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Go check the detailed introduction of M7 (available in Black and Silver now) at:http://fiio.net/en/products/89 and introductory video at: https://youtu.be/ekG-kLn5ga4

FiiO M7 High-Resolution Lossless Audio Player: Samsung’s Exynos 7270 SoC, aptX-HD , LDAC, FM radio

Rating:
4.1/5,
  • FiiO M7 is FiiO’s first music player for the year of 2018 featuring:

    ※ A Fully Modern Technological Core (Samsung’s Exynos 7270 SoC)
    ※ State-of-the-art 6-layer multi-stage Blind and Buried Via PCB technology
    ※ Suppoorts high fidelity wireless including aptX-HD and LDAC audio codecs
    ※ USB audio digital output by pairing with M7 / Q1MKII through USB or Bluetooth
    ※ ESS Sabre 9018 chip for unsurpassed sound quality
    ※ Discover a whole new world of FM radio
    ※ A play time of 20 hours and a standby time up to a whopping 40 days
    ※ Employs a 3.2-inch 480 x 800 display with image zooming support
    ※ 2GB of built-in storage + up to a single 512GB micro SD card for storage expansion
    ※ Getting modern with USB Type-C

    Go check the detailed introduction of M7 (available in Black and Silver now) at:http://fiio.net/en/products/89

Recent Reviews

  1. Merkurio
    FiiO M7 - Objectivist approach
    Written by Merkurio
    Published Oct 31, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Size and build quality
    - Battery life
    - Audio quality
    - Volume wheel and buttons feedback
    - User interface
    - Extensive BT support
    - FM Radio!
    - USB-C
    - Good support (recieved 2 updates while I had it)
    Cons - Performance issues
    - Anti-ergonomic form factor
    - No Wi-Fi
    - Screen quality could be a little bit better
    DISCLAIMER

    Although FiiO provided this unit to test it on the international review tour they have organized, the review I present here shows just my opinion as objectively as possible, without any bias nor other interests beyond my personal beliefs and overall impressions that I had with the device.

    IMG_9398.jpg

    Introduction

    When FiiO announced this DAP, it immediately caught my attention along with other recent contenders like the HiBy R3 or the Shanling M0, as I was looking for something around the $200ish range that offered the best bang for my buck.

    At the time that FiiO organized the international tour and saw that I could be eligible (this was a few months ago, July to be exact), I didn't hesitate to sign up to give the M7 a try and see if it met my expectations. Unfortunately, due to the delay to have it in my hands (because of other participants, added to the need I had for a dedicated music player), I ended up buying an xDuoo X20 that I got at a very good price in an offer, same that I now use as my personal DAP.

    On the bright side, now I have a starting point to assess the good and bad that this new M7 offers, in a more objective and contrasted way, instead of reviewing it as if it were the first DAP I've ever tested.


    Package & accesories

    I'm not going to evaluate the quality of packaging in depth, mainly because this is a unit for an international tour and therefore the box is considerably damaged and not very pleasant to see (it has gone through other hands), but you can see it in detail in other reviews, like this or this one.

    Be that as it may, the package qualifies as correct for the price, including the DAP with a pre-applied tempered glass screen protector, a USB-A to USB-C cable and a silicone case.

    Additionally, I received another small box with the Type-C to microUSB adapter, which I haven't tried since I no longer have a phone with microUSB input or an external portable amplifier (such as the Q1 Mark II or the Q5 recommended by FiiO).

    Hardware & design

    The M7 I received was in an elegant and well finished black color, but you can also get it in silver, red or blue. The construction consists on a block entirely made of aluminum (except for the small bluetooth receiver on the back and the screen on the front), with solid buttons and excellent touch, providing a very satisfactory feedback.

    IMG_9396 (2).jpg

    The design, although subjective, I think is safe to say that it's attractive at least, with a perfect size and sleek angular forms, looking for a minimalist approach. However, in terms of ergonomics I have to say that this is a negative point, since the comfort when holding it with those square and sharp corners is far from comfy, even with the silicone case on.

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    Below we find the always well received USB-C (believe me, I have ruled out the purchase of many modern products only for the absence of USB-C, it seems to me that in 2018 there is no excuse to continue using microUSB), so THANKS for using common sense here, FiiO.

    In the upper part we find the power button, also made of aluminum with a red ring around it and a LED that lights up in a not-so-nice blue tone when the DAP is turned on (I would have preferred white, or at least have the option to change the color or deactivate it). It also serves to see the status of the battery charge in a glance when you are charging it.

    We find the 3.5 mm jack too, which also makes the line output function works when we select it in the settings menu.

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    On the left side we find the pause, forward and rewind buttons, as well as the volume adjustment wheel, which seems to be one of the crown jewels of the player, offering an excellent clicky feel when we rotate it, with an ideal travel and solid arrangement, just like the rest of the buttons.

    Finally, on the right side we find the microSD card slot (up to 512 GB). There is not much more to see on this side.

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    Features & user experience

    The FiiO M7 comes with a highly customized layer of Android on top of what appears to be version 7.0, which is quite direct and pleasing to the eye, with gestures that facilitate navigation and almost all functions related to the music playback and connectivity that someone may need in this price range (or at least all that I need, for sure) in a very minimalist and practical way. Compared to the xDuoo X20 in this regard, the difference is overwhelming, the FiiO looks perfectly like a 2018 device while the xDuoo looks more like a decade ago.

    It also has a FM radio that works very well and is a pretty useful addition for a device of this nature (which for some reason most manufacturers forget), as well as a gallery app to see the covers of the albums we have stored or the clock function (my xDuoo X20 doesn't even have clock with the original firmware).

    With regard to connectivity, it has BT 4.2 for broadcast and reception (with the latest firmware), support for a large number of codecs, including aptX-HD, LDAC and even HWA (also with the latest firmware). It does not have Wi-Fi though, but it seems a perfectly acceptable concession for me, especially since I'm not interested in using streaming services in a device like this (even though it could undoubtedly have been useful for local area connections or to receive OTA updates).

    USB DAC works like a charm too, instantly recognized by Windows 10 with no need for additional drivers, just plug&play.


    Unfortunately, the good work in the software and connectivity department is overshadowed with performance issues, even with the latest firmware (v1.0.4) installed. The lags happen more often than I would like when scrolling, in the gallery, browsing through the music folders and even while skipping songs... I have no doubts about the processing capacity of the Exynos 7270 or the FiiO software team, but I think there is some hardware bottleneck in the M7 that makes it impossible to offer a completely fluid experience (maybe RAM quantity, I don't know). Performance-wise, even my X20 feels snappier and more responsive with its prehistoric non-tactile navigation and poor sofware support from xDuoo, so I really hope that this has been addressed with the M9 or miraculously corrected with future software updates, FiiO!

    Do not get me wrong, the M7 is a great player and it's perfectly usable, but that sense of lag and inconsistent performance is still clear compared to a modern mobile phone (even a low-end one). I think it's something that DAP manufacturers should take note of, particularly with Android-based tactile DAPs, so please take note of this, FiiO.

    Audio quality

    I would like to remind you that this is an objectivist review, written by someone who doesn't believe in "wow so amazing" sound differences between devices with characteristics that exceed our listening capacity (something that I've been able to contrast thanks to blind controlled tests in the past), so please don't expect tons of subjectivist poetry.

    For me, the reasons that justify the purchase of a DAP lie in the ability to carry a huge amount of local music thanks to the storage expandability (which fewer and fewer mobile phone manufacturers offer today), a greater power in its amplification stage than any phone on the market, additional features such as USB DAC functionality, BT transmission, great battery life, dedicated buttons for music playback, low output impedance, gapless playing, etc.

