To be launched internationally in March 2014, the X5 marks FiiO's next step into no-holds-barred high-res portable hi-fi territory at a bargain price: http://fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
Bought my Fiio X5 and it worked great for a few months, then one day, it got very hot ! so I sent it back for a warranty replacement, and it worked great until for just over a year, and now the replacement has done the same thing, will not power up, plugging in the charge cable, the charge light stays green, and the unit gets hot, so since it is out of warranty, I popped the back off, and checked out the battery, it isn't the battery that gets hot, but the circuits under the battery ! I won't be buying another Fiio player
I used it 5 days a week at work, so maybe I just used it too much.
Also had the problem with both of them not connecting to my pc, plugging in the supplied cord would charge them, but I could not access the files on the memory cards.
to Dobrescu George, I'm glad you have had good luck with the X5, that being said, I'm not impressed with the X5's I had, and am getting an Ibasso dx80
I did email Fiio, and the response I got back was:
Dear user ,
Thank you for your mail and support to FiiO.
When did you buy the X5? It is X5 first gen or X5II? Are you capable to replace the battery yourself? It seems not only a battery issue only. You may take off the battery and collect the X5 to a power apply to see whether it can be turned on?
Looking forward to your feedback.
Have a nice day! Best Regards,
Pros - Sings like a champion. Handles like a schizophrenic gimp. Stole the physique of Vin Diesel.
Cons - Scroll wheel, even on late models, is rather finicky. (not to be found in the body of the review... just 'cause)
I’ve had my eyes peeled for a staunch enough system to replace my GalaxyS4>UAPP>OTG>Dragonfly1.2 mobile setup. While this package sounds amazing, it’s cumbersome and time-consuming to connect and get running. I have all my adapters and cables, along with the Dragonfly itself, in a leather pencil roll. To set it all up I must unroll the bundle, take the Dragonfly out of its sheath, remove the cap, pull out the cable I need for going mobile, connect everything, load up USB Audio Player Pro, and select an album to play. Oh, and headphones, of course. Gotta have that.
All this can be accomplished in less than a minute. But in the doing, that time takes on a brutish quality. It’s a lot more work than it should be. I wanted something lighter and quicker, something self-contained, compact, and extremely easy to just pick up and go.
Them who roam the lands of high-end audio call a contraption of that sort a “DAP”. Queer little buggers… these audiophiles.
There are lots of options out there. Fortune placed a 2nd Generation FiiO X3 in my path at a reasonable mark-off. You can find that review on your own, if you fear what awaits you for not reading it. The X3ii did everything I could possibly want from a DAP, save one crucial mark: it did not match or surpass the Dragonfly in raw, unadulterated sound quality. It came close in some ways. The sound is so clean and lively, that after a week of not comparing it to the Dragonfly, I began to ponder why I should ever desire an upgrade.
Then, when I listen to the Audioquest again, I am refreshed of its spaciousness, clarity, and refinement. After that, it’s tough to reconcile the disparity and convince oneself to settle.
Perhaps a week and a half into owning the X3ii, I found a brand-new X5 Classic for $195. The taut, well-oiled reflexes of a degenerate sprang into action, and I pounced on the opportunity.
Allow me to say, if you’ve spent the last month reading every review of the X3ii, X5 Classic, and X5ii, forming proper expectations is a cruel and befuddling exercise. Part of me thought this could be a monstrous upgrade. Another part feared it might weigh in just under the X3ii, and sound rather too dark as a bonus. Both extremes informed by stuff I’d read.
My principle monitors for mobile and work listening were the fairly new AUDIO TECHNICA IM04 in-ear phones. Being on the warm side, I knew mingling with the X5 Classic might yield a very dark sound indeed.
As it turns out, it does. But only on a few especially dark albums—like Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, or Dookie by Green Day, or Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. Most everything else sounds marvelous. Using the ATH-IM03, which is a brighter, airier IEM, these darker tracks breathe again. The sonic signature is mildly warm, yet quite open and spacious. There is a rich, velvety smoothness to the music that favors slower acoustic pieces, yet somehow never falters on quick, complex tracks. Paired with a multi-driver earphone, you are treated to such immersive layering. The X5 is a clear, transparent, detail-oriented machine.
I’ve coveted the aesthetics of the X5, even before I knew what it was. Again and again, as I read up on various products, I’d see a photo of this bold, almost brash, hunk of metal. I’d think, “That’s right and good, isn’t it? That’s what a DAP ought to look like.” I much prefer this design over the 2nd Gen FiiO players. While smarter, sleeker, and, functionally speaking, superior, they’ve killed something in the personality department. Also, on a carnal level, the fluidity of the scroll wheel of the X5 Classic promotes a greater number of erections than the cog-like workings of the newer players. There’s a luxuriousness upon fingering it which frightens me.
