FiiO JD3 Review

The Fiio x Jade Audio JD3 or Fiio JD3 is one of two new products from the company, and its all new subsidiary brand – Jade Audio. With an aim to employ a direct-sales model and focus on empirical acoustic knowledge – the company employ a core members with expertise in sound reproduction. The JD3 is an affordable $19.99 dynamic driver IEM with a fixed cable.

The Packaging

The JD3 is presented in a clear plastic case with the IEMs housed in a plastic insert. Also included are four pairs of white silicone medium bore tips (one pair medium size pre-fitted on the IEMs) and documentation. A fairly basic set but acceptable at the price.

Build and Design

The FD3 features a stainless steel “bullet” style housing containing a 9.2mm dynamic driver with a powerful neodymium magnet assembly, a CCAW voice coil and a dual cavity construction. It also has a sound reflection absorbing device to reduce standing waves.

It is a semi-open design with a vent on the rear of the earpiece. These patterned vents are coloured red and blue for channel identification. The fixed cable has a straight metal 3.5mm plug and in-line microphone with music play controls. The build quality is excellent.

Fit and Isolation

The fit was very comfortable and light, and it was liberating to have a pair of IEMs worn cable down. Isolation was very effective with no external sounds being discernible when playing music at an average volume. The cable did not produce any microphonic or unwanted sounds.

Sound Impressions

The JD3 was auditioned via my Xduoo X20 DAP and the pre-fitted tips were used. A “burn-in” period of 100 hours was allowed to settle down the driver. Sensitivity was well judged with plenty of volume even from lower-powered sources.

Tonality

The JD3 presented a fairly standard V shaping. The bass was powerful and a little dominant with some bleed into the midrange, which was somewhat recessed though possessing good timbre.

The treble was generally smooth with an emphasis in the lower presence region and a roll-off in the upper frequencies avoiding undue harshness and sibilance. Soundstage was average in dimension.

Bass

The JD3 produced a warm, bass-focused sound with good sub-bass depth. Decay was a little slow, reducing the detail and resolution on offer. Mid bass was also prominent with good punch but did intrude into the lower midrange which displayed a warmer than neutral timbre with the transients being slightly softened.

The upper bass was cleaner and reproduction of recorded ambience was well handled, imbuing the low frequencies with a pleasant sense of atmosphere.

Midrange

Though a little recessed, the timbre here was largely very good. The lower midrange received some additional warmth from the influence of the bass and a result there was a slight reduction of precision here but this produced a relaxing effect, even though not being strictly accurate.

The rest of the middle frequencies were cleaner and more articulate, becoming brighter towards the boundary with the treble. As a result, female vocals and woodwind sounded brighter than neutral in contrast to the warmer nature of the lower region where male vocals and cellos, for example, sounded “fatter” than normal.

Treble

The JD3’s treble was just a shade brighter than neutral and largely free from sharpness. There were occasional peaks in the upper region before rolling off smoothly and the extension was slightly limited, resulting in a blunting of micro detail and reducing the “air” which affected the staging and separation.

The timbre was generally natural as befits a dynamic driver but I found myself wishing for a bit of extra sparkle and animation in the sound as the presentation was rather “safe” and somewhat in need of excitement.

Soundstage and Imaging

Despite the vented earpieces, the staging came over with average dimensions, with the width perhaps being better portrayed than the depth but there was a reduction in height. This produced an intimate effect impacting on orchestral music and large scale works where there was a “cramped” feeling and a reduction in depth especially in climaxes where the perspective flattened.

In smaller scale pieces this was not so obvious and came over more effectively. Layering and separation were somewhat affected by the treble’s limitations, but was acceptable at the price.

Comparisons

I have included three DD models (with a fixed cable) from my collection, for comparison.

AKG K376 ($39)

The K376 has sleek, all-metal bullet-shaped earpieces finished in a pale metallic blue. Inside there is a 9mm dynamic driver and the colour matched cable, which is very springy in nature, features a microphone, play controls and a straight metal 3.5mm plug.

The sound is lively and immediate with a deep and impressive bass which manages to avoid bleeding into the midrange, which has a natural timbre. There are fast transients and good treble extension.

There is a little midrange recession but it is not as noticeable as in the JD3. The K376 improves on the JD3 in soundstage as well, with more detail and separation, but considering the original price this is to be expected. It thrives on high quality material but is not so good with poor tracks where the loss of quality is more evident. The JD3 is more forgiving in this respect.

Lindy Cromo IEM-75 ($18)

The IEM-75 features a dual drive design with a large 15mm bass unit and a 7mm tweeter. The metal earpieces are very comfortable with the large housing for the bass driver sitting against the ear.

The thin black cable is supple with a very useful chin slider and a straight 3.5mm plug. As might be expected, the bass is very powerful with a lot of air being displaced. The tonality is airy and very natural and has a more gentle presentation.

Midrange holds up well with good detail. Like the JD3, the treble is smooth and rolls off in the same fashion.

The soundstage is outstanding, being impressive in all three dimensions and showing excellent separation, layering and imaging, and is preferable to the JD3’s smaller presentation.

Cambridge Audio SE1 ($27)

Equipped with an 8mm DD sporting a beryllium diaphragm, it is of all-metal construction with a smooth bullet design. The cable tends to retain kinks but is of high quality and there is an impressive array of accessories.

The SE1 has a punchy, entertaining and addictive, lively sound with fast transients. The bass is powerful with excellent weight and impact, especially with drums. In contrast to the JD3, there is little evidence of midrange recession with the overall profile being W shaped.

Timbre is very natural. The treble displays good extension with no sibilance or harshness. The staging is quite expansive but not as large as in the Lindy Cromo.

Like the AKG model above, the SE1 improves on the JD3 in all departments but again, the original price must be taken into consideration.

Conclusion

Fiio and Jade Audio have made a good effort with the JD3, at its very reasonable price. It is well made and looks good, with a competent performance in most areas. It does not have any major shortcomings and delivers a warm, easy-going, amenable sound.

In ultimate terms it does fall short, as more resolution, detail and impact can be obtained from some of the more recent models on the market at the same price level.

However, with solid build quality and a comfortable and convenient “plug and play” design, it certainly deserves consideration.

Fiio JD3 Specifications:

Driver Units:9.2 mm composite diaphragm dynamic driver with CCAW voice coil and neodymium magnets
Sensitivity:107 dB/mW (@1 kHz)
Frequency Response:10 Hz–40 kHz
Impedance:16 Ω (@1 kHz)

Author: Lynn Gray

Lynn has been interested in audio since the 70s when his brother brought him his first ever Hi-Fi system. Since then, he has developed an interest in portable audio when the first Walkman came out. He has been testing products for a number of years and enjoys experiencing new technology.

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