Music plays a key role in pretty much everyone’s life. It eases the mind and uplifts the soul, it makes the workout bearable, the commute less tedious, and the work day go by smoothly. So when listening to music, it’s important to have a comfortable and decent pair of headphones. However, there are times when the budget is tight. Thankfully, FiiO has got you covered with the EM3 Open Earbud Headphones with in-line microphone.
FiiO is much more well known for it’s line of affordable and highly praised headphone amplifiers, so if you’ve heard of the company, that is likely how. They are based in China, and have been getting into the headphone and music player side of things as of late. With the EM3 headphones, they are targeting the low budget audience. At a price point of $10, these are likely to come across as a replacement for when your iPhone buds finally give out. However, these headphones may just be a surprise upgrade for anyone with a tight budget but a desire for better audio on the go.
The first view of the packaging gives you a good idea of what you are in for with these buds. An attractive, well designed package reveals a frosted film cover that makes opening these headphones a fun venture in and of itself. Included in the box are the headphones (of course), specifications sheet, authenticity sticker, and three extra pairs of foam covers.
At first glance, these black headphones are super standard looking; nothing fancy. However, the devil is in the details here, with a sturdy and quality feel all around. The cable is thick and leads up to sturdy casings, with well designed buds that are surprisingly comfortable (however, I will freely admit to having large ears, so if that is not the case for you, these may be a bit on the larger side). The included foam covers are nice to have, but in terms of comfort and sound quality, I preferred to listen without any of them on. Do-it-yourselfers may want to take on the task of cutting a hole in the foam covers for a slightly different sound, but I am not handy in such ventures.
The EM3 buds use a custom driver designed for FiiO, and have a filter system designed to pass along a “warm and full-bodied” sound. They succeed in this goal, as the phones have a pop-style sound with a healthy amount of bass. The mids are really the shining point for these headphones, as the highs can fall off a bit. Overall, they are a definite step up from any of the budget buds I’ve used in recent memory, including Apple’s buds and the ones packed with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. When paired with a headphone amp (like the ones that FiiO makes, hint, hint), these headphones sound even better, of course.
The built in speaker relays your voice clearly; I had no issues understanding or being understood while making calls with these headphones on. Likewise, the in line controls worked like a charm. I rarely use either of these features while I’m out and about with headphones in, but it’s apparent to me that these were both properly implemented.
Overall, for this price point you will be hard pressed to find a better pair of headphones. The FiiO EM3 is the perfect replacement for the budget listener, but is also a pretty good upgrade if you’re have a ten spot in your pocket and want better sound for your jog.
Based on these headphones, I am very interested in what else FiiO has in store for the headphone market. They are definitely more than an amplifier company!
NOTE: These headphones were sent to us review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.