Audio photos and stoopid memes!























































Early rigs from way back when....


Old ipod 4th gen nano with really bad mp3s, Sennheiser MX760. I tried all the earbuds in store numerous times. Parting with $70 or so at the time seemed a lot for earphones. But they sounded great, especially with the boost the FiiO E5 amp gave them, sometimes usung the fabled middle setting. Using an Audiotrak lod- very clear cable. It sounded like heaven.

Gotta start somewhere. These days its easy to look on all the Dap and some rig photos and despair. But it wasnt always like that.

I think when I started around ten years back the CLAS was new, Cowon J3 and pirtable anplifiers were popular and we had seen a whiff of an AK dap yet.



First 'OMG! I just spent so much money, am I crazy!?' rig.

 ATH-ESW9, Fostex hp-p1 dac/amp, Qusp custom piccolino USB LOD, old iphone 4 as pure transport only using Flacplayer app.  

I did so much reading of different reviews, messenging and umm-ing and ahhing before I bought the Fostex hp-p1. Leather cover was frankensteined from a camera cover or something. I cut holes in it for cable ports, switch access.


Small beginnings. 


These days there are so many options out there and technology is great, prices have gone up across the board but there are still decent players and earphones/IEMs that can be bought that are low priced and sound great.




Last year we had Head pies first Awards.

It was somewhat tongue in cheek and a parody of sorts. Fueled mainly by the humor that is generally kept to Head pies Facebook and instagram accounts.

We are nearing two years now so decided to be less profane as last year, as we continue to mature as a review site.

We realize awards are quite important to some companies and websites so we also want to contribute towards the industry.

Without further ado I present to you

The Head pie Awards 2017!



'The crowd goes wild'





Directions: please fill in your company name. We recommend Didot font. Display at your headquarters, on tour office wall or over the matrimonial bed. You are welcome to share on social media such as Facebook, twitter and instagram etc

Enjoy your achievement, bask in the glory!
"Never, never, never give up!" -W.Churchill.

























We were even thoughtful enough to include a blank. Shine on you crazy diamond!



FiiO X7ii, Advanced AcousticWerkes W300U and a Double Helix Cable.

FiiO X7 Mark 2 review
-expatinjapan

Visit the FiiO site for a full breakdown of all its features.

An "Android based high resolution audio lossless playback portable music player".

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 or the X7ii is the latest Dap from FiiO, aiming to be an improvement on the earlier X7.
 Like many others I have a long history as a consumer of FiiO products from the first A5 amplifier to their cables. 


I tried many of their earlier daps the at Tokyo audio shows but the sound signature at the time was on the warm side and not to my taste, plus I was yoked to the Apple and external DAC/amp train by that point. 
Later Daps revealed a scroll wheel, but by then I was using ipod touch with its touch screen or a repurposed old iphone 4. 

Head pie eventually reviewed the FiiO M3  https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/02/fiio-m3-portable-music-player.html when it came out around the same time as the initial X7. 
I was tempted to request a review unit of the X7 but thought I would go for the entry level item (M3) as that would appeal to many readers and it hadn't got as much attention.

When the new series of touchscreen FiiO daps with a lighter, towards neutral sound signature to them started to be released it piqued my interest. FiiO later offered to send the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to Head pie for review. I was excited.

Unboxing and build






A pin to release the slot for the Micro SD cards - Two slots, one pin.

An ad booklet for the dock and other various FiiO products, the X7ii wrapped safely

The leather case supported by a foam insert and a warranty

The back of the case, I love that red stitching

A screwdriver and extra screws for the amp. Very important



A USB charge and data transfer cable, a COAX cable 
and a side piece for X7 amplifier installation to retain a smooth outline.

Warranty and a quick start guide


The FiiO X7 in its plastic case alongside the leather case.
A tempered glass protector screen is already installed at the factory.


The plastic case is very unobtrusive. I think FiiO did a really good job on it.
Looking at the photos now I am tempted to swap out the leather case
 and slip the X7ii into its plastic sheath.


Single ended headphone jack and Balanced jack


Power button and Line out/Coax/ Optical out




Play/pause button, volume wheel and REV/FF.



Micro SD memory card slots. Easy peasy. 


Nekkid FiiO X7 Mark 2


Hot slots. You can insert large size cards and maximize over the internal 64GB. Two slots, one dap.