When coupling this DAP with something larger, like the Sennheiser HD600, it holds up admirably. Setting the volume at 100/120 on High Gain, I reach a sufficient blast to meet the fundamental requirements of Metallica, the Black Album. These 300 Ohm headphones do not reach the same fidelity on the X5 as they do on my desktop amp. Then again, the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus with the OPA627 upgrade is a hellcat. Nonetheless, fed by the X5, it sounds more or less badass.
I don’t own a portable amp to which to chain my DAPs. Something like the E12 or the C5 is the antithesis of what I want from a portable unit. As I only take IEMs on the go, this is not a problem. But should I ever want to go mobile with a king-hell headset, the X5 will serve splendidly in a pinch.
14 Ohms, 34 Ohms, 300 Ohms… all pair very well here. Even my 50 Ohm Klipsch X7i opens up like a prom date for the X5 Classic. It’s a privet agony, but the X7 has been relegated to backup duty in recent months. Once you go multi-driver, it’s impossible to willingly go back. Still, the X7 is the lightest, smallest, and most comfortable earphone I’ve ever tried. So they stick around, criminally underutilized, as my Podcast and Audiobook phones, played via the headphone-out of my Galaxy S4 (now S6). Heaven forbid if my IM03 were to go on a walkabout I could stride onward with the X5>X7i setup, head held high. They certainly make a handsome couple.
So… the FiiO thrills on all of my equipment. But does it compete against that which it’s meant to replace? Well…
The Dragonfly has a soundstage more-or-less equal to the X5, erring on the side of broader. There seems to be a greater degree of detail on the X5. It’s a close call, though. The Dragonfly sounds smoother, perhaps due to a combination of less detail and wider staging. Both sound very close to one another. I have trouble deciding which is darker and which is lighter. I believe the Dragonfly is a smidge brighter, if at all.
It’s particularly difficult to decide which is better. Smoother speaks to refinement I’ve always felt, but in this case, the X5 makes up for it in detail, a natural rendering of space, and a lively sense of musicality. Switching back and forth between the two, neither emerges a clear winner. They share so much in common.
Which makes this FiiO DAP a perfect replacement for the muddling mess of the Audioquest. I’ve been using the X5 Classic for weeks now, and have not once reckoned a lack in my listening sessions. This is what I had hoped the X3ii would sound like. Turns out my expectations were perverted by the lusty Dragonfly.
If all you need is a thumb-sized DAC to plug into a PC or tablet, the Dragonfly 1.2 cannot be beat for the price. But if you want an all-in-one portable music player of extreme audio fidelity, the X5 Classic is where you start.
I say “start”, because I’m nowhere near done yet. I still long to discover new levels of quality and refinement. But this will tide me over for a few months at least. It’s the beginning of August now. With my Christmas bonus I may give the Cayin N6 a try. See where that takes me.
This is the perfect place to rest for a time. If I were unable to buy another piece of gear, it would not kill me. The X5>IM03 is unreasonably great and delivers immaculate pleasure to your ear-holes.
Pros - Inexpensive, great battery life, good with most IEMs. Can be used as a transport or with a separate amp for good results. Dual microSD card storage.
Cons - Poor performance with full-sized headphones and needs a separate amp to work best with those. No touch-screen UI.
Thanks to FiiO for the loaner unit.
If there is a brand other than Apple that is more well-known at Head-Fi than FiiO I’d be very surprised. A number of their products have become pretty much standard entry-level recommendations and their flagship amp, the E12 is a mere $129! However portable amps have been rapidly going out of fashion with the increasing number of DAPs, or Digital Audio Players on the market, itself a consequence of the increasing number of Android-based phones available, including inexpensive models in China, which in turn have provided much needed components to manufacturers of portable audio gear.
While not Android-based DAPs in themselves, FiiO has gone with this trend and through something of a trial-by-fire as they worked on the software, developed the hugely successful X3. As their software has reached something resembling maturity, they came out with the larger X5. I became interested in the X5 because of the design and feature set and due to the positive impression I had of the sound at the e-earphone headphone festival in Tokyo in December 2013.
I was lucky enough to get in the loaner tour for the X5 and hold onto a unit for a while to get the hang of its capabilities. Thanks to Joe Bloggs on Head-Fi for giving us this opportunity.
It would not be unkind to describe the X5 as looking rather like a modern take on the original iPod. From the outside, the case is almost a work of art which manages to balance style with form and function. A physical scroll wheel and central button with 4 un-labelled buttons evenly arranged around it make up most of the front, and a small 400x360 pixel screen sits behind a wider piece of or plastic that, by default, is covered with a screen protector. The main volume controls sit on one side, two microSD cards slots and USB on the bottom and three different outputs on the top. The net result is attractive and reasonably functional, feels good in the hand and, with help from the quick-start guide in the box, doesn’t take long to get the hang of using.
