Fiio JD7 ($79)
I have always thought that Fiio is one of those companies that just…gets it. One thing you can count on with this company is getting more for your money. They seem to have always strived to connect with the consumer in ways that make the buying experience a fun experience. I have been purchasing Fiio iems and audio devices for quite some time and from their budget stuff to their…not-so-budget stuff, Fiio always puts together a fine package. Always one of the best unboxing experiences, always loaded with accessories, always crazy good build quality and always a good attempt at tuning. Now, not everything works, they’ve had some duds, but those duds are few and far in-between and normally those duds aren’t all too far off from being…not duds.
Today I am reviewing the Fiio “Jade Audio” JD7. I will simply refer to this set as Fiio JD7 and JD7 for short. I purchased this set for $79 on Amazon US, by some amazing miracle I should add. Finally, the US received one of the newer sets upon its release and most assuredly I picked them up like…pronto. I am a fan of Fiio and I realize not everyone shares this opinion but…to each their own and in this hobby it’s about as subjective and personal as a hobby can get.
I have owned many Fiio iems, Dac/Amps, BT Dac/Amps, DAPs and never seem to feel cheated or that my purchase wasn’t a fulfilling one. Dating back to the Fiio F9 is when I began my Fiio journey. Of the Fiio iems, I have owned the Fiio F9, FH1, FH1S, FD1, FD3, FD5, FH3, FH9 (My FH9 Review) and now the JD7, so I have a slight idea about the Fiio “House Sound”. However, I think that Fiio went in a slightly different direction with this one as they chose to tune this set to a more Harman sound. Now, whether they succeeded is another thing. Ahead is my full review of the Fiio JD7.
-Wonderful Build Quality
-Smooth & natural timbre
-Good amount of quality bass
-Midrange, specifically the vocals
-Technicalities for the tuning
-I never liked Fiio’s budget cables
-Bass may be too much for some (Not really a con)
-Treble may be too polite for some (Not really a con)
Gear used for testing
I am spoiled by the expectations I have from a normal Fiio unboxing. Fiio did not go to the normal extent with the JD7, however. Maybe because this is a Jade Audio product or maybe Fiio decided to put their money into the tuning/R&D or earphones themselves to keep costs down instead of the usual grade ‘A’ packaging. I really shouldn’t complain. Before I get started into this packaging description, I just want you to know that I expected more. However, in the grand scheme of unboxings within the “IEM’Verse” I’d say that the JD7 still has a nice unboxing with ample accessories in line with the price point.
What is included?
Amazon dropped off at my front door a smaller than usual rectangular box with the usual Fiio graphic of the earphones amongst a black background. Opening the box, you will first be met with a smaller rectangular box which holds the eartips, and an mmcx removal tool. Behind that little box is the usual “HB1” hard pelican style case. The earphones themselves are actually inside the pelican case, set in raised foam and next to them is the cable.
The HB1 hard pelican case is always of great quality. I never actually use an earphone case, but they are nice to have in a pinch and especially the Fiio cases as they seal from the outside environment and are damn near indestructible.
The included eartips are very much different from eartips of the Fiio past. I received three pairs of “HS18” tips. The HS18’s has a medium sized bore with flimsy flanges and are actually of good quality. Fiio gives you small, medium, and large. They aren’t for me but I’m sure many will appreciate them. Fiio also added some narrower bore white tips which are quite common in the world of Chi-Fi. Again, Fiio gives you small, medium and large. Finally, Fiio added one pair of foam tips which are also of a nice quality.
I need to add that I did some tip-rolling, instead of using the included tips. I actually decided to use KBear 07 Large tips. By the way, Kbear 07 tips are actually identical to Fiio’s normally packaged orange/dark gray “Bass” tips. KBear 07 tips just always seem to do the job for me and pairing them with the JD7 was no different. They just seal really well in my ears with any iem I use them with.
