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FiiO X7

Rating:
3.89474/5,
Tags:
  1. Fiio audio fan
    Nice Dap
    Written by Fiio audio fan
    Published Jul 27, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - sound quality firmware
    Cons - little to big
    have this dap for about 6 mos. bought am3 which made difference with my
    audio technical ath mx 30 40 and 50x series. the problem imo about
    audio equipment is everyone has different hearing. some here hear at
    different ranges and tones what may sound superb to one may just be ok
    to another. the big improvement with this dap was android 5.1 update.
    The x7 is now more smooth operating. also a footnote if you are having a
    problem updating from 4.4 firmware using download tool for windows 10
    it worked for me temporarily disabling anti virus to download
    happy listening
  2. ryanjsoo
    Fiio X7 Review – Still Top Dog
    Written by ryanjsoo
    Published Jul 24, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clean, smooth sound, Low noise, Great driving power even with AM2, Nice build and ergonomics, Price has become accessible in the wake of the X7 II and X5 III
    Cons - Bulky and heavy, Amp modules are an added cost, UI fluidity is not always ideal
    Introduction –

    In the wake of the X7 II and with recent attention being focussed mainly towards Fiio’s new X5 III, it seems that the device that started it all has lost its spotlight. But Fiio’s X7 remains their present flagship for good reason, and though it was Fiio’s first attempt at a smart, Android-based music player, the X7 is no less mature in its execution than the X5 III. With the addition of a modular amplifier unit, offering different output powers and altered flavours of sound, the X7 is versatile and featured. And though the X7 is older, being a flagship device, it was designed to the highest standard, whereas the midrange X5 III was designed with the intention of being compromised. Let’s see if the X7 still represents the value and prestige it held at launch and whether it remains a smart purchase in 2017.



    Disclaimer –

    I would like to thank Ari very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the X7 on extended loan. There is no monetary incentive for a positive review and despite receiving the player free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective in my evaluation as possible.



    About Me, Background, Gear of choice, Preferences and Biases –

    I generally prefer a u-shaped sound that is close to neutral. I like a lot of detail and clarity but can appreciate a smooth, laid back sound. I’m not particularly treble sensitive so I may be more forgiving of brightness over darkness. I will note if I use a different eartip/pad/cover during the review and describe the sound changes.

    Read More



    Accessories –

    [​IMG]

    The X7 is similarly packaged to the X5 III with renders and specs adorning the outer surfaces of the box. A hard box slides out from the pictured exterior containing the X7 within foam. The device comes with a plastic screen protector pre-installed, unfortunately not a tempered glass one like the X5 III. The player also comes clad within a plastic case that should protect from scratches and small drops.

    [​IMG]

    Fiio also include a micro-usb cable, extra screws for the amp modules, a matching T5 screwdriver, extra screen protectors, several skins and a 3.5mm to coax cable. Basic instruction and warranty papers are located just below.

    [​IMG]

    Amp modules come within a smaller package, they are well protected within a nice metal tin with a snug foam inlet. Fiio packages each module with a plethora of vinyl skins to personalise the module and match the main unit should you want to add some texture and scratch protection to your X7.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a nice selection of accessories all up. We can clearly see some progression with the X5 III through the inclusion of a glass screen protector and an additional faux leather case though the X7 comes very well equipped for most uses.



    Design –

    The X7 was the first Fiio device that really stepped up build quality from impressive to thoroughly premium. It shares the same uni-body aluminium design as the X5 III though due to an absence of glass back, the X7 has a small plastic window at the rear to allow wireless transmission. And perhaps most notably, the X7 is a modular player allowing users to swap amplifier modules to achieve lower noise levels with sensitive iems and higher driving power with high impedance headphones. While it may seem redundant, the modular amplifiers allow for greater flexibility that regular gain controls can achieve.

    [​IMG]

    The X7 has an almost completely metal build that is just as solid as the X5 III though I personally prefer the aluminium back to the glass back of the new X5 due to its greater in hand feel and drop resistance. The main chassis is perfectly solid without flex or give in any direction, it also feels a little softer in the hand than the more straight edged X5 III. The X7 is a chunky device, measuring in at 130 mm× 64 mm× 16.6 mm and 220g making it a bit thicker and heavier than the X5 III and very substantial coming from a modern smartphone. However, to my eye, the X7 is a more attractive device than the X5 III with more slender and elegant dimensions that conform appreciably better to my hands. It’s not a device that goes unnoticed in the pocket nor would the X7 be remotely viable as a workout DAP, but it does avoid being overly cumbersome during commute.

    [​IMG]

    Some bold chamfering runs the perimeter of the device adding some visual interest. The buttons are also metal, keeping the premium feel uniform and each is clicky with nice travel and feedback. Though they are a tad shallow, different machining on the buttons gives them an easily distinguishable texture when the device is in your pocket. The buttons are also very well placed and the X7 controls much more like a smartphone, I also didn’t experience any accidental presses like the X5 III.

    [​IMG]

    At the front of the device lies the same 4” 800 x 480 display as the X5 III. I feel my particular X7 was more accurate with more pleasing colours though I have also seen X7’s that looked more off than the X5 III so I would put this up to unit variation rather than calibration from factory. Brightness is similar, minimum brightness is a little bright for night use and max brightness is fine except when under direct sunlight where the screen tends to wash out. Viewing angles and contrast are also quite good as is saturation which works a treat for album art and video. The X7 doesn’t have the highest Dpi compared to today’s premium smartphones, but text looks crisp and UI elements are well scaled. There is plenty of resolution to view album arts and small text, even the occasional video and game look great on the X7’s IPS display. While the Hidizs AP200 utilises a higher resolution 960×540 display, the hardware utilised in these players isn’t quite powerful enough to push those pixels and the slightly lower resolution X5 III and X7 both provide a significantly more fluid performance.

    [​IMG]

    And finally, running over the physical features of the device, the right and left sides are symmetrical with a rocker at the top and single button below. The rockers can be used to skip songs and change volume while the buttons cover play/pause and power functions. Being symmetrical, Fiio provides a software option to swap the orientation for left-handed users.

    [​IMG]

    The left side houses the single micro sd card slot, it isn’t covered like the slot on the X5 III but allows for tool-less swapping of cards. The card also lies perfectly flush with the side of the device to prevent damage and accidental removal.

    [​IMG]

    The top of the X7 is mainly featureless save for a line/coax output for use with an external amplifier. The bottom of the device is most notable, housing the main interfaces and amp modules. The modules themselves are quite small, they slot nicely into the device and attach using a wide connector that looks to be quite hardy and reliable, I didn’t notice any audio dropouts or other connection issues during my 2 months of use.

    [​IMG]

    The modules house the micro-usb charging/data port and the 3.5mm output though Fiio offer a balanced module with both an additional 2.5mm balanced port. The modules are fixed to the main housing using two T5 screws, one on either side. The screws are countersunk and lie very flush with the housings, I found the included module to line up perfectly with the main device.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, the AM2 module that shipped with my X7 was evidently from a different production batch as it had a slightly darker colour than the main housing and didn’t line up perfectly. This could be exclusive to my review unit but it is something to consider for second hand buyers.

    [​IMG]

    AM1 (Flush) – AM2 (Offset)

    Just above the modules lies the pulsar light which acts somewhat like a notification LED and adds some visual intrigue to the device. The action and brightness of the light can be altered in the software with 255 levels of brightness and the choice of blink, solid and full off illumination.

