In today’s review, I’m taking a look at the FiiO FH7, a penta-driver, hybrid earphone from the folks at FiiO. The FH7 utilizes a large 13.6mm beryllium-plated dynamic driver for bass and 4 Knowles balanced armature drivers for the midrange and treble. The shells also feature FiiO’s patented S.Turbo acoustics design and the FH7 comes with an 8-strand monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable.
According to FiiO’s website, the FH7’s is inspired by nature, specifically the ferocity and dominance of great waves which incidentally, are incorporated in its physical design. Is the FH7 just another drop in the ocean or can it really make waves? Let’s dig deeper to find out.
This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Clarity, resolution and detail
Great build quality and comfort
Generous variety of accessories included
Brighter signature can be fatiguing
Package and Accessories
The FiiO FH7 comes in a box that is very large for an IEM. There’s a cardboard sleeve on the outside that is practically bare except for an image of a single earpiece on the front and the driver configuration in small print on the back.
After removing the sleeve, we get to the box proper, which has a lovely, smooth almost suede-like texture to it and the FiiO logo on top. Opening the magnetically sealed flap reveals the in-ear monitors and a small capsule which holds the additional tuning filters, seated in a foam insert.
Lifting out the foam insert, we find a fantastic selection of various eartips in a foam slab and a nice faux leather carrying case. Ok, let’s make a list of all the box contents:
FiiO FH7 in-ear monitors
Detachable Litz monocrystalline SPC cable
13 pairs of various silicone eartips (including 3 pairs of Spinfit tips)
2 pairs of foam eartips
3 pairs of tuning filters (bass, balanced, treble)
Faux leather carrying case
Fabric carrying case
Magnetic cable tie
Build Quality and Design
Made from an aerospace-grade CNC machined aluminium-magnesium alloy (try saying that fast 5 times), the FH7’s shells not only look very handsome, but they feel durable too. The sand-blasted and hand-polished finish certainly gives them a premium aesthetic.
The faceplates have a textured wave design and a gold-coloured border. There are 2 vents on the shells to relieve any pressure buildup, 1 near the base of the nozzle and another on the front edge, just below the MMCX socket.
One of FH7’s features is its interchangeable tuning filters. It comes with 3 filter types: dynamic bass emphasis (red), balanced (black) and detailed treble emphasis (green). These filters have rubber o-rings attached which allow them to stay firmly in place. Unlike some other filter implementations I’ve seen, these feel very secure and I have no concerns about them becoming loose and/or lost. The knurled grips on the filters also act as the lip for securing your eartips.
Internally, the FH7 uses a large 13.6mm beryllium dynamic driver to produce its powerful bass. In charge of the mid frequencies is a custom Knowles DFK BA based off the classic 30017. For the high frequencies, the FH7 uses a Knowles SWFK-31736.
Additionally, the FH7 shells incorporate FiiO’s S.Turbo V2.0, which uses acoustically-optimized sound pipes (inspired by turbines), to get the best performance out of the dynamic bass driver.
Comfort and Noise Isolation
For my ears, the FH7 offers a very comfortable fit. While the shells feel very strong they’re also reasonably lightweight. The entire surface is smooth and the edges rounded, meaning you shouldn’t get any hot spots or discomfort, even during long listening sessions. The FH7 shells contour naturally to the shape of my ears well enough that I could wear them all day.
Noise isolation is superb and well above average. Even listening at low volume, I can’t hear my TV in the background or the chattering of my mechanical keyboard as I type this. Noise leak is fairly minimal, even at near-deafening levels, it’s unlikely you will disturb anyone nearby.
The supplied 8-core Litz monocrystalline braided, silver-plated copper cable is a perfect match for the FH7’s premium shells. It has a solid girth, none of that flimsy, tangle-prone stuff. Not only does it handle well but it has no distracting microphonics, kinks or unruliness. It’s pretty too, like a shimmering silver chain but a lot lighter.
At the top are transparent, curved MMCX connectors, complete with colour-coded rings to easily identify the left (blue) and right (red) sides. Then there are pre-formed ear guides that hold their shape well but are comfortable and unobtrusive.
Further down is a small, cylindrical aluminium Y-split with a matching cable cinch. The cable terminates with an outstanding aluminium L-shaped plug with solid strain relief.
The FH7, as I mentioned earlier comes with 3 sets of tuning filters. These filters offer slight variations in the sound, mostly affecting the treble response. While the filters make little to no change to the bass or midrange directly, of course, changing any of the key frequencies will affect the overall tonality to a degree.
The effect of each filter is fairly self-explanatory so I won’t go into too much detail here. I found the black and green filters to be just a little edgy for my preferences but quickly fell in love with the sound of the red bass filters which don’t actually add bass but slightly attenuate some of the treble brightness.
Gear used for testing includes the Shanling M5s and Soundaware M2Pro as portable sources. On the desktop, I had it plugged into the FiiO K3 or the Arcam irDAC-II. The FH7 is easy to drive, with a low 16Ω impedance and 111dB/mW sensitivity. It even sounds pretty good straight out of a smartphone and does not require extra amplification. However, it can and does scale with a better source.
With its linear-bright signature, the FH7 is what I would call balanced but energetic. Looking at the measurements you could be forgiven for thinking that the FH7 has a flat, analytical sound but that is definitely not the case. And just because it’s a little bright doesn’t mean it lacks bass either, quite the contrary, in fact. Let’s break it down.
