The LC-2.5D is a 4-wire, pure silver cable that comes with MMCX connectors and a 2.5mm TRRS balanced termination but can also be had with a 3.5mm Single Ended (LC-3.5D) or 4.4mm balanced (LC-4.4D) termination. It comes in a simple white box without any notable extras.
Side-by-side with the stock cable of the FH7 the differences are obvious. The stock cable is an 8-wire that uses a thinner gauge, so it is only a little bit thicker than the LC-2.5D. In terms of ergonomics the stock cable was already very good, but the LC-2.5D is even more supple and due to the thinner ear guides provides more comfort around the ears. Certain things remain the same, such as the connectors, termination and y-split/slider. These components are a really good quality to begin with and I can see why FiiO used them for their upgrade cable as well. The 2.5mm balanced termination is a right-angled one and that is something I have not seen very often. I think that a lot of people will appreciate this.
I know that aftermarket cables are always a controversial topic and for those who do not think that cables can make a difference to the sound it can still be an interesting option purely for the improved ergonomics and the possibility of a balanced termination.
In terms of sound I find a few notable differences with the FH7 (again with the High Boost filters). First and foremost, I hear a tighter, more impactful bass that has better detail coming through. It is not just that it feels like there is more control over the bass, but it also sits more coherently in the signature. The bass is less dominant and while this might reduce the musicality a little, gives a better balance for classical music. The stage also extends in width and, more importantly, does not have the same tendency to congestion with complex and layered classical music. In fact, the FH7 do classical music really well with the LC-2.5D. The tighter bass also means a bit less warmth to the signature and yet I find that the treble is once again slightly smoother, something that I find quite noticeable with (for instance) Aurora. It is of course still bright, but not a brightness that I personally have that many problems with. Pairing this with a more relaxed source such as my AK70 even gives a really nice result.
This also made me curious about switching back to the Bass Boost filters to see if the treble would end up more laid-back with the additional warmth of the bass. The result was really good in my opinion and it felt like everything came together perfectly. Pretty much every bit of criticism I have had before faded away and the FH7 started to excel, encouraging my toes to tap and my bum to shake. The bass was delicious, with impact and detail, more natural and controlled than before. More importantly coherency was improved and imaging more stable to a point where everything just felt right. A powerful signature with great clarity, detail and a sparkly treble that felt more natural. There was still a hint of brightness, but well within my own personal tolerances.
– Custom Art FIBAE Black
I mentioned previously that there is some stiff competition at this price point and the Custom Art FIBAE Black readily spring to mind as among the most notable. These single BA driver IEMs offer outstanding performance at their price of €450. In terms of technical performance, they are a step ahead of the FH7 with an extremely coherent signature and rock-solid imaging. The signature of the Black is more natural and laid-back. Their bass is more agile and punchy but does not get the level of rumble that the FH7 are capable of. The mids of the Black feel more airy/spacious and are very natural and accurate sounding, where the FH7 have a more articulate midrange. The treble is where these two differ the most with the Black going for a laid-back treble with a polite sparkle to it and the FH7 of course are going for the brighter and livelier treble.
Build quality on both is excellent, but completely different. Where the FH7 go for a standard universal shell made of an aluminium-magnesium alloy, the Black are offered in universal and custom shells where both can be customized to personal tastes. Of course, this will take time and so the FH7 offer instant audiophile gratification because you can take them off the shelf at a local retailer.
– TP Audio Aurora
The TP Audio Aurora come in a bit cheaper at $350 and offer quite a different proposition, but much like the FIBAE Black, the Aurora offer the FH7 some stiff competition. The Aurora are very accurate sounding single BA driver IEMs with a more neutral tonality compared to FIBAE Black. As such the Aurora come nowhere near the FH7 in terms of bass. The main difference is in the mids where the Aurora excel in the faithful reproduction of instruments, compared to the articulate FH7. Vocals can sound tangibly realistic with the Aurora, something the FH7 can’t really compete with. In return, the Aurora can’t come close to the treble of the FH7. The Aurora have quite a rolled off treble by comparison and even I can find them lacking in sparkle at times.
Once again, the Aurora is offered in both universal and custom form. Although customization options are not quite as extensive as with Custom Art, there are still more options to choose from than the single option for the FH7, which is nonetheless very pretty art deco style (“Philistine!”). I personally get an excellent fit with the universal Aurora, possibly the best out of all my universal IEMs, and the FH7 come very close to that.
The FiiO FH7 are interesting hybrid IEMs with an energetic signature that does carry a warning for people who are more treble sensitive. The bass is powerful, the mids are exciting and articulate, and the treble is lively and bright. This can be a bit too bright, but the FH7 include different filters to change the signature slightly. Surprisingly, the High Boost filters offer the smoothest treble response. The FH7 have great build quality and comfort and come with an excellent selection of accessories. The LC-2.5D upgrade cable is a great match for the FH7. It has better ergonomics, is offered in a variety of terminations and the synergy with the FH7 is outstanding. In my opinion the LC-2.5D allows the FH7 to show off their full potential and is definitely an upgrade worth considering.