Audio

Slim, sleek headphones packed with features

The best feature of the Fiil Diva Pro is its auto-removal detection.
The best feature of the Fiil Diva Pro is its auto-removal detection. PHOTO: FIIL

Chinese audio company Fiil is a relatively new player in the headphone market, but that hasn't stopped it from designing and releasing one of the more premium-feeling and sounding headphones of last year.

The Diva Pro is Fiil's top-of-the- line headphone set. It is a hybrid over-ear model with active noise-cancelling features.

It is also touted as a "smart" headphone, with on-board 4GB storage, a voice-search feature, touch controls and motion-sensor technology. It comes with detachable cables and can function as Bluetooth headphones, with an impressive 30hr of battery life and aptX codec for high-resolution audio.

Fiil basically took any function the company could imagine and stuffed it in the Diva Pro, which is quite a feat considering how slim and sleek it looks.

At $359, it is slightly expensive among on-ear headphones, but relatively cheap among the premium noise-cancelling ones.

It performs well within that price range, though. Noise-cancelling performance is surprisingly good, blocking off most ambient noise, but not reaching the levels of market leaders such as Bose and Sony.

However, it really starts to shinewhen connected to a device through the Fiil+ app, which opens up additional features.

A fun thing to try is the 3D sound feature, which attempts to replicate music as played in a large orchestral hall, a theatre or in a living room. Songs sound airier and more open, which is fun to experiment with but I ultimately preferred the default listening mode.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $359

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 32mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 15Hz - 22kHz wireless, 10Hz - 40kHz wired

    WEIGHT: 210g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The 4GB onboard storage is useful to store hundreds of your favourite songs for the times when you don't want to take along your phone or iPod.

It supports a wide variety of formats, too, including lossless ones such as Ogg, WAV and FLAC, for your high-resolution audio needs.

The Diva Pro's sound quality is punchy and bright, well within the quality expected of its price range.

Kelly Clarkson's powerful vocals on It's Quiet Uptown, from the mixtape of the Hamilton musical, come through loud and clear with plenty of body.

Meanwhile, Sia's rendition of Satisfied, on the same album, highlights a brighter midrange and treble without being overly harsh.

On the flip side, the Diva Pro's touch controls are a little wonky.

Swiping my finger on the earcup is supposed to adjust the volume or skip tracks. Sometimes it worksbut, at other times, I'm left fumbling and swiping to no avail.

Voice search is also something I didn't like using, because the results are iffy at best and I felt very self-conscious speaking out loud in public. You can log in to your Spotify account through the Fiil+ app and, in theory, be able to say out the song you want to listen to and have the app search it for you.

Just say "Hello Fiil", wait for the prompt, and then say the name of the song. There's still a way to go for voice recognition, though - I had to repeat myself multiple times before I got what I wanted.

The best feature of the Diva Pro, which has consistently worked out well for me, is its auto-removal detection. It pauses songs when I remove the headphones from my head, and replays them when I put them back on.

Fiil has done a great job stuffing so many features into the Diva Pro, which is quite a feat considering how slim and sleek the headphones look. But not all features work as well as they should, though.

•Verdict: These aren't headphones which will endear themselves to the audio purist, but are a promising start to a generation of tech-filled smart headphones.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Slim, sleek headphones packed with features'. Print Edition | Subscribe