    [​IMG]

    By default, the light pulses when charging and glows solid when the device is active. Other notable features of the X7 include an ambient light sensor just above the display that provides auto brightness adjustments and an accelerometer which senses device orientation. These small tweaks really emphasise the ethos behind the X7’s design, and the culmination of several minor features produce an appreciably more convenient experience than that offered by the X5 III.



    Usage –

    The X7 has a 3500mah internal lithium ion battery that is just a little larger than the 3400mah unit in the X5 III. But due to the X7’s modularity, battery life can vastly vary despite using otherwise identical hardware. Battery life is rated at over 9hrs with the stock AM1 module though that decreases with higher powered modules, for instance, the AM2 delivers just over 8hrs and the AM3 and AM5 closer to 6. In usage, my unit achieved number just shy of 9 hours with the AM2 module on volume level 30 of 120. The X7 doesn’t have exceptional longevity, but it is easily sufficient for a few days of use and standby drain is very good. I am pleased with the X7’s battery life given its features and output power.

    But apart from battery life, the X7 provides much the same software experience as the X5 III. If you would like a little more detail with benchmarks and usage tests, I will provide a link to the usage section of my X5 III review here.



    Sound –

    The X7 is Fiio’s former flagship that was released almost 2 years ago to a good critical reception. And while there were some more critical reviews about the device’s software experience, few had much negative to say about the player’s sound. And in 2017, the X7 remains a fine sounding source. I would still recommend looking into a pure DAC/AMP if value is your prime concern, but the updated X7 provides a nice smart user experience combined with a well-refined sound and its strengths remain just as pertinent as ever. When evaluating the X7’s sound, I mainly listened to the Campfire Audio Jupiter ($1300), a very sensitive mulit-ba monitor, the Flares Pro ($600), a more power hungry iem and the Sennheiser HD700 ($800) which is a relatively source sensitive headphone.

    I won’t delve further into the player’s file support and exact specifications but will link Fiio’s website with all the details below: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/45/parameters



    Amp –

    Describing the sound of the X7 was more daunting than I had presumed due to those swappable amp modules, each of which carries its own sound. I decided the AM2 module would make for best comparison since it has similar output power to my other similarly priced sources over the stock AM1 module which has notable lower driving power. This also allowed for more accurate volume matching and to my ear, the AM2 sounds a little nicer with a slightly more full-bodied sound that well balances the slightly brighter signal produced by that Saber DAC.

    [​IMG]

    Starting with noise, the X7 with either the AM1 and AM2 modules benefits from very minimal hiss, much less than the X5 III and HA-2 which makes it much more desirable for sensitive iems. I’m a low volume listener and quite sensitive to noise but even the Campfire Jupiter, which is probably one of the most hiss prone earphones available, only picked up minimal amounts from the X7. It isn’t silent, but noise is unlikely to bother any listener. I feel that the AM2 is the most versatile module, as it also had no issue driving my 150 ohm HD700’s. They were missing some dynamics and soundstage space compared to my desktop amp though I found the X7 to do a better job than both the HA-2 and X5 III with its increased output power; 300mW on the X7 vs 250mW from the X5 III and 220mW from the HA-2. All sources have a sub 1ohm output impedance which I can confirm in independent listening, I experienced nice sub-bass extension from my Jupiter and no other frequency response wonkiness. Perhaps my only issue with the amplifier performance of the X7 is some fizzle when WiFi is active, something that doesn’t affect the X5 III. It isn’t a huge issue and only occurs occasionally when streaming music, but it is very noticeable on sensitive monitors. Some may also frown upon the necessity of buying additional amp modules, which are around $150 AUD each, though some retailers offer bundles that include multiple modules for a discounted price. For most uses, the AM1 will be sufficient and the AM2 is a nice all-rounder that provides low noise to sensitive monitors and enough power to higher impedance earphones and headphones.


    DAC –

    The X7 implements a single Saber ES9018, a highly regarded DAC chip with great file support and terrific sound quality. It is a highly resolving chip that is known to carry a slightly brighter sound and some implementations are prone to “Saber glare” which manifests as a sense of over-forwardness within the upper registers. With that said, I’ll start with some basic comparison to the Oppo HA-2 (based on the same DAC chip) to illustrate Fiio’s implementation. Both sources unsurprisingly carry a very similar tonality with the HA-2 being slightly clearer and the X7 a little more full-bodied. The HA-2 holds a small advantage in bass reproduction with a little more definition than the X7. I lean forwards and backwards with regards to midrange performance, the HA-2 produces clearer male vocals but female vocals don’t quite sound as natural as the X7 with a thinner body. The HA2 is also slightly more forward in their upper midrange which makes them sound a little more resolving but also more fatiguing long term. Treble is interesting, the HA-2 is a little crisper while the X7 retains a smoother character. I feel that the HA-2 separates slightly better though the X7 sounds a lot cleaner with appreciably less background noise with sensitive iems. I would probably take the X7 for all day listening and the HA-2 for shorter sessions, both are fantastic sources though those who don’t require a full player will save a few dollars by going with the HA-2, or perhaps the SE model with reduced background noise.

    I also feel that comparison with the new X5 III is important as it’s always interesting to see how older flagships compare to newer midrange offerings. Starting off with soundstage performance, the X7 has a really well-rounded presentation that is nicely expansive but also very coherent. Instruments are allowed to radiate and atmospheric effects have the appropriate projection yet more intimate instruments and vocals are never artificially distant. This grants the X7 with a really nice presentation that flatters both in-ears and open back headphones. By comparison, the more laid-back X5 III does sound a little more immediately spacious, but it lacks the placement precision of the X7; vocals sound more distant and lack the intimacy of the X7 and instruments don’t project quite as much as they should when called for. The X5 III also lacks the depth of the X7 which makes them a bit less convincing for live recordings. While the difference between the two sources isn’t enormous, upgrading from the X5 III to the X7 won’t turn your HD650 into a HD800, buyers with well-performing in-ears and headphones will find a notable upgrade with the X7.

    And this quality can be partially attributed to the varying tonalities between these sources. I have to reiterate that the differences between sources aren’t astronomical, perhaps not even immediately noticeable, but during extended listening, the individual characteristics of each device becomes clear. Off the bat, the X7 is probably one of the best Saber ES9018 implementations I’ve heard, it isn’t quite as bright as the Oppo HA-2 but retains the same kind of clean, clear and well-detailed sound. It’s lack of hiss also makes it the clear choice for use with sensitive iems; the X7 provided a much more agreeable listen than the X5 III with the Jupiter simply due to its vastly lower levels of noise. The AKM based X5 III does carry their more mellow tones over the more forward X7, some may call it the more musical or analogue sounding source and those prone to fatigue may actually find the X5 III to be the more listenable source. But for my tastes, the X7 is pretty spot on, the HA-2 that I daily is a similarly resolving source, but it does occasionally come across as over-bright and forward, the X7 is just a little smoother and tones down the glare a bit to produce a more neutral listen. The X5 III is considerably more laid-back, it is a softer sounding source with less intimate vocals, it is also less linear throughout and bass is notably fuller at the cost of definition. However, the X5 III avoids sounding congested and overly laid back though it’s aggressive detailing, they actually have a bit more bite to their upper midrange than the X7 though the X7 still retrieves more outright detail and presents them in a more natural manner. The X7 has a considerably smoother midrange with improved resolution and a little more clarity, especially to male vocals. The X5 III doesn’t quite sound as transparent and revealing as the X7 even though the X7 is the smoother sounding source. And this trend extends into their high-frequency performance; the X5 III lacks the upper treble extension and resolution of the X7 which saps texture from high hats and cymbals are clearly more detailed and natural on the X7. The X5 has a tendency to sound a little crunchy when details run rampant while the X7 handles more complex passages with refinement that the X5 III isn’t able to achieve.