The cable provided is one which I am not very fond of. First off, I don’t enjoy how tight the ear-wraps are and Fiio insists on providing cables with that tight curvature. They hang up on the rest of the cable when unwinding and simply make more of a hassle putting them on. The cable is stiff and not the most aesthetically pleasing of cables either. I have to use a cable that I like the feel of, the way it looks as well as the way it sounds and the included cable only got one out of three right for me.
Truthfully, the cable provided sounds perfectly fine and anyone who doesn’t have a replacement cable will be fine using it. Again, I have to divulge that I did turn to the Tripowin Noire cable for the entirety of this review period. It looks tough next to the JD7, sounds fantastic with it, and it is modular so I can quickly swap jacks to match my source.
I absolutely adore the size of this set. Built in the same general form as other Fiio sets from the recent past, the FD3, FD5, FD7, FDX and the FA7S. In fact, the JD7 looks remarkably similar to the FA7S. Built out of 316L Stainless Steel from connectors to the nozzles the build quality is absolutely stellar. The faceplate is of a minimalistic design language with three vents in the form of three converging lines with a blue coloring to the mesh inside. Very striking and nice to look at. To the touch the JD7 has a solid and dense feel to them. The mmcx connectors are of normal Fiio quality as they are tight and give off the sense that they are very secure. In the ear the JD7 sit perfectly flush for me and feel like I am not wearing anything.
The look is premium all the way. Just dope looking for the price. I had much the same reaction when I first had the Fiio FD3 in hand. Simply put the JD7 challenge any iem out there for actual build quality and personally I feel for the same about the design as well.
The actual fit is a tricky one with this particular style of iem. I have heard complaints about the fitment on past Fiio iems which share the same general design. For me the fit could not be better. It does take me a second of moving the JD7 around in my ear to get them to sit right but once that is accomplished…it feels like this set grew there. I can tell you this, if you have ever tried any of the other Fiio iems which have this same shell type and they either did or did not fit well…the same will be true of the JD7.
Internally Fiio chose a 10 mm Single Dynamic Driver with a Semi-Crystalline Polymer Diaphragm using PU Gaskets. Fiio also added a dual magnetic circuit in a dual layer type housing fitted with its own damping system. Fiio uses these words to describe the effects of this new design. “To better control unwanted vibration and resonances resulting in lower distortion – ultimately resulting in a quicker-sounding driver with deeper bass”.
The JD7 is easily driven from most any source. Certainly, from any source that I paired them with. I found the JD7 to have a very good dynamic expression from using the simple $10 Zooaux Dongle Dac. JD7 is rated at 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 108 dBs so I suspect that any decent enough dongle dac will be fine.
Obviously moving to better and more sonically gifted sources will upscale your listening with this set. I don’t think more raw power really does the JD7 any more auditory justice. Perhaps, maybe, a bit more power will open them up a hair more, but the differences are not earth shattering. I have to admit that I didn’t spend a ton of time proving that as I really enjoyed the JD7 with each source I tried them on. The Shanling UA2 with its more analytical, neutral ES Dac chip had its own flavor with the JD7. Great driving power for a small dac/amp with a nice tuning and the JD7 reacted well. Moving to the Ifi Go Blu sounds fantastic for a Bluetooth source attached to the JD7. A slight bit more on the warmer side with a more colored sound is great with this set.
I loved how the JD7 reacts to using both the Ibasso Dx240 as well as the Shanling M6 Ultra. Both have their own takes on the sound and the JD7 sounded fantastic on them both. I won’t go into crazy detail about each because word count matters, precious digital ink matters and my time as well, but I have two good daps just for this purpose. To give two different flavors according to the iem of my choosing. Lucky for me the JD7 quite literally sounds pleasing on both daps and seems to adapt very well to any source I pair them with.
Quick Sound Impressions
This set has a very nice balance of each third of the spectrum. The outward most expressive areas of the bass, midrange and treble all seem to balance each other rather nicely. The sound is full with a clean presentation and technically pretty sound as well. I have to admit I was pretty surprised by these little guys. Fiio states that the JD7 is tuned to the Harman curve and for the most part this is what I hear. I notice that certain technicalities seem to be enhanced to a degree as well as resolution and clarity. The JD7 sounds just south of neutral with a warmer lower half and a brighter upper half of the mix. I also hear a very full sound, enriched, tactile and colored in all the right areas.
