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FiiO X3 vs. Sony NWZ-F805 vs. iBasso DX50: quick comparison

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone. Just thought I would give some impressions after a couple of weeks of comparison between the new FiiO X3 DAP and the Sony Android NWZ-F805 walkman. Just added my impressions of the iBasso DX50. Enjoy! :)


First up, the test setup....

Earphones: Westone 4R with custom tips

Headphones: Beyerynamic T70p and Sennheiser HD650


Music: Range of classical, rock, electronic and a few easy listneing. All FLAC rips from CDs on level 0/1.


To make this a concise review I will just give my impressions in bullet points, if anyone has any further questions I will be happy to elaborate! :)



Sony: Lovely crisp touchscreen. Lightweight. Thin. Good quality finish all round. Fiddly volumes rocker buttons. Very annoying power button.

FiiO: Absolutely f'ugly. Nice weighty feel. Crappy screen resolution and not bright enough in strong light. Nice clunky buttons. Quite a thick device, will stick out if you have tight trousers on!

iBasso: Lovely tactile unit. Feels good in the hand and has a nice brushed aluminium effect finish. It is quite heavy and that may bother some people looking for a highly portable lightweight player. Build quality is much better than the FiiO but still not quite up to the standards of Sony. Few niggly little marks and a strange millimeter lump on the top of the player, the SD card slot area is not completely flush with the edge of the top frame.  



Sony: Android 4.0.4 (UK) no updates planned I believe. Good sensitive screen. Transition animations seem good/smooth. Walkman app easy to use.

FiiO: Rudimentary menu. Options seem well though out. VERY buggy at the moment, firmware updates needed badly. Prone to crashing when unplugging from USB port without exiting USB mode on device (seriously it is 2013 and devices cannot cope with being unplugged!). Massive delay in playing FLAC files (explained in the manual as caused by the buffer but is toooooo long IMHO). Gapless playback does not seem to work all the time!

iBasso: On first use all appears fine but it is not long before you find a whole host of ridiculous bugs that really does frustrate! I wont go into detail as I know there are threads dedicated for this player. The interface is generally quite fast and the touchscreen responsive. Screen is very bright and the resolution is enough that you can easily read any text displayed. Art work is so small that it is almost pointless having it displayed. An iPod this ain't :)



Sony: Fairly well balanced. Nice detailing in the mids/highs. Bass extended but not particularly deep. Fairy 2D sounding. Sound staging not very wide. Does have punch but maybe not enough for some. Great with delicate music.

FiiO: Big sound. Punchy, very well extended bass. Great detailing in the mids/highs but maybe not quite as much as the Sony. Wide soundstage. Lovely timing/rhythm. Makes you want to listen to all of your music again :) Very natural sounding, maybe a touch warm (which I like).

iBasso: With my ear/headphones tested I found the sound to be very similar to the FiiO. A lovely warm yet detailed sound that really made me wonder how much better the A&K 120 can be? I really doubt it is 4-5 times better as the retail price suggests! The sound stage is lovely, separation superb and the timing is fantastic, especially on my Westone 4Rs. It is only marginally better sounding to me than the X3 so I would recommend anyone considering either to just buy both an sell on the one they don't like, it really is that close. There are minute differences but in the context of an entire album they will probably be unnoticeable. 



IMHO you cannot go wrong with any of the 3 players depending on what kind of sound you like. The Sony has a clinical yet pleasing sound and a slightly pronounced mid range. This can work beautifully with vocals but not with electronic music etc. The X3 and DX50 have a lush, more musical presentation. More bass and generally a more satisfying sound with a wider sound stage and great timing. 

The Android interface on the Sony puts the other two to shame to be frank. It is 2013 and when I look and use the X3 I am embarrassed how crap it looks and how out of date the interface is. The DX50 is only slightly better on this front but if iBasso can sort out the ridiculous bugs it will be a massive step closer to the Sony in terms of usability.

