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  1. Dobrescu George
    Perfect One Trick Pony - FiiO FA7 IEMs Review
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Sep 3, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - + Thick, deep sound
    + Excellent fit and comfort
    + Isolation is very good
    + Build quality is also stellar
    + Good price / performance ratio
    Cons - - Thick, warm sound that is smooth won't work for any musical style
    - A bit sensitive to hiss
    Perfect One Trick Pony - FiiO FA7 IEMs Review

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    FiiO FA7 is, from the start of this review, a one-trick pony, but a really good one. It is priced at 300 USD, and its main competitors are FLC 8N, FiiO FH5, and HIFIMAN RE800 Silver, in the light of the fact that RE800 Silver is priced at about 300 USD at this moment.




    Introduction

    FiiO requires little to no introduction, they are one of the largest audio companies from China at this moment, they really know what they are doing, and they are putting out products with friendly price points, good performance and good build quality, like it's no effort. The warranty is usually excellent, and they will help you solve your issues, especially if you purchase from a trusted local dealer. Overall, if you need good quality, reliability, and good support, FiiO is the way to go.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with FiiO, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank FiiO for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with FiiO FA7. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO FA7 find their next music companion.




    About me


    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



    Packaging


    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    The nice part about FiiO is that they never fail to package their products in nice boxes, and to include a nice number of accessories and extras. Excellent carrying case, huge number of tips, including foams, ad a unique presentation, FiiO has it all.



    What to look in when purchasing a high-end In-Ear Monitor


    https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort


    Let's start with the build quality, because those things are two little tanks. Of course, plastic tanks, but still, this is something.

    FA7 comes with MMCX connectors, they are a bit tight, but alright for general usage. You can always strap in a silver cable that would compliment their overall sound a bit more than the default cable.

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    I love the way the shells change their colors when they are exposed to sunlight, despite being rather simple and black in color.

    Now, the comfort, is typically FiiO. Or rather, FA7 is even better than FH5, FH5 was a bit short and didn't work well with everyone's ears, well FA7 is longer and sits even better in the ears. All FIIO IEMs to date have been quite excellent in ergonomics, and to be honest, FA7 is as well, there's absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to their comfort, fit and isolation. Oh, I didn't even start talking about the isolation, which is, in one word, excellent. In fact, you've never seen this level of isolation from IEMs this casual, FA7 is an ALL-BA IEM, so it does provide more isolation than FH5 or FH7, both of which have driver vents for their dynamic drivers, where FA7 doesn't require any of those.


    You should note that it is much simpler to write about something when you do have complaints, but with FA7, I have zero complaints about their build quality, fit and comfort. The cables have ear guides, but those are not hard, but rather are the soft type, making FA7 easy to fit with any ear.

    The wearing style is over-the-ear only, so there is no cable microphonics at all.


    Pretty much FA7 is perfect in build quality, aesthetics and comfort. They look cool, fit well and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. For their 300 USD price point, I couldn't find better IEMs for aesthetics, fit and comfort, and the fit / comfort is universal, I had a few friends try them, and they all agreed this IEM fits well.



    Sound Quality

    The title gives it away, but FA7 is a one-trick-pony IEM when it comes to their sound. This is not something negative if they really fit your musical preferences. The sound of FA7 can be described as thick, lush, organic, musical, rolled off in the treble, and overall bassy, impactful.


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    The bass is pretty much the highlight of FA7, with a strong presence in the lows, a visceral sub-bass that rattles everything, and which will compliment anything that is electronic music, pop, or commercial music. I found the lows to be a bit overwhelming for most metal and rock music, and the same for most J-Rock and Japanse music, as the bass overpowers the vocals and the sweeter parts. On the other hand, I couldn't stop using FA7 while listening to anything Hip-Hop, and even with REOL, I felt they did her justice to the overall composition.

    The Midrange of FA7 is a pretty thick and dark-lush one. There is a bit of a recess in the lower mids, and there is a slight bump in the upper midrange, so female voices are complimented a bit more by FA7, but I can't say for sure whether the better part are the textures or the nice dynamics of FA7, because in both, it is pretty good. The soundstage is average in size, and for a warm and thick sounding IEM, this is very good, most large-sounding IEMs are those who sport a brighter, more airy top end.

    And now, that we reached the top end, the treble, I gotta say, if anything about FA7 did disappoint me personally, it is their treble. I mean, it is buttery, smooth, and fatigue-free, it is the kind of treble you could listen for, for hours, and it has that beautiful sparkle to it that many of your will surely enjoy, but at the same time, it is the kind of treble, that for me, at least, gets boring after a while, it is rolled off past 7 kHz, and this means that you don't get quite that much energy and life, instead, you get a buttery presentation that compliments poorly recorded music, but doesn't have a lot of sparkle and air, which is pretty necessary for rock, metal and J-Music in general.

    Surely, the entire sound is unique with FA7, but man, if it fits your tastes, you'll have a hard time pulling it out of your ears and doing anything else, because they will make your days really sweet.



    Portable Usage

    So, compared to the Build Quality part of the review, where I typically rant about build quality / fit issues, in the portable usage part I tend to want to rant about how portable the product in the review actually is. The point here is to say whether I would use the say product on-the-go, and have fun, but then again, you will need to wonder if I'm a reliable source of information for that, as I do use HIFIMAN Sundara outdoors without fear (this is a joke).

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    With FA7, you have a medium rigidity cable, which means that you can easily use them outdoors, without having to worry about cable tangles, but also without having to worry about the cable being too rigid.

    The ear guides are soft, which means that they will adjust to your ears, and since there is no cable microphonics, you could say that the cable is perfect for portable usage.

    In terms of drive-ability, FA7 is easy to drive, but slightly sensitive to hiss. Most sources will do just fine, like FiiO's own M6 ultraportable DAP, but you would be better off if using something a bit better, since FA7 does scale a bit more, so a DAP like FiiO M9 would compliment them better.

    Overall, they are a very portable IEM, and I have no complaints about their portability either.



    Comparisons


    Themain competitors for FA7 are FLC 8N, FiiO FH5, and HIFIMAN RE800 Silver. There are way more worthy competitors in this price range, so I picked the ones most people asked about in comparison to FA7.

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    FiiO FA7 vs FiiO FH5 - Starting with one that's pretty obvious, let's talk a bit about FH5 vs FA7. The comfort is better on FA7. The build quality is similar, but the comfort surely fits better with FA7. The sound is actually pretty different, FH5 is much more midrange-forward, and although FH5 is also pretty thick, FH5 tends to be a bit hot in the lower and upper midrange, compared to FA7, which is pretty smooth and thick. The overall signature is also leaner, cleaner, and less textured on FA7. The bass is deeper, stronger, quicker and more satisfying on FA7. Overall, even though FA7 doesn't have enough treble, I prefer it over FH5, despite the fact that FH5 makes an excellent IEM if you enjoy a mid-centric sound sometimes.

    FiiO FA7 vs FLC 8N - FLC8N is an IEM that's unique actually, with a TON of possible signatures, a huge soundstage and an incredibly good build quality. In fact, if it was more widely available, I think that FLC8N would overtake a lot of its competitors in the 300 USD price range. Now, starting with the package, 8N wins hands-down, but this is also because it comes with all those filters, bells and whistles, otherwise the two would be pretty much equal. When it comes to the sound, FLC 8N is a chameleon, but in none of its configurations it isn't quite as thick, smooth and warm as FA7, so if this is your kind of signature, you should totally check in some FA7. Another thing to consider is that in terms of comfort, I felt like FA7 was a bit more comfortable, although both disappear in your ears, wearing them in cold weather made FA7 feel much better, as 8N is a metallic IEM and would gather some condensation bubbles, which made me quite uncomfortable with using it during Winter.