How does the JD7 sound?
Real quick, the bass is rotund, lifted enough, but not too much. Speedy enough for quicker tracks with a nice transient swiftness and plenty of rumble and thump when needed. There is some very nice and warm spill over into the midrange giving males a hefty but clean sound. Females have nice energy in a forward but not shouty manner with a more natural replay. The Treble has good extension and reach to entertain instruments which sometimes get attenuated and lost. I hear some nice levity and air to the sound up top, likely from the semi-open design.
Starting off with the sub-bass, there is a fairly deep, palpable & tactual sense of density to the rumble down low. This is not over-done though. Any tune with a deep and penetrating bassline will come across as it should on the JD7. Fiio chose to boost the sub-bass just enough to be the anchor of the low-end but not to over-shadow the mid-bass. “Paradigm” by The Head and the Heart sounds so meaty and hard-surfaced and rigid and dense. The sub-bass has enough sonorous haptic vibration for any track demanding it. Again, this area is not over-done or exaggerated as it never seems to overtake any other frequency but more so balances out with the rest of the mix.
The mid-bass rolls off just a hair while owning a nice amount of slam. Bleeding ever-so-slightly into the midrange but not at all muddy or messy. Notes have a fullness to them while not sounding particularly knife-edged, if that makes any sense. That being said, the JD7 also don’t sound pillowy or fuzzy or hollow or any other descriptive word describing something soft or weak. Songs needing that good bass drop will carry a satisfying and booming slam but in the same sentence this area offers decent speed for tracks which demand a more agile bass section. Considering the tuning choice, I think that the mid-bass ebbs and flows very nicely with good clarity, layering (for a single DD) and separation.
The low-end of the JD7 is relatively nimble yet very expressive. Obviously, there are sets in the price point designed for speed and handle quicker passages better, and also there are sets designed to boom with a more thunderous sound. The JD7 represents a nice sounding middle ground.
Bass guitar on a track like “John Wayne” by Whiskey Myers begins with a grizzly and dirty riff and the JD7 growls right through it with that fullness I’ve been expressing and with a textured and detailed clarity to pull off a gritty sound with gusto. This track has a lot of “steel” and the JD7 does steel very well. Kick Drums on the JD7 have an elastically rounded thud as in “Billie Jean” by Weezer, the cover of Michael Jackson. Or another cover on the same album “Take on Me”, I hear the same result…a thudding boom. Kick drums have mass, they have compactness all the while never sounding super hard at note edges. Not even close to soft but not concrete in hardness either.
The lower midrange comes across warm, deft and energetic, they sound relatively forward with good resolution and a more natural sounding type of note thickness. “2016” by Sam Hunt is this poignant and yearning type of “If I could go back and change things” themed tracks, that begs for a more warm and full sound. Sam’s normal style is upbeat and hip, but this song captures something that so many of us can relate to and the JD7 do a great job of pulling the emotional elements out of the music whilst remaining clean and resolute.
Males in general do well with a set like the JD7. Whether a tenor or baritone, the budget JD7 has a great ability to sound both lush and smooth or sharp and elevated depending on the track. The JD7 simply does a nice job for the price and as far as vocals are concerned, well…nice is nice no matter the price.
Females also find this middle ground on the JD7 where they can come across with a shimmery excitement but also, they can be more reserved as well. First off, note weight in female voices is again, more natural, not overly thick and not too thin and dry. Really a nicely balanced accommodation per the song playing in my ears. In “Still Rolling Stones” by Lauren Daigle, her melodic and full sounding, slightly raspy but energetic vocal on this track plays out well on the JD7. Females aren’t too forward on the JD7 or too aggressive and ambitious. I might even wish for a bit more buoyancy or levity, or the tiniest of hairs more shimmer. Still, for a $79 single DD the JD7 gives me a nice balancing act that handles multiple genres well enough to be considered a good budget all-rounder…if that is a thing.
