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