FiiO FD7 IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO FD7 Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver IEM Review

 

 

Introduction:

FiiO announced last year in August their Brand New Dynamic Driver Flagship IEM the FD7 together with the FDX, which is their 14th Anniversary Limited (Collector’s) Edition In-Ear Monitor. The FD7 features a top tier Single Dynamic Driver with a 12mm Pure Beryllium Diaphragm and utilizes a front acoustic prism & semi-open acoustic design. Moreover, it comes with an anti-standing wave “volcanic field” system and offers 3 pairs of interchangeable sound tubes.

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing the FiiO FD7 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.

 

 

Price & Availability:

The actual price of the FiiO FD7 is 599,99 USD, which is pretty attractive compared to other IEM’s with Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver, for example the Final Audio A8000 (1.999 USD) and the Dunu Luna (1.699 USD), especially if you are curious about a product with this type of driver technology.

More information’s can be found under the link below;

 

 

 

Package & Accessories:

The packaging of the FD7 looks pretty similar to those of the FD5 that came also inside a rectangular black box that shows the product illustration and the motto of the company, which is “Born for Music“ on the top.

This box has been wrapped with a fancy cardboard sleeve that features some product related brandings and the illustration of the FD7 on the top.

 

Inside the box are the following contents/accessories;

  • 1 pair x FiiO FD7 In-Ear Monitors
  • 1 pcs x Detachable cable with MMCX connectors
  • 3 pcs x Interchangeable Headphone Jacks (3.5mm SE, 2.5mm Balanced, 4.4mm Balanced)
  • 3 pcs x Interchangeable Sound Tubes (Bass, Balanced, Treble)
  • 3 pairs x Bass Ear tips
  • 3 pairs x Vocal Ear tips
  • 3 pairs x Balanced Ear tips (1 pair came preinstalled)
  • 2 pairs x SpinFit Silicone Ear tips
  • 2 pairs x Triple Flange Silicone Ear tips
  • 2 pairs x Memory Foam Ear Tips
  • 1 piece x HB5 Storage Case
  • 1 piece x Cleaning Brush
  • 1 piece x SK1 Magnetic Cable Organizer (can also be purchased here separately)
  • 1 piece x FiiO MMCX Assist Tool
  • 1 piece x Warranty Card and User Manual

The FiiO FD7 offers a very rich ear tips collection that is placed in a foam layer that shows some short descriptions about the sound effects and the size of the tips. The collections includes 3 pairs of SpinFit silicone tips (S/M/L), 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), 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips (M/M/ size) and 2 pairs of Bi-Flange ear tips (M Size).

The HB5 storage case is another highlight of the FD7, which has a pretty luxurious appearance.

The accessories package includes also some useful additions such like the SK1 Magnetic Cable Organizer, a cleaning brush and FiiO’s new MMCX Assist Tool.

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The FD7 is a solid looking In-Ear Monitor with its rigid monitor shell made of metal material in combination with a black finish. The appearance is pretty similar to those of the FD5, which was the first IEM of the company that had such a cylindrical shaped design. The FD7 does in fact implement many of the design elements we saw on the FD5 and takes them further, such like the semi-open & front acoustic prism design, volcanic field and many more.

The color scheme of the FD7 reflects the Chinese landscape paintings such like gold flake rivers and vast black mountains. On the front is the faceplate of the FiiO FD7 with its semi open back design and the so-called volcanic field system behind it.

The rear part has a curved cylindrical shape same like the FD5, FD3/FD3 Pro and the FA7S.

Here are the L (Left) & R (Right) markings and a small vent for the huge 12mm diameter Dynamic Driver that is located near the unscrewable sound nozzle area.

The monitor sports a protruding part with the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connectors on the top. The left MMCX female connector has a blue and the one on the right monitor has a red color indicator.

The sound nozzle has an “Interchangeable Sound Tube” design same as the one we have seen on the FD5.

The FD7 comes this time with 3 different Interchangeable Sound Tubes, which are Bass, Balanced and Treble. The treble tube has the largest diameter, while the Bass tube has the smallest diameter.

 

Detachable Cable:

The FiiO FD7 comes with a high quality 4 core detachable cable made of 224 strands of high-purity Monocrystalline Silver wires.

The cable has a Litz braided design that features an environmental friendly medical grade TPU insulation with very low amount of microphonic effect.

The FD7 utilizes angled expanded MMCX connectors, which went through many ergonomic iterations and improvements, in order to achieve maximum comfort.

The cable features a metal Y splitter with the FiiO branding on the top and comes with a metal chin slider made of the same metal material in black (gunmetal) color.

