Fiio FD-7 iem Impressions and Discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by rhythmdevils, Jan 20, 2022.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Fiio FD-7 iem Impressions and 3 new dynamic iems comparison

    [​IMG]

    Gear

    ipod touch -> Fiio FD-7 & Dunu Zen Pro
    Yggdrasil -> Cavalli Liquid Gold X -> 7hz Timless

    Yes, thats very unfair, but I don’t have an amp that plays well with the Zen Pro or FD-7 and the way I use the Zen Pro right now I don’t really need one. The iFI Nano doesn’t really sound great with either for some reason.

    All listening done with Lunashops 7N OCC copper cable - with angled MMCX connectors | with straight MMCX connectors

    Disclaimer: I couldn’t really wrap my head around the sound of the FD-7 very well at this moment for whatever reason (it’s been a bad week in multiple ways) so this is just meant to be a primer for loaner impressions. What I can say with certainty is that the FD-7 is another good DD iem all of a sudden, and along with the Zen Pro and 7hz has a place in the market. I think all 3 are good options and there will be people who like each of these over the other two. All off them are must hear iems for iem lovers especially those who don’t like BA’s.

    Fiio FD-7 (with midrange tuning nozzle)
    (it comes with 3 tuning nozzles labeled bass, mids, treble)

    Strengths
    Even FR except for a small treble bump that makes cymbals stand out a bit
    No upper midrange DD harshness
    Smoother than the Zen Pro from the upper mids down
    Resolving but not as resolving or fast sounding as the Zen Pro or as resolving as the 7hz
    good bass response. Not as punchy or controlled or hard hitting as the Zen Pro, but I think it sounds really good and sometimes more realistic than the bass of the Zen Pro, It has more weight to it, where as the Zen Pro is all punch.
    Bass extends all the way down with authority
    Good instrument separation

    Weaknesses
    Slight treble emphasis
    They don’t have the sharpness of the Zen Pro, but they have something else going on with their own driver. It’s less pronounced than the Zen Pro’s sharpness, but there’s still something there- I’d call it a bit of an edge. Maybe it’s just the sound of Beryllium drivers.
    They can have a bit of a plastic tone that isn’ t as natural sounding as the other two iems

    Conclusion
    Another good DD iem suddenly on the market. I’d say these aren’t as technically impressive as the Zen Pro, but they are still technicalliy very good and have their own strengths and unique sound that is smoother than the Zen Pro. I think some people will prefer these to both the Zen Pro and 7hz.


    Dunu Zen Pro

    Strengths
    Fast transient response
    Very resolving to the point of equalling many good full size headphones
    Good tone
    Even Frequency Response from bass to treble
    Never harsh in upper mids or treble
    No peaks
    Good instrument seperation
    Very controlled bass that is punchy, fast and hard hitting with extension all the way down (I would love to know what songs people are listening to when they claim lack of bass extension with the Zen Pro. I think people throw this around rather randomly as a very subjective ill defined descriptor of something that has nothing to do with actual extension)

    Weaknesses
    The only weakness I hear is a sharp tone to the sound especially in the midrange to upper midrange. I didn’t hear this when I first reviewed them, because they are so much better than the CA Solaris I just didn’t hear it, but I do now, and though some people think it is caused by an 8k peak, I don’t hear this, I hear overshoot in the burst response and think this is responsible. I still do not hear any peaks. This sharpness messes with the tone of vocals and other instruments and can create an unnatural kind of shimmer to the leading edges of notes.
    These are not smooth sounding iems.

    Conclusion
    Great dynamic iems with even FR that are best for those who crave technical performance and speed over smoothness. If you like a more laid back sound or smoother sound, the 7hz or FD-7 is a better choice.


    Timeless 7hz

    Strengths
    Extremely smooth, even FR
    Very natural tonality
    No peaks anywhere
    Very resolving to the point of equaling or bettering many full size headphones
    Ortho acoustics are taken care of well, the driver is moving fast and is properly damped and there are no backwave or resonance issues
    They have a bigger sound than any other iem I’ve heard and can move more air due to the larger ortho driver which gives them a special sound.
    They can be driven by home amps with no buzz issues so you don’’t need special amps
    Price is really low for the performance

    Weaknesses
    Maybe the attacks are too soft for some people? I think they’re pretty perfect though
    The bass isn’t as tight and punchy and well damped as it could be
    They can be too bassy out of certain amps like directly out of the iPod touch. But with the right amps, the bass is neutral.
    I can’t really think of any more...