    The X7 remains the more refined sounding source and it’s still the device I would listen to every day despite being a bit older. The X5 III is a fine sounding source but it is missing the smoothness and resolution of higher end devices even though detailing and musicality are very impressive. Of course, the X5 III remains the cheaper device, but with the X7 ageing and the impending release of the new X7 II, that price gap is quickly narrowing and buyers should strongly consider spending a little more for the X7, especially with that AM2 module.



    Verdict –

    [​IMG]

    Over the years, the X7 has become the device Fiio intended it to be through numerous software updates and fixes with that same terrific sound underpinning the entire experience. The X7 achieves great ergonomics through its very smartphone-like form factor and great versatility through a modular design. While its hardware is hardly cutting edge in comparison to the latest and greatest smartphones on the market, the X7 nonetheless provides a convincing user experience through the adoption of the feature rich Android user interface. Luckily, these added features don’t come at the cost of sound quality and the X7 demonstrates that a lot of buyers could benefit by looking into older technology designed to a higher standard than newer models. The newer X5 III is a slightly more musical source and one that I would enjoy in isolation, though I found better synergy with the X7 on the majority of my gear due to its greater neutrality and linearity. The X7 provides a smoother, more organic take on the highly resolving Saber sound that proves to be highly rewarding in terms of both resolution and long-term listenability.

    Verdict – 9/10, The X7 is aged but by no means long in the tooth. The X7 has a nice display, a fluid user interface and well-considered ergonomics. Its sound combines resolution, clarity and refinement and the ability to swap amp modules provides some basic sound adjustments and varied output power for a wider range of headphones.

    Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my review, please see my website for more just like it:
    https://everydaylisteningblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/fiio-x7-review-still-top-dog/
  3. Xstream
    Worst (and most expensive) DAP I've owned
    Written by Xstream
    Published Jun 23, 2017
    1.0/5,
    Pros - Sound (AM2)
    Mobile (desktop) DAC
    Cons - Software
    Usability
    Stability
    Bad support
    Battery
    Size
    In terms of sound (AM2 module) i like it every bit. It's that Fiio sound that i like so much, even better than before on the X3.

    The whole reason this product turns out to be a disaster is the software. Not only the very un-user friendly way of having to dig through Fiio's forums to find beta software updates (in 2 years there has been 0 stable releases) and complicated processes to upgrade. The software itself doesn't work well too. From annoying popups that makes the device unusable on 1 firmware version (the stable one) to beta versions that can't even store your saved (offline) spotify tracks. (it does save, but after a restart of Spotify/player it's all gone - the data is still there, filling up your free space, but unusable).

    The only thing that works well is, like on any Fiio, using their player and play mp3's from the SD card. Which is not why i spend so much on a Android driven Fiio to have all the modern advantages it can't deliver.

    It's really been a disappointment and i'm looking forward to replacing it. Also it's been my last Fiio. Mostly because posting my issues on the Fiio forum, not one Fiio employee even took the time to respond. Support = 0.
      RebeccaSugar and JayceOoi like this.
  4. VladBeloz
    Very enjoyable piece of equipment
    Written by VladBeloz
    Published Dec 23, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great hardware, great usability, nice sound
    Cons - Default amplifier (am1) is not up to standard, battery life could be better, the firmware is a pain
    20+ years ago I used to have a chinese portable tape player. It had very bad build quality, extremely cheap materials and was slooooowing down the playback as the battery was running lower than 50%. After that I had a couple of Sony walkmans and the discman that were much better. Many years later smartphones (and later iphones) emerged and I thought that dedicated portable music sources are part of history. There was a moment when I thought of getting the Pono player. However I was never able to justify this purchase for myself. Nowadays things are getting different.

    What I`m holding now is the chinese dedicated portable hi-res music player (DAP as it`s usually called). From the first touch you realize that it has nothing in common with my first tape player. It’s made from a solid high-grade aluminium piece with a beautiful finish. It feels like tank. Heavy and sturdy. Built on Android and this makes it flexible and full of features rarely available on devices with proprietary OS. The touchscreen is responsive and nice. The contrast and viewing angles are not the best and generally it’s not at the level of newest iphones. But IMO it`s perfect for the purpose. I wouldn't want to pay extra for the DAP top-tier screen. The resources should be mostly spent to fulfill the main purpose of the device - the sound quality.

    This is my first DAP so it is hard for me to compare with the direct competition. However comparing to Audioquest Dragonfly (v1.0 that is built on the same DAC chip by the way) and FIIO e17 I’m very happy with the sound. Here I`d like to note that the default amplifier module (Am1) is the weakest part of the device in my opinion. I would recommend to get it with Am3 (Am2 and Am5 should be good as well, but I haven't heard them personally). Lows are tight and punchy, mids and transparent and detailed, Highs are very detailed. If I try to find something to improve I will say that the mids can be more forward and there is a slight spike in highs that can be sibilant sometimes. But that is really minor to me and don’t bother at all. The soundstage and instruments separation is great. With Am3 module the battery life is not among the best (5-6 hours of playback) but for me it’s not an issue. X7 forced me to re-listen all my favourites as it revealed so much details that I couldn`t pick up before. Especially on DSD recordings. The piano pedals pushed down, subtle breathing, fingers touching strings, background noises and echoes. The first DSD album I played was “Jazz in the Pawnshop” by David Chesky records and it overwhelmed me. Of course the headphones used should be on the same level with the device to open the full potential.

    To sum this up - the X7 is like having a hi-fi system in a pocket. Nice sound and drivability (with am3) great usability. The bettery life is not the best and the firmware is a pain at the moment. Hopefully FIIO will polish it soon.


  5. rapier84
    Great attempt by Fiio at a TOTL DAP
    Written by rapier84
    Published Aug 17, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Solid implementation of the SABRE chip
    Cons - Not a huge step up from mid-fi players
    Disclaimer: This review is written from my perspective as someone with a mid-fi DAP looking to upgrade. Your mileage may vary.
     
    Over the years, my DAPs grown in size and capability from the Sansa Clip, to the original Fiio X3 and now the iBasso DX90. I found that I enjoy the signature of Sabre chips very much, in particular the speed and detail oriented nature of the sound. Some may find the Sabre to sound ‘cold’ but I find it enough for me. I pair the DX90 with JH5 pros and occasionally the Sony CD900STs. I also have the Dragonfly V1.0 which the CD900STs hooked up to most of the time.
     
    When the X7 was announced, I was very excited considering Fiio reputation for offering great value for money. As an aside, I still own the X3 and various small amps (E3, E5 and E6). With the X7 packing the full 9018 chip with 8 cores as opposed to the two 9018k2m chips in the DX90 with 4 cores, the X7 should in theory offer some gains over the DX90. I was lucky enough to obtain a X7 for review and here are some of my thoughts.
     
