FiiO X3 Portable Music Player

93% Positive Reviews

Posted

Pros: Bargainlishous pricing. Rich organic sound.

Cons: UI and button layout.

FiiO X3 Quick Review

 

Full Review at http://www.head-fi.org/t/690705/fiio-x3-review

 

Thanks to Advanced MP3 Player's (AMP3) for the loan.

 

Brief:  Crazy value DAC/DAP form FiiO.

 

Price: £159

 

Specifications:  Link there was so much info I’m linking rather than copying it all out here.

 

Accessories:  A micro USB cable for data and charging, a 3.5mm jack to coax adapter and a silicon moulded cover/case thingy.

 

Aesthetics:  Its alright.  I don’t love it, don’t hate it, I really don’t have any particular feelings toward its visuals other than general indifference.

 

Build:  Seems very solid.  Metal screws on the side holding it together.  Buttons all seem snugly fitted too and firm.

 

Power:  Has more volume headroom than I care to test.  Even in low gain with the HD600’s I didn’t hit 40 out of 60.  I’m not sure it generally loved driving the 600’s though as there weren’t being driven to their best.  IEM’s though all has more than enough power there to sound full driven.

 

Sound:  At its heart is a Wolfson chip driving things and so as you might expect it has the wonderfully smooth and rich sort of sound.  that tube like warm silky sumptuousness that cares to flow effortlessly around your ears.  Bass is a touch tame tonally, smooth and a hint genteel.  Highs likewise are delicate and shimmering in nature rather than hard and aggressive.  The EQ though allows you to dial up either the bass or treble a whopping 10dB!!!  That’s a huge bump, you can also dial them down the same too.  id be surprised if anyone used more than a few notches in either direction.  Doing so though never changed the tonal nature of the X3.  It never becomes a cold and aggressive beast acoustically, even when hugely boosted the bass is warm and enveloping and the highs retain that sweet and delicate, shimmering nature.  A good compliment for more hard and aggressive earphones perhaps or to enhance a warm and mellow sound?

 

Value:  It’s what FiiO does best.  For the money they offer more than what you get elsewhere.  Here it sound is superb for the money and then they enable DAC functionality.  I can’t even think of another DAP that can do that right now and that it’s a huge plus in my opinion.  If you are stuck using the headphone out of a laptop this then for you is an epic buy.

 

Pro’s:  Bargainlishous pricing.  Rich organic sound.

 

Con’s:  UI and button layout.   

Posted

Pros: Size, functionality, and sound quality

Cons: DAC playback sounds a bit better than standalone playback

Fiio has been around for quite some time, starting with a low cost, entry level amp, the E3.  It became a hot seller, especially with the limited digital audio player (DAP) choices available at the time, and followed-up by the vastly superior E5.  The next several years marked significant growth for Fiio, which has since released many amp and DAC/amps, and finally their first DAPs, the X3.  Recently Fiio released a higher-end DAP, the X5.

 

SUMMARY

The X3 is a high-end full-feature player done right, with the ability to play high-res files from internal memory or as an asynchronous DAC.  Sound quality is a good step up from phones and lower-end players and the ability to play high-resolution files up to 24 bit, 192 KHz allows users to enjoy higher quality tracks.  The feature set is full with plenty of playback options and an easy to use interface.  I commend Fiio the overall features, function, usability, and real-world practicality of the X3.

 

Read the full review here.

Posted

Pros: Cost of the device, universal sound and EQ, features

Cons: UI, Usability, formating problems.

Introduction:
FiiO has been a very popular brand in affordable headphone audio accessories for the past few years. Their line out docks, amplifiers, DAC’s, and plenty of other gadgets have redefined what you can get for your money. FiiO has now launched their first DAP, the X3. This player has been in the works for many years now. It was plagued when it started and went on hiatus until 2012 when it was brought back to life. Now in 2013, The X3 is finally here, and many think it will redefine what a $200 DAP can do. It packs physical and software features that fans want at a good price. I wish to thank FiiO for this review sample, now let’s take a look at this audacious unit
 

Build Quality
The FiiO X3 was designed before the E17, so its build is a bit dated in terms of how it looks compared to FiiO’s new sleek and stealthy units. But for the most part, it still retains a lot of FiiO’s qualities. Where it keeps the metal back and combination of plastics and metals. The back of the X3 looks like something current, while the front shows its dated approach. It looks like the back-plate that keeps the current design was added in just for that purpose. The metal on the sides leading up to the backplate is different from the backplate itself. From the sides up, there is a bezel circling the unit. This bezel is plastic, and finally we get to the flat top of the device. Where the top portion is the plastic covering the screen, and the bottom is the (current gen) metal design. Within the metal are 6 buttons and ‘skidding’ strips with plastic bases for the volume and movement keys.

Now that the design of the X3 is out of the way, let’s move on to the  bad qualities of it first. The actual quality of the material used on the X3 is a bit disappointing compared to what is used on other FiiO devices, but is a granted. Whereas the E12 and E07K feature pretty hunky metals on them, the X3’s back and side plates feel very thin. Squeezing it a bit hard on the sides and back shows a slight flex of the metal. There is also a notable squeak noise when pressing the unit down showing the looser tolerances in the device. The bezel is also easily chipped and damaged. A slight scuff put a notable but very small chip in it. So be wary of dropping it, although the loose tolerances, and body may protect it. It will come out looking uglier than before.

