FiiO FA7 Quad Driver IEM Review
FiiO FA7 Quad-Driver IEM
Clean, Dynamic and Musical
Fiio is a Chinese HiFi brand that was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types, and sell Fiio-branded products through sales agents worldwide.
The FiiO FA7 is the first Quad (4) Balanced Armature Driver IEM of the company, which is also using a 3D printed monitor shell.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the Fiio FA7 as review sample. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and all these words are reflecting my true and unaltered opinions about the product.
The FiiO FA7 In-Ear Monitor is available under the following official FiiO Online Stores;
Package and Accessories:
The Fiio FA7 In-Ear Monitor is coming in a relative big cardboard box compared to the F9Pro that came in a smaller packaging. This box has a sleeve cover that displays a drawing of the FH5.
This box contains the following items;
- 1 pair x FiiO FA7 In-Ear Monitor
- 1 x Detachable Cable with MMCX connectors
- 3 pairs x Silicone Ear tips (Bass Tips)
- 3 pairs x Silicone Ear tips (Vocal Tips)
- 3 pairs x Silicone Ear tips (Balanced Tips)
- 1 pair x Bi-Flange Ear Tips
- 3 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips
- 1 x Pelican Case
- 1 x Zipper Case
- 1 x Magnetic Cable Organizer (can also be purchased here separately)
- 1 x Warranty Card and User Manual
When you open the top cover you will see the FA7 IEM that is placed in a removable foam pad.
The FiiO FA7 comes with a rich ear tips collection that is placed in a foam layer that is showing a short description about the sound effect and the size.
They are 3 pairs of balanced ear tips (S/M/L size), 3 pairs of vocal ear tips (S/M/L size), 3 pairs of bass ear tips (S/M/L size) and 3 pairs of memory foam ear tips (S/M/L size) and 1 pair of Bi-Flange ear tips (Medium Size).
The pelican case of the FiiO FA7 is the same one you will get with the FiiO FH5.
There are also some nice additions such like the small carry pouch with zipper that is made of fabric material, a cleaning tool and a nice magnetic cable organizer with FiiO Branding.
Design and Build Quality:
The FiiO FA7 is a Quad Balanced Armature Driver IEM with a 4-way crossover system. The monitor shell of the FA7 has a very stylish design and is made of a high transparency resin material with EU IIA medical certification that is skin friendly and antimicrobial.
The FA7 is also the first mass-produced DLP 3D printed Quad Driver In-Ear Monitor and is showing a solid craftsmanship.
The FA7 is available in two different colors, which are Geometric Smoke (Grey) and the Abstract Blue&Red combination same as my review unit.
The faceplate of the monitor shell has a beautiful texture, which FiiO refers to as the “water-ripple texture”, which according to the company was inspired by nature. The color of the faceplate is blue on the left and red on the right monitor.
On rear body of the monitor housing is transparent that is allowing you to see the internal parts such like the BA drivers, the PCB and the 4-way crossover system.
The sound nozzle is transparent and you can see 3 holes are connected to 3 tubes. There is no metal mesh or any filter on the top of the nozzle, so you must therefore be careful and clean it regularly to prevent dust and earwax from entering the housing.
On the top of the monitor housing is the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connector.
Fit and Isolation:
The shell has an ergonomic shape which makes it very comfortable to wear, even after long listening periods without to hurt your ears.
The noise isolation of this FiiO FA7 is on an average level that is enough to use it in fairly noise environments such as metro, bus or train.
The FiiO FA7 comes with the same 3.5mm single-ended LC-3.5B detachable cable that you can find in the package of the FiiO FH5. This cable can be purchased separately to use with other IEM’s with MMCX connector.
The LC-3.5B looks and feels very solid, which is made of high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper wire and that features an environmentally-friendly (according to Fiio) transparent TPU coating.
These MMCX male connectors are sitting pretty tight on the monitor and should last for years without any problem. The MMCX connectors have a transparent housing and on each connector are right left indicators, which are a red ring on the right and a blue ring on the right connector.
There is also an ear guide near the connector to wear this IEM comfortable over the ear.
The 3.5mm single ended (unbalanced) headphone jack has also a high quality craftsmanship and sports a grey metal housing with L angled profile in the same color as the monitor housing.
The cable sport also a FiiO branded Y splitter and chin slider made of the same metal material expect a small plastic part on the splitter.
The LC-3.5B shows a fairly low “acceptable level” micro-phonic effect and don’t shows this very annoying cable mixing issue you must handle with other cables.
