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Thoroughly Transformed, Inside and Out

FiiO X7 Mark II Smart Hi-Res Music Player

Rating:
4.79167/5,
  • X7-02.jpg
    Utilizes the flagship DAC chip ES9028PRO for significant improvement on audio performance
    Bluetooth 4.1, aptX compatible, low delay and high quality
    Supports dual-band 2.4/5G WiFi, more stable and convenient
    Patented exchangeable amp module design, comes standard with balanced amp module
    Headphone / Coaxial / SPDIF output ports, more convenient to connect to external devices
    64GB internal storage, 2GB DDR3L RAM
    Dual concealed micro SD card slots, each supports up to 256GB
    Deeply customized and efficient Android 5.1 OS, based on the RK3188
    Embedded original music player app, also supports major third-party music player apps

Recent Reviews

  1. Dobrescu George
    FiiO X7mkii - Infinity Sound!
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Jan 24, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Vivid sound, Neutral Signature, Excellent Transparency, Excellent Resolution, Very good extension both ways, Deep and Impactful Bass, Two microSD Slots, APT-X Support, Solid Firmware, Natural Tonality, Resolving sound
    Cons - Battery Life
    FiiO X7mkii - Infinity Sound!

    FiiO refined their original X7 to bring the new and improved X7mkii to the market. A DAP that promises to do more than one can imagine, from featuring interchangeable AMP modules, to a fully customized Android version, all the way to DSD and exotic media playback.

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    Introduction

    FiiO is a huge company from China, which has been in the game for years, being known for keeping their customers close to their hearts, for organizing tours for their amazing products, and for bringing some of the best innovations in the DAP world, like when they first created their FiiO X5 and X5ii models. FiiO's service has been flawless so far, and they even offered to repair DAPs that have been out of their portfolio for a very long while, as long as the buyer paid the shipping. FiiO has also been known to provide quick and effective support for all their products, all in all being one of the most fun companies to work with.

    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 Sunny from 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 X7mkii. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO X7mkii find their next music companion. This review is part of a larger tour FiiO organized with the release of FiiO X7mkii.



    About me

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



    First Impression

    It was a cold day when I received FiiO X7mkii. I was just returning to Bucharest, after my prolonged leave due to my health, but as things were getting better, I was slowly returning to work and to my daily life. The X7mkii unit has been sitting for a while with the romanian postage customs as we weren't able to redirect the package to my hometown where I spent almost a month resting and recovering my health.


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    After a short but fun trip, I reached the Postage, not knowing exactly how to handle the situation, especially as the package was due for two weeks already. To my amazement, the people there were very nice and handled the package without any issues, so I quickly went on my way back home.

    Back in my room, I didn't know exactly what to expect. The package was looking very elegant, and X7mkii was looking very promising, the device was packaged with all the cool extras one could ask for, and it all felt and looked quite premium. Of course, the highlight of X7mkii is its sound, and how well it'll perform with my headphones.

    I took a deep breath, plugged in my music library card, plugged in my ie800, and started listening. The song of choice at that moment was Incubus - Deep Inside.

    For a moment, I was staggered by the amount of detail and by the sweet glimmer with each musical note that X7mkii was feeding to ie800. I knew I had to listen to much more music before I could start to write about it...

    ...and so I did. I kept listening to music from the X7mkii + ie800 pair until I drained the battery entirely. It is rare that a device amazes me so much that I just forget about myself and the device, and everything else, the only thing that's important being the music I am listening to in that moment.



    Packaging

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

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    FiiO X7mkii comes in quite a nice package, with all the extras it requires. FiiO's typical packaging has always been awesome, from the packaging they include with their most inexpensive IEMs, to the packaging they include with their flagship Players, it is always fun to unravel the mysteries within those elegant-looking boxes.

    Starting with the outer looks, the box paints a beautiful rendering of their X7mkii, with the specifications finely written on the back of the box, along with a few details about X7mkii. The DAP is seated in a foam cutout, inside a plastic sheet which keeps it protected. After gently removing the fine sheet protecting X7mkii, we can discover it, standing comfortably in its rubber clear-case. Under X7mkii and its foam cutout you can find a lot of rather useful extras, each hidden in a smaller box.

    Among those, there is a pin for removing the microSD card tray, a high-quality USB cable, a Digital cable, and a beautiful high-quality leather case. FiiO also made sure to include a screwdriver for removing the AMP modules, along with extra screws and tiny wings for keeping X7mkii's shape and design coherent even when using another AMP module than AM03A.

    The unpacking experience is quite intricate and X7mkii deserves its high-end flagship DAP title.



    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

    I had the honor to hold quite a few flagship devices in my hands by now, like Opus #2 and iBasso DX200, so X7mkii has a lot of competition in every department.

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    Starting with the build quality, X7mkii is not a one-piece device, being made of a main body, which is continued with an AMP module. Each AMP module has a little wing on the left side, to keep X7mkii's design coherent, as it has a somewhat industrial design, with very fine edges, a volume wheel and nice hardware buttons.

    On the top side, X7mkii has Line Out / Coaxial 3.5mm output, an on/off power button, which is also used to turn on the screen while X7mkii is already turned on, but while the screen is turned off. On the right side, there are 2 microSD slots, which can be actioned via the pin included in the package, and which are similar to most smartphone microSD slots. On the bottom, X7mkii has different configurations depending on the AMP module that is connected, AM03A having a 2.5mm Balanced Headphone output, a microUSB port for connecting X7mkii to a computer, and a 3.5mm headphone output. On the left side, X7mkii has a forward button, a backward button, a clicky volume wheel, and a play/pause button. X7mkii's buttons feel nice and clicky, while the button on the top needs to be pressed for a while for X7mkii to turn on while it is turned off, this way protecting X7mkii from unintentional "turn on and battery drain" situations. The volume wheel has clear clicks, and turns quite smoothly, while all other buttons are nice and clicky.

    The front panel is guarded by a highly reflective edge which adds to X7mkii's elegant side, the same edge being present on the back of X7mkii as well. The back of the device is matte and has a bit of information about X7mkii written on it, including its full name and its ID. The top part of X7mkii's back is made from a different material to allow for Bluetooth and Wifi communication to go flawlessly, making X7mkii a very well-thought DAP.

    The device feels very solid in hand, and besides some minor screen aberrations while pressing on the display, it doesn't budge under pressure.

    The display is an amazing piece of art, being very bright and having excellent definition and contrast, with vivid and punchy colors, making the usage of X7mkii a real pleasure, even when it is being used outdoors. The panel seems to be different from the one used in X5-3, which makes X7mkii's display quite a bit brighter. The color temperature seems to be quite good, white being white and not presenting any major shifting towards any color.

    When it comes to the firmware, X7mkii is a truly mature and finished player, providing all the features I need for my daily usage, like folder browsing, cover art support, quick settings, and, a feature that is extremely important to me, proper play through folders play mode, which means that when the play counter reaches the end of a folder in folder mode, the first file in the next folder alphabetically will be played.

    The whole UI looks and feels quite lovely, and FiiO has improved it quite a lot from the days of their older players, the UI of X7mkii being one of the best I touched so far, and on level with other titans like iBasso and Opus at the firmware level. FiiO has Google Services and Google Play integration, which is very helpful for people who want to install a third party service for Streaming or for music listening.

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    Judging from using X7mkii with its original FiiO Music App, and the latest firmware, there is no lag in my daily usage, and X7mkii even feels snappier and quicker than my smartphone, Xiaomi Mi Max 2, which is an upper midrange smartphone. X7mkii somehow manages to be even quicker, and this is probably related to the level of customization FiiO has done to X7mkii and its android firmware.

    You also get all the bells and whistles, like APT-X support, Playlist Support, VU Meter, and everything else that comes with Android Support.

    All in all, the whole device feels very nice to work with, from the moment you open it, holding it in hand, X7mkii being worthy of its flagship title.



    Sound Quality

    As a few reviewers mentioned this before, describing the Sonic Signature of a DAP (Digital Audio Player) can be fairly complicated, as the ideal source should sound transparent and it should leave the coloring for the IEMs and Headphones. This being said, every single DAP out there will change the sound in some way with every headphone and IEM, some people naming this "Headphone - DAP Synergy".

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    FiiO X7mkii has a neutral tuning, with a very deep bass, amazing amounts of impact, a clear, vivid and well-defined midrange, and a clear, neutral and enthusiastic top end. There are very few things that are as linear as X7mkii is with AM03A, as it provides an excellent level of clarity and transparency, being much easier to describe the level of vividness it brings to music, and how good the soundstage and the instrument separation is, than talking about the signature, X7mkii being incredibly transparent and doing its job well as a DAP.

    Impressions have been taken with HIFIMAN RE2000, which was also reviewed by Audiophile Heaven:

    https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/2017/11/hifiman-re2000-amazing-ample-absolute.html



    Bass

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    The bass of X7mkii is incredibly deep, going as low as it needs to go, down the the absolutely lowest octaves. It is a quick bass when it needs to be quick, it is a slow and natural bass, when it has to be slow, being quite transparent and good at painting the music track just the way it was recorded. AM03A can drive all IEMs I tested it with, with an excellent authority, giving them just the right type of bass they need to have. Both the rumble and the impact are oustanding when they are called for.

    Even when the volume needs to be turned all the way up, like when X7mkii is driving Beyerdynamic Amiron, it still manages to provide them a clean, clear and quick bass which is transparent, and which provides a very satisfying feeling.



    Midrange

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    The Midrange of X7mkii is extremely clear, detailed and has a very enthusiastic nature to it, being quite vivid and giving all music a vivid edge, making things sound dynamic and well separated when they should sound like that, and making them pop out and feel lively. With slow music, X7mkii sounds slow, with fast and aggressive music, X7mkii sounds fast and aggressive, being a colorless device that lets the true nature of the music shine through it. One of the best things about the midrange of X7mkii is how clear, detailed and revealing it is, being worthy of how a true flagship should sound like. There is no tilting towards any area in particular, and the sound is generally wide, having good instrument separation and definition, along with excellent timing and dynamics. The tonality of X7mkii is natural and its timbre is quite excellent.


    Across all IEMs and headphones I tested it wih, X7mkii + AM03 manages to hold its ground and to stay clear and well-defined, providing an excellent window to explore the music within.



    Treble

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    The treble of X7mkii is like the rest of its signature, extremely clear, vivid, and in its nature, very transparent. It is not bright nor smooth, instead letting the music and the headphones do the coloring of the music. The top end has the right amount of shimmer and glimmer when it has to and can sound quick, as well as well behaved when it has to, X7mkii being one of the most transparent DAPs in the treble department out there, reaching even the highest octaves possible, letting the treble shine when the IEM / Headphone can shine, and making it tame and quiet when the music or the headphone paints it as such.



    Soundstage

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    The Soundstage size of X7mkii is very well-extended in all directions, being very wide, deep and having an excellent spatial positioning at the same time. The instrument separation is quite excellent as well, X7mkii having one of the best instrument definitions there are, and providing an excellent insight into how many instruments are in a track, giving them not only enough air to breathe, but even a very good definition for every musical note there is.



    ADSR/PRaT

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    The ADSR / PRaT of X7mkii with AM03A is quite excellent once again, AM03A being very quick and snappy, defining all textures and small movements very well, and providing an excellent insight in the music X7mkii is playing. Music through X7mkii feels vivid and dynamic, to the point where it sounds realistic and natural.