These are a bit disheartening, but are also understandable. The X3 is a DAP with a big battery, amplifier, DAC and all these parts in it. It has to be light enough so users don’t complain about it being a brick while still being heavy enough. The cost of the battery, materials used in it, and R&D put a probable big cost on the X3. So using airplane grade lightweight metal is also going to be out of the question when this thing has a recommended retail of $199.

Ok, I hope you are still with me, so let’s move onto the goods. This device is still a FiiO device of course. The plastic is pretty durable and isn’t malleable or very bendable. The screen plastics keep it from getting scratches easily whilst the bezel makes it look great without additional use of metal. The utilitarian side design using simple screws around the X3 allow it to be DIY’d in case of battery problems or for any adventurous onlookers out there. If it’s easy and it works, then its good is a fine motto to use. Although the side metal is of lower quality than the rest, it offers enough resistance to pushing, scratching, and any other problems that its really a non issue for most unless they plan on doing a drop test. And lastly, the front and back’s parallel ‘current gen’ FiiO stealthy and sleek metals are still as good as they are on the others. Hard, smooth and sexy is really the word to use. They offer a great feel as you hold it, and don’t have any real issues. The buttons are also quite nice, and much more tactile than I would have thought. There are physical buttons beneath it actually to provide for a better reaction and feel to it.

Overall, the build quality of the X3, fits the device. It’s lightweight and of enough quality for a dap of this price. It allows for maneuverability and portability without being hunkered down by a paper weight and without raising costs. The lower tolerances inside it do make for some squeaks if you press it which is a shame.

Accessories:
The FiiO X3 comes with a few accessories for you to use it. It comes with 2 screen protectors, a white case, USB transfer and power cable, Coaxial adapter, and the manuals it gives you. There is no 3.5mm interconnect cable this time around, but in my opinion, its expected that if you have an external amp you wish to use with the X3, you would already have the cable yourself.

The only real fancy accessory is the Coaxial adapter. Basically, one end is a female Digital Coaxial(S/PDIF) plug while the other is a 3.5mm one. The 3.5mm end plugs into the Coaxial Output port on the X3, and the other end receives a regular Digital Coaxial(S/PDIF) cable. This allows your X3 to be the source, and to allow another unit to work as the DAC and then amp.

FiiO’s current policy on accessory replacements is that they are free. However there is the cost of shipping which is a flat $5 as they are sending it directly international. This was posted on FB and on HF, and is a program they can end at any time. As of this writing, their program is still in place.

SD Card: 
As of the writing of this, the SD card support is up to 64GB Micro SDXC with FAT32 formating, there is only one slot. This works quite well actually, there are no problems with recognizing it. Class 4 and above is recommended by me.

Even the lowest class can at max, read or write at 2MB/s. The usual MP3 is about 10MB whilst the lossless FLAC is about 35MB and the WAV at 50MB.
 
But of course maximum read or write is generally not achieved with these cards. Class 2 is meant for SD Video recording. Not to mention latency and other things with class 2 differences possibility.

For those doing FLAC's. Class 4 at the least is what seems to be the option to use

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital#Speed_Class_Rating

SD Cards are also a bit of luck of the draw with latency and data buffering(how quick it can start up and start moving data) so keep that in mind.

I personally use a 32GB Micro SDHC Class 10 card because its the same price as the other classes

             Formating the SD Card: For 64GB Micro SDXC cards, it is recommended to format to FAT32. I have not used it, but SD Formatter 4.0 seems to work and do what needs to be done. 32GB's and other cards are also recommended for FAT32 formating. This should fix most problems with X3 not recognizing your micro SD card. 128GB Micro SDXC is not yet confirmed to work or if it will work. If it keeps the same number of pins as the current SDXC cards, it should work. But that is not a definite.


Usability:
This section will be split into software usability (UI) and physical usability. For the software usability section which will be first, there will be 2 section splits. The first section will give you an overview of how the X3 does things, and the second will be on a opinion basis of what I think/interpret the usability of it. Please note, that it will be very helpful if you watch my How-To-Use video above. This will allow you to follow along and get what I am saying better. It is a long video, but will fill you in on it.

First off, I will just give you the overview of the X3. The FiiO X3’s UI is not ultra good looking, but current updates have made it much more appealing to the eye. The first menu includes the settings, EQ access, Browse Files option, Category Options, Favorites, and the Playing option which includes all the folder options. From that layer, I find what are two types of file finding styles in the X3. Automatic and Manual organization.

Automatic Organization is where the X3 takes the id3 (Artist, album, song title, name etc) tag of the song and uses that to auto sort your songs into the play all, artists, genres and albums folders. The X3 basically takes command and does things for you, and sorts stuff. For more info, please watch the video.