The FH7’s large (13.6mm) beryllium dynamic driver delivers a punchy, authoritative yet clean and well-controlled bass. It’s not only powerful but nimble and fast as well. The best part is it has such a natural attack and decay with the perfect mix of slam and impact. I’m convinced that this is made possible by the combination of beryllium coated diaphragm for speed and FiiO’s S.Turbo 2.0 system that gives bass notes room to breathe and resonate.
Sub-bass extension is fantastic and has the ability to reach down low and bring the rumble with it. It has a physicality that you can literally feel and is intensely satisfying. SZA’s “The Weekend” can be a challenge for IEMs because its low synth bass needs to have enough impact but it can easily become overpowering if not kept under control. The FH7 handles it not just with ease but with the mastery of a great conductor, giving it the perfect balance between unbridled power and mature restraint.
Mid-bass is also handled superbly with a meaty kick that manages to remain light and airy. It’s fast enough to keep pace with the music but the decay and resonance provided by the S.Turbo’s sound pipes ensure its naturalness. It’s a full-bodied bass that provides body and an element of fun while remaining non-destructive towards the midrange and treble.
The FH7’s midrange has a fairly neutral tone and sits in line with the bass and midrange, solidifying its balanced presentation. The lower midrange does get some warmth from the mid-bass but the two don’t get their lines blurred, they retain separation without any noticeable bass bleed. Furthermore, even though the midrange is able to sit up in line with the bass and treble, it doesn’t feel ‘boosted’, pushed unnaturally forward nor coloured.
Positioning itself as a true all-rounder, the FH7’s midrange relies on its accurate timbre and note size rather than overt warmth and fullness, making it versatile across all genres of music. In Ludovico Einaudi’s “Indaco“, the FH7 renders the violin and cello with a just the right amount of body and the piano with an undeniable clarity but without any shrillness.
Vocals are slightly forward and have great articulation and texture. They’re also clear, natural and show equal favour to both male and female vocals. Listening to Scarface’s “Read” I am particularly impressed by the way his baritone vocals lift and separate so cleanly and effortlessly from the vigorous bass.
The FH7’s treble leans toward the brighter side and while it is a little forward in its positioning, it only occasionally exhibits a hint of stridency. It’s crisp and detailed with very good extension and a natural tone. The treble presentation sparkles with intensity and clarity and balances the scales in relation to the FH7’s meaty bass.
This is a multi-faceted treble that not only provides detail and lift but also energy and airiness, all the while maintaining an accurate timbre and avoiding stridency. For someone like me who is generally sensitive to high frequencies, the fact that I really enjoy the FH7’s forward treble presentation speaks volumes about its quality.
The FH7 has an oblong shape, having more depth than width in its moderately-sized but airy stage. While its treble extension gives it a good head start on soundstage dimensions, it is also the airy quality of its bass that prevents it from shrinking. There is a good amount of air in between instruments, which keeps the stage clean and uncluttered. Above average separation also helps keep the stage organized and enhances its imaging.
The DK-3001 is a hybrid quad-driver IEM with a 10mm dynamic driver and 3 balanced armature drivers. It has added mid-bass and more fullness in the lower midrange while its core midrange is slightly more recessed than the FH7. The DK-3001 pushes ahead again in the upper midrange, resulting in snappier percussion instruments and more presence.
Throughout the lower treble both IEMs are reasonably forward, adding clarity and presence but the timbre of the FH7’s treble seems more natural. The FH7’s treble extends further, giving it more airiness and sparkle.
Overall, the DK-3001 is more V-shaped while the FH7 has a linear presentation. The FH7 has slightly increased resolution and transparency while the DK-3001 goes for a more fun approach with its enhanced bass and less forward midrange.
Custom Art FIBAE Black
The FIBAE Black is a single balanced armature IEM that utilizes a unique implementation of a Helmholtz resonator to achieve a sound signature that was loosely based on the Olive-Welti earphone target.
The most immediate difference noted is the Blacks smoother and laid back treble. Listening to it side by side with the FH7 immediately makes the FH7 sound strident in comparison. The Black has a darker timbre with breathy voice colours that creates a more inviting and smoother presentation.
The FH7, on the other hand, has a more aggressive and powerful sound that uses a contrast between its ethereal treble and bold bass to give it contrast, intensity and precision. The FIBAE Black is more easygoing and musical in comparison while the FH7 is more detailed and resolving with increased clarity.
The FiiO FH7 in-ear monitor has an exciting and vivid character, a real sense of confidence and doesn’t hold anything back. With its punchy and controlled bass, articulate, resolving midrange and highly detailed treble this is an IEM that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.
Suitable for pretty much any music genres, the FH7 shows versatility and a high level of performance that is sure to appeal to a wide audience, so long as you’re not too sensitive to a bit of brightness. The FH7 is up there with the best in terms of build quality and comfort and it also comes with a fantastic selection of accessories.
My Best Universal IEMs list has been growing steadily in recent times and will soon be in need of some pruning but I guarantee there is a spot reserved for the FH7.
Driver configuration: Penta hybrid
Impedance: 16 Ω
Frequency response: 5Hz-40000Hz
Drivers: 13.6mm beryllium dynamic driver + 4 Knowles BA