The Fiil IICON is a noise-cancelling set of Bluetooth headphones with a reputation that defies our sometimes home model pointers, but when we adopted that rule, you’d suppose the IICON was known as the Licon. So, you win on that entrance, Fiil. However on different fronts, $349 IICON is at a right away drawback—it prices the identical quantity because the industry-leading Bose QuietComfort 35 II and greater than the still-available (and still-excellent) Bose QuietComfort 35. And, nicely, the IICON cannot actually cling with the nicely established prime weapons of this class. Even when the audio efficiency is powerful, the noise cancellation is not adequate to warrant this top-tier value.
The IICON is made from black brushed aluminum alloy with metallic purple highlights and purple cables, with chunky circumaural (over the ear) earcups that conjure the Beats headphone aesthetic. The perplexing model identify Fiil is emblazoned in giant letters on every earcup, however spelled with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters that makes it seem like “FIII.” This emblem can be optionally backlit with glowing white LEDs (or stored darkish) by means of the free Fiil app. With an IP65 ranking, the IICON is dust- and sweat-resistant, and might be wiped down for cleansing when wanted. The earcups swivel to suit the contour of your head and are exceptionally well-padded with reminiscence foam, together with the headscarf. It provides as much as a safe match that is still comfy over lengthy listening durations.
A single multifunction button on the outer panel of the correct ear controls energy, playback, name administration, summoning Siri or one other voice assistant, Bluetooth pairing, and even turning on and off the noise cancellation relying on the scenario and the way lengthy you press it. We not often see one button with so many capabilities, however there have been no points utilizing it for the entire capabilities described, and it by no means misfired. Swipe-based controls on the outer panel of the correct earcup allow quantity adjustment and monitor navigation. The swipe gestures work as marketed, however they require dramatic motions from one finish of the earcup to the opposite, which isn’t supreme. The left earcup holds a port for the included charging cable and the correct holds a connection for the audio cables.
The IICON ships with a strong array of equipment, together with a zip-up hardshell protecting case homes the earphones, a micro USB-to-USB charging cable, and two included audio cables for wired listening.
One of many cables options an inline distant management supposed for iOS gadgets, whereas the opposite cable’s distant works with Android gadgets. Each are of the three-button selection, with a central multifunction button and devoted quantity buttons. The one actual distinction in efficiency is that the iOS multifunction button hangs up calls when held for 2 seconds, however merely mutes the decision when tapped shortly. Whenever you plug within the cable, any Bluetooth connection is instantly killed. Unplugging them restores the connection routinely, assuming the headphones are on. Nonetheless, the noise cancellation circuitry can nonetheless be used with the cable in. The headphones can be used unpowered and in passive mode when linked by means of one of many cables.
In apply, the cables had been a bit of problematic. The one labeled iOS did not work with an iPhone 6s—urgent the multifunction button did not one of the issues it was speculated to do. We assumed the cables had been mislabeled, however the different cable had different points with the iPhone 6s—the multifunction button labored simply tremendous for playback and monitor navigation, however the quantity buttons did not work in any respect.
The mic gives mediocre intelligibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we understood each phrase we recorded, however the audio was fuzzy and skinny, like a less-than-ideal cellphone connection. That is fairly frequent with Bluetooth headphone mics.
The Fiil+ app is a free obtain that permits for added management over the varied options of the IICON. The house display screen provides you an in depth readout of how a lot battery life stays, each in standby and playback modes. You may management the auto-shutdown timer, with variables starting from 15 minutes to four hours, or by no means. There is a somewhat restricted EQ part with solely three modes (Unique, Bass, and Treble), all of that are set and can’t be adjusted (we advocate sticking with Unique). A “3D Sound” impact that we actually advocate leaving in Off mode can also be included. Maybe essentially the most helpful side of the app is the ANC (energetic noise cancellation) perform, which you’ll be able to swap between ANC on, ANC off, or Monitor mode, which lets you hear your environment utilizing the built-in ambient mics.
