Whenever a new brand approaches me for product review, I will always give a brief introduction on the company so that you can learn more before committing a purchase on their products.
Who is FIIL?
FIIL is a brand under Fengfan Technology founded in 2015 by Wang Feng, a China music celebrity who is one of the main tutors of Sing China. FIIL is supported by a team whose individual past experiences include Huawei, Plantronics, Lenovo, BMW, and IF design award winner.
The FIIL Diva is one of the recent products that has completed crowdfunding. The variant, Diva Pro, offers additional features like 3D audio and built-in 4GB storage.
The FIIL Diva was packaged with an external slip case which removes to reveal a plain white hard box with minimal product details. Inside the box holds the hard carrying case and within it stores the headphone. When manufacturers design a hard case and ship with it, the case also acts as a protection, so the manufacturers do not have to design a mould to hold the product.
Going to the headphone itself, the FIIL Diva is well built and feels expensive. The material of the primary colour (for my review unit, white) is glossy plastic which feels dense and less prone to casual scratches (the white colour probably conceals them too). The adjustable sliding headband appears to be made of anodized or coated metal. The headband cushion is made of super tough nylon, the ear pads are made of silk protein leather with memory foam. The headband clamp force is just right to ensure the headphones stay on my ears without unnecessary discomfort even for long periods of wear.
While the headphone can be folded, the tight hinges do not spring out like most other headphones. To save the hassle of pushing the ear cups into folded position, I transport them unfolded. Also, I find that hard case is bulky compared to the FIIL Diva, so I used my own soft case to store the headphones in my bag.
The FIIL Diva has all the connectors and controls located at the right ear cup. There is one multi-function button to power up and headphones, start-stop music playback and answer calls. Another rocker button controls the MAF (My Audio Fiilter), a patented technology by FIIL. The face of the right ear cup is a touch panel to control track changes and volume. What I like about the volume controls is that I can just tap and hold the top or bottom to change volume quickly instead of swiping many times.
FIIL Diva can connect 2 Bluetooth devices at the same time. To switch from one device to another, just pause from one and then play from another, it’s that simple. It is a useful feature especially when you use multiple devices, which is very common now.
Another favourite feature that I first experienced on the Plantronics BackBeat PRO is the smart sensor that auto pauses when I remove the headphones, but it did not work as reliable as the Plantronics. Sometimes, it works perfectly, other times, it takes a few seconds before pausing, a few occasions it just did not work. I think it has got to do with the Bluetooth communication to the device, for instance, when the headphone is connected to 2 devices at the same time, auto-sensor seems to have a problem.
FIIL Diva claims to deliver 32 hours of music, but actual duration is probably around 20 hours if you do not listen at one go. It also depends on whether you activate the MAF or FIIL Light and other features. Still, it is better than many headphones.
My Audio Fiilter
MAF is patented by FIIL, but the function is not unfamiliar. Sony MDR-1000X has similar functions.
Noise Cancellation – this mode cancels out ambient noise via 2 ambient microphones located at the rear of the headphones. The effect is less extensive than Sony or Bose, but it achieves noise reduction consistently across the frequencies as if I am sealing my ears with my fingers. Without music playback, I can hear slight hissing generated from the ANC processor.
Monitor Mode – this is similar to Sony Ambient Sound Voice Mode, which lets in high frequency sounds, with the purpose of letting the listener be aware of the surrounding. The sound quality is similar to ANC mode.
Open Mode – this is similar to Sony Ambient Sound Normal Mode, which lets in ambient noise across the frequency range. The bass response is reduced, perhaps to ensure the listener can hear the surrounding better. This mode enables me to enjoy music while at the same time hear my surroundings without removing my headphones.
Windy Mode – Sony does not have it, but many other earphones have it, with the purpose of reducing wind noise. It works: when I brushed my fingers over the external ANC microphones, I do not hear any friction noises, wind-filter at work.
Off – MAF is disabled. The bass response is weakened, similar to Open Mode.
FIIL+ smartphone app can manage any headphones setting from the app, like MAF setting, which makes it so convenient to the user. I can also enable or disable the smart sensor, FIIL light. There is even a burn-in mode for those who believe.
On the app, I can also select one of the 3 preset EQ profiles, and although there is no way to customise the EQ, the 3 presets enhances the respective frequencies: the bass preset brings out the mid-bass albeit narrow-sounding, while the treble preset brings up the transparency for treble lovers, though I would not recommend listening to these presets at high volumes.
The 3D sound presets come with 3 levels, but I do not enjoy any as it creates an uncomfortable audio phasing on vocals. The FIIL Diva supports voice search but does not seem to work at all. When I press and hold the multi-function button and tried to say a song name, the voice prompted that it cannot be found even without seeming to try and process. Even if it works, FIIL Diva can only support searching on Spotify, while the Diva Pro will allow searching of music stored in the internal storage, which if works would be immensely useful, since it is impossible to skip to the desired track stored on the headphones.
The FIIL Diva sounds neutral to my liking, with slight bias towards bass. The sub-bass is not too boomy, the treble clarity is sufficient and a little less forward, the mid details are a delight. As you turn up the volume, the treble naturally becomes forthcoming but the bass still retains its omnipresence. This applies to listening in ANC and Monitor Mode. I have to say this headphones offer one of the most accurate audio with active noise-cancelling. With FIIL Diva, I can pretty much enjoy faithful audio in public without having to rely on EQ trickery to enhance any frequency in order to purposely drown out ambient noise.
When listening on Open Mode, the bass response is flattened out. When MAF is disabled, the bass is similarly weakened. Sound staging is not exceedingly spatial, a common limitation for on-ear headphones.
I can also listen the FIIL Diva with wires, with or without powering up (the headphone supports standard 3.5mm audio jack). The MAF does not alter the sound when listening with wires, but compared to wireless, it seems to sound less airy at the treble, perhaps the audio cable has an effect. Overall sound continues to stay neutral and detailed, but the best sound is achieved with ANC on.
The FIIL Diva offers a complete audio experience package: a well-build headphones, a full-function smartphone app, balanced neutral audio, and practical audio filters like active noise cancelling and various ambient modes. The headphones are not top-sounding, and most consumers would not be immediately impressed with them. But you would appreciate FIIL Diva if you prefer listening to detailed music in its neutral state at noisy places, with no exaggerated low bass nor overly-transparent treble.
Unlike the Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 where the ambient mode cuts off music, the FIIL Diva’s MAF Open Mode lets me enjoy music clearly and still hear the surrounding, as if I am not wearing the headphones. I find the audio filters easy to use too, just push the rocker button up and down to adjust. I also find the ANC works better than the Plantronics which I can still hear traces of my desktop PC fan noise. Another advantage is the size of FIIL Diva which is more compact and lighter. The BackBeat PRO 2 advantages are more comfortable over-ear fitting and a much more exciting audio tuning.
The FIIL Diva is available for purchase through the kickstarter site or GearBest at US$169. Singapore readers can purchase through local distributor, Game Xtreme, at Qoo10 listing for S$219 or at its retail outlets.
- Premium build
- Premium features like touch sensor control and smart sensor that auto-pauses
- ANC and Ambient Modes are useful in urban environments
- Smartphone app that lets you manage all functions
- Firmware updates to improve functionality over time
- Neutral audio quality with ANC that will please critical listeners
- Value for money
- Neutral sound might not give the impression of great headphones