    The Good. The things that I loved about the Sabre sound, such as attack and details, are all present in the X7. In addition, the sense of space and sound staging was also a noticeable step up from the DX90. Not 100% better, but enough to be noticeable. The sound was deeper and wider to my ears than the DX90, and the mids are not so in your face but deeper into the sonic scape. The findings are consistent across formats from mp3s to uncompressed (ALAC and FLAC) up to DSD. The blacks sound just abit blacker, the mids sweeter and the highs are clearer. The X7 takes the Sabre sound to an altogether more refined level compared to the DX90. However, I have not heard the DX100 before (which packs the same Sabre chip as the X7) and therefore could not offer any comparison.
     
    The Bad. The default amp module for the X7 is designed for IEMs. As the sensitivity of IEMs vary, it is understandable that the design team may have taken a conservative approach to limit the power output of the module (reduce hiss?). For sure, my IEMs are dead quiet when there are no music being played. However, the sound of the JH5s through the module sounds too polite on low gain. I ended up using the X7 on higher gain (through software settings) most of the time.
     
    The conclusion. The X7 offers a meaningful upgrade over mid-fi DAPs such as the X5 and DX90. Having briefly heard DAPs such as AKs, Calyx and Cayin, the X7 appears to be competitive. However, technical abilities come at a price. While the X7 is great value for money compared to other TOTL players, it is still a considerable sum. In the same price range are other spectacular offerings such as the Chord Mojo. What you end up with is ultimately the result of your priorities. If you treasure small size and convenience of a one box solution, the X7 is a good upgrade and great first serious DAP. If you can live with bulk and multi-box solutions, the choice may not be so straightforward.
     
    I ended up with the Mojo, but that’s another story.
  6. RebeccaSugar
    A Thing to Behold.
    Written by RebeccaSugar
    Published Jul 5, 2016
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Insane Sound Quality (with proper setup), Customizability, LINE/Coax OUT, Clear Shell, Android OS/V4A/Root.
    Cons - Treble (AM1), Touch Screen Unresponsive, Unsupported Sample Rates, Freezes & Hangups, UI Oddities, Slow Shuffle, Drain on Android Mode (faster w/AM2).
    FiiOX7AM2.jpg
     
    Disclaimer.​
     ​
    There are going to be a lot of things I will have not mentioned about this player, since I would have gotten used to them since the purchase, nonetheless, in the verdict, I will be as detailed & unbiased as possible, while still expressing my personal opinion.
    That being said, I will update when something new comes to mind, or any errors happen to pass, this being my first product review.
     
    Introduction
    I am a 19-year old romanticist who has a very keen ear for a grand variety of music, from chiptune, to electro swing, to classic, videogame, hard rock and all of that good stuff.​
    I like my sound signature to be powerful and balanced, putting an emphasis on sub-bass.​
    Music has been a daily routine as it has helped as an escapism & coping device during some of the most brutal stages of my life.​
    It's helped me do many things that I don't believe would be possible for me to do without it, It's increased my creativity, along with it being extremely therapeutic.​
    It is something only a very few could understand.​
    Let's begin.​
     
     
    Pre-Review
     
    Here we are, my very own review of FiiO's current flagship; the FiiO X7. I'm not one of the people who have watched FiiO grow as a company, nor have I been a loyal customer for years (although I have bought many of their products within a very short amount of time), but I have only been here since the conception of the X7, along with being swept up by the hype of this lustrous device, I never had a device so high end, let alone one made ONLY for music, and since I finally got a job (2 jobs at the time actually), I started to go mad with excitement, I grew up poor, so I could never afford something so...valuable, but now I could, I could have it in my hands, I could OWN it and call it MINE, and finally stop watching the others have fun without me.
    It was exciting and I REALLY wanted to be part of the early testers, unfortunately, I heard deal-breaking issues on its early run.
    Since this was the first time I was ever going to buy something so top notch, I waited some months for the tide to die down, and waited on more experienced users, like Brooko, x RELIC x, twister6, with many, many others, to give a final verdict if I should get it or not.
     
    Past Devices (Chronological Order)
    RCA MP3
    iPod Nano (3rd Gen)
    Sansa Fuze+
    FiiO X1 x E17K Amp Stack
    FiiO E17K DAC + HTC M9 w/ Hiby.
     
     
    Review
     
    - FIRST IMPRESSION
    After what seemed like an eternity waiting for this device to arrive at my doorstep, I finally heard a knock when I least expected it, it was late in January, after making a deal with a very understanding and very respectful user in this forum, bless them.
    I dragged myself off of bed, thinking to myself that once again, there were Jehovah's Witnesses trying to convert me, I opened the door, about to tell them to scram, then a holy light shone on me when I saw a woman holding a white package, my frown turned right around, it was finally here, it was happening, WE WERE DOING THIS, BABY!
    She asked for my name, and I confirmed, signed the slip, thanked her, closed the door, and welcomed my child to its new abode, "Welcome, my baby." I told the unopened package, as I rubbed it suggestively, with bedroom eyes. headfi.png
     
     
     
     
     
    I blazed to my room, looking like Christian Weston Chandler right after making a new comic, looking at the package with intense contemplation, very carefully treading around the box, and then suddenly-- carelessly started stabbing it with a knife. I wanted to crack open the hard shell of this uncolored crustacean, to peek in the pretty package, to get that sweet treat in the center. After much abuse, I finally pried the sucker open, and lo and behold, there it was, it was "lit", the model, the chinese beauty (not talking about the woman in the cover either), it was a lightly used player, but still looking brand spanking new, my baby!
    I wanted to cry, "I worked hard for this, I deserved it! I needed a break from all of this bull$#!(" I told myself, as I firmly grasped the aluminum child, kissing it, over and over, as it seemed we were about to make yet another child.
     
    I started having a feel for it, titanium finish, bright blue pulsar, as bright as the hottest star, the raised glass, polished semi-clicky buttons, this felt...high-end.
    It was like a gift from the angels themselves, my heart was racing, I've honestly never felt this excited since I obtained a gamecube in '08. It was real.
    It turned it on, saw the "Welcome" in the boot logo, having "FIIO - MUSIC PLAYER" follow it shortly afterwards, and I grinned, hard. I clicked my SD card right in that sucker and let it scan, I fiddled my thumbs, waiting and waiting for my collection to complete, FLACS, High Quality MP3's and such then, there it was! My heart raced ever so fast.
    The menu, it felt sharp, snappy, and intuitive (for now), I clicked on the very song, "Adam" from "G-Darius"----AAAANNNNNDDDD....nothing.
     
    I was confused, why wasn't I being drifted into another dimension of musical freedom, why wasn't my soul being torn from my corporeal body, to be cast away to a land of infinite ethereal pleasure, to be comforted by other beautiful celestial bodies, being grabbed by many hands, and felt all over in the most intimate of fashions? What the hell..!? Was it the player, the amp, have I simply surpassed summit-fit, this can't be, can it!!?!
    I took a deep breath, and realized, that my expectations were simply too high, did I feel robbed? Maybe. Did I feel disappointed? Certainly. Did I regret it....? Hell no.
    INTO THE SOUND SECTION WE GO.
     
