1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

FiiO X7

Rating:
3.89474/5,
Tags:
  1. daduy
    Potential to be the best Android based DAP
    Written by daduy
    Published Dec 6, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, build quality, interchangeable amp module, plays pretty much all music format, ANDROID!!!
    Cons - No Google play services at the moment of review
    Disclaimer
     
    I got this unit as part of New Zealand tour arranged by Brooko, thank you very much for including me in this tour.
     
    Introduction
     
    I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 8 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
     
    I listened to the X7 daily in my commuting from home to work and in the office for about 10 days.
     
    I am going to compare the X7 with 7th Gen Ipod Nano mostly, with a quick comparison to my HTC One M7 
     
    For the majority of my listening i am using Shure 215 on my travel and Ultrasone Pro 750 on the office, i also try out other headphones with them such as phonon SMB02 and JVC FXT90.
     
    Build Quality 
     
    Similar to the X1, X3II and X5II, I love the build quality of X7. Solid all metal body, feel good in your hand, and as a sucker for a brushed metal look, I think the look gorgeous.

    They are bit thick compare to my HTC One, but shorter and about the same width. Due to the thickness of it, I don't think they will fit in your jeans pocket (well maybe they will but I really wouldn't recommend it). While commuting I always put them in my jacket and they fit fine in there.
     
    Interface
     
    I will talk a little bit about the build in Fiio Music player here. I must admit the first time I used them i found them a bit confusing, I got the impression that they are trying to cram a lot of functionality and features into the music player, which is great, however resulted in a bit complicated user interface.
     
    After a couple of days using them i kind of get used to it and don't have any issue anymore.
     
    But this is Android, if you don't like Fiio music player you can download others, Neutron, PowerAmp, you name it, is just a click away (hopefully if google play service is working).
     
    I exclusively use the Fiio music player just because i don't see any reason to use the others, they play anything i throw at them, MP3, FLAC, APE, CUE. No lag, no crash, just chugging along nicely for me.
     
    Sound Quality
     
    Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? I would say they sound neutral with a slight boost in bass and treble. They are transparent enough that when i change my headphones i can immediately hear the difference in the sound signature.

    I also find that i enjoy the sound coming out of the X7 more than X5II, it just sounds good and engaging straight away, 1st impression is really good.
     
    The X7 come with an IEM Amp module, which is quite good for IEM, but I found them a bit lacking in power for the Ultrasone pro 750. They can get loud enough (around 90 on the volume level) but it's just not sounding as sweet as when I used my project sunrise amp, but hey it's not fair to compare the IEM amp module to project sunrise.
     
    I also tried the line out paired with headstage arrow 2g and find them really good sounding, probably better than the IEM amp module, however for majority of the listening i use the IEM amp module just because it's less hassle.
     
    As mentioned above, i am comparing them to 7th gen ipod nano, please note that this comparison is purely for sound quality only, in term of functionality and flexibility  no way the ipod can wins again fiio, although they win in size and weight obviously.
     
    I use Fiio headphone switcher to quickly compare the sound between the ipod and X7, the primary music for comparison is Acoustic Alchemy - Red Dust & Spanish Lace Album
     
    So how do they fare againts 7th gen ipod? well to my surprise they sounded really really similar. This reminded me to the experience back when i am comparing X5II with 5th gen ipod.

    When i first listen to Fiio X7 i thought they are the clear winner compare to ipod nano, however when i use the headphone switcher to quickly change source, i found that they are on par.

    Sound signature, soundstage, detail retrieval are almost at the same level, the obvious difference to me is the treble extension where guitar is sounding more clear and detailed on the X7 compare to the nano, but they are very subtle and not huge differences.
     
    I also do a quick comparison with my HTC One M7, well the HTC is ok but not really a match for fiio, guitar sounds a bit twangy on the HTC compare to the fiio, and there is this hollow gap in some mids frequency on the HTC one. I am not really keen to listen to my phone while having the X7 with me so  it's easy to say the Fiio is definitely better than HTC One M7 (Please note that i am not using a stock rom on the M7, and if that affect the SQ of the M7 i wouldn't know for sure)
     
    Summary
     
    Ok, so why would i want to buy fiio X7 if ipod nano is almost as good as them? It depends.
     
    What do you need from a DAP? do you just want to listen to your MP3/itunes collection? I Think ipod will be the cheaper solution for that.
     
    However these days I personally find that I listen more to streaming service than my mp3/FLAC collection, and unfortunately I can't listen to that on my ipod nano.
     
    I think Fiio X7 is the easy answer here, to have a quality sounding DAP to listen to any streaming services available, being Android will give you any flexibility to choose your streaming service. You can also choose any traditional music player that you like, pretty much winner from both side of the world
     
    I also love the idea of the interchangeable amp module, and would really be interested to see the roadmap for future amp modules in the plan. Would be interesting if Fiio can sell the X7 at less price without any amp module attached say for head-fiers who already invest in portable amp.
     
    My only gripe with X7 at the moment, is that, I am a subscriber to google play music, and without google play service i can't listen to my google play music. So thats minus  1 star for me. 
     
    Other than that, she is definitely a keeper. [​IMG] 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. daduy
      lol i was surprised as well, definitely not expecting that, would be interested to hear other opinions if they have nano as well :)
      daduy, Dec 8, 2015
    3. gearofwar
      Your X7 definitely needs to undergo some burnt-in process as for most Daps. Early period might make the sound congested and worse...
      gearofwar, Dec 9, 2015
    4. daduy
      Hmm...good point, i will keep that in mind if i am doing another review next time, thanks for the feedback! :)
      daduy, Dec 9, 2015
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. m1ku
    A special kind of DAP?
    Written by m1ku
    Published Jan 3, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - build quality, audio quality, modular amp
    Cons - usability can be better
    _DSC9713.jpg
     
     
    Before we start, I have to mention that this X7 is a loan unit from Fiio for the world tour. Thanks again to Fiio, Head-Fi and Joeblogg to make this event possible.
    Since the X3K review, I am still an amateur on the subject of sound quality, so I will do my best describe my experience.
     
    Since I have started looking around at different kinds of music player, I think the X7 is the first of the kind that used Android OS as their software bases and allows users to use their own prefer applications for music playback.
     