The detachable cable comes with an Interchangeable Headphone Plug that has a unique twist and lock mechanism same like the one we have seen on the FD5. It offers 3 (three) plug variants, which are the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) plug, 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) plug and the 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) Pentaconn plug.

The housing of the headphone plug has a strait profile and is made of the same metal material in black color.

 

 

 

 

Isolation & Comfort:

The passive noise isolation of the FiiO FD7 is on an average level, since it features a unique semi-open-back design. However, the isolation is efficient enough for the use it in fairly noise environments such like a metro, bus or train.

The FiiO FD7 offers a quite ergonomic fit thanks to its curved cylindrical shape. This shape makes it pretty ideal for the use for longer listening periods without to hurt my ears with an average sized ear concha.

 

 

 

 

Drivability & Pairing:

The FiiO FD7 has an impedance of 50Ω (Ohm) and a sensitivity of about 111dB @ 1mW. It can be driven with relative weak sources such like Smartphone’s or Tablets. However, I do highly recommend to pair the FD7 with more powerful and detailed devices such like DAP’s (FiiO M11 Pro / M11 Plus) DAC/AMP’s (FiiO Q5s, BTR5), or DAC/Amplifier Dongles (FiiO KA3) to hear the true potential of this wonderful sounding In-Ear Monitor.

 

 

Remarkable Features:

 

A) 12mm Diameter Beryllium Coated DLC Diaphragm:

The FiiO FD7 utilizes a 12mm diameter pure beryllium diaphragm dynamic driver. Beryllium material is 4 times more rigid than steel while only weighing ¼ as much as titanium and has 3 times the transient performance compared to titanium drivers for a faster overall sound response.

 

B) Volcanic Field & Semi-Open Design:

The “Volcanic Field” reduces standing waves and distortion, and overall improves the diffusion of bass waves in the FD7 wired earphones. In addition, the FD7’s semi-open design relieves pressure on the ear for more comfortable listening.

 

C) Acoustic Prism:

The FD7 features an acoustic prism system that effectively changes and precisely controls the way sound waves travel through the monitors to enhance how high frequency waves propagate and to ensure audio phases are correct.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Driver Type                : 12mm Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver
  • Frequency response  : 10Hz-40kHz
  • Impedance                 : 50Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity                   : 111dB@1mW
  • Max input power        : 100mW
  • Cable                          : 4 Core High Purity Monocrystalline Silver Wire Cable
  • Cable length               : 120cm
  • Weight                        : 11 grams (single unit)

 

 

 

Sources used for this review:

  • IEM                             : FiiO FD7, Final Audio B1, Metalure Wave
  • DAP/DAC/AMP         : FiiO M11 Pro, FiiO Q5s, FiiO BTR5, FiiO KA3

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Mariah Carrey – Without You (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
  • Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Rush – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The FiiO FD7 is a very fluid, highly controlled and detailed sounding In-Ear Monitor, which shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality and a pretty natural timbre that satisfied me immediately. The FD7 has a quite expansive and airy soundstage atmosphere that reminds me more to those of headphones rather than regular In-Ear Monitors. The bass shows a decent level of layering an impressive sense of speed and control. The midrange is highly transparent, organic and detailed, while the treble area is quite energetic but surprisingly controlled, and has a good grade of extension.

The FD7 comes with FiiO’s latest Interchangeable Sound Tube design. The package includes three (3) pairs of filters, which are the Bass, Balanced and Treble Tubes. The Balanced Tube offers the default tuning of the FD7, which is my favorite pair since it offers the most realistic, balanced and natural/uncolored presentation of this system.

Right below are my impressions and comparison of the Bass & Treble Tube, directly compared to the Balanced Sound Tuning Tube (Default/Reference).

 

Bass Tube:

The Bass Tube is the one with the smallest diameter. It shows the warmest tonality and helps to increase the lower frequency response. It has the highest amount of coloration and shows the most entertaining sound signature of all tree Sound Tubes. The subbass region shows more depth and rumble, while the decay remains unchanged, which impressively fast for a dynamic driver IEM, thanks to the use of the Pure Beryllium Diaphragm. The midbass sounds slightly ore impactful compared to the Balanced and Treble filter, while the sense of speed and control in this are still unchanged. Moreover, the lower midrange shows more intensity compared to the balanced and treble filter, especially when I do listen to male vocals or strings like cellos and acoustic guitars.

