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Digital Audio (FLAC/MP3/etc) Players (DAPs) item created by Joe Bloggs, Jan 20, 2014
Pros - Great sound,very well built,fantastic value.
Cons - sd card slots are too deep,few database bugs.
FiiO X5 Review:
Hi first ever review,so probably not the most in-depth you will ever read,a bit about my self I am a Network engineer for Ericsson maintaining all of the Telecoms networks and as well as having a love for music,I have a passion for racing bikes and compete in the odd triathlon.
Thanks to the Fiio team for for giving me the chance to be one of the first few to listen to this player.
Ive only started listening to high quality sounding music,in fact it was Fiio who started me on this journey a few years back when I purchased the E7(Dac/amp)to improve the sound of my iPod and laptop.
I have been a fan ever since and jumped on the X3 when it came out,not without its bugs early on,because of a great team these have mostly been ironed out and in a whole I think the X3 is a fantastic player.
I will be comparing the X5 with the X3 and the new Sony F886 using Grado GR8,T-PEOS H-100j and HiFiMAN HE-400.
Most of my listening was either driving in the car or when training on the bike, and the X5 was a constant companion on the indoor trainer drowning out the constant drone of the flywheel!
The X5 is a solid piece of kit with a good weight,I love the scroll wheel although a bit sensitive and responsive at first,I did get used to it,screen is good with better resolution than the X3,although the Sony has by far the better screen,the buttons are ok and do the job once you get used to there purpose,the only real gripe are the sd card slots, they are too deep and you have to use something to press to insert/eject,the X3 was a lot easier to insert/eject.
FiiO have done a great job here,very neat menu layout,fast scrolling through menus,a vast improvement over the X3.Despite the Sony having a fantastic UI, I see no need for android on a dap,a good touch screen with wifi so that you can stream to spotify and Qobuz would be nice though!!.Ive had a few screen freezes and sd card problems but i am certain these will be ironed out before the International launch.
As I’ve said most of my listening was done on the move,no sitting down with the audio club dissecting every piece of the frequency range.For my ears the X5 produced the best SQ of any dap I’ve heard,lovely detail,excellent separation and good soundstage more revealing than the warmer Sony and X3,a good match for my Grados,I could listen to this combination all day
I used the DAC connected to a mac with Audirvana running and comparing the H/O with a Little Dot mkIII,the Little Dots warm tubes are a better match but not by much,the X5 drives the HE-400 very well and I think tames the treble a touch.To compare the bass I used my T-Peos H-100j which have tremendous sub bass,the X5 sounded crisper and cleaner to the heavier X3,the sony is unfortunately euro capped,so to make it a fairer fight I hooked the sony up to the C&C BH amp which opened the sony up a bit especially with my Grados which needed that bit more juice,although I love the tone of the warmer Sony,I still think the X5 was one step ahead in detail.
Overall I think Fiio have done a great job improving on the stellar X3 and with future DSD upgrade,its a tremendous bargain,half the price of the Sony ZX1 which I believe sounds similar to the F886,with HI-RES streaming just around the corner,hopefully the future X7 will have an OLED touchscreen(wishing) and wifi.(But please no Android!!)
To sum up the X5 is a true robust urban road warrior of a player,true Hi-Fi on the move and I for one would buy it in a second.
Pros - Phenomenal sound, very stable (zero hangs), usability, superb micro-detail, good build quality, packing and accessories. Great value.
Cons - Library database hierarchical problems, scroll wheel sensitivity not adjustable, UI needs work.
1. I’m part of the X5 Preview tour. I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days thanks to FiiO.
2. I have no affiliation with FiiO in any way.
3. The following words are my personal opinion, I wasn’t forced to give a favourable review or leaded in any way.
Big thanks to Joe, James and everybody at FiiO for this tour and for allowing me to preview the player. I hope this tour is a total success and that many more will come in the future.
I'm an avid music lover. I'm all about listening music on the go, I have tried several Apple product but never own one. To carry a brick has never been an option for me. Used many Creative players for years. The X3 is my first hi-definition portable player.
I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but certainly can appreciate quality and I drive myself to find it with the better value possible. My music taste goes from Jazz, to Industrial, to Rap. Most of my digital library are mp3 files (224 kbps or more), 30% flac and less than 10% 24bit flac files.