Manual Organization is accessed from the front menu, and by going to ‘Browse Files’. Here, you access your files as you would access your hard drives on a computer. The songs appear as they do from your computer. From here, you can organize your songs how you want. If you like to make custom playlists, or have folders and subfolders in specific ways. You can put and organize folders and files on your computer. They will show up exactly the same way when you access the Browse Files selection. Here, folders will be the names you gave them, and organization is done yourself. I have a custom organization on my SD card, so I frequently use this to quickly find the stuff I want. However keep in mind, that all the songs on your browse files folders are the same ones found in Auto. Auto just takes all the songs from the Browse Files sections(your SD card and internal storage) and auto sorts them. For more info, please watch the video.

Actual Usability thoughts now. So what do I personally think of the X3’s UI usability as of FW 1.2? It’s ok but not perfect. As long as all your ID3 tags are done correctly, the UI’s usability is actually quite good. You go into albums or artists and bam, your stuff is exactly where you want it to be.  But that’s not always going to be easy now is it? As of 1.2, ALAC/AAC have problems with their id3 tags showing up. Meaning all your .m4a songs will be stuffed into the Unknown Album and Unknown Artist folders. But this should get fixed in a release soon. Next there is the problem for scrolling. The X3 does support press and hold for its volume and movement keys. But imagine having a lot of albums or artists which many of you do. I don’t have that many, and its already a pain to move from the very top(by default) to somewhere in the middle. You can go backwards and start from the bottom, but this doesn’t really help the problem out that much. Most touch devices today allow you a side bar to quickly move to a letter and bam, you reach it near instantly.

Now, is that it? Well no, the X3 does something very convenient for Asian users. And that is list by Track Title and not name. This means that if your id3 tags are set in such a way(and the mass majority are), the moment you reach an artist or album folder. All the internal songs will have their track numbers. So the first track will still be first, but will now have the number 1 next to it. This doesn’t sound like a problem right? It isn’t until you have multiple albums under the same artist in the ‘Categories’ folder. Now you see the problem? You will now have alternations of albums. If you have two albums under the same artist, you will have two track number ones at the top(the first tracks of the two numbers) and then they go down alternating the same way. This of course is great for Asian songs that don’t use romanticization. But not for you if you are reading my review(which is in English if you haven’t realized it yet). (The solution to organizing Artist categories section by Album has been posted by me. Click this hyperlink)This also makes the Play All category impossible to use. Imagine the first song from every single one of the albums you have on your X3 being the first thing you see, followed by all the number two’s and so on. I would prefer an alphabetical play all, but thinking back on it, this wouldn’t help either as there is no scrolling, finding a song out of thousands by constantly scrolling would be extremely irritating. As of right now, the play all function is practically useless.

Moving on, the X3’s system usability besides songs is quite good actually, the player and system settings contain just what you think they contain, and there are shortcuts to adding songs to favorites, viewing their info, and quick access to the EQ controls by pressing and holding the Bookmarks/Back key while in a song. Lack of volume control unless you are in the song as of right now is pretty disappointing though. The volume key also maps to increasing or decreasing other options without entering a sub menu(watch the how to video if you are confused), but it does this for so few things that I think it should still be remapped.

Mr.Panda, Mr.Panda, but what about loading times? Well currently there is still a slight delay when loading some songs, but for the most part, its reaction is fast enough for it not to be a problem for me. Replaying some songs manually can sometimes cut off the first second of the song, but of course, this should be fixed with firmware updates.

But overall, if your id3 tags are correct, the X3’s software usability is quite workable. You can either manually make and use those playlists or count on the X3’s Categories of genre’s, albums, and artists to keep you afloat. Even the mixing due to the track title usage isn’t that big of a deal as you already know what song you want already. The X3 is a deadly device if your id3 tags are a mess though, so use this as an opportunity to clean up your library.

Physical Usability: The X3 is of good size, and reaching the buttons and controls is a non issue(unless you are a chipmunk). The volume and movement keys have a indented plastic guide underneath them. Add this into muscle memory, and after the first week of using the X3, I had no problems finding the buttons I want, but before that, expect frustration. I kept miss-hitting keys for the first week, and especially the first day. This is normal of any new device of course. The hold key keeps things nice and off while on the go, and nothing really protrudes annoyingly. The device is light to hold and offers enough build to be cool. But of course, its not always daisies and roses. The brightness is a problem outside. Even using the winter theme and maximum brightness(which offers the best outside usage) the X3 is still hard to see while outside in use. It’s not impossible but be prepared. If the X3 is sitting in your pocket while walking, the top headphone jack makes it so that you have to put the X3 into your pocket so that it’s actually backwards then how you would normally hold it. This of course is with many devices nowadays but it should be noted. Lastly, is that the micro SD input depth is not fully flush with the outside case meaning that a small bit of the SD card sticks out. It’s about a mm if not less of it sticking out, but this could make it so that you can push it by accident making your card drop out.

Overall, the physical usage of the X3 was not a problem for me while I used it. It was quite nice to use and worked with my everyday routine while walking my dog.

Battery Life:
10-12 hours is about what I am getting. This is of course not exact, full brightness is used as well. If there is huge interest in getting an exact number, I may do a full day test. But for now, what is on paper is pretty accurate. FiiO recommends using a power bank on the go.

Driving Power:
This drives the AKG Q701’s with no problems(high gain), and can drive even my more sensitive IEM’s without problems as well due to the 60 steps of volume control and using low gain.

