FiiO FH7 Hybrid Driver IEM Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FiiO FH7: A Great Combination

 

Introduction:

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 brand name Fiio is composed of Fi (fidelity from HiFi) and iO (number 1&0), representing the real feeling and convenient life that digital brings to life. Meanwhile, the Chinese “飞傲” is the transliteration of Fiio, indicating the positive and innovative spirit as thriving as spring.

The FiiO FH7 that I will now review for you is the new Flagship IEM of the company with a Hybrid Driver Configuration. The FH7 features 4 Balanced Armature Drivers (Knowles SWFK-31736) and 1 Dynamic Driver with a 13.6mm Beryllium diaphragm.

Product Website: https://www.fiio.com/fh7

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing the Fiio FH7 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:

The MSRP price for the FiiO FH7 is 449,99 USD and can be purchased under the links below;

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The FiiO FH7 In-Ear Monitor is coming in a relative big cardboard box same as the FH5 and FA7 have had. This box has a sleeve cover in black color that displays a drawing of the FH7 In-Ear Monitor.

After you open this cover you will see the FH7 that is placed in a removable foam pad. The first appearance of the FH7 is pretty impressive and gives you the impression that you have bought a special product.

Right after you remove the foam pad you will see the nicely placed foam and silicone ear tips and the high quality leather case in blue color with FiiO branding.

Each silicone and foam ear tip has a short description about the sound effect and the size.

They are 2 pairs of balanced ear tips (small/large size), 3 pairs of vocal ear tips (small/medium/large size), 3 pairs of bass ear tips (small/medium/large size) and 3 pairs of memory foam ear tips (small/medium/large size).

The leather case with FiiO branding is of high quality.

The FiiO FH7 is the first IEM of the company that is comes with sound tuning filters, which are put in to a small metal case with FiiO branding. The FH7 has 3 pairs of them, which are the Red (for Bass emphasis), Black (Balanced that was pre-installed) and Green (for Treble emphasis) filters.

There is also a small and carry pouch with zipper that is made of fabric material, a cable holder/wrapper and a cleaning tool, which are all some nice additions.

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The FiiO FH7 features a very nice looking monitor shell with a faceplate that was inspired by “Great Water Waves”. The monitor housing is made of aerospace-grade aluminum-magnesium alloy, shaped by five-axis CNC machining. The surface of the FH7 is sandblasted and was hand polished.

The Monitor is in black color with exception of the golden frame on the front surface that gives the FH7 a premium feel.

On the top of the monitor housing is a small elevation which has the MMCX (Micro Miniature Coaxial) female connector on the top. The left connector has a blue ring and the right monitor a red ring around it.

On rear body of the monitor housing is a small vent and the left/right markings together with the sound nozzle where you can install the sound tuning filter which have a fine metal mesh on the top to prevent the insertion of dust and ear wax.

The overall craftsmanship is very robust and gives a premium appearance.

The FiiO FH7 comes with the 3.5mm single-ended detachable cable with a soft transparent plastic insulation. This cable is composed of high-purity Litz monocrystalline copper-plated silver wires – 152 of them in fact, bundled into 8 strands.

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 cable shows a very low amount of microphonic effect and it doesn’t has any annoying mixing issue that I have had faced with many other IEM cables.

 

 

 

Fit and Comfort:

The FiiO FH7 has a pretty ergonomic monitor shape which was comfortable to wear even after long listening periods without to hurt my average sized ears.

When it come to the noise isolation of FH7; I can say that it is on a average level that is enough to use it in fairly noise environments such as metro, bus or train.

 

 

Other Remarkable Features:

 

a) 13.6mm Beryllium Diaphragm:

The low frequency is handled by the 13.6mm large dynamic driver which is made of beryllium, known for being light, thin, yet extremely rigid for even deeper, and impactful bass performance.

The Mid frequencies are produced by the Knowles ED30262 balanced armature driver, while lower and the higher treble frequencies are created by the Knowles 31082, which is a improved over the older Knowles 30017.

 

 

b) 4 Knowles BA drivers: 

The high and ultra-high frequencies are handled by the Knowles SWFK-31736 BA driver and the mid frequency is handled by Knowles DFK a custom BA driver designed by FiiO and Knowles.

 

 

c) S.TURBO V2.0 Technology:

The FH7 offers the FiiO’s patented acoustic design, the so called S.TURBO V2.0 technology which is an improved version of the V1.0 that we have found inside the FH5.

The S.TURBO V2.0 technology is a structural design that filters out unnecessary mid and high frequencies produced by the 10mm dynamic driver that is responsible to create the sub-bass and bass frequencies. S.TURBO V2.0, further optimized to extract even more performance out of the dynamic driver.

