FiiO FT3 Headphones Review

I have been reviewing the FiiO FT3 for nearly two months, and this review article is long overdue, but for good reasons. Once I finish a product review, I would have to return the product. So what does it say about the product what I do not want to publish the article? Yes, the FT3 is quite an enjoyable wired headphones to use. It retails at S$479 in Singapore and is distributed by AV One.

Unboxing and Accessories

The FT3 is FiiO’s maiden attempt at designing over-ear wired open-back headphones, so clearly they are going to great lengths to make it an impressive product. Holistically, this headphones could easily please a large group of users, from the audiophiles to the gamers, from the bargain hunters to the premium goers. The retail box is packed in a separate generic cardboard box protected with plastic corner inserts and a sticker of authenticity. Check out the unboxing video:

It is impressive that FiiO includes the accessories that are not common. First of all, you will find a luxurious brown leather hard case further protected with a cloth bag. The colour doesn’t quite correlate to the headphones style, but nevertheless, I appreciate the inclusion of a storage case which is better than not having one, as it helps to keep the headphones safe when not in use.


The headphones are designed with a stretchable headband that supports the fit. The clamping force is not too tight while keeping the headphones secured on my head. The outer headband is wrapped with full grain leather material which appears unlikely to flake compared to the software pleather. The design reminds me of the Philips Fidelio X2 I owned many years back, but the FiiO FT3 is much more comfortable, lighter, while fitting larger 60mm diaphragm drivers.

Sound Quality

Remember that the FT3 comes with two pairs of earpads. As stated in the product website, the suede earpads produces “balanced sound, enhanced ambiance, majestic experience”, while the protein leather offers “clear sound, large soundscape, highly detailed”. It is largely aligned with what I hear. Bass frequency lingers around more on the suede pads, it fills the ears with the low rumbles better. When switching to the pleather, the bass is less plump but sounds clean and articulated. Conversely, the treble sounds more airy, spatial, more precise on the pleather pads. Midrange also benefits from the pleather’s cleaner presentation and sounds less veiled.

Personally, I prefer the suede earpads because of its more prominent bass, which is not too overpowering yet its presence provides an overall warmer tonality. I believe that its larger diaphragm contributed to the greater bass intensity yet leaving room for the midrange and upper frequencies to showcase the details. At the same time, the treble is not too pushy on the suede pads so that listening gets less fatiguing. Having said that, I am quite happy to swap the pads if I listen to albums that I want the vocals to shine and give me the chills. For acoustic piano tracks, I am able to pick up the key-striking movements amidst the loitering sustain notes that suspend yet dissipates across the wide stage.

How does the FiiO FT3 compare to my other wired headphones? First, I want to compare it with my old headphones that I have sold off, but I have to disclaim that my impressions on these old headphones may not be accurate. The Philips Fidelio X2 rests heavier on my head, its sound is brighter and more brittle, bass is less oomph compared to the FT3. The Sennheiser HD650 is warmer, treble is less bright, while bass is less boomy.

The Hifiman HE400se has a narrower sound stage, so instruments sound closer, more direct. Bass is leaner with less low energy. Dishing out my Sennheiser HD 800 S, I can appreciate why I pay so much for it. The HD800S sounds much more engaging, immersive, yet presenting in a wider space. Treble is not as sparkling and prominent mix as the FT3, yet it remains highly detailed. Instruments have better balance among one another, less crowded, you can hear the separation.

After putting all the good words, that is not to say the FT3 is lacking. I feel that the HD800S offers me an ultimate reference-grade listening experience when I’m in the mood. This master headphones present music in a different plane that is certainly in a league of its own.

What I enjoy on the FT3 is the ability to present instrumental performance with a relatively prominent bass impression while showcasing the rest of the musical details without sounding too sterile. Its high sensitivity and resistance mean that it will convert the amplifier’s characteristics to the FT3, letting you appreciate the quality (or lack of) of your amp. I enjoy driving the FT3 with the Burson Playmate digital headphone amp with V6 Opamps which I have kept in storage for a while. Using a Ugreen USB-audio adapter on my Pixel 7 Pro, the FT3 still manages to deliver articulated sounds with a good feel of the sound stage where the mid and upper instrumentations are spaced for comfortable refined listen aided with firm filling lows.


The FiiO FT3 is my new favourite value-for-money every-day headphones with audiophile-grade versatility that I can use both as a high-quality casual headphones and a reliable reference cans. At a retail price of S$479, it trumps many headphones at the price range for its impressive audio performance and generous accessories. More importantly, its design ensures that the headphones will last for decades without any surface deterioration.