The familiar pull down Android basic menu.
The FiiO X7ii has a few different shortcuts on it than some other recent daps.


Power button and Line out/Coax/Optical out jack.

FiiO X7ii and Campfire Audio Nova. 
The Nova with its XXx signature pairs well with the X7ii and its neutral 
with a slight rise in the highs.


Looking gorgeous in the leather case, The Pixies 'Bossanova` playing through 
the Campfire Audio Vega with Symbio Mandarine tips.


Mazzy Star, nuff said!

FiiO X7ii and ATH-ESW11 Ltd Ed with book pron.

Specifications

Main Unit:
Name / Model No. X7 Mark Ⅱ (FX5321) Operating System Deeply customized Android 5.1.1
CPU Model RK3188 No. of cores 4
CPU operating frequency 1.4GHz DAC ESS9028 PRO
Keyboard Virtual QWERTY keyboard Input method Touchscreen
Special features Dual Android / Pure Music operating modes, symmetrical remappable keys,  USB DAC, docking connector, etc. User Interface Android 5.1.1 / FiiO Music
Chips used SoC:RK3188, DAC:ESS9028 PRO,  LPF: OPA1612x2,  OP: Customized OPA926x2

Connectivity:
WIFI 5GHz/2.4GHz IEEE802.11 b/g/n standards supported Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.1,aptX supported
USB Micro USB2.0
 
Display screen:
Display size 3.97 inches Number of colours 16.7 million colors
Display type IPS TFT Viewable angle 178°
Resolution 480×800 Pixel density 233 ppi
Touchscreen Yes  
 
Storage:
RAM 2GB Total ROM 64GB
Storage expansion type Micro SD ROM available to user About 55GB
Maximum storage expansion 512GB (256GB x 2)
 
Buttons and ports:
Buttons Side buttons + side volume wheel+ touchscreen Custom key mapping N/A
Headphone out 3.5mm standard headphone output jack Balanced output Supported (2.5mm balanced headphone jack)
Line out/Digital Coaxial out/Optical output Standard 3.5mm port (shared LO/Coaxial out) USB connection Micro USB2.0 (charging / data transfer / docking function / USB DAC)

General:
Color Titanium Dimensions about 128.7mm(H)×67.2mm(W)×15.5mm(D)
Weight about 212g Volume control 120 steps +/- button control (via analog-domain controller
Recommended headphone impedance 16~150 Ω (Headphone out)
16~300 Ω (Balanced out) Equalizer 10-band EQ (±6dB), 9 presets+custom preset, ViPER Effect
Bass boost N/A Treble boost N/A
Balance control 10 dB Gain control Low/High
USB DAC Up to 192kHz/24bit supported
 
Power specifications:
USB power adapter DC 12/1.5A, 9V/2A, 5V/2A recommended Battery Internal 3800 mAh High-voltage quick charging Li-polymer battery
Charging indication via LCD display and pulse LED Charging time <100 min (DC 12V/1.5A)
<2.5 h (DC 5V/2A)
Battery indication Yes (accurate battery % readings)  
 
Battery Life & Test Conditions:
3.5mm headphone output:>8 h
Volume 62 Gain Low
Load M3 open earbuds (27 Ω) Screen OFF
Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit (Download link) EQ OFF

2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone output:>7 h
Volume 51 Gain Low
Load 32Ω Screen OFF
Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit (Download link) EQ OFF

Others:
Firmware Upgrade Supported both via zip file(inernal memory or external micro SD card) and OTA Font size Changeable
Third-party apps support No limit (recommended to install the apps listed on FiiO Market)  
Line output specifications:
THD+N <0.0008% (1 kHz/10kΩ) SNR ≥119 dB (A-weighted)
Frequency response 5 Hz~70 kHz(-3dB) Dynamic range >114 dB
Channel separation ≥103 dB (1 kHz) Line level >1.8Vrms

Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack):
Output power 1 ≥200 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <1.2Ω (32Ω loaded)
Output power 2 ≥150 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation ≥73 dB (1 kHz)
Output power 3 ≥17 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
Frequency response 6 Hz~60 kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >6 Vp-p
SNR ≥116 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current >150mA (For reference)

Balanced headphone out specifications (2.5mm TRRS headphone out jack):
Output power 1 ≥380 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <1.7Ω (32Ω loaded)
Output power 2 ≥400 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation ≥97 dB (1 kHz)
Output power 3 ≥63 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
Frequency response 6 Hz~60kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >10 Vp-p
SNR ≥119 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current >150 mA (For reference)

