Fiio FD7 Review



The Fiio aims to impress. With its large pure beryllium driver, acoustic prism, interchangeable sound tubes, and more, it comes to market as Fiio’s new dynamic flagship. While you may have heard of beryllium in headphone drivers before, it’s altogether uncommon to see a pure beryllium driver at this price ($629) and has immediately noticeable acoustic benefits. It’s a premium earphone but one audiophiles should absolutely take the time to consider. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $629 (HiFi Go, Linsoul
  • Key Features:
    • Large 12mm dynamic driver made of pure beryllium 
    • Semi-open acoustic design
    • Front acoustic prism
    • Exclusive color scheme 
    • Stainless steel design 
    • Angled and durable MMCX Connectors
    • High purity pure silver Litz-braided cable
    • Modular cable with 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced connections
    • Modular sound tubes for Bass, Balanced, and Treble tunings
    • 15 pairs of ear tips (Bass, Vocal, Balanced, Spin-Fit, Tri-flange, Memory Foam)
    • High-res audio certified
  • Headphone Type: In-Ear
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-40kHz
  • Driver Type: 12mm large dynamic driver
  • Driver Material: Beryllium
  • Impedance: 50 ohm
  • Sensitivity: [email protected]
  • Max Input Power: 100mW
  • Cable Type: Pure silver, Litz-braided, modular termination (balanced and single-ended) 
  • Cord Length: Approx. 120cm
  • Weight (Single-Unit): Approx 11g

Fiio FD7 – Introducing the New Dynamic Flagship

The Fiio FD7 is the third in Fiio’s FD line-up, hot on the heels of the FD3 which released in August and leapfrogging the FD5 which launched in December of last year. The “D” in Fiio’s “FD-” indicates that this is the company’s dynamic driver line-up, coming alongside the “FA” balanced armature series and the “FH” hybrid BA/dynamic earphones. The FD7 is the company’s most expensive, and to my eye, most boutique earphone to date, only out-flanked by it’s blingy sister, the FDX (which is the same earphone trimmed out in gold and fake diamonds). 

Despite looking similar, the FD7 is more than twice the price of the FD5, so what gives? The answer is pure beryllium driver powering the listening experience. Most earphones, including the FD5, that quote “beryllium drivers” actually mean “beryllium-coated” drivers. Fiio isn’t the first brand to go for all-beryllium, but the FD7 is absolutely one of the most accessible in terms of price. 

Beryllium is a coveted material in speakers and headphones due to its high rigidity in comparison to its mass (Fiio quotes “four times more rigid than steel while only weighing ¼ as much as titanium”). This rigidity increases the “speed” of the driver which greatly increases its transient performance and bass response. The hardness of the material also prevents the surface of the driver from warping during playback, which can cause distortion. In short, a pure beryllium driver should theoretically be able to deliver a more detailed, realistic sound than any of the more common driver materials, including even those that are beryllium-coated. 

Fiio doesn’t stop there with this model, bringing with it the highlight features of the FD5, including the front acoustic prism and volcanic field system. These exist on opposite ends of the driver. The acoustic prism is placed at the front of the driver to guide sound waves and reduce time-phase distortion, particularly in the higher frequencies. The volcanic field is positioned at the rear of the acoustic chamber and acts to reduce standing waves and bass distortion. 

Clarity, clarity, clarity.

Like the FD5, this new set is also modular. It comes the three sets of sound tubes that screw onto the housings, each one catering to bass, treble, or a balance of both. There are also 15 pairs of ear tips that also cater to different sound signatures, so you can really boost your preferred sound signature. It’s worth noting, though, that the changes are mild overall. These tubes and tips can lean the FD7 towards bass, mids, or balance but will not fundamentally reshape their entire sound signature.

The cable is also modular and, just like the FD5, beautiful. This time we have a pure silver cable woven in a Litz braid. It’s a darker, gunmetal color instead of bright silver, and perfectly matches the earphones. It feels as high quality as it looks, with a metal jacket over the gold-plated termination, stainless steel MMCX connectors, and even a stainless steel chin cinch. The cable ends in a 3.5mm termination out of the box, but simply screwing the jacket allows you to unplug this end and swap it with a 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced connection to match a wider array of audio gear. There’s also a small “born for music” inscription along the bottom of the jack, which was a nice easter egg to find.

You may need those extra connections, too. The FD7 isn’t terribly difficult to drive, but a normal smartphone or PC will struggle to provide it enough power to sound its best. The earphones feature an impedance of 50 ohms, which is quite a bit higher than the average 16-32 ohm earphone you’ll find throughout the audio industry. I would definitely recommend some amping here to ensure you’re hearing them at their full potential.

Where the FD7 changes things up a bit is the color. While the FD5 was pure silver, the FD7 in instead a gunmetal gray. The open-backs now have gold grilles. This creates a nice contrast that is at once more subdued than the all-silver FD5 but somehow even more striking. The MMCX connectors are also now angled to enhance comfort and colored in matching gray.

