Fiil is a big deal in China. A top-selling premium headphone brand that’s as well known as Beats — or so company reps tell me. 

The top-selling part is hard to confirm, but the fact is that Fiil (pronounced “feel”) has received a lot of attention in China because it was founded by Chinese rock star Wang Feng and has been doing its best to emulate Beats’ marketing strategy, getting its headphones onto the heads of celebrities. Its Chief Technical Officer used to work at Plantronics and its got some other headphone veterans on board, including a few folks who were with Sol Republic during its rise — and fall.  

Now Fiil is making a push into the U.S. with four wireless Bluetooth headphones: two on-ear models, an over-ear model, and an in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone. The on-ear and over-ear models also feature active noise cancelling.

The Fiil Canviis is comfortable for an on-ear headphone and also features active noise-cancelling.


David Carnoy/CNET

So is there anything special about the headphones, or are they just a marketing gimmick? Either way, they come with a hard-to-decipher logo that’s either incredibly stupid or brilliant. As Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins once said, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and, uh… clever.” That debatable logo is reinforced with glowing LED lights, so my first impression leaned more toward “stupid.” 

But when I took the over-ear Fiil Iicon for a brief listen I came away impressed. It’s comfortable, sounds decent, has touch controls on the right earcup and seems well designed. Out of the box, it has a sound signature that’s become typical in today’s premium headphones — fairly well balanced but with a little bit of bass and treble push to give the headphones a dynamic sound with more “presence.”  

There’s also an app that lets you customize the sound and some digital processing. Fiil calls it “Stereo 3D enhancement technology” that “creates a spacious sound field.”The noise-cancelling feature seems decent, but I didn’t get a chance to really test it, so I’ll reserve judgment on that front until I get a review sample.   

The only problem is that the headphone costs $350. So except for the style (if you like it) there isn’t a compelling reason to buy it over at least two excellent models at the same price: Bose’s QuietComfort 35 or Sony’s MDR-1000X. It should cost $250. 

The Canviis Pro adds 4GB of internal memory so you can play high-resolution music directly from the headphones. 


David Carnoy/CNET

Next, I moved on to the on-ear Canviis, which comes in two models: There’s the standard Canviis ($250) and the Canviis Pro ($350), which has 4GB of built-in memory so you can store music, even lossless files, right on the headphone. It also comes with Fiil’s MaxWide 3D audio.

For me, the standard Canviis seems to have the most appeal. It’s a more comfortable headphone than Beats Solo3 Wireless and also has active noise cancellation. There are also some sound filtering modes that allow to filter out wind noise or open up the headphones to the outside world with an “awareness” mode. The Beats lists for $300 but is being sold for around $220 online.

The Fiil Carat is an in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone.


Amazon

My initial impression is that the Canviis, which features the same drivers and sound as the Canviis Pro, stacks up well on the sound front compared with the few other on-ear wireless noise-cancelling models that are out there. I compared it with the AKG N60NC Wireless and B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8, for example. 

I personally wouldn’t bother with the Canviis Pro and its higher price tag because I use streaming music services such as Spotify and Tidal and don’t put a whole lot of stock in digitally enhanced 3D sound modes. But it’s worth noting that Amazon is selling the Fiil Diva Pro for $255. That appears to be the old name for the Pro Canviis, which is being sold in China as the Diva Pro. 

The company’s in-ear Carat Bluetooth sports headphone isn’t quite my style, but it is trendy looking and eye-catching. It’s $150, but Fiil may have to bring it closer to $100 if it wants to find a foothold in the US.      

As soon as I get review samples and spend more time with Fiil’s headphones I’ll be able to do more in-depth comparisons and put actual ratings on the products.  My early take is that these headphones show some promise but need to come down a little in price. Consumers in the US may remember Wang Chung, but most don’t know Wang Feng. 



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