    Conclusion
    My personal favorite sounding iem I’ve heard. Cheap, can be used with desktop amps, super resolving for an iem with a very natural tone and natural attacks for an unbeatable price. I think every SBAF’er should own or try these.
     
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  2. daniellistens

    daniellistens Acquaintance

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    I’m trying to remember @Rockwell ’s impressions of this Fiio IEM.

    I was able to hear it. I immediately did not like it due to the edge that you describe. Something in the treble removed me from the music immediately. Probably only in my ears for five minutes. I would prefer the Timeless from 7Hz as well.
     
  3. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    Yeah for me Zen Pro > Timeless >>> FD7

    I found the Fiio a little cold and clinical and didn't enjoy the bass at all. I would agree that it's more relaxing than the Zen Pro up top...but I don't have any problems with the Zen Pro in that regard.
     
  4. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Fiio FD7
    https://www.fiio.com/fd7
    $599 current MSRP

    The FD7 is a 12mm, pure beryllium dynamic driver. As far as I’m aware, this is one of the few pure BE drivers on the market (the now end of life Dunu Luna is the other I’m aware of); there are some cheaper in-ears that claim pure BE but those claims are seemingly dubious considering the difficulty and cost involved with producing pure BE drivers. The metal housings are somewhat reminiscent of the Dunu Zen models in shape and size, but the FD7 appears to have much more venting on the backside. As such, the isolation is below average but ear pressure is pretty much nonexistent; since I’m not in need of the best isolation, this is a welcome trade-off.

    Also like the Zen, the FD7 comes with a higher end cable system with removable plugs. The cable is braided 4 core silver cable with a dark gray sheathing. The cable is a nice compromise between thick and thin and has decent pliability and softness but does retain a bit more memory than I prefer. It also has the slightly annoying preformed ear guides with an aggressive shape. Overall the cabe is similar enough to some Dunu offerings, that it makes me wonder if they use the same OEM.

    Fiio provides gobs of tips and the naming given them is pretty funny. The narrowest bore tip is labeled balanced and the wider bore tips are labeled vocal and bass. I found the balanced tips the least balanced of the bunch. The vocal tips are hardest to maintain a seal being such thin silicone. I ended up preferring my own tips in the SednaEarfit light. Lastly the case Fiio provides is a leather clad square with a magnetic clasp. It’s on the large size and seems a bit overwrought in that it doesn’t want to open very wide and the whole thing seems a bit impractical being it’s not remotely pocketable. None-the-less, it should do a solid job protecting the FD7.

    The FD7 comes with 3 sets of tuning nozzles with varying bore diameter. The bass nozzles are the narrowest bore, so tips that fit this nozzle well are completely different from tips that fit the other two nozzles, yet different bore tips are not provided. You may need to fashion a spacer by cutting up an old narrow bore tip to slide wider bore tips over it. The medium bore nozzles are the balanced nozzles, and the widest are the treble nozzles. The balanced nozzles sound best in my estimation, as the treble response is not as uneven as the treble nozzles. These nozzles are all empty inside, so there is room to perform tuning mods with various materials like foam, cotton or alcohol swab.


    Comparisons

    An obvious comparison would with the similar priced Dunu Zen Pro ($100 more) but unfortunately I don’t have one. So, I decided to compare with the JVC FDX1, as that’s what many SBAF members are very familiar with and may be thinking about upgrading from.

    Vs JVC FDX1
    FD7 balanced nozzles and FDX1 green production nozzles
    Sources: RME ADI-2 Pro, Apple and Hidizs S8 dongles

    FD7 bass is overall more prominent with obviously much more upper bass warmth. In direct comparison the FDX1 sounds much leaner. This leanness at first gives the impression of a quicker bass, but this is just frequency response psychoacoustic differences. The FD7 is easily as quick, if not quicker, even with the extra weight and richness it carries. FD7 texture is much more nuanced and easily discernible. Regardless of boost differences, the FD7 is a significant increase in bass performance.

    The FD7 also carries a more prominent lower midrange compared to the FDX1. Where the FDX1 can sound too lean and thin with some recordings, the FD7 can, at times on different recordings, sound just a hair stuffy. On the FD7, male vocals are fuller sounding and piano has more weight and heft. However, the FD7 isn’t necessarily more nuanced in detail versus the FDX1 in the midrange, particularly if the details rest in the upper midrange where the FD7 is a bit blunted. Here the FDX1 has more energy, more bite, more attack. Vocal inflections, particularly in female vocals are more noticeable in the FDX1. Rock guitars have a more lifelike bite and crunch in the FDX1 as well. This is were the FD7 can frankly sound a bit blunted and sleepy/dull.

