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Design & Build Quality
The Fiio M7 is available in silver, red, blue and black. The version we received is the black one and it is beautiful. The M7 doesn’t only look nice but it feels nice as well. The case has a smooth and slick finish to it which makes it a very sexy DAP. At the same that same finish – when not using a case – will make the M7 a bit slippery when in your hand, so be careful if you’re not using any case, like me.
The build quality is exceptionally good and I can’t spot any flows whatsoever. There are no sharp edges, the buttons feel sturdy and the volume control wheel as well as the 3.5mm output and USB-C port, are perfectly integrated in the case. That being said, the screen sticks out of the body for like half a millimeter or so. Drop the M7 face down on the ground without a case and you’ll probably bust up the screen badly.
The new Fiio M7 DAP measures 52mm×109mm×13mm and it weighs only 116g. That means it’s rather small and easy pocketable.
All in all the M7 has an excellent design, I really dig it.
The pocketable Fiio M7 is extremely easy to use and a one-handed -and even blind – operation is no problem at all.
On the left side of the player we from bottom to top have the Next – Play/Pause and previous buttons. Above that there’s the small volume wheel. Even though it’s small, it offers a good grip and it’s extremely easy to rotate. You can also feel the clicks while turning it and setting the exact preferred volume is no issue at all.
On top of the player you on the left have the power button. It’s a small round button with a red circle around it and it has a small blue LED integrated in the middle.
The blue LED just shows you the M7 is powered on. On the right side of the top you have the 3.5mm output which also serves as line-out. While Fiio is now a big advocate of the 2.5mm balanced output, this M7 consumer DAP only comes with a single 3.5mm port. The reason is simple: normal consumers probably have never ever heard of 2.5mm TRRS balanced ports, so yeah, logic.
On the right side of the player you only have the MicroSD slot and on the bottom there only is the USB-C connector to charge the M7 and to connect it to an external DAC.
The back only has the Fiio logo printed on it, together with some info about the player as well as the certification labels. On the front of the player you just have the 3.2inch, 480 x 800 display with image zoom support. It’s a really nice screen but as I said, be careful with it when not using a case, as it does stick out a little.
The M7 uses a heavily modified version of Android 5.1. You will get an air of familiarity when you start accessing the general OS setting but outside of that the day to day operation is skinned with FiiO own theme which does change the user experience heavily.
You do not get the drop-down task manager and notifications bar. Nor do you get the home, multi-tasking and return buttons at the bottom of the screen. Instead, FiiO has taken a leaf out of Blackberry OS10 with a navigation system based around swipe gestures.
You also have a closed garden approach to apps. You cannot add any new apps but you do get 5 cooked into the OS out of the box. The four include the FiiO Player, the FM Radio app, file management and a gallery app for image and wallpaper management.
The FiiO implementation does not support Android multi-tasking though it is not clear if all the apps are closed when you swipe them off the screen. Certainly, when I am playing audio I can swipe the FiiO app off the screen and still hear music and bring it back again to continue browsing my media so there are some instances where the app is saying open and draining the battery.
Being Android you can still unlock developer options if you find those things useful to you. Simply drill into ‘settings-general-about device’ and ap on the build number row 7 times and bingo!
Be warned though it is not for casual users and given the apps management is gimped you are unlikely to get a lot of useful tweaks out of it. However, if you want to activate USB Mode selection or USB debugging from a technical point of view it is there.
(Image Credit: Headfonics)
Because of the way FiiO has themed the Android OS and simplified it the UI is also much simpler to use. However, Android users may find the lack of features a little more frustrating as it is much more linear in navigation than a truly open platform.
The M7 is an elegant successor to Fiio’s M3 high-res DAP. The M7 is Fiio’s first player to use Samsung’s Exynos 7270 SoC (System on Chip), made on a 14nm FinFET process.
Fiio says that compared to the older 28nm process, the two ARM Cortex A53 processors use 20 percent less power for better battery life. Storage, power management, and memory chips are part of the ARM cores. The result? The new SoC takes 40 percent less space than if the chips were packaged separately.
Less space means a smaller player, better cooling, and a larger battery. The M7 sports an 1,180mAh battery rated for 20 hours of play and 40 days of standby time.