    That said, the audio quality of the FiiO M7 is excellent, with a flat frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz (as marked by the manufacturer's specifications), so no coloration, magical enhancements, sweet musicality or terminology alike... Only the music doing its job and the M7 projecting it with solvency while offering enough power to drive my Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee and let's not say my Massdrop Plus (which is what I've at home for now).


    Speaking of which, output power is rated at ≥40mW@32 ohms (THD+N<1%), but even with the 150 ohms of the Jubilees, I find myself never going to the max 60 steps of volume that the M7 brings, so think twice before underestimating the M7 by its power figures.

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    Compared to my xDuoo X20, at the same volume, both sound just as good to me, with the power difference in favor of the xDuoo, which provides a bigger headroom thanks to the output power it offers (overkill in my opinion, I don't even use the balanced output). Of course, your mileage may vary if you use headphones with high impedances and low sensitivities, but I don't think you get a M7 to drive an HiFiMAN HE6 anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Both DAPs offer very low output impedance values, which allows perfect compatibility with low impedance IEMs like my Massdrop Plus. The xDuoo X20 has 0.1 ohm of output impedance at its normal output, but compared to the 2 ohms that FiiO indicates for the M7, I haven't noticed any major differences between the two, so big kudos here for FiiO.

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    As far as music formats goes, the M7 can handle with everything PCM up to 24bit/192kHz and DSD up to 5.6 MHz (DSD128), which is fine if you have music in those esoteric formats. For what it's worth. I have some samples in DSD128 and the M7 plays them without hesitate.


    Conclusions

    Despite being the first contact I have with a FiiO product, I think they have done a remarkable job with the M7 in general terms. In the absence of trying other alternatives similary priced (such as the HiBy R3), I consider that the package offered here is quite complete and not very easy to overcome across the board.

    For $200 you get a pretty small DAP with excellent build quality, great music playback controls, very good battery life, modern and easy-to-use interface, many useful functions (thanks for the FM radio!), enough power for portable purposes, compatibility with most of the formats that you can have in your music library and of course, a well established reputation by FiiO support team with regular updates.

    Needless to say, it is not perfect, I think that both the form factor in ergonomic terms and some inconsistencies here and there with the performance penalize it the most... But hey, it's not that bad either, is it? :wink:

    I hope you guys found this a little useful for your purchase decisions and not too annoying to read!


    Many thanks to FiiO again for having provided me with this unit for testing and review.

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    .
    .



    (Bonus) Comparison pics with the xDuoo X20

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      owatito likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. elNan
      Buena reseña!! Ya saca las chelas carnal :wink:
      elNan, Nov 6, 2018
      Merkurio likes this.
    3. usuario74
      So which one do you prefer the m7 or the Xduoo X20?
      usuario74, Nov 30, 2018
    4. Merkurio
      At the end of the day, I think I prefer the X20 a little more.
      Merkurio, Nov 30, 2018
      usuario74 likes this.
  2. Dobrescu George
    FiiO M7 - Versatile in Bluetooth
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Oct 11, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - - Excellent Shape, Portability and Build Quality
    - Accepts all known Bluetooth Protocols, very versatile
    - Bright, well colored display
    - Good Battery Life
    - Neutral Sound that fits with any headphone you try to pair it with
    - Clear, Crisp, Textured sound
    - Good firmware support
    - The microSD slot offers support for all microSD cards available on the market
    - Case included in the package
    - It has FM Radio and DSD decoding abilities
    Cons - - No Balanced Output
    - The display could have been a bit brighter for daylight legibility
    - Soundstage is not quite that wide
    - No Wifi
    FiiO M7 - Versatile in Bluetooth

    FiiO M7 is a great little DAP from FiiO made with one thing in mind, to be truly portable. We're going to compare it to similarly priced Players, as well as test its sonic performance, since its price indicates it to be at least a midrange DAP.


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    Introduction

    FiiO is ubiquitous in the audiophile industry, everyone knowing them for their great products, amazing customer support, and for always offering an excellent price. It is much better to have FiiO (as well as other known companies with good customer support) products and their excellent support than having to deal with companies that offer no support and send you through tens of hours of talking with their customer support, where you may never get a solution. We know firsthand that FiiO does offer excellent support, and they will always find a solution that is good for the customer. M7 makes an interesting entry, as FiiO was never known for their bluetooth products before, M7 being the first FiiO product to feature all the important Bluetooth Audiophile Protocols, as well as the promise of an excellent sonic performance, as well as software support, in a really tiny package. Of course, we need to test those things by ourselves, especially with FiiO sporting many promotions and bundles including M7, and their best-selling IEMs, FiiO F9Pro.

    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. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by FiiO or anyone else. I'd like to thank FiiO for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with FiiO's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with FiiO M7. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO M7 find their next music companion.



    About me

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/about.html



    Packaging

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

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    The package of M7 is pretty much essential, but all-inclusive. It comes in a nicely designed package, and it comes with a silicone case, as well as a USB cable. There is a screen protector applied on the display from the factory, thing which is quite lovely. Besides the case and the USB cable, as well as the manuals, there's not much included in the package. Happily, not much else is necessary for one to enjoy this one little DAP, and we feel FiiO did a great job at including stuff one may require, without going over-the-top.



    What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAP

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/p/what-to-lookl.html



    Technical Specifications

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    Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

    The build quality is quite amazing, the whole device is made of metal and glass, with certain plastic patches, clicky and satisfying buttons, and the device is well put together.

    At the top of the device, there is a power button, as well as the Single-Ended Line-Out / Headphone combo jack. There is a volume wheel on the left side, as well as the seek / music cntrol buttons, and there is a USB Type-C port at the bottom of the device.


    We are quite happy that FiiO switched over to Type-C rather than using microUSB USB ports.

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    M7 comes with a display protector made of glass installed on its display, thing which made us quite happy. The display is rather bright on typical light conditions, and it is readable in full sunlight, but we wish that future display panels used in Players would be even brighter. The display is crisp and sharp, both fonts and cover art looks nice.

    The firmware is quite different from other FiiO DAPs, this time FiiO having done an amazing job with the firmware, developing a user interface and operating environment for M7 themselves, instead of having Hiby do it for them. The firmware is average in speed, but it is rock stable, we haven't had a single crash. IT is mostly intuitive, and it holds all the features most people will require for their DAP, including easy access to Bluetooth, EQ, and all of the bells and whistles FiiO included with M7.

    The back of the device has a large plastic area at the top, where the antennas are, for better Bluetooth reliability.

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    If there's anything we aren't sure about, that is the aesthetic of M7, it is a beautiful device, and it is very ergonomic once in hand, but many people may have the tendency of holding it upside down the first few times, as most devices tend to have the larger area without display at the bottom rather than at the top. The only other slightly satisfying aspect of M7's shape is the fact that it has corners. We prefer our DAPs (Digital Audio Players) without any corners, and with less sharp edges, for both their ergonomic protection while in a pocket, and for better comfort. In this aspect, M7 is rather thin and slim, so we can look the other way when it comes to corners and sharper cuts, but less corners and less edges mean better ergonomics for the user in general.

    Now, when it comes to bluetooth, FiiO embedded a truly amazing BT module in M7, having a really strong BT signal, as well as support for all those popular and new BT options, and being rock-stable in APT-X, as well as all the other modes we tested it in. There's almost no delay when using bluetooth, and in all honest, M7 is simply crazy fun to use as a bluetooth transmitter with its small size, and snappy performance.

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    All in all, we feel that FiiO did a lot of effort in designing M7 to be as ergonomic as possible, and in making it reliable. It reaches the golden standards of build quality, aesthetics and firmware.




    Sound Quality

    For the sonic impressions, we had a serious amount of burn-in, and we used M7 via its headphone port, connected to a multitude of headphones and IEMs. We have tested the bluetooth abilities of M7, but the sonic signature there will be determined by the DAC and AMP modules embedded in the headphone, not on M7.

