FiiO FH7S Review
A true all rounder
Pros: + Balanced sound signature suitable for most kinds of music
+ Great bass response with the right amount of emphasis and good technicalities
+ Superb mid-range tuning
+ Smooth and controlled but not subdued treble
+ A true all rounder that will fit most use cases
+ Three tuning filters for fine tuning the frequency response
+ Excellent driver integration
+ Very comfortable and lightweight
+ Open sounding with accurate imaging
+ Excellent build quality
+ High quality detachable cable with swappable plugs
+ Plenty of ear-tips and a high quality carrying case
+ Great price to performance ratio
Cons: – Not tuned for critical or reference listening
– The soundstage is not that deep and holographic
– Not the best passive noise attenuation
– A 2.5mm plug is really missing
The review sample was kindly provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
I didn’t receive monetary or any other kind of compensation and I don’t use affiliate links.
The price of the FH7S is $429 and you can order it from here.
FiiO FH7S – Technical highlights
The FiiO FH7S is a new 5-driver hybrid in-ear monitor with 4 BA drivers and a single dynamic driver.
It is the successor of the FH7 and smartly positioned between the FH5S and the flagship FH9.
FiiO has equipped the FH7S with the same 2nd-gen 13.6mm DLC driver that they implemented in the FH9.
The diaphragm is made of DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) material, it’s highly-damped and has a rigid, lightweight structure promising clean and precise bass response.
FiiO and Knowles have collaborated to create the exclusive DFK BA midrange driver, with the aim of providing a natural and musical voice reproduction. By adjusting the air permeability, the coherence between bass, midrange and treble is greatly improved. The high frequencies are produced by the Knowles SWFK-31736 BA driver, which has a high resonance frequency.
The FH7S features FiiO’s second generation semi-open design for accurate reproduction of your music’s soundstage. This design also provides a balanced release of sound pressure from the front and rear cavities. So when the diaphragm pushes air through, it encounters less resistance for a more detailed and natural sound. This design also limits the pressure on the eardrums, allowing for long listening sessions without hearing fatigue.
After numerous analyses and experiments, the FiiO teams have created a unique notch filter. This filter precisely guides the sound waves to eliminate unwanted resonances between the shell, the acoustic tube and the ear canal. The result is an effective reduction of sibilance.
The FiiO FH7S takes advantage of the patented S.TURBO acoustic technology, allowing for deep bass while maintaining the nuances and texture of your music. Sound waves are carefully guided through a turbine-shaped tube to enhance low-frequency reproduction.
The FH7S also comes with three interchangeable filters. These allow you to adjust the sound reproduction of the headphones, each model having its own damping and filter density characteristics. The green filter is designed for strong, accurate highs, the red filter enhances bass reproduction, and the white filter offers a balanced, transparent sound reproduction.
Build quality, appearance and fit
The FH7S design is inspired by motifs found in the world of science fiction adopting the recent design language of the company as is to be found in products like the M17 and the Q7.
The front panel reveals a series of overlapping perforated plates to form a semi-open design.
These are combined with silver and gold elements and air guides for a perfect balance between form and function.
The build quality is just excellent and the finish is flawless as we are used by FiiO.
The FH7S earshells retain an anatomical shape that when combined with the extended, but not that much, sound tube and the low weight, offer a secure and tight fit which feels very comfortable making the FH7S suitable for long listening sessions without causing fatigue.
The FH7S is less bulky and more comfortable than the FH9, something that should be considered when deciding between the two.
Noise isolation is not the best due to the semi-open design but still not bad especially if you use a pair of tight fitting ear-tips.
The FH7S comes with an MMCX detachable cable featuring silver-plated single crystal copper conductors, individually insulated. The Litz wire design also increases the conductive surface and limits the resistance of the cable.
The cable is also modular with interchangeable connectors that attach with the FiiO screw system which is by far the best and more secure than plug and twist ones.
Two plugs are provided, one balanced 4.4mm and one single ended 3.5mm the 2.5mm being strangely missing.
Maybe FiiO thinks that is outdated and decided to save on costs but they have forgotten that there are still a lot of devices out there with 2.5mm outputs.
Anyway, the cable is of the highest quality, offering excellent handling experience and very low microphonic noise.
The FH7S comes with a full pack of accessories which includes 3 sets of tuning filters (balanced – treble – bass) and various kinds of ear tips.
You get the brand new HS18, balanced, bass, vocal and SpinFit ear-tips all in three sizes.
Additionally there are two pairs of bi-flange and two pairs of memory foam ear-tips.
There is also a nice plastic case that can hold up to 24 ear-tips.
Other accessories include the HB5 hard shell carrying case, an MMCX removal tool, a cleaning brush, a magnetic clip, and an instruction manual.
