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Improving my listening experience - Will Fiio X5 help??

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I have often referenced this site over the past 5 or so years but this will be my first forum post (i think). I am a music lover with a draw towards the term audiophile, not sure I classify quite yet.

 

I have been curious about the Fioo (and other) DAPs and was happy to have held out on the X3 when I read recently about the X5. I am on the fence about whether to invest in this beautiful little player and would greatly appreciate this communities opinions.

 

I have a large digital music collection. It is eclectic featuring jazz, folk, alternative rock, but centered very much around my favourite listening type which is electronica and instrumental type hip hop (eg Ninja Tune label).

 

The majority of my music collection is in 320kbps CBR format, however as much as possible over the last year I have been also purchasing the flac versions of music.

 

I have a pair of Sennheiser IE8 in ears and a pair of PSB M4U 2 active noise cancelling over ears. I keep all my music (mp3 collection) on an iPod Classic 160gb and occasionally listen to some flac files on my android phone (currently an HTC One S) or laptop.

 

So my question is this - with my current headphones, and music collection, do you think that the use of the Fiio X5 will improve my listening experience? I know that it would potentially act as an investment, to show it's true colours as a expand my lossless collection and perhaps upgrade headphones. On that note, what would be some recommended pairings for my music preferences and the X5?

 

Many thanks for your time, consideration and wisdom.

 

- Scott.

post #2 of 5
Thread Starter 

Another thought would be to install Rockbox on my iPod classic. I am a little afraid of this for a number of reasons:

 

1) Firstly, I am currently using a GTA Car Kit iPod connector in my car to access my iPod music library on the move. This kit connects to the CD Stacker line in at the back of the car stereo and has a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as an iPod connector. I am not sure whether this classifies as line in or something more complex. I'm afraid that changing the UI will ruin this compatibility/function. Thoughts??

 

2) Music library - my iPod has my entire library currently. Is it easy to reorganise and add flac files, etc after installing Rockbox?

 

So... X5 or Rockbox?

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Any thoughts?
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyj11 View Post

 

So my question is this - with my current headphones, and music collection, do you think that the use of the Fiio X5 will improve my listening experience? I know that it would potentially act as an investment, to show it's true colours as a expand my lossless collection and perhaps upgrade headphones. On that note, what would be some recommended pairings for my music preferences and the X5?

 

For the most part, the iPod isn't exactly that bad a music player in terms of playback quality, although it isn't perfect - it has some rough edges in the treble and the output power is weak even for a number of IEMs (not just in total voltage/wattage but also current), line out is clean but there are advantages to a true discrete lineout besides higher voltage output (assuming one doesn't use the circuit to "dope" the response). That said, from what I gather in the feedback about the X5, it should basically be neutral like the iPod, but likely smoother, and better able to handle transients in the music due to its better amp. I wouldn't doubt that there are benefits, for example, bass being tighter with the IE8 with any music save for pure vocals, but the question really is whether you would consider $350 worth it, which will vary from person to person. 

 

For a lot of other music genres too there can be audible imrpovements in the size of the soundstage and imaging precision, but again, this can be highly relative. Other people think $1500 for what soundstaging gains can be drawn from an HD800, for example, but of course that isn't uniform.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that you can get some feedback from someone who listens to the exact same music, and has the exact same preferences in the characteristics of the audio presentation (despite the more popular opinion, not everyone prefers Grados as the best or rock and metal, for example), it will be very hard to get a good guess on how much better the X5 or any player will be, with your current headphones or with others you will upgrade to. Also, there actually are people who install Rockbox or even get a new player altogether considering drag and drop, and most of the usual things that come with it like manual (check of) track tagging, as a lot better than dealing with iTunes. If you don't rant about iTunes now, chances are you might just start cursing this kind of interface.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyj11 View Post
 

1) Firstly, I am currently using a GTA Car Kit iPod connector in my car to access my iPod music library on the move. This kit connects to the CD Stacker line in at the back of the car stereo and has a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as an iPod connector. I am not sure whether this classifies as line in or something more complex. I'm afraid that changing the UI will ruin this compatibility/function. Thoughts??

 

If it uses an iPod connector and you can control it using your car's receiver, chances are you will lose the latter if you install Rockbox. If you can drop some of the albums, or split some for the car and the rest for the headphones, you can use a bit of it for iTunes-loaded music, and therefore you just boot up iTunes when using it in the car. Or, you can get the X5 to try with your headphone gear, especially since there can be improvements with the IE8, then just use the iPod for your car. No need to give up the iPod direct controls for Rockbox (even for the EQ) nor the X5 - the SQ improvements will not change the fact that you don't own a Mclaren F1 (and even if you did, why install a sound system and then rework it enough to isolate the engine noise?) unlike a true car audio processor and isn't worth having a near-eye level interface you can reach and manipulate without taking your eyes off the road.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyj11 View Post

 

2) Music library - my iPod has my entire library currently. Is it easy to reorganise and add flac files, etc after installing Rockbox?

 

The ones you have on FLAC might need a little checking still on the track tags, but for the most part it will just be drag and drop, which honestly is what some people really needed Rockbox for. If you actually love iTunes and you use a Macbook with it, I'm going to wager you'll hate Rockbox and all the other DAPs. At a minimum, you must have liked a Sansa player.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyj11 View Post

 

So... X5 or Rockbox?

 

You can try Rockbox first, and if you decide you hate it, then that's a sure indicator that you shouldn't blow $350 on the X5.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your response. I am not an apple person, rather much prefer a drag and drop system. I do worry about losing iPod functionality with the Rockbox, especially if there is not a significant benefit in doing so.

I guess it is hard for others to say whether the quality of my music will be improved significantly with the X5. I will try to find a store where I can test it.
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