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    So, when connecting a headphone to the headphone port of M7, you will hear everything. A truly transparent and clear window that has no errors, it is so transparent that you'd be quite impressed this is possible at this price point. The word that would best describe M7 is neutral, it is neutral from the bass to the midrange and the treble, everything is neutral, no warmth added, no brightness added, everything is perfectly neutral. This also means that it works quite well with anything you're going to connect it with, being quite versatile.

    Starting with the bass, it is neutral, quick and quite deep. The bass is fast enough to be impressive when it has to, but also deep and explosive when the music calls for it. While not warm or tilted towards any direction, the bass is most fun and pleasing to listen to. The fact that there's no tilting towards a warmer or a colder sound means that M7 is very versatile in pairings with IEMs and Headphones, so you don't have to worry about pairing and synnergy.

    The midrange is also quite interesting, as it is rather neutral, well toned, has just the right amount of thickness, and it has a nice amount of texturization. In all honesty, the detail level is great for the price point, and we couldn't find any negatives to the sound of M7.


    The treble of M7 is very neutral and well-extended, which is quite different from the smooth experience FiiO X5-3, but similar to X7mkii's treble. The highest notes can be heard quite easily, and there is enough air to consider M7's sound to be truly neutral.

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    Considering the way M7 is tuned, it is basically a clean window without any tint or color, it is as transparent as we've seen for this price point, and if you're looking for a honest representation of your music, M7 should be able to help you a lot.



    Soundstage

    The soundstage of M7 is good for the price point, but not quite that large compared with premium DAPs like X7mkii, being clear that it is in a different price range. Instrument separation is quite good on an overall level, instruments are separate and sound distinct from each other, the biggest throttle point for instrument separation being the headphones and IEMs rather than M7 in most pairings you will do.



    ADSR/PRaT

    The ADSR and PRaT (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release, and Pace Rhythm and Timing) characteristics of FiiO M7 are great for the price point. The overall PRaT is natural to slightly quick, textures are clear and vivid, micro textures are audible, although they are not overexpressed.



    Portable Usage

    FiiO M7 makes a statement in what a portable DAP is by having a tiny size, a great battery life, and even having connectivity with almost any Bluetooth device, including the latest Bluetooth protocols made for high-quality music.

    The screen is bright, not overly bright, but readable in full sunlight in a Summer Romanian day.

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    The overall device is smol, lightweight, the navigation is rather intuitive, every feature works the way it is supposed to, and the bluetooth has a strong signal that doesn't break while walking or jogging, making M7 an ideal player for those actions.

    The silicone case helps with keeping it outdoors, and it will protect M7 if it takes a hit to the ground, making a great addition to the package.


    We tested the Bluetooth stability and interference while taking a jog through the Politehnics Park in Bucharest, where we run for a good 15 minutes, and we go near a power transforming station, and below high-tension wires. We can happily say that we detected no signal degradation with M7 during this test.

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    M7 can also do FM Radio, if you want to switch to something more tradition for a change, and it can also do DSD Decoding, so you can enjoy everything, from the lower resolution FM Radio, all the way to high-resolution music.

    The battery life is better than average for a DAP, with up to 20 hours quoted by FiiO with their average usage tests, and with about 10 hours in our tests, with high volumes, max screen display, and with a lot of screen-on-time. We'd like to see longer battery lives in the future, in all devices, but most music lovers prefer their devices smaller, and this is why most companies tend to include smaller batteries with their offerings.



    Select Pairings

    Please note that for any pairing, the IEM has more impact on the final result than the DAP, the best DAP being one that is as transparent as possible - FiiO M7 being rather excellent in this sense.

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    FiiO M7 + FiiO F9Pro - FiiO F9Pro has a unique balanced-neutral sound that was loved by many around the worlds, and it is understandable that it has a great synergy with FiiO M7, sounding as clear, as crisp and as balanced as ever. Some listeners may still prefer to employ a little EQ to warm up FiiO F9Pro's sound a bit, but we feel that with M7, you get a really well-priced, interesting and intriguing experience.

    FiiO M7 + FiiO FH5 - FiiO FH5 has taken a different road from F9Pro, featuring a much stronger bass, much warmer overall sound, with more thiccness, less treble quantity, but with the same nice extension, and with a little midrange peak that brings the voices forward more. FH5 also has a smaller soundstage, but much better instrument separation when compared to F9Pro, which makes it quite an experience in its own right. FH5 sounds quite nice with M7, another pairing that is not only well-priced, but also has a nice weight, nice impact, nice thiccness, and a clear overall presentation.

    FiiO M7 + Etymotic ER3XR - ER3XR is a different IEM from FiiO's offering, by having a much more linear bass, a similarly intimate soundstage like FH5, but with more focus on the midrange, as ER3XR also has less treble than FH5. It is basically, an amazingly well-done midrange IEM with a lot of midrange. A good reason to test how M7 sounds with ER3XR is that ER3XR is quite good at revealing the PRaT and ADSR of a source, basically showing how well a source handles textures and actual revealing abilities. In all fairness, FiiO M7 is at least as good as most DAPs in this price range, being quite amazing how much FiiO was able to do for the 200 USD that M7 costs.




    Comparisons

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    FiiO M7 vs Cayin N5ii - Now, this one is rather interesting, because with the sales going on for N5ii, it may be found at prices with only 50% more than M7 in some places, and the two are somewhat similar in shape, but quite different in actual operation. N5ii had a much higher price at release, but with the current discounts, we're sure people may be considering both as their future music companions. Let's begin with the obvious, they look similar in design. In fact, M7 is so similar to N5ii that coming from one, the other feels quite native in one's hand. There are some differences in the way the volume wheels are implemented, but you're basically looking at two devices that look pretty much the same. Going to the user interface and software, the two are rather different, N5ii providing support for Streaming services, Wifi, as well as Bluetooth, where M7 has the advantage of providing much stronger bluetooth support when it comes to newer and better Bluetooth protocols, but it doesn't have any Wifi. On the other hand, if we're talking about the storage abilities, N5ii has two microSD slots, while M7 has one. The displays are hugely different, N5ii's display being blue-tinted when compared to M7, which has a pretty naturally-colored display. N5ii has a 2.5mm Balanced output. The sound is actually different between the two, and although they have a similar amount of driving power, M7 feels more neutral, where N5ii is a bit warmer, a bit wider, and a bit more forward. M7 feels a bit more neutral, a bit more laid back. If you want two microSD slots, Wifi, and if you don't mind having a slightly blue-tinted display, then N5ii makes a great choice, while if you only need one microSD slot, but you want the latest Bluetooth Protocols, you want a better display, and if you don't need the Balanced output that N5ii has, but M7 doesn't then M7 makes an excellent overall choice.


    FiiO M7 vs Opus #1s - We picked Opus #1s because, like M7, it is a rather minimalistic DAP with no Wifi, being more of a typical usage-scenario DAP. The two devices are a bit away in price, but they are a bit away in performance as well, Opus #1s being much stronger in its driving power than M7, having a warmer sound, more control, a slightly smoother tone, and a wider soundstage. M7, by comparison feels more neutral, a bit more intimate, and doesn't have the driving power of #1s, rather, being better oriented for IEMs, where #1s can surely drive some big headphones as well. The buttons on the two DAPs are really nice, but if you like having a wheel for controlling volume, then M7 features one, while #1s only has buttons for you to control the volume with. On the other hand, #1s has a larger display, and a brighter display, if you need to see your device well in full sunlight, while M7's display is smaller and not quite as bright. Opus #1s has a Balanced output, while M7 doesn't have one. If you need more driving power and a warmer sound, #1s is a great option, but if you want a more neutral sound, along with a smaller device, but with excellent Bluetooth abilities, then M7 still makes an excellent choice, being about half of the price of #1s.