Fiil estimates the IICON’s battery life to be roughly 33 hours, however your outcomes will differ together with your quantity ranges and your noise cancelling utilization.
The IICON, as talked about, is priced the identical as the perfect wi-fi noise-cancelling headphones we have examined, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. So it ought to on the very least have far-better-than-average noise cancellation circuitry. The noise cancellation does an honest job off dropping ambient noise ranges, however it’s not near what Bose is able to. There’s maybe a slight distinction on total bass response for audio playback between the 2 modes, however it’s not overwhelming.
Like most decent-but-not-exceptional noise cancelling headphones, the IICON creates a slight excessive pitch hiss, akin to tape hiss. It is not disagreeable, it is faint, and you will not hear it over your music, however it’s usually a telltale signal of merely common NC circuitry. The best take a look at is attempt to the noise cancellation in a really quiet room (even when it is not designed for that). The NC circuitry ought to by no means make an setting noisier, even the setting is a really quiet room, and that is what occurs while you deploy the ANC in a room that has no hums or ambient challenges. That mentioned, the IICON is able to taking out first rate swaths of AC unit hum and prepare sound, however it will not do a lot for workplace chatter, and there is additionally no method to modify the NC parameters within the app, which may have taken its efficiency up a notch—a lot of the equally priced competitors has began to incorporate in-app NC presets and changes. So, the IICON is not a nasty noise cancelling pair, however it’s priced like the perfect, and is not wherever close to the highest tier.
With ANC off and the EQ on “unique,” we checked out our testing suite. On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the IICON delivers highly effective deep low frequency response that can enchantment to bass lovers. There is a strong stability of highs and lows right here, as nicely, in order that the deep bass response is not an amazing power within the combine.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the IICON’s total sound signature. The drums on this monitor can sound overly thunderous on bass-forward headphones, however by means of the IICON, they ship a full, spherical bass response that provides the drums a pure sense of depth. Callahan’s baritone vocals get sufficient low-mid richness to convey their depth as nicely, they usually additionally profit from some extremely sculpted high-mid presence. The tip result’s a sound signature that pushes the treble fringe of the vocals and the guitar strums ahead, making issues exceptionally crisp, whereas complementing all of it with a spherical, however not over-the-top, bass response.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the high-mid sculpting is as soon as once more on show. We hear fairly a little bit of the drum loop’s sharp assault, which slices by means of the layers of the combo with extra power than typical. The loop additionally will get loads of bass depth, and the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with energy. Once more, the high-mids and highs sound virtually barely too current—the vinyl crackle sometimes relegated to the background is pushed ahead to prominence right here, and the vocals, whereas clear and crisp, can typically sound a bit of overly sibilant.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel In keeping with the Different Mary, get loads of vivid presence within the greater register brass, strings, and vocals. Issues would sound brittle had been it not for some added bass depth, as nicely—so there’s stability right here, however this isn’t a sound for audiophiles on the lookout for an correct, flat-response listening expertise.
One final observe concerning the audio: beginning a monitor provides in some audible excessive frequency hiss, not in contrast to the noise cancellation does, however maybe extra noticeable. Whenever you pause a monitor, the hiss lingers for a second earlier than disappearing. Is it a dealbreaker? No, however it’s not one thing we generally hear on this value vary.
If the Fiil IICON had been, say, $150, possibly we would be describing them as a steal—common noise cancellation would merely be an additional function that does not outline the product, and the audio efficiency would get some excessive marks. However $350 is some huge cash, and the noise cancellation right here doesn’t justify it, nor do the glitchy audio cables and the excessive frequency hiss. It is not a horrible product, however it’s simply too costly for what it brings to the desk. For those who’re on the lookout for best-in-class noise cancellation, the aforementioned Bose QC35 II and still-available QC35 are your finest bets. We have additionally not too long ago loved the Beats Studio3 Wireless and AKG N60 NC Wireless, neither of which tops Bose’s noise cancellation efficiency, nonetheless supply a compelling audio expertise and good-enough noise cancellation.