    FiiO FA7 vs HIFIMAN RE800 Silver - Now that RE800Silver is at a similar price with FA7, I thought to myself, why not compare them. I know that a lot of you have been asking about this comparison, so let's skip the package, which is much better for FA7. In terms of build quality, I trust the two equally. HIFIMAN has an excellent service and support lately, and so does FiiO, and both IEMs are built really well. In terms of comfort, RE800 Silver is considerably more comfortable than FA7, as it touches your ears much less and is pretty much a no-contact IEM, compared to FA7, which is a full over-the-ear IEM. In terms of sound, the two are quite different, FA7 is very thick, lush, lacks treble, is relaxed, fatigue-free, and kind in its sound. RE800 Silver is much more revealing, more detailed, more textured, is much brighter, has a more sparkly top end, is cleaner, and more focused on details, but also inherently more fatiguing. I prefer RE800 Silver for Metal, and Rock, for example, but I can see the appeal of FA7 with pop, electronic and downtempo music.



    Recommended Pairings


    For the pairings part of this review, I will go with FiiO M6, FiiO M9 and xDuoo X20.

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    FiiO FA7 + FiiO M6 - Now, FA7 is very easy to drive, so a DAP like FiiO M6 should totally do them justice, and with this you're set for a small and convenient setup that you'll enjoy greatly, so you don't have to worry about rocking FA7 with just M6. The signature of M6 is mostly neutral, complimenting FA7 rather well, as I would suggest not pairing FA7 with any smooth or warm sources, since they are already plenty warm and smooth. There is some hiss with this pairing.

    FiiO FA7 + FiiO M9 - FiiO M9 is another great example of a good pairing, as M9 is much more detailed than M6, and FA7 has the resolving abilities to showcase it, with more textures in the music, a wider soundstage, and since we're talking about the DAPs themselves, M9 also has a much more competent system, at least when it comes to its driving power. If you have a larger IEM or Headphone collection, you should explore a bit with M9 rather than a mini-DAP like M6. There is very little hiss with this pairing.

    FiiO FA7 + xDuoo X20 - xDuoo X20 is an excellent example of a good DAP that really suits FA7, as X20 was very bright in my experience, and it would complement the signature of FA7 quite well, signature which was very smooth and warm. Overall, this is one of the best pairings I've heard, especially if you need no bells and whistles, and if you prefer physical buttons over a touch screen. There is some hiss present with this pairing, and X20 is not absolutely black in its background with FA7.



    Value and Conclusion


    So we finally come to talk about the value of FA7 from FiiO. You know, at some point I feel like I don't even need to do this part for FiiO products, man, they are all great value. And this is not me speaking as a reviewer, but as a customer, in general, FiiO stuff has good value, and holds the said value, if you have an older FiiO DAP, you know you have a gem. FA7 is no exception, it makes fierce competition for other IEMs in the 300 USD price range, provided you like the kind of signature FA7 goes for.

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    In terms of package, you get a wide selection of tips, you get a nice carrying case, and the IEMs, all presented in a rather large box. You get a really well made IEM, with a good cable, that bears no microphonic noise, and is flexible enough to be good, but not too wiggly. You get excellent comfort and isolation, and you get a reliable product, that even looks good even though it is fully made of plastic.

    In terms of sound, FA7 is a thick, warm, L-Shaped IEM with a ton of bass and power, but without much treble, it may get boring if you were looking for a bright signature, but it will be like butter for your ears, if you wanted an IEM that really is fatigue-free and warm / thick sounding. Really neat for those looking for this type of buttery, clean signature.

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    At the end of the day, if you want an IEM that is well built, clean, comfortable, comes with everything you may require, and which sports a thick, lush, warm and fatigue-free signature, you should totally check out FiiO FA7, and don't forget its other sibling, FiiO FH7, which I will be reviewing soon as well.



    Product Link (no affiliate links)

    https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Headphones-Earphones-Detachable-Geometric/dp/B07KW5VYP7



    Full Playlist used for this review


    While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.



    Youtube Playlist


    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu



    Tidal Playlist


    https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b



    Song List

    Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date

    Eskimo Callboy - Frances
    Incubus - Summer Romance
    Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
    Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
    Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
    Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
    SOAD - Chop Suey
    Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
    Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
    Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
    Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
    Eminem - Rap God
    Stromae - Humain À L'eau
    Sonata Arctica - My Selene
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
    Dope - Addiction
    Korn - Word Up!
    Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
    Fever The Ghost - Source
    Fall Out Boy - Immortals
    Green Day - Know The Enemy
    Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
    A static Lullaby - Toxic
    Royal Republic - Addictive
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    We Came As Romans - My Love
    Skillet - What I Believe
    Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
    Yasuda Rei - Mirror
    Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
    Falling Up - Falling In Love
    Manafest - Retro Love
    Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
    Zomboy - Lights Out
    Muse - Resistance
    T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
    Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
    Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
    Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
    Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
    Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
    Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
    Saving Abel - Addicted
    Hollywood Undead - Levitate
    The Offspring - Special Delivery
    Escape The Fate - Smooth
    Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
    Dope - Rebel Yell
    Crazy Town - Butterfly
    Silverstein - My Heroine
    Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet


    I hope my review is helpful to you!

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    Contact me!

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  2. littlenezt
    The Almost Perfect FiiO IEMs
    Written by littlenezt
    Published Jun 3, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great Build Quality, Gorgeous Looking IEMs, Great Soundstage, Imaging, Separation, Warm and Inviting Sounds, Fast Punchy Bass, Resolution, Detail Retrieval
    Cons - Bassy Male Vocal felt a bit too authoritive, Need Cable Rolling /EQ
    FiiO FA7 Quad Balanced Armature In-Ears Monitors

    the unit is purchased with my own money

    Packaging and Unboxing :
    Unboxing experience is pretty luxurious for an IEM at this price range, once you open the outer box,

    you're greeted with a heart shaped cable with your jewelry like shiny Red and Blue IEM
    IMG_20190530_150649.jpg
    and below this beautifully presented IEM,, there's a LOT of eartips selection, a hard case, pouch,inside the soft pouch there is a brush to clean your iem nozzle, and a magnetic clip.
    IMG_20190530_150555.jpg

    Design,Build Quality, Comfort, and Fit :
    this IEM is build from German Medical Grade Resin, super clear transparent and feels premium on the hand.

    For the first few hours of owning this IEM, i was like zoning out looking at how beautifully the red and blue with clear transparent shell that shows the Quad BA of this IEM, like how can you not love the look of this ?


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    okay, enough of praising how this iem looks, about the comfort and fit, i have try every single one of the eartips provided by FiiO on this set,, all of them (atleast for my ears) are not very comfortable to wear, the concave part around the nozzle of this IEM are touching and kind of pressuring my upper earlobes if use the balanced tips, bass tips, foam, and if i for some reason need to open up my mouth (like for yawning) the seal breaks off so its a little bit annoying, as for the double flange, this has the best fit for my ears but after wearing them for like 45minutes, i feel my ear canal is getting sore, now the vocal tips,, this tips have the best comfort and seals pretty well on my ear because of the longer tube, BUT, for some reason if i use the vocal tips,, the change on the sound signature is putting me off from wearing this IEM completely.

    and this is where SpinFit CP145 come to the rescue, i order one of this tips from my local store, the medium size fits perfectly on my ears and fix all of my complaints about the other tips above.

    and sound isolation on this set is pretty good, i cant hear properly what others talking even when the music is not playing.

