After the Picture Sunday post, we finally take a detailed look at the FiiO FA7, the company’s recent IEM.
Disclaimer: The FiiO FA7 was sent to me by the company itself for this review. The price of the FA7 is 300$ at this time. The Sony WM1A Walkman is the source used for sound evaluation.
We all know everything about FiiO, don’t we? These guys make very good products for the money. I think it’s also a very good brand for starters. They have a wide selection of products for the people who just started their journey in this hobby, including me in the past. In fact, my first ever DAC/Amp was a FiiO E17 (you can see a comment from myself under that review, asking a question to Mike).
FiiO are pushing more and they aim to achieve even better bang for buck products. But they – I think – also want to create premium audiophile gear in the process as well. The improvement never stops with them and I’m personally glad to see their advancement over the years. I’ve reviewed several FiiO products including IEMs like the F9, F9 Pro, FH1, F1 & F3 and the FH5. Therefore, I witnessed their development first hand.
The FiiO FA7 is a Quad Driver Balanced Armature IEM with a 4 way crossover system. It’s produced via 3D printing technology with a skin-friendly resin material. FiiO claims this is the first mass produced Quad BA monitor with the 3D printing method. They also claim the process takes 60 minutes to make a pair. This 3D process ensures a consistent production. Therefore all of the FA7s they produced should have the exact same sound.
The material for the shell is Germany-imported resin . We recently also saw that with the Hyla Audio IEMs. The result is a very high quality chassis with one extra benefit: a healthy contact with the skin. This solution prevents bacteria breeding around your ears. The resin is also very durable, and it’s promised to retain the crystal clear, transparent look in the long run.
The package and its content is reminiscent to the FH5. The only difference I spotted is the inclusion of the bi-flange tips. Other then that, everything is the same.
You get both foam and silicons and the tips are presented beautifully and they affect the sound in different ways. That’s why the tips are indicated as “bass”, “vocal” and “balanced”. The fourth types are the foam tips indicated as “memory foam”, but there’s no sound indication for them. We know from experience though; foams generally reduce the bass impact and create a more relaxed sound with taming down the treble.
The tips are easily recognizable since they all have different colors. Once you memorize their color you know which is which. Lastly you get bi-flange tips as I mentioned. You get a transparent capped carrying case, a carrying pouch and a cleaning tool of course.
I first saw the new shell designs from FiiO in CanJam London 2018 and now I get to experience it in person. The earpieces look simply gorgeous with a shiny transparent look. Once again we have a “wavy” type of appearance on the face plates, which I think eventually became FiiO’s signature. The IEM looks supremely clean inside and you can easily see the inner components.
The texture of the FA7’s shell recalls water ripples that naturally come with turbulent waves.
Like I said in the FH5 review, FiiO now creates distinctive designs which you can smoothly identify as FiiO products. Originality is a good thing in my book. So overall I really liked the design and appearance, more so than the FH5’s.
FiiO chose a composite approach with the FH5, but this time we have a mono block shell. Since the production method is 3D printing, the IEM looks and feels superbly clean-cut and smooth. It actually gives an appearance like a custom monitor with great craftsmanship. I think you won’t have any problems using this IEM for a long time.
One thing I also like about the FA7 is the MMCX connectors. They sit tight and the connection is very rigid, which is not often so with the MMCX sockets. They usually wobble around a little bit, which is not necessarily a bad thing unless it affects the connection, yet the FA7 gives you a very tough impression in that regard.
The cable is the same “LC-3.5B” and you can purchase it separately if you want. It’s quite thick and sturdy, but it’s not as flexible as I would have liked, and it feels a notch heavier, compared to their other cables. The cable is made from silver plated copper wires and they’re coated with a transparent TPU material.
I really like the build of the 3.5 mm L – type jack and the overall build of the cable, but maybe they could’ve used a thinner and more flexible one. Yet, it’s still tremendously durable, at least that’s how it looks to me. Also, a little bit more attractive color for the cable would’ve been a nice complementary design choice, in my opinion.
The FiiO FA7 fits very good, absolutely better than the FH5 which is quite good in its own terms. Since you have a wide selection of tips, I think it would be very hard not to find a good fit for your particular case.
The monitor sits flush inside your ear and it’s a deeper fit than the FH5. It also results a better isolation level. Overall I don’t have any problems with the FA7’s fit, which is really awesome and it reminded me of the very successful StageDiver series from Germany.
However I think things could be a little bit better without the memory wires around the ear. I don’t like having that in my cables so maybe FiiO can provide an option to their customers in the future.