    Portable Usage

    X7mkii is not the largest device out there, nor the smallest one, being somewhere in between. When it comes to its portable usage, it can drive any IEMs you might throw at it, without issue, and even most full sized headphones are driven without issue. The device size is actually good for one hand usage since it is taller than it is wide, making it easy to hold in one hand and to interact with the display using only the thumb.

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    The blind usage is also quite excellent, being easy to adjust the volume using just one finger, or to press the forward / backward buttons while X7mkii is inside a pocket. It should be noted that the forward button is towards the bottom of the device, this being a bit strange the first time one sees it, but it is very easy to get accustomed to.

    The device is sturdy enough to allow for portable usage, and the headphone jacks are also well-built. X7mkii has Bluetooth abilities, even APT-X abilities, along with Wifi abilities and many other bells and whistles for those who want to have a wider usage scenario with it.

    Battery life might be a bit short, depending on the usage scenario, but it gets me through a day. I'd like to see longer battery life with all flagship devices in future versions.




    Select Pairings

    Please note that for any pairing, the IEM has more impact on the final sonic result than the DAP, the best DAP being one that is as transparent as possible. Since X7mkii is one of the most transparent devices out there, it provides a clear window, looking at the true signature of every IEM and Headphone.

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    FiiO X7mkii + Dunu DK-3001 - FiiO X7mkii makes Dunu DK-3001 sing with excellent ability, making the bass sound natural, with a natural decay, the midrange being presented with a light yet somewhat smooth nature, and the treble being smooth and relaxing, yet keeping a lot of detail. The soundstage is fairly wide with this pairing.

    FiiO X7mkii + FiiO F9 - F9 driven by FiiO X7mkii is quite an excellent pairing, as X7mkii gives F9 a deep and clear bass, a resolving and enthusiastic midrange, and an enthusiastic top end with good presence and detail. The soundstage is fairly wide with this pairing.

    FiiO X7mkii + FiiO F9 Pro - F9Pro is the bigger brother of F9, providing a much better result than F9 when driven by X7mkii, as they tend to have a more vivid midrange, a clearer overall sound, and a better extension in the treble, where F9Pro extends up to the highest octaves. The soundstage and instrument separation are both very good with this pairing.

    FiiO X7mkii + Unique Melody Martian - X7mkii makes UM Martian sound as they are, a very tight and precise IEM, with an extremely resolving sound, a tight bass, a clear and slightly pushed back midrange, and a clear and glimmering treble, making them both an excellent tool to study the intricacy of music, as well as a very enjoyable IEM. The soundstage is good, while the instrument separation is excellent with this pairing.

    FiiO X7mkii + Sennheiser ie800 - X7mkii is one of my favorite sources for driving ie800, as X7mkii makes it sound deep and impactful in the bass, slightly recessed, yet clear and very detailed in the midrange, and enthusiastic and very resolving in the top end, where ie800's treble is a unique presentation of life-like cymbals. The soundstage size is very good, and the instrument separation is insanely good.

    FiiO X7mkii + HIFIMAN RE2000 - RE2000 is presented with excellent resolving abilities, having a deep and very resolving bass, a slightly thick yet vivid and slightly pushed back midrange, and a well-extended and enthusiastic top end. The soundstage size is good, while the instrument separation is outstandingly good.

    FiiO X7mkii + HIFIMAN RE800 - RE800 is powered to sound very clean and clear, with excellent acoustic abilities, rendering music with excellent dynamics and impact, having a tight and precise bottom end, a slightly recessed midrange, and a forward treble that makes acoustic music really shine. RE800 becomes one of the best for listening to a ballad. The soundstage size is good, while the instrument separation is amazingly good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Beyerdynamic Xelento - Beyerdynamic Xelento is presented with a full and thick bass, a clear yet thick and meaty midrange, and a smooth and relaxing top end. The soundstage size is large, while the instrument separation is good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Ultrasone Signature Studio - Ultrasone Signature Studio is presented with a deep yet somewhat tight bass, a slightly recessed but very clear and wide midrange, and a bright yet fine treble. The soundstage size is out-of-this-world amazingly good, while the instrument separation is very good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Meze 99 Classics - Meze 99 Classics sounds very full and satisfying, with a very deep, clear and powerful bass, a clear yet enthusiastic midrange, and a smooth and relaxing top end. The signature feels natural, and the top end is quite open-sounding. The soundstage size is amazingly good, while the instrument separation is good.

    FiiO X7mkii + iBasso IT01 - IT01 is presented with excellent dynamic range, with a deep and precise bass, an enhanced midbass, a clear and vivid midrange, and a slightly enhanced top end. The soundstage size and instrument separation are both very good.

    FiiO X7mkii + MO MZero - MO MZero sounds quite good with X7mkii, sounding very full with a powerful bass, a thick midrange, and an open-sounding top end. The soundstage size and instrument separation are both quite good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Astrotec AM850 - AM850 is presented with an open-sounding midrange, a deep yet well-placed bass, and a brighter top end that is enthusiastic enough to provide a vivid presentation to music. The soundstage size and instrument separation are both very good.

    FiiO X7mkii + ER4-XR - ER4-XR is presented with a tight and clear bass, a forward midrange, and a smooth top end. The soundstage size is not very large, but the instrument separation is quite good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Kinera H3 - Kinera H3 is presented with a deep and full sub-bass, a clear and enthusiastic midrange, and a very bright and open-sounding treble. The soundstage size is not the largest, but the resolution and instrument separation are quite good.

    FiiO X7mkii + Beyerdynamic Amiron - X7mkii is able to power Amiron well when the volume is turned a bit louder. The pairing presents the music with excellent depth, with a full and very satisfying bass, a clear and vivid midrange, and a natural treble. The soundstage size is very good, and the instrument separation is very good as well.



    Comparisons

    Most comparisons have been taken with RE2000, Signature Studio, RE800, ie800, and DK-3001. Hiss is usually very hard to notice and I tend to not notice it at all, but I tried my best to compare how DAPs perform relative to each other in this aspect, as well as other aspects that might come off as relevant.

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    FiiO X7mkii vs Opus #2 - We reviewed Opus #2 here: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/2018/01/opus-2-magic-of-music.html Opus #2 is quite a bit more expensive than X7mkii, but the comparison feels fair since both are the flagship devices from each company, X7mkii being FiiO's flagship, while Opus #2 is TheBit and Opus's flagship. Starting with the overall device, Opus #2 is a bit larger as a device, with a similar display. Opus #2 has only one microSD slot, but it has 128GB of integrated memory. Both devices can run third party apps, both devices have Bluetooth, Wifi, and other amazing abilities. The battery life is similar between the two. Opus #2 tends to have a similar driving power when compared to X7mkii, but as long as X7mkii is loud enough it keeps a good enough control over the headphone / IEM it is driving. The soundstage is similar, with Opus #2 and X7mkii both being quite wide, Opus #2 being, a bit deeper in the soundstage, and having a bit better instrument separation. The sonic signature is quite similar between the two, both being very transparent, Opus #2 having maybe a bit more revealing and resolving ability, but it should be noted that the difference is not night and day, and both are amazing devices. In the long run, Opus #2 has a slightly more organic sound, with a slightly warmer presentation, while X7mkii tends to be a bit more neutral and transparent.

    FiiO X7mkii vs iBasso DX200 – We reviewed iBasso DX200 with AMP1 here: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/2017/12/ibasso-dx200-reference-flagship-from.html iBasso DX200 + AMP5 review will be presented soon. iBassso DX200 is similar as an overall device, having similar abilities as X7mkii, with the device feeling similar while in hand. DX200 has a slightly larger and maybe even brighter display, providing a larger space the cover art. To support the same third party apps as X7mkii, DX200 requires Lurker's mod, a software mod that is easy to obtain and install. The sonic signature when using AMP5 is a bit more vivid on DX200, with a slightly more forward presentation, an even better extension on both ends, and slightly better resolving and revealing abilities. It should be noted that DX200 is more expensive, and the AMP5 module adds to this cost, and that the difference is not exactly night and day, the dual ESS PRO DACs in DX200 adding to the cost, as well as the larger display and different internals, but it does advantages in the music presentation department. This doesn't make X7mkii any lower than amazing though, both being truly outstanding flagship devices.

    FiiO X7mkii vs iDSD Black Label - We reviewed iDSD Micro Black Label here: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/2017/05/ifi-idsd-bl-pinnacle-of-dac-and-amp.html iDSD Black Label Micro is a DAC/AMP priced a bit lower than X7mkii, having the entire device dedicated just for the sound, without having to worry about the software, display and many other components that X7mkii employs. The sonic signature is similarly transparent, iDSD Micro BL presenting music with a bit more depth in the soundstage, and having a bit more sparkle in the treble, and maybe a thicker bass and larger bass impact. iDSD BL Micro has a considerably better driving power than X7mkii + AM03A, so it will be interesting to compare it to X7mkii + AM5 for larger and harder to drive headphones.

    FiiO X7mkii vs FiiO X5-3 - We reviewed FiiO X5-3 here: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.ro/2017/04/fiio-x5-3-fiios-smooth-android-dap.html Both devices FiiO, but from different price areas. I loved X5-3 back when I reviewed it, and considered that it set a new standard for its price range. I still consider that true, and I think that besides its signature which is a bit too smooth, it is an outstanding device. X7mkii takes everything X5-3 does good and does it even better, providing a sound with excellent dynamics, an even better transparency, a wider soundstage, and a more vivid general presentation. The top end is especially better with X7mkii which is more transparent, and which brings a better sparkle in the treble, where X5-3 is quite smooth. The software support is great on both, and the device construction quality is outstanding on both Players, FiiO doing an amazing job with both X5-3 and X7mkii.



    Value and Conclusion

    At the end of the day, X7mkii is indeed one of the best flagships out there, and one of the most transparent devices as well. The device feels solid in hand, provides excellent one-handed usage, and the firmware feels quite complete and useful. X7mkii also has APT-X Bluetooth abilities, along with Wifi, and two microSD slots, so with this little jewel, one had access to a wide array of usage scenarios.

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    The sound matches the rest of the device, as X7mkii sounds extremely good, being very dynamic, vivid and punchy, having a soundstage that is very wide0, an excellent instrument separation and providing good authority over a wide array of IEMs and headphones.

    There is good reason to think that X7mkii is one of the best devices, if not the best device FiiO created so far, and it is beautiful to see how much they learned and improved from their first DAPs, now reaching X7mkii, which is an amazing resolution.

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    If you're looking for one of the most transparent DAPs out there, which bears an amazingly clear and vivid sound, with a very dynamic and wide presentation, X7mkii is surely winking at you, being one of the devices you can't go wrong with. Whether you are a basshead, or a treble lover, X7mkii will let your headphones or IEMs do the coloring and let you enjoy what you already have, providing an excellent experience for all music lovers out there.



    I hope my review is helpful to you!




    Stay safe and remember to always have fun while listening to music!



    Link to the review on Audiophile-Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/2018/01/fiio-x7mkii-infinity-sound.html


    Link to the official Thread on Head-Fi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/fii...-aptx-dual-msd-dual-band-wifi-opt-out.854353/

    Link to the official product page: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/71

    Link to the writer’s head-fi page: https://head-fi.org/members/dobrescu-george.170938/

    Audiophile Heaven: https://audiophile-heaven.blogspot.com/

    Audiophile Heaven on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AudiophileHeaven/
      Moonstar likes this.
  2. denis1976
    Fiio Master
    Written by denis1976
    Published Dec 19, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great stage expansion
    Good detail
    Vivid tonality
    Very good build
    Very good price/quality ratio
    Cons - Stage is expansive but not very deep
    Vivid tonality maybe too much for some
    Hiss
    Hello , lets talk about my background, i am 41 years old and since 15/16 years old that i have experienced plenty of hi end audio has a costumer of one of the best hifi retailer in Europe ,IMACUSTICA here in Portugal, this passion for personal audio is more is newer, just a few years ago i started to enjoy this passion.