Now Sony have the F886 on the way I may be tempted to try that because if the sound is close to the DX50/X3 it is a complete no brainer as the interface will be light years more advanced and I will not have to suffer the frustration of pathetic coding and bad design.

But, alas, it is not out yet so I cannot say. If you are looking to buy right now I personally feel the DX50 is the best option out of the three, just be prepared for a patchy user experience until they can fix all the bugs! :)

Edited by Krisman - 10/15/13 at 1:00pm
post #2 of 46

Appreciated! Great review

post #3 of 46

Thanks, I just bought both players as well.

post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. 

sOlar, would be interested to get your views! 

post #5 of 46
Originally Posted by Krisman View Post

Thanks guys.

sOlar, would be interested to get your views!


I will take the time and post my impressions after the weekend.


EDIT: I managed to loose my Sony USB cable and wasn't able to transfer enough files to my F805. I ordered a new cable and hope it will arrive soon so I can do some listening on it.

The tracks that are on the player itself sounded good but I cannot make judgements on that alone. Fiio X3 is really good, iBasso T5 connected to line-out is worth the extra bulk and as a bonus you get more playback time on the X3. X3 with headphones-out is 10h, with line-out it's 20h, haven't tested it myself. T5 amp playback is 20h, so I guess both are made for each other.

Edited by s0lar - 9/15/13 at 2:18pm
post #6 of 46

I have done some more listening. I will first be comparing the F805 with iBasso D4 (OPA1612 opamp), that's my benchmark.

Sony F805 is a good match with RE0, because it's slightly warm, smooth and brings vocals/mids forward.


Soundstage is not impressive both good enough. D4 sounds wider, more open and has more micro-details.

F805 is a very good match for my RE0 and brings out enough details, smooths out the top and most importantly make it sounds a tad warmer and more upfront. Bass doesn't go as deep as D4 or even X3.


I will be using my F805 on the go with my RE0 and my Fiio X3 paired with T5 with my RE262.


F805 has great features and looks good, bummer about the stupid USB-cable and lack of external storage but 16GB is plenty!

X3 is audio only and is more neutral, the technically better player as well but lacks replaygain support, and for me that is important. Now I need to manually amplify each song depending on replaygain values. But it's worth it because I can get perfromance (with T5 as amp) that's near iBasso D4 (DAC+AMP) on my desktop.


So for me ultra portable: Clip+ with SM3.

EDIT: Portable: F805 with SM3 or RE0.

Still portable: X3 paired with T5 with RE262.

Desktop: D4 with whatever I feel like.


I can do some comparisons with MEE A161p, R-50, some cheapos, PFE 012, FA Eterna, Sony MH1C, Brainwavz B2, Hisoundaudio Crystal and some others I own.

Edited by s0lar - 9/17/13 at 2:22pm
post #7 of 46

I have done some more listening with Earsonics SM3 and Brainwavz B2 as well.


Compared to iBasso D4 both X3 and F805 sound less wide, open and lack some micro-details.

Brainwavz B2 hiss a little with iBasso D4 but not with X3 or F805. I haven't heard any hiss with either X3 or F805. Earsonics SM3 sounds even more forward with X3 and F805, the D4 brings it to another level.

X3 and F805 are really close, I really need to do long testing to find out which one is marginally better. Very minor differences between these DAPs.


So instead of trying to find out which is the better player here I will settle for these set-ups.

F805 is an amazing replacement for my Sansa Clip+. I use the deadbeef player so I can keep my wavpack transparant (380kbps) music library.

I like the upfront presentation of the SM3 and F805, I was a little concerned both together might be too much but it's not.

If someone wants me to compare X3 with a particular IEM I will, but I will use it with the iBasso T5 because X3 is not that portable anyway so I don't mind the extra bulk of the small T5 amp.

I ordered some opamps and I will probably replace the AD8397 with OPA1602 or OP1612 in the X3. I guess performance will get even closer to X3+T5 or even better (small chance). Now that Fiio advertised some new features coming in the next fw releases, namely USB DAC support for X3 so you can use it as a desktop DAC as well, this is one amazing product you can get.