 

Treble Tube:

The Treble Tube is the one with the brightest tonality. It is not a night and day difference but the still audible. The upper midrange and lower treble region sounds more highlighted compared to the Balanced Tube, especially the in direct comparison to the Bass Tube. The upper midrange shows a tad more transparency, while the lower midrange is losing some body and depth. The transitions from the upper midrange towards the treble region do still sound controlled. The lower treble region offers a bit more clarity, while the upper treble are gains some additional airiness and sparkle.

PS: This review has been written after a burn-in period of 160 hours since the Pure Beryllium Diaphragm needs some time to show its true potential. My impressions below are based to my impression with the Balanced Sound Tube that has been carefully installed to the FD7, which offers in my opinion the most realistic, versatile and pleasant to listen to sound profile. I have used the stock cable and the Balanced Silicone Ear Tips. My main sources are the FiiO M11 Pro and the FiiO Q5S. The list of tracks I have listen during this review are listed above for your information.

 

 

Analyzing the Frequency Response of the FiiO FD7:

Bass:

The FD7 utilizes a 12mm Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver offers an impressive grade of bass speed and control. It is not as impactful like previous FD Series In-Ear Monitors such like the FD5, however the resolution, clarity and layering is on a TOTL level.

The subbass region of the FD7 has a moderate level of depth and extension, while the rumble is suitable for most genres especially when you use it with the Bass Tube. Bass heavy genres such like EDM, House music, Glitch hop, etc. are not the strength of the FD7, so if you prefer an IEM with thunderous subbass rumble instead of control and technicality in this area, the FD7 wouldn’t be the best choice.

The FiiO FD7 offers an outstanding performance in terms of authority when I do listen to songs with complex bass passages such like Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” and Photek’s “The Hidden Camera”.

The midbass region is a bit more pronounced compared to the subbass area. The tonality of this region is slightly warmer then neutral, while it shows an impressive sense of control, tightness and realism tanks to highly capable 12mm Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver. Instruments from contrabass to drums, from def to bongo’s all have been reproduced in a pretty natural and realistic manner. The quality and intensity of the midbass is neither too low nor too much when you use the Bass Tube.

 

Midrange:

The FiiO FD7 shows a fluid, petty organic and natural midrange character and offers a nicely smooth and quite lively presentation in this area that got immediately my attention, especially when I have listen genres like jazz, blues and classical music. This area shows slightly warm tonality and a coloration that is there but not overdone. The midrange atmosphere is pretty transparent and airy, while the level of resolution is quite close to much more expensive Top Tier In-Ear Monitors.

 

Vocals & Instruments:

The general vocal presentation of the FiiO FD7 sounds quite realistic and detailed with both male and female. There is a slightly coloration in this area that helps to create a fluid and special timbre, which is quite exciting to listen to. The lower midrange has just the right amount of depth and body to create a pretty intimate and emotional male vocal presentation when I do listen to voices like Isaac Hayes, Sting or Barry White.

Female vocals do sound more detailed and lifelike compared to previous FiiO IEM’s including the FD5 and FH7. The tonality is a tad warmer than neutral, while the sense of clarity and resolution is top notch. What the FD7 makes so special in this area is that it is able to produce a decent level of vividness/brightness without to sound unnatural, to have negative conditions such as sibilance or sharpness, when I do listen to female voices like Edith Piaf, Sertap Erener or Mariah Carey.

The midrange of the FiiO FD7 shows an excellent sense of transparency and airiness, so that instruments are well separated from each other, which is an advantage when I do listen to songs with complex and instrument dense passages such like GoGo Penguin’s “Fanfares”. Instruments from pianos to cymbals, from flutes to cellos are reproduced in a pretty detailed and energetic yet nicely controlled manner, thanks to the well adjusted upper midrange that is produced by the Pure Beryllium Diaphragm Dynamic Driver.

 

Upper midrange & Treble:

The FiiO FD7 has offers a pretty rich and technically competitive upper midrange and treble performance for an In-Ear Monitor at this price category.  It is more forgiving to poor recorded songs compared to the FD5, since it has a precise adjusted yet not overdone roll-off around the 3 kHz region that gives it a nice sense of smoothness in this area.

 The upper midrange transitions are quite clear and highly controlled when I do listen to instruments such as cymbals, drums or to guitars. For example, the guitar solos played with high distortions such like those in Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”, Slayer’s “Angel of Deaths” and Rush’s “Leave That Thing Alone” are reproduced with a good level of authority and clarity.

The treble range of the FD7 sounds noticeably more controlled compared to the FD5, which sounded a bit sharp and also less forgiving to poor recorded songs. It still able to produce an excellent sense of clarity and resolution in the lower treble region, and is also able to create a decent grade of airiness and sparkle in the upper treble register.