    The Fiio x7mk2

    First of all i want say thank you to Fiio for this oportunity, the X7 mk2 is a very good build DAP , very pleasant to work with, the sound is very open, a little distant, the highs are a litlle puxed ,the result is that the voices are pleasent but they are not thin, but more thin than other flagship daps (and more exlensive) it is powerfull but has some hiss even with the Ibasso It01 for exemple, the layering is very good
    The only Dap i have right now is the AK SP1000CU i am going to compare with it ,and be memory (i know can be tricky) i will compare with my previous Sony 1Z (fw 1.2) and my previous Lotoo Paw Gold.

    FIIO X7MK2 VS SP1000CU
    This is an unfair match because the cost of the sp1000cu but here it is....the sp1000 is more musical more dense, is sound is bigger with tons of detail but without any highs puxed,the stage is wider and deeper,there is no hiss, is more organic and more real, end of the story....

    Vs 1Z (by memory)
    the 1z is more organic and dense the mids are simply magical, the stage is more deep,but the subjective detail is better in x7 mk2 at the cost of that more thin sound....another unfair match...

    Vs.LPG (by memory)
    i really enjoyed my previous LPG, it has very things in comun with the Mk2, it has plenty of detail has the mk2 is more dense the stage is more deep, bouth have hiss.

    All my Iems and headphones played very well with the mk2 with a detail and very enjoyable sound, one of the things that the sp1000 does that the mk2 don't is the magical thing of making even a Portapro sound like a hiend headphone, i got no explanation how can a Dap can make this to a 59 euros headphone.

    Conclusion:
    For the price the Fiio x7 mk2 is a awsome device, great job Fiio P_20171219_211002_vHDR_On.jpg
  3. chengsta
    Great for iems
    Written by chengsta
    Published Nov 24, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Long battery life
    Fast UI
    The ability to make playlists directly from the player itself
    You can still import playlists if you want
    Pure music mode
    Very detailed
    Big soundstage
    Android (aka viper effects, thank you lord!)
    Balanced output is insane
    Cons - 1 minute boot up time
    Plugs for unused ouputs from the x5 don't work for the x7 mk2, it'll just think something is plugged into that port
    Coming from the X5 v1, the X7 mk2 is so much better in every way. Comparatively the UI is so much faster, and I love the touch screen. Even using the balanced output which is supposed to draw a lot of power, I can get 10 hours out of the player before it needs charging.

    Sound: The X7 mk2 is more dynamic, neutral, and the soundstage is wider than the x5. In fact since I've started using the balanced cables....my jh16's that I've had for 4 years now became so airy that I thought for sure I lost my seal on them....till the bass hit, BOOM hard and deep as usual. That's when I realized that the seal wasn't broken. Also, at that moment, I knew that the x7mk2 was on a whole different level. It was what I had been looking for all along: A player that was crystal clear while still delivering the mega bass that doesn't muddy/interfere with the mids and highs; just like a real speaker setup with a separate subwoofer.

    As a bass-head, I've resigned myself to settling for the sound of 'all music is being played through the subwoofer.' AKA really warm signature from portable setups. I wanted crystal clear mids and highs too damn it! Oh man the x7 mk2 delivers. With the x5, I always wondered if there was something more. With the x7 mk2 in my posession, I just KNEW it was the one. I am so satisfied that I am confident I will not upgrade from the x7mk2 until it stops working, and when it does I'll probably get another x7mk2.

    But wait, what?! Other people are saying that the F7 mk2 is a clear, detailed, but cold/thin and siblant player! How can I as a bass-head fall so head-over-heels in love with it?! Well my friend, let me tell you about my lord and savior, Viper Bass. Or rather viper-effects. Viper effects is built into the player, but you have to pay 50cents to activate each effect which is totally worth it (I wonder why fiio couldn't just charge an extra $3 and sell the x7mk2 with it already activated?). Also, it's not siblant at all to me, the treble is just right.

    If you try to EQ bass on your fiio x7 mk2 through the normal player settings, it will distort and suck crap. EQ on the fiio player sucks in general. In fact, if this didn't have viper bass built in, I'd have rated this player a 3 star instead and then back-packed my headstage arrow 6 to it. However viper-bass does it right, it amplifies the bass up to 18 or so db (should you so wish) without distortions, and no it's not a gimmick. It's damn awesome. It puts out more bass than my headstage arrow 6 amplifier, and with better texture and detail. And when I hooked it up my amplifier just to compare, it sounded like 'music was playing through a subwoofer', which I thought I had to settle for. No, now I can have the crystal clarity AND insane bass (no warmth, no V shaped signature) of a high end audio system. And I only need the x7mk2 to do it, I no longer need the headstage arrow amp. My search for audio nirvana has ended (somewhat, as I just ordered the kaiser encore C because I just have to have new things. I am satisfied with the jh16 and honestly don't see how it can get better but i'll find out in 3 months).

    The music I listen to is EDM, pop, rock, metal, folk, orchestra, classical, and just beautiful solo vocals. The x7 mk2 does them all so beautifully. The bass just disappears when it's not needed with my settings.

    The only complaints I have about the player is that it gets uncomfortably warm and the battery life goes down if you play music from the memory card. Also, the bootup time is nearly 1 minute long, but it's totally worth it as I only turn it on once per day.
  4. F700
    World class DAP with a bit too much sibilance
    Written by F700
    Published Nov 15, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - UI, Portability, Built, Soundstage, Speed, Leather case
    Cons - Sibilant at time, needs a bit more power for my taste
    Short review of the FiiO X7 Mark II.

    I had the opportunity to take part to the « review tour » of the flagship DAP from FiiO, here on Head-Fi. I therefore got the FiiO X7 Mark II for loan. What follows is just my honest opinion and is based on my tastes and my ears, which I trust, after having spent five days with the device.

    Listening music with the FiiO X7 Mark II was a pretty good experience. I own 2 other DAPs, a FiiO X5III (linked to A5 amp) and a sony NW-ZX300 (JP version). I mainly am listening to electronic music (ambient, drone, techno, house), pop/rock (male vocals, classics from 80s and 90s), soul, OST and a bit of jazz.

    Music format used for the listening: AAC, ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, WAV and DSD

    Headphones/IEMs used: Sony XBA-Z5, Sony N3AP, Sony MDR-Z1R, Audeze LCD-X, MEZE 99 Classics

    The DAP with the Sony N3AP (not displayed) and a SE silver Lavricable
    [​IMG]

    PROS

    • Snappy UI
    • Build
    • Detailed sound
    • Wide soundstage
    • Android implementation
    CONS
    • Sibilant at time
    • Sounds a bit thin with some music needing weight in the sub-bass (could be a « pro » for some people)
    • Separation/imaging could be better
    • AMP module lacks a bit of power and drive in comparison to the X5III/A5 combo
    Comparison with X5III/A5 combo

    UI -> X7 Mark II (just incredible how fast and responsive the device is)

    Build -> Draw

    Portability -> X7 Mark II

    Power -> X5III/A5 (by a margin)

    Battery life -> Draw

    Features -> X7 Mark II (way faster)

    Imaging -> X5III/A5 (a real strength from that combo)

    Soundstage -> X7 Mark II (just a bit)

    Speed -> X7 Mark II

    Global sound signature -> X5III/A5 (smooth, detailed, layered, slightly warm yet precise and not veiled at all)

    Price/quality ratio -> X5III/A5 (excellent!)

    WINNER: X5III/A5 combo, « foto-finish » win, just because the sound is just perfect to my ears with that set-up. I am pretty certain that 90% of the people will choose the FiiO X7 Mark II over the X5III/A5 combo without hesitation, because it makes almost everything right, is much more portable, has a crisp, clear and open top-end, and finally, shows what a DAP in 2017 can really do. You cannot go wrong with the X7 as long as you can deal with some sibilance at time.

    Comparison with Sony NW-ZX300

    UI -> X7 Mark II

    Build -> NW-ZX300 (japanese black version is a gem and IMO nothing can compete here, just the top tier A&K maybe and the 1W/1Z)

    Portability -> NW-ZX300 (small, light yet powerful and stylish with the sony leather case)

    Power -> NW-ZX300 (cleaner at higher volumes)

    Battery life -> NW-ZX300

    Features -> X7 Mark II (Android, streaming services)

    Imaging -> NW-ZX300 (smoother and less sibilance, better separation as well)

    Soundstage -> X7 Mark II

    Speed -> X7 Mark II

    Global sound signature -> NW-ZX300 (balanced output with the Z5 is audio heaven for me at the moment)

    Price/quality ratio -> Draw, depending on the needs and priority of the user

    WINNER: NW-ZX300. The size, the built, THAT sound and the balanced output.

    End words

    The FiiO X7 Mark II just failed to give me goosebumps, when my 2 other DAPs succeeded in that important task, right from the start and just because of really specific feature and sound characteristics. At the price, the FiiO X7 Mark remains a very competitive offering I think. It has a lot to offer and a lot to like. Very fast UI, nice screen resolution, wide soundstage, premium built, detailed sound and portability are the strengths of that DAP. I give 4.5 stars, because I like the X5III/A5 and the NW-ZX300 slightly better overall.

    The FiiO X7 Mark II is a very capable DAP, packed with features, and definitely deserving a listening session if you are in the market for that kind of toy.

    Thanks for reading!
  5. frfrtx
    A Great DAP
    Written by frfrtx
    Published Nov 12, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Very good sound detail, clarity and ability to drive full size headphones (Shure SRH1540’s with balanced cables on high gain in my case). Played music from a JRiver Media Server without issues. A “tested” battery life of almost 10 hours when playing under ideal conditions through efficient IEM’s and the unbalanced headphone port.
    Cons - Difficult and time-consuming copying of songs into the Fiio X7 MKII’s main memory. Did not play gapless HD tracks without the occasional soft pop. A few other software “glitches” detailed in the review below.
    Summary

    I really like the Fiio X7 MKII. It has a nice sized, very readable screen with options for different displays of the music being played, dual micro SD slots, a couple of options on included cases, good build quality and feel, and the option of balanced output with higher output than the unbalanced output. It has a few software peculiarities that I learned to get used to, but the occasional soft pop between gapless tracks will need a firmware/software change to really fix.

    Test Equipment and Music

    I used full sized closed-back Shure SRH1540’s, A&K IEM T8iE MK II’s, and Panasonic IEM EAH-Z70’s. The Shure and A&K’s have 2.5MM balanced cables. The gain on the X7 MKII was usually set to low on both the Shure and A&K’s, but was set to high gain for some music tracks with more bass. The Panasonic’s have a 3.5 MM unbalanced cable.

    [​IMG]

    The music that I listened to for the testing was a mix of high resolution 24bit/88.2kHz, 24bit/96kHx and 24bit/192kHz flac tracks. Music genres were Jazz, Bluegrass, Blues, and Rock. All listening testing was through the balanced port. The battery test was through the unbalanced port and included high resolution and CD resolution flac tracks. All music listening and the battery test were done in Pure Music mode. I also compared the X7 MK II to an AK70 that I own.

