Review: Fiio X7ii – Award Material

Analog Line Out

I rarely use the Fiio X7ii as a DAC in combination with any of my portable amplifiers or desktop gear but the Line Out works just fine. The ESS9028PRO is clean, clear precise and detailed and that’s exactly what you get from the Line Out. The output voltage of the new X7ii is a little higher than that of the original X7 and with the improved SNR numbers, it should sound even better than it already did.

Vs other DAPs

The official price of the new Fiio X7ii is set at $669.99USD (via Fiio/Aliexpress) and two direct competitors we really like are the L&P L5PRO ($799) and the Astell&Kern AK70 ($599). Then there’s the Fiio X5iii ($399) and the original Fiio X7 as everyone wants to know how they sound compared to these.

Fiio’s X5iii has a double AK4490  chip – which are the same as the AK380 uses) and it comes with only 1GB of internal memory. For me the X5iii still has the best design and shape. Usability wise both players are very much alike but the new X7ii is snappier and quicker to the touch. As mentioned earlier, the X7ii still can make progress in this field. The Fiio X5iii doesn’t work with AM modules but it does come with a 3.5mm and 2.5mm output. Both outputs are more noisy than the ones on the X7ii and you get a greatly musical, smoother presentation compared to the clean and clear signature of the X7ii. The bass in the X5iii is not as tight and fast and it tends to overshadow the clarity and detail. When coming back from the X7ii to the X5iii you also immediately notice the more intimate stage (with good depth). The Fiio X5iii is warmer, musical and easy to like but the X7ii simply is the more precise, faster, cleaner, wider and most detailed one. Most people call this the audiophile tuning (with the more forward vocals) where the X5iii would have the musical/fun tuning, but don’t get me wring as the X7ii is musical in its own way.

Its predecessor, the Fiio X7 uses the ess9018pro DAC chip and also comes with one 1GB memory. Going back to the original X7 for me is tough in both handling as well as sound. The buttons of the X7ii are just easier to control and while the X7/AM3 combination sounds really good, the X7II/AM3A combo just sounds better. It’s more detailed, more dynamic and more spacious. The X7 has a slightly more relaxed presentation compared to the energetic X7ii but in all honesty, the original X7 is very good sound wise. The X7ii just is a bit better in everything and it produces less noise with sensitive gear. For me personally the answer to the update or not question is easy: immediately, both for sound and handling. And check out the difference in screen contrast!

The Luxury & Precision L5PRO has one AKM Verita 4490 chip but the implementation is fantastic. You get an ever richer sound with better layering and depth but you don’t get the clarity, speed and dynamics the Fiio X7ii has. The L5PRO has fuller body like the X5iii but quality wise it plays at a (much) higher level. It’s smooth and extremely musical but it lacks some clarity, precision and energy, things the X7ii is perfectly mastering. And then there’s the L5Pro’s leather case, which still is the best quality on the market. Once you’ve listened to the L5PRO you’ll fall in love with how it sounds but the UI is just back to basics with very little support. The X7ii might not sound as good as the L5PRO but everything, and I really mean everything, else is much better on the Fiio X7ii.

The Astell&Kern AK70 uses an even different CS4398 chip and it has won a double DAP award from us in 2016. In 2017 however, the AK70 is still a superb player on the market. It’s price is very close to that of the X7ii so they’re direct competitors. User wise I like both players but the Android version of the Fiio X7ii simply is much more advanced. Sure the AK70 always works perfectly and it reacts faster than the X7ii (as mine anyway) but you can just do so much more with the X7ii. Format & pocketability-wise however, the smaller AK70 has the better cards. Sound wise these are both great but very different. Where the AK70 is near quiet, the X7ii still is a bit more noisy. The AK70 has a smoother presentation where the X7ii again is more clear, precise, fast and energetic. The AK70 to me is like the good sounding X5iii if you know what I mean, but in technicalities the Fiio X7ii simply wins. Both great players, but it depends on the type of sound you preferred.

End Words

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Fiio X7ii is Fiio’s best DAP they’ve ever made and the greatest part is they keep on getting better and better. Sound wise it has the typical audiophile tuning with a focus on clarity, precision, energy and speed. Tuning is neutral yet remains musical at all times with slightly more forward voices.

The design mix between the X5iii and the old X7 simply works and the X7ii is a pleasure to work with. The Android system allows you to be creative and lets you install all the apk’s you want. At the same time there still is margin for improvement both UI as sound wise and them I’m mostly thinking about reactivity, background noise and richness/spaciousness. But we shouldn’t exaggerate as the Fiio X7ii simply is a gorgeous sounding DAP while it’s still a bit early in the year, this X7ii has a fat chance of winning the sub 2017 $1000 DAP award. It’s that great.

Specifications

The list is long, follow the link here to get the complete specs: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/71/parameters

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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