Fiio FD7 – Fit and Comfort

The Fiio FD7 follows the fit guidelines of the FD5 and FD3 before it, and by that I mean that while it may not look very comfortable with its circular shape, it actually is very. The circular portion contours away quickly to nestle into the folds of your ear, so it’s not obtrusive and doesn’t leave your ears sore over time. That said, these earpieces are on the heavier side at 11-grams each, so they will slip if you use them while exercising. Given their price and target demographic, I don’t see that as a major issue. 

As always, finding a proper fit is important. With 15 pairs of alternate ear tips to choose from, it’s not hard to find a match. The only set I could find a comfortable match with was the tri-flange ear tips. Some listeners love the deep insertion and secure fit they offer, but I am not one of them, so stuck with the balanced tips through all of my listening sessions. 

Fiio FD7 – Listening Impressions (The Sound of Beryllium)

I tested the Fiio FD7 over two weeks. During that time, most of my listening was done with Spotify Premium on its highest quality setting, as well as a few high-res tracks to truly hear what the earphones could do. For source, I used a mix of the Khadas Tone 2 Pro, the Xduoo XD-05 Plus, and the THX Onyx dongle DAC. These headphones aren’t hard to drive with even a moderate amplifier but require more power than most smartphones and run-of-the-mill PCs will be able to offer. 

The first thing I noticed about these earphones is how spacious they are. The semi-open back design absolutely pays dividends in the soundstage. While it would be crazy to buy this set purely for gaming, they’re probably the best in-ear headphones you can get for gaming in terms of scope and atmosphere. For music, it’s sublime, even approaching the level of open-back over-ear headphones at times (though not quite hitting that lofty bar without the help of spatial sound like Dolby Atmos). For listening to music, there is an airy, wide quality that enhances the realism and positioning of the different instruments.

The pure beryllium driver is fast. The rigidity and lightweight of the material combine to create a sound that is impeccably realistic. Sounds begin and end exactly as they are supposed to. These beginning sounds are known as transients and really enhance how realistic and “in your world” what you’re hearing is. This is very much something that needs to be heard to truly be understood. These is an incredibly subtle dulling that occurs on slower headphones, such that you probably won’t even notice its occurring until you hear an earphone like the FD7 that does them so much better. It impacts the entire frequency response range, from percussion (which is one of the stars of the show here) to picks against strings, to the beginnings of a vocal note, to breaking glass and clinking bullet casings. 

The bass is fantastic. The FD7 continues the tuning trend of the FD5 and FD3 in the low-end, punching up the bass. The texture and detail is excellent, and they’re able to deliver a level of fullness that is very impressive. There were times listening to Atreyu that it felt almost as if the earpieces were vibrating in my ear — they weren’t, but that’s the level of reproduction we have here. It’s absolutely clean, too.  Even machine gun, staccato double kick drums ring clean without any of the mud, bloat, or blending that occurs on other dynamic earbuds. 

Mids are exquisite. The FD7s are incredibly rich in detail and this is no more true anywhere than in the mid-range. That’s a good thing, too, because most instruments and vocalists live in this range. I talk a lot about guitars because it’s what my ears are tuned for. I Believe by Bethel Music is a great example of a busy live track. Between multiple singers, clapping and cheering from the audience, a full band with acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and a piano all playing at once, it’s easy for any one of those elements to fade into the periphery. But, with these headphones, you can focus on any one and hear exactly what they’re doing. The acoustic guitar stood out here, rarely getting washed out by the electric guitar and still providing that earthy, natural backbone the song thrives on. You might not notice it when it fades away normally, but here you can enjoy its richness throughout.

Really, this feels like one of the standout qualities of the FD7. They have a beautifully natural tonality and exquisite imaging to carry you through, regardless of genre. The beryllium driver is absolutely enhancing. 

Treble is where the FD7 sets itself apart from the FD5. Many users found that IEM to be too bright in comparison to the bass. Here, there is a noticeable rollover before things get sharp or sibilant. Full disclosure: I did not find the FD5 too bright, yet can see how the FD7 would be a better bet for users who did. There’s a good amount of sparkle and detail in the upper range, but that roll-off makes them a fatigue free and easy listen.

Of all the tracks I listened to, it was percussion that impressed me the most. The speed and detail of the drivers, as well as the u-shaped tuning, really brought out the detail in percussion. Snares, cymbals, shakers, and especially kick drums just pop in a way I haven’t heard on other earphones. It’s makes tracks like Ring and Robe by Bethel so much more fun.

Final Thoughts

At $629, the Fiio FD7 don’t come cheap but they may just be the best thing Fiio has ever released, especially for users who enjoy a full yet detailed sound. Despite featuring only one driver, they compare impeccably well to the Mangird Xenns Up but have even better bass performance. I didn’t expect that coming into this review, but here we are with a single driver rivaling an excellent 7-driver array with boutique ESTs.

Fiio has been on a roll lately. Depending on your preferred tuning and budget, which of their most recent models will be the best fit for your will vary, but there likely will be an earphone that matches what you’re looking for. The build quality and design aesthetic has also seen dramatic improvements. Fiio has become downright stylish, and you love to see it. One thing is for sure: this is one more exciting release that leaves me pumped to see exactly what this next year will bring from the company.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
 

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