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FiiO announces $99 FW3 true wireless earbuds

  • FiiO has formally announced the immediate availability of the FW3: a true wireless IEM built around a 10mm carbon-based dynamic driver with support for Bluetooth 5.2 but not active noise cancellation. Sitting separately from the Bluetooth receiver chip in each earpiece is an AKM ‘Velvet Sound’ AK4332 chip that combines DAC and headphone amplifier. And despite being voiced for “pure high-resolution audio clarity”, a 10-band parametric EQ, accessible via FiiO’s Music smartphone app, gives users a degree of sonic flexibility.

    More unusual (in a good way) is how that same app allows users to adjust left/right balance as well as select their preferred DAC filter and Bluetooth codec. iPhone users are locked into AAC but Androiders can access the FW3’s support for LDAC, LHDC, aptX Adaptive, aptX and SBC (as long as their smartphone supports it).

    Now comes the wrinkle. The press release boasts of the FW3’s Snapdragon Sound certification but nowhere to be seen is support for the aptX Lossless codec that would otherwise allow these TWS earphones to receive CD-quality streams losslessly when paired with a Snapdragon Sound-certified smartphone.

    This could be the result of the FW3’s QCC5141 Bluetooth receiver chip; and given their US$99/€110 asking price, it’s an entirely forgivable omission. Less forgivable is the promotion of 24bit/96kHz capabilities without an explicit lossy compression qualifier — but FiiO is no more guilty of this than many other Bluetooth headphone manufacturers.

    From the press release: “Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound guarantees an excellent level of HD audio quality, together with low-latency. Enabled by accessing the settings within the companion FiiO Music app for iOS and Android, the FW3 supports Low-latency Gaming Mode which significantly lowers the transmission latency to less than 100ms.”

    On audio and phone call control, each FW3 earpiece features two physical buttons for play/pause, previous/next track, volume up/down, answer/end/reject incoming phone calls and smartphone voice assistant activation. Battery life comes in at 7 hours from a full charge with an extra 14 hours possible from the case. Supplied eartips pairs number six: S/M/L silicon and S/M/L ‘balanced’. Your choice of white or grey.

    Further information: FiiO

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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