    The Testing Process

    Battery Test

    The battery test was very simple. The X7 MKII was started playing music at 100% battery. The music files played were 160 GB in size, which were about half high resolution flac and the other half CD resolution flac. All the songs (about 4000) in the player were played randomly. Gain was set to low and the music was played though the unbalanced port to the Panasonic EAH-Z70’s. The volume was set to 45. The screen brightness was set to the lowest value on the X7 MKII, and the screen was only turned on only for a few seconds every hour to check the battery level. The battery dropped at a relatively linear rate of about 10 percent per hour. After nine hours the battery showed 9 percent and the test was stopped to prevent any possibility of damage from a 100 percent battery drain. Although this was not how an X7 MKII would be typically used, because of very minimal screen usage, it did show that under the most ideal conditions the X7 could play music for almost ten hours.

    About half way through the battery test the X7 completely stopped playing music in the middle of a song. This error was not found until playback had been stopped for about 20 minutes. The music player was restarted. The stopping and restarting did not seem to have affected the relatively linear progress of the battery drain of about 10 percent per hour.

    Sound Quality Test

    As a general rule I find that high resolution music sounds better to me than 16bit/44.1kHz music. I think this has more to do with additional detail available with 24bit information rather than the higher frequencies. All listening testing was with HD resolution music, and all listening was with the Shure SRH1540’s and the A&K IEM T8iE MK II’s with balanced output from the X7 MKII.


    For critical listening on the X7 MKII I listened to:

    Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms, listened for bass detail.

    Eric Clapton, Just One Night, listed for Eric Clapton supporting guitar and vocals in “Setting Me Up.” Albert Lee has lead guitar and vocals on this song.

    B.B. King, Live At The Regal, listened for guitar details. B.B. played notes, not chords.

    Muddy Waters, Folk Singer, listened for guitar and vocal details. This album is much more acoustic rather than electric guitar. Buddy Guy also plays on this album.

    Allison Krauss, New Favorite, listened for vocal details. Allison’s beautiful voice really shows on this album.

    Tierney Sutton, Dancing In The Dark, On The Other Side, and Something Cool; listened for vocal details. Tierney really shows her great voice with a wide variety of songs on these three albums.

    Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else; Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out; John Coltrane, A Love Supreme; Ray Brown Trio, Soular Energy; and Sonny Rollins, Way Out West; listened for musical detail (note decay), instrument separation, and sound stage. High quality recordings of jazz performances come very close to giving me the feeling of listening to a live performance. Listening to them helped me more than any other genre appreciate the musical quality of the X7 MKII.

    Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon, listened for gapless playback, especially between “On The Run” and “Time.” Unfortunately, always heard a slight pop.

    Except for slight errors in gapless playback, the X7 MKII produced excellent sound with all my listening tests. It has great sound quality and detail. All the details that I was listening for in my HD music, the X7 MKII reproduced in spectacular fashion. I really love it’s sound.


    Comparison to A&K AK70

    I own an A&K AK70 and listened to it back-to-back in comparison to the X7 MKII. For the music that I listened to, I had enough SD memory capacity to make this comparison possible. For almost all the HD music that I listened to, the AK70 and the X7 MKII produced similarly pleasing and detailed music reproduction with both the Shure SRH1540’s and the A&K IEM T8iE MK II’s.

    There were two exceptions. The AK70 had no problems with gapless playback. The X7 MKII reproduced bass much, much better with the Shure SRH1540’s on songs that had a significant amount of bass. This was really apparent when playing Dire Straits, Brothers In Arms. The output from the X7 MII was with the balanced output with high gain to the Shure SRH1540’s.


    Connection to External Music Server

    I have a media server that runs JRiver Media Center software and had no problems connecting the X7 MII via wifi and playing music from the JRiver software. The way my system is configured, music via wifi never sounds as good music played directly on a device, so I did not perform any critical listening tests of the music from the server.

    Firmware/Software Issues

    In the process of copying songs to the X7 MKII and testing it, I found a few firmware/software issues. The most import one to me that needs fixing is the soft pop between songs on gapless playback. I feel confident that Fiio will fix this in future release.

    Before beginning testing of the X7 MKII, I copied about 45 GB of HD music to the player. All the other music that I used was on a 128GB micro SD card. I had multiple interruptions caused by the X7 MKII when copying music directly to the player. It was very frustrating and caused the transfer to take much more time that it should have. I did not have problems when only copying a single album at a time.

    When running my battery life test on the X7 MKII is stopped playing in the middle of the test. This was the only time that the X7 MKII stopped like this.

    When starting a song or restarting a song after a pause, the X7 MKII had about a ¼ second delay before starting the song. After I figured out that this was occurring, it did not cause me any difficulties when listening to the X7 MKII.


    At the very beginning of a song, when only a few sends of the song had been played, hitting the prior song button on the side of the player would cause the player to skip to the previous song rather than the song currently playing. Like the ¼ second delay, After I figured out that this was occurring, it did not cause me any difficulties when listening to the X7 MKII.


    Final Comments

    I very much appreciate Fiio providing the X7 MKII for testing and review. I really do like the sound quality, screen size, user interface, ability to drive my Shure SRH1540 headphones, and large music capacity of the player. Anyone considering a player in the $600 to $1,000 range should seriously consider the X7 MKII.

    Fred Woolfrey
    Rockport, TX
    12 Nov, 2017

    images

  6. bms44974
    Awesome SQ and DAP functionality
    Written by bms44974
    Published Nov 10, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - SQ, ease of use, feature-rich UI
    Cons - incompatibility with Dell XPS15 (9550)
    Disclaimer: I received the X7ii tour unit to evaluate for about 10 days in return for my honest opinion.

    Build:

    The X7ii is solidly built and has a substantial feel. The controls are conveniently placed. Moving the power button to the top near the right side was a big improvement for me (it was on the right side near the top on X5iii). The volume wheel is easy to use and I rarely move it accidently when handling the unit. The play/pause button is easy to use when the screen is asleep. I occasionally skipped forward or backward when picking up the unit or holding the unit and wound up disabling the rocker using custom keylock settings in the system options menu.

    The unit came with a plastic case that covers all but the screen, volume wheel, USB, line-out, and 2.5 (balanced) and 3.5mm (single-ended) headphone ports. Small flaps cover the power button, play/pause, and forward/back rocker. My USB charging cable was a bit large and I had to take the case off to use the USB port, but the USB cable that came with the unit does fit with the cover on. There is no way to access the SD slots with the plastic case on.

    SD cards are not inserted directly into the X7ii, but must be placed in pop-out trays. A small stylus is provided to facilitate tray removal. The trays could be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how often you switch cards. The cards will fall out of the trays if ejected with the face of the unit up. I strongly suggest turning the unit over when ejecting and replacing SD card trays.

    Operation:

    I had previously stripping embedded album art from files and including a single file (cover.jpg) in each album subdirectory. The X7ii displayed album art with no problems. My music is structured with directories for each artist and subdirectories for each album. Connecting the X7ii to my laptop (Dell XPS15) was not possible due to an incompatibility previously noted with the X5iii. After formatting two cards in the X7ii, I mounted them on my laptop and copied the library directly to the SD cards. I encountered no problems reading the library from both SD cards. Album, artist, and genre tags functioned as advertised. And a pleasant surprise, within artist, albums and tracks were sorted properly by track number (not by name as with the original firmware in the X5iii).

    Most of my files are in FLAC format, but the X7ii had no problems with the few 64 and 128 bit DSD (DFF and DSF format) and ALAC (*.m4a) files that I threw at it. The only exception was 11289k DSF file in the 2L Test Bench set (see below). The 2282k and 5644k versions of the same recording worked flawlessly.

    The FiiO music app is feature-rich and the learning curve was not too steep. I activated WiFi to enable some Viper effects and tested Bluetooth connectivity with my Sony WF-1000X earphones. Both worked well, but I kept them off most of the time to increase the battery life which was quite good for an Android device. I almost liked the battery information in the Android setup, until I realized that the battery usage accounted for only totaled 40% of what was used. There are clearly some categories missing from the battery menu (i.e. power drawn by AM3A). With 53% battery left, the utility estimated ~4h left leading me to believe that 8h is a reasonable expectation for battery life. In standby mode (i.e. no music playing), the battery went from 80% to 40% over the course of about 10h. The 2.0A charger for my Android phone worked fine to charge the X7ii (40% to 100% in just over 90min).

    As alluded to earlier, the only major problem I encountered was the known incompatibility of X7ii with the USB ports on my Dell XPS15 (9550) laptop. This issue have been noted before for the X5iii and I had to load music on the SD cards on my computer. I did not install and test the Windows 10 driver for the X7ii because of the USB compatibility problem (and I have a desktop DAC and would never use the X7ii in DAC mode).

    Sound:

    The X7ii has lots of detail without being fatiguing. The sound stage is wider than my X5ii and the instrument separation is outstanding with well mastered source material. The X7ii/AM3A drives my Etymotic ER4SR with authority both single-ended (SE) and balanced. Apart from the need to reduce the volume with the balanced cable, I could not tell much, if any, difference in the two headphone outputs. The AM3A (SE) had a more difficult time driving my HD600s, but full volume (120) was well above my tolerable listening level. Where volumes from 45 to 55 were good for my ER4SR (SE), the HD600s required 90 to 100 to achieve the same volume (slightly higher when EQ was turned on. There is a -6dB gain reduction applied when with EQ enabled to avoid clipping when sliders are max’ed out.

    I tried several of the free Viper effects. The one I found most useful was the Playback Gain. It takes a few moments to analyze the source, but does an adequate job of adjusting volume on different albums/tracks. It may not be quite as effective as embedded replay gain, but it served the function with only minor volume adjustments between loud and soft tracks. Viper Playback Gain reduced the need for excessive volume fiddling on ER4SR and HD600. I paid the $0.49 to enable the Viper Bass and found that I quite liked the “Natural Bass” setting as it had minimal impact on the mids and highs.

    Connected to my Creek 4330SE amp and Epos M2 speakers, the line-out on the X7ii was not as transparent (almost muddy) compared to my computer with Foobar 2000 and USB to iDAC. This was surprising since the X7ii/AM3A/ER4SR (and HD600) combo was on a par with (or slightly better resolved) than my computer setup.

    Overall:

    This is an amazing DAP. The SQ is definitely worth the $650 retail price. I could do without Android and all the battery wasting overhead, but the SQ and FiiO music app are worth it. This would be my first choice for a DAP if not for the fact that I already have the X5ii, a very fine DAP in its own right. The X7ii is notably better, but I can’t quite convince myself (or my wife :wink:)that it is worth the price to upgrade.

    The following albums were sampled during my review:
    • 2L Test Bench (available at http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html)
    • Adam Harasiewicz: Chopin Nocturnes & Preludes
    • Antoine Dufour: Back and Forth
    • Antonio Pleeth: 6 Geminiani cello sonatas
    • Calum Graham: Phoenix Rising
    • Dirks und Wirtz: Kinski Spencer Gismonti
    • Don Ross: PS15
    • Earl Klugh: Whispers and Promises
    • Francois Sciortino: French Guitar
    • Giovanni Palombo: La melodia segreta, A Secret Melody
    • Goran Sollscher: Eleven-String Baroque
    • Hoff Ensemble: Quiet Winter Night
    • Jian Wang: The Baroque Album
    • Jimmy Wahlsteen: No Strings Attached
    • John Doan: A Celtic Pilgrimage
    • Julian Webber: Elgar Cello Concerto - Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No.1
    • lan Ethan Case: Run Toward The Mountains
    • Laurence Juber: Guitar Noir
    • Los Angeles Guitar Quartet: Spin
    • Luca Stricagnoli: Luca Stricagnoli
    • Lucas Michailidis: Laughing at the Thief
    • Mike Dawes: What Just Happened
    • Oslo String Quartet: The Shubert Connection
    • Peppino D'Agostino: Acoustic Guitar
    • Peter Ciluzzi: Still Without Words
    • Sarah Mclachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
    • Spencer Elliott: Some Forgotten Color, Unspoken
    • TRONDHEIMSOLISTENE: In Folk Style, Souvenir I & II,
    • Vladimir Horowitz: Rachmaninov Piano Concerto #3
    • Yo-Yo Ma: Bach Cello Suites Nos. 1, 5 & 6, Rachmaninov Prokofiev Cello Sonatas, Mendelssohn Piano Trios, Op. 49 & Op. 6
  7. TomKorn
    “Left-hand goosebumps”
    Written by TomKorn
    Published Nov 1, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound quality
    Cons - Some usability issues
    “Left-hand goosebumps”

    IMG_8631.jpg

    IMG_8634.jpg

    Retail price in Switzerland

    699, - Swiss Francs which is 100 Francs more than the old model.