File format support:
Lossless:
DSD:DSD64/128(“.iso”,“.dsf”,“.dff”)
DXD:352.8kHz
APE FAST/High/Normal:384kHz/24bit(MAX)
APE Extra High:192kHz/24bit(MAX)
APE Insane:96kHz/24bit(MAX)
Apple Lossless:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
AIFF:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
FLAC:384kHz/32bit(MAX)
WAV:384kHz/64bit(MAX)
WMA Lossless:96kHz/24bit(MAX)
Lossy compression:
MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG... 


FiiO AMP AM3A

The FiiO X7 Mark2 comes with an updated and improved version of their early AM3 amp, the AM3A.
Thankfully and wisely the original X7 series of amplifiers are compatible with the X7 Mark 2 so one has more choice as to which amp to use. Taking into consideration, balanced vs single, less or more power, warmth vs neutrality.

I find the AM3A amplifier to have sufficient power for IEMs certainly, and other in ears, portable headphones and have read reports of satisfied users with more power hungry headphones.

Is it the Dap or the Amp module that is being reviewed? Thats the difficult part for me. I have only one amp unit and none other to compare with. No doubt users or reviewers of the X7 original will be able to answer those queries.

I find the sound from the X7 mark2 and the AM3A to be on the neutral but not reference side of things, it seems to veer upwards a slight bit towards the high end.

Update: After the most recent firmware release of late September 2017 I have found the sound to be evened out, and more body to the music and a sense of underlying power to it all.


I`ve always been a fan of the AD8620 amplifier.







Price

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is $649.00 on Amazon.com
Which as an average price (as prices of daps vary country to country) is quite a decent one in todays market for one as many options and features as the X7 Mark 2 possesses.

As always check whether the vendor is a officially supported retailer.

FiiO X7ii, Jomo 6R and VE Monks.

Sound

I gave as per usual a period of grace to let the FiiO X7ii settle in, to please the adherents and supplicants on the altar of burn in and in the process soothe the heathen non believers because they don't adhere to that particular philosophy as they'd be satisfied from day one. Once again everyone is happy. Don't mind.

A variety of headphones and earphones, places and situations were used during the review process.

fiiO X7ii, Jomo 6R and a Double Helix Cable.

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a detour away from much earlier offerings from FiiO (with perhaps the exclusion of the X7) moving towards a more neutral sound signature.

The first firmware went a bit too far to the right on its first excursion and had a wee too much extension in the highs which left the lows a bit thin and with out much body and thickness in the mids.

Update: After the most recent firmware release of late September 2017 I have found the sound to be evened out, and more body to the music and a sense of underlying power to it all.

Testing against some of the recent big boy daps. Opus#2 and DX200.

I found the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to be a closer relation to the Opus#3 in terms of sound than other daps I have lying about.
Whilst I did the comparisons with other daps  I SPL volume matched and had a headphone switcher and various earphones/iems at hand etc.

The Opus#3 although possessing a quite different  (BurrBrown) dac it had a similar trasparency, commitment to detail and separation.
For both have great central vocals, sound stage certainly doesnt disappoint and ui and overall music response is fast.

The slightly higher priced Opus#2 and DX200 surpass it in more micro detailing, layering, timbre and a larger and defined sound stage.
But that is to be expected and the jump between them can be quite noticeable to the trained ear, it is also incremental to an extent and takes nothing away from the FiiO X7 Mark 2 decent performance.


The FiiO X7 Mark 2 falls within its asking price of around US $649.00 quite well. 
It is by no means a cheap dap in build or performance. FiiO has a long history of making decent audio products at a decent price, so dont get misled by the price.

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a dap that has first of all a noticeable transparent, neutral clarity to it. There is a freshness to the music, with an exquisite  separation between the instruments.

There seems a lightness to the music, a bounce which encourages enjoyment and not an over analytical ear. Nor are any shortcomings hidden by a smooth warm dac or sound signature, more it is tuned in such a way that one can easily sit back and merely enjoy it.

It is neutral yet also has a dynamic sound, once again clarity, separation and detail being the most noticeable features.

