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Amazon Fire 7 Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed audio measurements of the 9th generation Amazon Fire 7 headphone capability. It was kindly purchased new and dropped ship to me months and months ago! I see it going for US $50 right now but the owner paid just $30 for it! That is a remarkable price for a full function tablet. If it has good audio performance, it will be a great alternative to digital audio players (DAPs).

This is relative small tablet at 7 inch but then again, much larger than any DAP:

Amazon Fire 7 Review.jpg


Aspect of price subsidy is abundant in constant nagging it does to sign up for various Amazon services. Even though we use Amazon shopping everyday and I don't have an ill opinion of the company, even I was annoyed with so much pushing. They slow down a machine that is already rather slow to operate.

My favorite media player -- Roon -- complained that resolution was too low and wanted to run full screen which I let it. There were a few second pauses at times trying to navigate my playlist and touching seemed to not work at times. Overall though, the large screen and familiar apps is far, far better than anything a DAP has to offer. The main issue then is audio performance so let's measure that.

Amazon Fire 7 Measurements: Audio
I started my testing with USB charging cable plugged into my usual source (the hub in my monitor which is fairly clean):

Amazon Fire 7 Measurements Headphone USB Power.png


Output level is disappointing at just 0.8 volts and this is totally unloaded (i.e. measuring it like a DAC, not headphone amp). Overall noise was a concern as well so on a hunch, I disconnected the USB cable and situation much improved:

Amazon Fire 7 Measurements Headphone Battery Power.png


Clearly there is not much filtering going on with respect to noise over USB bus. I guess the Fire 7 will be my ideal target for testing of USB decrapifiers (filters) in the future!

Even at this improved level, we are talking worse performance than countless headphone dongles:
Best Android Tablet Review.png


Let's load down the output with 300 ohm to simulate high impedance headphone:

Amazon Fire 7 Measurements Headphone 300 ohm.png


Well, we have even less output. This puts the Fire 7 at the bottom of barrel with respect to available power:

Best Tablet Audio Review 300.png


We can already tell the output impedance is high since we saw the above voltage drop even with a light load. So naturally things get a lot worse with a 33 ohm load:

Amazon Fire 7 Measurements Headphone 33 ohm.png


Notice the very high output impedance of 40 ohm which means the frequency response (tonality) of most headphones will change (for good or bad). Distortion has also picked up. Ranking is just as bad as before:

Best Tablet Audio Review 33.png


Bummer....

Amazon Fire 7 Listening Test
I played a few tracks from my headphone amplifier playlist with my Sennheiser HD-650 and results were like the measurements said. There is hardly any deep bass to speak of. Volume was barely enough at max setting. On anything recorded below max digital level, there was not enough volume. Overall experience would not be good unless you use a much more sensitive headphone/IEM.

Conclusions
It is an incredible time we are living in when so much technology can be had for just $50! Yes, even with all the advertising and subsidy, this kind of price is hard to fathom. Alas, either engineers didn't care or were not allowed (on cost or space) to include anything better than nearly worst of the worst DAC and headphone amplifier. Such a shame. What is there is good enough for youtube, audiobook listening and such but not for any serious music enjoyment.

Sadly, I can't recommend the Amazon Fire 7 for its built-in audio capabilities. Best to seek out a last generation LG phone or something for that purpose.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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Tks

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#2
And we're all here hoping someone decides to take RME seriously and start competing with them on features/price... while we get an entire Android device for $50 where you load on your music, find a media player, run some DSP, and you're on your way.

Audiophiles on the other hand, we keep getting DACs with screens (if we're lucky) where the sample rate is large font, and somehow deemed more important than the volume level hidden away like some dictionary text size.
 

Francis Vaughan

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#3
where the sample rate is large font, and somehow deemed more important than the volume level hidden away like some dictionary text size.
I can only assume that the design engineers wanted to test the devices across the various sample rates and decided that a nice easy to read display would make their lives easier. It is typical that poor UI design comes from engineers that have a very blinkered view of what is needed, one that starts and stops with their development benchtop. They need to learn the bit about eating your own dog food.
(Lordy I'm grumpy today. :mad:)
 

wwenze

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#4
I guess the Fire 7 will be my ideal target for testing of USB decrapifiers (filters) in the future!
Suggest testing with a good power source e.g. a linear one because it could be Fire 7's DC-DC circuit that is causing the extra noise.

Otherwise the decrap supporters can argue the testing is flawed.
 
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#5
From an audio standpoint, this is the definition of a pointless review, although it does speak well for Amir's optimism that he thought it might have even modestly acceptable sound. However, this cheap little tablet makes an excellent Roon control surface which is how I use it in my theater to send music files to my Mac/DAC setup.
 

Blumlein 88

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#6
From an audio standpoint, this is the definition of a pointless review, although it does speak well for Amir's optimism that he thought it might have even modestly acceptable sound. However, this cheap little tablet makes an excellent Roon control surface which is how I use it in my theater to send music files to my Mac/DAC setup.
I disagree. This is exactly the kind of review you cannot get anywhere else. Audiophiles want to know if all kinds of stuff is good or not.