“Crowded Table” by The Highwomen has this wave-like harmony sung to a thick bassline and almost sounds like the whole song is the chorus, just very melodic and mood inducing. Vocals on this track need to stay in their lane, so to speak. They cannot rise above the melody surrounding them but to sound authentic they should also have nice resolution so to not get lost to that same melody and they sort-of need to just…ride the wave. The JD7 does this song justice pretty well with their good clarity and separation but also more natural timbre and note weight and ability to sound expansive with good depth of sound, to my ears anyways.
To sum up the mids
The midrange is good, not the best but very good. Nothing lacks in the midrange for me, and I see no cons. The JD7 don’t excel past the more vocal centric iems, but in the same breath they aren’t so pushed back and bland either. Instead, the midrange has good texture and has solid energy and vitality. Percussion & strings all sound rich and veer more towards organic with some splashes of color strategically enhancing the sound which is very welcome to me and not unnatural.
I really do enjoy the midrange on the JD7 as they are never harsh to me, or sibilant or out of tune. Pacing and cadence are nicely accomplished with a better than average transient attack and decay which still has enough weight and fullness. Not bad at all Fiio.
The treble region has a good amount of air and remains cohesive to the rest of the spectrum. Being a single Dynamic Driver cohesion should be expected but there is that theme of being balanced throughout which does not exclude the treble area. There is a nice transition from the upper-mids to the lower-treble that is smooth and without any unsightly and odd peaks. The treble remains sibilance free with enough luster and shine to sound pretty energetic overall.
I hear a nice decay on hi-hats and cymbals which also have a full bodied “chisk” sound or however you’d describe the sound of a pretty good cymbal strike. Basically, cymbals aren’t lost on most tracks, unless of course the recording doesn’t really emphasize them. I certainly don’t hear a splashy and sheened out or a drowned-out cymbal.
Smooth and detailed…
The treble region sounds pretty well composed to me. Details are easy to pinpoint in comparison to similarly tuned iems at the price point and the treble stays in pretty nice control. It isn’t sloppy or metallic or grainy and there aren’t any piercing peaks but a pretty smooth and detailed sound.
The stage size is open sounding and above average in width, height and depth. Fiio did a great job creating a psycho-acoustic image that portrays a nice expanse of sound. No doubt the semi-open design helps to achieve this surrounding amplitude within my head space. These are iems though, so the stage can only grow so large, but I hear an almost 3D presentation from the JD7. In fact, I didn’t “almost” hear anything, I do hear a 3D replay listening to my music. Obviously, some tracks show off this effect better than others and insertion depth and tips play a role, but I do think that the JD7 has one of the wider perimeters of the under $100 iems that I have personally checked out.
Separation & Imaging
Every element within a stage is pretty well separated and partitioned off with a layered sound and good control for a single DD with this particular tuning effort. The JD7 has many of the right Ingredients to induce the sense of freestanding parts of a whole. The imaging isn’t class-leading or anything, but the JD7 does well enough to delineate & mentally sketch sections of a stage. Left to right maps out well and to a slightly lesser degree is front to back imagery and layering. The JD7 replays an above average stereo image that stays mostly in control with its nice transients, good clarity and resolution and its more balanced and airier sound.
Like I’ve stated already, the details illuminated on the JD7 are better than I thought they’d be. Now, I can name a few iems around this price and even below which are better at bringing the minutiae to the forefront. However, there aren’t many of those iems which also bring this much dynamism. I can easily make out macro-details and even some micro-details (all depending on the track) and for a $79 single Dynamic Driver with such a melodic nature that is quite a nice thing to hear. No, this set isn’t a detail monster and I’m glad about that. It would be a shame to lose the other great attributes of this set to accommodate some micro-details, which would likely mean losing the unreserved and melodic atmosphere as well as the robust and assertive energy that the JD7 has.