    Packaging
    The unboxing is very similar to the X1 and X3II. It comes with
     
    1. MicroUSB charging/data syncing cable
    2. 3.5mm to coaxial adapter
    3. Two screen protector
    4. T5 screws
    5. T5 screw driver
    6. Warranty card
     
    This time though it did not come with a silicon case.
     
    _DSC9705.jpg
     
    Build quality
    The build quality is as usual, very nicely done. The aluminium housing is very sturdy. Nowhere in the device that shows low quality or cheaply made. The most favourite part about the exterior of the device is the buttons. They give a light click which can be satisfying to press.
    The size of the device is designed specify for single handed use. With a good amount of thickness and the right size of the device made it stays in my hand very securely.
    At the bottom of the device, it has an empty block. It is the modular amp that Fiio says will allow user to swap out with a different amp for a different sound signature. It reminds me of the RHA T10 of their "Interchangeable tuning filters". This would be an interesting idea to look forward to.
     
    _DSC9727.jpg
     
    _DSC9728.jpg
     
    _DSC9729.jpg
     
    _DSC9730.jpg
     
    _DSC9731.jpg
     
    _DSC9732.jpg
     
    _DSC9733.jpg
     
    Usability
    In the build quality, I mentioned that I really like the buttons, but usability wise, it can be better. Along with the review unit, there are some documents related to the making of the device and it was explained the reason behind the parallel buttons. Even so, I would prefer the buttons to be different on both sides for the ease of blind clicking.
     
    UI
    Overall the UI is pretty clean. Throughout the time I’ve used the device, I have only used the default music player. The text are clean to read with the good contrast between the background colour. Swiping from the very left in the music player reveals its settings. One big problem I have notice is the register point of touch can be a bit hard to get to use to since the screen is small, in turn each elements are scaled down. Would be better if the buttons are a bit larger or increase the register point a bit more. Other than that, the UI is well-done.
     
    eq1.jpg
     
    eq2.jpg
     
    musicplayer1.jpg
     
    musicplayer2.jpg
     
    sidesettings.jpg
     
    Battery Life
    I would consider it to be average. Since It has a lot of functions disabled. The battery life lasts longer than my phones. My last check before fully charge the device, it ran almost 14hours at 14% battery. I've also notice there are more battery drain when wifi was turned on, but I did not really use those functions so I can't really say much about it.
     
    batterylife.jpg
     
    runningapps.jpg
     
     
    Sound Quality
    Gear used: K7xx, SE215
    Throughout the 10 days, I did not change the EQ since I have very little knowledge about it. Everything is kept at default besides switching the gain to low.
    The vocal is pretty imitating even on the K7xx, especially the female vocals. I would say the instrument separation is pretty good which of course, better than my X1. I can really hear the better separation on the X7 with classical and jazz music. For some reason, the X7 give me a softer more comfortable feeling when listening to Jazz music such as the one by KoolKlean. While listening to classical music, it has more soundstage than my Fiio X1.
     
     
    [So far, I've only got a little improvement on evaluating on the subject of sound quality. If you have read until here, thank you very much for the patient. Feel free to provide any feedback!]
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. peareye
      Nice review: Easy to read and easy to follow.
      peareye, Jan 3, 2016
    2. m1ku
      Thanks for the compliment~
      m1ku, Jan 3, 2016
  5. fleasbaby
    Weekend at Bernie's...
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published Dec 30, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Mature, detailed, beautiful sound
    Cons - New f/w for FiiO, therefore needs work
    I remember when the FiiO X3 came out. It was an idea that had originally been shelved, but was later resurrected, and released. In retrospect, I see it as FiiO’s opening shot, an exploratory probe in to the world of DAPs. After cutting their teeth using the X3, FiiO moved swiftly and decisively. The X5, X3ii and the X5ii followed in quick succession, each a step forward, a refinement of firmware, UI, build and in the background, subtle, but still there, sonic changes (the biggest was the switch from the X3’s warm sound signature, to the more accurate, clearer sound of the X5).
     
    Now FiiO has released what I predict will likely be their next opening shot…the X7 looks like it will be an exploratory probe into the world of higher-end DAPs. Among many other firsts, most notably, it is their first player to use an Android interface, have wi-fi and use a touch screen. It also borrows a concept I haven’t seen done by anyone other than Hifiman and expands upon it. It has swappable amp modules.
     
    I have had the good fortune to get a week with a tour unit, sent around the world for a few folks to have the opportunity to review the X7 and share their thoughts. I have not been paid for this review, and will not be keeping the tour unit. I am not affiliated with FiiO in any way and am a strictly independent listener. I use 16/44 FLAC files for all of my listening and my tastes run from jazz and the blues through to leftfield and experimental electronic music, with a lot in between.
     
    My last moment spent with a FiiO player was when they sent an X5ii around the globe for reviewers. It was at that time I succumbed to a temptation, a dark horse I had not anticipated meeting or running off with. In fact, I planned on buying an X5ii. I was distracted at the last minute by the Pono, and have ever since been enjoying its numerous delights. Time has rolled on and I am still entranced by it.
     
    I have spent the last few days listening to the X7 and the Pono, and can honestly say I have enjoyed listening to the X7. It has been a delightful experience. I can’t help but feel though, that I have been holidaying away from my wild co-ed apartment in the city with my quiet, wealthy uncle out in the suburbs. Compared to the Pono, the X7’s sound signature is polite, accurate, reliable and completely relaxing. The unit drove several different headphones and earbuds very competently. I had the good fortune to test it with Hifiman Edition X (also a tour unit), a pair of Magnum V6 drivers in Black Limba and Rosewood cups of my own making, the VE Zen (both the 1.0 and 2.0 version), the VE Monk, the Blox M2C and BE3, the T–Peos Altone 200 and the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore.
     
    With the Edition X especially I felt like I could quietly slip back into a comfy chair, drink a cup of tea and let myself maybe take an afternoon nap. Aurally, everything was in its place, neither aggressive nor shrill and immaculate in its presentation. This is a stark contrast to the Pono. Usually it has me up, tapping my toes, looking for an alcoholic beverage and cruising my music collection for fast, rollicking tracks.
     
