Having your music with you all the time, especially when you are travelling where the journeys are long, and it is relaxing to listen to the tunes you love. That is why the FiiO X7 is a music player that you should have.
Fiio X7 is a great high-end HD music player not much expensive compared to other competitors. If you are not an audiophile or familiar with the world of hi res audio, then the idea of carrying a separate music player, especially one that costs as much as a decent phone which can play music anyway, may sound strange to you.
But the truth is, there is much more to music than what your typical phone can offer. The music files that you typically play on or stream via your phone undergo quite a bit of compression to save storage space. Also, the components in the Smartphone cannot produce a close enough reproduction of how the music is intended to be.
Most people, of course, don’t care much, but for those who are serious about their music, a portable music player is the best option for high-quality music on the go.
Fiio is a Chinese company that made a splash in the pro audio market that made a bit of a splash by introducing audio equipment that utilised quality equipment and yet maintained pretty affordable price. They entered the market of hi res music player a few years back with the X3, then made a higher tier offering with the X5, and the X7 is its flagship offering. There are not too many companies making android powered hd music players, but this is a great option for not that much money.
Packaging and included accessories
There are those companies that give their product in a brown box with some info printed in black letters, and then there are others like Apple who make sure that even the packaging and the unboxing experience is good.
For its flagship product, Fiio has tried to take the second approach, and they have done pretty well. There is a smaller hard box inside the outer box. Opening it, you will find some documentation and the unit itself protected by foam, its amplifier module in a separate metal box.
The accessories included in the box are the documentation, a standard USB to micro USB cable for charging and transferring files from a computer, a 3.5mm to coaxial adapter cable, extra T5 screws, a compatible T5 screwdriver and a plastic film screen protector already attached to the screen.
Design and appearances
The Fiio X7 has an all-aluminum construction and the metallic finish feels quite premium in hand. The front of the amplifier module has a brushed aluminum finish and all other parts have a smooth matte aluminum finish. Its display is not flush with the body and protrudes a bit in front, which may be a cause for concern for it getting scratched.
Also, there is a bevelled bump at the back which is not flush with the back panel as well, and ends before a small plastic section of the back which is presumably where the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios are. While mobile phone manufacturers are eager to make their devices thin and light, Fiio did not go shy on adding bulk and weight. The device is 16.6 mm thick and weighs about 220 grams. It is possible to carry it in a pocket, though it is more suited to be in a backpack when not in use, due to its size.
It has a blue led light just below the bottom edge of the glass display, which pulses when charging and stays on solid when in use. The left side has the volume rocker button and the power button, and there are a track change rocker and a play/pause button on the other side. The left side also has an exposed micro SD slot with support up to 128 GB. There is a line out or coaxial out (via included adapter) on the top. The bottom part of the device is where you attach the amp module.
Apparently, swapping amp to suit the power required for particular headphones allows for better flexibility and sound quality than one amp with different gain settings. The modules connect to the main unit by flat connectors and are secured in by T5 screws. There is a headphone out and a micro USB port on the bottom of the removable amp module.
It has a 3500 mAh battery which should last for 8-10 hours, depending on what quality of music you are playing, what amplifier module is connected and whether you are using WiFi or Bluetooth. The device can be used as a USB DAC connected to a computer while charging at the same time.
The sound quality is the most important aspect for a dedicated hi res music player, and the Fiio certainly delivers. While it does not go all out as some other much more expensive players which have separate DACs and completely different signal paths for both channels, Fiio’s implementation of a single ESS ES90185 8-channel DAC is quite good and can hold its own against much more expensive options. The amp is modular, and can be switched to suit the power requirement of the headphones or your taste. The one included is more suited for low impedance headphones and IEMs, if you have a set of higher impedance cans, then you may need to buy the appropriate amp modules to power them.
The sound signature of the Fiio X7 has a very slight emphasis on the higher end, but it will be very hard to notice it unless you compare it with other neutral audio sources side by side. Overall, it has a flat frequency response and close to reference sound. It may be good or a bad thing, some prefer reference sound, some like a more coloured sound. The sound signature can be altered by the digital EQ of each app, though there is no analogue bass boost feature.
A known issue with the Fiio X7 is audible audio interference when using WiFi to stream music. This may be a minor or severe issue for you depending on how often you plan to stream music. Though many services that allow you to download a copy of the song can circumvent the problem.
Interface and usability
Most of the time you will just be listening to the device, and hence the interface and software are a bit less important than for a phone. But still, a badly designed interface can be annoying to use. It has a 480×800 resolution display which does not tax the processor too much, but the processor used itself is a bit weak, so there are some lags now and then.
It runs a customized version of Android 4.4 and thus can support most Android music streaming apps. It also includes Fiio’s own music app for playing local music which is nice but nothing special. The plenty of buttons for controlling playback make it convenient to control your music. Overall, don’t expect the best android experience, but it shouldn’t get in the way of your music.
√ Excellent high-resolution sound quality
√ Plays all music formats
√ 32GB internal storage
√ 128 GB expandable microSD memory card
√ FiiO solid product with lots of advanced features
√ High power amplifier module available
√ Clear sound with lower impedance headphones
⊙High impedance headphones require high powered amp modules
⊙Interface needs some polish
The Fiio X7 offers a great music listening experience at its price. It has great sound, but you have the added hassle of getting the appropriate amp for your cans, which will also add to the cost. The interface and software could use some improvements. While there are better sounding HD music players out there, most of them cost several times this device. On the other hand, it is not exactly cheap, but does more than justify its cost, and you will not be disappointed by the sound.