The new FiiO FA7, with its full BA setup, gives a classic BA sound with great body and warmth, which gives the IEM a nice foundation to do a lot of things correctly. I honestly didn’t expect this kind of a full bodied, warm and organic sound from FiiO. Therefore I think this IEM breaks the routine of FiiO and gives a different sound compared to the previous products that FiiO released.
Remark: I mostly used the “balanced” silicon tips for evaluating the sound.
The FA7 has a classic BA bass with good control over the hits. The lows have good resolution and the quantity is pretty accurate in my opinion. However there’s an additional warmth and emphasis in the upper bass – lower mid region that can feel a little dark and congested. Source matching is important in this area, as it can easily transform into a “too warm” IEM with certain sources.
The bass carries good weight with solid response. I found the bass of the FA7 quite analytical with additional warmth, opposite of hybrid IEMs which give great slam and punch down low. The FA7 on the other hand gives you a studio type of bass which has nice resolution but not so much fun. Accuracy-wise I have no problems with it, but the people who prefer a fun bass with great punch and deepness can look elsewhere.
The recovery is very well done, and the texture is quite nice. The bass is also fast and it can carry a nice rhythm with many songs. However the focus around midbass and lower mids could’ve been better, as it can add too much warmth at times. So this particular area could’ve been toned down a little bit. But to be frank, it’s really not bad for a $300 USD IEM. Yet again, I don’t recommend using bass tips with FA7.
Lower mids sound a little congested and laid back because of the reason I’ve mentioned above. But other than that, this is a very very good mid performance. The resolution is excellent for the price, separation is nicely done and the upper mid section carries a nice emotion. Tonality is also quite strong for the price.
If you like “in your face” kind of mids that certain headphones and IEMs give, than you might find the FA7’s mid placement a little odd. The mids overall feel a little distant with most recordings. Oddly enough, I find it pretty nice because it creates a euphonic atmosphere at times. So I think the positioning is still quite nice, but a little more presence could’ve been fantastic.
You can use the vocal tips to get more mid presence. The vocals shine just a little more and the mids overall take one step ahead in the stage. The resolution in this region is again quite good and the transparency level is nicely done. But the thing I really liked about the FA7 is the instrument separation and timbre. Usually you need to spend a lot of money to hear good timbre and separation. That’s not the case with the FA7.
I find the highs of the FA7 well balanced with the IEM’s overall frequency response. The treble quantity is at the sweet spot I think, not taking the spotlight necessarily. The treble overall acts in a complementary fashion, not affecting the monitor’s overall warm presentation, which I found consistent and cohesive as a whole.
The problem here in my opinion is the extension. I think the treble is somewhat rolled off and doesn’t extend really high. This is especially apparent with Jazz recordings. The articulation across the treble section is very nice, and I also think the resolution here is quite good. But a little more extension would’ve been superb.
Other than that, I really liked this consistent approach with the treble. Some IEMs have good bass and mids but the treble feels disjointed with the rest of the spectrum. This doesn’t happen with the FA7. The thickness/thinness balance here is very good as well.
The sound stage of the FA7 is pretty nice but it’s not very big. The width is very good though, but the stage is not very tall so the 3D feeling is not hugely impressive. For the price it’s quite acceptable and the euphonic signature creates a stage like in a bar or a restaurant. It’s not a big concert hall, so imagine you’re a couple of meters away from the stage.
Imaging is one of the strong parts of the FA7, as well as resolution and tonality. I personally found it surprising from a FiiO IEM. This is not necessarily to criticize FiiO, but their IEMs over the years came somewhat “digital” to me. Now with the FA7, the sound is warm, organic and the tones are pretty much realistic overall.
To me the sound is clean despite the congestion in the lower mid area, and the treble clarity is very nice. I found the background blackness really good as well, and when you put the nice instrument separation into this mix, you have a great imaging capability for the money. The tonality, imaging and the overall resolution are the stars of the show with the FA7.