The FiiO FA7 is showing a pretty low impedance of 23 ohm that makes it to a easy to drive In-Ear Monitor for portable sources such like Smartphones, Tablets, Portable Players with a relative weak amplification.
Other Remarkable Features:
The Quad BA Configuration:
FA7 uses four Knowles Balanced Armature drivers. The midrange is produced by the ED-29689, while the low frequencies are coming from the CI-22955 balanced armature driver. The high frequency and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) are produced by the dual Balanced Armature Driver SWFK-31736.
- Driver Configuration : Quad Balanced Armature Driver Configuration
- Driver type : 4 x Balanced Armature Driver (by Knowles)
- Frequency response : 20Hz ~ 40kHz
- Sensitivity : 110 dB/mW
- Impedance : 23 Ω
- Max. Input power : 100mW
- Plug : 3.5mm gold-plated L-shaped plug jack
- Connector type : MMCX Connector
- Cord length : 1.2 m
- Weight : 5.3 g (single monitor)
Sources used for this review:
- IEM : FiiO FA7, FiiO FH5, TFZ Secret Garden
- DAP/DAC/AMP : FiiO M6, FiiO M9, Fiio BRT3
The FiiO FA7 has a pretty U shaped sound signature where the midrange is behind the strong bass and sharp treble range. The general tonality is warmer than neutral, with a warm & entertaining bass and slightly warmish midrange and treble tonality.
The subbass of the FiiO FA7 has good extension for an IEM with balanced armature driver. It’s warm, entertaining, goes pretty low and is dominant in its presentation.
The subbass of the FA7 is maybe not as soft as a dynamic driver but is good in terms of quantity and intensity.
It was possible to hear and to feel the very deep and strong bass notes in Lorde’s “Royals”, Massive Attack’s “Angel” and Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici”.
The midbass have a warm and entertaining tonality and are also fairly dominant in the overall presentation. The midbass have a strong impact, while the slam is quite noticeable. There is a small midbass hump in bass intensive tracks, which can affect male vocals in a small margin, while female vocals and instruments such as cymbals are unaffected.
The general presentation of the midbass region is powerful and solid in its character. This tuning will be a joy for those who listening to cross drums, trumpets, bass guitars etc. and loving a strong midbass presentation.
The bass of the FiiO FA7 is a bit loose in the presentation and hits from a fairly close position of the ear. The speed is average and may from time to time bleed into the midrange, but is still successful in most songs with fast passages. The quantity is pretty high to be described as linear and will satisfy most users who are looking for a strong bass presentation.
The midrange of the FiiO FA7 is laid back do to the fairly U shaped sound signature. The midrange has a slightly warmish, sweet and soft tonality.
The lower midrange of the FA7 is not as pronounced as the upper midrange, but show otherwise enough depth. Male vocals are sounding a bit laid back in bass heavy tracks but there the level of clarity and transparency is fairly good.
Male vocals are showing less detail and are not as pronounced as female vocals, while there are no negative situations such as muddiness, harshness or mixings and the soft and pretty warm tuning is ideal for long listening periods.
When it comes to the upper midrange the FiiO FA7 is detailed and well pronounced in this area. This character makes the female vocal presentation of the FA7 quite airy, transparent, vivid, musical and emotional. It is possible to hear every feeling like sadness, enthusiasm and softness of the vocals. The detail and extension that is coming from the upper midrange makes the female vocal success of the FA7 far above average.
I am really enjoying the FA7 while I am listening to female vocals and one other good thing is that it has no sibilance problems in this area.
The FiiO FA7 has a warmer than neutral instrument tonality with a clean and vivid presentation, without to sound to thin or too thick.
Pianos are slightly bright, pronounced and lively with a soft transition from the lower midrange to the midrange, while the brightness and emphasis is increasing in to the upper midrange. Acoustic guitars are a bit warm, sounding transparent and musical that I really liked to listen in Eric Clapton’s “Unplugged” album.
The upper midrange of the FiiO FA7 is well pronounced with peak around the 3 kHz range. The general tonality of this region is transparent and close to neutral, which is a factor that is adding detail and air to the presentation.
The upper midrange transition of the FA7 is soft and controlled and is showing a good amount of detail in moments where instruments are playing with high distortion.
The upper midrange doesn’t shows no significant lacks of extension and emphasis while listening to vocals (female) and instruments.