Line out and Coaxial Out:
Both work very well. Line out and heapdhone out can actually work and output at the exact same time, this allowed me to do the A/B testing below. However, Coaxial out does have priority over the both of them if the plug is inputted there. I did not detect any sonic problems when testing this feature out.

Testing:
The FiiO X3 was used in conjunction with my Project-H unit, FiiO HS2, FiiO E12, Miu Audio MRB. And plugged into AKG Q701 and RHA SA950i for the purpose of this review.

Highs:
The high frequency response of the X3 is for the most part smooth, but is a bit more subdued than normal. The high ranges aren’t as bright and have a bit less shine to them. This is a favorable quality on the go, but as this is an audiophile DAP, its up to the user to decide if they like it or not. As there is less of a shine, this allows for more on the go comfort and lack of fatigue while listening.

Mids:
The mids are a bit more thin on the X3, they have good detail, but the more strainy/whiny sound they produce is less than desirable. This can add a bit of fatigue to the user, but the amount they are off by is not much. They have a slight upper mid spike of brightness at the very top of the range, but below that, the spike isn’t really there, and features a bit more subduing in the mid range.

Vocals:
The vocals on the X3 are a bit more elevated than normal, this allows the singers to appear more out there. The instruments then take a backwards role with the X3 rather than them both being balanced. This to me is quite favorable as it makes your favorite singers more in the center than compared to the instruments.

Lows:
The FiiO X3 features a prominent bass region, especially the mid bass which is bumped up a bit. With bassy songs and already bassy headphones, I’ve felt a need to EQ down the bass a bit at some times(a rare for me). But of course, the slight bump in mid bass prominence isn’t to be taken as an overly big one, its just a sonic feature of the X3. The extension of the X3 has no visible problems.


Popular Comparisons:
These use the FiiO X3’s line out so that the DAC remains the same while only the amp sections changes.

FiiO E12 - FiiO X3

First of all, the FiiO E12 boasts better transparency in the sense that it sounds more natural than the X3. This is in part due to the mid subduing the X3 does to the instruments. This allows for the E12’s mid range to come off as more forward and apparent than the X3’s. The background of the E12 is also much better than the X3’s. The background of the E12 is much more cleaner. I mean by this that there is more noise and closeness of instruments in the ‘background’ with the X3 than the E12. The E12’s also offer a vocal range that is brought back down, this makes it sound colder(although not the same as neutral), and cleaner than the X3 which makes the vocals more musical. There is also more boom in the bass of the X3 than the E12. Pretty expectable results in my opinion.

FiiO E07K Andes -FiiO X3

The FiiO X3 is the clear winner here, the Vocals in the Andes are about the same with the elevation but are much warmer and actually have a slight less detail and resolution. The warm coloration of the Andes is also even more so than the X3. The entire range of frequencies is also more separate on the X3, where the Andes is more compressed together. The X3 is not only a more neutral amp, but also a more transparent one.

Conclusion:
The FiiO X3 is a winner in my book. It's sound is still bassy and warm like one would expect from FiiO, but its not exactly a slouch either. It may have those qualities, but it is on the upper scale in how it reproduces sound by being quite accurate sounding. The UI is actually in working condition and will work with your life very well, granted your id3 tags are done correctly and in place. It is lightweight, and has the features that audiophiles have been asking for, for a while now. The Micro SD capabilities work very well in terms of me being able to manually organize my folders, and internal storage of 8GB's is quite nice for a starters DAP. I would have liked a better build, but this is a dated design and needs to be lightweight. At $199, its a very good new DAP to the market.

Where can I buy it?:

FiiO's site has a where to buy section, use that to locate your dealer and purchase from them.

Specifications:

Power: DC5V,2A /USB Port

FR Responce: 20Hz-20KHz

THD: <.005% (PO) / <.005% (Line Out) /

Output Power: >250mW @ 32 ohms / <16mW @ 300 ohms

Battery Charge Time: 2A Adapter =4 hours / USB port =8 hours

Battery life: 10 hours at default settings

Power Supply: Built in Li-ion battery

Internal Memory: 8GB

Expandable Storage: up to 64GB Micro SDXC Fat32

Dimensions: 109mmx55mmx16.3mm

Weight: 122g (battery included)

Comments, constructive criticisms, appreciation, etc are welcome.

Posted

Pros: good bass with good punch and depth, detailed, excellent PRAT, dynamics and energy, very good attack, natural voices with good texture

Cons: build quality below E12 & e17, some may consider the lack of neutrality a con

Hey guys,

I have stressed for some time now on what phone I would get that has decent sound. At first I got the Galaxy S1 that had a Wolfson Dac and combined with Voodoo Sound I got decent playback.

Recently I got a Galaxy S4 knowing it has a Wolfson Dac too but I didn’t notice the European version didn’t have it, and I don’t like the sound on it.

I didn’t want to go for an Ipod or something similar because It didn’t find them to sound better than my S1 (which i kept just for music).

However, recently FiiO released their first portable player, the FiiO X3 which would solve all of my problems in this regard and at a decent price.