    Accessories in the box

    IMG_8599.jpg

    X7 MK II Player
    transparent soft plastic (silicone?) case
    faux black leather case with red stitching
    an (oddly large) screwdriver for switching amp modules
    1 piece of metal cladding for older amp modules
    micro USB charging cable
    Coax-adapter


    Review gear

    IMG_8621.jpg

    FIIO X7 Mark II and FIIO X7 (old model) for comparison purposes

    IMG_8603.jpg

    AKG 701 over-ear headphones (62 ohm)

    IMG_8607.jpg

    Beyerdynamic T51P on-ear headphones (32 ohm)

    IMG_8602.jpg

    Campfire Audio Lyra II in-ear monitors (17 ohm)


    Music selection

    Rock/Metal

    Korn – MTV unplugged
    Alice in Chains - MTV unplugged
    The Doors – Best Of

    Singer/Songwriter/etc.

    Andreas Vollenweider – Vox
    Mercedes Sosa – Misa Criolla Live

    Orchestra/Classical Soundtracks

    Howard Shore – Lord of the rings OST
    The Witcher 3 OST
    The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim OST
    Ramijn Djawadi - Game of Thrones OST
    Hans Zimmer – Interstellar OST
    Johann Johansson – Arrival OST
    Harry Gregson-Williams – Metal Gear Solid 4 OST
    John Williams – Indiana Jones Collection OST
    John Williams – Star Wars Collection OST

    Jazz/Blues


    Chris Jones – Roadhouses & Automobiles
    Tom Jones – Praise & Blame
    Sara K – Hell or High Water

    Rap/Hiphop


    Ana Tijoux – 1977
    Wu Tang Clan – The Saga Continues
    Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty Remastered


    Intro

    I have to admit it.

    I was very skeptical as to what degree the new X7 MK II would sound better than the old one. Sure, I imagined it to be a logical but incremental update you would expect for a predecessor of a flagship device.

    That’s why I refrained for quite a while from buying one. Also, I was waiting for a review device promised to me by FIIO. In the end my curiosity got the best of me and I went ahead and bought a MK II when one was suddenly available in a small store in Zurich.

    As I said, I really didn’t expect too much of an improvement, but boy was I wrong!

    Back home I put the MicroSD card from the old X7 into the new MKII and started listening. After a few minutes I realized that my arms were covered in goosebumps. For me that’s a safe sign that something exceptional is just happening.

    Shortly put: The X7 MK II is not a small but a substantial upgrade over the X7 sound quality wise! I would say it punches a whole level above the old model.

    In this review I am focusing on sound quality and usability only since I never use any of the many other features of this Player.


    Sound Quality

    Highs

    Crystal clear but not harsh with a lot of resolution

    Mids

    Voices nicely centered and just slightly elevated

    Bass

    Substantial but controlled with well-defined sub-bass

    Instrument separation

    Excellent, the best I heard so far in a DAP

    Soundstage

    Realistic but not overblown depending on headphones

    General Tonality

    Neutral but not all analytical.



    High-res Files

    I would like to take this opportunity to specifically address this matter and I am happy for any feedback from anyone who reads this.

    High-res Files have become more and more common and there is obviously a lot of money involved. But does anything above 16bit/44kHz actually sound audibly better?

    I have been asking myself that question for quite a while now. Pretty much all my audio equipment is able to reproduce high-res audio. My main audio system has cost me a fortune. I have bought several albums in high-res quality formats. But somehow, I cannot hear any notable difference between the same piece in CD quality and (ultra)high-res. I even have a special test-album where every song exists in a variety of quality-steps up to the highest possible format.

    You may now say that my hearing is just bad, but I can assure you that it is excellent. At least I can tell the difference between an MP3 file and an uncompressed/lossless one.

    I strongly believe that the recording/mastering of a musical piece defines the quality in the first place and not the ultimate resolution.

    The best recordings I possess are from “Stockfish Recordings”. They all are only in CD quality and still way better than any of my (ultra)high-res recordings! As long as you are human and not a bat, I doubt that anyone could hear a notable difference in a blind test.

    However, the MK II is equipped with an ESS 9028pro DAC and therfore capable of playing even the most demanding high-res formats.


    Comparison with X7

    IMG_8626.jpg

    While the old X7 sounds quite sonorous and “full”, the X7 MK II has a similar and yet different tonality. It appears to be a bit leaner first, but at the same time presenting a lot more resolution throughout the whole spectrum.

    Highs have added “sparkle”, mids are more clearly separated and lows are tight but at the same time going down deeper with a nice sub-bass roll-off.

    The instrument separation is excellent and a lot better than with the original X7. I can hear subtle details that I cannot with the old model which was already very good.

    All in all, the sound of the MK II is more detailed and engaging than that of the old X7. You could also say it is more coherent.

    I cannot comment about all the streaming features and DAC functionality this device is capable of because I only and exclusively use it in Pure Music Mode.

    IMG_8594.jpg

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    Amplification

    I tested the MKII with 3 different headphone categories: IEM / on-ear / over ear. According to that order the demand for amplification is rising. Even though the AKG 701 (62 ohm) needed roughly twice the power of the Campfire Lyra IIs (17 ohm), the X7 MKII had no problem driving them. I can only assume that you won’t have any issues with most headphones and if so, there is still the option to install a more powerful amp-module form FIIO.


    Usability Hardware/Software

    Software

    With the update to Android 5.1 on the old X7, FIIO introduced a new bright-colored theme rather than a new or revamped UI. The new theme is the default theme on the MKII, but it is possible to switch to the old dark theme.

    What changed? Well, I did not realize any changes regarding navigational structure of the UI. As I wrote above, it’s mostly about new colors and icons. Personally, I prefer the old theme which, in my opinion, feels subtler, more refined and overall better fitting the looks of the players.

    (1) Navigation works pretty well aside some minor annoyances where I for instance don’t really know how to get back to the album I’m playing when I have navigated to the home menu. I do wish FIIO would have taken the time to really refine the UI so that “dead-ends” like that do not exist in the first place. Beside that the whole UI feels more responsive and fluent than on the old X7.

    (2) I realized, that when using 2 SD cards, the second one (32GB Sandisk Pro) isn’t always recognized properly by the player and sometimes the FIIO music app crashes while trying to detect new songs on the card. Formatting it did not improve the situation but I believe this is just a small software glitch that will be fixed by FIIO soon.

    Hardware

    (1) Button Placement

    Here lies the biggest culprit in my opinion and I’m not gonna lie – it’s almost a showstopper for me: The button placement. In contrast to the old model, all buttons on the MKII are placed on the left side of the player.

    IMG_8645.jpg

    As a right-handed person, am I really supposed to operate the volume wheel with my forefinger? And the other buttons with all the other fingers like I am playing a trumpet or flute or something?

    When grabbing the device with my right hand, it is near impossible for me to not accidentally hit the pause/play or forward/backward buttons. I am trying to actively learn a way to grab the device safely but this is causing some mayor annoyance. Why, FIIO? Maybe they only employ left-handed engineers and/or testers… Well, at least that’s good news for every left-handed person reading this review: This is the best sounding player you will ever find!

    (2) Volume Wheel

    Another little thing is that the volume wheel’s rasterization is somewhat “mushy”. I would prefer a more defined, “clickier” implementation if you know what I mean.

    IMG_8637.jpg

    (3) SD-card slots

    While it is definitely nice to have 2 SD-card slots in the MKII, I would have preferred the old solution without the tray/cover. Sure, there is no opening spoiling the appearance of the player like in the old one. Maybe FIIOs designers were also thinking about keeping possible dust out of the device, I can’t say.

    IMG_8608.jpg

    For me, it was just easier to simply pop out the card, put it in my laptop to copy new music onto it and put it back into the X7. Plus the transfer speed was substantially better than using the USB cable.

    Since I am a UX/UI designer myself as well as a heavy user of course, all those things really matter to me as they will probably matter to other users too.


    Bottom line

    If you are interested in ultimate sound quality like me, you can’t go wrong with the FIIO X7 MK II.

    Honestly, I cannot imagine a device for a similar or even twice the amount of money that would sound (substantially) better. Though I never heard the likes of Astell & Kerns TOTL players…

    You are looking for a mobile DAP with high end sound for a still reasonable price (and are left-handed)? Look no further.


    Sound quality (50%) 5/5

    Functionality (20%) 5/5

    Usability (20%) 3/5

    Accessories (10%) 4/5


    Overall 4.5

    images

    1. IMG_8634.jpg
    2. IMG_8637.jpg
    3. IMG_8645.jpg
      Brooko, csglinux, JaeYoon and 2 others like this.
  8. ExpatinJapan
    A bearable lightness of being
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Oct 12, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Good UI, great clarity and detailing, neutral and transparent, swappable amps
    Cons - A little less depth, imaging, sound stage and inner details than higher range daps.
    FiiO X7 Mark 2 Review
    - Expatinjapan


    [​IMG]
    FiiO X7ii, Advanced AcousticWerkes W300U and a Double Helix Cable.


    FiiO X7 Mark 2 review
    -expatinjapan

    Visit the FiiO site for a full breakdown of all its features.
    http://www.fiio.net/en/products/71
    An "Android based high resolution audio lossless playback portable music player".

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 or the X7ii is the latest Dap from FiiO, aiming to be an improvement on the earlier X7.

    Like many others I have a long history as a consumer of FiiO products from the first A5 amplifier to their cables.
    Read the (partial) FiiO history here https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/06/fiios-foundations-brief-history-of-fiio.html.

    I tried many of their earlier daps the at Tokyo audio shows but the sound signature at the time was on the warm side and not to my taste, plus I was yoked to the Apple and external DAC/amp train by that point.
    Later Daps revealed a scroll wheel, but by then I was using ipod touch with its touch screen or a repurposed old iphone 4.

    Head pie eventually reviewed the FiiO M3 https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/02/fiio-m3-portable-music-player.html when it came out around the same time as the initial X7.
    I was tempted to request a review unit of the X7 but thought I would go for the entry level item (M3) as that would appeal to many readers and it hadn't got as much attention.

    When the new series of touchscreen FiiO daps with a lighter, towards neutral sound signature to them started to be released it piqued my interest. FiiO later offered to send the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to Head pie for review. I was excited.

    Unboxing and build
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    A pin to release the slot for the Micro SD cards - Two slots, one pin.

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    An ad booklet for the dock and other various FiiO products, the X7ii wrapped safely

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    The leather case supported by a foam insert and a warranty
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    The back of the case, I love that red stitching

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    A screwdriver and extra screws for the amp. Very important


    [​IMG]

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    A USB charge and data transfer cable, a COAX cable
    and a side piece for X7 amplifier installation to retain a smooth outline.

