True Wireless in-ears might be the flavour of the season, but there’s no denying the advantages of an on-ear design.
Arguably better comfort over longer durations, better battery life and inarguably better sound. So, it’s no surprise that Fiio decided to finally stick their fingers in this pie. The EH3 NC are the first from their farm of Hi-Res capable products, and these too are both Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless Certified. In order to do justice to playing out the extended frequency band, the EH3 NC use large 45mm titanium-coated diaphragms and a 4-mic array that aims at suppressing ambient noise.
In our tests, the noise cancellation wasn’t very effective, but it did muffle out ambient sounds. It’s not as ‘vacuum’ sounding like the best in the business – nothing to compete with Bose or Sony, but they’re also more affordable than either. The difference between noise-cancellation on and off is so subtle that you can mostly only tell if you’ve activated it in quieter environments. Pairing is easy and the claimed 50-hour battery life is indicated by way of blue LED dots on the right ear cup. Controls are fairly easily located, but the build quality is creaky and the ear cushions chuff air even at the slightest pressure on the cups, which makes for an interesting design flaw.
Sonically, the EH3 attempts to put up a dynamic presentation, but what entails is a more congested and veiled delivery of performances. It’s an acceptable listen for electronic and house music but demanding classical or folk rock tracks highlight its rhythmic and spatial shortcomings. Alicia Keys’ Time Machine failed to excite even though it has a propulsive drum and bass hook. Instead, the thick and ill-defined bass was at best for background listening and not something that would make you sit up and take notice of the musical content. For those with an appetite for features, maybe the USB-C charging, folding design or the voice-assistant button might be able to sway their decision, but if you’re a hardcore audiophile looking for a more affordable Sony WH-1000XM3, this isn’t it, unfortunately.