**These comparisons are not to crown one set better than the other but rather to highlight differences to hopefully further explain the Fiio JD7’s sound relative to some sets in its price range. One more thing, in the Midrange my comparison will mostly cover vocals as I want to keep these as short as possible.**
Moondrop Aria ($79)
The Moondrop Aria is an iem which needs no Introduction. The Aria reached legend status quite rapidly, overtaking the acclaim given to its older sibling the Starfield. I would be hard pressed to find a “Top 5 under $100” list which doesn’t include the Aria.
Real quick the Aria is a single Dynamic Driver with a 10mm LCP Diaphragm and CCAW voice coil with a N52 Magnetic Circuit. Based on the Harman curve the Aria stays pretty true to the intended tuning and the masses seem to generally agree.
Beginning with the sub-bass area of the mix, the JD7 is a hair deeper in sound compared to the Aria. The Aria has very nice weight in this area but the JD7 sounds fuller. The Aria and the JD7 both have good texture here and both have more than enough sonorous vibration to be satisfying. The JD7 has quite a bit more slam and rumble in the mid-bass with a more hard-edged sound to the almost pillowy Aria. I said almost, I don’t want you Aria lovers jumping on my a&#. Throughout the bass section the JD7 has better resolution and perceivable texture of the low-end as a whole but tone and timbre are very nice on both sets.
Moondrop has always presented a nice midrange. It was this area which helped me to really enjoy the Starfield, Kato and now the Aria. As far as male vocals are concerned the Aria has a less full sounding and less weighty sound than the JD7. Both are very clean sounding but the overall surface texture of male vocals amongst surrounding instrumentation sounds cleaner to me on the JD7. Timbre sounds nice on both, but The Aria sounds the slightest bit less energetic and a hair flatter.
Female vocals on the Aria are really nice and I tend to enjoy them a lot. Between the two, it is the Aria that sounds cleaner in this area of the upper midrange. It is so very close that it almost isn’t worth noting but the Aria is a pinch more resolute. Granted the JD7 still has better body to notes with a smoother inflection and more realistic timbre as well as a more uplifted sound. However, the Aria seems to control this area a little better. I went back and forth for over an hour on three different songs trying to figure out which replay I liked better as well. I love them both.
The treble region is well played on both. Both have a non-fatiguing and smooth overall sound up top and on both sets the treble does well to balance the tonality across the mix. The JD7 sounds a bit more alive but that does not mean better, just different. The Aria may be ever-so-slightly better at illuminating details but that is very much debatable.
Both of these sets are Harmon tuned, or Harman inspired, but the JD7 to me has the more full, robust and energetic playback. Still, this doesn’t mean it’s better. Imaging probably goes to the Aria while the more 3D and engulfing sound goes to the JD7. These are two very good options at the same price point.
Fiio FD3 ($99)
The Fiio FD3 is a very nice set if you enjoy a more V-shaped sound. This set kind of gets overlooked in the under $100 crowd. I consider it more of a guilty pleasure type iem which has a very fun sound signature with emphasized mid-bass, slightly recessed but resolving midrange and a non-fatiguing treble region.
The FD3 incorporates a Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) Diaphragm single Dynamic Driver. It has interchangeable sound-tubes and a semi-open back venting system. The build is exceptional with a glass faceplate and a marble looking black design. The housing is darn near identical in footprint to the JD7 as it shares that lineage as far as design language is concerned.
I’ll keep this short for those who want to know if it makes any sense purchasing the JD7 if they already have the FD3. The short answer is…sure. If it makes sense to you to pick up another beautifully crafted and well-tuned Fiio product with a different sound signature then yes, it makes sense.
The main difference lies in the tuning. I should add that the actual real-world differences between these two aren’t by any great margins. On paper you’d think there is a huge contrast between them but in reality, there are only very subtle changes. The FD3 is a more V-shaped approach with more authority in the mid-bass and a more boomy sound on bass drops. The JD7 with its Harman approach has a cleaner and tidier low-end with a deeper sub-bass. As far as mid-bass goes the FD3 has a bit more in the tank and does offer more slam and a more thumpy sound. The difference is not by some large margin as the JD7 can hit pretty darn hard but there is a difference nonetheless.