    Sound :
    disclaimer : im not some hardcore audiophiles who enjoy music with all kind of premium luxurious hardware, i just enjoy listening to great sound with my limited resource and equipment. so what i think great about something, might not be great for you, since sound is pretty subjective anyway.

    all of the sound part of this review here is done with FiiO M6 + FiiO LC-3.5B Cable and LC-3.5C Cable + SpinFit CP145 Eartips

    Bass / Low :
    the low frequency emphasis on FA7 is more on the bass to mid bass range, this creates overall tonality of this IEM to warm almost darker sounding, the bass quantity is great, a lot of bass, and a fast bass thanks to the balanced armature driver on this set, if you like to listen to rock music with a lot of electric bass guitar, this IEM able to reproduce a lot of detail of the bass strings from the music, and for RnB, Rap music, this have more than enough punch to make the music feel alive.

    with LC3.5C cable :
    i think the quantity of the bass is a little bit reduced, causing less bass bleeds into the lower mid

    Mid :
    thanks to the bass - mid bass emphasis, the mid on FA7 is sounds rounder, full, warm, vocal both male and female on this set sounds great but sometime male vocal especially male with bassy sounding voice sounds a bit weird or sounding a bit too authoritive if i would say.
    Instruments like guitar, violin, bass guitar, trumpet sounds very detailed and sweet on this set

    with LC3.5C cable :
    Mids sounds more cleaner especially on the male vocal, the resolution, layering of overall instrument is enhanced

    Treble :
    Treble / high frequency on this set is very detailed,relax without sounding harsh and did not have any weird sibilant or peaky sound. if i would like to describe the treble on this set, its like you're listening from an expensive speakers and tone down the volume of the higher frequency without reducing the detail and resolution.
    but sometimes i do miss the attack of more aggresive treble presentation (its just my personal taste though)

    with LC3.5C cable :
    treble resolution and layering is enhanced, everything else is the same

    Soundstage and Imaging :
    for my ear this set has the best soundstage depth and imaging i have ever heard from an IEM,
    the track i use for testing this part is Innocence - Evan Call, and torment, OST from Violet Evergarden anime.
    for me. when listening to those track i felt like i was sitting in the front row of an orchestra, you can feel the distance and where every single one instrument is placed, the separation on the left and right channel is superb, you can hear the sound is moving around from left to your right ear.

    for the width, i think FiiO FH5 have a slight edge than this one since the FH5 sound presentation is more wide and open than the FA7

    with LC3.5C cable :
    besides separation and layering enhanced there is nothing worth mentioning here

    Comparison :

    FiiO FA7 vs FH5

    on my case, i purchase the FA7 first before the FH5 (upcoming review for the FH5)
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    the FA7 is warmer and a bit darker than the FH5, probably because of the bass-mid bass emphasis,
    the mid of FA7 sounds fuller, meatier, rounder than FH5, the FH5 have a nice bump around upper mids so female vocal on FH5 sounds more appealing than the FA7, but for instrument detail and separation FA7 has an edge compared to FH5.
    treble on the FA7 sounds more detailed but with less quantity than the FH5

    so if you prefer more relaxed listening type, FA7 is the right choice for you.

    Campfire Audio Comet :
    IMG_20190505_214758_1.jpg

    the FA7 if compared to CA Comet it has different overall sound signature, the comet is more on the warmer side neutral type with a little reduction on the treble presentation rather than V sounding type

    if you like intimate sounding type, and focused more on the mids rather than other frequency, the CA Comet have a pretty good warm and inviting instrument and vocal, but kinda lacks the bass and treble extension of multiple driver model type IEM,

    soundstage and imaging on the comet is pretty average not too boxed in but not wide either.
    instrument separation is a little bit downgrade from the one on FA7.

    iBasso IT01
    lets add this one just for fun *or in case you want to upgrade from IT01*
    IMG_20190501_212726.jpg

    the iBasso IT01 is more on the V shaped side compared to the FA7, it has more bass quantity punch but not the quality and resolution of FA7, the mid is a lot more recessed on the IT01 and the treble is more sparkly than the FA7.
    the quality on resolution, detail, soundstage, imaging of FA7 to be honest is on another level if compared to IT01

    if you like the brigher sound signature of IT01, i would suggest you to upgrade to FH5 / FH7 instead. if you like IT01 with reduced treble quantity, by all mean, get the FA7 right away.

    DAP Pairing :
    previously i own Shanling M0, and FiiO BTR3 (not exactly a DAP though)

    Shanling M0 : the M0 already warm and bass boosted character, paired with the FA7 is not exactly the pair you want to use to be honest, the bass bleed more into the mid frequency and overall tonality balance is not enjoyable (for my ear)
    FiiO BTR3 : i think the BTR3 neutral sounding is a good pair for FiiO FA7,since it doesnt add or reduce the bass of the FA7.
    the FA7 itself didnt need a lot of power to begin with, so if youre thinking if your BTR3 can handle the FA7, yes it can and probably FA7 + BTR3 is a great combo for under 400USD

    Conclusion :
    ( + )

    + Great Build Quality
    +Looks absolutely beautiful
    +Great Separation, Soundstage, Imaging
    +Warm, inviting mids
    +Fast Punchy Bass
    +Resolution
    +Detail Retrieval

    ( - )
    -Sometimes bassy male voice felt a bit too authoritive
    -Need EQ / Cable rolling to reduce the bass bleed to the lower mid

    below are more like nitpicking rather than a cons
    -More treble quantity like +1db / 2db would have been nice (atleast for my taste)
    -i wish SpinFit CP145 was included on the box

    thanks for reading my first review about audio products, and sorry for my weird english (not my main language)

    have a great day.
  3. gerelmx1986
    Fiio FA7: Good IEM when properly EQ'ed
    Written by gerelmx1986
    Published Aug 9, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, included accessories, wearing comfort, isolation, stylish looks
    Cons - Too much bass emphasis bleeding into mids. Recessed highs. Intimate soundstage. There is no included balanced cable options must buy separate at 128€
    A little about me

    I'm an audiophile but not the Graphs and number ones, more of a music lover type of audiophile who seeks the best true sound quality. My Genre of choice is Classical music from renaissance to Classism and abit of nationalism like Grieg, Dvorak.

    Unboxing, packaging & accessories
    The Fiio FA7 come packaged on a black carton box with a sketch of the product in white, model name in white bold font on the lower left corner, on the right lower corner the Hi-res Audio logo.

    On the side of the mentioned box it is a scratch-to-reveal authenticity code. At the back there is more information of the product and the logos of the other manufacturers Knowles for the BA drivers and HeyGears for the 3D printing tech used to make the FA7.

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    Removing the outer packaging you'll get the inner package, and the one that contains the FA7 and its accessories. There's nothing worthy to mention there as it is just a black box, only at the front is the FiiO logo. Opening like a book cover you'll get presented with the FA7 on a foam cut out.

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    Below the cut out, there is an assortment of tips, a small pouch containing a cleaning brush and a magnetic cable organizer. Finally there is instructions and a pelican hard-translucent plastic case.
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    The tips include the normal silicone foam with the M size already installed in the FA7, the silicone come in S,M and L, they're called balanced ear tips, asidenit comes with just M sized double flange tips.
    15653537307838074941870843746459.jpg
    The foam tips, which resemble comply foamies, come also in S, M and L
    15653538054145927394751985847277.jpg
    Next we have Bass and vocal tips which also come on S, M and L sizes.
    15653538997092055204103702361276.jpg
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    The iem comes with a standard 3.5mm stereo unbalanced plug and silver cable in MMCX connector.

    Build quality, comfort and isolation.
    The build quality of the ear pieces is just stunning, perfectly smooth and seem durable to me. It is not.plastic but a German resin of.medical grade properties. Additionally the shells are made with a 3D printer to.ensure homogeneous production.

    Absolutely love the transparent shells that enable to view the internals. I chose the blue and red faceplates with abstract finish, looks classy and sometimes it reflects light in a cool way.
    15653548090347684360205161932971.jpg 15653548317022600117354324652210.jpg 15653548537856335746171651917638.jpg 15653548708901035405045563243296.jpg 15653548941516508477397298573507.jpg 156535493586219469675029390645.jpg 15653549747717406931431908871844.jpg 15653550102191489096197053469851.jpg 15653550349068900923352321914891.jpg
    At below the mmcx receptacle, there are L and R markings aside the left shell is blue and the right red.