Instruments such like cymbals or hi-hats in both jazz and metal music do sound nicely pronounced, detailed and are shown with a good level of extension. The FD7 is able to produce a decent sense of resolution and sparkle in this area, when I do listen to a wide variety of instruments from pianos to flutes, from violins to synthesizers.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

 The FiiO FD7 shows a pretty realistic soundstage atmosphere with a decent sense of airiness and transparency thanks to the semi-open back design, which creates ideal conditions for a precise placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage shows an above average wideness and pretty good level of depth and height.

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

FiiO FD7 versus Final Audio B1:

The Final Audio B1 has a warmer tonality and shows a higher level of coloration compared to the FiiO FD7 that offers a more natural tonality and organic timbre.

The subbass region of the FD7 shows a slightly better level of depth and is superior in terms of authority and decay. The midbass area of the Final Audio B1 is more highlighted, warm, dens and impactful, however it can’t hold up with the FiiO FD7 when it comes to the clarity, resolution and overall layering in this area.

The midrange of the Final Audio B1 shows a warmer tonality and is also a bit more laid back in tits presentation, when compared to the FiiO FD7 that shows a more transparency and airiness in this area. The lower midrange of the B1 sounds pore pronounced and full-bodied, while the FD7 has the upper hand in terms of clarity and resolution. The upper midrange of the FiiO FD7 is more highlighted and detailed, while both IEMs do sound pretty controlled.

Both In-Ear Monitors are successful in the treble region in terms of technical performance.

The FiiO FD7 shows a more balanced, natural and controlled treble tuning, and offers also a better sense of clarity and definition in the lower treble region, while the Final Audio B1 has the slightly edge when it comes to the upper treble extension.

Both IEM’s are successful in terms of soundstage performance. However, the FiiO FD7 offers in general a better sense of airiness and spaces between instruments as well as vocals. The FD7 has the upper when it comes to the wideness of the stage, while the difference for the depth is quite minimal.

 

 

FiiO FD7 versus Metalure Wave:

The Metalure Wave is a pretty musical sounding In-Ear Monitor with a relative warm tonality that shows a mildly V shaped sound signature. The Wave is the IEM with a higher grade of coloration and shows a noticeably warmer tonality in direct comparison to the FD7.

Metalure Wave is slightly more successful in terms of subbass depth and quantity and shows more midbass intensity.  The FiiO FD7 on the other hand is superior when it comes to the speed, control and layering in lower frequency region. The FD7 offers also better grade of clarity and has the slightly edge when it comes to the overall resolution.

The midrange of the Metalure Wave is warm and soft, while the level of transparency and airiness are on an average level. FiiO FD7 on the other hand, shows a more balanced, natural and transparent midrange presentation. The Wave has the upper hand in terms of lower midrange depth and male vocals, while the FD7 is superior when it comes to the general clarity and resolution of the midrange, especially in the upper midrange register.

The treble range of the FiiO FD7 offers a better sense of extension, clarity and definition while both IEM’s are controlled in this area. The upper treble region of the Metalure Wave sounds less airy and energetic compared to the FiiO FD7.

When it comes to the soundstage performance, I can say that the FiiO FD7 has the upper hand in terms of both wideness and depth.

 

 

Conclusion:

I am a lucky audiophile that has had the opportunity to review almost any FiiO IEM. Every new product of this company surprised me with its high value for its price, when it comes to the sound, esthetics and build quality. However, the FD7 is FiiO’s most natural, realistic and mature sounding IEM. It offers a very fluid, quite organic and detailed overall presentation from the lows up to the highs. This sound is packed in to a pretty comfortable and very esthetic looking monitor shell that comes with FiiO’s new interchangeable sound tube design, and a high purity silver cable with interchangeable plugs, which are part of the very rich accessory package.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + Very Natural & Balanced Presentation
  • + Highly Controlled & Fast Bass Response
  • + Transparent, Detailed & Somewhat Organic Midrange Character
  • + Airy, Lively and Fatigue free Treble Tuning with Good Sense of Resolution
  • + Holographic Soundstage
  • + Beautiful Design & Solid Build Quality
  • + Rich Accessory & Features Package (Interchangeable Audio Jacks & Sound Tubes)

 

  • – Needs a Source with good Amplification (DAP M11 Pro, DAC/AMP Q5s) to show its real potential
  • – Not ideal for Bass-Heads
  • – Average Passive Isolation
  • – Long Burn-In Period
  • – Carry case looks fancy but could be slightly bigger (Pelican Case Could be better)

 

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

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