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FiiO R7 Review

by: Gabby Bloch
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FiiO R7 Review

It’s always a good day when I get to play with a new gadget. And the FiiO R7 was the perfect fix for someone looking for a notably distinctive audio toy. With a crazy amount of functionality and a level of power that promises to be unrivaled for its size, the R7 may be an ideal choice for those looking for an all-in-one audio desktop solution. What kind of features and capabilities can you expect from this DAP, and how does it perform in terms of sound?

What’s in the Box?

Power cord

Angled base + flat base

Double-sided tape for the bass

Fuse + 6.35mm adapter

USB cable

Dustproof Plug

User guide

Warranty card

Build and Design

Admittedly, it's hard to resist getting your hands on this unit. Compact and sleek with hard lines, the sophisticated appearance of the R7 made it a classy addition to my desktop audio arsenal. The front of the unit presents as the DAP with the screen on the left and two firmly built dials on the right, while the rear provides all the input and output options. The sides feature a funky honeycomb grill to keep the unit cool. And for sure, the R7’s timeless hi-end audio “vibe” gives it an aesthetic longevity that should withstand the future fashion trends of this evolving technology.

FiiO R7 Review: Tons of power in a small package

The R7 is designed with 2 ESS ES9068AS DAC chipsets, while the amp boasts high power capability. We’ll test out this claim below. For those who use both, high impedance headphones and sensitive IEMs, you have the option to switch between 5 different gain levels. More about this below.

Inputs and Outputs

Inputs

Micro SD Card Slot up to 2TB

Optical Input

Ethernet

DC power input (external DC power supply

Coaxial input

USB Host Interface (for external USB devices)

Outputs

2 sets of RCA line outs

Optical output

3-pin XLR balanced line out

USB-C port (for data transfer and to use as DAC)

AC power output

Coaxial output

4-pin XLR output

3.5mm unbalanced output

4.4mm balanced output

I found it easy to switch through outputs by using one of the dials on the front of the device.

FiiO R7 Review: All the inputs and outputs you could want

Functionality

In terms of application, the possibilities seem endless when you consider the plethora of modes that the R7 offers, including, Android Mode, AirPlay, USB DAC Mode, BT Receiving Mode, Coax In Mode, Roon Ready, Optical In Mode. 

Of course, the first and most obvious use is to employ the R7 as a standalone DAP. (It would have been great if the R7 could run of its own battery, but it requires a power cable to work, which limits its portability.) If you already have a library of songs stored on a card, the R7 features an SD port at the back. If you're more of an MQA kind of audiophile, the R7 is capable of supporting streaming services through its Android platform.

FiiO R7 Review: works with most streaming services

If you happen to have a huge library of songs, you can also use the R7 simply as a go-between from an external hard drive to an outside DAC.

Another option is to the R7 in pure DAC mode, which allows you to connect the R7 to active speakers or another amplifier. You can also utilize the Amp, using the device as a DAC/Amp for your computer or phone. 

You’re not restricted to the R7 screen either; if you hate to squint or you want a more immersive user experience, you can connect the DAP to a larger, external screen.

What I like about the R7 is that it also works as a convenient hub to connect both, speakers and headphones, even at the same time. To switch between listening devices you just turn the dial to pick the appropriate output.

Wifi, Bluetooth and Streaming

As mentioned above, the R7 supports Roon, which is a relatively new “multi-device, multi-room music software platform” (read more about here) and is equipped with Android 10, enabling support for most streaming applications. It also ensures stable high-resolution music streaming through 5G Wi-Fi or LAN connections. One cool feature is that with the option to connect to an external monitor, it expands its functionality to applications, like movie streaming. Finally, the R7 streams LDAC over Bluetooth and offers Airplay for optimal pairing with Apple devices.

FiiO R7 Review: endless functionality

Hi-Res Support

DSD:DSD64/128/256(".iso”,".dsf”,".dff”),DST iSO

DXD:352.8K/24bit

APE FAST/High/Normal:384kHz/24bit(MAX)

APE Extra High:192kHz/24bit(MAX)

APE Insane:96kHz/24bit(MAX)

Apple Lossless:384kHz/32bit(MAX)

AIFF:384kHz/32bit(MAX)

FLAC:384kHz/32bit(MAX)

WAV:384kHz/32bit(MAX)

WMA LOSSLESS:96kHz/24bit(MAX)

DTS: 192kHz/24bitMAX

MQAFull Decoderer

Speed and Navigation

Equipped with an Ethernet cable and an impressively reactive touch screen, I found the R7 to be a fast little device overall. And it’s obvious to see how FiiO has improved its DAP performance and efficiency over the last few iterations of its players. Navigation is fast, and it’s clear that FiiO’s players are beginning to approximate the responsiveness of a typical Android phone.

Sound Performance

Pairings

For this review, I paired the R7 with my trusty Beyerdynamic DT 1770, mainly because the 1770’s impedance is relatively high and the sound signature leans on the neutral side. So, it’s an ideal headphone to not only test the R7’s power but also to see which sound characteristics are affected by the DAC/Amp’s profile. I also paired the R7 with a couple of sensitive Empire Ears IEMs to test out the noise floor.

Headroom and Noise Floor

Paired with the DT 1770, I had the volume on Ultra High Gain at about 65% volume. So, while there’s plenty of headroom to work with here, I’d be interested in pairing this unit with some hard to drive planar cans. My guess is that it would be pushing the R7 to its limits. But certainly, for such a compact device, the power output is impressive. I then paired the R7 with a couple of Empire Ears IEM models to see how a sensitive earphone would fare, and I was pleased to find little to no audible noise floor. (I also wouldn’t be a responsible audiophile if I didn’t warn the public to be careful with the gain settings. A lot of IEMs and ear drums have been lost to powerful amps).

Sound Impressions

I was really surprised to find that the R7 lent a warm quality to the sound signature. Bass and low-mids are given plenty of love, bringing weight and richness to the mix. This is perhaps unusual for FiiO, which tends to deliver a mostly neutral presentation through its DACs and players.

At the same time, that familiar liveliness that FiiO pulls off still felt present, though maybe less so than on previous models. I didn’t find there to be an extraordinary amount of sparkle, shine or snap in the treble. There’s a smoothness to high end, and the treble peaks are forgiving. Yet, I didn’t sense any roll-off or dullness. Still, FiiO seems to have to strayed away from a bright or unbiased profile, rather bringing a touch more body and shade to the table. That being said, as always, FiiO has delivered this sound signature cleanliness and precision, even if it feels a little less sharp and restrained than what you would expect from the brand.

Finally, for me, the soundstage felt minimally affected by the R7. Still, I sensed more spacing in terms of depth, height and width, which added a touch more tightness and comprehensiveness to the layering.

Summary

For 700 bucks, the FiiO R7 delivers a lot, including impressive power and ample flexibility in its functionality. The added warmth in the sound signature may be problematic for those who prefer a purely neutral profile. But besides Astell & Kern’s desktop DAP setup, which is significantly more expensive, I can’t think if a more polished and versatile desktop DAP at this price.

You can but the FiiO R7 DAP at Audio 46.

 FiiO R7 Review: DAP/DAC/AMP/Streamer and more

 

 

 

 

 

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