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    Warranty and a quick start guide

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    The FiiO X7 in its plastic case alongside the leather case.
    A tempered glass protector screen is already installed at the factory.

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    The plastic case is very unobtrusive. I think FiiO did a really good job on it.
    Looking at the photos now I am tempted to swap out the leather case
    and slip the X7ii into its plastic sheath.

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    Single ended headphone jack and Balanced jack

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    Power button and Line out/Coax/ Optical out

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    Play/pause button, volume wheel and REV/FF.

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    Micro SD memory card slots. Easy peasy.

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    Nekkid FiiO X7 Mark 2

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    Hot slots. You can insert large size cards and maximize over the internal 64GB. Two slots, one dap.

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    The familiar pull down Android basic menu.
    The FiiO X7ii has a few different shortcuts on it than some other recent daps.

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    Power button and Line out/Coax/Optical out jack.

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    FiiO X7ii and Campfire Audio Nova.
    The Nova with its XXx signature pairs well with the X7ii and its neutral
    with a slight rise in the highs.

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    Looking gorgeous in the leather case, The Pixies 'Bossanova` playing through
    the Campfire Audio Vega with Symbio Mandarine tips.

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    Mazzy Star, nuff said!

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    FiiO X7ii and ATH-ESW11 Ltd Ed with book pron.

    Specifications
    Main Unit:
    Name / Model No. X7 Mark Ⅱ (FX5321) Operating System Deeply customized Android 5.1.1
    CPU Model RK3188 No. of cores 4
    CPU operating frequency 1.4GHz DAC ESS9028 PRO
    Keyboard Virtual QWERTY keyboard Input method Touchscreen
    Special features Dual Android / Pure Music operating modes, symmetrical remappable keys, USB DAC, docking connector, etc. User Interface Android 5.1.1 / FiiO Music
    Chips used SoC:RK3188, DAC:ESS9028 PRO, LPF: OPA1612x2, OP: Customized OPA926x2
    Connectivity:
    WIFI 5GHz/2.4GHz IEEE802.11 b/g/n standards supported Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.1,aptX supported
    USB Micro USB2.0

    Display screen:
    Display size 3.97 inches Number of colours 16.7 million colors
    Display type IPS TFT Viewable angle 178°
    Resolution 480×800 Pixel density 233 ppi
    Touchscreen Yes

    Storage:
    RAM 2GB Total ROM 64GB
    Storage expansion type Micro SD ROM available to user About 55GB
    Maximum storage expansion 512GB (256GB x 2)

    Buttons and ports:
    Buttons Side buttons + side volume wheel+ touchscreen Custom key mapping N/A
    Headphone out 3.5mm standard headphone output jack Balanced output Supported (2.5mm balanced headphone jack)
    Line out/Digital Coaxial out/Optical output Standard 3.5mm port (shared LO/Coaxial out) USB connection Micro USB2.0 (charging / data transfer / docking function / USB DAC)
    General:
    Color Titanium Dimensions about 128.7mm(H)×67.2mm(W)×15.5mm(D)
    Weight about 212g Volume control 120 steps +/- button control (via analog-domain controller
    Recommended headphone impedance 16~150 Ω (Headphone out)
    16~300 Ω (Balanced out) Equalizer 10-band EQ (±6dB), 9 presets+custom preset, ViPER Effect
    Bass boost N/A Treble boost N/A
    Balance control 10 dB Gain control Low/High
    USB DAC Up to 192kHz/24bit supported

    Power specifications:
    USB power adapter DC 12/1.5A, 9V/2A, 5V/2A recommended Battery Internal 3800 mAh High-voltage quick charging Li-polymer battery
    Charging indication via LCD display and pulse LED Charging time <100 min (DC 12V/1.5A)
    <2.5 h (DC 5V/2A)
    Battery indication Yes (accurate battery % readings)

    Battery Life & Test Conditions:
    3.5mm headphone output:>8 h
    Volume 62 Gain Low
    Load M3 open earbuds (27 Ω) Screen OFF
    Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit (Download link) EQ OFF
    2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone output:>7 h
    Volume 51 Gain Low
    Load 32Ω Screen OFF
    Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit (Download link) EQ OFF

    Others:
    Firmware Upgrade Supported both via zip file(inernal memory or external micro SD card) and OTA Font size Changeable
    Third-party apps support No limit (recommended to install the apps listed on FiiO Market)

    Line output specifications:
    THD+N <0.0008% (1 kHz/10kΩ) SNR ≥119 dB (A-weighted)
    Frequency response 5 Hz~70 kHz(-3dB) Dynamic range >114 dB
    Channel separation ≥103 dB (1 kHz) Line level >1.8Vrms
    Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack):
    Output power 1 ≥200 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <1.2Ω (32Ω loaded)
    Output power 2 ≥150 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation ≥73 dB (1 kHz)
    Output power 3 ≥17 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
    Frequency response 6 Hz~60 kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >6 Vp-p
    SNR ≥116 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current >150mA (For reference)
    Balanced headphone out specifications (2.5mm TRRS headphone out jack):
    Output power 1 ≥380 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <1.7Ω (32Ω loaded)
    Output power 2 ≥400 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation ≥97 dB (1 kHz)
    Output power 3 ≥63 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
    Frequency response 6 Hz~60kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >10 Vp-p
    SNR ≥119 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current >150 mA (For reference)

    File format support:
    Lossless:
    DSD:DSD64/128(“.iso”,“.dsf”,“.dff”)
    DXD:352.8kHz
    APE FAST/High/Normal:384kHz/24bit(MAX)
    APE Extra High:192kHz/24bit(MAX)
    APE Insane:96kHz/24bit(MAX)
    Apple Lossless:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
    AIFF:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
    FLAC:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
    WAV:384kHz/64bit(MAX)
    WMA Lossless:96kHz/24bit(MAX)
    Lossy compression:
    MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG...

    [​IMG]

    FiiO AMP AM3A
    The FiiO X7 Mark2 comes with an updated and improved version of their early AM3 amp, the AM3A.
    Thankfully and wisely the original X7 series of amplifiers are compatible with the X7 Mark 2 so one has more choice as to which amp to use. Taking into consideration, balanced vs single, less or more power, warmth vs neutrality.
    I find the AM3A amplifier to have sufficient power for IEMs certainly, and other in ears, portable headphones and have read reports of satisfied users with more power hungry headphones.

    Is it the Dap or the Amp module that is being reviewed? Thats the difficult part for me. I have only one amp unit and none other to compare with. No doubt users or reviewers of the X7 original will be able to answer those queries.
    I find the sound from the X7 mark2 and the AM3A to be on the neutral but not reference side of things, it seems to veer upwards a slight bit towards the high end.

    Update: After the most recent firmware release of late September 2017 I have found the sound to be evened out, and more body to the music and a sense of underlying power to it all.

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    I`ve always been a fan of the AD8620 amplifier.

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    Price
    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is $649.00 on Amazon.com

    Which as an average price (as prices of daps vary country to country) is quite a decent one in todays market for one as many options and features as the X7 Mark 2 possesses.

    As always check whether the vendor is a officially supported retailer.

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    FiiO X7ii, Jomo 6R and VE Monks.

    Sound
    I gave as per usual a period of grace to let the FiiO X7ii settle in, to please the adherents and supplicants on the altar of burn in and in the process soothe the heathen non believers because they don't adhere to that particular philosophy as they'd be satisfied from day one. Once again everyone is happy. Don't mind.
    A variety of headphones and earphones, places and situations were used during the review process.

    [​IMG]
    fiiO X7ii, Jomo 6R and a Double Helix Cable.

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a detour away from much earlier offerings from FiiO (with perhaps the exclusion of the X7) moving towards a more neutral sound signature.
    The first firmware went a bit too far to the right on its first excursion and had a wee too much extension in the highs which left the lows a bit thin and with out much body and thickness in the mids.

    Update: After the most recent firmware release of late September 2017 I have found the sound to be evened out, and more body to the music and a sense of underlying power to it all.

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    Testing against some of the recent big boy daps. Opus#2 and DX200.

    I found the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to be a closer relation to the Opus#3 in terms of sound than other daps I have lying about.

    Whilst I did the comparisons with other daps I SPL volume matched and had a headphone switcher and various earphones/iems at hand etc.

    The Opus#3 although possessing a quite different (BurrBrown) dac it had a similar trasparency, commitment to detail and separation.
    For both have great central vocals, sound stage certainly doesnt disappoint and ui and overall music response is fast.

    The slightly higher priced Opus#2 and DX200 surpass it in more micro detailing, layering, timbre and a larger and defined sound stage.
    But that is to be expected and the jump between them can be quite noticeable to the trained ear, it is also incremental to an extent and takes nothing away from the FiiO X7 Mark 2 decent performance.


    [​IMG]

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 falls within its asking price of around US $649.00 quite well.
    It is by no means a cheap dap in build or performance. FiiO has a long history of making decent audio products at a decent price, so dont get misled by the price.

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a dap that has first of all a noticeable transparent, neutral clarity to it. There is a freshness to the music, with an exquisite separation between the instruments.
    There seems a lightness to the music, a bounce which encourages enjoyment and not an over analytical ear. Nor are any shortcomings hidden by a smooth warm dac or sound signature, more it is tuned in such a way that one can easily sit back and merely enjoy it.

    It is neutral yet also has a dynamic sound, once again clarity, separation and detail being the most noticeable features.

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    FiiO X7ii and Shozy Hibiki

    Wifi reach
    I have snazzy slippery fast 1GB high speedy Gonzales Japan internets. So results may vary elsewhere.
    I gave it the old youtube test (the router is on my houses second floor) I started the furtherest away on the ground floor at the opposite end of my house and found it smooth with no connection problems.

    Also outdoors it stretched as far as my ipod touch with no problems, the Buffalo routers extreme reach seeming to be the only barrier.
    I havent really listened to youtube music on a dap before and it was pleasant and pleasing.

    [​IMG]

    Overall
    I was pleased to hear the new FiiO X7 Mark 2. I thought it was a vast improvement sonically on earlier models I had listened to.

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a gorgeous looking dap when fully unclothed of its leather case, although it also looks stylish in it too. No doubt some may prefer the clear case. Audio pervs. Although it does have that Bladerunner macintosh jacket look to it. Supaa kewl.

    I would prefer to leave it without the case, as I would also like to with other daps I have at hand - but protection against bumping and accidental drops are paramount. So I keep it on (leather case).

    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 fits nicely within the palm of ones hand, the weight is similar to other daps of this size. It feels solid in its build.

    The RK3188 CPU and 2GB RAM, as compared to the X7 1 GB certainly shows in the speed of the UI and experience of the daps touchscreen. Very fast and fluid.

    The DAC ESS9028 PRO certainly is an improvement over the ES9018S Dac of the X7 and is also a DAC chip that many other dap makers of late seem to be turning to and using also. It certainly takes care of any of the past Sabre glare issues.
    Definitely more detailing, resolution and depth.

    Dac functionality isn`t completely functional as of this writing, although some users on Head-fi have found a safe work around.

    I was in two minds about its sound as I routinely switched from Opus#2, Alien+, Opus#3 and the DX200 during the listening portion of the review process. Some days I would carry 3 daps and 6 earphones with me on my daily commute just so I confirm what I thought I was hearing as I was in the depths of a three way dap review. Those being the Opus#2, Alien+ and the FiiO X7 Mark 2, each being stellar in it own realm but each bringing a little something different to the table.