    FiiO M7 vs HIFIMAN Megamini - Megamini is a similarly shaped device when compared to M7, but it has no touchscreen, relying on buttons rather than a touchscreen. At the same time, Megamini is priced at half of M7 at the moment of writing this review, and we can say, without a doubt, that as far as the user experience goes, M7 is infinitely better. Megamini is incredibly minimalistic, having no advanced features, no Bluetooth, the buttons feeling slow and taking a lot of time to browse large lists of music. Megamini also has certain limits to the maximum microSD card size, that FiiO M7 doesn't have. When it comes to the sound, though, Megamini surely isn't anywhere to be complained about, at only half the price of M7, being pretty much one heck of an experience. FiiO M7 tends to be heavier than Megamini, if ultimate portability is a concern, but M7 has a volume wheel if you like controlling the volume with a wheel. There are some differences in sonics as well though, Megamini being warmer, wider and more powerful in its sound, M7 being more intimate, more neutral, and a tad less strong when compared to Megamini. Even so, if you need Bluetooth, and proper touchscreen navigation, then M7 is a much better option, while if you need a great sound that is warm-ish, wide, and powerful, then Megamini still is an interesting choice.




    Value and Conclusion

    We've been reviewing a device that costs about 200 USD at the time of writing this review. This places M7 in the area of entry-level DAPs, as well as midrange DAPs. M7 has to justify its position in a market that's quite full of great little devices, so we'll start a little recap on what we've been saying so far.

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    Starting with the package, M7 feels well packaged, and it comes with things you may find handy. It doesn't come with a wall charger, but we feel this is for the better, considering that this is supposed to be a global DAP, and many countries have many types of plugs. In fact, it charges just fine from any of our wall chargers, so you don't need to worry about that. There is a silicone case included in the package, as well as a USB cable, which you will find handy.

    The portability of the device is quite excellent, and so is the user experience, with FiiO M7 sporting all of the big Bluetooth protocols, including the latest and best sounding ones, as well as a single microSD slot, where you can fit microSD cards as big as they exist on the market, which at the moment of writing this review is about 512GB.

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    If you're a fan of a clean, crisp, clear and transparent sound, then FiiO M7 will make a great companion, as it is as transparent as we've heard, without any kind of tilting towards warmth or brightness. The soundstage size is quite commendable for its price, and the instrument separation is great. If anything is questionable for M7, it is how it manages to be so different from FiiO's house sound, which used to be warm for this price range, but nevertheless, we're quite happy with it, and we feel most music lovers will be, as it will not color the sound, and it will leave all coloration to be done by the headphones / IEMs.

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    In the end, if you're looking for a mini DAP, something that is truly portable, something crisp and transparent, something little but strong, then FiiO M7 makes a great choice and should bring you lots of happiness for a good while.



    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.

    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
    Manafest - Impossible
    Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
    Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
    Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
    Doctor P - Bulletproof
    Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
    Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
    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
    Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
    Metallica - Fuel
    Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
    Masa Works - Golden Japang
    REOL - Luvoratorrrrry

    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 - Tommy Gun
    Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
    Skillet - What I Believe




    I hope my review is helpful to you!

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    Contact us!


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  3. ExpatinJapan
    FiiO M7 - Entry level, high class
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Aug 23, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - fairly neutral, black background, easy UI, price, bluetooth, nice stripped down player
    Cons - Many may want wifi and balanced etc, but FiiO has that covered with their other daps
    FiiO M7 Review
    - Expatinjapan

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    FiiO M7 review
    - expatinjapan
    http://www.fiio.net/en/products/89

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    FiiO M7 and FiiO FB1 Bluetooth earphones

    A pleasing dap that at a generous asking price of US$200 delivers a wide range of options within its UI, plus Bluetooth and line out to boot, an expandable memory of 512GB via Micro SD slot, light weight and a beautiful screen.
    The FiiO M7 is a pure player minus many of the bells and whistles that the audio community has come to expect. It is suitable for the budding audiophile, sporty type or person on the go.
    The FiiO M7 has a natural, smooth delicate sound that is fairly balanced, approaches neutrality with a wee touch of warm depth at its nether reaches. It has enough clarity, transparency, speed, resolution to satisfy even the serious audiophile.

    Unboxing

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    Clear case and USB C cable

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    Micro SD card slot, up to 512GB. More than enough.

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    Nice rotary volume wheel, physical buttons.


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    Size! FiiO M7 and FiiO X7ii

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    Booting up and initial guide menus

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    Price

    US199 on Amazon USA store.

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    Specifications

    Main Unit
    Name / Model No. M7 Operating System Deeply customized Android
    CPU model Exynos 7270 14nm No. of cores 4
    CPU operating frequency 1.4GHz DAC ES9018Q2C
    Keyboard Virtual QWERTY keyboard Input method Touchscreen
    Special features LDAC,FM radio,clock,gestures operation User interface Deeply customized /FiiO Music
    Chips used SoC: Samsung Exynos 7270 , DAC:ES9018Q2C, FM chip:Si4705,Bluetooth chip:SAMSUNG S5N5C10B01-6330
    Connectivity
    WiFi N/A Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.2,aptX/aptX-HD supported
    USB TYPE C USB2.0 LDAC Supported
    Display screen
    Display size 3.2 inches Number of colours 0.26 million colors
    Display type TFT Viewable angle Full-view
    Resolution 480×800 Pixel density 292 ppi
    Touchscreen Yes

    Storage
    RAM 768MB Total ROM 4GB
    Storage expansion type Micro SD card ROM available to user 2GB
    Maximum storage expansion 512GB (only one micro SD card slot)

    Buttons and ports
    Buttons Side buttons + side volume wheel+ touchscreen Custom key mapping N/A
    Headphone out 3.5mm standard headphone output jack (shared PO/LO) Balanced output N/A
    Line out 3.5mm standard headphone output jack (shared PO/LO) USB connection TYPE C USB2.0(charging / data transfer)
    Digital Coaxial/Optical out N/A
    General
    Color Black / Silver / Red / Blue Dimensions 52mm×109mm×13mm
    Weight About 116 g Volume control 60 steps digital potentiometer
    Recommended headphone impedance 16~100 Ω Equalizer 10-band EQ (±6dB), 9 presets+custom preset
    Treble boost N/A Bass boost N/A
    Balance control ±5 dB Gain control N/A
    USB DAC N/A

    Power specifications
    USB power adapter DC 5V/2A recommended Battery Internal 1880mAh Li-polymer battery
    Charging indication Red light indicates,blue light turns on after fully charged Charging time <2.5 h(DC5V/2A)
    Battery indication Yes (accurate battery % readings)

    Battery Life & Test Conditions
    3.5mm headphone output:≥20 h
    Volume 15 Load M3 open earbuds (27 Ω)
    EQ OFF Screen OFF
    Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit
    Bluetooth output:>26 h
    Volume 60 Load 32Ω
    Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit Screen OFF

    Others
    Firmware Upgrade
    Supported via zip file placed in internal storage or micro SD card
    (*The product uses GPLv2 compliant firmware.)
    Font size N/A
    Clock Supported Third-party apps support N/A
    FM Index
    Output power
    >20mW(76MHz)
    >30mW(108MHz)
    SNR
    >50dBA(76MHz)
    >70dBA(108MHz)
    THD+N
    <0.3%(76MHz)
    <0.1%(108MHz)
    Frequency response 20Hz~4KHz(-3dB)
    Covered region 76-108MHz

    Line output specifications
    THD+N <0.004% (1 kHz/10kΩ) SNR ≥117dB (A-weighted)
    Frequency response 20Hz~90 kHz(-3dB) Noise floor <3 uV
    Channel separation ≥100dB (1 kHz) Line level >1.2Vrms (10 kΩ/1 kHz)
    Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack)
    Output power 1 ≥70mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <2 Ω(32Ω loaded)
    Output power 2 ≥40mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.004%
    Frequency response 10Hz~90 kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage 3.35 Vp-p
    SNR ≥117dB (A-weighted) Noise floor <3 uV
    File format support
    Lossless:
    DSD:DSD64(“.dsf”,“.dff”)
    APE - FAST:192kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    Apple Lossless:192kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    AIFF:192kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    FLAC:192kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    WAV:192kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    WMA LOSSLESS:96kHz/24bit(MAX.)
    Lossy compression:
    AAC、MP3、WMA、OGG...