FiiO X3 Review

When I looked at the specs I saw some interesting things:

  • X3 can play APEFlacAlacWma, Wav and the usual lossy formats like MP3,OGG  WMA files and at 192k/24Bit .
  • It has 10 hours playback time
  • It has the Wolfson WM8740 Dac Chip which I like a lot because of how it performs inFiiO E17
  • Same hardware equalizer for bass & treble as in E17
  • Multiple Outputs like USB 2.0Line Out, Coaxial Out, Headphone out, which means that you can also use it just as transport to another DAC, which is very nice. I also heard that FiiO plans a firmware upgrade to make the X3 a USB Dac too, which would be absolutely awesome.
  • Has support for 65GB Micro SD Card

Fiio X3 1

From distance, the build quality seems as sturdy as the other FiiO products, but when you take it in your hand you realize it has thinner materials, not so resistant as those fromFiiO E12 or E17.

X3 has an easy to use menu and you can’t do anything else on it aside listening to music, that being the main focus of the unit. The screen is also there for the same purpose and nothing more.

Sound Impressions

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

FiIO X3 Review

I have done the tests with Focal Spirit One, Mikros 90 , Audeze LCD3Sennheiser HD800, & FiiO E12 .

Massive Attack – Inertia Creeps

The first thing I observed was the good PRAT. The drums had a good impact and tactility. The instruments also popped into attention very easy and made a good impression.

Johny Cash – The Man Comes Around

I love the FiiO sound signature. The guitars chords and the voice are right there with you playing with your eardrum.  The plucks tickle your ears and the voice is very warm and engaging. It really hit on my soft spot.

Rachmaninov – Symphonic Dances 

Considering the sound signature of FiiO, I was pleasantly surprise by the performance with this classical masterpiece. The instruments had a very good presence, feel & tactility, especially the lower notes ones. The flutes and similar instruments were more mellow and not so well detailed but very pleasant to the ears, flowing with delicacy and caressing your ears.  Some may prefer a more neutral sound, but I found the x3 having an airy presentation also with a decent soundstage making it very suitable for classical music as well.

Tracy Chapman – Speak the Word

Again, I was very impressed with FiiO. The guitars & drums are just awesome. They have a very good tactility and detail, they just make me dance. Also the voice has a very good tonality and texture.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

You would think that the X3 would be excellent with rock considering it’s sound signature. Well you cannot be more right. I just cannot stop from headbanging here. The PRAT is amazing and the drums and electric guitars just charge you with energy.

Fiio E12 Review

On the fence

Bass

The bass has a very good depth being slightly elevated (the mid-bass ) but very fun to listen to. It has a very good punch and feel overall, making the drums very engaging!

Midrange

The bass and mid-range is what I love about the X3. It is a little elevated as well making the instruments like guitars, cellos, voices very engaging, tactile and pleasant.

Treble

The treble is a little recessed and has no sign of brightness. Many people could prefer more extended treble but X3‘s treble is mellow and very pleasant to the ears.

Transients

I love the attack and the tactility it gives to the instruments. You can feel the guitars and drums like they are near you. The decay is a little slower than the attack giving it a little tubey feel.

Detailed

The sound has very good definition and detail, in both micro and macro departments.

Excellent PRAT

I cannot stop listening to it. The x3 is very engaging and can rock your world. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself acting like this on the street while listening to it.

Conclusions

FiiO X3 Review

Am I going to recommend FiiO X3? What? You didn’t buy one yet :P ?

Of course I recommend it. The X3  is just awesome.

At this price the X3 is a steal. I loved it with all the headphones I tested it with, even withHD800 with which made a very good pair sound wise – good bass, engaging and warm sound with no sibilance or brightness.

I even liked the LCD3 with it, though not as much as HD800 which was a better match.

Even though I would recommend the X3 paired with the E12 with LCD3 & HD800, it did a decent job by itself.

So you can take your HD800 from your desktop rig and listen to it in your bedroom for a few hours without a problem.

I seriously don’t see any competitor to the X3 in this price range except maybe IBasso DX50 which I haven’t heard yet.

Pros

  • bass with good punch and depth
  • detailed in both micro/macro departments
  • excellent prat, good dynamics and energy
  • very good attack that gives tactility to the instruments
  • voices sound very natural and well textured
  • very good price

Cons

  • the build quality is below E12 and E17  material wise
  • some may consider the lack of neutrality a con, but in this case it is my kind of coloration :D

Can’t wait to hear the upcoming FiiO X5.

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Posted

Pros: Sound, build

Cons: nothing especially

Package & Build:

 

FiiO X3 comes in a nice box with adapter and micro USB cable, as well as a nice soft silicone sleeve to protect the player. It is built very nicely, has some retro touch to it since it doesn't have any wheels or touch screen, just buttons and normal, not so good, screen (but it does the job just fine). It has coax out, line out and 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as micro USB port for charging, using as an external DAC or transferring music from PC. On the right side there is a "hold" switch that is used to block other buttons to be mistakenly pressed, though I haven't used it once since the buttons are not that sensitive and it will never happen that you mistakenly press a button, but still there it is. On the left side there is a micro SD card slot (you don't get SD card with player) and player itself is equipped with just 8 Gb of memory, but who cares about that when you can get 128 Gb and if not now than soon 256 Gb SD card. Player is built with combination of metal front and back andgood plastic around, it looks and feels nice. It has a decent battery of 3100 mAh and while they claim it will last ~10 hours I get around 7-8 from it, though I'm crazy track swapper so the screen is on a lot more than average person would have. Also it's decently light at 122 grams which might surprise some because of metal finish - it looks heavier than it is.