     
     
    - SOUND
    First of all, the sound is very treble oriented,  that's the root of /my/ problem, maybe it's different from yours, maybe you like treble, but personally, I was freaking OUT.
    "Why does it sound like this?", "This isn't THAT much better than a stacked X1, if anything it's almost worse!" "Dear god, what have I done!?" I asked myself all of these things, confused and almost frustrated, then I remembered, one very, very obvious thing, my IEM's. "My IEM's! Dear Lord, They're an insult to something of this caliber! I'm a monster! I HAVE DISRECTED THE GODS OF HI-FI" after that epiphany, suddenly another one struck. Eureka! I remembered the AM1 as well, I was...moderately relieved.
    At the time, I still had the IM-70's along with the stock AM1 amp, which didn't push this player to complete absolution. These were all I had though, I didn't know HOW much better new IEM's and amps would make it, I just kept thinking on how the treble hurt my ears just as bad as an unamped X1. It fatigued very often, the separation felt empty, treble was overly dominant, sudden shift in frequencies BLARED through my ears, it even gave me light headaches from hearing it often. Although, the more I heard it, the more I started to appreciate as well, excluding the bass, it has been a subtle improvement over the amped X1, strings were clearer, it didn't sound overly warm, it was extremely "Holographic", and the sound signature was "lucid" as I would put it, nevertheless, it was still very hard to enjoy it with such grating frequencies. You have to remember, I'm a very young guy, I was 18 at the time, and I can STILL pick up more sounds that an older person might at their age, so it was screeching to the point that I started to absolutely ABHOR it.
     
    After a few weeks later, I ordered the FLC 8S, it was on sale, so why not? I'm unsure what I expected from these but "muh customizability", and, wow, that's actually what I got, I was pleasantly surprised, impressed even. I expected something very useless and gimmicky, but they're surprisingly powerful, I'll focus on these on my next review, but they are VERY good. The detail was better, it sounded way less jumbled and more spacious, instead of far and hollow, not what I would like (at the time), but the tuners helped get rid of some of the treble scratching as well, it sounded slightly so warm.
    After a few MORE weeks, I got the AM2, I pre-ordered it to get it the day it came out afterI read all of the reviews on it, since I wanted to make sure I didn't mess up as badly as with the X7.
    I'm unsure what I expected for one hundred dollars, but I might as well burn $100 more, I came THIS far, right?
     
    IMAG0127.jpg
    Then came the day....
     
    - AM 1 vs AM2
    Other reviews have already done this, so I'm just going to do the very basics, since I'll be focusing more on the AM2 than the dreaded AM1.
    AM2 on the left, AM1 on the right. IMAG0130.jpg
     
     
    -Treble (AM1)
    The treble is very, VERY high on the AM1, no way out of it, if you have treble-centric IEM's, prepare to get ear-raped, ESPECIALLY on tracks like something out of "Sonic Rush". Horrible sensation, HORRIBLE.
     
    -Treble (AM2)
    This is where it gets good, here is where I start complimenting the player and giving it treats for doing such a fantastic job, this is finally where FiiO meets their dues for such hard work.
    Treble is less scratchy, it isn't any less prominent by the way, unneeded frequencies just aren't there, which is, obviously, VERY, VERY good. Yes yes. It sounds great, it's smoother, very fluid, frequency spikes aren't as grating, sound flows much better, fatigue has been decreased substantially, especially with the mentioned FLC 8S, it's certainly improving from when I first got it! (;
     
    -Mids (AM1)
    Not punchy nor intimate, it's cold, very cold, there's no passion, just a robot blowing cold wind at you, is how I can describe it, quite sad actually.
    Detail retrieval is only relevant for the higher mid frequencies, if you're into airy sound and high treble with excellent retrieval in that specific place, this is for you, but me? I like to Jam, madam!
     
    -Mids(AM2)
     
    Ohhhhhhhhh baby, baby baby baby! This is it, I'm going to get into lick-boot territory here.
    I LOVE how absolutely erotic the sound can be for my ears, it's close, it's almost in your face, it's near damn personal, NOT enough to bloat though, HOW is this magic possible!?
    Do you know what I'm trying to say? Yes, indeed, the sound is...wait for it....wait for it...It's; BALANCED!! Huraah!!!
    The warmness I craved from my E17K mixed with the cold breeze of the AM1, and made -- beauty.
    Seriously, this is what I've been wanting since I got a SANSA FUZE+ in '12, but this player obviously, utterly, destroys it. No contest.
    I feel so, so close to my music, it's as many users have said before, "It's as if I'm standing right in front of the stage".
     ​
     ​
    tmp_29121-IMAG02962048753849.jpg
     
     
    -Bass & Sub-bass (AM1)
    Imagine this, you're about to be served some delicious food, right? You're excited, you get a certain type of burger, you take a bite, the meat, it's very...dry.
    You get very little sauce as well, the lettuce is very crisp and fresh, yes, airy cold tasty lettuce, but the burger is...less than average, you can barely taste the freaking thing.
    You don't want purely the taste of lettuce with dry burger meat, that's unsavory, you can only taste the lettuce at this point, the meat has no substance.
    That's how I put it with the sub-bass, the bass is there too, it's weak though, just like the burger meat, it's thin too.
    Meat & Juicyness = Bass
    Meat FLAVOR & Tenderness= Sub-Bass
     ​
     
    -Bass & Sub-bass (AM2)
    It's gonna be a bizzaro version of what I said above.
    Imagine this, you're about to be served some delicious food, right? You're excited, you get a certain type of burger, you take a bite, the meat, it's very...Juicy! Mmmmm!
     
    You get a more than acceptable ration of sauce as well, the lettuce is very crisp and fresh, yes, airy cold tasty lettuce, and the burger is EXQUISITE, you can taste so MANY TEXTURES from it, a lot of work went into it, It's insane.
    You never knew you could have so many different flavors in your mouth at once! You take yet another bite and pick up even MORE flavors.
    You love how fresh this is, that's savory, you can taste both the meat, the spices, the hints of CHEESE inside the meat, AND EVEN THE BREAD! It's not just there to keep it together, it's also including a very distinctive flavor, you enjoy it thoroughly, it; it fills you up and gives you a HUGE amount of energy.
    That's how I put it with the sub-bass, the bass is there, It's powerful, not enough to ruin the other flavors, they mix VERY well, it's powerfully balanced.
    Your taste buds can also pick up the quality of said meat and spices depending on each different burger.
    Meat & Juiciness = Bass
    Meat FLAVOR & Tenderness= Sub-Bass
     
    -Dimension, Room & Depth (AM1)
    It's one of the good things I'll actually give this thing credit for, it's slightly better at instrument separation than the AM2, it's not a HUGE step-up, but if you're the type of analytical person who has a "golden ear" so to speak, you'll definitely pick it right up.
    That all goes out the window with the high treble I mentioned earlier though, this doesn't mean much if the high-frequencies keep grating you, especially with the depth not being very deep in mid and bass retrieval, the lower-end depth here is lacking horribly.
     
    -Dimension, Room & Depth (AM2)
    On par with the AM1, slightly less well, but the balance of the instrument frequencies make up for it. The reason for this must be because it has less weight, and airyness, lack of bass in the AM1 tends to cause a better separation without the heavier frequencies getting in the way, it's very complex stuff.
    The depth here reaches far and knuckle-deep.
    I can hear artists lips smacking, guitars strumming right as if someone was putting a show in front of me, and it's been up to the point where I can even hear recording fallacies and BREATHING, YES, it sounds...wow. I can't describe, but this player can really differentiate between a poorly recorded audio file and an excellently recorded one.
    It's both a gift, and a curse.
     
     
    - DESIGN
    It's sexy, I like it, I'm no design wizard, I simply think It's a modest high-end. It doesn't scream "STEAL ME!!", but it also doesn't mess around and look cheap, although, I've had several people comment on it, telling me "That's a clunky old phone.", Hahahah, peasants.
    I haven't had my hands on a lavish A&K, so I can't really can't say how they compare.
    It's really nice to look at for me, especially knowing it's purpose, maybe I just really like sleepers, although, I wouldn't mind having it both look high-end while working as expected to look.
     