Unlike the M3, which came with 8GB of storage, the M7 comes with just 2GB.
Fiio says that the M7 is designed to cater to younger consumers, but Fiio must know something that I don’t.
With only 2GB, you can’t store more than one or maybe two high-res albums. At 960MB, for example, Pink Floyd’s FLAC version of Wish You were Here takes up almost 50 percent of the Fiio’s storage. The DSD version of Dark Side of the Moon takes up just about all of it: 1.8GB.
(Image Credit: Techhive)
During my test period, I even felt limited with 16-bit/44.1kHz CDs. I ripped a series of Sarah McLachlan CDs as AIFF files. I could only squeeze about eight albums onto the player. Nevertheless, I give credit to Fiio for calling out this modest storage size clearly in their marketing materials. Buyers shouldn’t get a post-purchase surprise.
Clarity and Neutrality
The weird thing with digital audio players (DAPs) like the FiiO M7, is that sound quality isn’t the most important thing.
It sounds odd, given that the very purpose of these devices is to actually play music, but it’s true. And it’s especially true in this price range, where the differences between DAPs are relatively minimal.
That’s not to say the M7 delivers bad sound – far from it. The audio performance is clear and concise, delivering a balanced picture of the music without emphasizing any one particular element.
( Image Credit: The masterswitch)
It’s not flashy. It doesn’t shoot up the fireworks and give you eargasms – we didn’t make it up, it’s totally a word. It just presents your music as clearly as it can, and gets out of the way. With a file capability of 24bit / 192kHz, it’s more than capable of taking high-resolution lossless audio, too.
At first glance, the M7 looks it’s been made upside down.
The front of the device, free of branding and buttons, has its display oriented towards the bottom, with nothing but a blank space at the top. The display itself — and the bezels around it — can’t hold a candle (or candela) to the high-res, edge-to-edge OLED displays we’re seeing on smartphones today.
There’s no home button — the M7 features just three clicky playback buttons (forward, back, play/pause), a volume knob, a power button, a 3.5mm dual-function headphone/line-out jack, and a USB-C data/charging port.
The M7 is very pocketable, at just 52mm x 109mm x 113mm and 116 grams; its housing is about double the thickness of the iPhone X, but its 90-degree angles don’t exactly sit naturally in the hand. Much of the M7’s design might seem downright regressive compared to modern smartphones, but we love it.
Where the design of Fiio’s X3mkIII was a clear throwback to the iPods of old, the M7’s minimalist aluminum housing feels modern and fresh. Its display, though far from retina (292 ppi) and flanked by chunky bezels, is more than adequate for music playback under its pre-installed glass screen protector (and worlds ahead of the X3mkIII’s display).
The M7 has something better than a “Hold” button — its track control buttons and volume knob can be individually disabled when the M7 is locked.
Even its upside-down configuration is well-suited to music playback — when mounting the M7 to an external amplifier or DAC with silicone bands, none of the screen is blocked. The M7’s Bluetooth is at the same time excellent (aptX, aptX-HD, and LDAC are supported) and slightly disappointing from an Apple user perspective (AAC is not supported).
Bluetooth 4.2 Connectivity
Wireless connectivity is extremely important for today’s generation of hi-res music players. Many manufacturers (cough cough Apple) have cut the 3.5mm jack altogether! We need to be able to connect to a whole host of Bluetooth devices ranging from car head units to speakers, earphones and even high-spec HiFis.
The difficulty with Bluetoothing high-res audio is the high amount of data that needs to be efficiently transferred between the transmitter (phone, audio device, etc) and the receiver (headphones, speaker, etc). The higher resolution the file, the more data there is to transfer wirelessly. This is why Bluetooth codecs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Warning, there’s a bit of audio detail in the next section!
The latest Bluetooth codecs include AptX HD and LDAC. These codecs are used in most of the latest phones and are capable of broadcasting 24-bit audio at a sample rate of 48kHz.
That has you covered for MP3s and most WAV files or many other lossless formats. LDAC is a more recent codec developed by Sony that can support high-res audio up to 96kHz. The bit-rates can vary between 330 KBS (standard modern MP3 quality) up to a maximum of 990kbs (lossless) for the LDAC codec. This Bluetooth codec has you covered for lossless formats of all types including the very highest quality FLAC files.