 

UI & Usage In General:

 

User interface on X3 is good, couldn't be much better if you see that it doesn't have a touch screen and/or volume wheel. It's decently fast and responsive with an exception when you have a huge size album art on your songs, then there is a delay in UI when you play or change the song; it starts playing in an instant but the screen is frozen for a second or two till it shows position of the song, it's not a major issue but just to note it. If you have a small size album art or no album art at all, the X3 is very fast and responsive. Also there is a possibility to change the themes and make themes on your own, and it's not hard at all, several videos about it on YouTube and several posts about it here on Head-Fi. Buttons are responsive with that nice click when pressed and all the buttons, since there are only six of them have more purposes, for example if you hold back button it will display song info, if you hold play/pause button player will turn off/on etc. Firmware updates bring real improvements and good changes which is really great! Also FiiO's support is very fast, at least was to me, they answered me in a few hours after I sent them an email (had some random question).

 

24 bit talk: 

 

Ok, first a small story here: 24 bit audio cannot sound better and it doesn't. It wasn't just randomly chosen for a CD standard that 16/44.1(48) audio, it is precise mathematics and they considered what we can hear. 24/192 audio has more dynamic range of 144 db (range between lowest and loudest signal, and CD audio quality has 96 db) but humans perceive less, ~105 db effectively. But!  Also environment noise, even with great isolation won't come lower than 10-15 db which means lowest signal cannot be lower than noise floor (or we wouldn't hear it, it's called masking) and that common noise, so in studio when they are finished they compress dynamic range and it should be, must be and it always is less than the capability of CD (96 db). And when people are speaking about resolution or bit depth, that manifests through that higher dynamic range and lower hiss. Hiss in 16/44.1(48) is inaudible. None of this is a matter of opinion. Audio isn't some abstract magic, it's very measurable, very proven, very tested, by the engineers far better than you or me. 24 bit is useful in studio, because it leaves editors to work well above the noise floor and when they are done they just compress it and it leaves space for mistakes also, as well to other several things, but for now that's it. Oh and if someone says something like "soundstage opens up", sound is more "clear" that is literally like you believe in dragons. Why I said this - because many people are aiming for the good players because of that "HD" audio capability which is a complete nonsense. And it is not a matter of how good someone hear or a matter of opinion. I'm sure many of the companies wouldn't even mention HD but when several started with that to make money other didn't have a choice because people simply started following the hype. 

 

Sound & Comparisons:

 

Player sounds good, if you use small impedance IEMs that are sensitive (like I do, Sennheiser IE80) you won't be getting probably any benefit from having a player like this instead of a smartphone or an iPod, but if you drive some harder to drive headphones you will certainly hear the difference. There are no noticeable (at least I haven't noticed) distortions on very high volumes, like I had on Nexus 5 for example above 90% volume, which is good and expected. It plays everything you might want: alac, flac, wav, mp3. And till recently (firmware 3.3) it has support for playlists too and it has 5 band equalizer. DAC inside is good quality Wolfson WM8740 also found in several products of a lot higher price than X3 like Astell & Kern AK100 (mk1) that cost literally over three times more (700$ vs X3s 200$) and it produces a good sound though not distinguishable from other modern players or latest smartphones that have good built in DACs.  I have read many reviews and people are talking how it has wide soundstage, some say it has narrow soundstage, some say it has good imaging, some say it has decent warmth bla bla. I say it's nonsense, several of my friends, my father (far bigger audiophile than I am) tested it vs the AK100, AK120, iPhone 5s, iPod classic 5th gen and Nexus 5, and imagine wonder! None of us could tell the difference on IE80, Vsonic GR07, Sony EX700. (I'm just talking about IEMs now because that's what most people would use small portable player with) When you plug in something harder to drive X3 shines in comparison to smartphones because it has a lot more powerful output (250mW on 32 ohm). Genrally better amp than smartphones. 

 

Summary & Recommendation: 

 

Overall good product with fair price of 200$ which kills all concurrency in value, except maybe that new FiiO X1 of just 100$, haven't heard it though. Good looking, good sounding with as good as possible UI if you consder it's non touch and all buttons player that is decently responsive with fair battery life (will last you more than smartphone, that's for sure!), I gave it 4 stars because there is space for improvements, they should added a volume wheel so you can adjust volume fast and without having player out of the pocket, screen could be bit better, and after all, it's hard to
value much a player next to the smartphones (when it comes to the low impedance sensitive IEMs, that I mostly use!) so to have 5 stars it REALLY needs to shine to carry an extra device in pocket. I use it a lot as an external DAC on my PC because my sound card is bad and there is a lot of noise coming from my PC when I connect any headphones, and I use it in gym for example, where I never bring my phone to distract me. If you need to drive some bigger headphones, and if you have a need of extra player, I can gladly recommend the X3, but don't get it just for the sake of hobby if you have sensitive headphones of low impedance, you will not be gaining much, if anything. I'm not a native English speaker nor I speak it perfectly so I am sorry if there were some mistakes! Good day! :)

Posted

Pros: Sound Quality, microSD slot, FLAC playback in 16 and 24-bit

Cons: Buggy, bad UX, weird soundstaging, Battery life

I really tried to like this player but the Buggy software and the bad button placement made me angry most of the time.

