Today we look at the FiiO FA7S, the latest IEM from the Chinese brand, a new model selling for $349.
Disclaimer: the FiiO FA7S was sent to us free of charge by the brand, in exchange for our honest opinion.
Founded in 2007, FiiO is one of the biggest companies in the audiophile world, thanks to an extensive range of (usually) affordable but (mostly) excellent products. IEM, headphone amps, DACs, and obviously DAPs, they did it all and did it well. So much that when a new player comes out, it usually becomes the benchmark that other brands have to refer to, like the FiiO M11 Plus or the Q3.
But, this time it’s all about IEM. Last time I reviewed the FiiO FD7, which introduced their new dynamic range, followed by the FD3 a few months after. Both stood apart from the FA9 (full-BA) and FH7 (hybrid) by using a sole Beryllium-coated diaphragm, with good measure.
And today, we are finally reaching the apex, as the brand sent us their dynamic flagship for review: the FiiO FA7S.
The FiiO Series
FiiO’s in-ears range splits into three different categories:
- FAx, for balanced IEMs, like the FA9 I reviewed last time,
- FHx, for hybrid IEMs, like the FH7 Berkhan received
- FDx, for dynamic IEMs, like the FD7
So, as usual, let’s take a quick look at FiiO’s actual range. IF you’re not interested in that, you can go directly to page two of this article.
The FiiO FH3 is a hybrid entry-level IEM. It mixes a classic dynamic driver (10mm Titanium driver) with two Knowles BA to reproduce the full (hearable) frequency range. Like the FH5, its big brother, the FH3 gets a very cool aluminum/magnesium shell, that feels both sturdy and comfy, detachable cables, and most of all the S.Turbo acoustic design.
It’s an excellent introduction to the audiophile world, and one of the best choices at this price range. I reviewed one a while ago, so here is a quick excerpt of that review:
“Another day, another win for FiiO. Take a good, affordable, IEM, and take it to the higher ground. For the same price. That’s basically the story behind the FiiO FH3. […] The Bass is delightful, the vocals superb, and in this price range, there isn’t anything that really competes in terms of comfort/robustness/design.”
FiiO FD3 / FiiO FD3 Pro
The FiiO FD3 is the brand entry-level dynamic IEM. It sports the same 12mm DLC Beryllium coated driver found on the FD5, minus some premium features. But all in all, it’s a shoe-horned FD5, in a nicer box – in my opinion – and a smaller price. I really like the regular version, but if you’re interested in this model, get the pro version: for just a few dollars/euro more, you’ll get the premium cable, with exchangeable plugs.
“Once again, FiiO did what they do best: produce a new model, cheaper than the previous one, but carrying almost, if not, all its features. For half the price, the FiiO FD3 offers almost the same prowess as the FD5. Sound performances are better than the FH3 (…) and the better the source, the wider the gap, even if upper models like the FH7 keep the upper hand.”
FiiO FH5s / FiiO FH5
The FiiO FH5 was, in my opinion, the most versatile IEM in the sub $300 territory. A hybrid quad-drivers with a lovely magnesium-aluminum shell and punchy lows which made them pretty lively. I loved that, and I still own a pair to this very day, even if I didn’t use them in months, as I replaced them for the FA9 (the brand’s balanced flagship).
But recently, FiiO decided to upgrade the two-year-old FH5 and introduced the… FH5s. Still a quad-driver, but this time with a 2BA + 2DD configuration and a semi-open design to accommodate the massive 12mm drive, which surely came from the FD5. Add to that tuning switches (like the FA9) plus swappable audio plugs, and the FH5s simply become the new price to performances king.
Berkhan reviewed them, so here is an excerpt of his review:
“ The guys at FiiO know how to improve themselves in this very crowded IEM market. They get better with each new product release, such as the FH5 and FH7. This one is basically an improved version of the FH5, especially in terms of balance, bass control, staging, and stereo imaging. So if you’re wondering how it fares against the FH5, I would say it’s better in every aspect. ”
Following the FH5, you have the FiiO FH7, a 4-BA + 1DD IEM which shares the same shell as the FH3 and FH5, just in a different color tone. It’s a tad more expensive, with more drivers and different tuning, but as usual, the price difference makes a big difference in terms of performance.
At the moment, FiiO didn’t announce a new FH7s, but since the FH5 was upgraded recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new, improved FH7 coming later this year. Berkhan reviewed the actual version and even added it to his recommendation list. Here is an excerpt of this review:
“FiiO have finally managed to create an IEM that sounds correct, coherent and high quality this time around. And with its 450 $ price tag, it’s a wonderful IEM in the Mid-Fi area. I’m sure it will be a fan favorite in this price range soon.”
If hybrid and armatures aren’t your cups of tea, the brand also has the FiiO FD7, a new flagship topping the FDX series. When the FD3 gets a diaphragm equally stiff to beryllium, and the FD5 a beryllium coated one, the FD7 gets the real deal and was given a pure-beryllium diaphragm.
I reviewed this one recently, and if I didn’t find the difference with the FD5 striking, it’s still a very potent IEM. Here is a quick excerpt:
“It’s a good upgrade from the FD5, like Apple did with the iPhone 13, compared to the 12: everything has been enhanced, and we’re even closer to perfection. The new shell looks stunning even more compared to the glossy FD5. It’s a robust design that didn’t neglect style and, once again, those IEMs look as good as they sound.”
The FiiO FA9 is the brand’s – balanced-armature – flagship. It’s basically an FA7 with 6 Knowles Balanced Armature drivers instead of four, the same 3D-printed shell, and a whole new 4-way filter. Add to that, tuning switches on each ear, 3 sound adjustments, the longest sound-tube on any FiiO’s IEM, and here you have the best of FiiO’s engineering.
It’s a very cool-looking IEM, thanks to the diamond-cut faceplate and I still use them at this very moment. Here is an excerpt of my review:
“Think of it as the perfect blend of the FH7 and the FA7, but better: the sound stage is amazing, mids are great and all of that is neatly packed inside a cool 3D-Printed box of wonder. Going fully balanced really did the job, and that is one of the best options in this price range.”
If you’re not into hybrid nor balanced IEMs, but still eager to get the “flagship” experience at a reasonable cost, maybe should you look at the FiiO FD5. Packed with a single 12mm Berrylium-coated DLC diaphragm, a front acoustic prism, and a semi-open acoustic design, the FD5 looks like a high-end version of TinHifi T2 and T3.
FiiO sent me a pair for review, and if I was a bit dubious at first, the FD5 ended up being as good as advertised. Here is an excerpt of that review:
“Once again, FiiO achieves great lengths and delivers exactly what they promised: a flagship dynamic driver IEM for a relatively low price. The new volcanic system works as intended, giving you a nice, relaxed, sound signature that should suit any genre and any source. The new shell looks equally good, outshining the FH5 and FH3, even if some might find the FiiO FD5 a bit too glossy. It’s a robust design that didn’t neglect style and, once again, those IEMs look as good as they sound.”
Topping the brand’s armature IEM range, the FiiO FA7S has all the bells and whistles you could ask for: 6 balanced armature drivers, 3-way crossover system, 361L steel chassis… top of the line.
I won’t tell more in here, as we’re about to delve into the review now.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.
Page 1: Fiio overview
Page 3: Specifications, Bundle
Page 4: Sound part 1,
Page 5: Sound Part 2 + Conclusion