    - ERGONOMICS, COMPABILITY & CUSTOMIZABILITY
    Exchanging amps work just fine, no errors on my part, It's a simple unscrew, plug & play, very easy and VERY handy.
    Unfortunately, the screen sometimes fails to detect what keys I press, if I press "G' it will go to "B" then press different keys instead, and it's very frustrating.
    On another note, I bought a screen protector and it has protected it from falls and such, though, it isn't the exact size as the screen, just sliiiiightly off, not too shabby.
    The SD card needs to be put face-down, which is rather strange, but not a deal breaker.
    In being able to customize the X7, you have plenty of amps to meet your demands, I'm settling on the AM2 since I only use IEM's, It's beautifully built and has a sanded finish, there's also the AM5, but that's only if you have big power hungry 'phones.
     
    -USER INTERFACE & V4A
    If you're using pure android mode, don't worry TOO much about it, but as for me, I'm using neutron and V4A now (which doesn't apply to the sound comparisons above, check below).
    It's prone to not working with the side buttons at times, and activates the stock FiiO Player, which is very annoying, along with it also having hangups, the player tends to freeze in the lock-screen sometimes, until forced reset, very grating, especially during jogs and general workouts, way to kill the mood.
     
    Now, with V4A and Neutron, they're a dream team, especially in the X7, Neutron is by far, the best Audio App for FiiO right next to the FiiO stock app, when I first used it, I hated it, but now, I don't know how I lived without it, it somehow beat the stock player that I already loved, most likely due to the HEAVY, HEAVY customizability.
    Unfortunately, Neutron is prone to crashing every half hour or so, which is unfortunate, but I can live with it, would be more than happy to have it fixed though.
     
    - MISCELLANIOUS THOUGHTS
    The AM1 has a very noticeable hiss in both Android & PMM.
    It was very annoying, especially after a song ended, that's another reason why I hated it so much.
    The AM2 fixes this, and most likely other hardware based audio problems.
    If you're a normie, and just want a player to play good, simple music without breaking the bank or wracking your brain, then use the phone you already have, and get an FLC 8S if they're on sale, If you get one, give it the golden tuner, clear bass, and red sub-bass tuner.
    It sounds wonderful on my HTC M9, It obviously doesn't beat the X7, but it should be enough to please someone who isn't a giant music molestor, like myself.
    If you're NOT a normie, and absolutely LOVE music, then try to form your own verdict based on what you've read here and other reviews.
    If you like airy sound with a light touch of bass, get the X7 stock, if you like a more balanced, yet analytical sound, look at the AM2, if you want bass, there are upcoming apps for that.
     
     
    Verdict:
    Well there you have it folks, that's my review, I've said everything I currently know about the player, and my thoughts on it.​
    FiiO definitely had a rocky start with the X7, and even if you had high-end earphones, the AM1 most likely didn't satisfy you if you were a bass-head, or just liked balance in general.​
    Now, that they've been pushing out new firmwares AND new amps, you've better check it, especially after the price drop, it's under $499 dollars on amazon now, definitely better than the MSRP $649 price.​
    Take care and good luck to you all!​
     
     ​
    1. PinkyPowers
      Finally settled on a DAP, eh?
      PinkyPowers, Jul 5, 2016
    2. RebeccaSugar
      I did since February, I never thought I'd actually want review it. Don't get me wrong, I love this thing, but I'd love to try others and see if it'll shatter my view on this baby.

      I almost disowned it at one point I was so fed up with it. Those times are over, thankfully.
      RebeccaSugar, Jul 5, 2016
    3. rebbi
      Very fun read, thanks!
      rebbi, Jul 5, 2016
  7. angelo898
    not for me, i might be the only one on head fi who doesn't think this is an amazing DAP though
    Written by angelo898
    Published Feb 18, 2016
    2.0/5,
    Pros - bluetooth
    Cons - not worth the money
    Some brief impressions of the FiiO x7
    So a while back, I got on the FiiO x5ii tour. I was absolutely impressed with the ability of the x5ii and wrote in my impressions that the x5ii made me very excited for the x7. When the Australian and New Zealand tour for the x7 came up, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out! Sadly, I might be the only one who was not absolutely impressed with it on this forum.
    A little about me
    Personally, I am a person who tends to gravitate to high end equipment, but have recently started looking at the low-mid end segments of the IEM world, since I have come to the conclusion that I have had my head stuck up in the clouds for too long. While I love trying new equipment, the equipment I end up buying tends to be little. This might be due to my lack of a decent income, or because I have very high standards, honestly I am not sure. However, one thing I am very sure of, since I have a rather limited budget, whatever I tend to buy or recommend are things I love, instead of hyping the regular item. While I believe sound quality to be extremely important, I also highly value ergonomics, and love things that look beautiful as well.
    Sound
    Personally, I feel that the impressions here are getting increasingly less important nowadays. With improvements in firmware, manufacturers are often able to change the sound of the DAP through the power of software. In addition, the x7 is also further improved by the future additions of the amp cards, which are to be released in the future. As such, preliminary impressions here really should be taken with a pinch of salt, regardless of reviewer, unless they have an amp card (or the specific amp card you want).
    I personally felt that the FiiO x7 was decent with the sound quality, having nothing that really brought me into the music. It was pretty bland, despite being relatively neutral to my ears.
    I felt that the player was able to drive IEMs well (not very hard to achieve here), but not able to drive transportable headphones, like my recently acquired Shure 1540, properly at all. This was confirmed when a friend listened to it. I subsequently read somewhere (sorry, forgot) that the x7 was tuned to be very stable for IEMs, but did not do well with much else that required amping, thus, creating the need for the amp cards that are being developed at the moment. I hope this is the case and wish the x7 owners well. I personally have had fun playing with amp cards with the Hifiman Hm901 and would definitely not consider the lack of power a minus point since playing with amp cards is fun, and if the amp cards were able to provide enough power to drive less sensitive headphones, FiiO would be providing a complete solution for anyone who liked the sound of this player.
    OS
    When I first picked it up from the post office, I was on the way to do some errands and a friend decided to come along to try out the new flagship from FiiO. He spent about half an hour trying to get the x7 to scan his microSD card before giving up and calling it ****. He had over 2000 songs in various formats, ranging from lossy to 24/192 lossless. I did not have that as many issues.
    I had quite a few problems with the music app crashing. Every time I turned on the player, the music app would crash (100% chance for me). The music app would also crash randomly from time to time, but rarely. This is personally quite unacceptable, since android is pretty known and there are proper alternatives to an app that would crash. I was also told that using the non FiiO app to listen to music would result in absolutely **** battery life but was not able to test this since I could not figure out how to use android since I am an iPhone user.
    Ergonomics
    The FiiO x7 features both a touch screen and physical buttons on the side. While the touch screen was much better looking than expected, I personally found it to be a tad bit too sensitive and a bit too responsive, making me over scroll or under scroll when trying to compensate (I personally think this is a small issue and could be considered user error since I am stuck in my ways).
    The physical buttons worked adequately for what they were and the player did not get too warm when played for long periods (I might have a bit of a bias here since my DAPs are known to get really warm with use).
    Bluetooth
    Special mention has to be made here for the Bluetooth feature. I used to not be a believer of Bluetooth for music since it is not needed (everything is wired right?). However, with the FiiO having Bluetooth, I decided that I might as well use it. This was the first player that I’ve had that has Bluetooth integrated. I have to admit, I was absolutely amazed at how useful it is! I usually use my Bluetooth speaker with my iPhone, playing what little music I have on it. The iPhone is often not updated with much new music, nor does it usually have much music because the iPhone doesn’t have expandable storage. What generally happens is that I tend to listen to the Bluetooth speaker for a while, before asking a friend if they have any music on their phones, or what not, resulting in me listening to a bunch of Justin Bieber or whatever other top 40 hit there is out there.
    With the FiiO x7, this was not the case, with the expandable storage and the Bluetooth function. The battery life doesn’t even suck. I decided to test the battery life of the x7 by turning it on for a long period of time. Since I had to be near it to monitor whether the x7 died or not, I decided to leave it at around a volume of 30. The x7 lasted about 9 hours before I decided to call the experiment off in order to retain my sanity. It looked like the player had around 50% battery life left there (somewhere in the middle). Congratulations FiiO, you have convinced me that I need a feature that I previously did not.
    Conclusion
    As you can read from my impressions up till now, I am not a fan. The FiiO performs decently for what it is, but has certain issues that I personally am not able to stomach if I were to purchase the unit. It has better battery life than what I am generally used to (I own power hungry DAPs like the Calyx M and the HM901) and has a wonderful Bluetooth feature. Aside from that, I personally would rather go with the x5ii, which I was impressed with. The x5ii is cheaper and has a simpler OS and decent ergonomics. While I am not able to compare the sound since I don’t have the x5ii on hand, I remember being impressed with the sound and would personally rather go that route if I didn’t need the Bluetooth feature. The savings would be able to net me an external amplifier, which would probably perform better than the x7 on its own. 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      avitron142, Feb 19, 2016
    3. RamblerBoy
      it is sad and funny how difficult it is for members to post a negative review/impression about a hyped product in here. not saying that x7/x3ii/x5ii are hyped products. i see such issues more often these days. Audiophiles are getting intolerant, i guess.
       
