Review: Fiio X7ii – Award Material

Sound

If you don’t feel like reading everything I’ll make it very clear (and short) for you: The Fiio X7ii, together with the X5ii, is my favorite Fiio DAP. I personally think that the new X7ii with the ESS9028PRO DAC chip and the new AM3A balanced module is the best sounding Fiio DAP on the market. Is it perfect? No, not yet. As I said earlier both the single ended as the balanced output still are a tad noisy with sensitive gear but this issue (some people don’t hear it) has already improved quite a bit compared to the X5iii and X7 (less power). If you can look past the noisy output then you get a clear and clean presentation of sound, which is  precise and energetic.

You get a good level of detail with excellent separation and enjoyable layering and in this price segment the new Fiio X7ii for sure is a top contender (see comparisons later). Gone are the days where Fiio delivered extra bass and a warm smooth laid back sound. The AM3A delivers clarity with a tuning that’s more to neutral side and the X7ii presents it in a clean but musical way. I would never call the X7ii warm or smooth, but as a flagship it of course wasn’t intended to sound that way.

From bass to treble the X7ii/AM3A combo has a linear presentation with no real boosts anywhere. Bass is tight, very fast and has a neutral amount of body. Bass has good detail but at the same time it’s not the very best, the same goes for depth and layering. It’s detail, clarity and tightness over depth, sub bass and body. Like the bass section, the mids section has a neutral tuning where speed, separation and detail are most important. If you’re looking for smooth, deep and layered mids, you might have to look elsewhere. Clarity and dynamics are the key words here. The voices are a little more in the front but it makes them engaging and precise. If you’re looking for soft and smooth jazz voices you won’t find them here, but you’ll get excellent fast and energetic vocals when listening to rock and metal.

The treble section continues this trend of clarity and precision. I feel treble is further extended than the bass with more sparkle to it. It’s presented in a clear, clean and energetic way. It’s not the most refined, detailed or – again – layered – treble but that of course wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the X7ii/AM3A tuning. Treble is neutral and never harsh or sibilant but I can image some listeners already finding it too intense.

2.5 & 3.5

Some people don’t believe in balanced but if you’ll give it a chance you will hear that the balanced output sounds more natural, with better separation, dynamics and a wider presentation. Sure it might seem like you lose some bass impact but basically this is because you have a wider, less intimate stage. It however is bound to be more noisy on the Fiio, compared to its single ended output. I for one prefer the balanced output over the SE one with my collection of monitors.

Power wise, the AM3A isn’t number one and if you’re looking to drive a low sensitivity full sized headphone, you better look in to using the X7’s “old” power module.

USB DAC

In order for your X7ii to work on your Windows pc, you’ll need to install some drivers and the Fiio Control Panel. Installation is easy and I didn’t encounter any issues getting it recognized by my pc or Roon. The only think I’d like to alert you of is to not put in your IEMS (not in the player or your ears) as the X7ii while connecting the DAC makes very high ton bleeping sounds and pops. You’ll curse the first time and even more so the next, but from that point on you won’t forget. Again, I hope this is an isolated issue with my sample.

Sonically I can refer the previous chapters on sound as the USB DAC function sounds exactly the same as the X7ii in standalone mode.

Digital out

Here’s where it gets a little more tricky. Getting the X7ii to work as source for other DACs isn’t always evident, but that most likely isn’t the Fiio’s fault.

Chord Mojo: Easily connects over USB, coax and optical without any issues.

Chord Hugo 2: Easily connects over USB, coax and optical without any issues.

ALO Audio CDM: The CDM only has one digital (USB) input but my non-modded version doesn’t connect to the new Fiio X7ii

RHA DACAMP L1: The L1 unfortunately doesn’t connect to the X7ii over USB but it does connect using the optical input

So if you’re planning on using the X7ii with your DAC  of choice, I suggest reading up on it first, just to make sure it will actually work. Of course the best thing you can do is try for yourself but I know that isn’t always a possibility.

With the Hugo, Hugo 2 and Mojo I have always preferred the coaxial input over the others, at it has a little more body and I find it the most analog sounding. It’s no different this time with the Fiio X7ii, but in all fairness the X7ii/Chord combo also sounds really good using the USB or optical output.

The part on Sound continues on Page 4 of the review, HERE

4.4/5 - (66 votes)

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

15 Comments

  • Reply September 14, 2017

    HBB

    Nice work.

    I put a link to this review under my vid with disclaimer I have no affiliation. It’s a good read and this is for FiiO.