    The cable is nice, made up of high purity silver according to fiio, it terminates in angled L 3.5mm unbalanced stereo. The isolation of the cable is transparent enabling you to see the wires. At the mmcx connector there is a pre-shaped ear hanger /hook
    Which is pretty stiff and difficult.to.mold unlike the hooks of the sony IER-Z1R which they are smooth and supple. In general the cable feels stiffer than that of the IER-Z1R.

    15653553278675332366347450320470.jpg 1565355344369428601165697376562.jpg 15653553675375765499410599469494.jpg 15653553852076133913739559888443.jpg
    Wearing comfort is superb, better than the IER-Z1R, no pain here, no bulky feeling
    Insertion goes deeper but I can feel vacuum seal a bit uncomfortable at times.

    Isolation is simply top nicht, better than IER-Z1R (vented, the FA7 is totally closed off).

    Sound Quality
    My gear is a sony walkman NW-WM1A unmodded with 6500 playback hours since its purchase in 2016.
    Additional HP I have a full size headphone the sony MDR-Z1R and another in-ear also sony, the IER-Z1R.

    My music is only classical musical in lossless quality ranging from FLAC 16/44.1 to DSD 11.24896 MHz. I have no mp3 or aac and I dont support proprietary formats like. MQA which is really lossy/lossless hybrid alien.

    In short summary the signature of the FA7 is tuned to the midbass and lower mid emphasis , giving it a warm but veiled signature with an intimate soundstage.

    For the use I'll be giving to the FA7, commute in public transport (Germany) I won't be whining and crying that they must sound like the summit-fi IER-Z1R.

    Stock sound analysis: medium sized balanced tips, SE stock cable.

    BASS: the bass dominates the signaturex especially the mid bass giving it a hollow sound signature, too much bass makes string quartets sound too woody and grungy (Beethoven string quartets - ABQ - EMI - 16 /44.1 --- Bach Goldber variations- Canerata RCO - challenge records - DSD 11.2MHz) veiling the violin and viola. Orchestral music sound too bassy and reverberate it reminds me of this MEGABASS from early sony discmans (mozart Youth symphonies -
    Pentatone /Phillips - sir Neville Marriner - DSD 2.8MHz & Zelenka the orchestral works - CPO - FLAC 16/44.1) overall presentation of large orchestral works.feels cramped.

    Mids: while these sound lush they are marred by the bass bleed giving a lack fo resolution female and Male vocals can sound too in your face and shouty (Tallis the complete works - brilliant classic - flac 16/44).

    Highs: they lack sparkle and excitement , at least they aren't shrilly, but can't.make up to the hi-res standard , the micro detailing is there but one must Equalize it. (Cesar Frank organ works , Audite, DSD 2.8MHZ , also in DSD64 Bach the four great toccatas and fugues - sony / Columbia records , E. Power Biggs)

    Tip rolling sound analisys.

    The double flange sounds like the stock tips but a bit more distant in sound. Bass in the subbass gets.more presence,, still hollow sounding.

    Foam tips,.one of the best I think,.gives a nice subbass punch and add.more clarity to highs, stage is reduced some how sounding small.

    Bass tips, the worst for the FA7. It only increases the veil the FA7 possesses, treble and mid energy get reduced and all detail and micro resolution is lost. Giving them a pretty bassy signature akin to having clogged ears with air /water .

    Vocal tips: remove some.of the veil and midbass giving a bump in details and resolution, still sound a bit hollow tho, but they have more bass control and less flabby bass sound, more punchy.

    Sony IER-Z1R Triple comfort tips: these new sony tips are an hybrid between silicone and foamies
    15653578417192319291351460747596.jpg
    They increase the bassiness and make the FA7 sound muddy but less shouty, like the fiio bass tips the FA7 on the sony TC tips sounds muffled.

    Sony IER-Z1R silicone tips;
    15653580083928091555428717703894.jpg
    The sound improves even better than the vocal tips by fiio , the midbass is reduced, controlling the bass, but there is more midrange, especially lower mid accentuating a bit the hollowness at times, but overall clarity is improved, stage increases a bit they want to sound big like the IER-Z1R but still intimate.

    I dont want to.make a comparison with the IER-Z1R, different price ranges and sound signature, feel it will be unfair. So will just give a short summary : the IER-Z1R has.more micro detailing, sprkliwr highs and organic mids, bass is more on the subbass but more controlled and physical feeling to it. The stage in the Z1R is also gargantuan , colossal , they have a stage like speakers or open cans.

    FA7 is darker veiled and the sony IER-Z1R is more natural , lush organic sounding, even it comes as bass light after hearing the FA7 for a while.

    But the FA7 are undoubltly great commute IEMs when you want isolation, sont care about sound because train or road noise.

    Pros
    * Great build quality
    * isolation is top notch
    * wearing comfort
    * accessories, (sony really baffled me there with no cleaning tool for the Z1R)
    * sound good when properly EQ
    * stylish and cool looking.


    Cons
    * Bassy and hollow signature, making it veiled and not so resolving.
    * intimate soundstage
    * prone to tip rolling and perhaps cable rolling.
    * stiff cable materials
    * no included balanced cable. (Sony does include a 4.4mm in the cheaper options)
    * must equalize to sound good
    * performance not up to the price
      B9Scrambler and Redcarmoose like this.
  4. yong_shun
    Untamed Beast - FiiO FA7
    Written by yong_shun
    Published Jan 26, 2019
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good quality stock cable
    3D printed shell looks fascinating
    Large amount of accessories
    Cons - Staging depth is insufficient which caused the mid frequency region to be congested
    This review is originally posted on my blog.
    https://audiolocheese01.wixsite.com/website/home/fiio-fa7


    Introduction
    FiiO was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types and sell FiiO-branded products through sales agents worldwide. The brand name FiiO is composed of Fi(fidelity from HiFi) and iO(number 1&0), representing the real feeling and convenient life that digital brings to life. Meanwhile, the Chinese “飞傲” is the transliteration of FiiO, indicating the positive and innovative spirit as thriving as spring.
    After long waiting, I finally received my FiiO FA7 after the launch event in Singapore. I purchased this IEM with full retail price. So, this is not a sponsored post. I will give my most honest view from a consumer's point of view. I have very positive impressions on FiiO FH5 and F9 Pro. Nicely done IEMs with affordable price. This creates strong competition in this market. FA7, a quad Knowles balanced armature drivers IEM selling at SGD499.00 is again creating competition in this audiophile market. This unit completed 100 hours run-in before this review is written.
    [​IMG]
    Technical Specifications
    • 4 Knowles Balanced Armature Driver
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 40kHz
    • Sensitivity: 110dB/mW
    • Impedance: 23Ω
    • Maximum Input Power: 100mW
    Accessories
    The full accessory package includes:
    • 1 pair FiiO FA7 IEMs
    • 1 x 3.5mm MMCX stereo cable
    • 3 sets of “balanced” silicone tips
    • 1 set of “bi-flange” silicone tips
    • 3 sets of “vocal enhanced” silicone tips
    • 3 sets of “bass enhanced” silicone tips
    • 3 set of foam tips
    • 1 x cleaning tool
    • 1 x magnetic cable tidy
    • 1 x velcro cable tidy
    • 1 x rigid Pelican type case
    • 1 x soft neoprene carry case
    • Instruction manual & warranty card
    [​IMG]
    Design
    The shell of FA7 is made with German high-transparency resin, specifically medically designed for ears and with EU IIA medical certification. The FA7 is the mass-produced, 3D printed quad balanced armature IEM in the market. I would like to congratulate FiiO making this breakthrough. FA7 looks fascinating with the 3D printed shell and a shiny face-plate. The fitting is considered good for most of the ear size. Most of my friends have no issue with the fitting for this IEM.
    FiiO is using a high-purity monocrystalline copper-plated silver cable, LC-3.5B. The build quality seems rigid and I believe it can sustain a reasonable amount of strain. Great improvement is observed on the MMCX connector. I always find it hard to attach and detach the cable from my FiiO F9 Pro. This is not found in the new FA7.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Pairing
    Being the TOTL of FiiO IEM, I will use the TOTL of FiiO X series DAP to pair with FA7 for this review. In the latter part of this review, I will do some source matching.
    [​IMG]
    Test Track
    1. Hotel California (DSD)
    2. Billie Jean (FLAC)
    3. Beat It (FLAC)
    4. 24K Magic (FLAC)
    5. Sing (FLAC)
    6. Somewhere, Somebody (DSD)
    7. Style (FLAC)
    8. Rolling in the Deep (WAV)
    9. Hello (FLAC)
    10. Animal (FLAC)
    Sound
    At the first moment I listen to this IEM, I have no idea how to describe the sound signature - Uncommon and rare. After spending days with it, I will consider the overall sound signature as dark sounding with slightly U shape, slightly darker than most of my IEMs. It reminds me of InEar StageDiver 2. FA7 is a refined version of that particular model. Every region of the frequency spectrum sounds better. Little brother of SD5 maybe?
    The soundstage is wide from the X-axis but a little bit lacking from the Y-axis. Ambiance, but the instruments are in a line, forming the X-axis width with the vocalist slightly behind all the instrument forming the shallow Y-axis. This results some overlaps in some of the track. I will further elaborate afterwards. The imaging and separation is precise, nicely done in this price range.