The FH7S with a 18Ω impedance and 104dB/mW of sensitivity is pretty easy to drive without excessive requirements for power.
A good quality source though is highly recommended in order to enjoy the full potential of the earphone which scales pretty good.
I have mainly used the FiiO BTR7, M11S and Q7, Questyle M15 and iBasso DX170.
The greatest bulk of the listening sessions was done with the balanced and SpinFit ear-tips.
The FH7S is a smooth sounding earphone with a fairly balanced and natural tuning with a touch of bass emphasis and mid-bass warmness.
The bass is well extended and more than enough for handling bass heavy tracks with an ease but without overdoing it and it is not clouding the rest of the frequencies.
An earphone with plenty of bass quantity to satisfy most of the bass lovers, minus the hardcore ones, but still suitable for acoustic music albeit some instruments will not sound absolutely tonally correct because of the bass and midbass coloring.
Not the most linear tuning for strictly critical and reference kind of listening but again not that out of tune as to exclude certain types of music like classical.
The best part is that despite the midbass coloring, clarity and definition are top notch so there is no audible masking and the bass line gets perfectly and clearly resolved.
The bass is also fast, tight and controlled, full bodied with great layering, dynamic and physically impactful.
You can make the FH7S a little more dark sounding by using the bass tuning filters which further attenuate the treble making the earphone to sound warmer and perceived as more bassy at the expense of treble definition and and extension.
The mid-range is perfect, just perfect, one of the best tunings regardless of price and type of earphone with a natural timbre, excellent resolution and full bodied texture of the highest quality.
Musical and convincing, the mid-range is wholly satisfying and enjoyable with everything you throw at it, from female vocals to piano, string instruments, electric guitars or blazing horns.
Clear, spacious and finely articulated, free of any bass interference, it sounds engaging, musical and organic with the most convincing tonality and a harmoniously rich nature.
The following album was an absolutely stunning listening experience with the FH7S.
The treble is smooth and a touch relaxed but not that much as to sound muted or lacking in extension.
It is airy, clear and transparent, it offers good detail retrieval and plenty of definition but in a natural and polite manner without sounding bright, aggressive or piercing.
You can enhance the treble performance a little bit by using the treble filters that add some extra airiness and sparkle to the sound but still without resorting to sharpness or edginess.
What is most impressive with the FH7S is the cohesiveness of the sound throughout the whole frequency range thanks to the excellent integration of the drivers that is masterfully done without audible gaps at the transition points.
The semi-open design of the FH7S helps a lot with the soundstage which is wide and spacious with precise imaging and natural positioning albeit done mostly in the horizontal axis.
There is a certain lack of depth layering and holography but still this is a very open sounding earphone that is nearly impossible to sound congested while there is always plenty of ambience information.
The HS18 ear-tips
Of special mention are the brand new HS18 ear-tips for two reasons mainly.
Firstly because they are so thin and soft that they are among the most comfortable ear-tips you can find while they offer excellent noise isolation with the only downside being that you may need one size larger than your regular one.
Secondly because they quite alter the overall sound signature a lot more than any of the other included ear-tips by attenuating the bass response, making it sound more neutral and balanced with lesser emphasis, especially in the mid-bass.
The treble also becomes more airy and luminous but the trade off is that the sound loses too much weight making the FH7S sound too lean and ethereal.
Compared to the FiiO FH9 ($599)
The FH9 is the flagship FiiO hybrid earphone with the same 13.6mm dynamic driver and a total of six balanced armature drives.
Overall frequency response between the two earphones is eerily close and they sound quite similar with the same bass intensity, excellent mids and an extended but still smooth treble.
The main difference is that the bigger brother sounds, well, bigger in every aspect, from the bass which is more impactful and visceral, to the mids which are more full bodied and spacious, to the treble which is more extended and of finer quality.
The FH9 offers better overall refinement, it is more resolving and transparent, has deeper detail retrieval, without sounding analytical, and portrays a grander, more holographic and immersive soundstage with more accurate imaging.
The price difference is not that huge but not neglectible either so if you can afford it then you should aim for the FH9 but without worrying too much if you stay with the FH7S and with the added benefit that it is more comfortable and better fitting than its bigger brother.
In the end
The FH7S is maybe the most versatile IEM ever made by FiiO and one of the best offerings in the market right now.
It is cleverly tuned with a frequency response aiming to make it suitable for the majority of the users and almost genre agnostic.
It has excellent technicalities, it is very comfortable, it comes with a high quality cable and plenty of accessories, a complete package at a very competitive price.
Whether you like EDM or classical music or better if you frequently alternate between various music styles, the FH7S is very difficult to disappoint and is highly recommended as a true all rounder earphone within a reasonable price tag.
Copyright – Petros Laskis 2022.