 

Build quality is lower than waht I expected as there is no frame to add strctural integrity, the Board is screwed on the plastic casing, unlike sony A17 which features a alumnum die-cast frame to add structural integrity. The hold (lock) switch felt loose.

 

Connecting to a pc is a flawless process as it works as a USB Mass storage device, transfer speed is slow in the internal memory and if the SD is inside the player (use a SD adapter to use it on the PC reader)

 

It has a case included (rubber) and a SPDIF Cable altought i never used it, has multiple jacks, one for HP out, one for coaxial (SPDIF) out and one for analogue line out, works as a USB DAC this was great to bypass my DELL HELL internal DAC. (currently owning a sony VAIO)

 

The player is fairly basic (no photos oe videos, anyways who wants to look at vids or pics in a smallish screen? me not), There is no radio on it, not even a clock., had to update the firmware to be able to use 128GB microSD card

 

The Player can browse by All music files (pretty slow as hell to render and build the data structure, clearly poor Software engineering here), Artist, Genre, Album and by Folder, tought no Composer View (like sony) but not a major problem (i'm not ultra-mega-super.duper purist to whine lbecause the lack of a Johann Sebastian Bach & Mozart View) :biggrin:

 

It has dual settings, sometimes confusing, this could be made a la Sony Walkman, Only one settings section and inside that a Music Settings and General settings (Common settings on my A17)

 

The music UI is fairly basic, providing cover picture (as FW 3.0 is cropped badly), Play/pause/FastForwad and rewind, It shows the Actual file name.flac or .mp3 etc instead of track title, and scrolling of this text is choppy and slow (in my A17 walkman is silky smooth)

 

The menu is not as intuitive as the Sony one, only showing pics (icons) is not nice to guess what one does what, in one occasion i ended up deleting a song because this.

 

The button layout is confusing for blind usage, i often mixed the volume up/down with the FF/REW ones and ended with a blaring LOUD SOUND, this to make it worse to lower the volume it exhibits a ******* lag becaise has to turn the screen on and then you have to press again vol + or vol - so it reacts after a lag, (my walkman A17 has inmediate effect even if screen is off idle)

 

My walkman is easy to use in blind situations due to it's diamond shaped D-pad, clever sony engneers on thi s one, browsing huge lists of songs is also smooth on the walkman due to good software engieering skillz like cache of lists

 

Sound quality is good better tha IDevices (had an ipod classic before fiio & returning to walkman) , this blew even the older walkmans (A818 & X1060) Out of the waer, the sound is amazing, warm and rich a tad bassy with bassy IEMS like XBA-H3, but neutral Phones like my XBA-1 sounded equally good.

 

Soundstage is wide but not accurate has a problem of presenting trebbly instruments or female singers "floating above my head" (the sony walkman has a better SQ, neutral and fixes this floating voices by presenting them in the correct position in the front).

 

I did not note a difference with 24/96 or CD quality (presumably because fiios HP out is capped at 20KHz), With the walkman this Hi-res audio gets pretty revealing and enveloping, that i often say OWO, holy Cow where is the violinist? and turn my head in my room to find no one :biggrin:

 

But Hold my irate hate of this buggy thing, god bless it not to crash, it forgot so often where i left my last play position after turning it off, also took a long time to turn off.. and 30 minutes to build a 128GB library really? (my walkman remembers always where I left, turns on and off instantly, and builds library in 10 seconds to 4 minutes for 176GB), not to mention the ****ty 5,800 FLAC limit on the fiio (when i had often like 7,000). My walkmas has no limit, i can play all my 9,600 FLAC i have there

 

Then it failed about two mohts ago due to a buggy FW update, contacting fiio on facebook "failure because battery was with no charge" REALLY? my ******* battery was at 50% wehn i upgraded the firmware, ti simply didn't turn on again dead as a brick, adn THE LOCAL DEALER IS A FRAUDSTER (AUDIOFILIA.COM.MX) the Telephone routing system robot says "El numero que usted marcó ya no existe" (the number you dialed no longer exists).

 

I had a hard time convincing fiio guys to send me one as a replacement DUE TO THE FRAUDSTER OF AUDIOFILIA.COM.MX DIDN'T GIVE ME ANY PROOF OF PURCHASE AT ALL (Sony gave me my E-invoice with it's PDF and XML documents, plus 2 year more warranty to the standard one year), I HAD TO TELL FIIO THE TRUTH IT COSTED ME MORE TO SEND THIS FAULTY UNIT VIA DHL MEXICO (******* EXPENSIVE, THE HALF OF THE FIIO X3 NEW).

 

But FINALLY THEY AGREED TO SNED ME OUT A FIIO X3 REPLACEMENT, I WILL use it as a ADC for my WALKMAN

Posted

Pros: well build, comes very complete, competent player

Cons: did not play nice with my laptop,

After several years with a rockboxed Clip+ I was yearning for a bit more detail and a somewhat bigger soundstage especially for my classical music. I also wanted just a tad more power for my DT770-250ohm. I am not an audiophile and my hearing is not what it once was so this is more an impression from an average user and not a dedicated hobbyist.

