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The FiiO X1 Discussion and Help and Support Thread |192K/24B|100mW | LO | inline remote - Page 102
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You'll get my review soon including an unboxing video
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Are you guys ready? Here comes my initial impression and First Review of FiiO X1.
I only had a few hours to play with X1 since I received it, and here is what I found. Of course, BIG Thanks to FiiO team for providing me with a review sample.
My review unit arrived in a package similar to the latest E10k/E11k boxes. X1 was suited in black silicon skin with one screen protector already applied. USB to micro-usb cable comes as part of accessories, as well as two additional screen protectors. This is a review unit so I'm sure production one might have more accessories. Silicon skin is definitely great for a basic scratch and minimal drop protection, but I wish it would have been gray like the one that comes with X5 since you can't see X1 charging light underneath of solid black, and its a static magnet which makes lint more visible on black in comparison to gray. I took it out of the skin right away to enjoy a beauty of its brushed aluminum finish.
Build is very solid, and a smaller "deck of cards" size (in comparison to X5) makes a fitment in my hand more comfortable. The aluminum finish and round buttons, especially power and volume on the side, makes it resemble a bit of an iPhone look. Buttons have a very nice tactile response. At the top you have a single 3.5mm port, used as either HO or LO, selectable from Setting menu. On a right side at the bottom there is a slot for a single microSD card (no internal memory). MicroSD card is much easier to access by pushing it in since it's not as recessed as the one in X5. On a left side at the top, you have a volume button, almost on the level of the frame, a reset pinhole, and two slightly raised volume up/down buttons - easy to id by sliding a finger where volume up even has a tiny raised dot. Having volume and power buttons on the same side has great ergonomics and convenience to use a thumb to control volume and to wake up the screen. At the bottom you have a micro-usb connector positioned in the middle and two tiny screws with what appears like a hex bit head.
Top of the front panel is occupied by a display, very similar to X5, just scaled down. For those familiar with X5, you will be right at home with scrolling wheel control and 5 control buttons with main Play/Pause/Select in the middle of the wheel, Return/Back in the upper right corner, Menu in the upper left corner, and Skip/Select next/prev buttons at the bottom. Though the wheel looks and functions the same, it's UPDATED from X5. When you scroll with a thumb - you can feel/hear micro-click action, and overall scrolling feels more solid and better controlled. I'm very pleased with this change.
Once you power up X1, a new menu really brought tears to my eyes :) You still have icons arranged around the circle, but looks like FiiO guys listened to all the complains and changed the scrolling logistics. Instead of 7 icons in X5, now you have 5 icons with some functionality combined in comparison to X5. Icons are located left to right AND instead of scrolling icons you have a scrolling pointer!!! I like this control arrangement better, and wish it would be implemented in future X5 firmware updates. From a quick glance, all the Setting and Play Setting controls are very similar, with one noticeable change is an option for Theme Color. I didn't notice any lag while scrolling through menu options or songs. The movement is fluid and as fast as with X5. To me it really felt like a mature firmware release. Selecting to play a song displayed a name and ID tag info (if available), cover art (if available), and song format/encoding. Similarly to X5, at the top in notification bar you have volume with corresponding value, headphone/line out icon, EQ setting name, microSD card presence, and battery status.
About the sound quality. I did a quick a/b comparison between X1 and X5 using ATH-IM03 and Havi B3 Pro I, and also with Line Out and E11k. Using HO, I didn't sense any extra coloration, the sound was relatively neutral, warm, and linear in characteristics as you raise the volume. It looks like X1 has a single gain setting, and I noticed that using either of these IEMs required volume level on average 10 ticks lower than with X5 in its default low gain setting. For those who are familiar with B3 Pro I, you know it benefits from extra amping. Here, I was able to drive it without a sweat at about half volume setting. Regarding HO sound quality comparison between these DAPs, you can rest assure that X1 is not X5 killer. But at the same time, the difference is not really night'n'day. X5 sound is more detailed, with more body, and a wider soundstage. But X1 is not lagging behind by too much. This difference becomes even less apparent when you switch to LO with external amp. Using E11k with X1, you get more details and wider soundstage, with a deeper and more extended low end. In comparison, with X5 LO + E11k you still hear a little better performance, but the gap is closer.
Overall, I have a VERY positive first impression about this new FiiO DAP. It feels very solid, has mature performance, and sound quality is much better than I expected. I like all the improvements with a new scrolling wheel mechanism, round physical buttons, and updated scrolling menu control. Sound quality is not equivalent to X5, but that is expected at a fraction of a price. At the same time, it's not too far off and when using external amp connected to LO, you are getting even closer to X5. Just keep in mind, X1 output shares HO and LO, and it even gives you a warning when you switch its functionality, which I ignored and almost went deaf because I still had headphones connected directly to the jack. For $99 this DAP has an INSANE value with hardly anything coming even close in build, design, sound, and firmware support. With upcoming additional accessories such as armband - it will add more versatility to take this DAP anywhere with you versus keeping it's older bigger/heavier X5 brother at home for a more serious listening! This one gets my HIGH recommendation!!!
Here are the pictures.
X1 next to X5.
My camera got jealous and wanted to take a picture next to X1 ;)
Edited by twister6 - 8/23/14 at 12:11pm