    Like that wild co-ed apartment in the city though, the Pono lacks some amenities that one will always have when visiting that quiet, orderly, wealthy uncle. Want wi-fi access and streaming (Tidal, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Prime…)? The X7 can help with that. Want access to the Google Play store? The X7 will sort it out for you. Bluetooth? The X7 again.
     
    All of this makes me see the X7 as not necessarily better or worse than the Pono…just…different. It aims somewhere else in the DAP market, and hits it squarely in the chest. The average person who uses something like the Pono frequently eschews streaming services in favor of local media. They don’t see the attraction of using an app to tweak sound performance, or feel any desire to use a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The X7 gives you all of this and more.
     
    One day, sonically speaking, I’ll be ready to give up my hedonistic ways, and move out to the suburbs, live a quiet life, and settle down. And when I do, the X7 will likely be my first choice for where I want to be. I am sure I am not alone in this, in fact I am sure there are many making that life-choice right now. The X7 is 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom ranch house on a quiet cul-de-sac in a small town somewhere pleasant in a nice climate.
     
    It has a few odd little firmware quirks and the UI does take a little while to get used to, but other than that its build is solid and sexy, it sounds great and will be customizable when those amp modules start coming out…and FiiO is usually very quick to take feedback and fix firmware issues rapidly…
     
    Buy without fear if you’re looking to settle down comfortably [​IMG]
      RebeccaSugar likes this.
  6. piksnz
    Excellent value for a player of this premium quality
    Written by piksnz
    Published Dec 28, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Wireless streaming service, value for money, excellent DSD sound quality
    Cons - UI Improvements, 16bit, mp3 files sound similar across their lineup.
    Fiio X7 video review
     
    [​IMG] 
      Brooko likes this.
  7. DougD
    Yet another review of the FiiO X7 on World Tour - a very nice piece of gear
    Written by DougD
    Published Dec 28, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound quality is excellent; value
    Cons - UI is functional but somewhat limited; the placement of the pause button
    Quick review of the FiiO X7

    This past week I have been playing and experimenting with one of the FiiO X7s that has been out on World-Wide tour recently. Really appreciate the opportunity that Fiio and Joe Bloggs have given some of us lucky Head-Fi'ers to be able to have an extended hands-on preview of the unit, in our own homes with the rest of our regular gear, that is a rare treat and priviledge.

    As you probably recall, but I will remind you anyway because it's important ... the X7s went on tour BEFORE they were commercially available thorugh normal retail channels. FiiO was looking for feedback from the kind of consumers who would likely purchase a highish-end DAP, and undoubtedly also hoping for some favorable buzz, but the other side of the coin is that the product wasn't necessarily entirely ready for prime time when the journey began. 

    Yesterday (I think), firmware version 1.5 was released, which is the 4th firmware update since X7s started touring approx 6 weeks ago. That one I have not installed yet, but that gives you a sense of the pace of fixes and upgrades that FiiO is cranking out.

    One of the difficulties a reviewer has, which a potential purchaser also faces, is whether one judges the product based on where it is today, or where you think it will/could get if X number of seemingly easy changes get made, especially in the UI. That's always a tough call, but certainly FiiO's track record suggests they don't release a product and then forget about it. 

    In this review, I am not going to include pictures, or have an unboxing video, or (intentionally) repeat every comment that other reviewers have already covered well.  

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    My special interests and issues in testing the X7:
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) as a "one piece" portable solution.  Not interested in a stack of DAP+(DAC/)amp for portable use; BTDT.  We're almost in 2016, the technology has moved enough that I am interested in how good a reasonably-priced single box solution can be, but not willing to carry a whole bunch of gear.  (Caveat: always will have a phone. So a phone/DAP + amp isn't adding more pocket hardware than a standalone DAP with internal DAC+AMP.)  I understand that not all h/ps will be suitable for portable/mobile use, so selection of appropriately matched cans is part of the solution. (And the entire system cannot surpass the capabilities of the transducers that create the physical sound.) 

    (2) using the X7 as a high-quality desktop source. For a long time, my PC-based playback system was plagued by USB-related issues. Some other new gear (received after the X7 tour sign-up) seems to have helped greatly on that, but still the idea of having a home-quality source that is potentially less prone to USB noise artifacts is very appealing.

    (3) I don't have any good IEMs, and so far haven't much liked the feel in my ears of the few I have tried. I primarily use and like full-size headphones. The Oppo PM-3 is my designated "travel" (closed ear) headphone. The initial amp module available for the X7 was reportedly designed primarily for IEMs, so it's clearly not going to be optimal for my personal use preferences. But how much compromise is there? I was keen to find out.

    --------------------------------------------------
    Observations, notes & comments:

    --------------------------------------------------

    *---- about me -----* 

    I've been "serious" about Head-Fi gear for a couple of years. Well, more correctly have recently re-kindled a passion for headphones that started circa 1977 when I spent two weeks pay to buy a pair of brand new, state of the art Stax SR-X Mk III headphones "ear speakers". Which I still have, and still use. But I have a thrifty bent, and have never owned any (other) real TOTL equipment. One of the real exciting things about today's gear, especially h/p gear, is how close to top quality sound we can get for reasonable amounts of money. But I listen to and enjoy music, I don't listen to gear, per se.
     
     
    *---- Sound Quality ----*

    * the IEM amp module of the X7 drives the Oppo PM-3 very well. I never sensed that it was strained, or unmusical, and it probably could have made my ears bleed at full volume.  Excellent match. SQ=9/10. Unquestionably way better than my FiiO X1. 
     
    * the IEM amp module of the X7 did considerably better than I expected driving a HiFi-Man 400i, on high gain.  It clearly didn't have all the power and clarity of my normal desktop amp, a Project Sunrise III, and usually needed volume settings in the 95 to 110 range (of 120), but I would characterize the SQ as "Very Good," which is a 6/10 on my personal semantic anchoring scale. (10=Incredible, 9=outstanding, 8=superior, 7=excellent, etc.) I would not listen to this combo at home much, given better choices to hook-up, but in a hotel room, absolutely.
     
