Pros: Build quality, features
Cons: Weight, storage
Fiio X5 Review
-I am a beta tester for Fiio products so the item is loaned to me for a set period, and I am in no way affiliated to Fiio
-This is my first time reviewing a DAP, keep that in mind
I am Lespectraal, just your average person inclined towards everything tech, and in this case I have been delving a bit into the world of DAP, starting with my own purchase of Fiio's own X3. The X3 was a mixed bag, despite the sound quality itself being exceptional the device as a whole suffered in other areas. So now we will see how the X5 holds up. I will be comparing the X5 to the X3 because those are the only two devices which are of the same category that I have owned and/or used.
Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250Ohm
JDS Labs C5
The Fiio X5 oozes of great build quality and even the looks alone tells you that Fiio has not skimped on this department. The device just feels great in the hand, albeit it is heavy compared to the X3. The casing to the buttons and the jacks are appropriately made to deliver the best operation possible.
X5's scroll wheel does feel a bit loose during my operation, it feels as if the sensors were going to come off and it even shows during usage as the items does not move with accuracy. As it turns out it is more of a software issue than anything, but even with that said it still does feel a bit loose. With that said though the scroll wheel does help considerably when scrolling through large files, which does make sense since such a device that has large file capacity allows many files at once. Button scrolling as in the X3 will be more of a nuisance since you are expected to continually depress a button to scroll through all items and this does not feel as natural as the circular motion which the scroll wheel allow for.
For the four corner buttons feel appropriate, their actuation force(the force it takes to press them down) feels just right. Daily usage of pressing the buttons to change folders or settings proved to be comfortable and I did not make accidental presses at all. Compared to the X3, the buttons are about the same to me. They both are accurate and able to register button presses when I demand them without a miss. They also feel durable as the presses feel "authoritative" and firm. The power button and volume rockers also share similar experiences.
For the jacks, I feel they are made quite durable. Each input/output jack has this circular ring around it, which is the same for the X3. This ring serves as to protect the jacks from wear and tear, and allows for firm attachment of jacks. It also looks aesthetically pleasing. Once connected, a headphone jack feels firm in place, without no looseness felt at all. I had no problem with the headphone jack as I would usually place the X5 in my pocket. No disconnections or anything at all. Really built like a tank. The same applies for the X3. Both devices have equally firm and durable jacks and I would not worry about placing the devices in my pocket.
Overall, the device feels absolutely stunning functioning to be durable, to allow it to be used daily and last for a long time. The quality is of the same league as the AK series of DAPs.
The UI is one of the most competent ones I have used in my life. It feels snappy and reliable without any hiccups. I could easily navigate the entirety of the devices UI with ease. I can easily get to where I want to, say to play a song from my library and get to it with such accuracy that shows how great the UI is. It never feels like a chore to move about the interface and for that reason alone makes the device worth the price.
Now the ease of navigation is largely due to the fact that it incorporates a large scroll wheel right in the middle of the four corner buttons with another larger button in the middle of the wheel which acts as the accept/volume/play/pause button. All of the buttons form together to make that UI such a breeze to use with. The layout of the X3 with the oddly placed buttons for volume and up/down it does not feel as natural to me compared to the X3.
The visuals on the X5 also deserves some praise. It just looks stunning. The vibrant colours and the sharpness of the screen just gives a great experience to the device. The low resolution screen and the lack of colours on the X3 is just eclipsed by the level of performance the screen the X5 has. Now that I have return to the X3 after using the X5 for the duration of the beta test, I just feel disappointed that I have to suffer with the X3's lesser screen quality.
The X5 can also be used as a USB DAC which to me is one of the major reasons why I bought the X3. I spend a lot of my time in front of the computer so I needed a way to play music on my computer while having great sound quality. The X3 came along and from there I decided to buy it because it solves this very problem. The X5 is similar here. I can plug it into my computer and even play games on it and provide me great sound quality to replace the built-in systems.
Here is a small disclaimer, I am not accustomed to the various Hi-Fi terminologies to describe sound as professional or as informative as possible, so bear this in mind. Think of it as a very subjective impression of the sound rather than a reliable understanding of how the device produces the analogue waveforms. But all reviews are subjective anyway, or at least to some degree, but I digress.
I love all songs from classical to rock, and with this large scope of taste, I have found the sound section of the device as Hi-Fi as it can be at this price range. It sounds more cleaner and natural compared to the X3, which is more warmly tilted. I was able to hear more details on the X5 than the X3, and the soundstage became wider and the instrument separation is also boosted up a notch. As for the instrument separation, I think it is more subtle than an apparent change but it is there.
I will break down the sound to its components:
To my ears the bass is quite well defined, it is the type of analytical bass I love in my music. Through the DT880s with its ability to go very low, shines in this regard. I was able to hear the low range rumble from songs like "Angel" by "Massive Attack". That song contains so much low frequencies it somewhat massages your brain as the song progresses. The X5 helps with that a great deal, it delivers the low frequencies through being punchy and defined.
It comes to me as being very honest somewhat. Any vocal song you throw at it the midrange will be present and brings it forth so beautifully it leaves you wanting more. You will keep on playing your vocal-centric pieces for many times because of this quality. Instruments that fall in this range are also treated similarly, as in the flute in the song "With You There to Help Me" by "Jethro Tull". The flute sounds so fluid and engaging as if you could just lay down and let the flute just carry you away into audio nirvana.
The treble is very well defined and integrated into the rest of the sound spectrum. It displays this range with no fatigue, it lays them down to you instead of throwing it to you giving you ear fatigue. Cymbals sound just right for my ears, the sizzle sounds as realistic as it could be without sounding too harsh on you. The snare drums hit with such a snap and authority. "Wish You Were Here" by "Pink Floyd" delighted me with its wonderful synthesizers and guitar.
Compared to the X3, the X5 sounds more spacious. The X5 delivers more depth, as in the front and back space. Other than that it is not so different than the X3. In this regard, the X3 and X5's soundstaging is already as good as DAPs can get.
The imaging on the X5 is done better than the X3, for it sounds more 3D like compared to the flat 2D of the X3. I feel that I am more into the song on the X5 than I do with the X3 for that reason alone. The instruments and vocals are placed to give a better impression of the music being played. This is one of my favourite things about the sound of this device, with the other being the neutrality.
The sound as a whole is delivered with neutrality in mind. And by neutrality I mean that all frequencies are adequately expressed to the best of its capabilities. All the songs I have listened to are portrayed nicely through the device. Now this all does depend on the headphone/IEM you are pairing, but from my gear this is what I have experienced.
The Fiio X5 deserves to be one of the top DAPs out there for giving it a nice feature packed experience with such a price, that it surely cannot be topped in that sense. For someone who wants pure Hi-Fi sound on the go, and also to be used as a USB DAC with a PC as a desktop device.
However, if you are on a budget, I think the X3 will suffice, as both devices are similarly packed with features, and the sound quality difference is not that big of a deal if you are going to look for a device with less of a damage on your wallet. The X3 will do just right for that situation.
The X5 will delight its owners for sure. From the build quality to the UI to the sound quality, all is done with a level of competence that just shows.