Review: Fiio M7 – Back to basics

Disclaimer: The sample of the Fiio M7 was sent to us free of charge in exchange for this review. Fiio is a site advertiser and the sample doesn’t need to be returned after the review.

 

Fiio – M7

The Chinese based Fiio never stops innovating and it’s one of the most active companies when it comes to product development, and most of all, upgrades. This time they’re back with the M7 DAP, a portable player that goes back basics. That means the M7 is a simple and easy to use DAP without a whole bunch of features we’re used to getting with all the other Fiio DAPs, but that’s OK. You see, this is a DAP made for the regular consumer that just wants a normal DAP, a DAP that’s easy to use and that just plays the music in a very good way.

No, you won’t get an endless list of configuration options, no you can’t customize the menus or download other apps on the M7. The Fiio M7 is a basic DAP like in the good old days, but done so in a perfect way. And it has a FM radio again, how awesome is that?!

The M7 being a consumer DAP, it also doesn’t come with WIFI. That means, no Tidal, no other apps, no DLNA or anything like that. Back to basics here means the MicroSD card is very important as it will hold all your music (the M7 only comes with 2GB of internal memory) and you’ll have to use it to update your M7’s firmware.

The web page of the M7 can be found right here, on Fiio’s website. We also learned that Fiio will be launching a new DAP at Head-Fi’s Canjam London this weekend, so do keep an eye on our Instagram and Facebook account where you will see it first. No details are available as of now, only this drawing

Maybe a new M-series DAP?

Design & Build Quality

The Fiio M7 is available in silver, red, blue and black. The version we received is the black one and it is beautiful. The M7 doesn’t only look nice but it feels nice as well. The case has a smooth and slick finish to it which makes it a very sexy DAP. At the same that same finish – when not using a case – will make the M7 a bit slippery when in your hand, so be careful if you’re not using any case, like me.

The build quality is exceptionally good and I can’t spot any flows whatsoever. There are no sharp edges, the buttons feel sturdy and the volume control wheel as well as the 3.5mm output and USB-C port, are perfectly integrated in the case. That being said, the screen sticks out of the body for like half a millimeter or so. Drop the M7 face down on the ground without a case and you’ll probably bust up the screen badly.

The new Fiio M7 DAP measures 52mm×109mm×13mm and it weighs only 116g. That means it’s rather small and easy pocketable.

All in all the M7 has an excellent design, I really dig it.

Lay Out

The pocketable Fiio M7 is extremely easy to use and a one-handed -and even blind – operation is no problem at all.

On the left side of the player we from bottom to top have the Next – Play/Pause and previous buttons. Above that there’s the small volume wheel. Even though it’s small, it offers a good grip and it’s extremely easy to rotate. You can also feel the clicks while turning it and setting the exact preferred volume is no issue at all.

On top of the player you on the left have the power button. It’s a small round button with a red circle around it and it has a small blue LED integrated in the middle. The blue LED just shows you the M7 is powered on. On the right side of the top you have the 3.5mm output which also serves as line-out. While Fiio is now a big advocate of the 2.5mm balanced output, this M7 consumer DAP only comes with a single 3.5mm port. The reason is simple: normal consumers probably have never ever heard of 2.5mm TRRS balanced ports, so yeah, logic.

On the right side of the player you only have the MicroSD slot and on the bottom there only is the USB-C connector to charge the M7 and to connect it to an external DAC. The back only has the Fiio logo printed on it, together with some info about the player as well as the certification labels. On the front of the player you just have the 3.2inch, 480 x 800 display with image zoom support. It’s a really nice screen but as I said, be careful with it when not using a case, as it does stick out a little.

The M7 – Inside

On the inside of the Fiio M7 we have a nice Samsung Exynos 7270 SoC processing chip (system on chip). One of the positive points this results in is that it makes everything smaller and it allows you to foresee more space for better cooling and a bigger battery to improve play time.

The M7 also features a 6-layer multi-stage HDI PCB. It’s the type of board that is used in the new smartphones and it only is 0.8mm thick, allowing more functionality in the body of the M7.

For the Bluetooth transmission – basically the only real feature the M7 has besides the radio – Fiio chose the Samsung BT 4.2 chip which offers aptX-HD audio codec support. It also supports Sony’s LDAC wireless audio codec, so nothing but good news there. For the radio reception Fiio chose the Si4705 FM chip which uses your headphone as the antenna.

The perhaps most important chip for you inside the M7 is the ESS Sabre 9018Q2D chip which covers our audio needs. This specific chip also needs less space and less power and that shows in the impressive  playtime the M7 offers. This Sabre supports up to 384/32 PCM and 11.2MHz DSD (DSD256). APE/WAV/FLAC/WMA/OGG/AAC/ALAC/MP3 are the filetypes you can use. The M7 is said to perform best with ear- and headphones between 16 and 100Ohm.

The Fiio M7 also has the High Res audio certification from Japan but there are no yellow stickers on the DAP’s body this time round. It’s mentioned on the back of the unit however.

Memory-wise the little M7 doesn’t really impress with its 4GB. From this 4gb, only 2gb can be used to store your music locally. The Fiio M7 does have one MicroSD slot and it accepts cards up to 512GB. Personally for me, that’s more than enough.

Battery-wise as said the M7 really excels. The 1180mAh battery in combination with the Exynos 7270 allows the device to deliver 20h!! of play time and 40 days of standby. Now that’s impressive. The batter charges in under 2.5h over USB-C.

Accessories & Price

The Fiio M7 sells for only $199.99 and that simply is an awesome price taking into account what we’re used to seeing nowadays. On the other hand, this is a really basic DAP that doesn’t allow streaming, that doesn’t have a lot of storage and doesn’t even come with WIFI.

Accessory wise the Fiio M7 doesn’t really shine and all you get is a basic USB-C cable and an awful plastic see-through case which I refuse to use. Yes it will protect your M7 but it also makes it quite ugly. For the price I don’t expect a leather case in box but leather cases are sold separately for $19.99. So all in all a basic package.

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Review: Fiio M7 – Back to basics
4.2 (84%) 60 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.

3 Comments

  • Reply July 19, 2018

    Albert Cheng

    how does the m7 stack with the mojo? isnt the m7 a lot narrower?

  • Reply August 14, 2018

    Juan Luis Quiroz

    Hi Lieven,

    I love your reviews, in fact they influenced a lot of my purchases, fiio x1, x3ii and cayin 3. After reading this review, I feel that there is no relationship with what you mention in the review of hiby r3, for example. In the review of the r3, you mention the following: “The N3 is more clear sounding than the Hiby R3” and “If you prefer clarity, sharpness and precision, the N3 will probably be more to your liking”. And in this review you mention the following: “The N3 is darker, slower and more veiled compared with M7” and “The clarity in the R3 is even higher than in the M7”. So in this review, I would understand that the N3 stopped being the clearest player, to be sent to the end of the list, while in the previous review it was above the Hiby R3.

    Regards!
    Juan Luis.

  • Reply August 18, 2018

    Windfeuer

    Do you recommend it to a non-audiophile person, wich probablly will never feel the difference between a flac over an aac?

    I was looking for something like this, but I don’t use flac, and I’m using akg Y50 wired headphone. (yes, I never heard before about balanced audio)
    I’m stuck with an old ipod nano 7th that has a ridiculously small battery (only 200 mah) and is dying.

    I find really nice the design and the wolume wheel, but i’m afraid that could be “wasted” in my hands. On the other hand, other cheaper DAPs don’t convinced me a lot. In fact I never used non-apple dap because of the ease of use (proprietary Os often sucks).

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