I’m a web developer and app developer for smartphones, technology is part of my life. I have many phones for testing and even when I work with touch interfaces, I firmly believe that not every device needs to follow the touch UI fever and certainly a music only player doesn’t need to be touch based.
About this review
This will be a short review (somewhat), for details about the specifications and content of the box check other reviews or Fiio’s website.
I own a X3, a lot of comparing between the two will be done, if you are wondering how these two compare, read on. This is also my first review on any music equipment.
Here we go…
Go here: http://www.fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
The X5 has a great built quality. The aluminium body feels very good in the hand, as for the weight, a bit on the heavy side. The rubber of the wheel is good, but some might find it slow some might find it ok. I found it a little bit slow.
The micro SDCard slots are covered with rubber caps, these are not easy to pop out. I found (after a few tries) that pushing the cover to the inner side of the player was the easier way to pop them out (maybe this is the proper/designed way to do it), but certainly I question the durability of them, I’m the type of user which will take the cards out and use a reader in my computer to add new files.
At the very first use I was somewhat disappointed by the screen, mostly because it gives the impression it will use all the area, but the screen really is 4:3 and not the 16:9 aspect area in which is located, nevertheless, the screen is good enough for a music only player.
Speed wise, about the same as the X3. Actually, I find the X3 to open the files a bit faster. The wheel is definitely an improvement, is easier to navigate through the library, select files and options. However, there is no option to change the speed/sensibility of it.
General options are pretty much the same as the ones on the X3. Even in the same menu order.
Library sorting is the same as the X3 at the time of writing this review, which, is not the best. The organization of it is not optimal. If your files are organized, using the browse files option is the best (more on this later).
While using the wheel, sometimes I ended slightly clicking the central button, this caused to select an album and I found myself scrolling the songs of it. I don’t think is because the wheel size or surface, but more because the central button is very sensible, maybe this is a particular characteristic of the unit I was evaluating.
To put it simple, it sounds amazing. The sound is natural, full-bodied with a warm feel to it.
Sounds better than the X3? Yes, a lot better. The X5 uses a different chip, the result is nothing short of mind blowing. Micro-detail is superb, all around detail and clarity are very enjoyable. The X5 shines compared to the X3, especially with hi-def music (24 bit flac are an absolute pleasure to listen).
The gapless playback is good, but not perfect. I could notice at small gap between songs in certain albums.
No playlist support in any shape or form.
FLAC files: Comparing to the X3, the sound difference from 16 bit to 24 bit FLAC's is way easier to notice. Amazing sound, details shine and catch your attention.
MP3 files: Background/decoding noise is still there but less noticeable than on the X3.
Two Micro SDCard slots are available. No need to select a card if you use the library/catalogue option, all files are available and ready to be played. Not the case if the browse files option is used. You will need to select one of the cards and navigate, if you want to access a file in the other card, you will need to go back to the root, select that card and navigate. Here the importance of an optimal library with a proper sorting under Artist and Genre.
Tried two 64GB cards formated as FAT32 and had zero issues. At the moment 64GB cards is the maximum supported, but FiiO has stated that bigger cards (128GB) will be supported in the future.
It took 4 minutes and 36 seconds to index a full 64GB card with 2269 files to the library (mp3 and flac files). This index process can be set to manual or automatic in the options, but should only happen when you modify the content of the card. The process is incremental, meaning if you add a new 10 song album to a card with 2269 files already on it, it won’t take the plus 4 minutes, but just a few seconds to index the new songs that were added.
There is no internal storage on the X5.
Use as a DAC
It sounds as good connected to the PC. A driver needs to be installed in Windows, actually I plugged both the X5 and the X3, installed the driver and both worked flawless.
The unit never hang/froze in heavy 10 days of use.
Battery life around 10 hours, but I browsed the library a lot.
Firmware used: 1.00
Earphones used: V-Sonic's GR07 BE and Klipsch Custom 3, both in High Gain, Volume 55-68.
Did not use the equalizer.
With other players close to the USD 1000 and sometimes even more, is this player so good and such a great value that is hard to believe? Yes, it is.
Personally I haven't tried other hi-end players, but based on the impressions and reviews, the difference (if any) certainly won't worth such a big difference in price. I expect the X5 to fight closely with the top guys while its cost is just a fraction. It has the potential to be a game changer in the portable hi-fi field.
I was expecting a small upgrade to the X3, the X5 gives you that and then some, the expected is there, bigger and better screen, better UI, more storage capacity, then you also get better usability and awesome sound.