    While the FDX1 treble is slightly masked behind its upper mid to lower treble transition, making treble details a little more difficult to make out at times, its treble timbre is still pretty good and a little more natural sounding than the FD7. The FD7 is a bit more resolving up top, bringing treble details more forward, but it is also more uneven. While it’s not bright sounding, the unevenness affects it ability to recreate rides and hi-hats naturally. It also lacks air up top, sounding bit rolled, lacking realistic sparkle and decay.

    The bigger macro-dynamics of the FD7 give it an overall larger feeling head stage versus the FDX1; particularly sounding taller and deeper. Imaging and layering are also a noticeable step up over the FDX1.

    There’s no doubt this is a higher resolving, better performing driver than most, but it seems a bit held back by its slightly roller coaster tuning from the upper midrange through its treble. Transients and attack are dulled a bit too much as well. While I was able to tame the treble with alcohol swab mods in the treble nozzles with positive top end results, it unfortunately increased bass too much (perhaps Tanchjim or Moondrop sticker filters for Oxygen and Starfield may be an alternative worth trying). Perhaps if you are looking for something on the warmer side that’s fairly laid back in attack, the FD7 could work. For me it just seems like a missed opportunity. The specs, the build quality and the resolution are there but the stock frequency response execution, in all 3 nozzles, simply misses the mark.
     
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  5. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    Haha it seems my intuition is right. Reading the review, you simply describing my FD5 without the brightness.

    My intuition the first time I saw the FD7 announced was they simply upgraded the diaphragm of the FD5 and nothing more. The FD5 shortcoming imo was the soft transients especially in the treble and the lack of air which is unacceptable at their price ($320). You can't simply fix those with the exact same housing, and I bet the exact same motor structure and driver surround.
    So asking almost double the price of the FD5 just for the upgraded diaphragm felt "scammy" to me. So little R&D went into the FD7 is what I'm saying.


    On another note, how is the microdynamics, aside from the stage, it was the strongest suit of the FD5, I bet it's even better with beryllium?.
     
  6. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Yeah microdynamics are pretty good. Certainly better than the FDX1 I compared with. I usually like to focus on drums, particularly toms (amongst other things) when listening for this but the other short comings would quickly make me lose interest. It would be interesting to compare against the Zen Pro to see if Fiio is fully realizing potential from the beryllium driver. Hopefully Dunu one day releases a successor to the Luna with better uppper mid/lower treble tuning (as well as a lower price point), as that beryllium driver had excellent microdynamics.
     
  7. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    No, $300 more.

    Yeah, the FD7 could do with more bite in the attack, but I find their laid back nature tolerable. I don't think the frequency response is problematic, but Fiio's tuning has always worked well for me.
     
  8. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Yes, you right $300 more for the Pro. I must have been looking at old regular Zen listing somewhere when I saw $100 more. Looks like Headphones.com has the old Zen for $699. The Pro is worth every penny over the non-pro IME.
     
  9. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    First off, great cable, great fit, great choice of tips.

    These are a bit heavy because of the all metal body. Kind of hefty, but compact. Because of the metal, they do are more sensitive to temperature changes - meaning, if is cold out, these will be cold.

    Note: I did have to the L tip because the stock M tip is more tapered at the opposite of the tip end. I am normally a M stock tip guy, but somehow did not make a good seal in my left ear. Large tips fixed this right up. I did try the Spin Fit medium tips and they did fit, but I felt they bright in too much bass and rolled too much top end off.

    Sources:
    Portable: Helm Bolt
    Desktop: Vali 2+ and Eddie Current Black Widow

    ;TLDR - warm and detailed, and just a bit sibilant that is a bit fatiguing.

    The first thing you notice about these is the macrodynamics. And the fact that is is fairly balanced through the spectrum. They are also super easy to drive. They get pretty loud just from my phone.

    The next thing I noticed was how resolving they are. It brings in some details and some separation that I was not getting from my Timeless. They have a similar timbre to Kato, but just better defined bass and a bit more details.

    The top is lifted just a bit, especially in the 5k range, which can be troublesome for many and brings out some harshness that makes them a bit fatiguing. The siblilance in the 8k range is even bothersome with the bass filters.The bass filters actually did very little as far as my perception.