    I found the FiiO X7 Mark 2 on its earlier Firmwares to be fairly neutral, transparent, detailed and with decent separation, but with a slight twinge in the upper reaches. Maybe a result of DAC choice, firmware or going to the other extreme from the earlier FiiO warmish in house signature sound.
    later when I updated to the more recent Firmware of late September 2017 I noticed the highs had been tamed somewhat, or the over all body had been bought up to match. It definitely seemed to have the appearance of more power after the update, before it sounded a little bit thin and lacked a certain beefiness.

    The X7 Mark 2 is generally neutral, linear and seems to handle the highs well. It departs from the earlier darker sound of earlier FiiO daps perhaps partly in a change of Dacs from AK to ES/ESS and by way of intentional design.

    Resolution and separation are great, but not excellent in comparison to daps at a higher price point. Though this is to expected. Although it does pack plenty of detail and dynamic range it offers an enjoyable musical experience whilst staying true to the recording.


    The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a stylishly designed dap with clean modern lines. Choosing the naked, clear case or leather bondage look give one aesthetic options.

    The sound certainly is high quality and complements a large range of tastes and earphones.

    It doesnt have a total black background and exhibits a slight faint hiss noticeable with sensitive iems from the balanced port which disappears as the music starts.

    The choice avaliable of amp units for power or sound signatures makes it versatile and more customizable to suit the users personal needs and preferences.

    Although not able to punch it out with some of the other bigger daps on the market it holds its place well. It is a dap I can easily take out and listen to for a day without disappointment or fear of missing out.
    FiiO X7 Mark2 is one of the recent jewels of the many starred Dap releases of 2017.

    I remember the earlier Hi-Res dap releases of various companies and stayed until recently on the apple plus external dac train.
    Many of these companies Daps seem to have reached a stage of beauty and near perfection in the last two years.

    FiiO with their release of the X7 Mark 2 certainly stands with the best of them. It is a mature dap for a matured market which seems to be finally coming of age.
    A top dap in the upper middle segment of the market.

    The bearable lightness of being a neutral, well balanced dap, with enough space, detail and clarity to please, and enough body to match.

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    Thank you to FiiO for sending the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to Head pie for review.
  9. hansonsc56
    If you love music, this is the one
    Written by hansonsc56
    Published Oct 9, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - The sound. Separation, clarity, depth. New Control button layout. 2 MicroSD slots. and the Sound. Did I mention the sound?
    Cons - Sorting of album titles beginning with the word "the".
    Here’s my review of the FIIO X7 Mark II.

    My background:

    I’m a 62 year old who listens and plays music all of the time. I’ve played guitar for over 40 years, as well as years on bass and some drums. I play in a church group as the bass player and lead guitar (when called for). A few years ago I filled in for the drummer for a year. My wife plays piano and we have a Steinway grand in the house. I am an avid collector of guitars (acoustics, electrics and bass). I also bought a lot of ride cymbals looking for that perfect tone (for me, it’s the ride in Brubeck’s “Take Five”). For snares I wanted the Steely Dan “Black Cow” sound.

    The point of this is that I am very familiar with how instruments sound when you play them. In terms of audio equipment, my goal has always been: “If they recorded it, I want to hear it”. So, I am always listening to hear TONE. Whether it is a Goodall Guitar (Doug Smith on “Alone at Last”, a Fender tweed (a lot of people), the sound of really good set of Hi-hats clicking, etc., I wanted to hear it like I was in the room.

    As having a family limited my listening to my stereo (SONY ES series through KEF 104/2 Reference), I moved to headphones. When the Ipod came out I downloaded my CD collection to the computer and Ipod. I loved the portability and accepted the sound. I invested in some better IEM’s (some old Sony’s, Monster Cables Miles Davis Trumpets, and others). Then I read an article on CNET about Neil Young’s PONO player. Lossless tracks seemed the way to go. The article noted that while the PONO wasn’t available yet, this small Chinese company, FIIO had some great products at very reasonable prices.

    I first bought the X5 version 1. Started converting my CD collection to FLAC files using Exact Audio Copy. It was like taking cotton out of my ears. I subsequently added a FIIO Montblanc amplifier and the sound was even better. My biggest frustration with the X5 was that the interface was not as easy to navigate as the Ipod’s. When the X7 with Android came out, I jumped on it (I am an Android guy not IOS).

    When the new X7 Mark II came out, is signed up for the review tour. Which brings us to why you are hopefully still reading this. My review will be mostly about the sound. Other reviewers have done the unboxing thing, frequency graph’s, specs, etc., so if you want that info go read those reviews.

    My process.

    I decided to do a blind comparison with my X7. I had a duplicate Micro SD card that I put in the MKII. For the test, I only used FLAC files that I had made from CD’s. The lineup included:

    Steely Dan, Aja, “Peg”

    Boz Scaggs, Silk Degrees, “Lido Shuffle”

    Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, “Time”

    Dave Brubeck, Time Out, “Take Five”

    Bob Marley, Legend, “Jammin”

    Paul Simon, Graceland, “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”

    Jeff Hamilton Trio, Red Sparkle, “Red Sparkle”

    We would cue up the song in both devices and my son would insert the headphones (Grado 325’s) into one of the DAP’s play a minute of the song and then switch to the other devices. I could not see which one he was playing. We matched the volume on both devices (the MKII AM3 probably had an advantage over the X7 AM1, but I was comparing the “stock” models). I would tell him which one I liked better.

    The pieces I chose were selected because of their production, complexity, and that I really liked them. Right from the start it was clear that one device was better than the other. It was the Mark II. I don’t use (or in some cases understand) the language of some reviewers. I don’t understand what “effortless” means. So I will use my own standard/language. I do understand what soundstage separation refers to and I do see that as a required factor.

    The differences were at times astounding, on “Peg” I was finally able to hear Michael McDonald’s multiple harmony parts, which in the past sounded like one voice. On many records, I could hear the ride cymbal’s wash like I had hit it myself. When playing an instrument, you hear the instrument “in it’s space”. There are overtones, harmonics, finger sound’s on strings, resonances, etc. the difference between a snare with a piece of gaffer’s tape stuck to it or not. A tube amp like a great fender tweed has an aura of tone. With the Mark II these were all there much clearer than on my beloved X7. The instruments were all amazingly clear. On some tracks, I was able to hear separate instrument parts that had always sounded like one part (listen to Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”) On Peter Gabirel’s “In your Eyes”, the very subtle talking drum part in the left channel was extremely clear and realistic. Snarky Puppy’s “Lingus” sounded like I was in the room.

    Drum sounds were like I was sitting on my throne. Bass sounds were “right there”.

    So, I had a clear favorite in the race. I decided to enlist my son and wife (also musicians) to have them do a little blind testing. Both of them found the Mark II to be better than the Mark I. For my wife, I cued up Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart/Hogwood version). It clearly was better on the Mark II.

    During my review period, Tom Petty passed away, so I listened to his music this week…a lot. His great music was blessed with great production which really came through on the Mark II.

    I used a variety of headphones and IEM’s for my various listening. Most of the times I used my Grado 325’s. For the IEMS, I mostly used my KEF M200s, which I use when I really want to hear the bass player. Also used FIIO EX-1’s and Etymotic ER-4’s. Towards the end of the review, I started using my KEF M500’s. KEF is a gear British Speaker company, and I have loved my aforementioned 102/4’s. The M500’s emerged as my favorite way to listen to the Mark II’s.

    Pet Peeve: I wish that the file sorting would be truly alphabetic. I finally figured out that albums are sorted by title and artist. In the section of albums beginning with “The”, this can be tricky. CD 1’s and 2’s are sometimes separate and hard to find. Not knowing the artist subsort, I spent a lot of time searching through the “The’s”.

    I also really liked the new volume wheel. It was easier to use than the screen swipe option. The power button on top was also much better. The two Micro SD card drives are a big plus, particularly as my one 256GB card is almost full. The soft clear case is better than the hard one that came with the X7.

    Without being too technical, the Mark II amplifier section is a big advancement over the X7. All I have to do now is convince Santa that I have been a very good boy and should get one of these under the tree on Christmas
  10. emptymt
    Fiio X7 II: An Impressive DAP
    Written by emptymt
    Published Sep 25, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Balance and clear sounding, smooth, detailed, 2 microSDs, accessories, flexible output selection, price, durable.
    Cons - Software Bugs, runs warm, the finish can still be improved, ok only battery life, big bezel on the screen.
    Hi everyone, Before I start the review, I would like to thank Fiio for making this awesome DAP at an affordable price and rich features, and also to @Fiio for organizing the tour.

    This review will focus on the sound quality and not so much about other aspects, so I'll make the other sections as brief as possible.

    INTRODUCTION

    I'm an Indonesian working as a Web/PHP Developer in Melbourne, Australia.

    Other than programming/coding, listening to music is another one of my hobby.

    When I start my headphone hobby, music listening has been a very rewarding experience for me and has helped me in many aspects of life other than music enjoyment, although, with the booming price of high end headphones/IEM, etc at the moment, it has become a bit of a heavy hit on my wallet

    Starting from almost 2 years ago I've been really hooked in metal music, and nowadays my everyday music listening always incorporate metal tracks, I guess you can call me a Metalhead but I don't know about that, I also listen to other genres occasionally.


    I don't actually listen to all kinds of music, lets say for example Classical, therefore it is important to understand that this review is based on my observation on the kinds of musics I like, and those are mainly:
    - Metal (many kinds, mainly the extreme kind, everyday anytime anywhere)
    - Rock (mostly Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Radiohead or something like it)
    - Pop (90s stuff, rarely)
    - EDM (Mostly trance and it's sub-genres)
    - Jazz (Norah Jones, Diana Krall and the likes)
    - Indonesian Song (it's basically the Indonesian version of pop or rock, guitar is used all the time, sounds natural and relaxing, however, mastering of the song is not very good, this is good to test how good a headphone/Iem handle poorly recorded material)
    - KPOP
    - JPOP and JROCK/Visual Kei, whatever you call it (mostly the older stuff)

    I used the Fiio X7 II for about 2 weeks not including transit times, everyday at work and at home on weekend, I will also make some comparisons to my other gears that i have.
    I only use the unit in SE mode as I don't have a connector with 2.5mm balance to be used together with the fiio for my headphones.

    EQUIPMENT USED FOR REVIEW/COMPARISON WITH THE DAP
    - Shozy Stardust
    - Meze 99 Classic
    - Sony MDR Z1R
    - Focal Utopia
    - Chord Mojo
    - Cavalli Liquid Carbon (X7 II as DAC)

    PACKAGING

    the box is black with black cover with the picture of the player itself, opening the box you are greated with the player nicely guarded with thick foam at the top and the accessories at the bottom.
    20170924_163501.jpg 20170924_163510.jpg

    ACCESSORIES
    Silicone case
    Leather case
    USB cable
    Coaxial cable
    MicroSd pin
    Screwdriver for the amp unit
    Spare sideguard for the amp unit
    Pamphlets and documentation

    The Fiio X7 II
    20170924_163047.jpg

    The Build Quality is very nice, and also clean, nice colouring for the unit with sturdy construction, unfortunately the X7 II will only be available in silver colour unlike it's little sibling.
    This is due to the amp module being silver in colour, so having different colour on the player will not match aesthetically.
    20170924_163100.jpg
    It is a little thick, but not overly so and still comfortable on my side pocket.
    Nice screen with good brightness to be used outdoor very easily.
    All the button are nice and tactile although some accidental click has happened while in my pocket
    Some minus point include some mismatch in color at the back of the unit where there is a grayish pannel, possibly for better bluetooth reception.
    There is no option to turn off the blue lighting.

