Pros: Natural presentation, superb detail reproduction, ample amounts of performance, competitive price.
Cons: The navigation wheel feels a bit fragile, non replaceable battery.
I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with FiiO or their partners.
First of all i would like to thank FiiO and those involved for making the world tour possible.
This write-up is based upon the ten day period of time in the middle of march when i had a preview unit in my possession.
1. The first time
I picked up the unit on the fourteenth of march, and quickly hauled a*se home to try this new thing that came to change my view on portable audio.
When i got it out of the packaging i quickly realized that i was a beta tester, the player crashed when trying to index my library of seven hundred or so FLAC files.
After a quick search i found that this was a common bug with version 1.10 of the X5's firmware and that it had been fixed in a later update. With the new update installed the listening began.
1.1 Listening and hearing
I plugged my InEar StageDiver SD-2's into the X5 and heard... well i heard music, nothing spectacular just music. I thought "This can't be right, is there something I'm missing?", it turned out that i was. Later that evening when i grabbed my InEar's again for another listening session it struck me, the X5 is not doing anything in special, it's just doing what it's supposed to. It does not colour the music in any mayor way, nor does it improve it. The X5 is strikingly natural. The music just sounds right, and that is the best way I can describe it.
The X5 and the StageDivers.
Natural, is that it? Sonically, yes that is the best way i can describe it, natural. And with me being a naturalist i feel that this is the way that I want to enjoy my music, "as it is" and with as few disturbances as possible detracting from the music.
2. The physical
The X5 is one solid feeling player. Built out of solid aluminum with very little plastic in the actual chassis. The one thing i wish that FiiO took a good hard look at is the mechanical navigation wheel. The unit i received had a very poorly implemented wheel, the thing jiggled like there was no tomorrow and felt like it was about to pop of the unit, which could probably be fixed with some inlays but since I didn't own the unit I decided against putting the X5 under the screwdriver and fixing it myself. That wheel was a real turnoff. When everything about the unit screamed quality there it was, jiggling away.
2.1 Holding its own
The Swedish weather can get a bit crazy around the month of march. One minute it can be sunny and lovely, the next it can be poring down rain and the next it can be snowing. Despite this i never had the X5 crap out on me because of the weather, it handled sub zero degrees centigrade like a champ when other digital devices like my phone didn't.
3. The big picture
Even though the X5 has some flaws I still feel like it's a welcomed addition to the ever growing market of Digital Audio Players. It's solid enough to withstand some fairly heavy abuse, it handles weather like a champ and it plays music without to many diversions. It gives ample amounts of performance for not to much money. Is it the best player on the market? No, it isn't. Is it for everyone? I believe not, but for someone that likes things to be a bit bigger (yes, some puns intended), does not like to have things spoiled and enjoys naturality. Then i think it is something to consider and keep in mind when the time for an upgrade comes.
The X5 does also work well with FiiO's E12 amplifier if you need some extra power.
3.1 Closing words
I would once again like to thank FiiO for this opportunity and for pushing to meet the demands of us Head-fi'ers that keep knocking on your noggins with an everlasting thirst for you and your products.
Markus Petersson a.k.a. Skalkman.