      @angelo898 nice review. really helpful. thank you.
      RamblerBoy, Feb 21, 2016
    4. angelo898
      angelo898, Mar 17, 2016
  8. intlsubband
    Excellent DAP, comparable to AK100ii
    Written by intlsubband
    Published Feb 15, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent sound, very versatile OS with good UI, good build quality
    Cons - Internal memory could be better, location of headphones socket
    First, I wish to acknowledge that I received a demo unit as part of the Australia and New Zealand world tour. I wish to thank FiiO and Brooko for organising the tour, and for allowing me to demo the unit. It should be noted however that there was no expectation communicated for this to influence the review in any way.
     
    This review is divided to 2 main parts: Physical appearance / UI, and the sound quality. The main device used for comparison is the Astell & Kern AK100ii, which has been my main portable DAP in the last year, and occupies a similar price range (in Australia, at the time of writing, the X7 can be had for about 900-950 AUD, while the AK100ii can be had for about 1,000 AUD).
     
    Physical appearance and UI

    Out of the box, I immediately noticed a similarity to the feel of the AK100ii. Both share a similar metallic frame with a washed pattern and a similar colour. The X7 appear slightly larger and slightly heavier (220g vs 170g). Both devices present nice touch screen, with the FiiO screen being slightly larger (4” vs 3.31”), both with 480X800 resolution. The AK100ii has a nice round volume attenuator, while the X7 opted for a two-button attenuator, is not as nice to operate.
     
    The controls show further similarities. In addition to the touchscreen, both devices have 3 physical control buttons on one side (forward, back, play/pause) and the volume control on another side, and a power button. Both devices respond to the physical buttons even when the screen is locked.
     
    A further look at the specs show further similarities: both include internal flash memory (64gb for the AK100ii compared with 32 for the FiiO X7), expandable via a single msd slot. The msd slot on the X7 is less recessed, and does not require an additional item to take the msd card in or out – an advantage over the AK100ii for people who change cards often. The X7 includes a separate line-out which doubles as coax out, while the AK100ii lacks a true line-level output (the “line out” setting simply maximises and locks the volume), and its headphones out doubles as optical out.
     
    While the X7’s inclusion of a separate line-level output is to be commended, its placement on the top of the device while the headphones out is located at the bottom is quite confusing. When I first got the device and plugged my headphones at the top of the device, I was surprised to find that I am unable to alter the volume using the volume slide. Upon further investigation I realised that the actual headphones out was located at the bottom of the device.
     
    Regarding the UI, both devices sport a fully-customised android-based UI, and on both devices the UI is relatively easy to use. The UI of the X7 is a significant improvement compared to the previous FiiO DAP I reviewed (X5ii), and is comparable to the easy UI of the AK100ii. I still found a couple of small things not as intuitive as the AK100ii, for example when viewing the list of artists, and then choosing an artist to reveal the list of albums, one would expect to choose an album to reveal the track list in the same way, however it operates on a slightly different menu.
     
    One significant difference of the devices is that the X7 allows for the installation of apps. This makes the X7 as potentially including more functions and one can use the X7 for more applications than just music. However, the X7 can also operate on a “pure music mode”, which makes the X7 a “pure” music player. The AK100ii can only operate on that mode, so the X7 offers the added benefit – for those users who wish for it – to install other apps and use the X7 for other applications.
     
    To conclude, in terms of physicality, the X7 has a nice touch and feel to it and it includes a separate line-level output, which the AK100ii is lacking. However it is slightly larger and heavier than the AK100ii, the location of the headphone port is not ideal, and the two-button attenuator has a slightly satisfying feeling compared to the AK100ii’s.
     
    Sound quality:
     
    I chose to address the sound quality last, because of the inherent subjectivity of the matter. When comparing the devices, I had no way of conducting a truly blind comparison, so placebo effect cannot be ignored. Having said that, I feel that both devices present a clear and detailed sound, with some very small perceived differences which may or may not be real.
    The headphones used for this review are, in order of importance:
     
    1. PSB M4U2 – my main portable headphone, very balanced sound, which I often use as a benchmark to testing portable equipment.
    2. Ultrasone Performance 880 (modified with HM5 hybrid pads) – a recent purchase, an excellent over-ear with exceptional soundstage and dynamics.
    3. HE-500 (modified) via Meier Audio Corda Classic amplifier – my main home setup. I don’t usually connect my portable audio to my desktop gear directly (usually I would use my reference DAC) but the direct connection to extremely clean and balanced Corda Classic amplifier allows to test the output from a more detailed, open-back headphone.
     
    For this comparison I have used a variety of the genres I mostly listen to, including: rock, funk, soul, blues, jazz, and country/folk. Apologies for fans of other genres that were not used for this review (EDM, classical), as well as users of IEMs, as I only use over-ear headphones.
     
    I find that both amplifiers present a very clean sound, with a low noise floor. I do find that the noise floor is slightly lower on the AK100ii, which is evident in some acoustic/quiet track (for example, Guinneviere by Crosby Stills and Nash). The X7 appears to my ears to have slightly better lower-end dynamics, with a very nice punch around the mid-bass regions. The AK100ii, however, seems to have a slightly more elevation in the treble, which makes tambourines for example sound a bit clearer and more present. However, both devices seem to produce very crisp mids, that are a joy to listen to. The X7’s sound is full, rich, and detailed, and generally sounds very similar to the AK100ii.
     