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    Firmware updates
    http://www.fiio.net/en/supports/56
    I am running the latest Firmware 1.03 as I finish up this review.
    The following changes and improvements have been made to the FW1.0.3 compared to the FW1.0.2:
    1. Added Replay Gain function;
    2. Added support for DSD 128 tracks;
    3. Added new function of controlling Q5 via Bluetooth;
    4. Added new function of displaying the whole track list of the current directory when playing track through the File Management app;
    5. Fixed issue where the Previous Track button might not work after using the screenshot function;
    6. Fixed issue where the beginning of the DSD track was missing when using USB audio output;
    7. Fixed issue where FiiO Music might exit abnormally with the operations: play Favorites list -> remove a track from Favorites -> add that track to another playlist;
    8. Fixed issue where after switching the language, adding a track from a playlist to the Favorites list would not work correctly;
    9. Fixed issue where the album art could not be displayed for some APE tracks;
    10. Fixed issue where the keyboard would not popup automatically after entering Search function;
    11. Miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes.


    Menu
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    Basic stock screen.
    FiiO Music, FM radio, File management, Gallery, Technical support (Firmware update info, FAQs, quick start guide), Settings.

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    Wallpapers can be chosen for lock screen or main screen

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    FiiO Player interface, basically the same as the FiiO X7ii.
    Swipe to the left side for tracks easy access.

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    Additional options and shortcuts within the player screen

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    Available Bluetooth options. variety a must for many these days.
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    Delete Tracks, always useful.

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    Sound

    Full, energetic, yet additionally fairly, delicate and even in its presentation.

    Gentle, smooth and soft with a slight warmth at the furtherest low end, but also clear and fast.

    Fun and musical with the right earphones, neutral and transparent with more reference earphones.

    Not overly analytical, although it does has enough detail, clarity and separation to please.

    These all may seem like opposing forces to some, but think of it more as inclusive and able to contain and include these within one form. The ideal is to find a sense of neutralness and transparency and the M7 comes very close to that. Thus allowing the earphones used to demonstrate their tuning.

    Whilst the resolution, separation and layering is more than decent, it of course is not as high performing as higher priced daps, that is to be expected. It does not detract however from the quality of the M7 music playback ability and it place in the FiiO universe of daps and dacs..

    It does well, stripped down of some functions other daps in the FiiO line up have such as wifi and swappable Amp modules etc means the low price does not automatically place this dap strictly in its price point. The omitted extras means you get a bit more, for less...If you are looking for a pure player minus all the extra bells and whistles.

    The FiiO M7 has a natural sound, fairly neutral with a clear transparency and a solid black background.

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    Overall

    The FiiO M7 is an easy to use, light weight entry level Dap that should prove pleasing to many a budding audiophile. From its responsive touchscreen and its physical buttons is makes it a winning purchase for the person on the go, sports person, gym goer or budding audiophile.

    Able to handle a wide variety of codecs, has Bluetooth, USB out to be used as a source, decent battery life, expandable storage via Micro SD cards to 512GB and a decent dac chip the M7 is a no brainer for many of the above mentioned potential users.

    No wifi so that means no streaming Tidal, Spotify, Spot the dog for all you screamers. Its a pure player. That also means you have to do a hands on computer to SD card for any firmware updates.

    The volume pot has 60 steps so it is very easy to find the perfect volume setting, the wheel is smooth in its usage and the little clicks than resonate to ones fingertips are pleasing.

    I had no problems using it with my Campfire Audio Andromedas, the M7 has a very black background.

    As a couple of other companies have recently released daps that are half the size of the FiiO M7 some may be forgiven for thinking FiiO missed the boat on this one. But for many the size of the M7 is very human and more what they desire than a tiny dap. Each to their own. Perhaps FiiO has something new up their sleeve....?

    I am running the latest Firmware 1.03 as I finish up this review. See a few sections above (Firmware updates) as such features such as replay gain have been added.

    The FiiO M7, with its many UI options, Bluetooth, light weight is a pure music player with a natural, smooth and lovely balanced response with enough neutrality, transparency and resolution to please.

    A brave new world dap, thats also Kickin it old school.


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    With the FiiO FB1 Bluetooth earphones and the FiiO BTR BT amp.


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      zhubajie likes this.
  4. narco dacunzolo
    FIIO M7
    Written by narco dacunzolo
    Published Jul 23, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Design

    Battery life

    FM Radio

    Sound

    USB C

    It reads everything you charge it with

    Easy-to-use software
    Cons - Poor Memory area

    No WiFi and third-part app compatibility

    No balanced connection
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    Introduction


    Since FiiO has announced this new DAP, I was really curious to try this nearly-entry-level solution. While being a little bit skeptical because of the RAM (it provides actually less than 1 GB of memory), the fact that it runs Android as OS surely was a plus in my mind. Furthermore, this is the firstFiio product with a USB Type C: for me, this is definitely another pro, but the line-up of Fiio provides a lot of Micro USB connectors with proprietary technologies (like the 16-pin connector that also carries the audio). In fact, if you want to use with the M7 – for example – the dock station, you have to use an adaptor; it’s clearly not a definitive solution: USB Type C carries the audio on its own, so I expect to see, in the near future, an updated dock and relative dongles.

    The first important thing about this product is the absence of a WiFi module: even though it runs Android, you unfortunately can’t use online streaming services like Spotify – but, given the nature of this Audio Player, it would be a pity to use it with such poor-quality sounds; maybe Tidal users could be more disappointed at this point, but I’m actually no one of them. And I usually “feed” my DAPs with discrete quality FLAC files because I’m an offline kind of person. I also consider myself a “wired” person (not weird, author’s note), but for people who prefer wireless, this DAP carries a nice Bluetooth module (4.2, that’s low energy and long-range).

    Consider what I wrote until now as an introduction, a conversational prologue. Henceforward I’ll be technical and pragmatic.


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    Package

    The M7 is packaged in an elegant white box, that reminds me of the Apple ones, or even better because it seems recycled paper (special consideration for the environment can’t be something bad). Inside we can find the player itself, a useful silicon case, the charging cable and the instruction manuals: basic equipment but nothing missing; otherwise I’ve really appreciated the case and the general elegance: remind this product is 200$-priced, which is a fierce price range because of the competitors. Really a point in favor ofFiiO.


    This unit was sent me for the purpose of this review , I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Lily and Fiio team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test such a well sounding product.


    LINK TO THE OFFICIAL SHOP: http://www.fiio.net/fiio


    LINK TO FACEBOOK PAGE:


    Hardware, Design and Ports

    I can clearly say this is a very 2018 product: a solid construction with really good materials (metal and glass), a good System on Chip provided by Samsung (actually an Exynos 7270), a USB Type C port (that I’m a great fan of), everything sweetly combined in this great-looking Audio Player. I’m not fully convinced about the memory area: both the RAM and the ROM feel significantly underestimated to run Android smoothly (we talk about 768 MB of RAM and 2 GB of Internal Storage). Obviously, to store the music files we have the possibility – I must say the obligation – to mount a Micro SD card: luckily it supports up to 512 GB cards! And I’m sure that nobody could be disappointed with that – does anyone really need more than that?