The X5 is not perfect thought, the UI needs work, I expected (and still expect) to be faster, mp3 decoding could be better, library sorting is not optimal, no playlist support. But all of these are small issues that can be solved/enhanced via firmware updates.
Will I be getting one for myself? Totally, the evolution from the X3 is huge and at USD 350 is a simple choice for me because the great value and because I can only see this player getting better and better as FiiO is listening to the community.
Paired with good (not so expensive) earphones, it is safe to say that with around USD 550 you can get an excellent portable rig, (X5, earphones and SDCard). Great sound at great value.
Again, thanks to Joe and James for the opportunity. While I still enjoy my X3, can’t wait for my X5.
Pros - Original design, solid build, excellent sound quality, expandable storage
Cons - Micro-sd cover hard to open, a bit of learning curve to get used to scrolling wheel, a little on heavy side
*** UPDATE *** Now available directly from Miccastore: http://www.miccastore.com/fiio-portable-high-resolution-loseless-music-player-special-bundles-available-p-118.html
I have to start with a disclaimer that I'm not an audiophile, and this review is written from a perspective of someone who typically reviews Android gadgets and accessories (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2192333) I hope my write up will help others who are just discovering the audiophile world and trying to decide if they need a dedicated DAP or can live with just using their smartphone and a portable DAC/amp. I would like to give a big Thanks! to FiiO team for the opportunity to test and to review their new flagship product. Last, but not least, I follow my own review format, and unfortunately it's not as neat as Brooko (you rock!), so hopefully you can follow along.
I consider headphones to be very important part of our lives. Many people's entertainment world evolves around their smartphone that we use to listen to music, to watch movies, to stream videos, to play video games, or to communicate with others. We have consolidated a lot of the other gadgets into this one universal device with headphones being a gateway to our entertainment world. That is why I put a high value on quality of the sound. Typically with high quality headphones you end up rediscovering sounds all over again and hearing new details for the very first time. To my very pleasant surprise, when I received FiiO X5 DAP - I actually ended up rediscovering my headphones, all over again!!!
It's great to have a portable entertainment system where you can do everything, but often NOT everything could be done at it's best because we are limited by the hardware. Sure, you can build a library with only lossless format files and you can get the best pair of audiophile grade headphones, but you are still limited by a path of digital files converted into analog sound to drive your headphones. You can get a quality audio app and even external amp, but the source of your audio will still come from a smartphone with every electronic component cramped in there, without any proper power filtering, and with low bit resolution and low sampling rate to deliver that sound. Yes, it's very convenient and you can significantly improve your sound quality by using, for example, Neutron MP app, external usb OTG DAC/amp like E18, and quality headphone cables and headphones (RC-SE1 cables with W40 IEMs in my current setup). This is a very adequate setup even for an audiophile, but there is still room for improvement. Nothing will match a dedicated Digital Audio Player (DAP) where from step one you will be processing your music source at the highest sampling rate with a highest bit depth resolution!!! There is a number of such DAP players available on the market, but often they cost north of $700 with a higher quality ones starting at $1000. That is why FiiO shook audiophile world when they introduced their next flagship X5 DAP priced at $350. This is my first experience using DAP, since I don't count my previous iPods or Sansa players as quality audio sources; and I can tell you with certainty that listening to X5 and Sansa Clip+ is like night and day. Let's take a closer look to find out more about X5.
There is no question you are dealing with a premium product the second you see their package box. You are greeted by a high res 1:1 scale picture of X5 on the front cover, and the back of the box has all the main function highlights. My review sample also had a sticker on the back mentioning that DSD playback and USB OTG support will be added in future firmware updates. Out of the package box, the actual X5 is stored inside of another "gift" box which is built out of sturdy carton with a nice foam padding inside to hold accessories as well. It's not exactly intended for traveling, but it definitely comes very handy to store X5 when not in use (the same with E18 and its storage box). Once you get a chance to hold X5 in your hand, you do realize it's not exactly lightweight at 210g (that's including 2 loaded micro-SD cards and silicone protection skin), although it's on par with typical smartphone weight. It was very clever for FiiO to include a high quality silicone protection form fitting sleeve. It enhances the grip, covers up aluminum CNC unibody to protect from scratches (although some might argue you would rather show it off!), and covers up volume and power buttons, as well as covering up Line out and Coax out ports leaving only headphone port exposed so there is no confusion which 3.5mm port to use. Furthermore, it comes already with pre-installed screen protector covering its gorgeous 400x360 res 2.4" IPS screen, and 2 more screen protectors for spare. Other accessories that come with X5 are high quality usb to micro-usb charging/data cable, 3 push plugs for each 3.5mm port, coaxial cable adapter, USB OTG cable, micro-SD card reader, and detailed easy to read manuals. I'm sure some will prefer to take X5 out of silicone protection sleeve to show off it's sexy aluminum brushed body, the same finish used in E18, but for others - you have an option to cover it.
