And now ... back to the main topic shall we?
Having enjoyed the Fiio X5 for a good 4 months, my expectations for the Fiio X7 would be high. Really high. (and saying this not in jest).
On paper the spec sheet so far seems a blend of iBasso DX100, iRiver AK120 and Fiio X5.
Which is impressive by today's standards. The thing is the X7 won't be out till 2015, and by then would the X7 still be as spectacular as we hoped?
In my time with the DAPS, the kings of the hill (just sonically) is currently occupied by iRiver AK240 and Hifiman HM-901.
And both are dual dac daps. Being just someone who enjoys music, I can tell there's a clear improvement of dual dacs over single ones.
It's tough to put it in words but a dual dac kinda gives the "full picture" if implemented well..
Would the X7 be positioned to compete with the top of the line daps in the market (regardless of pricepoint) or just a flagship within Fiio's catalogue?
These are very serious points to consider as this will determine the success of the product in the market it was intended to be.
OS: Custom OS based on Android.
> sure. who isn't using Android today? how well will it be implemented? Tried the Calyx M android UI? Lag & Drag. Bad experience.
Fiio's X5 UI is perfect for Full touch and it is fast and smooth. Lets not break a good thing going here.
Weight: Less than 300g
> good weight giving it a heft and premium feel.
Size: thickness will be almost the same as X5 , the other size is almost the same as 5 inch Android Phone.
> Same thickness/size as X5 yes. Same as 5 inch Android, no! DAP must be handy, users will not feel secure fumbling about a big block just to get to their music. Frustration just builds every time get frustrated using a big block as dap. We want a high end reference grade music player, not a portable movie player. Case study, just see Calyx M player. Is the bigger size, bigger screen worth so many trade offs like battery and portability? If size must be like 5 inch phone, then would expect an impressive amp board design implementation (See ALO rxMK3B+) , DUAL Sabre ESS9018 DACs and BIG BIG battery (14 hrs normal lossless, 8 hrs high on res/DSD).
Screen: 3.5 inch ~ 4.3 inch Full Touch Screen. To be decided.
> Music comes first, Battery is as important. Screen size max at 4 inch to cover album art, UI design makes all the difference. 3.5 or 4.3 doesn't matter as long as UI well done.
Key layout: Full touch control+ Bottoms+ Volume Knobs
> Full touch and Full physical controls ideal. Portable on the move, physical control without looking is a big plus on any DAP. See how Sony implemented on X1060/70 Walkman and iBasso DX50/90. The Sony X Walkman implementation would be suitable for a player like X7 design.
Output power: > 300mW/32 ohms, Power supply: +/- 6V ~ +/-11 V . To be Decided.
> Good range, Enough power. Need focus on refinement. X5 SQ is great but lacks refinement. Which X7 need do much better at. For a flagship dap, SQ with power must come with great control too.
Playtime: 10 hours
> Decent. Ideally would prefer 14 hours. When playing high res and DSD like formats, the playtime will fall back to 8 to 10hrs.
Battery: Build in Battery.
> Replaceable Battery please. for 2 very big reasons,
1. sell more spare batteries (good for Fiio), spare juice to change when no charger point available (good for users)
2. no need send back to Fiio for replacement (saves Fiio inventory cost of keeping batteries for replacement), saves cost to ship back for replacement (for users).
Cost and logistics is more cost effective in the long term for Fiio.
Data transfer: USB 2.0 ( Micro USB), WiFi
> USB 3.0 please. Imagine if X7 has 128GB memory + 256GB (x 2 microSD cards) , how long to transfer all that music? On an AK240, it took the whole night. Yes, a whole night.
If not for the incredible SQ, the AK240 would have packed and gone back the next day,
WiFi , sure. for data transfer, maybe a few songs but not an album. Battery life will take a hit transferring wirelessly.
Blue Tooth: YES , supports , supports APTX
> so far have little use for Bluetooth on a DAP, is good to have but not much use. APTX would be a good addition for a 2015 dap, depending on market adoption of the standard.
DAC chip: ESS9018 , not ESS9018M2K, The ES9018 includes 8 channels DAC which means it is equal to 4 X ESS9018M2K
> Sure. As far is I take this part, the Fiio X7 will sound as good (or as bad) as the iBasso DX100 which is a coming 3 year old product, 4years if taking X7 only arrive in 2015.
If ibasso maxed out the use of the ESS9018 DAC on the DX100, then in terms of SQ, the X7 sure won't beat the hifiman HM-901 which has 2 x ESS9018 (total of 16 channels)
and not the AK240 (or the upcoming AK120 MK2). My fear is Fiio's flagship may end up being as good as other's "mass adopted" dap. (the Calyx M is one such example).
> Depends on who you ask. Metal feels premium but vibrations are no good (Ask DX100 users). The DX100 sounds better once the vibration issue is overcome.
Plastic if done well, is as durable as metal, cheaper to produce and handles vibration better.
Build in memory: To be decided.
> X7 is a high end player, means users are going to have lots of high res music in it. Do the right thing, add at least 128GB built in memory. iBasso DX100 already had 64GB in 2011.
By 2015, am sure almost every X7 user will get 2 x 128GB micro SD cards.
Extra Memory: Micro SD slot X 2
> Yes. But is also extra cost to user if built-in memory is low. (No one complains iRiver only has 1 microSD card slot for AK240 since built in memory is 256GB)
Accessory : Leather Case X 1, Micro USB cable X 1,
> Good to have.
M.S.R.P: $699 in U.S
> This is a high end DAP. It is targeted at a market that probably can afford a premium price if the product covers all the important points.
If the X7 is built to be the best portable player with NO compromise (best in SQ , best in capacity , best in battery life , best in daily on the go usability),
Fiio can raise the MSRP to USD $899 or even USD $999, and people will still buy them in truckloads.
if iRiver has shown us, is that there are many ready buyers even for a USD $2500 music player if all the key selling points are there.
Am confident Fiio can do a better product at half that price.
James, make it happen. We're counting on you. :)