    Lows
    A Knowles CI-22955 balanced armature driver is utilized for this region. CI series from Knowles is one of the largest BA driver which creates powerful kick at the low region. Wise choice of BA driver. If the specification sheet mention this IEM as a hybrid IEM, I would believe it from the performance of this IEM at the low frequency region - Punchy and energetic kicks that make you shake your body with the track. I am not a bass head but I do appreciate good quality bass.
    On some of the track, the kicking at the lows does affect the performance of the mid frequency region. I believe this is partially caused by the alignment of the stage - lows at the front stage while the mids at the center stage. As a mandopop lover, I am disappointed a little bit by this but I believe for those who like EDM or classical can appreciate this more than me.

    Mids
    A knowles ED-29689 balanced armature driver is utilized for mid frequency region. The ED series is one of the most popular series used by IEM manufacturer. As mentioned in the earlier part of this review, the mid frequency region of this IEM is being aligned in the center stage - Not the star, but emphasis still given. Some people might find the mids are slightly recessed but I think the alignment still consider reasonable and acceptable. For most of the track I have no issue.
    I find the male vocal can be slightly thicker, more emphasis can be put in. Bruno Mars sounds a little weak in 24K Magic. For tracks with less lows frequency instruments like Sing from Ed Sheeran, the mids are well articulated - smooth and full of emotions. I believe the staging could have been done better to make the overall sound signature more balanced. For female vocalist, less influences by the low frequency region. Airy and breathy. Jennifer Warnes sounds silky smooth in Somewhere, Somebody.

    Highs
    Two Knowles SWFK-31736 balanced armature drivers are utilized in this IEM. The highs are well-extended. I have better tolerance towards high region frequency. For those who do not have such tolerance might feel fatigue after long hours listening. It is a little bright. An opinion from me - a little emphasis can be shifted to the mid frequency region to make the overall sound signature more balanced. I would appreciate this more if the tuning and alignment is being done that way (this is very personal and different people can have different view because I might be bias here). Sibilant sounding highs.

    Comparison
    FiiO FH5

    The bass is deeper. I find the overall performance and tuning is more to my favorite as compared to FA7. The overall sound signature is brighter and more transparent. The Y-axis of stage improved while the X-axis is not compromised.
    [​IMG]
    iBasso IT03
    This IEM sounds leaner in the body. The airy presentation made the stage wider and with the depth of the low frequency region, both X and Y axis are sufficient. This is something lacking in the FA7. The highs are soaring but it is well controlled. Not to the fatigue causing level.
    [​IMG]
    Astell & Kern Billie Jean
    One of my favorite IEM in the SGD500 bracket. The lows might not be sufficient for bass head. I like how the mids are presented. Silky smooth with sufficient emphasis. The staging done well. Vocalist is the star this time. Love it!
    [​IMG]
    Westone UMPro 30
    UMPro 30 is a more analytical sounding IEM as compared to FA7. The sound signature is close but the presentation of details is more nicely done by UMPro 30. The staging is as wide but taller and deeper for UMPro 30.
    [​IMG]
    Source Matching
    Sony NW-WM1Z

    Using the single ended with the stock cable, the soundstage is improved because the nature of this DAP. I believe the soundstage can be improved more by changing the cable and use the balanced output. Now the mid region frequency sounds more prominent as compared to pairing it with FiiO X7 Mk II.

    Astell & Kern SP1000M
    Not a very good matching because the nature of DAP is slightly warmer and musical. The sound signature shifted to the low frequency region more. I find it more congested as compared to pairing with X7 Mk II.

    Opus #3
    The sound signature is now more neutral because this player does not have much emphasis on low frequency region. This rectify the issue mentioned earlier in this review - insufficient emphasis in mids. A nice pairing!

    Cable Rolling
    Effect Audio Eros II

    This cable is well known for the presentation of the mid region frequency. Spacious and airy. Now the mids are more prominent now. Overall sound signature is more balanced but the price of the cable is quite high. Not a recommended upgrade.

    ALO Audio Litz
    I always like the presentation of this cable - balanced with no bias towards or against any region. It is a better pairing with FA7 as compared to Eros II because of the price. The soundstage is wider now.

    Conclusion
    Being the TOTL, I have a little higher expectations towards FA7. I believe more works can be done on the next IEM to breakthrough the barrier. Still, this IEM can still sound fascinating for certain genre like classical or EDM.
    All the best FiiO!
      snellemin and Erfan Elahi like this.
    1. ByrnesK
      Hi, you say that the fiio fa7 pairing with the opus #3 made the sound signature more neutral, would this be the same case with say the fiio fa7 paired with an Opus #1? I own the Opus #1 currently and I am looking for a decent iem under $500 how would the Fiio FA7 pair? Thanks
      ByrnesK, Mar 19, 2019
      yong_shun likes this.
    2. yong_shun
      @ByrnesK it is more neutral as compared to X7 Mk II pairing. I could not remember the sound signature of Opus #1. Overall this is a darker IEM.
      yong_shun, Mar 19, 2019
  5. sainteb
    Great IEM if you don't mind EQ
    Written by sainteb
    Published Mar 27, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great 3D printed build
    Excellent fit, isolation and comfort
    Decent sound and instrument separation but I had to EQ
    Cons - 80-250 Hz messes up the overall tonality
    Bass bleed and way too much midbass
    Lacking clarity without EQ
    Price: $299 at the time of this review. More information available here. Personal unit purchased with my own money.



    Build and fit

    High-quality 3D-printed shells made of medical-grade resin. Fit is great. No-hassle, reasonably deep (not as deep as Etymotic IEMs but much deeper than most universal IEMs I’ve tried) insertion which makes the insertion of my Etymotic ER4XR feel like a massive (painful) chore. I typically use bi- or tri-flange tips where possible but I get a great seal with singles here. There is also absolutely no pain or discomfort while wearing them. They are very light too so I don’t really notice their presence after a couple of minutes.

    Running and working out with them is great and there is no chance of them falling out. Same goes for sleeping. There is no need to re-adjust the fit after wearing them for some time.

    IMG_3191.jpg [/SIZE]

    Isolation and leakage

    Isolation and leakage are great, possibly as good as universal IEMs get. FiiO doesn’t provide any official information regarding noise attenuation and I don’t have the expertise, let alone professional equipment, to measure this but I wouldn’t be surprised if these isolate in excess of -30 dB. My gold standard for isolation is the Etymotic ER4 series which are rated at -35-42dB. While the FA7 doesn’t compete with the ER4s in this regard, its isolation is seriously good and probably the best I've tried after Etymotic.