    * paired with a Senn HD-650, which ought to be a poor match-up, it was, predictably, just "Fair." Somewhat muddy and strained. Listenable, but not capable of the elevating or entrancing experiences we are all looking for. Didn't get as loud as I sometimes like to listen. Doubt that I would bother to get one of the future release alternative amp modules to handle the HD-650 better. I love those headphones but they are not closed and just not well suited for travel use; for in-home use, there are better solutions, see the next two notes.
     
    * Lineout: to the Project Sunrise III, driving any of the previously mentioned cans: Outstanding. Got a hiccup a couple of times during the week, which happened when playing 24-192 FLACs when the battery was low (which could have been coincidence), but otherwise flawless. 
     
    * Digital out to external DAC, a Schitt Bifrost Multi-Bit. Didn't think I had the connecting cables to test this, but then I realized the FiiO kit had thoughtfully included a suitable adapter for just this purpose. Super Super Super. Used purely as a transport to even better gear, the X7 works beautifully. It's at least as good as my everyday JRMC on Windows PC --> USB connection --> external DAC configuration, and probably better.
     
     
    *----- UI and physical design ----* 
     
    * I mostly used the device in FiiO Pure Music mode. I primarily listen to entire albums, and thus tend to navigate by hierarchical folders. (e.g., $Music/ABC/Bob Marley & The Wailers/2002_Legend....) My tags are probably in decent shape, but I don't rely on them much. Folder navigation worked fine for me. With the hierarchy I use for folders, any album was just two or three steps away.
     
    I am not a highly advanced Android user. It's reasonably likely that there are things the UI does that I did not discover. There's been a lot of criticisms of the UI. Maybe I have low expectations, but I found it functional enough for me, and reasonably intuitive. 
     
    * within folders, things were sometimes odd. Double-disk albums often showed Song 1, Song 1, Song 2, Song 2, etc., rather than keeping the two disks separate and in the expected sequential order. JRMC didn't do that for the same albums, so I don't think it's the tags.
     
    * similarly, on some albums with a lot of tunes, the listed order was 1, 11, 12... 20, 21, 2, 3, 4, etc. Since I like to listen to albums from end-to-end, I prefer to hear them in the order the artists and/or producers intended. Again, could be tags, or the lack of them, but JRMC isn't showing or playing the tracks in this order. The X7 was apparently alphabetizing by track name, including an embedded track number, rather than using a "track number" tag. Maybe there's an option to control that. 
     
    * Not sure if the X7 currently has a true "random shuffle" mode. If it does, I couldn't figure it out. The default "play all the songs" order seems to be alphabetical by song. I could get that change to something that wasn't pure alphabetical, but it was too clustered by artist to be random. When I'm listening to stuff in random order, I like the idea that the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" could come up next ,even if an A-song like "Accidents Will Happen" by Elvis Costello was last up. It annoys me to know that as a P-song, Psycho Killer is, for sure, 1800 songs away. (How hard could it be to load a 60,000 long list of (pseudo-)random numbers into the firmware?) 
     
    * in "individual song" mode, there's an index-scale on the right-hand side of the display, from A-Z. Touching that will jump you to that part of the song list, but be patient, it takes a couple of seconds to respond.
     
    * the pause button is just badly placed. As a right-hander, it's precisely where my fingers naturally wrap around when I hold the unit in my hand. If I had a penny for every time I inadvertently hit the pause button, I would be $34.72 richer today than I was last week. Not a deal-breaker, but it is annoying. On the X7 version ii, I hope FiiO flips the buttons, and has the ON and Pause button above the double-rockers on either side, rather than below them.
     
    * the volume scale works well. Not sure that going to 120 is necessary ... although I somewhat enjoyed it in a Spinal Tap "11" kind of way ... but I could always find a Goldilocks volume that was "just right" for the tune, my mood and the 'phones on my head. 
     
    * Did I mention the Android UI is MUCH better than the wheel of the X1? The wheel has given me oodles of nuisance and malfunction, this is far superior. One small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind. So to speak.
     
     
    *--- miscellaneous other stuff ----*
     
    * I mostly played FLACs, the vast majority of my music is ripped or purchased as FLACs. Played up to 24-192 fine.
     
    * DSD - I don't have a lot of music on DSD, but I do have a couple of albums and some demo files from various vendors. DSD64 sounded great, not sure I put any higher-res DSD files on the X7. Not surprisingly, the X7 would not play a 5.1 multichannel DSD file.

    * MP3 - beats me. Mostly when I find any of these still hiding in my collection, I just delete them on sight as archaic relicts. Didn't listen to any MP3s with the X7.
     
    * SACD-ISO. Tried two. One played, one didn't, don't know what the difference was.
     
    * WAV/WV. Tried Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which is just great music for certain moods. My copy is a one-file WAV rip, it didn't play with FiiO Pure Music. I believe it did with Neutron however.

    * One of the previous participants on my unit's tour apparently installed Tidal and Neutron, and (kindly or inadvertently, don't know) left Tidal logged in. Saw it in Android mode, touched the icon just to see what would happen, and was surprised when it fired up, made a Wi-fi connection with the home network automatically, and was ready to go. I did play with it for a few hours. (Okay, six hours. Until 3 am Sunday morning.) I don't think the SQ was quite up to onboard FLAC quality, but it was much better than I expected, definitely quite listenable. And so simple even this caveman could do it. Just for funnzies, I did searches for around 50 albums from my "albums I am hunting for" list, some of which could reasonably be described as "obscure." Tidal had about 90% of them. I was quite impressed with CD-quality Tidal, will probably sign-up. Streamed everything live, didn't try any "download now to play later" kinds of things. 
     
    * Neutron: played a couple of songs, just to see that it works. Not an app I currently use, and I didn't spend much time trying it out. Seems to have a lot of customization and EQ options. Noticeably lower volume than FiiO's app.
     
    * Speaking of EQ ... don't usually use it, didn't try it at all on the X7. 

    * Wi-Fi - as previously stated, Tidal brought up Wi-Fi with no fiddling. Somebody else had set it up before me, so I don't know if that was much of a chore. I never experienced any kind of interference or noise using Wi-Fi, which very much surprised me. 
     
    * firmware updates - the X7 arrived as 1.0. I downloaded 1.4 as one of the first things I did after receiving the unit, followed FiiO's instructions, and it installed uneventfully. (i.e., Happy-Happy-Happy-Quick.) Never listened to the X7 with any firmware earlier than version 1.4.

