The X7 MkII’s excellent user interface operates through the unit’s 3.97-inch 400x800 pixel full-colour touchscreen. In practice, the FiiO feels less like a DAP and more like a well-executed Android smartphone (minus the phone part, of course). The screen is clear and sharp while the interface offers pleasingly intuitive navigation. Installing and/or updating apps proved incredibly easy, while music playback controls—whether for Tidal or for FiiO Music—fell readily to hand. Once we had our sample charged up, we went from zero-to-music in well under a minute flat.
Where some DAPs can sound either congested or else almost painfully hyper-incisive, the X7 MkII quickly won us over with a sound that found the elusive sonic ‘middle path’. Thus, the FiiO offered up low-frequency traction, depth, and impact, plus a degree of natural organic warmth, while also delivering smooth yet highly revealing mids and highs. There were textural and transient details and nuances aplenty, yet the FiiO never sounded hard, etched, or overwrought. The player also had sufficient power to drive full-size planar magnetic headphones yet was quiet enough to work well with high-sensitivity earphones.
A track that nicely illustrates the FiiO’s capabilities is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s ‘Come On, Come On’ from her album of the same name [SBME Special Markets, 16/44.1]. The track leverages Carpenter’s breathy and evocative voice juxtaposed against beautifully recorded guitar, piano, and bass accompaniment. The only drawback—at least through some electronics—is a tendency for the voice and instruments to sound somewhat ‘hot’, bright, or spotlighted. Through the X7 MkII, though, the track exhibited richness of detail and textures without glare or spotlighting, and with desirable qualities of heartiness and warmth plus a welcome touch of sweetness on Carpenter’s vocals (not the cloying kind, but the sort that makes lyrics sound heartfelt and sincere).