( Image Credit: Soundreview)
Your Bluetooth headphones must support the codec – I used Soundpeats Q32 earphones and they worked perfectly, even with LDAC (Sound Quality First) enabled. Most headphones bought after late 2017 will support LDAC.
AptX has been around since 2014 and the FiiO M7 has an older codec too named SBC – there is a codec to suit any device and it seems that the FiiO M7 will automatically switch to a supported codec. It’s difficult to confirm this but I connected to the following with no issues:
- VW car audio
- Soundpeats Q32 Earphones
- A cheap old Bluetooth speaker
In reality, the difference in codec audio quality will be slight, but if you plan on connecting to a high-end speaker system or headphones using Bluetooth then LDAC compatibility is great.
One of the most notable features of the FiiO M7 is it’s impressive battery life. It has 20 hours of playback time, and 40 DAYS of standby time! FiiO was able to accomplish this by incorporating the Samsung Exynos 7270 SoC (System on Chip) which is made on a 14 nm FinFET process–previously a 28 nm process. I am not an expert in this type of technology at all, but FiiO claims the result is that it uses 20% less power!
Additionally, the FiiO M7 has a special packaging technology which fits storage, power management, and memory chips into a super super small package (about 40% smaller than if the chips were packaged separately). Therefore, it has a more efficient cooling system and can fit a larger battery.
Lastly, the power supply section inside is more robust than other players because the FiiO M7 is the first player to have a 6-layer multi-stage HDI (high density interconnect) PCB. As a result, components work more closely with each other.
For this review, I am using FiiO’s 1.02 fw which is the latest release at time of writing.
The M7 GUI uses a simple Android menu system combined with some tried and true features from their FiiO music app already utilised in their X5iii and X7i and ii devices.
At first boot you are presented with a very simple menu with 6 options – FiiO Music, FM Radio, File Management, Gallery, Tech Support and Settings.
There are also two universal actions in the GUI. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen from the left goes up one level, and swipe up from the right side returns you to the main menu. This is actually pretty handy once you get used to it.
( Image Credit: Hear.reviews)
Tech Support has a full copy of the manual along with some answers to FAQ, and also a button to initiate fw upgrades.
Settings gives you simplified Android options for controlling preferences for everything from Bluetooth, radio bands and and general audio to power and language options, and even ability to customise your lock-screen. Its well laid out, and anyone familiar to other Android DAPs or smart-devices should find it pretty intuitive.
File management, the gallery and FM radio are all pretty simple (I’ll cover radio in the feature section), so lets spend our time in the FiiO music app.
The FiiO music app will be pretty well recognised by anyone who has used their devices before.
The FiiO Music home screen has the currently playing album (which you can go to play screen by simply tapping on it), and icons for tagged and folder browsing – including the usual Artist, Album, Track and Genre tagged options.
There is also the option to access playlists and folder browsing. Below this is 3 options for recalling recently played and added tracks, and also the most played songs.
Xduoo X20 or Fiio M7?
I prefer M7. I like it’s signature more, and also I like that it can work for about 20h with single charge.
anyway, if you have headphones with average or lower sensitivity, M7 can be not powerful enough
How does this stack up against the x5iii?
Max Isenberg less powerful and more neutral
Can I use a spotify in this device via wi-fi or some on other connection?
Unfortunately M7 doesn’t support streaming apps. For Spotify and other apps you need FiiO M9, or you can wait for newly announced FiiO M6, it’s inexpensive, but really promising.
Fiio x3 3rd gen or m7 ?
X3-3 is more neutral and detailed, but M7 is more “for mass users” who prefer more colored representation , also M7 is much more mature in terms of usability, so I think M7 will cannibalize X3-3
Does the music has to be in one folder or does the fiio search for music in all sub folders on the sd card?
FiiO Music scans all your files on SD card and then you can browse it by genre/artist/album or you can browse it by folder
FAQ Source ( From Porta.fi video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdDstv6CD74 ( Have questions about Fiio M7, Porta.fi always are active in replying your message in his video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKJCw0XNe-4 ( Thailand)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0D008dD6es ( Russian by Porta.fi)
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