    * earlier today when the Wi-Fi was turned on, the X7 told me that firmware 1.5 was available and could be installed. I didn't avail myself of that invite ... something for the next person to do, if feedback on the update suggests it's essentially bug-free ... but nevertheless that's a neat capability for the X7 to have. Especially if it goes through a period of regular firmware updates as more capabilities and fixes are added. 
     
    * Loaded up a bunch of xmas and "regular people" tunes on a new micro-SD card in preparation for the annual xmas "obligatory 2 day holiday tour around the state to visit various relatives." Was thwarted in my effort to share good music cheer because the X7 and my vehicle (2013 Honda Odyssey) were not able to to find each other to make a BlueTooth connection. Was on the road and didn't get to fiddle with it much. (Unfortunately, I had assumed the BlueTooth would work, and neglected to also bring a line-out cable as a backup. Whoops. Had to listen to the radio, how retro 20th century. Under my reindeer antlers headpiece, I was secretly embarrassed by this technology failure. Fortunately, the wifelette was pre-occupied with hitting the travel schedule.) 
     
    * Battery life: I didn't really time it, but from my experience 8-10 hours seems a good guess. And remember, I'm using cans that need more power than IEMs would. That's enough for me, anytime I know I'm going to be unable to recharge for more than 8 hours, I have a number of cheap "recharge your mobile device via USB" batteries I can bring along. (They're a commodity accessory now, $10-$15 for 3000 to 6000 mAh.)
     
    * Recharge via USB --> fast. I'd guess it took less than 2 hrs to go from 6% to 100%, while the X7 was playing.
     
    * USB connection to PC. Worked fine for a while. Plug in the USB cable, and up popped a "Connect in Android mode" screen. But that is not happening now, in either Pure Music or Android mode. Don't know if I inadvertently turned something off on the X7 or on my PC. Regardless, loading tunes onto a card is usually faster for me if I plug the card directly into a card-reader on the PC rather than use a USB cable to an external device anyway, so I generally do not move tunes via a USB cable.
     
    * re-scanning the list of tunes: the X7 took 80 seconds to scan the internal storage and a 128-GB card, and to register 2,930 tracks. I was happy with that. (The track count for that size card is kinda low, because I put a large number of high-rez files on the card for testing purposes, and of course those files tend to be much larger than normal 16/44.1 redbook files.)
     
    * I LOVE that FiiO isn't burdening the X7 with a ton of expensive internal storage. With a card slot, we get essentially unlimited storage capacity, as much as anyone wants to buy, and can purchase whatever size cards offer the best capacity vs price trade-off, any given time. To me, at the moment the 128-GB cards are still the sweet spot. Because the X7 rescans a memory card so fast, swapping a new card in is no big deal. (Unless you drop the old one on the floor of a crowded public transit bus in the dark, etc. Some free advice: don't do that.)  Two card slots would be nice, but it's not essential.
     
     
    *----- bottom line ---* 
     
    I like the FiiO X7 a LOT. Even with the IEM amp module, SQ was excellent on full-size headphones that are reasonably well-matched. Super as a transport to desktop gear. No show-stoppers in terms of usability from my point of view. Its functionality with Tidal is making me re-think about the fun and usefulness of wireless streaming, which up to now frankly I had not seen much point to.
     
    Will it rip the guts out of the market for top-end A&K models? Don't know, but it will certainly push them as "a value proposition." Hate that phrase, but it fits here.
     
    How does the X7 compare to other hot new DAPS, such as the Questyle Q1PR, the Onkyo DP-X1, or even the LG-V10 ? Don't know that either, haven't had a chance to play with any of them.
     
    But I would say that if SQ is your #1 consideration, which IMO it certainly should be, then the X7 is most certainly a very serious contender, as is. 
      Peridot likes this.
    1. peareye
      Nice Read! i too bought a pair of Stax back then (1976)...still have the bill (just over 200.00)...
       
      i had them over 20 years: they took longer and longer to get up to volume (like a tube radio) when i first turned the power on...
       
      you're lucky yours still work!
      peareye, Dec 28, 2015
    2. DougD
      (re the Stax) Yeah, mine definitely show their age. I leave then on, and thus "charged up", 24x7x365. From a cold start, it can take a couple of hours for the two sides to sound the same. Oddly enough, I just bought a new (old) amp to power them. But that's off-topic!
      DougD, Dec 28, 2015
  8. cleg
    Great flagship DAP, showing new horizons for players
    Written by cleg
    Published Dec 24, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - android, ability to exchange amp, overall sound signature, build, screen
    Cons - IEM amp is weak
    1MainPic.jpg

    Well, I can't resist adding my 5 cents about this great DAP. I won't write much, as Head-Fi already have 16 reviews of X7, so everyone who's interested in build quality, box content, UI, etc. already satisfy their curiosity. I'll try to summarise my own impressions on sound.

    So happened, X7 was introduced with least powerful amplifier module, called IEM amp. It have about 100 mW @ 32Ω, which isn't much, even compared with Fiio X5-2, so X7 have a great chance to improve sound in future. Fiio promised 2 or 3 more amplifier, including powerful amp for big cans and balanced amp.

    For now, I'd call X7's sound signature close to neutral, with incredible level of details and leaned toward analytical representation. In some seldom cases, player sounds a bit "dry", but it's because of no coloration in sound. I've tried X7 with my E12DIY, so I'm sure that with future amps X7 will perform even better.

    8WithTitan1.jpg

    Bass is tight, fast and pretty accented. It allows player to render it nicely, showing it's texture and smallest nuances of low frequency instruments. Bass punches with good power and authority, so with bass-hevy headphones it can even overpower listener, so you should listen X7 with your headphones first. For example, Dunu Titan 5 have too much slam for me.

    Mids are absolutely flawless. Well-coocked Sabre inside X7 shows itself from best side, revealing even tiniest details of recording. This makes X7 very picky for recordings quality, but of course it's not a player's issue. Emotional, spacious representation of mids is an X7's best side. Scene is on wider side, and it's depth is really, really good. Please keep in mind that X7 won't add anything to records from itself, so dry, dull recordings will sound dull and dry.