Audio-Technica NARUKAMI: A Private Listening Session in Singapore

In 2016, I was invited to listen to the Sennheiser HE 1 when it landed in Singapore for the first time. Dubbed the most expensive headphones at about 60,000 Euros, the entire system comes with its own marble-body amplifier and tubes that rise up when powered. It was an unforgettable experience.

When the Audio-Technica NARUKAMI Series first system of the line, HPA-KG NARU Headphone/Pre-Amplifier and AW-KG NARU Headphone arrived in Singapore one week before the HiEnd Asia Singapore 2023 (6-8 Oct), the A-T team called me up and asked if I want to listen to this extravagant audio equipment at their office. This headphones amplifier was first unveiled at the Hong Kong High-End Audio Visual Show by the A-T President himself Kazuo Matsushita on 11 Aug 2023, and the kagami-biraki ceremony took place in front of invited guests. The official model name is HPA-KG NARU and the companion headphones is AW-KG NARU, with a list price for Singapore of S$113,888.

The First Encounter

Even after doing some online research on this product, it still could not prepare me for the moment when I met the amplifier for the first time. Seated firmly on a wooden-grained table in the A-T audio room, the NARUKAMI system radiates an imposing presence with its outlandish yet harmonious element. It looks better than the press images, appearing more muted and less red. The metal mesh cover feels thick, dense, and not cold. Neither do I notice any heat radiating on the amplifier surface when I was touching all over it just to appreciate the attention to details.

My Listening Equipment

To help me evaluate the NARUKAMI, I brought my best headphone equipment so that I can do some listening comparison.

HPA-KG NARU: Effortlessly Detailed, Outclassed Amp

The job of an amplifier is to amplify recorded sound while being able to bring out all musical data to the driver without sounding overloaded or tired. Powerful amplifiers like the NARUKAMI is certainly able to deliver more impactful sound compared to smaller amps. Compared with my Burson Playmate, the NARUKAMI lets me hear music details better as I turn up the volume without any hint of struggle or veil in expressing the content. The amp translates the source with amazing sensitivity and musicality. The music does not sound processed or digital. There is an air of realism and analogue even when listening to digital tracks.

AW-KG NARU Headphones: Impression

The NARUKAMI package includes the headphones, whose design largely derives from the ATH-AWKT wooden headphones. It will come with a 2-metre gold-plated balanced XLR-M 4-pin cable and a 3-metre balanced XLR-M cable. The headphones follow an Audio-Technica signature tuning, which is elevated upper midrange which emphasizes vocals. Among the three headphones I compared during the listening session, the AW-KG headphones attain the widest sound stage with most expressive vocal transparency. Any vocal music lover will find joy with this headphones. However, it lacks the meat in the bass section, and instrumental arrangements sound recessed, so the headphones do not provide a full warm cosy sound. For orchestral tracks, the AW-KG presents great imaging and open stage even with its closed-back design.

Difference between Balanced and Single-Ended Output

Technically, there is electrical signal difference between a single-ended (unbalanced) and a balanced circuit. On the NARUKAMI, this difference is very audible. When listened to an unbalanced signal, I felt a lack of space and dynamics. Once I switch over to balanced cable, the audio sounds more resolving and sensitive to dynamic expressions. It makes perfect sense to make full use of all the audio components by channeling the signal through the balanced circuits.

Supports Pre-Amplifier Balanced and Line-Out

The HPA-KG amplifier also serves as a pre-amplifier with preamp output functionality, driving using the TA-300B vacuum tubes to your next audio chain before hitting the speakers. I didn’t test the pre-amp function due to limited time, but it is good that owners can make use of the supreme all-tube preamp circuitry to connect to audiophile speakers.

Final Words

Music is art, and art is subjective. Each individual experiences audio differently. It is for this reason that the audio market has such wide variety of products, accessories, designs, features, and prices. It is one of the few consumer categories that offer products with price ranging from a single-digit price to six-figure value. There will be an audio product that you can afford.

Is the NARUKAMI extravagant? No doubt about it. Does it sound like it is worth S$113,888? I would probably say, it all depends on whether you feel the listening experience is worth that value. So, yes, the value is subjective. However, I know that the NARUKAMI is loaded with some of the best audio components in the industry, and from how it sounds, the sound quality is at its pinnacle.

The Goods
  • Outstanding musical performance
  • Precise, detailed, clean
  • Analogue quality without too brittle or excessive treble brightness
  • Elevates headphones quality
The Bads
  • Expensive
  • Design that may not blend with existing home audio components
  • Headphones tuning does not really showcase the amplifier full range