The FH7 is FiiO’s new flagship in-ear monitor, combining the best of the various technologies we’ve seen in their previous IEMs with a new filter system that lets you tweak the final sound to your preference.
At $495 the FH7 is also FiiO’s most expensive IEM – twice the price of the FH5. But unlike most flagships that exhibit only incremental improvements over their predecessors, the FH7’s performance not only justifies its price, it represents even better value for money on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Frankly, the combination of FiiO’s M11 (reviewed here) and FH7 is close enough to the quality of my (significantly more expensive) desktop head-fi system – with the added convenience of portability and isolation – that I find myself using it more and more, and the desktop rig less and less.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the FH7, in my opinion, the most complete and compelling IEM that FiiO has released to date.
The whole shebang
The FH7 takes the FH5’s already generous package and impressively crams even more into the box.
Set into custom foam cut-outs, the familiar wave-like CNC-machined aluminium earpieces are presented like jewelry, attached to the eight-core LC-3.5C silver-plated copper cable – a separately released upgrade option for the FH5 which now comes standard with the FH7.
Below the IEMs you’ll find a smaller foam block dotted with a large selection of ear tips, including a triple set of SpinFit tips, medium-sized double-flange tips, and the same vocal, balanced, bass and foam tips first seen with the FH5 and FA7.
Also included in the box is a new faux-leather flip case that replaces the Pelican-like case of the FH5 and FA7 – a refined finishing touch for a premium IEM like the FH7. While not waterproof or shockproof, the new case is much larger, lined with soft material to protect the earpieces from scratches, and includes a mesh pouch for extra tips or other accessories.
The small material pouch is still there, which fits neatly inside the leatherette case should you want extra protection. The bundle also includes a convenient shirt clip and cleaning brush. I keep the earpieces zipped up in the soft pouch with the still-attached cable folded loose inside the larger case. That way the earpieces are protected from the cable and its metal splitter and connector, and also from any other accessories I sometimes put inside the box.
If I had to nitpick, I’m not convinced that the new cable is actually better than the four-core LC-3.5B cable that accompanied the FH5. In fact, I’ve already swapped out the stock FH7 cable for the balanced version of the FH5 cable (LC-2.5B). I also think the lack of a stock balanced cable is an unfortunate oversight and missed opportunity for an IEM at this price point, in particular given that it’s been designed with FiiO’s range of mid- to high-end DAPs in mind, all of which feature balanced outputs. Add to that the fact that the FH7 clearly sounds better balanced, and it’s a curious omission indeed.
Missing cable issues aside, the quality of all the components that make up the FH7 package is unquestionably top-tier – likely every bit as good, or better, than those included with kilobuck IEMs.
Built to fit
I’ve always been partial to all-metal IEMs. While some modern plastics – the FA7’s injection-moulded shells comes to mind – are indeed very good, metal simply feels more premium and is also cooler to the touch.
The FH7’s shells are larger than the FH5’s. The hand-polished finish and understated rose-gold rim exudes quality. The wave patterns give them a streamlined appearance, though I worry that any rough handling will chip the fine anodized finish. If you’re prone to throwing your IEMs unprotected into a bag or pocket, I’d caution against doing that with the FH7.
Like other FiiOs, the FH7 uses the MMCX connector and an over-the-ear design to make the earpieces easier to fit and comfortable to wear for long stretches. Switching cables is not always easy with MMCX as the connectors tend to be a very tight fit, and the FH7 is no different. It takes some effort to hold the connector at just the right angle and disconnect with a significant amount of force. Only time will tell if the FH7’s connectors are strong enough to hold up to repeated cable swaps.
Jump to page 2 for more on the fit and first impressions…