    Higsh will be an issue for those, who are treble-sensitive. X7 represents treble without any smoothness and without an attempt to make it less harsh then they are. With some headphones (hello again, Titan 5) it gives harshness. So, if you don't like treble, keep it in mind. If you're ok with this part of spectrum, you'll enjoy airy and light presentation of X7.

    To summarise, there are some minor issues in X7's sound, but it still sounds more then great even for it's price tag, and please keep in mind, that future amp modules have a potential to greatly improve X7's sound.

    11WithX5-2.jpg

    Few comparisions (please note, that this is a pretty subjective opinion)

    L&P L5 Pro In some sense, L5Pro is an antipode for X7. L5Pro offers more smooth, softer sound, in exchange for little loss of details.

    Questyle QP1R Another raising star on DAP market. Questyle's patented amp allows this player to show great synergy with most of heaphones, even picky ones. QP1R have better trebles, but to my ears it's lacking some bass texture, compared with X7. Also, QP1R's awful scroll will kills it's usability, making it hard to use.

    Cayin N6 My favourite "top-middle" segment DAP. This player have enjoying, musical representation, but have somewhat less resolution compared with X7. New Fiio's flagship have more analytical sounding.

    Fiio X5-2 Former flagship now goes to middle segment, offers less resolving sound with less depth of lows, but if we keep in mind price factor, X5-2 is still a really great player.

    iBasso DX80 New iBasso's middle segment DAP is a complete antipode to X7. It offers absolutely emotionless, smoothed sound without any accents. X7 with it's lows impact and straightforward treble offers absolutely different sound approach.
      twister6 likes this.
  9. Barra
    Addictive Sound Quality that Scales Impressively with External Amplification
    Written by Barra
    Published Dec 7, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - TOTL DAP SQ, Value Price, Flexible AMP Modules
    Cons - UI Quirks, Battery Life, Lock Screen!!!???
    Disclaimer: I do not own the X7 yet with this being tour sample that was provided by FiiO. I will be sending this on at the end of my 10 day trial to the next participant. Thank you FiiO and Joe for including me once again as your products never fail to impress. Having said this, below is my honest opinion as always with no punches held back. But in this case, the good outweighs the bad so no worries.
     
     
    Skipping right to the good stuff, this is an awesome TOTL DAP that anyone would be happy to own. Yes, I almost immediately added my amp and stayed amped for most of the tour and yes there are quirks in the UI, but it is working very well as is if you can forgive the few nits. Having the AK100ii already, I will probably stay as is, but will certainly be picking up an X7 when I need a new DAP. The SQ to value ratio for this DAP is outstanding.
     

    Sound Quality Perspective

    At a certain level, the TOTL DAPs are all great and the question comes down to signature preferences. It is the age old question of what is the better car, a Ferrari or the Lamborghini. The X7 comfortably joins the TOTL DAP range in SQ and at a much reduced price so it is an absolute win. But again, it is a TOTL DAP like many others, the key value here is price and functionality. The functionality is where we have upside with the new AMP module options and with FW updates.
     
    Forgetting the upside and focusing on the SQ, my signature preference looks like this:
    1. SQ = Paw Gold >>> AK380 > X7/AK240/AK100ii/ak120ii > Pioneer/X5/DX90 > iPhone/iPod.
     
    However, look up the prices and you can see why the X7 is a win.
    1. Price = 380 >> 240 >> 120 > 100 > X7/Pioneer > X5/DX90/iPod
     
    Now, adding functionality back, the functionality preferences look like this:
    1. Functionality = iPhone/iPod > AK380/240 = AK120/100ii >= X7 = Pioneer > X5/DX90 = Paw Gold
     
    So you can slice and dice for your goals and no choice is right for everyone. The X7 seems to fit well into all categories doing well at everything.
     

    Review

    I am skipping the boring walk through and the pictures as there are many reviews already that have taken care of this. My review will get straight to sound quality and usability points of interest so you can decide if this DAP is right for you. Remember, this is my opinion only and your mileage may vary given your different HPs and different preferences.
     
    Below are my review notes for your review to see how I came to my conclusions – the good, bad, and the ugly.
     
    Review Notes:
    • Overall:
      • Sabre Chip: My fears that the bight Sabre chip would hold down performance was unfounded. The Sabre bright sheen was smoothed retaining the details without the brightish signature. Several years back, Sabre was the rage, and now the custom Chord DACs are the rage, but FiiO proved that it is all about implementation.
      • Genres: The X7 proves to be genre neutral making everything sound great with a few exceptions. While most rock sounds great, there are occasional tracks that are too energetic and compressed that make me want to hit the forward button. However, these tracks seem to be rare and the others are sounding exceedingly good.
      • Changing Impressions: The X7 is one of those that fail to impress up front, but soon become obsession worthy. I found the same to be true about the Hugo and other very good equipment. It takes time to start to get familiar with the capabilities and run through enough songs to see how special the DAP is. I am only now on my last day understanding what I will be missing when I send it on.
      • Scaling: I had an awha moment when I upgraded my HD700 cables to a Norne Solv X Silver Litz which brought them to a new level. Most of my X7 listening has been through the HD700s so man was I surprised when the scaling I heard this week at a Seattle meet on Summit gear translated directly to the X7 DAP as well. My library sounded new with the X7 and the new HD700 config just as it did on the summit gear. I lost 4 hours sleep last night listening to the X7 with it unable to put it down. The X7 as a source is putting out more than we can hear on lessor HPs and truly calls for better gear.
      • Stacking: Sorry guys, this is not an all in one solution with the current IEM amp module, but neither is the X5, DX90, AK100/120ii, AK240/380, or any of the others IMO as they all sound better with my little C&C BH2 amp. After some comparisons, I quickly standardized on stacking my BH2 to show the X7’s true performance. Man does it scale well with an amp so you can keep enjoying your stack with a new improved source.
      • Working UI: It works and seems to be getting better, but it is no AK. The bottom line is that FiiO has a product that works for my needs now, and is getting better with each firmware release. FiiO has been proven to take their FW updates seriously unlike other firms, so there is no telling where the UI will be in comparison to AK given another year.
    • X7 Signature:
      • Overall: This is a front row or front section presentation that provides its details in note thickness as well as being more intimate in presentation than some other DAPs. For me this is a good thing as I find details through brightness to be fatiguing which is not the case with the X7. The X7 is full sized, but not overly wide so it can feel congested like many DAPs do, but it has a nice bottom end to make things fun.
      • Bass: Goes big without getting in the way. While I don’t consider this to be a warm signature, it is on the warmer side of neutral. That warmness goes into the texturing without stepping onto the mids.
      • Mids: This is a neutral type signature with neutral mids. That means that the mids depend on the song, but are typically more prominent than a typical recessed DAP like my old DX90.
      • Treble: The treble is not prominent, but smooth being well integrated into the signature. There is a little brightness at higher volumes, but not as much as my AK100ii. For me, this is an example of treble done right.
      • Sound Stage: Reasonable width, but not wide by any count. Great placement, but not much space between instruments. Full sized feel adds to the instrument placement. Not 3D like the Mojo, but can pick out the instruments that are next to each other. Amping improves sound stage considerably as it adds to the full sized character.
      • Texture: Great ticklish texturing that you can feel somewhat. The amp brings the texturing to the next level. While it sounds natural, the Mojo was more natural.
      • Dynamics: The x7 dynamics is a strength that grows when amped. The dynamics are where some of the detailing and sound stage comes from.
    • X7 Pairings:
      • NT6pro: The pro seemed congested in the mids at first, but seem to be ok now sounding great. However, they do not have the width that the HD700s bring to the table so they may seem congested by comparison. The reason that this is weird to me is that the pros have a tendency to beat/match the TOTL HPs on high end sources including the mid-level HD700. So I am guessing that even though they sound great there is a pairing issue. My suspicion grows stronger when I hear the improvement when adding the BH2 amp.
      • HD700: Sounds great, clear, and wide with strong bass response making for a very fun listen. That was with the old stock cable, but with the Norne Solv X cable my HD700 scaled into the stratosphere and the X7 happily allowed this liftoff with more SQ than I knew was there. Awesome job FiiO.
      • LCD2.2: Unamped, the x7 does a respectable job driving the LCD2.2 as it is not that hard to drive. However, it doesn’t near the LCDs potential with the bass being a bit soft and the sound stage a bit collapsed. But it sounds better than low end HPs any day. Now adding an amp makes all the difference in the world. Adding my BH2 makes the LCD2.2 sing and as a source, the X7 combination excels.
    • X7 SQ Comparisons:
      • AK100ii: AK 52 of 75 – x7 75 of 120: Very close, x7 has a little more thickness to the note while the ak is a little more detailed, but I am splitting hairs. I do think that the x7 has a stronger bottom end. They are even closer going to AK balanced from SE HO. Both sound great, neither is overly wide in sound stage, but better than lessor units like the x5. Both are first row, full sized, detailed presentations. However, one surprise is that the x7 remains listenable/enjoyable at higher volumes than AK which gets a little bright. I suspect that the x7 has a linear volume where the AK feels more exponential. Both sound great at low volumes, but the x7 retains a little more of the thicker textured note which is a positive to me. In the end, the x7 matches or surpasses the AK SQ at a lower price point. In terms of looks and form factor, the smaller prettier ak takes an easy win and is a more pocketable unit. But, whatever….. Coming back to UI, I have a strong preference for the AK
      • AK100ii/BH2: See below, no contest as the BH2 takes everything to the next level.
      • Mojo: Indirect comparison: Listened to the Mojo last week and found it to beat my AK/BH2 setup substantially directly out of my iPhone. The Mojo sound stage is not the widest, but definitely wider and more 3d than either the AK or x7 paired with the BH2. However, the Mojo is for a different purpose and the x7 brings most of its sound in a single unit. However, I still want a Mojo after hearing the x7 for those rare times that the Mojo makes sense in my lifestyle.
      • X5: The X5 is a fun unit that brings the presentation forward and in your face with thick meaty notes providing fun, but with a high level of detail giving it the audiophile feel. However, the X7 is an obvious upgrade in every way – except for that stupid lock screen. Not much to say here, moving on.
    • X7 Amped:
      • AK/BH2 vs. X7 Unamped: No contest, the BH2 takes the AK to another level.
      • X7/BH2 vs. AK/BH2: Wow, the BH2 take the x7 to another level too. However, the x7 adds more to the bottom end here too. I like the x7 better than the AK with the BH2 added to both. The X7 gets smoother than the AK when amped by the BH2. This would be desktop quality if we could get more width in the sound stage. Definitely full sized sound.
      • X7/BH2 Portable vs. Havana 2/Mjolnir Desktop: Obviously no contest, but it was closer than I thought with the LCD2.2. The problem with the Mjolnir is the brightness it adds to the LCD2.2 which I tame with the Havana 2 tube DAC. The X7 has a bit of that brightness as well, but the sound stage is not as strongly defined missing the desktop transparency and the tightness of the texturing. The x7 felt loose in comparison. However, the X7/BH2 has a nice smoothness to it and good enough umph and SQ that it would thrill anyone on the go but the utmost perfectionist. With the BH2 and playing “Thumper” by DJ Baby Anne, I could feel my molars rattling.
    • UI Notes:
      • Screen Off: Everything but volume works with the screen off. Same as the AK. I would strongly prefer a working volume.  Take that back, changing inputs or anything funky turns off the sound requiring a screen on to restart. So testing the unit and going back and forth was a pain in the butt.
      • Turning Screen On: It is a pain in the butt. The buttons are minimally responsive requiring visual confirmation that the push registered. Then you are greeted by a lock screen that is even more difficult to get right requiring numerous visual tries for me again. Only then can you attempt to figure out the next step. Please keep in mind that I have less than a couple hours using the device, but even regular users will need to visually confirm presses.
      • Turning Unit On: Very long hold and uncertainty that it is turning on until screen finally lights up with graphics.
      • Lock Screen: Why!!!!!!! What in the world would anyone want a lock screen for that places an extra obnoxious step into all the workflows. For example, when turning the volume up a notch: Turn screen on > unlock swipe > volume buttons. Three steps that require a visual approach. If I had to, I could remember where the on and volume buttons are to operate in my pocket which is where a DAP is supposed to reside, but with the swipe requirement, I have to have all eyes on deck. The volume buttons and the swipe are not easy use either requiring a bit of concentration to see if the volume shows up on screen and if the swipe took. Pain in the butt!!!
      • Hidden Functionality: There is a lot of hidden functionality that needs to be learned to operate correctly and smoothly. This is not an intuitive Apple or AK product. However, with a little patience, I expect that it can become natural as long as the other issues are eliminated in the FW updates. The good news is that it adds a lot once you learn it. The bad news it you have to read the instructions or you may never know that it is there.
      • Fixed Line Out: Fixed, no adjustments needed. Very nice.
      • Too Many Touches Required: Many of the work flows require too many unnecessary touches to get results. The lock screen messes most things up given that the screen time outs quickly requiring you to turn it on again to do things. It would be nice if we could keep everything at the external button level for basic commands. This would leave browsing and searching plus system changes as the only reason to turn on the screen.
    • Build: The x7 is solid and again built like a tank with great heft. However, the screen is exposed to breakage potential being raised a couple mm above the frame – ooopps! It looks reasonably expensive, but in a P1 kind of way vs. an AK more elegant kind of way. The AKs win the beauty contest, the UI usability contest, but at a great cost and delivering similar SQ.
     