 

This Christmas I found an X3 under the tree.

 

First impression is very positive. The packaging is nice, feels like a real present for you. It's a nice touch that the unit comes with cables as well as a silicone sleeve and a screen protector. Powering up you're greeted with a nice boot screen and after about 8 seconds the player is ready to go. Some people have reported issues with the UI but I found it very intuitive and well thought out (firmware 3.21) out of curiosity I upgraded the firmware to 3.30 which seemed to have little effect except adding a 5 band equalizer.

 

Several hours worth of listening to it as a stand alone player I noticed some things.

 

  • I've always been skeptical about running in pure digital components with no moving parts but this device really did improve after about 6 hours playing time
  • The soundstage is wider than the clip, quite a bit so which I noticed most on the better live recordings (Sinatra at the Sands, Diana Krall live in Paris) but on a Handel's Messiah I noticed that some vocalists seem to be higher than others, almost like a 3D effect had been added. Not unpleasant but peculiar.
  • Instrument separation is pretty good which you don't notice that much unless you listen intently to a busy part of a symphony, then it's suddenly really apparent.
  • The device has a specific sound signature. Perhaps it's that famous Wolfsson 8740 but it has a personality.
  • Batterylife is pretty good. I got about 9 hours on the first charge and that will likely improve quite a bit after a few charges.

 

Next I hooked it up to my laptop to use it as a DAC and ran into issues. For some reason on my laptop it would not run for more than 90 seconds after the laptop had been in suspend. After a fresh reboot it would work well. To my surprise it sounded different when used as a DAC than as a standalone player. The same tracks played via Foobar sounded more alive, more musical than they did when I played them from an SD card on the device.

 

By now I'd put in about 10 hours with it and I wasn't quite convinced yet. The DAC issue, while very likely specific to my laptop, was a major nuisance and as a stand-alone player it lacked something for me. It's quite analytical and yet posses a slight warm tone to it but to my ears it lacked musicality. I found myself liking it more as a DAC than as a player. I also considered the price. In my country the only official dealer sells it for 220 euros. If import it myself I run a risk of having to pay import duties which would eat into the price advantage significantly.  The Clip+ sells for around 40-45 euros. Perhaps unreasonable from me but for that price difference I expected a bigger leap in sound quality than I perceived while listening to it.

 

So at the end of the Christmas vacation I decided to return it. Not because it's a bad product which it is clearly not but because it's not the player for me. I know have an E10K which serves me better and is significantly cheaper.

Posted

Pros: Sound

Cons: None

This thing is really pretty good. I am delighted and it was cheap. I happily will run with a smile on my face, just like if I stole it.  This thing is a great deal and pretty good sound ..with great potential. I am a very happy Fiio customer.

 

I have not found any files that it will not play. That is a great thing .. but (blushes) .. most of my music is MP3. So .. it actually does not sound bad at all. In fact my flac files .. I cannot really hear much difference. That shows you how good this thing really is. I think in time I will buy better IEM's.  But that is not a urgent issue.

 

I have made some tweaks with the firmware tool and it is really very good. I wish all my toys had this ability. Great job Fiio. The only thing for me was buying the X3 or the X5, but I am very happy with the X3. I prefer the button interface .. so it works very well for me.

Posted

Pros: build quality?

Cons: UI, placement of buttons, narrow soundstage

Ok!

 

Point number 1: horrible button layout! 

Point number 2: good sound quality, not so good soundstage! 

 

The stock theme is badly designed.

EDIT: 

There are custom themes that make the player look much nicer!

 

Also, the user interface is choppy with FLAC files. There is a noticable lag when choosing the next song and changing the volume.

EDIT: 

Lag is still there but less noticeable if you copy your files on a microSD memory card.

 

Otherwise, it sounds good. It'll definitely suit an old man who doesn't really change songs and listens to 2 or 3 albums from the first to the last song ;) 

 

Edit: I'm still analysing the sound quality. It might cause some reduction in the depth of soundstage.

After doing a lot of research and testing it on two devices, I ended up concluding that the soundstage is an issue on Fiio X3.

 

So, I returned it and got the Fiio X5

 

Fiio X5 does not sound that much different from my Nexus 5 ( :D) but I'm glad it doesn't sound worse (like X3!)

Posted

Pros: Price/performance, size, functionality, sound&built quality and FiiO service

Cons: formatting and filing problem

Add a high-quality pair of in-ear or on-ear headphones, and you have a complete high-resolution-capable music system wherever you want it.

FiiO X3 Portable Music Player
By:
Description:

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandFiio
LabelFiiO
ManufacturerFiiO
ModelX3
MPNX3
PublisherFiiO
StudioFiiO
TitleFiiO X3 WM8740 24Bit192K Lossless Music portable Player
Package Height1.3 inches
Package Length5.3 inches
Package Weight0.65 pounds
Package Width4.3 inches
PartNumberX3
ProductGroupReceiver or Amplifier
ProductTypeNameRECEIVER_OR_AMPLIFIER
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC