(The article was written by Gwyn D'Mello & originally published in DNA here )
This isn’t our first experience with Fiio’s hardware. dna’s Marco Dsouza has reviewed the company’s digital audio players before, so it’s with high expectations that I tackle the all new X7 payer. And man, it does not disappoint.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you likely own smartphone that’s perfectly capable of downloading, storing and playing high quality music, as well as performing other functions? So first things first; why would you even need a Digital Audio Player? The answer is simple. You don’t need one. But after you listen to Fiio’s audio quality, you’ll likely want one anyway.
Let’s be honest, this is clearly a product designed for a very specific market. Someone who cares deeply about their music, who wants the utmost purity of tone, and who doesn’t mind spending a cool Rs 49,999 for an added device they’ll have to carry around. The Fiio X7 does have its pros however, and they’re worth consideration. For one thing, all of that storage space, courtesy a built-in micro SD card reader, can be utilised for music, instead of being bogged down with other things like in your smartphone. For another, you can demand, and receive, the truest sound from this baby.
The flagship Fiio X7 is the company’s first Android-based audio player, complete with a customisable music player app. The modified interface strips away all the functionalities not associated with music, allowing the hardware to devote all available memory to high-quality audio playback. It has a 3.97-inch 480x800 multi-touch display, with Rockchip's RK3188 SoC, running four Cortex A9 cores at 1.4GHz. It packs on 1GB RAM, as well as 32GB of internal storage, for any additional Android apps you might want to include,128GB micro SD support, and is powered by a beefy 3500mAh battery.
The volume rocker and power button adorn the left side, with song skip and play/pause shortcut buttons on the right eft. The standard Home, Menu, and Back hard buttons are located just under the display, with the visibly distinct section below it housing the amplifier. In addition to Micro USB charging port on the bottom, the X7 has a standard 3.5mm out on the bottom, with a line/coax out on the top. Most importantly, the X7 can direct source music of all sampling rates to the Digital-to-Audio Converter (DAC) inside, letting it play back music at native sampling rates. This means you can get lossless playback at even studio quality. It can play back a variety of audio formats, including DXD, DSD 32/384, PCM @384kHz/64-bit, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, or APE.
But the reason the X7 is priced over the X5, is that Android 4.4.4-based system. In addition to a familiar music control and general functionality, what it adds is WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to use the X7 as you like. Of course, most of the time you’d be better of using a wired connection for maximum clarity. But as far as the wireless connectivity goes, things are pretty standard. Bluetooth is stable up to a distance of about 20 feet. The 3500mAh battery goes a long way in maintaining power; I found myself remembering years ago when I’d only have to charge my iPod Touch once every few days.
At the end of the day, the Fiio X7 is not a purchase to be made lightly. You can spend 50k on a laptop or a phone that does much more than you actually need it to, but it won’t go to waste. But the X7 fits a very specific bill. If you buy it without being absolutely sure you want it, it’s going to be that gadget that just gathers dust in the back of your closet, and that would be a damn shame. The X7 is a another entry in a laundry list of stellar devices from Fiio. If you’ve never experienced anything more than everyday headphones or speakers, this device will forever set the bar for your standard in music. In fact, if you’re not able to justify the Rs 50,000 price tag on a solely music device, I suggest you walk away without ever trying it out, because the experience will ruin you for music as you’ve gotten used to. I know I feel that way.