    While I couldn't find or generate measurements of the actual power output, I would venture a guess that the X7 has slightly more output power compared with the AK100ii. This appears more noticeable with the Ultrasone P880, which seems to be driven better by the X7 without an external amp. The PSB M4U2m with their internal amplifier sounded great with both devices, as did the M100.
     
    To conclude, while both devices offer similar sound quality, the X7 seems to me to have a slightly elevated low-end, while the AK100ii has slightly elevated treble. Apart from those small differences the sound is rich, detailed, and open. The X7 seems to have slightly stronger amplification, which can be especially beneficial to those who use it with over-ear headphones. Another difference in the amplification section is that the AK100ii comes with a balanced output, while the X7 comes with a detachable amp section, which can be upgraded to higher power and balanced modes. I didn’t try any of the upgrade modules.
     
    Overall, the X7 is an excellent DAP that is comparable with the AK100ii, and even holds some advantages over it (higher power output, proper line level output, ability to install apps, ability to upgrade amp module), and some disadvantages (lower internal memory, lack of stock balanced output, location of headphones socket, lesser attenuator).
      Brooko likes this.
  9. n05ey
    FIIO X7 - a great experience, leaves me wanting more
    Written by n05ey
    Published Feb 6, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - great ui, solid build, responsive screen
    Cons - a little chunky

    Intro

     

    This review is a part of the Australian FIIO X7 tour where I had the opportunity to spend a week with this little beast. Thanks to FIIO and the tour organisers for trusting me with the kit and all the hard work behind the scenes.

     

    I am a long time lurker who occasionally pops in to say hi in a few of the forums but stays up to date on all things headphone. I have been enjoying the talk and leadup to the this player. I have been interested in the idea of a good android based player but am a little sceptical of a DAP that does more than I really need but less than a phone and where that would fit into my life. So, does this great piece of kit stack up?

     

    I will compare the unit in my review to my little DAP, the Sony NWZ- and for the comparisons I will use my ATH MSR7 and Aurisonics Rockets.

     

    Packaging

     

    The packaging reminds me of the apple approach, relatively minimal but reasonably premium. I have to say that I am getting a little bored with this approach, not to be too harsh but it is an apple thing, I think Fiio does have the opportunity to take it in a different direction, with companies like FLC, UE and Jays capturing my attention with an alternative approach with a lot of style

     

     

     

    Build

     

    The build is nice and solid with a bit of a chunky aesthetic, pleasant but nothing revolutionary. It has a confidence inspiring heft and I really enjoyed the feel of it in hand.

     

    My main criticism of this category of DAPs is that the girth does do a little harm to the level of portability. It would be interesting to see something that takes it a different way, keeping it slim but maybe a larger footprint. So saying, it was smaller than the Cayin N6 and I got used to that in the end. The bottom line is that it is well within my level of expectation for this category of DAP so if you like the interface and sound, it is well nice enough to make you feel that you aren’t carrying something that doesn’t reflect the investment

     

    Interface

     

    The display is a nice and reasonably responsive screen. My first gripe though is that to start using the screen you need to press a button on the side. This is fine unless you have the DAP on the desk. I would appreciate having an option to wake up the screen on the front as per the Galaxy or Iphone lines.

     

    Once you are in, the X7 has made a nice little player that sits on the homescreen. Personally after using the Hum Pervasion, I completely love the FIIO approach. I dig that you can still get behind it and into the system broader to start digging around in the android world, but I like to just be able to plug and play as well as having my music always at my fingertips. This seems like a much better approach.

     

    The menus and navigation all seem pretty intuitive although I feel like there is definitely room for refinement. The scrolling and touch input all seemed to register fine for me.

     

    All in all, I enjoyed the experience.

     

    Sound

    To evaluate sound, I have listened to each headphone volume matched by ear to compare the DAP’s. I know this isn’t the most technically sound methodology, but I am a relaxed imprecise guy, so if you are reading my review my hope is to give more of a story rather than the hard data :) If you want that, there are reviewers that I could recommend for you :)

     

    General impressions –

     

    Vs my Sony A15 the X7 is clearly in the next league. In comparison the A15 just has a level of haze as opposed to the X7. I would say that it sounds the next level of refined. Areas of black space and separation between instruments in a way that the A15 just can’t match. Compared to to my memories of the Cayin N6 I would say that the X7 has similar level of detail and refinement but the N6 sounds a little etched by comparison, a little hyper detailed. I would say that the X7 has a little more of an organic feel, the X7 is a really satisfying listen.

     

    The unit has plenty of power, never feeling like it was stretched, giving deep and full bass, detailed but still smooth mids and detailed shimmering highs. It doesn’t have the same warm feel as some of the other fiio units I have heard, but rather takes the organic, nice enveloping sound that usually characterises that sound and applies it to a nice flat sound.

     

    Sorry if it doesn’t make sense, I am just trying to put words to my impressions :)

     

    Conclusion

     

    I enjoyed this experience. Thanks to all the Aussie crew for the opportunity to be involved in this tour.

     

    I guess to boil it all down, I would say this.

     

    It is at the top of the list of DAP’s I have spent time with. Is it the perfect portable? I don’t think so, but it definitely takes it closer than I have seen before.


  10. T.R.A.N.C.E.
    Great dap overall but it's value for money is subjective as usual.
    Written by T.R.A.N.C.E.
    Published Jan 30, 2016
    3.5/5,
    BUILD:
     
    It's solid, can likely withstand abuse, but it doesn't look high end or refined, imo it looks a bit cheap. The jutting out screen is set on a plastic bed, the screen covering feels like plastic not glass, but can't find info on it. The aluminium case feels very sturdy and looks very good, if only the whole dap followed suit, the jutting out back cover is thinner aluminium and doesn't feel as nice or solid as the main body and looks out of place.
     
    USABILITY:
     
    I'm not a fan of the side buttons, they are thin and harder to press than some other daps. I also dislike that the buttons on both sides are identical, meaning you have to make sure which way the dap is in your pocket to press correct button. Battery life is average, but that never bothered me. It's slightly heavier than I would like in my pocket personally.
     
    SOFTWARE:
     
    It is responsive, no complaints there, has a few glitches still on latest firmware, but hopefully will be ironed out with further updates. A few times I had to restart the player because the track seeker would stop responding for example. I'm not one for using streaming or online features so they weren't tested.
     
    SOUND:
     
    It sounds great, definitely better than X5ii in every way, tighter definition, bigger sound stage, better separation, etc etc. I did find that there was a very familiar underlying sound style in X7 which was also in the X5ii, I'm not going to describe the sound of X7 other than say it sounds very much like an improved X5ii more than any other dap. X7 is no game changer in terms of sound, in the same price bracket I prefer the sound coming from the Onkyo HA-300, which aside from smaller sound stage takes every other sonic victory to my ears. But as usual it is all subjective. And X7 ultimately sounds very good.
     
    VERDICT:
     
    X7 does not excel hugely in any particular field for me, but at the same time has no major flaws, aside from some people saying it has EMI issues with wifi, which if true make it a flop of a product, but I didn't test that so I won't factor that in, and in any case fiio will probably fix that issue in newer units if that is the case. X7 performs above average in all fields tested, if I hadn't factored in price I would give X7 a 4, but with price factored in I give it a 3.5 because I can't justify it's value personally, in saying that, the X7 is unique in it's feature set, so if it's particular features tickle your fancy then it's value is in the eye of the beholder, if that makes sense lol.
      PinkyPowers likes this.