    Great in terms of noise leakage. If you are someone like me who is overly concerned about disturbing others in a quiet office, the FA7 will do great. The lack of vents (or at least I haven’t seen any) helps. My girlfriend couldn’t hear any noise while sitting one meter away from me in a quiet room at normal-to-loud listening volumes. Comparable to Etymotic’s unvented designs in terms of leakage.

    Sound

    Easy to drive at 23Ω impedance and 110dB/mW sensitivity. Performs well out of an iPhone 6S and MacBook Pro 2018. I don’t believe in burn in so this has not been a consideration. However, I've listened to the FA7 for around 100 hours.

    Default sound signature is warm and thick with a massive emphasis on the bass. You can check out
    Brooko's frequency response graph here.


    I used EQ to reduce mid-bass impact by about -4-5dB, leaving most of the sub-bass untouched.

    Screenshot 2019-03-27 at 14.47.35.png

    Bass. As noted by Brooko, the main issue seems to be that the bass emphasis goes a bit too far into the mid-bass, resulting in bloating and bass bleed overshadowing the other frequencies. After EQ, I am completely satisfied with the low range (and the overall sound). Pretty hard hitting for a BA.

    Midrange and treble are good once you EQ down the bass; may otherwise sound recessed. Decent vocal performance, good instrument separation. Even with EQ, vocals may sound a little bit distant if you're used to more mid-forward headphones like the HD600 series. Soundstage is fine, better than the ER4XR. Not much to say here.

    Comparisons

    Etymotic ER4-XR ($349)

    The ER4-XR (a single BA IEM) is widely regarded as one of the best and most accurate IEMs in this price range, as well as the point where diminishing returns becomes really noticeable.

    ER4XR is naturally leaner, more mid-forward and bass-light compared to the FA7. Despite having less bass quantity, bass is more articulate and punchier on the ER4. I prefer ER4’s default sound signature. FA7 offers much better comfort and hassle-free use. Tyll's XR graph, for FQ comparison.

    FiiO FA1 ($99)

    Massive price gap but a lot of people are asking for comparisons. Out of the box, the FA1 is a lot more linear and it doesn't have the massive bass emphasis that the FA7 has. It is leaner and offers really good value at this price range.

    Some people said that they preferred the FA1 over the FA7 (seemingly even if price was not a consideration) but I’ll have to disagree. Even without EQ, I’d get the FA7 if price was not a factor. Having equalised the FA7, I’d say the FA1 can’t even compete with the FA7 — the FA7 is much clearer, the low range is punchier, instrument separation is light years ahead. Comfort is about the same and the FA7 might have slightly better isolation.

    Summary

    - Great potential but you may have to EQ down the mid-bass - would've given them a 5 otherwise

    - Excellent build with beautiful 3D-printed. Ergonomics and fit are top of the league as far as universal IEMs are concerned. Isolation is great and sound leakage is close to zero.

    - The default sound signature places a lot of emphasis on the mid-bass, resulting in some bloating and bleed. Equalising down the bass can eliminate this pretty much completely. If you don’t mind doing this, an equalised FA7 offers good instrument separation and detail.

    Do I recommend?

    Yes, if you don't mind EQ. If you cannot be bothered, you might want to consider some other good alternatives like the ER4XR, FH5 or IT01S which don’t require any EQ. Do have in mind that the FA7's ergonomics and comfort are much better than any of these.
    [/SIZE]
      snellemin, Brooko and volly like this.
  6. Currawong
    More even-sounding than the FH5
    Written by Currawong
    Published Jan 22, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Even-sounding and good-quality overall. Good packaging, quality and accessories. Pretty good-all-rounder.
    Cons - Bass bleeds into the mids somewhat. Narrower (perceived) soundstage. Low bass not as good as FH5.
    With 4 balanced-armature drivers compared to the hybrid dynamic/balanced-armature set-up of the FH5, the FA7 doesn't have quite the bass impact. On the other hand, the more even-sounding tonal character makes it more of an all-rounder if you don't need so much rumble. Here's my video review covering it:

    1. sidecross
      Thank you for your review and photographs the information provided is very useful.
      sidecross, Mar 27, 2019
      Currawong likes this.
  7. ezekiel77
    FiiO FA7 – Flourish and Fanfare
    Written by ezekiel77
    Published May 29, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Compact, desirable design
    -Excellent accessory set and tip selection
    -Best fit and comfort from FiiO
    -Superb isolation
    -Easy to like, relaxed sound signature
    -Brilliant mids tuning
    -Uniformity across units
    Cons - Too much midbass bleeding into the mids
    -Treble lacks excitement and sparkle
    -Intimate soundstage
    -Congestion in complicated tracks
    FiiO keeps moving on up. The new 4-driver FA7 is not only their most comfortable earphone to date, it also showcases their utmost skill in tuning and manages to sound new and fresh despite the brand’s already full roster of in-ear monitors to choose from.

    I love music; it’s why I’m here. That’s the understatement of the year. In my youth I was compelled to share the music I loved—and I’m showing my age here—by making cassette mixtapes. Who among us hasn’t shared our futile expressions of love via the media of song, only to be spurned by the object of our affections because she’s already dating a dude named Chad?!

    I digress. At least I got to keep the mixtape, which contains my entire outlook on life at that moment captured in song. It’s my personal greatest hits and nobody can touch that. FiiO, from the looks of it, seems to be compiling what surely is their greatest hits collection. They have an expanding catalog, nay an entire ecosystem of portable audio slowly unfolding upon the unsuspecting world.



    [​IMG]
    With a little imagination, you can toss ‘em around like dice.



    From digital audio players (DAPs), portable amplifiers, cables, in-ear monitors (IEMs), and even IEM cases, FiiO has got you covered. Their latest line of products is a multi-pronged attack on our pockets, ears, and consciousness. Each new release has been greeted with more fanfare than the last. If we believed in such a thing as an ‘endgame,’ it would appear that this is where FiiO is headed (note that most grizzled audioheads do not believe in such fairytale nonsense as perfect components). As FiiO aims for perfection, we share the spoils: great-sounding products built to last.

    Today we take a look at the flagship of their balanced armature (BA) lineup of IEMs: the FA7. Positioned as the cousin to the extremely well-received FH5, the FA7 is similar in price and design, but entirely different in build, in-house technologies, drivers, and sound. Meaning FiiO wants you to buy both, lol.

    The FA7 features four Knowles BAs—1 bass, 1 mid, and 2 treble—configured with a four-way crossover and housed in a 3D-printed, medical-grade resin shell. If this sounds like how custom IEMs (CIEMs) are constructed, well yeah that’s pretty much it. But FiiO, being FiiO, flexes their mass-producing muscles as no boutique CIEM company can, allowing more people to enjoy their stuff while paying less.

    Once again, a big thank you to Lily of FiiO for the review sample and her patience in this particular case. The FA7 retails for $299.99 and is available in either blue/red with clear shells or silver with smoke shells, via their official website and Amazon.

    This article was first published in Headphonesty.


    Equipment Used:

    DAP
    • Sony NW-WM1A “K” Modded, FW 2.0
    IEMs
    • FiiO FA7
    • FiiO FH5
    • FiiO FH1
    Albums Listened
    • Aaron Neville – Warm Your Heart
    • Art Pepper – Modern Jazz Classics
    • Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
    • Diana Krall – From This Moment On
    • Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    • John Mayer – Continuum
    • Macy Gray – Stripped
    • Meiko – Playing Favorites
    • Michael Jackson – The Essential
    • The Weeknd – Starboy


    Packaging and Accessories

    Unlike some vital parts of my anatomy, I’ll keep this short. The FA7 packaging is nearly identical to that of the FH5 and hard to tell apart without close scrutiny, sort of like the Hemsworth brothers. The two FiiO models share the same black box with different artwork, the same brilliant case, 3.5mm cable, and throwaway accessories like the cloth pouch and cleaning tool. But one important change is in the updated ear tips.



    [​IMG]
    The cloth case is still as vestigial as ever *closes thesaurus with a satisfied flourish*.