Inside of silicone skin
Out of the skin
Of course, the biggest eye candy of this design is the mechanical control wheel. What looks like a miniature DJ spinning record is one cleverly designed control to scroll through the available menu options, song selection, and other controls. Some people mind find it resembles a classic iPod from a distance, but only by geometry of the circle. This is an actual mechanical wheel you can spin with your thumb and which provides a very tactile response and control of your selection. In the middle of the wheel you have a multifunction Ok/Play/Pause button, and at the corners of the wheel there are 4 other multifunction buttons to enable various controls and selections. In theory, you can use these 5 buttons without even a need for a wheel, but being able to scroll through selection or menu items or to adjust the volume with a wheel is just super cool! It gives an analog touch to the control and makes it feel more premium. At the same time, it's nice to know that function of analog wheel is duplicated with extra buttons which comes especially handy when you want to control your X5 without looking at the screen (skip, fast forward, pause, etc.).
X5 is not just an eye candy from outside, its a power house inside. In order to handle every available lossless format (DSD, APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, WAV) and all MP3s without skipping a beat, X5 is equipped with a dual core 600MHz Ingenics CPU which supports 192k sampling rate with 24B resolution. It also has asynchronous USB DAC functionality where you can use it as an external DAC for your laptop or computer. The internal power distribution uses quad-balanced power supply architecture to avoid any coupling noise from capacitors. Remember, power supply reference is very important in order to process a clean signal without any distortion. Also, it uses a very advance DAC/pre-amp/amp audiophile grade path (from reading digital audio to analog headphone output) with some of the top electronic components available on the market. And this is not just a statement. FiiO actually provided a detailed diagram of that path with part number of every component used in their circuit to support their claim. They even have a detailed screen shot with a layout of their PCB. These guys are definitely proud of their achievement and have nothing to hide!
The storage for your music media is provided on two removable micro-SD cards. With a current firmware support, you can use 2x 64GB cards for a total of 128GB storage, and future fw upgrades promise a support of 256GB and 512GB. If you think about it, this is solid state storage, not a mechanical hard drive or internal memory that can never be upgraded or replaced. Here you have a total control of your storage with a smallest footprint media. You can either copy files using provided micro-SD adapter or connect X5 to your computer (select Storage instead of DAC mode), and copy files directly to your DAP. Once USB OTG connection will be available, most likely you will be able to connect an external usb storage, such as HDD or usb flash drive. Btw, when you are using X5 as external usb DAC or connected to copy files, it charges the device automatically. With a 3700 mAh internal battery, you get up to 15hr of interrupted play (which is going to be available with future fw update), while currently it works for approximately 11-12hr. Although charging from PC usb port is possible, I would recommend using external 2A wall charger for a faster speed.
Once the battery is fully charged and you are ready to go, turn the power on and enjoy what comes up next! The crisp high resolution IPS screen has fantastic colors and highly visible from wide angles. It bring up a great visual since X5 is capable of displaying the song artwork or using a default background when playing your tunes. Also, there is an extensive amount of customization with a lot of options of how you want your DAP to function, under System Settings, to how you want it to play your songs, under Play Settings. It felt almost like I'm using my smartphone, the level of customization was that detailed. It even included a full readable manual of how to use X5. There are a lot of ways how you can play the songs, browse by favorites, play by category, browse folders, by artist, by album, etc. There is also a fantastic 10-band graphic EQ to fine tune your sound with included presets or by customizing it on your own, but in my opinion leaving it at Normal is the beauty to enjoy it's pure sound. I was very pleased to hear neutral signature of this DAP without any coloring of enhanced bass or treble, at least to my ears. This becomes especially apparent when you start switching your favorite set of headphones between different audio sources. The sound really comes alive!!! I can even tell you that listening from my Note 2 w/E18 and comparing it to X5, I found X5 to have a bit wider sound, more sparkle in high, better extension and control of lows, and overall a little bit more details across the whole frequency spectrum. Without a doubt, headphones play a significant role in sound quality, but if you are not driving it with a clean source - you can't polish a turd lol!!! If you look at the spec of X5, it has some very serious power of 460mW@16ohm and 28mW even at 300ohm driving the most demanding high impedance audiophile headphones. It also has low/high gain setting to boost output by additional 6dB, and with Line out you can even drive an external amp, if you desire.
