Review: FiiO X7 Digital Audio Player
FiiO has been around since 2007, at the forefront of affordability when it comes to portable audiophile products. Infamous for their low “buy-in” price to portable audiophilia, for years they have been churning out release after release of portable amplifiers, DACs, cables, and in recent years - Digital Audio Players (DAPs).
They struck gold when they first announced their FiiO X3 in 2013. They already had a dedicated fanbase singing praises for their cost effective portable amplification, so a dedicated DAP seemed like the answer to many prayers. After this idea proved to be a success amongst the portable audiophile crowd, they followed up in 2014 with the X5, a somewhat more “premium” offering.
FiiO is often adored for their budget-friendly gear, so creating a more premium DAP was a gamble - which paid off. The X5 was wildly popular, and ended up even receiving a sequel player the following year - the X5 ii.
FiiO pays a lot of attention to their fanbase, and will often adapt to create a product that’s catered towards the ever-so-fussy portable audiophile crowd. This time, they have boldly come forward with a premium, high-end player, rocking a modular expansion system, fully fledged modified Android OS, touchscreen, and boasting a very serious ESS9018 DAC - but this time, it comes with FiiOs highest pricetag yet.
Has FiiO’s plunge into the high-end market paid off?
What’s included in the box?
- FiiO X7
- USB charging cable
- Coax (digital) output cable
- Warranty information
- T5 Torx screwdriver (for swapping amp modules)
- Spare T5 screws
- Three screen protectors (one is pre-fitted to the unit)
Exterior and build
Weighing in at a hefty 220 grams, this is a portable music player that feels like it means business. Rocking a brushed aluminium exterior, combined with its 16.6mm thickness, this is an incredibly premium feeling device with a sleek finish to boot.
The top has a single 3.5mm line out, which also serves as a digital coaxial output. The left side contains a dedicated volume rocker, as well as power/standby buttons. These are both commonly found on Android devices, and are supported natively.
Conversely, the hardware play/pause and track skip buttons found on the opposite side are unique for an Android device, yet are still supported by a wide range of applications.
FiiO is advertising that these buttons can be mapped individually, just in case you prefer your volume or track skip buttons to be on the opposite sides.
The entire block under the display is actually a removable amplifier module - held in place by T5 Torx screws. The current module that came with this review unit - FiiOs own IEM module - contains a micro USB port for charging and data, and a headphone output.
Internally, the module is rocking the OPA1612 + AD8397, and produces an output impedance of 0.2 ohms (under 32 ohm load) - perfect for IEM use.
To separate the module from the touchscreen display, there is a soft blue LED glow. It’s not too bright or intrusive, and gives quick indication about charging or power status.
The screen is just under four inches, and is for lack of a better term, adequate. Despite its small size, it’s not making any compensation by rocking an OLED display. Instead, it’s a fairly stock-standard IPS TFT display. Viewing angles are good, but contrast and black levels leave a lot to be desired. There is a distinct lack of sharpness as well, with a resolution of 480 x 800.
Although the FiiO isn’t advertising the X7 as a premium video experience, some buyers might struggle to swallow the idea of paying near four figures for an Android device that doesn’t have a flashy display.
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