If you want to get the most out of your desktop audio — the sound you get from your computer, other devices, speakers, headphones, wireless earbuds and more — an interesting new jack-of-all-trades tool arrived on the last day of February.
That’s when FiiO quietly launched its R7 high-resolution audio player, streamer and headphone amplifier. It packs a lot of functionality into a small package you might expect to cost more than it does.
FiiO R7 desktop high-resolution transmitter, decoder and headphone amp
FiiO called the new R7 audio gadget a “desktop high-resolution transmitter, decoder and headphone amplifier all-in-one unit.” It also referred to it as “the FiiO HiFi desktop experience version 1.0.”
Those descriptions suggest the device does it all for a computer setup’s sound as a centerpiece, to and from which a user can run other gear, jacking up audio across the board.
Tons of inputs, outputs and operating modes
The R7 features a range of inputs and outputs, eight operating modes including AirPlay, five gain levels for all kinds of headphones, media streaming supporting various hi-res audio formats, digital music storage, a touch screen and more.
The device works with FiiO headphones and speakers, of course, in addition to virtually all others. And that will include the upcoming FiiO SP3 Active Loudspeakers, which the company has said will launch later this year.
The R7’s feature set is pretty rich, including quality audio hardware and broad connectivity.
Hi-res hardware, broad connectivity
On the hardware side, it includes ESS Sabre ES9068AS digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and the THX-788+ desktop amplification chipset for hi-res audio playback up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 files.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset supports a range of codecs for wireless play: AAC and SBC for Apple and other devices, and aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC for high-res audio primarily via Android devices.
For connectivity, the R7 offers a bunch of physical and wireless options. It sports USB ports, optical and coaxial inputs as well as optical, coax, line level and balanced XLR outputs. It includes support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, AirPlay and Bluetooth 5.0.
Smallish storage (but expandable through microSD)
The 64GB of storage onboard might not cut it if you have a large library of hi-res music files, which take up more space than your basic MP3. But the device allows massive expansion of storage through microSD cards up to 2TB.
Support for Android 10 allows access to streaming apps through the Google Play Store. Those include Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and Tidal.
I don’t see the R7 on Amazon yet, but it will probably join other FiiO products there soon. Its $700 price tag might seem like a lot, but for all its functionality, it could cost more. And plenty of self-styled audiophiles would probably pay it.
The R7 tries to do a lot, but does it do it all well, or just some things? I’ll be interested to see what reviewers think of it.
Where to buy: AliExpress.com