FiiO X7ii and Shozy Hibiki

Wifi reach

I have snazzy slippery fast 1GB high speedy Gonzales  Japan internets. So results may vary elsewhere.
I gave it the old youtube test (the router is on my houses second floor) I started the furtherest away on the ground floor at the opposite end of my house and found it smooth with no connection problems.
Also outdoors it stretched as far as my ipod touch with no problems, the Buffalo routers extreme reach seeming to be the only barrier.

I havent really listened to youtube music on a dap before and it was pleasant and pleasing.


Overall

I was pleased to hear the new FiiO X7 Mark 2. I thought it was a vast improvement sonically on earlier models I had listened to.

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a gorgeous looking dap when fully unclothed of its leather case, although it also looks stylish in it too. No doubt some may prefer the clear case. Audio pervs. Although it does have that Bladerunner macintosh jacket look to it. Supaa kewl.

I would prefer to leave it without the case, as I would also like to with other daps I have at hand - but protection against bumping and accidental drops are paramount. So I keep it on (leather case).

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 fits nicely within the palm of ones hand, the weight is similar to other daps of this size. It feels solid in its build.

The RK3188 CPU and 2GB RAM, as compared to the X7 1 GB certainly shows in the speed of the UI and experience of the daps touchscreen. Very fast and fluid.

The DAC ESS9028 PRO certainly is an improvement over the ES9018S Dac of the X7 and is also a DAC chip that many other dap makers of late seem to be turning to and using also. It certainly takes care of any of the past Sabre glare issues.
Definitely more detailing, resolution and depth.

Dac functionality isn`t completely functional as of this writing, although some users on Head-fi have found a safe work around.

I was in two minds about its sound as I routinely switched from Opus#2, Alien+, Opus#3 and the DX200 during the listening portion of the review process. Some days I would carry 3 daps and 6 earphones with me on my daily commute just so I confirm what I thought I was hearing as I was in the depths of a three way dap review. Those being the Opus#2, Alien+ and the FiiO X7 Mark 2, each being stellar in it own realm but each bringing a little something different to the table.

I found the FiiO X7 Mark 2 on its earlier Firmwares to be fairly neutral, transparent, detailed and with decent separation, but with a slight twinge in the upper reaches. Maybe a result of DAC choice, firmware or going to the other extreme from the earlier FiiO warmish in house signature sound.
later when I updated to the more recent Firmware of late September 2017 I noticed the highs had been tamed somewhat, or the over all body had been bought up to match. It definitely seemed to have the appearance of more power after the update, before it sounded a little bit thin and lacked a certain beefiness.

The X7 Mark 2 is generally neutral, linear and seems to handle the highs well. It departs from the earlier darker sound of earlier FiiO daps perhaps partly in a change of Dacs from AK to ES/ESS and by way of intentional design.

Resolution and separation are great, but not excellent in comparison to daps at a higher price point. Though this is to expected. Although it does pack plenty of detail and dynamic range it offers an enjoyable musical experience whilst staying true to the recording.

The FiiO X7 Mark 2 is a stylishly designed dap with clean modern lines. Choosing the naked,  clear case or leather bondage look give one aesthetic options.

The sound certainly is high quality and complements a large range of tastes and earphones.

It doesnt have a total black background and exhibits a slight faint hiss noticeable with sensitive iems from the balanced port which disappears as the music starts.

The choice avaliable of  amp units for power or sound signatures makes it versatile and more customizable to suit the users personal needs and preferences.

Although not able to punch it out with some of the other bigger daps on the market it holds its place well.  It is a dap I can easily take out and listen to for a day without disappointment or fear of missing out. 

FiiO X7 Mark2 is one of the recent jewels of the many starred Dap releases of 2017. 
I remember the earlier Hi-Res dap releases of various companies and stayed until recently on the apple plus external dac train. 
Many of these companies Daps seem to have reached a stage of  beauty and near perfection in the last two years.

FiiO with their release of the X7 Mark 2 certainly stands with the best of them. It is a mature dap for a matured market which seems to be finally coming of age.
A top dap in the upper middle segment of the market.

The bearable lightness of being a neutral, well balanced dap, with enough space, detail and clarity to please, and enough body to match.



Thank you to FiiO for sending the FiiO X7 Mark 2 to Head pie for review.



Extra information and specs etc

Via FiiOs X7 Mark2 webpage:
































Thank you to FiiO for sending Head pie the FiiO X7ii for review