We admit it — when we first heard of Fiil (pronounced “fill”), we were skeptical. A brand we’ve never heard of making big promises with flashy advertising in support of a $350 Bluetooth noise-canceling headphone; we’ve seen our fair share come and go. But we were wrong — not only is Fiil apparently already popular outside of the US, the headphone up for review today — the Canviis Pro — is well-built, attractive, sounds good, delivers on its promised functionality (including some unique features), and pairs with a companion app that actually works. Color us impressed.
There’s a lot to cover with this headphone, but we’ll start with the basics. The Canviis Pro ships with a 3.5mm analog audio cable with inline controls (with an included iOS/Android switch), charging cable, and a hard case similar to that of its chief competitor — the Beats Solo3. The first of many places it beats the Beats, however, is in its design and construction. Our review unit features gloss white polycarbonate on each driver housing and across the top of the headband. The rest of the headphone is made of metal and high-quality plastic, with perforated rubber surrounding the ear pad gimbals. The Canviis Pro’s joints and sizing mechanism are smooth and silent, with nary a creak or squeak to be heard. They look great and feel great; kudos to Fiil for its classy design.
The Canviis Pro is comfortable to wear, despite being an on-ear headphone. Its pads are about as soft as those on the Beats Solo3 that we liked late last year. It’s light despite the apparently higher-quality materials, and clamps with a medium amount of pressure. We found isolation to be adequate for its noise-canceling features, but not as good as one would get from an over-ear. In the end, the Canviis Pro is still an on-ear, so expect your compressed ears to get warm and uncomfortable after any long listening session. In our testing, this headphone also proved to have good range and battery life in line with the claimed 33 hours — we only had to charge them once for all of our testing.
The Canviis is one of a growing class of headphones that do more than just play music. Accessible via the free Fiil app or using the headphone’s own controls are a variety of active noise canceling and DSP modes. “My AudioFilter” modes include regular Active Noise-Canceling, Open, Monitor, and Windy. These modes work as advertised — ANC mode is adequate for an on-ear except for windy situations (although not as good as the over-ear Sony MDR1000X), Open mode activates external microphones for maximum ambient sound awareness, and Monitor Mode does the same while boosting voice frequencies. Windy mode is novel — it seems to slightly improve the performance of the Canviis Pro’s ANC in windy situations, though it also has an audible effect on the music being played. The app also offers a number of “3D Sound” DSP effects that supposedly emulate listening spaces of different sizes — hall, theater, or living room — but we didn’t like what they did to the music, and instead left these effects switched off.
If that weren’t enough, the Canviis Pro can store and play back up to 4 GB of music within the headphone. A wide variety of formats are supported, including lossless FLAC and ALAC files. Music is added and removed using the old-school method of connecting the Canviis Pro to a computer, then dragging-and-dropping files into the USB mass storage drive that appears. The user can browse stored music and control playback via the Fiil app or directly on the headphone, though it’s clunky — folder structure is ignored and, in an age where streaming services are dominant, we’re not sure how valuable this functionality would actually be for users. All major streaming services have a local storage option, and we don’t foresee people leaving their phones behind in favor of using the Canviis Pro’s local storage. We can’t say whether the local playback function added significantly to the Canviis Pro’s cost, but we think it’s something that we could live without.
Basic music playback over Bluetooth was, at first, slightly confusing. All controls are located on the right driver housing, though in a different configuration than we’ve become accustomed to. There is one “MFB” multi-button located under the Bluetooth button that handles power, pairing, play/pause, battery level check, voice search, answer/end/reject calls, toggling of the backlit Fiil logos, and allows access to music stored on the headphones through long, short, and double press sequences. Just below the MFB is a rocker swtich that controls Fiil’s “My AudioFilter” (“MAF”) functionality — pressing the switch toggles MAF on/off, and rocking it up and down switches between Open, Monitor, ANC, and Windy modes. Volume and track switching is handled via gestures on the right ear cup, which work just about as well as those of the Sony MDR1000X we tested earlier this year. All of these controls work, but it’s a lot to memorize — it’s far easier to simply control all this from the Fiil iPhone app.
Sound effects and special features aside, we like how the Canviis Pro sounds. It has a warm, bass-boosted sound that’s cleaner than the Beats Solo3 but not as articulate as other more balanced headphones that we’ve tried. No surprise that these are geared towards popular music and less towards rock, which comes through the Canviis Pro a little too dull for our tastes.
There’s even more hidden in the app: an automated driver burn-in mode, equalizer settings, a “Smart Sensor” function to auto-pause music when the headphone is taken off the head, a voice search function…almost too much. The Canviis Pro seems like a very complete package, complicated only by its price — it’s better-built and sounds better than the Beats Solo3, but those are now selling for around $230. Even the Sony MDR-1000X, with its superior ANC, is now selling for under $300. Fiil has done well with the Canviis Pro but, in light of the competition, we think users’ response to its wide range of extra features will be the true test of its success.
Company and Price
Model: CANVIIS Pro