Note: This article is based on the video "The COOLEST thing FiiO Makes! - FiiO R7 Review" made by Joshua Valour on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Joshua Valour. The review was originally posted on April 24th, 2023. Edits have been made for clarity and length. You can buy the FiiO R7 on Apos Audio or bundle it with the FiiO SP3 Active Speakers for a true all-in-one desktop setup.
Apos Audio store sent this product out for review, and I want to clarify that no one is paying me or asking me to give a positive or negative review. They had no involvement in this review. My thoughts and opinions on this product are extensive, and I believe I will need to create a multi-part video series to cover it adequately. Instead of one long and potentially dull video, I plan to make three separate videos. The first video, which is this one, will serve as a general overview and review of the product. The second video will focus on the entire system behind me that incorporates this product. The third video will involve the new SP3 speakers from FiiO, which are yet to arrive. I will analyze their integration with this product in that separate video.
To be honest, I find reviewing this product somewhat intimidating due to its numerous capabilities and factors to consider, including its performance, price tag, sound quality, and features. There are not many equivalent amplifiers on the market, so in some ways, this product stands alone with its unique set of features. This makes it easy to recommend to individuals who have been seeking or requesting these specific features. However, I want to delve deeper into why it would be recommended for those individuals and discuss alternative options for different types of users who may desire something different.
First, let's discuss the build of the product. It has a unique design that definitely gives off a Stormtrooper vibe. The face plate, screen, and overall structure remind me of the new red Komodo Cinema cameras. The construction feels solid but is slightly lighter than expected. It comes with pads that offer different angles for placement and feet to attach to those pads. It's recommended to use stickies to secure the pads to the mount and the desk for stability.
Now, moving on to the product itself. It's difficult to categorize it into a single type because it encompasses various functions. It can serve as an amplifier, streamer, DAC, and music interface. It excels in being a versatile device, even though it may not be the absolute best in each category. The internal components include an ES9068AS DAC, a dual THX AAA 788 plus balanced amplifier, and a Snapdragon 660 processor. While the processor may not be top-of-the-line by today's standards, it is sufficient for its purpose. The screen resolution is 1280x720p, which is adequate for viewing at the typical distances. However, the screen has a limited viewing angle and darkens as you tilt it higher. For optimal visibility, using the upward facing mount is recommended.
Let's talk about the interface and connectivity options. The device offers analog inputs and outputs, including RCA and XLR outputs. Additionally, it provides rare digital outputs such as USB, coaxial, and optical. As for inputs, it supports optical, coaxial, and USB. This versatility sets it apart.
Moving on to the amplifier specifications, it is more impressive than anticipated. However, in terms of raw power and specs, it may not outperform other amplifiers in the same price range, like the TOPPING A90D. But it's crucial to note that this device offers a multitude of additional features that make it stand out. It boasts a total harmonic distortion of 0.0004% and a signal-to-noise ratio of 122dB, which are commendable specs. This device can effectively drive a wide range of headphones, from sensitive IEMs to demanding planars, delivering clean sound with good dynamic range and clarity.
Let's explore the various functions and possibilities of the R7 amplifier. This device can be considered a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type of amplifier due to its extensive capabilities. It offers multiple modes, including pure music mode, USB DAC mode for connecting to a computer, Bluetooth receiver mode, AirPlay mode, coaxial and optical mode, and regular Android mode. Notably, it even has a Bluetooth output mode.
In terms of connections, you can plug in headphones into the front and have RCA outputs at the back for speakers. Additionally, you can connect Bluetooth speakers. One unique feature is that the R7 can function as a standalone device. Once connected to the internet, you can run any app available on the Google Play Store. This makes it ideal for listening in various settings, such as on a couch or in bed. All you need is a power source, and you can connect IEMs, full-size planar headphones, Bluetooth speakers, or other devices. The convenience of controlling everything with a single power cable is impressive.
In terms of storage, the R7 comes with 64 gigabytes of internal memory and has an SD card slot. However, due to its USB-C port, you can connect a full SSD to expand the storage capacity. This eliminates any storage limitations and allows you to use your own files. Moreover, the R7 is an all-in-one device that can handle everything internally. You can download system-wide EQs from the Google Play Store to adjust the sound's EQ settings. Additionally, you can use various apps available on the Google Play Store. The R7's compatibility with a wide range of streaming and music services sets it apart from many other streamers.
The R7's versatility is truly exceptional, surpassing that of most streamers and DAC amps. Its interface with Android and the DAC amplifier system provides countless options. Although it is challenging to test every software feature due to the multitude of input and output options, the overall software and hardware approach is clean and well-implemented. The interface provides helpful prompts, such as an attention warning when switching to line out mode, ensuring a user-friendly experience.
Some concerns may arise regarding FiiO’s LED history and their blue LEDs. However, the R7 allows you to customize the color of the dials, pulse the color, or even turn them off completely if desired. As for the system's integration, it appears to be well-developed, but further exploration and time will provide a more comprehensive assessment.
Let's briefly discuss the sound quality of the R7 amplifier. While sound quality alone shouldn't be the sole basis for judging this device, it is worth noting that the R7 delivers a very good sound. Similar to other THX amplifiers, it offers a technical, clean, and clinical sound with good dynamic range and minimal faults. Some listeners may find the sound slightly sharp and prefer a warmer, more naturalistic sound. However, this characteristic is common among THX amplifiers.
Considering the features, build quality, power, and specifications, the sound quality of the R7 is sufficient. The standout feature of this device is the vast number of features it offers. Unlike other products, the R7 truly lives up to its claim of being an all-in-one system. With just a power cable and an internet connection, you can run an entire Hi-Fi system. This level of versatility is impressive and sets the R7 apart from other options in the market.
I hope to see more all-in-one systems like this in the future, as it brings a refreshing change to the Hi-Fi equipment landscape. The success of the R7 would encourage competition and innovation, benefiting consumers. I rarely give direct recommendations, but personally, I would buy and recommend the R7 for those seeking a genuine all-in-one system. However, it's essential to thoroughly research and consider the potential downsides of such a system. Overall, the R7 is an awesome product, and I'm excited to explore its other aspects in the upcoming videos.
In conclusion, this overview provides a general understanding of the R7. I hope you enjoyed the video, and I extend my thanks to Opus for providing the device. If you're interested in purchasing the R7 or any Hi-Fi-related products, I recommend checking out Opus. The link will be provided in the description. Thank you for watching, and see you next time!