    The three sets of silicone ear tips are still there for bassy, vocal-centric, and balanced sound in small, medium and large sizes. Ditto the three pairs of medium-sized foam tips. Responding to complaints that the FH5 had short nozzles that prevented a good seal, FiiO included a pair of silicone double-flanged ear tips for extra-deep insertion. Oh behave. So that’s a lucky total of 13 pairs of ear tips at your perusal or disposal.



    Design and Build Quality


    FA7’s design language is “inspired by nature,” with a fluid, contiguous shell and faceplate motif drawing inspiration from gentle streams, turbulent waves, or taking a whizz by the road. It is, though, undoubtedly pleasing to the eye. I could stare at the faceplates for hours; they carry a hypnotic quality like watching hot dogs cook on a roller.

    As for the build, FiiO is pretty proud of its materials and 3D-printing technology. The earpieces are made of German high-transparency, skin-friendly resin and come with EU IIA medical device (!) certification. The resin is resistant to discoloration too, implying that the FA7 will maintain its clean, transparent looks for years to come.

    FiiO collaborated with 3D printing specialists HeyGears, using industrial-grade printers with digital light processing (DLP) technology and a printing resolution of up to 25um. Each earpiece is precision-printed for 60 minutes, promising consistent sound between different pairs of FA7 and ensuring that unit variances are minimized. This is the part not inspired by nature. For the common folk (which includes me), the FA7 is a well-designed and well-built piece of work that hopefully withstands the tests of time and grime.



    Cables

    The stock cable LC-3.5B is identical to that of the FH5: a sheathed, monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable which comes in a double-barreled design. The build quality and attention to detail are—of course—impeccable, and the cable handles quite well, if just a bit on the heavy side. Do you believe in making small concessions for big sound quality? I do.



    [​IMG]
    The clean, keen, lean, mean, green machine.



    It’s a well-thought-out cable that is not only durable but sounds better than most other bundled stock cables on the market. FiiO is quietly making headway in the cable department, with the R&D department tinkering and releasing new cables around the same time as new IEMs.



    FiiO LC-4.4C

    Naturally, I asked Lily to provide their latest and greatest cable to see if it’s a good match for the FA7. She was kind enough to provide the LC-4.4C balanced cable for my Sony WM1A.



    [​IMG]
    If a cable comes with its own box, it’s kind of a big deal.



    The cable comes with a 4.4mm 5-pole jack to take full advantage of the balanced output. The increasingly popular 4.4mm jack is rightfully the new hotness and works with any music player with a 4.4mm socket, notably Hiby’s R6 Pro, Cayin’s N8, Lotoo’s PAW Gold Touch, and FiiO’s own magnificent M11, just to name a few.

    Let’s talk about this baby. The LC-4.4C is made of 8 strands of high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper. Each individual strand contains 19 wires, and is lovingly sheathed with transparent thermoplastic urethane (TPU) imported from Germany, before being hand-woven to complete the cable. FiiO likes collaborating with Germans, eh? First the resin, now the TPU sheathing.

    There is meticulous attention to detail. I like how the MMCX connectors are marked red for right and blue for left, making them easy to recognize and plug in. The matching matte silver 4.4mm jack, Y-split and chin slider are aesthetically pleasing too, looking marvelous alongside the transparent white cable. It’s built to please the eyes and ears and wallet.

    My only complaint is that the hand-weaving might be a bit suspect. I prefer tighter, more disciplined braids; but then again, the loose weaves might have contributed to the superb comfort and handling of this cable. It is infinitely more posable and flexible than the stock LC-3.5B cable and lighter too, so I’ll let the one complaint slide.

    As for the sound properties, the LC-4.4C is a step up from LC-3.5B. Not only does it convey more detail and higher resolution across the spectrum, it does so without sacrificing the FA7’s superior mids tone and timbre, a highlight for this IEM. The LC-4.4C conveys an effortless, roomy presentation, sounding more technically sound and spacious but never in-your-face and aggressive. He’s friendly!

    The cable is available in 3 variants, depending on the jack for your music player. LC-2.5C is for 2.5mm balanced players, LC-3.5C is for regular players and most mobile phones (except Apple, boo), and the LC-4.4C which I have just reviewed. They are priced at $59.99 and are available via Amazon or AliExpress.



    Fit, Isolation and Comfort

    I thought FH5 was comfortable, but the FA7 is really something else: a different beast and feast. The compact shell design slides right in and fits snugly, subsequently disappearing into my ears like the emperor’s new (nude) clothes. I could insert them all the way into my canals and lie on the side while listening. This level of world-ending, mind-bending comfort approaches that of custom IEMs. They’re that good!



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    These double-flanged ear tips are as essential to the FA7 as bacon is to breakfast.



    Thanks to the long nozzles, all ear tips provided by FiiO seal quite well. As for isolation, with the double-flanged ear tips and the deep insertion, I was able to attain the sense of tranquility and peace that can only be achieved by reaching a mountain’s summit, wandering into a soundproof chamber, or being completely deaf. The music and I are one and inseparable from the other.

    That is an exaggeration of course, but not far from the truth. With much kudos to the updated design, FA7 easily isolates 80-90% of outside noise provided you use the included double-flanged ear tips and go really, really deep! Like deep-sea diving for, uh, fresh seafood.



    Sound Quality

    The FA7 is but a drop in the ocean of many budget-minded IEMs. It’s true they have the pedigree, know-how, experience and research department to shine, but we are dealing with a fickle market which embraces new shiny things on a monthly basis. Will this drop cause a ripple or just disappear after running its course? Let’s find out how they sound.



    Overall Sound Signature

    When looking lost in a foreign land, people tend to approach and help. Touched, you make it a point to be just as courteous back home because what the world needs now is love, sweet love. Of course, all that love stuff is forgotten when someone abruptly cuts into your lane and you curse inwardly. Ah well. Just remember your time on vacation and the warmth you felt. The FA7 sound, too, is warm and inviting. It has an elevated midbass and lower mids for a full-bodied, meaty sound.



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    FA7 drinking game: drink one shot whenever you get goosebumps from listening.



    Before the signature becomes too rich and syrupy (think drinking pure honey, lol), there is a lower treble bump for some airiness and spaciousness, essentially making this an L-shaped signature. So we have a warm-tinged monitor that’s useful for extended, relaxed listens, but balanced with good levels of detail, resolution, and crispy note texture to spice things up in the bedroom. Yes.

    If you’re too tied up to finish the rest of the review, let me just say this: the mids are superb stuff. Or in broken Italian: primo grado.



    Listening Conditions

    Critical listening was done after 50 hours of burn-in. It’s a formality more than an attempt to affect sound quality, frankly, since BA-based IEMs should sound as good as they are out of the box. This is to keep burn-in enthusiasts quiet, ok? Lol.

    The main review rig was Sony’s NW-WM1A Walkman modded by Project K with the stock cable. The ear tips of choice were the double-flanged silicone tips, which gave me not only the best fit, but near-perfect seal and isolation.



    Bass

    I’m writing this during Mother’s Day, so it’ll be a bit sappy. Imagine you alone in the universe, fending off the world on your own. You yearn to be a kid again, safe in the arms of your mother. Like any mom, she tucks you in when you sleep so you don’t catch a cold. And like the horrible kid you’ve always been, you kick away the blanket after a while. Even in unconsciousness, you defy her, lol.

    FiiO’s FA7 wraps the signature in a warm blanket. Whatever the weather, you ain’t gonna catch that cold! The sub-bass and midbass are generously enhanced, providing warmth like a bowl of chicken soup. Extension is fine with rumble that is easily felt, and all things bass are executed admirably. There are good impact and note body, with tonal richness, smoothness, and authority available in spades.



    [​IMG]
    Purple injects an air of nobility and royalty, even if it’s a kitchen rug.