And you know what, it's possible with just a little more care this device could have been good. But they think no one is watching.
 

solderdude

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#7
I assume it has BT so sound quality via BT may be 'better' ?
In this case connecting it to a decent BT receiver may make it a more useful device, aside from the nagging and sluggish operation which would annoy me to no end and would end up not using it.
 

pavuol

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#8
Thank you for another nice review, good to test lowend devices as well IMO.

There seem to be 9 generations 2 revisions for "Fire7" up to now (?), so maybe good to specify, which one is the reviewed.
For using as a simple audio streamer, there may be a bit more rational question about dongle USB support (power delivery, OS support), looks like since 2017 it supports OTG. As for bluetooth - most probably v. 4.1 LE in this model and no AptX (not common also with other manufacturers in this price range, is it..?).

+small mistake -"33 Ohm" first ranking chart
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #9
OP
amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #10
+small mistake -"33 Ohm" first ranking chart
Ah, I rebuilt those graphs and missed that. Will have to fix later... Thanks.
 

Cahudson42

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#11
Great review, Amir. Can we compare now to an alternative?
The $30 LG Rebel 4 TracFone, Net10, Total wireless?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GBRB3SC/

Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, rather than bargain MediaTek (Fire 7). Coming with that, likely a WCD9xx DAC

Unfortunately, it appears the Rebel is being closed out and is no longer available in TracFone or Net10 clothes, only Total Wireless. No idea what the replacement LG Journey is like, but I have 2 of the Rebels, and they are an unbelievable Android 8 device for $30..

For a DAP or Qudelix front end, you simply throw away the TracFone SIM and stuff. WiFi and bt works fine without it.
 
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amirm

amirm

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No idea what the replacement LG Journey is like, but I have 2 of the Rebels, and they are an unbelievable Android 8 device for $30..
When you say that, do you mean audio performance is good?
 

Cahudson42

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#13
When you say that, do you mean audio performance is good
I have no way of testing - subjectively the 3.5mm audio sounds fine and loud enough on SHP9500, not as loud as I would like on my HE400i. It does work great USB OTG connected with a Qudelix 5k, while simultaneously running the Qudelix App controlling it via bt. Amazon music app running as well, for 16/44.1 streaming FLAC mostly.

I'm thinking it's worth looking at because of the Qualcomm Snapdragon, and likely(?) use of it's WCD9xx - hopefully similar to higher end LGs.

But without testing, we don't know :)
 

pavuol

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#14
Out of curiosity I searched GSMarena for a lowend device with AptX support. Resulted in several devices with AptX "non-HD", but I found this one with AptX HD support - Nokia 1.3 for 99 bucks (with 3,5mm jack as well).
If you don't need Amazon ecosystem, seems like much more capable and modern device for "wireless audio" purposes (double the price versus Fire tablet of course).
I see it for 100€ in my area though..

Sample usage scenario feat. "ASR approved" multibrand mix of gear ;):
Nokia 1.3 as music source (microSD, Spotify...) ->(aptX HD transfer) -> Topping DX3 -> Loxjie A30 -> Wharfedale Diamond 220
[DX3 can be omitted for an "AptX nonHD" quality level]
 
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f1shb0n3

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#16
Out of curiosity I searched found this one with AptX HD support - Nokia 1.3 for 99 bucks (with 3,5mm jack as well).
I'd be interested in a cheap screen with AptX HD support as a convenient living room DAP. This is not it though - an Amazon reviewer says:
"it fails in giving you horrible experience with apps that are too advanced (...) mine kept kicking me out due to the protection on the phone. It will kick you out of your music for no reason tried Pandora, GoogleMusic, SoundCloud, Spotify and Amazon Music"
 

PeteL

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#17
From an audio standpoint, this is the definition of a pointless review, although it does speak well for Amir's optimism that he thought it might have even modestly acceptable sound. However, this cheap little tablet makes an excellent Roon control surface which is how I use it in my theater to send music files to my Mac/DAC setup.
No it’s an important review, there is a branch of the objectivist camp that truly believe that all these cheap dac/amp implementation are equal, transparent, sound the same, and that anybody who claim there is a difference are biased.
 

Vini darko

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#18
Currently £35 for the 16gb version and has expandable storage up to 500gb. Reviews on amazon don't inspire confidence with regards to music (use case not sound)
 
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#19
All the Fire tablets seem to suffer from low audio output. I bought a 3rd gen Fire tablet to watch movies on the plane (back in the day when there was business travel) and at max volume I could barely hear the audio.

Fortunately there is an Android app which will boost the audio output just enough so you can hear it. Dunno if it works with this one.

Quite frankly, the Fire tablets are such a compromise, and therefore so tiring to use, that I just gave up on it after a while. Now I just use it to read borrowed library ebooks using Axis 360 app.
 

SmackDaddies

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#20
It is a great device for BT streaming on my desk or basement workshop systems. Cheap, easy to use. Is it audiophile? I dont care in those two situations because of high background noise levels. I still like Amirs tests on it.
 
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