The FiiO FA7 has a pronounced and linear lower treble presentation, with a warmish, slightly bright and musical tonality.
The linear treble around 6-7kHz gave instruments such as cymbals a good airiness and sparkle, without to show any sharpness or lose of control. The treble is quite good in terms of extension, quantity and detail and I can confirm that the FA7 is the most detailed In-Ear Monitor of the FiiO IEM Family.
Instruments such as hi-hats in metal music are evident and I was able to count the hits even pretty fast passages clearly. Crash and ride cymbals have a quick and controlled decay.
There is no mixing in Jazz music when the piano is accelerating; the piano hits are clean and clear. There is also no ear-piercing sparkling or sharpness that could disturb your ears while listening to modern genres such as EDM or Pop music.
The FiiO FA7 is showing in general a good instrument separation and positioning performance. The separation of vocals and instruments is also on a good level. The soundstage depth and height of the FiiO FA7 has an above average performance, while the depth is on a moderate level.
FiiO FA7 versus TFZ Secret Garden HD
The TFZ Secret Garden HD is an In-Ear Monitor with a good bass depth and speed, warmish midrange, pronounced upper midrange and airy treble range. The subbass of both IEM’s is showing a good depth, while the FA7 has the upper hand in terms of quantity and extension.
The Secret Garden HD on the other hand is slightly better in terms of bass speed, control and tightness. The FiiO FA7 is superior to the TFZ Secret Garden HD in terms of midbass intensity and quantity.
Both In-Ear Monitors are sharing a lush and emotional midrange presentation. The TFZ Secret Garden HD has a slightly more pronounced upper midrange which gives it an advantage for female vocals, while the FiiO FA7 is superior in terms of male vocal performance due to the better depth in the lower midrange region.
The Secret Garden HD has the upper hand in terms of upper midrange extension and detail, while the FiiO FA7 has better control in this area.
The treble range of the FiiO FA7 is more pronounced and forward in its presentation compared to those of the TFZ Secret Garden HD. The FA7 has the upper hand in terms of treble extension, quantity and detail.
Both In-Ear Monitors have a suitable soundstage for a good instrument and vocal separation. The FiiO FA7 is superior in terms of sound
FiiO FA7 versus FiiO FH5:
The FiiO FH5 is an in-ear monitor with a W-shaped sound signature that pronounces the subbass, the female vocals and the upper midrange, while the FiiO FA7 has a fairly U-shaped sound signature, in which the bass and the highs are showing more intensity.
The subbass of the FH5 reaches to a pretty low register, while the bass shows moderate emphasis. The FA7 on the other hand shows a good subbass depth while the bass has more emphasis than those of the FH5.
The FiiO FH5 is superior in terms of subbass depth, intensity and quantity, while it shows less midbass quantity and emphasis compared to the FA7, which is able to produce a stronger impact. Both In-Ear Monitors have a quite controlled and fast bass response, while the FA7 is slightly better in terms of speed and bass detail.
The midrange of the FA7 sounds more lay back than those of the FH5 due to the U shaped sound signature. The FiiO FH5 sounds also warmer in this region than the FA7 which shows slightly more transparency.
The FH5 sound more emotional with male vocals due to the cleaner lower midrange presentation, while the FA7 is more pronounced and clean in the upper midrange which makes it more suitable and detailed while listening to female vocals. Both In-Ear monitors are pretty controlled in the upper midrange and are doesn’t showing any sibilance and harshness in this area.
Both the FH5 and the FA7 have a well extending, energetic and lively treble presentation. The lower treble range of the FH5 is more pronounced than the upper treble range, while both upper and lower treble of the FA7 are more pronounced compared to the FH5.
The FA7 is superior to the FH5 in terms of treble quantity and extension, while the FH5 sounds more controlled in the treble range.
The soundstage of both In-Ear Monitors is quite airy and spacious and offers fairly precise positioning and separation of instruments and vocals, while the main difference is that the FA7 has the wider stage, while the FH5 is slightly better in terms of soundstage depth.
The FiiO FA7 is a Quad Driver In-Ear Monitor which is packed in to a beautiful and comfortable monitor shell. The fairly U shaped tuning of the FA7 offers a clean, dynamic and musical presentation that I have enjoyed during this review.
Pros and Cons:
- + Design & Craftsmanship
- + Comfort
- + Rich accessories package
- + Clean, Dynamic and Musical Presentation
- – Soundstage depth could be slightly better
- – Bass heavy songs can cause to a minor bass bleed