    Conclusion

    If I didn’t already have the AK100ii, I would consider this DAP for its SQ to price advantage. However, having the AK, I don’t have a reason to jump today. Down the road after a few FW iterations fix my nits, and my AK bites the dust, I will likely pick one up. Another hold up for me is the amp. The BH2 did wonders for the X7, but I don’t want to carry a stack. If the new X7 amp modules can meet or beat the BH2 in an all in one setup, that would be motivation for me to make the move as well. Right now, the top of the SQ DAP wars for me is the Paw Gold, but that is too expensive and ugly/goddy for me and the UI is basic. If the amp module can get me to the Paw SQ, I’m in!!!
     
    Now for the big test, sending it on to the next tour participant. My opinion may change as I miss its SQ, scalability, and pairing with my newly invigorated HD700, This is where I may get weak in the knees and just buy one.  [​IMG] 
     

    September 2016 Update - Amp Module Tour

    With the completion of the FiiO X7 amp module lineup, I was given an opportunity to get the tour package back with the addition of the amp modules AM1, 2, 3, and 5. The real eye opener for me was the vast improvement on an already stellar performance that was achieved just through firmware updates. Since AM1 was the original amp module that came in the tour, the discussion there is about this improvement in SQ from the first tour.
     

    AM1 - Firmware Updates SQ Significantly

    This is the same setup as the original tour, but with firmware updates that have taken the X7 to a new level. The X7 has succeeded where many other Sabre implementations have failed - smooth HQ sound without the sharp edge. While the am1 does not have the grunt for the more power hungry HPs, it provides killer SQ that can be enhanced by your favorite amp pairing such as my C&C BH2. Paired, we are talking desktop quality in a DAP.
     

    AM2 - A touch More Volume

    While I appreciate the effort, I was not able to hear a significant difference in SQ between 1 and 2 so I did not spend much time with this unit. Was looking for more weight in the note, not just volume. If given the choice in an initial purchase I would go 2 for the additional volume, but would not buy aftermarket given my other choices.

    AM5 - Top Dog

    Between 1, 2, and 5 - 5 was the obvious. However, I didn't realize that the balanced module 3 was in the box free floating to spend some good time with it. My time was therefore mostly spent with am5. I found that it was a very transparent amp with nice weight and impact. There is no doubt I would go for the AM5 for the nice weight added to make the X7 a stand alone DAP and avoid traveling with a stack. This one is worth the after market purchase to me.

    AM3 - Ops, My Bad

    Unfortunately, I only found this module the day I needed to ship out. It was buried in the box in the peanuts without its own box which the others had. For the little I listened, 3 and 5 were close, but I never got to try the balanced mode which would have likely put it over the top. Wish that I could have spent some time here. Now I have a tougher decision given I like the balanced design and my CIEMs tend to work better with them. In a pinch, I would probably buy the AM3 over the AM5 and take a chance. Hoping that FiiO is at CAMJAM so that I might A/B the two and answer this question.

    C&C BH2 Amp Comparison

    Overall, while these modules all make the X7 a stand alone DAP, they are about transparency and detail. This is great, but I still like my BH2 amp better in its warmer more dynamic/euphonic signature. So at home I would stack, and on the go I would go single with the am3 or 5. But this is matter of preferences and technically, they are equivalent. 

    Overall

    The real eye opener was the improvement in the X7 sound quality by itself through firmware updates. Listening to the X7 with my BH2 and the HEX was magical. The DAP was great before, now it is even better and I am not a Sabre fan. I am missing the X7 sound and plotting to get one when I can get it past my wife's scrutiny. I am also looking for an opportunity to buy the X7 with the module of my choice which I suspect will happen soon.
      PinkyPowers likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Barra
      Wish I could hear a NT6 to compare to my Pro as I keep hearing conflicting descriptions of their differences. But I absolutely love my Pro as it compares or surpasses the TOTL HPs/CIEMs I have compared it to on the best Summit gear.
       
      With the Mojo, the NT6 seemed to pair well in a 30 minute demo at a friends house, but I didn't get to try long term to see what happened. Although, we ran into source issues with our optical from my AK100ii sounding lacking at best which may contribute to fatigue. The optical cables we tried were cheap and likely the issue or it was my AK. However, switching to my iPhone 6 thru a cheap USB, the Mojo lit up and sung like a champ. Did you try all the Mojo input options including the USB and try changing sources? The iPhone 6/Mojo/NT6pro combo was wonderful.
       
      While I warmed up to the X7/NT6pro pairing, the HD700 was the better pairing which is unusual and with the new silver cables, the HD700 pairing went into the stratosphere. But the NT6pro was better than the HD700 on the Mojo with the stock cables.
      Barra, Dec 8, 2015
    3. ptolemy2k6
      Nice comparison/critical review. Hopefully someone can get FiiO to check it out. I would hate to press bunch of buttons if I didnt need to
      ptolemy2k6, Dec 8, 2015
    4. ade_hall
      The volume works with the screen off but you have to keep pressing it.
       
      The Lock Screen can be turned off in settings
      ade_hall, Dec 12, 2015
  10. 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.