    Soundstagewise these are also excellent. Given the left in the top end air and the details.

    Now, these do not tune out the outside world much. Also, they will leak sound a bit more than other IEM’s I have. It sounds kind of bright and weak, but they will not be totally silent to others around you, and effect will be worse if you crank up the volume.

    The attack of these might put some off, but I did not find it terribly offensive except on long listening sessions. I suppose you could tame the top end a bit, but this is a flagship IEM. But also it is FiiO, who throw a bunch of stuff at a wall and it works more than half the time - it is what keeps them in the affordable range.

    So as I think they are an upgrade in details and space from Kato, I am not sure it worth more than twice the price of Kato with something that I can listen to a shorter amount of time. Going back to my Timeless I know I am missing details and width, but cymbals and transients sound right. Going back to the FD7 though is somewhat additive with the width, the details, and the dynamics.
     
  10. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    We should just wait for Dunu to release a Zen Be with same tuning as Zen Pro but with beryllium drivers!
     
  11. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    One more thing I forgot to mention that I think is kind of cool that I think some other manufactures started doing. And that is the cable has a quick user replaceable connector and can use 3.5 mm unbalanced, 4.4 Pentacon, and 2.5 mm balanced connectors. So not only a braided Litz wire, but also hot swap connectors to not worry about different cables is really great.
     
  12. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    Thank you SBAF for these loaner tours, I very much appreciate the great opportunity to hear great gear. Thank you @rhythmdevils for organizing the tours, and thank you Fiio for generously lending us these IEMs.

    Gear, Preferences, Caveats
    • All listening was done out of my Song NW-ZX2 DAP. I was short on time with these IEMs (it was the CanJam weekend and I also had the Timeless 7 Hz and the Kato at the same time), and in retrospect I should have listened to the FD-7 out of my Magni 3.
    • I can see the FD-7 benefitting from warmer sources.
    • My frame of reference and preferences with IEMs are for the Andro 2020, the original Solaris, and the Massdrop Plus.
    • I don’t get along well with too much emphasis in the upper-mids/lower treble, as with the original Dunu Zen, which I found to be too bright and fatiguing.
    • I’m in my mid-40s, have suffered from some hearing loss and can’t hear much above 14 kHz.
    • I forgot to play around with the different nozzles

    Impressions
    I very much liked the FD-7. There was very little to dislike, and what proved to be dealbreakers for me were two things: first, a lack of macrodynamic strength, which could be entirely due to my ZX2 DAP, which isn’t the most powerful source (hence my regret in not using my Magni 3), and, second, their slightly fatiguing quality, which might have something to do either with an emphasis in the upper-mids/lower treble or some kind of hardness to the sound in this region. Crinacle’s graph suggests a bit of a peak around 8 kHz but I’m not sure if that’s relevant.

    I’m also not sure if the IEMs are bright, exactly. They have a very clear and clean sound, though, which exacerbates or emphasizes, I suspect, the slightly upward tilting tuning.

    The tuning is excellent for certain things, like having lots of bite to some string instruments, like violins and electric guitars. Cymbals sound very good, with a nice, crisp zing to them. Tambourines are annoyingly prominent, as in real life. Trumpets don’t become too piercing in their upper reaches. Acoustic guitars have nice sparkle to them. And female vocals are quite forward but not overly so.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s not much bass emphasis. I suspect the bass is fairly linear, by which I mean that there’s some good sub-bass rumble but there’s not much of a mid-bass emphasis. My Andro 2020 sound much more bassy because of their mid-bass mini-hump. The FD-7, then, are very good for classical music, especially orchestral pieces, but double basses don’t sound convincing or satisfying, and there’s not enough grunt for some rock music; you get bitey electric guitars but no real crunch to them. My guess is that the bass comes across as a bit lighter than it might be because of the lack of macrodynamic strength. And there’s also a lack of slam, which I (mis?)understand to be a function of how hard the bass hits.

    The mid-range seems to be decent. I don’t hear any weird recessions or oddities. The sound is pretty coherent, and what I experience as a slight lack of engagement has more to do with the softer macrodynamics than the tuning, I guess. I’m not confident in making claims about microdynamics. The FD-7 does seem to resolve details nicely, especially for the price.