    However, the gooey richness sacrifices other aspects of the bass, like a love that’s welcoming, but suffocating. Notes are thick and dense, with a slow, plodding decay. Speed is suspect and the bass lines linger past their welcome, affecting layering and bleeding into the mids sometimes. Details suffer too, with rounded-off note edges that mimic crushing blows via mittens.

    Of course, the FA7 bass sets off with the best intentions, providing a smooth, buttery bass that doesn’t lack on impact, even if it suffers in technical ability. Accept it with open arms for what it is: a bass only a mother would love.



    Mids

    Like peering and leering into the irises of your one true love (or loves, who am I to judge), FA7’s mids aim for the heart and soul. The tone and timbre of the mids are spot-on, sounding natural as ever. It carries over much of the qualities of the bass with one key change: it dials back the thickness and haze, reaping instant rewards in the process.

    The bass warmth carries over to the lower mids splendidly. Male vocals and string instruments have a keen presence, sounding inviting, rich, and fully-formed. Guitars and pianos sound strikingly accurate, with note density balanced by a quick decay. Upper mids are euphonic and airy, rendering female vocals and emotional rollercoasters effortlessly without evidence of grain.



    [​IMG]
    Fun fact: in the old Transformers cartoons, the good guys have blue eyes, the bad guys red.



    Notes are neutrally-placed, with transitions velvety smooth and oh so fluid. The FA7 eschews any need to show-off in favor of pure, unadulterated organicism and musicality. Each note is coherent, evenly shaped and lovingly sculpted, being richly-layered and wonderfully-textured, yet not lacking in detail.

    My only nitpick is the overall speed and resolution of the mids; there is some smudging if tracks are too fast and demanding. But the tuning and timbre give a graceful naturalness to the tuning of these accomplished mids and are enough to win me over. These lovey-dovey mids are meant to soothe the aching soul.



    Treble

    At this point, you’re probably aware that the FA7 signature is akin to a gentle breeze, with a non-aggressive, harmonious approach to rendering music. The treble continues the zephyr-like serenity, with a slight lower treble bump so it isn’t too bogged down by the overall warmth of the signature.

    The treble makes its presence felt non-threateningly and non-confrontationally: not unlike a diplomat in times of peace, fostering relations through goodwill and maybe a few drinks. It rises early, at the lower treble, bringing some attention and crispness to cymbals and percussion. It evens out the further up we go, integrating with the rest of the signature seamlessly.

    It lacks some extension at the upper treble but allows enough air to permeate the signature. Up here, the notes are smooth, rounded, and forgiving, never approaching the sibilance zone and providing just a hint of sparkle to stay exciting. Its boisterous, swashbuckling days might be in the past, but the steady reliability of a safe, tuneful treble will satisfy most.



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    “Inspired by nature” to me means lounging it with foliage and creepy crawlies.



    Soundstage and Imaging

    Now, the trouble with a warm, smooth, and coherent signature is that soundstage dimensions and imaging capability almost always take a hit. It’s not a massive hit per se, but the spatial qualities will never be the highlight of the FA7, not when the tuning takes front and centrestage.

    Here, the FA7 displays a good amount of width, with an accomplished left to right differentiation. You’ll have no problem picturing the instruments and vocalists laid out in front of you, like those hipster photographs with the contents of someone’s pockets or messenger bag arranged meticulously on a table. Each element occupies its own unique space, separated by adequate black space in between.

    For depth, height, and front-to-back layering, however, the FA7 is average at best. The warm air injected by the elevated midbass and overall thick notation congests things somewhat. You won’t have a window-clear picture of, say, a full orchestra performing because the separation and imaging are simply not at that level. Simpler arrangements, sure, but the FA7’s greatest strengths lie elsewhere.



    Comparisons

    FiiO FH1

    I’m bringing the whole family in. The FH1 ushered in a watershed moment for FiiO hybrids, with exquisite attention to detail across aesthetics, comfort, and sound regardless of price. The FH1 marked the first time I was genuinely interested in FiiO IEMs and my inaugural review with Headphonesty reflected that.

    So where does the FA7 stand alongside FH1? The simple answer is head and shoulders above. Sharing similar lush, organic, and warm characteristics, FA7 nonetheless stands out in sheer technical superiority. Notes have much better definition, shape, and differentiation, while music effortlessly flows together, creating an easygoing, coherent atmosphere that is praiseworthy.

    In comparison, FH1 sounds slower and bloated. It has less end-to-end extension and there is a definite lack of air, space, and spatial definition when listened to back-to-back. While it’s no slouch in musicianship, the FH1 falls apart on critical listening. Obviously, you have to keep in mind that FH1 is priced at a quarter of FA7, but it’s easy to see FA7 winning this.



    FiiO FH5

    The universe is filled with tough questions, and one most often asked is whether to get the evergreen FH5 or the brand spanking new FA7 if you had $300 lying around. I reviewed the FH5 very favorably not too long ago. In truth, they are different enough to own both, but you don’t want to hear that, you want a duel with blood!



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    Wasn’t Han Solo frozen with the same material?



    The FH5 takes on a more vibrant and aggressive approach, with airy and detailed mids anchored by deep, delicious sub-bass and a crystalline treble with enough sparkle to spare. It’s fun and wows at first listen, and to this day remains my benchmark for its price range. The FA7 may not be able to usurp it, but it takes another approach.

    Compared side-by-side, the FA7 sounds warmer, more musical and fluid overall, with a relaxed, laidback presentation like easing into your favorite lounge chair. The signature is more evenly dispersed, with less sub-bass thump and treble brightness, and wetter, more luscious mids that enchant in their own way.

    Technically, they are pretty even in terms of extension and note definition. I much prefer the naturalness of the FH5’s bass (thanks to the dynamic driver), but am equally smitten by the organic and buttery mids of the FA7. Soundstage dimensions are similar, with both having adequately wide stages, but FH5 is airier with better separation.

    So in truth, different strokes for different blokes. FH5, being so adept at modern genres, is definitely more dynamic, engaging and something to show off to your friends. FA7 is more coherent, reserved and refined, favoring vocal-centric music and jazz. If pushed for an answer while dangled at the side of a building, I’d choose the FH5, but I would be equally happy with either.



    Final Words

    Following up a classic is a monumental task. The Beatles did it, releasing Sgt Pepper after the zenith of Revolver, but then they’re superhuman. Radiohead followed-up OK Computer with a 180-degree turn and churned out Kid A to confused folks. Coming up with the sequel to Pet Sounds nearly broke Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. It wasn’t for the faint of heart.

    FiiO might not be in the same league as those musical legends, but they have a legacy to protect and a legion of well-regarded products to succeed. FiiO risk being redundant with FA7’s release, especially so close after the crowd favorite FH5. With the same driver count and similar price tier, why bother? What more could it possibly offer?



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    Border patrol was kind enough to let the separated-at-birth twins finally meet.



    But FiiO is adamant and march to the beat of their own bum. The FA7 can be described as an evolution of the FH5, taking into account the various issues of the older model and coming out with improvements across the board. This is, bar none, FiiO’s most comfortable and best-fitting IEM to date. The looks, accessory set, and build quality are as good as ever, which leaves only one thing left to judge: the sound.

    Thankfully, FiiO has some serious tuning chops and, for the most part, know what they’re doing. For those who thought the FH5 too aggressive, or too youthful (sound signatures according to age, why not?), FA7 is the answer, featuring a warm, inviting signature that is as accessible as it is pleasurable. It’s a wonderfully mature tuning that has less wow factor, but grows on you with each listen.

    Would I recommend it? Yes, it has too many merits of its own to ignore. In particular, the highly impressive mids tuning is simply awe-inspiring at any price. The FA7 is another stepping stone in FiiO’s evolution to be a portable audio juggernaut, and from where I stand, the best is yet to come.
      Brooko, EagleWings, tikue666 and 2 others like this.
    1. tikue666
      Awesome review as always!
      tikue666, May 29, 2019
      ezekiel77 likes this.