Novice Viewpoint – Fiio M7

Chinese brand “FIIO” has been in the audio scene for quite a long time. The triumph of their DAPs as well as the recognition of DAC & Amps of Fiio has been quite a discussion lately especially with them launching Budget Friendly products that offers a wide range of features.

First, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Fiio for lending us the M7 and to have it featured on Bus Ride Impression. I thank them for their generosity of offering the M7 for this review. You may visit their website at https://fiio.com/ . We also thank “XTC”, Fiio’s official distributor here in the PH for also making this review possible.

Now let’s introduce the Fiio M7.

Fiio M7 priced at $199.99, is the newest addition of the brand to their DAP line up. Compared to the other DAPs of Fiio, the M7 has a quite different build as well as internals. With a new presentation on the looks and the introduction of the Samsung Exynos 7270 as its processor, can the M7 be a worthy competitor with the DAPs on its price range? Let’s find out.

What’s inside?

Simple yet complete packaging is what M7 offers. FIIO M7 includes the instruction manual, USB-C cable and a protective silicone case for the M7. I noticed that the M7 already has a screen protector installed but I cannot verify whether all M7 in the market has a pre-installed screen protector or just this review unit. But we acquired it as sealed and unopened box. If this is pre-installed, it’s a good thing as consumers doesn’t have to put the screen protector and have a hard time installing it.

Build

Build of the M7 is quite premium. The metal housing feels nice as well as the edges for a good grip of the player. Though it feels a bit slippery without the protective silicone case, I recommend users to use the silicon case as it still makes the M7 looks good while avoiding scratches on the DAP. Although the housing is a bit thick, M7 is relatively small and pocketable.


Volume wheel is located on the left side of the DAP. While it is a bit small, it looks sturdy. One thing that I noticed is the placement of the music control buttons near the volume rocker. This may be confused as a volume button or you can accidentally press the previous button while changing the volume. It would be nice if it is located maybe a bit far from the volume wheel. Although I think the reason for the placement of the buttons is the ease of use especially when carrying the DAP.


Power button is located on the top together with the headphone jack. It has a LED light that turns blue once the DAP was turned on. It would have been better if Fiio decided to add a balanced jack, which is offered by other DAPs on its price range which should offer significant potential to improve the overall sound quality of the device.  Micro SD slot located on the right side supports up to 512gb of Micro SD card. M7 uses a USB Type-C connection which can be also used not just for charging but also to connect it on an external DAC. The M7 was advertised together with the new Fiio Q5 that can be stacked. Hopefully we can also have the Q5 on hand soon so that we can also share our views together with the M7. Screen size of the M7 is 3.2-inch 480×800 which is big enough and quite nice.

Overall, M7’s build is exceptionally great. The premium feel is presented as well as the tough look. Looks may be a matter of preference but the M7 will still tick the heads of the consumers looking for a good looking DAP. Though my only comment is the placing of the buttons and the lack of balanced port which I think is justifiable as the target market of this DAP is for consumers who’s looking for an on-the-go and pocketable player.

Performance

Inside is a Samsung Exynos 7270 dual chipset processor. A processor dedicated for a better performance of the M7 and better power management leading to a longer battery life. It is stated that this DAP can survive 20 hours of playtime and 40 days of standby time. We’ll get to that later in the review.

The UI of the M7 is sleek and smooth. It feels like a stripped-down Android OS with gesture control. To go back one level, you will just have to swipe up from the bottom left of the screen and swipe up from the bottom right to return to the home/main menu. Too bad the M7 doesn’t support Wi-Fi and third-party apps as this was a consumer DAP. However, Fiio includes the FM radio which is I think is an advantage for users who wants to listen to radio stations, something that is quite rare for a DAP these days.

Browsing the UI reveals a bunch of cool settings like the Gallery that browses your photos on the DAP as well as change the lockscreen and homescreen wallpaper. The FM radio as mentioned works properly.

There is also a file management menu on the M7 should you wish to copy, move or delete some files or folders. The transition between the above-mentioned applications is good and smooth. My only comment is the album art that keeps rendering whenever you scroll on the album selection. This may be fixed with the upcoming updates on the firmware. Fiio Music contains most of the menus you needed from a music player. The Recently Played, Most Played and the recently added menus go for a more convenient use.  Overall, the UI is smooth and is user friendly.

Utilizing a Samsung Bluetooth 4.2, the M7 supports APTX-HD as well as LDAC codecs for your Hi-Res wireless needs. The Bluetooth connection works fine as well as the bunch of options for the wireless playback quality. No connection stutters or whatsoever even when I used it as my daily commute companion for the past 2 weeks.

M7 has a built-in 4gb internal memory and you can only use 2gb of it. With the price of the M7, this should have a bigger internal memory. Although the Micro SD card supports up to 512gb of memory. which I think is more than enough. My only gripe is the scanning process of the micro SD. With other DAPs, my music files (which contains about 2,000+ files 64gb Micro SD) can be scanned within 2 to 3 minutes but with the M7, it takes at least 8-15 minutes.

While there are many competitors within the price range. Fiio does a good job with the UI, transitions as well as the execution of the FM Radio and Bluetooth.  Maybe Fiio can improve the performance of the Micro SD Slot as well as the minimal bugs on the firmware.

 Battery Life

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Lengthy battery life is what consumers really desire nowadays. Stated by Fiio is a whopping 20 Hours of playtime and 40 days of standby for this little M7. I personally tested the battery life of the M7 by playing Different bitrates of Flacs and WAVs. I was really gob smacked as the M7 lasted 20 and half hours of nonstop playtime. this is what consumers like me are looking for especially consumers who commutes every day. this is a hell of a DAP in terms of battery performance. I can say that the Exynos 7270 also helped with the power management of the M7. Charging time is 2 hours which I think is impressive. considering that this has a 1180 maH battery.

Sound Quality

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Out of the box, M7’s sound is a bit congested and narrow. not the sound that I’ve expected with the price but it sounds decent compared to other DAPs on the market. to be specific, this offers a good clarity and a bit of neutrality on the sound. Low ends are well bodied, mids and highs are somewhat more forward and more emphasized. the sound stage is a bit downside for me but it offers a good presentation especially to female vocals and intimate tracks. As mentioned earlier, sound may be a bit congested resulting to merged details for some tracks. M7 may present an intimate sound but still offers clear and good details it still offers the sound of a decent DAP. A sound that a consumer can be contented with.

Tracks/Albums used:

Michael Jackson – The Essential MICHAEL JACKSON

Sara Bareilles – Brave Enough : Live at the Variety Playhouse

Bob Marley – Legend (Remastered)

Eagles – Hotel California

Verdict : Yay or Nay?

What is exceptional about the M7 is the offered features and functionality. Although I’m not quite impressed on how it sounds but it still gives the satisfaction I need especially with the lengthy battery life. FIIO may be a hard bargain for some as there are a lots of competition within the price range($199.99), but the fact that this lasts for a long time is what most of the consumers demand today. It would have been nice if Fiio also added a wireless capabilities or specifically Spotify App to truly justify the lengthy battery life on the M7. After all, consumers are interested with a more convenient way to listen to their favorite tracks without having to invest in a enormous music files or storage. A balanced jack could also be nice and also the updates of the firmware to mitigate bugs and unveil its full potential. Overall, Its a yay for me.

Collection of Photos below:

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