The FD3 has a warmer midrange and is a bit more recessed with a thicker and smoother sound on male vocals to the JD7’s edgier, more organic and more resolute sounding male vocal. Females come across more forward on the FD3 to my ears. They sound a bit more biting, and sharper compared to the JD7. I do enjoy females on the FD3 as there is a nice energy there, but the JD7 does sound slightly more polished. The JD7 is a bit more smoothed over in the upper-mid region to steer clear of anything grating to the ear with a bit more body to higher pitched females but also with less shimmer.
The treble sounds more lifted on the FD3 with a hair better extension but again the difference is so small as these sound as though they almost run on the same trajectory in this area. Both have a non-taxing / non-fatiguing treble region but the JD7 takes a more balanced approach as a whole. I do think that resolution up top on the JD7 is better as its balanced sound helps to distinguish details a hair better.
Both of these sets look and feel absolutely premium and replay very well in the under $100 price point. Both of these iems have above average soundstages though the JD7 comes across with better depth and closer to a 3D replay. I’d say that if you want a V-shaped set with a good-sized bass region and with a very fun, spirited, semi-aggressive and warmer sound than the FD3 is a very nice choice. However, if you are after an equally fun and engaging sound with a bit more balance and polish than the newer JD7 is also a very nice set for the price.
Is the JD7 worth the asking price?
The ultimate question is whether the Fiio JD7 is even worth the $79 that Fiio is asking? That is a fantastic question. In my opinion the JD7 is a very attractive iem under that $100 price point. That said, there are some less expensive iems which get very close to them in flat-out auditory ability. What you will not find very often under that $79 is the build quality and dope look that the JD7 has. Couple that with the fact that Fiio did a very good job tuning this set with a clean sound overall and a dynamically balanced set. The JD7 is definitely Harman inspired but enhanced in certain fun areas of the mix. So, to answer for myself whether the JD7 is worth it, I say absolutely it is worth the asking price.
To conclude my review of the brand new Fiio “Jade Audio” JD7, I hope I have helped at least one person gain some understanding about this set. I urge you to wait for other reviews to come out and to take in other perspectives about the JD7. People, we all have different likes and dislikes, we have different hearing abilities, different gear and not everyone has been down the same audio path as everyone else. What I think is amazing will not always be the same to the next man. These audio devices are ridiculously expensive at times, and I know not everyone has wads of cash cluttering up their bedroom closets, so it pays to try your best to make your purchase the right one. Please take in other thoughts about this and any set you are looking to purchase.
Fiio is on to something
Fellas and ladies, I really have enjoyed my time with the Fiio JD7. I think that Fiio did a fantastic job creating an iem with an all-around tuning that will do well with many genres. The JD7 adds a new wrinkle (at least for me) into the under $100 debate. Some may not agree with that last statement, and some will say that the JD7 punch above their price.
I can say for sure that Fiio took a slick, premium looking, premium feeling and durable design which worked so many times in the past and really nailed this tuning in my opinion. However, not everything is for everyone, in fact, nothing is for everyone. It can’t be easy working so hard on a product only to have to endure the pain or praise and sudden death reviewer thoughts and opinions. As for me, great job Fiio! Another stellar iem that in my opinion does very well at the price it is at.
The JD7 is a very fun and engaging iem that does well to balance the dynamic expression in each area of the spectrum. They feel very good in hand and feel like nothing in the ear. I think that I will keep on enjoying the sound of this set for quite some time and really do look forward to finding out where Fiio is going next. Thank you very much for anyone who spent time reading this review. I truly love to write about my thoughts and experiences, the good and the bad. I enjoy hearing my favorite test tracks being played out of different devices and love to describe the differences that I hear. Thanks again, please stay safe, take care, and God Bless.