Next to the power button is the headphone socket, line out and a coaxial digital output for connecting to another DAC, for which a short cable is included. On the other end, astride the micro-USB socket are two micro USB slots, giving the potential for up to 256GB of storage (potentially costing more, I might add, than the X5 itself). While slower than a USB 3 reader, the X5 can be connected to a computer and the contents of the cards accessed in mass-storage mode or the X5 used as a DAC, where it will accept up to 192k and 24 bit input. The X5 will play the usual plethora of common file formats, including DSD, which is converts to PCM on the fly.
The attractive interface, if you don’t mind reading the tiny, and in the case of some of the indicators, faded writing. Indoors it wasn’t a problem for me, but outside in the sun, especially with reflections, like other DAPs became impossible to read. For those so inclined, a number of members of Head-Fi have hacked the firmware to produce their own versions*. Despite being small, the interface is very quick. Scrolling fairly fast even though a large number of albums there are no delays or even stutter when turning the wheel at a moderate speed, though over two rotations per second it starts to struggle. Any delays come from having to repeatedly press and scroll through the menus. If you have as I do a very full 64 GB card, getting to an album in folder view half way down (or up, as scrolling jumps from beginning to end if done backwards and vice-versa) can take quite a while. The fastest way to drill down is via genre, if your music is tagged sufficiently well and you have a variety, followed by Album and Artist by picking whichever is closer to A or Z in the list.
If you’re thinking now “Why not just load on some playlists?” you’ll be disappointed to know that one major omission is support for M3U playlists. In the Chinese market, according to FiiO, playlists aren’t a big thing. If you wish to use playlists, you have to manually create them inside the X5 by playing the song and adding it using the quick menu button to a playlist, which cannot be re-named from the default “Playlist 1/2/3/4/etc.” Similarly, while there is an equaliser with a number of presets available, the lack of a touch screen means that the custom EQ needs to be set via a series of scroll, press-and-scroll motions, which can be somewhat tiresome.
The good news is, however, the battery life. When not playing music, even left switched on, the X5 takes days, if not over a week, to drain the battery. Switched off the battery didn’t deplete even when left for a month unused. Playback time for CD quality files is quite long, over 10 hours according to the specifications.
The volume control has a very useful 120 positions, at least so for IEMs, with a setting for the default power-on volume level. It can be controlled using the side buttons, or using the scroll wheel after pressing one of the side buttons beforehand. Which buttons will still work after the screen is off/locked can also be controlled via settings, with three options for side volume buttons only, side buttons and play/pause button, or the previous setting plus forward/back buttons. While convenient, the idle power off setting, if on, is limited to only 1 to 8 minutes, though the sleep timer can be set to up to 2 hours.
Other than that, the X5 has a good number of settings for everything from balance and playback mode to being able to set whether songs are displayed by file name or title and whether or not to go to the last played song on startup.
What has now become something of a reference album with headphones, I put on Amber Rubarth’s Sessions from the 17th Ward. Switching between DAPs and IEMs it would become pretty quickly apparent which equipment was more or less capable of delivering the fine details buried in the tracks, from the birds tweeting outside to traffic noise and subtle movements of the musicians. The IEMs I settled on for comparing, all high-quality, if varying in degree, were the FitEar Parterres, Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (UERMs for short) and JHAudio Layla universals. While the Parterres didn’t reveal much difference between the X5 and my AK240 (single-ended output), as I stepped up to the other two, especially since the UERMs and Laylas have balanced cables, the differences became apparent. My first impression with the various IEMs was of a slightly warm, but not ultra-revealing presentation. Out-and-about, the X5/Paterre combination made for a very enjoyable listen, especially given the slightly lighter-weight frequency response of the Parterres. The Laylas, on the other hand, just revealed how dull and one-note the X5 was with acoustic music, the bass when attempting to push so many drivers also somewhat boomy and loose.
While I felt that the X5 does an adequate job with IEMs, with full-sized headphones it clearly had trouble, despite the nice-sounding numbers of <115dB S/N ratio and <75 Ohms crosstalk shown in the specifications. Plugging in Sennheiser HD-800s and other high-impedance headphones resulted in the music sounding like it was coming from a blob in the middle, most noticeable where I knew the music should have a wide soundstage. My more basic Audio Technica ESW9LTDs were more along its capability level. FiiO’s E12 amp, designed for full-sized headphones, is the same size as the X5 and FiiO provides a kit allowing them to be joined together. While I didn’t have one on hand, I used my Headamp Pico Power instead, which was clearly far more capable with full-sized headphones. The combination with either amp is still cheaper than other DAP options that do a decent job driving full-sized headphones that I’ve tested, such as the Calyx M. The only rivals that I can think of would be the iBasso DX50 and DX90 which I haven’t had the chance to test.