    At the top of the unit there is the power button and combo Line/Coax/Opt out.
    20170924_171400.jpg

    At the bottom of the player you got some socket to connect to the amp unit and at the bottom of the amp unit(AM3) is the micro USB port for charging and data transfer duties, I'm a little disappointed that Fiio does not use USB C here, hopefully this will be rectified for future release.
    Other than that you will find 3.5 SE jack and 2.5 balance jack.
    20170924_171430.jpg

    On the right, You will find 2 Micro Sd slots which is super nice and is probably one of the best features of the unit.
    20170924_171423.jpg

    On the left is the play/pause button and also next and previous button, and also the volume wheel that has a satisfying click when you operate it.
    20170924_171414.jpg

    The player itself is very responsive to touch, just like the X5 III, it is snappy enough, although some lag is still there and is subject for improvement in the next iteration.

    UI & FEATURES

    At the home screen, you will find your usual android interface here, you can find menus and apps such as clocks, gallery, internet, etc and some Fiio specific apps such as the Fiio Market and Fiio Music Player itself.
    20170924_171437.jpg 20170924_171445.jpg 20170924_171710.jpg

    There are 5 Navigation modes available:
    - Folder
    - Artist
    - Songs
    - Genre
    - Playlist

    For other navigation except folder, you need to scan your library first for it to work.
    I'm a big fan of Folder navigation since I like to group all my musics in folders based on my preference, I normally listen to music album by album, so It is very good that Fiio has included this feature in my opinion.

    You can then access you on-board memory or to your sdcards(2) to play your music, for some reason the second slot takes longer to load, so put all your favorite music in the first slot as it is always ready.
    20170924_171823.jpg

    You can also change the setting in the device, such as wifi, bluetooth, brightness, etc.
    On the audio side, you can adjust gain and balance, filter mode, output mode, etc. This is also accessible in the music player itself.
    20170924_171728.jpg 20170924_171941.jpg 20170924_171932.jpg 20170924_171854.jpg
    20170924_171453.jpg 20170924_171500.jpg 20170924_171851.jpg

    Other than the standard stuff, Fiio has also supplied the unit with Viper Effect, although i didn't use it.
    20170924_171947.jpg 20170924_172001.jpg

    The Output mode is smart, the moment you plug in your cable to the combo jack, it will know what connection is being used, although I only use it in line-out to my LC.

    Battery Life
    In my opinion the battery life is one of the sacrifice of using desktop class DAC in a portable solution, I found the battery life to be ok at best, although it is not the worse thing ever since it supports quick charge, but in the events where you forgot to charge over night, it may be abit hard to have music ready for the rest of that day until you find a charging socket.

    Some bugs/querks/annoyance of the unit
    I found some bugs trough my use of over 2 weeks, here they are:
    1. The screen sometime freeze while you're swiping around in the folder mode while the music is playing, it will be stuck like that for like 5-7 seconds that it will work again.
    2. the play/pause button sometimes does not work properly when pausing, instead it replays the current song.
    3. There was 1 time where the music stops half way and then skip to the next track.
    4. There was 1 time where the music app auto quit/crash while playing music.
    5. the blue light can't be turn off
    6. the unit runs really warm sometimes, it can get a little uncomfortable in your pocket.

    Sound Quality

    The Signatures
    The Fiio X7 II is neutral, I would say with just a slight touch of warm to the low frequencies, very slight though, chord mojo is quite a bit warmer than this, but people say that it is only slightly on the warm side, so I hope you get the picture here.

    The Bass
    The Bass has a very slight emphasis to it in my opinion, but I like it, the drums is still tight and has excellent body, it never ever sounds thin, however you can definitely hear the texture of every hits, it is detailed but does not sound too clinical and instead it has the fun factor, the musicality is there and combines very well with all the capabilities of detail extraction that goes deep, to top it off the resolving ability of the Dap is top notch too, in avery fast blastbeats drum hits, it sounds distinct and fast and it has never sound like the notes are diffuse together, this is bass done right, Fiio has always impart some warm to it's product, but the tuning this time is the best implementation so far from all their products I have heard.

    The Mids
    The mids is detailed, resolving and articulate sounding, it has just the right combination of body in it's tone, not too think and not too thin, therefore it is very easy to make out what the lyrics is in a song, as the syllables are very clear sounding.
    In Metal music, Shriek, Scream and Growl vocal technic is a norm, it's often hard to understand what's being said, and for this type of vocals the X7 II shines, the articulation is in effects here, it is easier to hear the lyrics and also the bites, raspiness, and coarseness of the vocals is full on, you can hear the crackle of the vocalist really clearly without sounding sharp, even some Black metal track that I tried that I know has some sharp shrieking to it sounds more bearable in this, very good performance here.
    For femail vocals, it is very sweet, again as a Metalhead i use one of my metal collection to test this out, This time Lisa Johanson from Draconian, She just sounds so smooth and sweet, the timbre is emotional in a sad song, it makes me feel a little sad sometimes, but it's very enjoyable to me as it makes me feel something.
    Another case for clean vocals, this for Male is Steven Wilson, In "Drive home" track, he sounds so emotional but relax at the same time, it makes me feel good and relaxed too and just enjoy the music, until the emotional guitar solo in the middle of the track presents the climax of sorrowful and anguish emotion that sounds like the guitar is crying, suddenly the relaxedness is change to something else entirely, and this is a good thing.
    The guitars is another part where the X7 II shines, the bites of the electric guitars is strong and full, you can hear the sound change from the time the player picks the string until it fades away, the notes lingers well and the decay is there and present, it's really easy to spot the deacy amidst of what is happening in the tracks.

    The Treble
    The treble is smooth and sparkly, detailed and generally, the least forward frequency in the sound presentation, it is not rolled off or toned down at all, the bass and mids is just more prominent and more forward.
    The tizz in cymbal hits is smooth and has nice decay, it lingers and fades very naturally and there is no sharpness to it.
    The DAC in use is Es9028PRO which is a Sabre DAC, Sabre DAC has some specific characteristics to it that can sound glare-ry at times, however I have not heard one here, it just sounds natural and energetic, exist when called open and execute superbly.
    I found the treble to be Dynamic in it's presentation, generally it is not as forward as the bass and mids, however often time in the climax of the song where it employs the cymbals a lot, i found it to step forward to balance out the other frequencies, this is very enjoyable and helps maintain the atmosphere of the tracks, when it's calm and solemn it does not offend, when it's lively it's energetic and full of energy.

    The Soundstage, Imaging and separations
    The soundstage presentation is good, the airiness combined with black background gives it a spacious feeling as if there are some empty space between each instruments, i found it to have similar width, depth and height, so it's quite spherical and is not the wide x-axis type, which is my preference.

    Pairing

    Shozy Stardust earbud
    20170924_165108.jpg

    The stardust has an excellent synergy with the X7 II, the bass hits are tight and the mids are detailed and musical, treble is smooth and sweet and not fatigueing.
    Soundstage is good and airy, the treble dynamic certainly helps the Shozy abit here as it is a little rolled off.

    Meze 99 Classics
    20170924_165155.jpg
    This is an excellent pairing, the 99 classic is a bassy headphone, theoretically a neutral source with heaps of details will be an excellent pairing, which is the case here. The Meze is warm and sweet but can sound a little muddy on the vocals for some tracks, the Clarity and articulation of The X7 II helps a lot here, I found the vocal more resolving and more articulate, while the bass controlled, the treble sttill retains the original signature of the headphone a slight roll off at the top fo fatigue free listening.
    The meze can be modded to support balance connection fairly easily, this will be interesting to try.
    For people that does not like IEM, this will be a good option.

    Sony MDR-Z1R
    20170924_170835.jpg

    The Z1R is not a hard headphone to drive The X7 II has enough power to drive it fully without external amplification, I found the Z1R retains much of it's qualities and signatures without moch change. What can be noticed though is the detail and articulation prowess of the source feeding it, The bass has it's signature boost down low while being controlled, Mids still has good body, sweet and relaxed laid back feeling.
    Overall the X7 II drives the Z1R excellently.

    Focal Utopia
    20170924_170959.jpg

    Another High-End headphone that is not hard to drive, just like the Z1R, I found the Focal Utopia to be fully driven from the X7 II, Soundstage is intimate but spherical, Vocal is clear, articulate and is vivid and is extremely detailed, Bass is controlled and tight with very fast speed, Treble is detailed, smooth and just want to please, there is no harshness and sibilant, everything is there and I found this pairing to be an excellent one.

    AS DAC
    Cavalli Liquid Carbon (X7 II -> LC) vs (Mojo -> LC)
    20170924_164750.jpg 20170924_164808.jpg

    As DAC, The X7 II is more of a neutral source, with very minimal coloration to it and relies on it's technical capabilities to resolve the music, compared to the mojo->Lc combo, the mojo combo sounds thicker and warmer, more body down low, while the X7 II is thinner and less body, and more focused on exposing the details compared to the full on pleasing nature + detail of the mojo->LC combo.
    I actually think that the X7 II -> LC combo is more to my liking, as the LC itself is already warm, and the mojo -> is even more warm which can be bad sometimes.

    Comparisons

    Chord Mojo
    20170924_164759.jpg

    Other than the Ibasso DX200, the mojo is the other main competitor to the X7 II in my opinion, They are price close to each other, but one is a DAP with DAP's flexibility while the other is a DAC that has a lot of power and can therefore drive more powerful headphone than what the X7 II can.

    The question is, which is more important for you? Flexibility or more power?
    And then you have to ask, what kind of tonality works for you, do you like warm presentation?
    If you have no exact preference to the questions above than it is down to the performance and technicalities.
    I'm probably the first person that says this, I think The X7 II is really, really close to the mojo, I'm not even sure, but to my ears the amount of details is about equal in my opinion, and in some situation probably exceed the mojo.
    I don't find myself missing anything with The X7 II, everything in my music that I heard in my mojo is there too with the X7 II, there are some difference though.

    To try to illustrate the difference, in my opinion The mojo in general is warmer and can be said to sound more analogue compared to the X7 II which is a little more digital if compared side by side, but that warmness in the mojo presents details in a different way than the X7 II, the X7 II presents it as it is there and the detail is trying to appeal to you, like saying "Hey!, I'm here, look at me!" and it feels more noticable, while with the mojo, the detail is there, but you can miss it while your listening to it due to its warm enjoyment, more like saying "Hey! I'm here too if you need me", now if you are a detail person you would want to hear everything, in this case than the X7 II is for you, if you just want to enjoy music without being bothered by it then you go for the mojo.

    But then, there is a value proposition to it, in order for the mojo to play music, you either need a PC or phone, so it's not as flexible, and even then you need cable to connect them together, but you may say "ah, wait there is the Poly!", yes, with the poly your mojo is on another level now, it will have a better interface than the X7 II as you are using a phone, you also has more power on tap, virtually capable to drive any headphone there is except the HE-6 and big planars, but then, it will be even more expensive and is in a nother ballpark comparing to the X7 II's price, so in my opinion, The X7 II presents better value while being flexible and has similar if not better performance/general usability result depending on your preference.

    Summary
    For the price of the DAP, it is a complete deal for me, it sounds great, good portability, ok battery with quick charge, 2 micro sd's, durable build, and great value for money.
    I would really recommend this DAP for anyone looking to purchase Hi-Res portable DAP or DAC/AMP combo.

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