F805 is also a very nice player, but with other strengths.


A little comparison then.


X3 is a powerhouse with a very good DAC that can soon be used on your PC/laptop as well.

No replaygain, no memory about which song you were playing and less portable. Together with T5 this is crazy good and allmost as good as iBasso D4.


F805 is an excellent all-rounder, plays all formats with deadbeef, has replaygain, plays games, videos, ... and is more portable.

Why not a standard micro or mini-usb or a micro-SD slot Sony?


Both are worth to be bought if you want a great DAP. If you want a more portable player and don't care about the extra DAC-feature that X3 will have in the future, the F805 will do you right. Coming from Clip+, F805 has a warmer and more upfront sound signature. X3 has a similar sound signature from headphones-out but it also has a line-out so it has more expansion possibilities.

post #8 of 46
Thread Starter 

Good comments s0lar! Very interesting. I never usually play with separate amps etc. on my portable DAPs as I like to travel light. :)


I have ordered an iBasso DX50 which should be arriving today so cannot wait to try that out too! Review coming soon........

post #9 of 46
Krisman, when you a/b these gadgets.. What are the settings on sony805. Did you have the clearbass activated or tweaks some frequency? Im asking cuz im very disappointed with my dx50 which came yesterday and found it real flat or none at all on bass region and these comparison is based on sony x series which i have thats why im rooting for another sony dap for replacement.
post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 

Hey crushnburn, I always flatten any eq settings, remove processing where possible etc. So the 'clear bass' was off and eq flat on the Sony when I listened. 

What ear/headphones did you try with the dx50? Mine arrived last night and have only just started listening but my initial impressions (with the 1.15 firmware) were good on my Westone 4Rs. More listening required though!!!! :)

post #11 of 46

Today I was testing more IEMs with F805. It seems to be hit and miss sometimes. MEE A161p or Hisoundaudio Crystals don't pair at all. Somehow I need to pump up the volume as well for those IEM's. Both A161p and Crystals have low impedance (16 Ohm) but so has SM3 and they sound as good as ever or better. RE0 sounds sublime, sound becomes almost 3d, mids come forward with smoothed highs while Crystal and A161p can sound sibilant. I haven't tried all my eartips and I am using comply on my RE0 but the tips on A161p and Crystals are the ones I have been using in all my other equipment without these issues. A161p hisses even a very little.

Not that it matters to me, F805 and RE0 pair so well, even better then with my old iBasso T4 amp, but for those with other (sensitive) IEM's might find the F805 not so great.

Edited by s0lar - 9/19/13 at 1:06pm
post #12 of 46
Krisman, your thoghts are very much appreciated! As per iems i use is shure425 and lcd2 for headphone. I dont know maybe im not on the same level of audiophiles like and guess im irritated with high end freq. also im leaning over the new sony f886 which will debut this coming nov. or try x3 for the time being which will be paired by portaphile627x
post #13 of 46

As I just bought Yamaha EPH-100 I was curious how they performed with F805. They humm on my iBasso D4 and other 16 Ohm IEMs didn't do great on F805, I had no high expectations.

EPH-100 sounds good on Clip+ but on F805 they are wider, more detailer, bass is better controlled and they shine!

So F805 is picky on IEMs but some IEMs really pair well.

post #14 of 46

hi Krisman .

Just seen ur post regarding feedback of the FIIO x3.

have u got the Ibasso DX50.

how is the SQ, Separation,  Sound Stage, Imaging when compared to other players u used.

have u rate the DAP u used till now with the above criteria.

post #15 of 46

I just received my R-50's back and tried them on F805.


I have tried several IEMs and I am quite sure what I hear will be most often the case.

F805 gives a smooth, more intimate 3-D sound with forward vocals. It might even be called mid-focused and present the singer centered and more forward.

It is great for detailed IEMs, but for those that feel their IEMs lack bass, the F805 does not boost or focuses on bass.

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