies. The ‘coil’ of a planar driver (and therefore the driving force) is evenly spread across a perfectly flat diaphragm, which minimises phase distortion and increases responsiveness. Incidentally this makes it ideal for playing spatial audio.
While the FT5 is reasonably priced for all that it offers, planar magnetic headphones are no longer as exotic and exclusive as they once were. Many budget models are now on the market: the classy Avantone Planar II and the wireless, gaming-oriented Audeze Maxwell both cost US$300, while HiFiMan has several well-reviewed models like the Ananda, Sundara and Deva in the sub-400 range, with its entry level HE400SE costing just US$109.