  • Reply September 14, 2017

    Swsko

    Great reviews as usual. Was just wondering you said you tried the x7 ii with the mojo and it worked, my question is did the mojo indicate it was playing upsampled tracks??what apps did you use to listen?

  • Reply September 15, 2017

    ElTejano

    ” this X7ii has a fat chance of winning the sub 2017 $1000 DAP award. It’s that great.”

    fyi- we usually use the phrase “fat chance” ironically, as in there is little chance.

    keep up the great reviews, I’ll go back to lurking

  • Reply September 18, 2017

    Longanizo

    Thanks for the review.

    I am looking to upgrade my desktop headphone DAC/AMP setup. Currently I have the TEAC UD-301 + iFi ICan SE to drive my AKG 712 PRO and Fostex – TX-X00. I got very interested on the Hugo2 you also reviewed, but then came the Fiio X7 II which only costs a third of Hugo2. Is it possible to compare FIIO X7 II vs Hugo2 as Headphone DAC/AMP or do they really belong to different leagues?

    • Reply September 18, 2017

      Lieven

      Yes., different league. And you can’t compare a DAP to a dac / Amp either. But if you would it would have to be ak380/SP1000 level

  • Reply October 1, 2017

    Niel

    Hi Lieven,

    Im a newbie in the world of audiophiles and need your advice.

    I have only 2 cans at the moment, and akg k271 miii closed back (55 ohms) and an akg k7xx open back (62 ohms), and a cheap in ear Philips TX1 (32 ohms). Am possibly also looking to purchase a fiio f5 or f9 for a starter iem.

    I am looking to purchase

    1. either an x5 iii to be stacked with either a fiio a5 or an rha-l1
    2. or just the x7 ii.

    Am planning to listen to flac/alac, mp3 320kbps, and possibly some higher quality files. Am more of a rock, metal, blues and classical guy, with slight preference to techno and electronica. My preference is tight bass, but not muddy, clear mids and highs, hoping for a flexible EQ adjustment to suit diffrent genres.

    Based on my available cans and possible purchase of a starter iem with balanced cable, which setup would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance!

    – Niel

  • Reply October 1, 2017

    dale thorn

    I’m a little biased, but I lean toward one-box solutions instead of separates, especially with portable gear. This review, the reviews at headfonics and headphonelist, all good – and good value. Whathifi liked it OK, but thought it was too expensive for them. I looked at all the reviews on Amazon, but there were only 10 reviews, and the early ones looked like they were stacked toward FiiO generally. But taking the specific objections from a few Amazon reviews, and vetting those against the other major reviews, I could sell a million of these easily. But just to be sure, if yours has any glitches or accessories that don’t look like the FiiO originals, make sure you can return it for credit or exchange.

  • Reply October 28, 2017

    Glenn

    Hello,

    I need some help and honest advice. I am currently in the process of upgrading my portable music player. For the last 12 years I have been using a iPod classic 7th gen 80gb and it has done me a great service.

    About 2 years ago i discovered the power of FLAC and lossless music via a friend. For me it was like listening to music again for the first time and i instantly became addicted asking my friend if i could listen to this song and that album. It has become “musical crack”.

    So the past two years i have started to invest in gear to allow me to get my fix. Bought some Sennheiser momentum 2.0’s, invested in a Flac & lossless cd burner etc.

    I always do some research into products before i buy them and during these two years i have been looking and following FiiO, the x7 to be exact. After hearing mixed reviews i decided to wait and see what else was coming out.

    Roll onto 2017 and i am in stuck. I have come to a cross roads and i don’t know what road to take. The three DAP’s im looking at at the x7 mkii, x5 mk 3 and the ak70 mk ii.

    Obviously i want to get the best bang for my buck. but i have no idea what to get, i guess you would want to know what i would manly use it for and what i would listen too.

    If you could give me some advice and pointers that would be great!

  • Reply February 26, 2018

    Ken

    will X7ii enable me to log into wifi servers that require additional information. Like in a hotel or cafe. Most wifi connections will automatically open up a browser and ask for your name or require that you check a box. Smartphones have no problem handling this. But My current DAP (AK70) cannot perform this extra step.

    I’d like to be able to stream Tidal while traveling for work.

    Love any assistance!

    • Reply March 1, 2018

      Lieven

      yes, annoying issue with a lot of DAPs

  • Reply December 29, 2018

    Karel

    Does not play better than my iphone 6
    Not worth it !

  • Reply January 21, 2019

    Danvell John

    I wan to win these gear! And I will pair it up on my Kz Zsn because that is only what can I afford.

  • Reply January 22, 2019

    Catalina Radulescu

    I want to win these for my boyfriend. He know the specs.

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