Pros: Phenomenal sound, very stable (zero hangs), usability, superb micro-detail, good build quality, packing and accessories. Great value.
Cons: Library database hierarchical problems, scroll wheel sensitivity not adjustable, UI needs work.
1. I’m part of the X5 Preview tour. I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days thanks to FiiO.
2. I have no affiliation with FiiO in any way.
3. The following words are my personal opinion, I wasn’t forced to give a favourable review or leaded in any way.
Big thanks to Joe, James and everybody at FiiO for this tour and for allowing me to preview the player. I hope this tour is a total success and that many more will come in the future.
I'm an avid music lover. I'm all about listening music on the go, I have tried several Apple product but never own one. To carry a brick has never been an option for me. Used many Creative players for years. The X3 is my first hi-definition portable player.
I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but certainly can appreciate quality and I drive myself to find it with the better value possible. My music taste goes from Jazz, to Industrial, to Rap. Most of my digital library are mp3 files (224 kbps or more), 30% flac and less than 10% 24bit flac files.
I’m a web developer and app developer for smartphones, technology is part of my life. I have many phones for testing and even when I work with touch interfaces, I firmly believe that not every device needs to follow the touch UI fever and certainly a music only player doesn’t need to be touch based.
About this review
This will be a short review (somewhat), for details about the specifications and content of the box check other reviews or Fiio’s website.
I own a X3, a lot of comparing between the two will be done, if you are wondering how these two compare, read on. This is also my first review on any music equipment.
Here we go…
The X5 has a great built quality. The aluminium body feels very good in the hand, as for the weight, a bit on the heavy side. The rubber of the wheel is good, but some might find it slow some might find it ok. I found it a little bit slow.
The micro SDCard slots are covered with rubber caps, these are not easy to pop out. I found (after a few tries) that pushing the cover to the inner side of the player was the easier way to pop them out (maybe this is the proper/designed way to do it), but certainly I question the durability of them, I’m the type of user which will take the cards out and use a reader in my computer to add new files.
At the very first use I was somewhat disappointed by the screen, mostly because it gives the impression it will use all the area, but the screen really is 4:3 and not the 16:9 aspect area in which is located, nevertheless, the screen is good enough for a music only player.
Speed wise, about the same as the X3. Actually, I find the X3 to open the files a bit faster. The wheel is definitely an improvement, is easier to navigate through the library, select files and options. However, there is no option to change the speed/sensibility of it.
General options are pretty much the same as the ones on the X3. Even in the same menu order.
Library sorting is the same as the X3 at the time of writing this review, which, is not the best. The organization of it is not optimal. If your files are organized, using the browse files option is the best (more on this later).
While using the wheel, sometimes I ended slightly clicking the central button, this caused to select an album and I found myself scrolling the songs of it. I don’t think is because the wheel size or surface, but more because the central button is very sensible, maybe this is a particular characteristic of the unit I was evaluating.
To put it simple, it sounds amazing. The sound is natural, full-bodied with a warm feel to it.
Sounds better than the X3? Yes, a lot better. The X5 uses a different chip, the result is nothing short of mind blowing. Micro-detail is superb, all around detail and clarity are very enjoyable. The X5 shines compared to the X3, especially with hi-def music (24 bit flac are an absolute pleasure to listen).
The gapless playback is good, but not perfect. I could notice at small gap between songs in certain albums.
No playlist support in any shape or form.
FLAC files: Comparing to the X3, the sound difference from 16 bit to 24 bit FLAC's is way easier to notice. Amazing sound, details shine and catch your attention.
MP3 files: Background/decoding noise is still there but less noticeable than on the X3.
Two Micro SDCard slots are available. No need to select a card if you use the library/catalogue option, all files are available and ready to be played. Not the case if the browse files option is used. You will need to select one of the cards and navigate, if you want to access a file in the other card, you will need to go back to the root, select that card and navigate. Here the importance of an optimal library with a proper sorting under Artist and Genre.
Tried two 64GB cards formated as FAT32 and had zero issues. At the moment 64GB cards is the maximum supported, but FiiO has stated that bigger cards (128GB) will be supported in the future.
It took 4 minutes and 36 seconds to index a full 64GB card with 2269 files to the library (mp3 and flac files). This index process can be set to manual or automatic in the options, but should only happen when you modify the content of the card. The process is incremental, meaning if you add a new 10 song album to a card with 2269 files already on it, it won’t take the plus 4 minutes, but just a few seconds to index the new songs that were added.
There is no internal storage on the X5.
Use as a DAC
It sounds as good connected to the PC. A driver needs to be installed in Windows, actually I plugged both the X5 and the X3, installed the driver and both worked flawless.
The unit never hang/froze in heavy 10 days of use.
Battery life around 10 hours, but I browsed the library a lot.
Firmware used: 1.00
Earphones used: V-Sonic's GR07 BE and Klipsch Custom 3, both in High Gain, Volume 55-68.
Did not use the equalizer.
With other players close to the USD 1000 and sometimes even more, is this player so good and such a great value that is hard to believe? Yes, it is.
Personally I haven't tried other hi-end players, but based on the impressions and reviews, the difference (if any) certainly won't worth such a big difference in price. I expect the X5 to fight closely with the top guys while its cost is just a fraction. It has the potential to be a game changer in the portable hi-fi field.
I was expecting a small upgrade to the X3, the X5 gives you that and then some, the expected is there, bigger and better screen, better UI, more storage capacity, then you also get better usability and awesome sound.
The X5 is not perfect thought, the UI needs work, I expected (and still expect) to be faster, mp3 decoding could be better, library sorting is not optimal, no playlist support. But all of these are small issues that can be solved/enhanced via firmware updates.
Will I be getting one for myself? Totally, the evolution from the X3 is huge and at USD 350 is a simple choice for me because the great value and because I can only see this player getting better and better as FiiO is listening to the community.
Paired with good (not so expensive) earphones, it is safe to say that with around USD 550 you can get an excellent portable rig, (X5, earphones and SDCard). Great sound at great value.
Again, thanks to Joe and James for the opportunity. While I still enjoy my X3, can’t wait for my X5.