    The musical heart of this player is the DAC ESS Sabre ES9018Q2C.

    Speaking of placement, while I find more comfortable having both the charging port and the audio jack on the same side – the lowest -, for technical reasons they are placed on the opposite sides one another: in that way they avoid electrical interferences disturbing the audio signal. And it works great on the audio neatness way, as we’ll see on the dedicated section later; in fact, they grant a harmonic distortion that’s lower than 0,004%.

    The audio jack also integrates a line-out output, which recognize the hardware and eventually bypass the internal circuitry while we use it as an external source.

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    On the left side they’ve located the volume slider – which has a funny clicking wheel –and three solid buttons (previous song or Radio station, play/pause, next song). Given the small dimensions of the DAP, they result comfortable to reach and satisfyingly clicky. On the upper side we find, with the audio jack, the power button, that’s smart because it has an embedded notification led, which changes color when in charge/charged/simply on.

    Something I didn’t like is the brightness level: even though the screen is good, the maximum brightness doesn’t feel enough bright. It could be an issue for those who need to see well under the sunlight.

    A 1880 mAh battery is there to provide – as declared – up to 20 hours of listening on a single charge, but it’s not a real-life indication: that result has reached with a really low volume level, low quality files, screen off… but it’s no big deal, because I found that the endurance of this little player was very good: with good-quality FLACs and a little equalization, I’ve obtained a maximum quantity of 15 hours of music reproduction, that’s better than every other out there, I think. Even with a little Bluetooth use.


    I was glad to find the FM Radio, a feature usually prerogative of super-cheap DAPs (I really don’t know why, because the multimedia area would always get advantage of it). FiiO has clearly listened to his users and payed attention to the market, both because of the updated USB and the modem area – even though we miss WiFi, but I’m sure we’ll find it in future models; it’s a question of time until they’ll release their updated “X” models, following the great way taken with this M7. However, the signal wasn’t bad at all, and the first time I opened the FM Radio I accidentally happened on a channel transmitting Jackson’s Billy Jean; I don’t really listen to the Radio when in search of audio quality, and that’s why I was surprised the most: that song sounded so detailed and pleasant that I thought I was listening, at least, to a good MP3 file. I’m glad this is not something placed to add a specification, but a cured sector (the chip, provided by Silicon Labs, is the SI4705).


    Software

    As an Android fan, I washappy to find this OS mounted on the M7. Here in a custom who-knows-what version (which I don’t know anything about, because it’s not even reported in the info), it’s a good-looking User Interface, that runs surprisingly well on that minimum amount of RAM. As I’ve already reported, this player lacks the WiFi module, which also means that streaming Apps won’t find any space. And this product doesn’t even carry the Google Play Store, which is obviously not necessary. However, I thought there was the possibility to sideload apps, if we were not satisfied with, for example, the stock Music Player; but we can’t: the pre-loaded File Manager perfectly reads every song and even hidden folders, but doesn’t show apk files in the micro SD card inserted. Anyway, I can assure that this Player App is so good that I’ve also installed the Beta version of it –provided by FiiO itself - on my Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. Not just the UI/UX side, but also the great optimization carried with it – and, in general, with this not-so-deeply-customized version of the green robot. For those who already are Android users, I must say, on balance, that there’s not much Android left here: even the navigation bar was removed in favor of gestures. Well, at least this is also a very 2018 thing.

    However, after using the player, I can assure there aren’t any issues concerning software: I’ve found no big lags, but it’d be hard to, because the software is so limited! If it is a pro or a con, it’s a personal choice. I’ve found just some stray translation mistakes, and, in general, what I didn’t like about this area was not something that compromises the use of the device. For example, the only software way to stop the Radio FM receiving and playing is by opening the Music Player; I’d rather find an on/off switch, just like in the Music Player app. But you can obviously just press the dedicated hardware button for Play/Pause.

    During my test period, I’ve received a software update – from 1.0.2 to 1.0.3. I clarify that obviously no notifications appeared on the DAP itself, but FiiO has released the OTA zip here: http://fiio.net/en/supports/56

    To install it, I’ve just opened the support app on the M7, selected the zip that I previously inserted in my Micro SD and let it flash. It’s a matter of minutes.

    As a Mac user, I’ll give this advice: this player connects via MTP, that’s a Microsoft standard. Given the fact that everyone knows Android File Transfer for Mac OS is a terrible app, I recommend using Commander One, which is so much better, or simply extract the SD from the player and put it into your PC, that will avoid crashes and other amenities. I would have recommended Hand Shaker by Smartisan, but it needs the companion app on the player and we can’t install it.

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    Sound and Pairing


    I’ve already wrote something about Bluetooth, but I must spend some other words for it. It’s not that I didn’t like it much here, it’s that I never enjoy this type of connection. Not just under an audiophile point of view, but mostly because of the discomfort of having to charge both the DAP and the headphones too many times. In fact, when the Bluetooth connection is on, the battery life decreases faster. I don’t actually have really good sounding Bluetooth headphones (I mean, AptX and various other HD wireless tech), but trying the M7 with the Bluedio T4S gave me a discrete impression: it’s a pretty long-range signal, that carries a crisp sound (with a little lack of bass, but I’m pretty sure it’s a headphone’s fault). I’ve also tried the M7 wirelessly with my Inateck BH1001 – obviously not an audiophile pair of headphones, but neither is the Bluetooth listening in general -: I’ve appreciated their sound in other (more sport-related) situations, and even with this DAP I’ve found an honest reproduction of frequencies; actually, they carry pleasant basses and good highs, while not perfect mids – and I don’t really love V-shaped sounding means, honestly. But I’m writing about wireless signals, which aren’t my favourite (or even some audiophile’s) kind of stuff.

    The wired connection here, to my personal preference, was more enjoyable.

    First thing to say about sound: this player carries a lot of pression. I didn’t raise the volume over 35 over 60, which is the sign that M7 can drive very high-impedance headphones. I’m wondering why the volume wasn’t divided in 100 steps; who knows.

    However, I found the sound to be satisfyingly punchy and detailed in most of the genres I’ve listened to. Buckley’s Grace (the album) was the less enjoyable one because of the electric guitars’ quantity; the kneaded sound felt not-so-well managed in that situation. But in every other situation the M7 has driven my headphones very well, carrying a believable sound in the fidelity way and not coloring it too much. Just like I’ve said before, something surprising here is the noise level, that’s incredibly low. That makes the listening very clean and pleasant.

    Some reference songs I’ve used:

    - No son of mine, Firth to Fifth, Genesis

    - I can’t make you love me/Nick of time, Bon Iver

    - Love is a losing game, Amy Winehouse

    - Brave new world, Kings of Convenience

    - I don’t know what I can save you from, Kings of Convenience


    And the headphones I’ve used:


    (Good 100$) 1MORE MK801: I loved how they sound together. The soundstage is wide and thanks to the minimum noise carried by the M7, the room feels cozy and warm. I don’t think this DAP is a warm one in general, but they evidently balance themselves. The punchiness was there, but well managed, carrying a good amount of basses (but low sub-basses), decent mids and good highs. The voice was a little too sharp, mostly with female ones, while the instrument separation was very accurate. My quandary remains with Grace, like I’ve said before, because it feels too confusing for the instruments playing mid frequencies. But the equalization is there to help: try simply the custom presets – that I unfortunately didn’t find so different one from another, they are 9 – to adjust the sound; that obviously didn’t do any miracles, but it helps.


    Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear (MK1, my loved ones): the best sounding of these first three, a little obvious given the price and the brand. The M7 underlines its pros but also its cons. For example, it’s well known that these earphonesare a little unbalanced on the lower frequencies and it’s clear, by listening to this combo, that this DAP make its work by… just sounding unbalanced on the lower frequencies. So, under the fidelity way I’ve no regrets on pairing these two instruments together. But you have to manually adjust the equalization (10 bands) by taking down a bit the bass, and then you’ll hear exactly what you expect to hear. Soundstage is wide enough, there’s no sound coloring – and I kind of like this flat experience, because you hear everything right. Very good mids in my ear’s taste, including instruments separation, voice clarity, nothing bad to say. Highs are just a little less intense, but still enjoyable. In general, treble with this DAP is well balanced.

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    Fiio F5: great synergy, with wide soundstage and natural sound. This M7 helps to avoid any treble harshness and gives a nice bass impact. Vocals on f5 are a bit recessed, this player helps to give a more forward mid presentation.


    Fiio ex1 2nd gen: very wide and holographic soundstage, with nice transient response. M7 helps to give a fuller bass response and less v-shaped sound signature.


    Ibasso IT01: not a great synergy with this player. IT01 has a great and fun bass impact, for this M7 will give a nice soundstage and vocals, but too much bass quantity. Usually, this M7 has a great synergy with neutral/clean sounding IEM.


    Dunu C-falcon: as for fiio iems, M7 has a great synergy with C-Falcon giving a fuller sound and better control. Vocals are sweet with a nice airy sound. I don’t feel too much harshness like with my iPhone.




    I’d say this DAP is easy to listen to. Once, there was an agreement between song producers for the tuning. Nowadays, this is no more a thing, and mainstream music receive a mastering process that fills every sound gap and the sound results no more airy. Consequently, this DAP is tuned to fulfill this kind of sound, that’s a mass need, not really an audiophile one. But I liked this little M7, I’d say more than I expected, because it carries an unpretentious sound, which is yet a good-quality one: it’s musical, and this is what we are searching for. This price range carries a lot of good products (Cayin N3, Shanling M2S,…), in which I’d insert this FiiO’s M7, even with all its little faults.

    An advice to FiiO: in the “support” section, I’d like to find something about screenshot functionality, and a quick link to the equalizer in Settings. Like, I’d make the equalizer an app itself, it would be simpler to put our hands on.


    Notice that this DAP won’t work via USB (as a DAC), that’s only used to charge and exchange data. Explaining it better, FiiO provides support just for its Q1 MK2, Q5 or Chord Mojo, that I don’t own.



    Pros


    Design

    Battery life

    FM Radio

    Sound

    USB C

    It reads everything you charge it with

    Easy-to-use software


    Cons

    Poor Memory area

    No WiFi and third-part app compatibility

    No balanced connection
  5. HiFiChris
    Modern Wireless Codecs, excellent Hiss Performance
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Jul 12, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - + excellent (!) hiss performance
    + design
    + good FM tuner
    + generally good GUI and handy search feature (+ managing playlists on the go)
    + supports in-line remotes (but no CTIA volume control)
    + works great as a wireless digital source
    + supports the latest Bluetooth audio codecs
    + fluent navigation & operation
    Cons - - long boot time
    - some people might find the card scanning speed a little too slow for modern standards
    - annoying lock screen (rarely recognises centre swipes because the centre is reserved for five lines of lyrics)
    - FM tuner lacks RDS
    - ca. 1.9 Ohms output impedance (0 to 1 would be nicer)
    Disclosure/fwiw: The FiiO M7 that this very review is about was supplied to me complementary as a free review sample.

    - - -

    FiiO’s digital audio players were a success right from the start, even though that start was sooomewhat delayed in the beginning. Good measurements and sound quality for a reasonable price was what the X3, their first model, offered. Which, back in its day, was quite a novelty and therefore quite a big hit, as most digital audio players of that time either had badly dimensioned coupling caps in their signal path causing bass roll-off with low impedance loads, tons of hiss with sensitive in-ears, a high output resistance, didn’t even output a flat signal without load, or, if you were very unlucky, all of that.
    That’s not really an introduction to the FiiO M7, but should show that today’s digital audio players have come a long way since around 2010 where a low impedance multi-BA in-ear friendly digital audio player was probably as rare as Bigfoot and all of the in-ear audio nerds, myself included, ran around with a stack of a DAP and high-end, in-ear-friendly amp such as the Leckerton UHA-6S (no hiss, no badly dimensioned caps in the signal path, low output impedance, linear signal output and generally really good measurements) while even some of AGPTek’s inexpensive digital audio players perform better with sensitive in-ears than some of the expensive stuff “back in the day”, despite some software shortcomings.

    DSC05233-small.JPG

    Anyway, just like my iBasso DX150 review, I am trying to keep this one quite short. There just isn’t any real need to repeat the technical specs that can be found on the manufacturer’s product page of the M7, go in-depth about the design aspects (in my opinion, the FiiO M7 is one of the most attractive digital audio players on the market, despite sharing some design aspects with various of Astell&Kern’s older models) or delivery content/unboxing experience that you can see on the photos and videos that are available on the web, and other stuff.
    Let’s just shorten it down to some user interface/speed & performance talk and the audio-related stuff such as output impedance/performance under low impedance load, hiss performance using extremely sensitive in-ears, the volume control, and perhaps a little touch subjective impressions on top.

    - - -

    But first let’s focus on some other things: Features/Connectivity:

    I’ve already seen some people talking about that they “didn’t get” the essence of the M7, officially priced at $199 for the US (international prices might be higher though, depending on the region and seller), and that they didn’t see it as a worthy addition to the market with devices from Sony or Cowon existing.
    What one has to realise, and should be quite obvious to really interested potential buyers, is that the FiiO M7 is equipped with the latest high-resolution Bluetooth codec standards such as aptX, aptX-HD and even LDAC, can work as a digital transport source to be used with an external USB DAC, and has got a built-in FM tuner, which in my opinion is the main selling point for the M7. So it doesn’t only serve as a wired and wireless transport source, but has also got an integrated FM radio.

    But wait, doesn’t a modern smartphone feature the same? Yes and no – in about the same price range, BlackBerry’s models, at least to my knowledge, have aptX. Most other smartphones send the SBC codec, although it isn’t known at what bitrate and quality (most are very good and close to aptX, but some suck right away).
    FM radio also seems to be a dying breed. Some people, me included, do however like to use it from time to time, either for long walks, hiking, sports or just in-between. And I would love to see more audio players apart from the very cheap ones having an integrated FM tuner.

    Then of course the volume control offers more steps than that of most typical smartphones, which is an advantage.

    So yeah, the M7 does have features that some devices (such as some smartphones and a few digital audio players around the same price) have as well, but it also offers others that not all of the competitors have in one device, while also being short on some other features that some of the competition might have to offer around the same price (e.g. more (digital) outputs, WiFi streaming or some audio-related specs).
    In the end it’s about finding the digital audio player that fits to one’s individual needs in terms of features/connectivity and audio-related specs anyway.

    - - -

    GUI:

    The GUI in the menu is kept rather simple and should be familiar to most (no surprise since the OS is Android-based – installing additional apps isn’t possible though and the M7 doesn’t offer WiFi either). One will however not find any back/home button – instead, going back one layer is done swiping bottom to top on the left, whereas doing the same on the right hand side brings one back to the main menu.

    At first glance, the music player app is probably less “exciting”, intuitive and simple, especially compared to what Apple or iBasso offer on their digital audio players, but one gets used to it rather quickly as well since the swiping gestures and screens are rather easy to remember.
    While it offers the stuff that most people demand (all songs, artists, album, playlists, genre, folder view; file info, EQ, playback order and settings, creating playlists on the go, track counter display, seek bar, virtual control buttons), there’s also other stuff such as a search feature (which I personally find quite important), lyrics display, recently added, recently played, most played, folder play that some people might find useful.
    I don’t miss anything here and the overall design and navigation aren’t really far behind Apple’s iPod Nano 7G OS – job well done.