    The staging is very good and almost goldilocksy. It’s not exactly spacious but it’s not small or congested, either. Imaging is pretty precise, which makes the headstage work better, and the layering and separation are really very good. I couldn’t make my mind up about the depth to staging. I suppose it’s fine, then, without being outstanding.

    The FD-7 struggled somewhat with complex musical passages, with lots of instruments playing at once, but this is hardly an issue given the reasonable price of the IEMs.

    The FD-7 don’t make for as easy and engaging a listen as the 7 Hz, and they offer a different kind of lighter, brighter sound than the Kato. They’re not as exciting and fast as the Zen Pro (based on a 20 minute audition at CanJam), but if my memory serves me correctly, I should think they’re at a similar level as the original Dunu Zen, albeit without the brightness of those IEMs.

    Conclusion
    These a really great IEMs, there's a lot to like about them, and they strike me as being competitive for the price. If it weren’t for their fatiguing quality, I’d be more enthusiastic, and I’m not sure if the milder bass and the lack of macrodynamics owe more to my source than the IEMs themselves.
     
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  13. Rockwell

    Rockwell Friend

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    I don't think so...my only complaint about the FD7, and what would be a deal breaker for me, was that I found the bass weak and lacking impact...and I was driving them from a Shanling M8, a very powerful, low end heavy source.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2022
  14. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    Running the FD7 out of the Vali 2+ definitely helps with the macrodynamics, versus running it straight out of the iFi Gryphon.
     
  15. StandUp713

    StandUp713 Friend

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    My quick impressions of Fiio FD-7 (with tuning nozzle)

    The sonic characteristics were a tad V shaped, that you could increases or decrees with the tuning tubes.

    I did not hear any peaks, but I was wanting the treble to be a bit more resolving. I felt something was missing up top.

    The bass was satisfactory(did not excite, but could not complain), and the midrange was a bit cupped, but accurate with voices.

    They fit well with my ears, so no ergonomic problems. I thought the cord would be an issue, but it worked once they it was in place.

    While I enjoyed the FD-7, it did not scream out a "must have" . The tuning ports were fun to fiddle with.
    I give it a score of: "Not Bad Minus"
     
  16. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    this is about the Fiio FD-7 loaner set.

    tl/dr: something was very wrong with me, my sources or the iems themselves.

    plugging these into my amp/dap combo, i was initially very impressed with the music. however, after listening for a time, i noticed an almost subliminal hum coming into my head. as i tend to hallucinate these things i took them out. the hum did not abate until about 45 minutes later. strange. as this is the first time i have had this issue with any of the loaner iem's that have been in my possession, i was flummoxed .

    it sounded like the hum from an old crt tv, that you wouldn't notice while watching as it was too far away. unless you were the kid who changed the channels for your folks. (i was that kid.)

    i have multiple copies of my portable amp, daps, and so on including alternatives to the iPod Classic.

    no joy in Mudville.

    maybe this pair is just worn out?

    cheers!
     
  17. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    No idea what that would be. Did you eat your Wheaties this morning?
     
  18. nishan99

    nishan99 Friend

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    Maybe you got a weird tinnitus frequency? Are you already tired when listening to them?.

    Any IEM or headphones trigger mine when I'm tired that day.

    Also idk if you tried it, but did you try another IEM after the hum is gone to see if they trigger it too?.
     
  19. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    tl/dr: a follow up of sorts, i guess, kinda trying again, once more into the bleach.

    in house comparison:
    Etymotic ER-4
    Campfire Audio Orion
    Fiio FD-7

    same hardware as previously.

    music used: (i promise a theme will appear.)

    "Causeway", Alex de Grassi, from Slow Circle, Windham Hill, 1979.
    "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)", Garbage, from Beautiful Garbage, Interscope Records, 2001.
    "Close to You", Frank Sinatra, from Close to You, EMI re-master 1998. (The Capitol Years [21-CD], 1998).
    "(I) Could Eat Your Words" , (title edit by moi.), Patricia Barber, from Verse, Blue Note/Premonition Records, 2002.

    as i started with a "C" title, i just went for it.

    the Etys and the CFAs gave me little in the form of the hum i heard with the Fiios.

    the hum was still present with the Fiios, as was the fatigue from that hum..

    for grins and giggles, i tried these on my (albeit, modest) desktop stack, same tunes, same result.

    for ME, the Fiio FD-7 have a subliminal hum that kills them for ME.

    these are beautifully made, presentation and accessories are to die for, and for ME, unlistenable.

    ymmv.

    cheers!
     

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