Source: https://www.fiio.com/fh7

 

 

Drivability (Impedance):

The FiiO FH7 has pretty low impedance of 16 Ω (Ohm) and a sensitivity of 111 dB/mW that makes it to a quite easy to drive In-Ear Monitor, which makes it to an ideal to use with portable sources which have weak amplification such as mobile/smart phones, tablets and small audio players.

 

 

Technical Specifications:
  • Driver Configuration   : Hybrid Configuration
  • Driver type                 : 1 x 13.6 mm diameter dynamic + 4 x Balanced Armature Drivers
  • Frequency response  : 5Hz ~ 40kHz
  • Sensitivity                   : 111 dB/mW
  • Impedance                 : 16 Ω (@1kHz)
  • Max. Input power       : 100mW
  • Plug                            : 3.5mm gold-plated L-shaped plug jack
  • Connector type          : MMCX Connector
  • Cord length                 : 120cm
  • Weight                        : 8.15 g (single monitor)
  • Wearing type              : Over the Ear

 

 

Sources used for this review:
  • IEM                             : FiiO FH7 and iBasso IT04, Custom Art FIBAE Black
  • DAP/DAC/AMP         : Fiio M9, FiiO M6, QLS QA361

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Spotify)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Photek – The Hidden Camera (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320 kbps)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

 

First about the filters;

The FiiO FH7 comes with three (3) sound tuning nozzle filters which are changing the sound in small margin. The Black filter is the reference filter that offers a more neutral and balanced sound character. The red filter sounds warmer, more entertaining and shows more bass emphasis compared to the black filter. The bass is still fast, detailed and controlled. The green filter shows slightly more treble emphasis compare to the black and red filter, which is the ideal filter for those who prefer a higher treble extension.

 

Please note that this review is based on the black reference filter, which has a more neutral and balanced sound character compared to the other two filters. I used also the stock cable and balanced silicone ear tips.

 

Sound Signature:

The FiiO FH7 is an In-Ear Monitor with a slightly bright sound character. The bass has good depth and speed, the midrange is quite detail and transparent, while the treble range is pronounced and has very good extension. The FH7 is the most technical, balanced and detailed sounding In-Ear Monitor that has FiiO made to date.

 

The Bass:

The Fiio FH7 has a large 13.6 mm diameter bass driver. However, the bass is neither too much or overdone, on the contrary, it shows a very balanced and controlled character.

If there is a deep bass in the sound, the FH7 is reproducing it very well. However, it is not adding any additional bass that does not exist in sound, which shows that the FH7 has in general a reference type of bass representation.

The subbass presentation of the FH7 is in general pronounced and strong, while the depth is on a very sufficient level. The subbass has a warmish tonality and sounds quite controlled. There are no negative situations like muddiness or bass bleedings.

The subbass region of the FH7 shows a good depth, intensity and extension in songs like Lorde’s “Royals”, Photek’s “The Hidden Camera” and Twerl’s “Lishu”.

The midbass region of the FiiO FH7 has the same effectiveness that the subbass has. The slam effect and rumble is quite impressive and shows a good (above average) performance with almost any type of genre. The speed of the midbass is very satisfying from electronic music recordings to drums in metal music.

For example the drum intros in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, No Doubt’s “Hella Gut”, Opeth’s “Windowpane” and U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” reproduced with a good speed, emphasis, detail and body (fullness).

The FiiO Fh7 stands out for its technical bass as well as its fun factor. The bass of the FH7 has technically the same speed, separation, emphasis and resolution that are produced by balanced armature drivers. The general bass quantity is above analytical but bellow of bassheads.

 

The Midrange:

The midrange of the FiiO FH7 is slightly recessed due to the V shaped sound signature. The tonality is fairly neutral, a bit bright and transparent, while the resolution fits the expectations of this price range.

 

Vocals:

The FH7 is quite successful while listening to female vocals due to its good upper midrange intensity, extension, clarity and detail retrieval.

I really like the presentation of both mezzo-soprano and soprano female vocals, which are represented in fairly controlled, harsh- and sibilance free way. The female vocal presentations of the FH7, from pop / electronic vocals to jazz vocals are very enjoyable.

The FiiO FH7 has a clean and transparent male vocal presentation that shows no negative situations like dullness, veil and interference, while the lower midrange is mildly pronounced.

Male vocals have a slightly thick (meaty) tonality, which shows an average thickness and depth. However, the depth and thickness of male vocals will satisfy most listeners.

Male vocals from Dave Gahan to Leonard Cohen to Eric Clapton are very successful and pleasant.

 

Instruments:

The FiiO FH7 has a fairly bright, neutral and clear instrument tonality that is neither too thin nor too thick in the presentation. The instrument presentation of the FH7 is very successful in terms of separation and clarity and shows a detailed and airy character. Pianos are slightly shiny and pronounced, while acoustic guitars are natural, transparent and fast. Other instruments for example violas are successful except for a little lack of warmth.