    DSC05232-small.JPG

    Booting the player takes around 41 seconds – which is rather long unfortunately. Once the player is on though, there are no delays. The operation and navigation are fluent, and while menus don’t open as instantly as compared to a modern smartphone or the iBasso DX150/DX200, there’s no impression of sluggishness, and the M7 is much more fluent than the quite laggy and choppy Cowon Plenue D that I used to own (really, except for launching the settings which is delayed by a split second, there are no delays).
    Micro SD card scanning speed might be perceived as too slow as well for modern day standards, but since it is something that isn’t performed often, I don’t really see it as an issue.

    What I personally don’t like is the lock screen – while it can be deactivated for general use, it is always present when music is playing and at the moment, it doesn’t always react instantly to swipes if they’re performed in the centre (which is because that centre is reserved for displaying five lines of lyrics).

    What I really like though is that in its status bar, the M7 shows what Bluetooth codec is used by the wirelessly connected device.

    - - -

    Let’s take a closer look at the FM Radio:

    Not all that much surprisingly, FM over Bluetooth doesn’t work, even if an “antenna” is connected.

    There doesn’t seem to be a limitation of stations that can be saved/bookmarked, but there are only 7 in my area that can be received anyway (even with a good antenna), so I’m likely far below the limitation.

    Other than that, the layout is super clean and manual scanning and selecting the stations is as easy and intuitive as it could be – in this way, the M7 is just as good as my Apple iPod Nano 7G.

    Signal reception and strength are good as well.

    What’s somewhat sad though is that the M7 doesn’t offer RDS, which is something I have really learnt to like on portable devices such as my SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip and iPod Nano 7G.


    Sound:

    As I’m trying to keep the review rather short and compact, there just isn’t any need to be repetitive over and over again in regards to the basic things. So for general (technical) explanations in the sound-related paragraphs below, please see one of my earlier more in-depth reviews, such as these ones: iBasso DX200, FiiO Q5

    Volume Control:

    Overall there are 60 volume steps.
    Listening at very low levels with super sensitive in-ears is fortunately possible, but I wouldn’t mind finer adjustment steps in the low range as the steps are rather big for an audio player – something that could be improved by doubling the amount of volume steps to 120.

    DSC05231-small.JPG

    The volume wheel, by the way, is rather easy to turn – personally, I wouldn’t mind more resistance.

    The M7 also supports in-line remote control commands, however only Play/Pause and Back/Forth are usually accepted. CTIA-wired remotes therefore won’t work for changing the volume, so it seems. OMTP-terminated in-ears do however seem to work when it comes to controlling the volume since my HiFiMan RE400i’s volume control doesn’t work with my iDevices (even though it should, according to the label on the y-splitter and packaging) but with the M7.

    By the way, after you have rotated the volume wheel, a screen overlay pops up that lets you use buttons or a virtual rotary dial in addition to the actual volume wheel.

    RMAA Frequency Response & Output Impedance:

    No Load:

    No Load.jpg

    -> Just as perfectly flat and linear as it should be.

    Loaded with Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10:

    Triple.Fi 10.jpg

    -> FiiO states an output impedance of below 2 Ohms. My calculation based on the loaded measurement is 1.9 Ohms. Result: claimed specs confirmed.
    Still good enough for most in-ears and better than most smartphones, but might introduce some already audible frequency response deviation with some in-ears. Something closer to 0 or 1 Ohms would have been even nicer.

    Hiss Performance using extremely sensitive IEMs:

    Gear that was used: Ostry KC06A (& briefly my Campfire Audio Andromeda)

    FiiO advertise an “incredibly low noise floor”. I was highly sceptical – but they are absolutely right: the M7 is basically quiet and doesn’t showcase any hiss with extremely sensitive in-ears in quiet passages or with empty audio files or at very low volume levels. Yup, even with the extremely sensitive Ostry that is more sensitive than some of the more/most sensitive multi-BA models, the M7 remains silent and probably all you’re going to hear in a very quiet environment is the noise of your own blood’s stream. This thing really rules!

    Yep, the M7 is among the elite, among the very best portable devices when it comes to hiss performance. It outperforms already pretty quiet or almost very quiet/very good devices in this regard, such as FiiO’s own Q5 (AM3A and AM1 module) or Q1 MkII, Cowon’s Plenue M2, Plenue J and Plenue D, the iBasso DX200 and iBasso DX150 or the Hidizs AP200. It really is in the next league (= perfection) that contains quiet and basically hiss-free devices like the iBasso DX90, RME ADI-2 DAC, Cowon Plenue 2, Leckerton UHA-6S and UHA-6S.MkII and last but not least Luxury & Precision L3 and L3 Pro.

    Grade: A(+)

    A true delight for sensitive owners of extremely sensitive in-ears.

    Subjective Listening Impressions:

    Gear that was used: my Audeze LCD-X, Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (to-go), my Etymotic ER•4S, iBasso IT01, my Sennheiser IE 800, Ostry KC06A, HiFiMan RE2000, my Fostex TE-02, my HiFiMan RE400i.

    DSC05229-small.JPG

    No deficit could be found here. Like really nothing. Which is not surprising though, given that these days good audio (playback) equipment can be found even in the low two-digit price range.

    Thanks to its excellent hiss performance, the M7 has that “black background” people with really sensitive in-ears are looking for, and sounds audibly very clean and transparent.

    Probably ever so slightly “soft(er)” with sensitive in-ears than some other devices. Could be my imagination though.
    Perceived neutral tonality as the graphs suggest anyway. Probably very slightly leaning towards a “smoother” treble attack presentation (not soft though), but less so than the iBasso DX80 or Chord Mojo. Nuances anyway under volume-matched circumstances.
    Subjectively somewhat above the Q1 MkII (which sounds softer) and minimally behind the Q5 when it comes to perceived “transparency” with in-ears.

    Circular (ideally round to my ears) and larger than “average” soundstage.

    Gapless Playback:

    … works just perfectly with FLAC files.


    Conclusion:

    The FiiO M7 is sexy. It has a well resolving (touch) screen that is among the better in its price class. Its navigation and operation are fluent and smooth without any hiccups. Booting the M7 takes rather long though.

    FiiO’s more consumer-oriented M7 digital audio player also works fantastically as a wireless digital transport source (and it shows the currently used Bluetooth codec in the status bar, which is really handy).

    Its headphone output has got an output impedance of around 1.9 Ohms – I wouldn’t mind to see 0 to 1 Ohms, but FiiO state < 2 Ohms anyway, so I guess that’s okay although not ideal for low impedance in-ears with a greater impedance swing if you want to drive them without any frequency deviation compared to a ~ 0 Ohm output.

    The FiiO M7 features truly excellent hiss performance with extremely sensitive in-ears – something that is pretty rare for portable audio devices.
    Otherwise, the sound is clean and transparent as well.

    Its FM tuner is very good (but unfortunately lacks RDS).
      FiiO, B9Scrambler, cleg and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. NaiveSound
      So sounds no better than a smartphone
      NaiveSound, Jul 13, 2018
      Dexter22 likes this.
    3. Evshrug
      Is the Bluetooth able to be configured as a receiver? Kind of like WiFi streaming, except Bluetooth streaming from a smartphone to your wired headphones?
      Evshrug, Jul 15, 2018
    4. pithyginger63
      Have you tried hooking it up to the Mojo? I was wondering they would stack. I looked up their dimensions and the mojo dwarfs the m7 in terms of width. What would you use as a Mojo aside from a Poly? Thanks!
      pithyginger63, Jul 16, 2018

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