The FH7 also has an above average success in the separation of vocals and instruments.

 

Upper Midrange:

The FiiO FH7 shows a strong upper midrange emphasis, while the tonality is in general transparent and fairly neutral. It performs pretty well in terms of control and detail when the instruments are played at higher distortion levels.

For example, in the upper midrange passages of cymbals, drums, vocals and guitars in genres like metal music are very clear. Especially the performance in terms of clarity and transparency in moments with high distortion of the guitars is outstanding.

For example; the guitars and guitar solos that are played with high distortion in Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”, Slayer’s “Angel Of Death” and Rush’s “Leave That Thing Alone” are clear, detailed and quite successful.

 

 

The Treble:

The FiiO FH7 has a quite airy, neutral, slightly bright but fatigue-free treble totality.

The treble slowly drops, after a peak of 7 kHz. The FH7 sounds thanks to this tuning quite controlled and at the same time detailed and fatigue-free which should be a bless for treble lovers.

The FH7 shows an above average performance in terms of treble intensity, quantity, extension and airiness. The treble extension, especially the lower treble (brilliance) area extends smoothly, while the upper treble (presence) extension is slightly shorter.

In Metal music, the lower cymbals are clearly to hear and it is possible to count the hits, while the crash cymbals have a quick and controlled extension. There is no interference at the moment when the piano accelerates; the hits are pretty clear and distinct.

The FiiO FH7 features a clear, airy and spacious treble presentation that makes it an ideal in-ear monitor for many types of music genres.

 

The Soundstage:

The FiiO FH7 has a soundstage that is suitable for a precise placement of instruments and vocals. The stage is airy and spacious, while soundstage width and depth is parallel to each other, which makes the FH7 quite compatible with the genres that need a wide staging.

 

 

Some Comparisons:

 

Fiio FH7 versus iBasso IT04:

The iBasso IT04 has in general a transparent and neutral tonality, while the FiiO FH7 is also quite transparent but shows slightly more warmth.

The bass of both IEM’s is fast and controlled, while the FH7 has the upper hand in terms of detail. The FH7 is superior when it comes to quantity and intensity, while the IT04 has the upper hand in

The midrange of the iBasso IT04 and the FiiO FH7 is very similar in terms of transparency and airiness. But the FH7 has a warmer and more musical midrange tonality than those of the IT04.

The upper midrange of both In-Ear Monitors is detailed and pretty controlled, while the FH7 shows slightly better detail and clarity.

Both IEMs have technically successful treble presentations, while the iBasso IT04 has the upper hand in terms of treble naturalness, intensity, quantity. The FiiO FH7 is superior in terms of treble control, balance.

Both IEM’s are successful in terms of soundstage performance. The main difference is that the iBasso IT04 has the upper hand for soundstage width, while the FiiO FH7 is more successful in terms of depth.

 

 

FiiO FH7 versus Custom Art FIBAE Black:

The FIBAE Black is a warm, musical and smooth sounding In-Ear Monitor with deep and strong bass, soft and musical midrange, controlled and mildly pronounced upper midrange and treble presentation.

The Custom Art FIBAE Black has the upper hand for subbass quantity/depth and midbass quantity, while the FiiO FH7 is superior in terms of bass speed, resolution and tightness.

The midrange of the FIBAE Black is warmish and soft, while the midrange airiness and transparency is on a moderate level. The FiiO FH7 on the other hand shows a more transparent and neutral midrange presentation, with additional airiness and clarity.

The Custom Art FIABE Black is more successful while listening to male vocals due to the better lower midrange tuning. The FiiO FH7 on the other hand is superior to the FIABE Black in terms of female vocal realism and detail retrieval.

The upper midrange and treble region of the FiiO FH7 is more detailed and shows better intensity compared to the Custom Art FIABE Black.  The FIBAE Black on the other hand sounds more controlled and musical in these regions.

The soundstage of the FiiO FH7 is wider and spacious compared to those of the Custom Art FIABE Black, while the FIABE Black shows more depth.

 

 

Conclusion:

The FH7 offers in addition to its wonderful design and generous accessory package, the technically most balanced and detailed in-ear monitor that FiiO has produced to date. The deep and fast bass, the transparent and detailed midrange and treble region, which shows also great extension, making the FH7 to a very good All in One combo at this price category.

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + Upper Midrange Control and Resolution
  • + Treble Sparkle and Extension
  • + Fast Bass Response
  • + Beautiful Design and Great Build Quality
  • + Lots of Useful Accessories
  • – Lower Midrange Depth
  • – Upper Treble Roll-Off

 

 

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