Overall, to say that I was impressed with FiiO X5 would be an understatement. Since the day I got it, I have been trying to find every possible excuse to use it. This brings me to one very important question, why would I want to set aside my current setup of Galaxy Note 2 and E18? What I discovered, my current smartphone total integration has its positive and negative sides. It's convenient, no doubt about it. But in order to enjoy your music to a full potential, you need to tune out the outside world. Doesn't matter if you are listening to EDM, Pop, Rock, Rap, R'n'B, or Jazz or Classical. If you are relaxing and want to enjoy listening to the sound, you don't want to be interrupted by another email or text message or social media update or reminder to update an app. Smartphone is a jack of all trades, while X5 is a master of one - the PURE SOUND QUALITY. Based on what I have seen and heard while using one, and read from other audiophiles on head-fi.org, FiiO X5 achieved and mastered that goal quite well at the price which is a fraction of competition. In my opinion, if you decided to invest into high quality audiophile equipment and spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to achieve your goal - this little DAP will be an excellent investment. Or, if you are saving money for $700-$1000 DAP, don't be cautious by $350 price tag of X5 and give it a serious consideration!
Pros - Price to performance ratio. Hi-res playback. Highly versatile with line out, coax out, USB DAC function. High build quality.
Cons - No m3u playlists support yet. Gapless has slight issues.
Disclaimer: I am taking part in the Fiio X5 preview world tour. I have not bought the actual unit, and I’m not affiliated with Fiio. Impressions are just on the 6th day of the 10 days allowed for me, so my words (especially about sound) need to be taken with a grain of salt. Firmware version is 1.10, functional improvements are expected later on, and sound quality of the product may be subject to change in future updates.
About myself: I’m an audiophile, but to be exact I would call myself an “Audio Otaku”. The word Otaku is a term used to describe Japanese geeks for basically any hobby, and can also mean fans of Japanese sub culture (Anime, Manga etc).
My Japanese ears tend to be so fussy about the sound I like. Over the past decade, as a typical Audio Otaku I’ve used several universal IEMs, and then a few mid-range headphones, but now only own JH13 custom IEMs and the Beyerdynamic T1 headphones – both which are highly regarded and quite popular among the Otakus in Japan.
Back in 2005 I started to carry around MP3, WMA, FLAC and WAV with old Cowon DAPs (previous brand name iAudio). Then I bought a Sansa Fuze V2. Next I done the “diymod” on the iPod Video 5G (bypassing DAC output of the mainboard achieving a clean line out signal) which was then also Rockbox’d. Now I use a Galaxy S3, USB output to an Apex Glacier, which I will compare with the X5 later on.
The X5 review:
1. Box and contents:
The X5 is well packaged and basically includes almost everything you need to start using it, from the day arrived. I say almost, because you also need a microSD. It’s not really a problem since with this type of DAP, the user should select his/her own microSD brand and size. There are two slots, which mean a maximum expansion to 128gb (two 64gb cards). With my review I’m just using one Kingston 32gb class 10 card. Letting it scan and building a library first only took 2 minutes or so, which was much faster than I thought, considering there’s over 2000 songs in my card.
It’s nice that the X5 comes with a screen protector already applied, together with two extra protectors. Inside the bottom half paper box there’s the USB charge/data transfer cable, coaxial output adapter, a small USB microSD reader and warranty card. The X5 comes with a grey silicon skin, and the quality of this skin is again much better than I expected. The geometry and fit is perfect – no wavy surface, no extra air space or floppiness, which you may experience with other items like cheap smartphone cases.
2. Build quality:
Simply, I felt the X5 chassis is built and finished with high quality. The aluminium, solid body certainly gives that “high class” feeling. The smooth rubber of the wheel is good, but it has a very slight play. It may be just this particular review unit or it’s just something that needs improvement in future. One thing I personally felt cheap was the rubber covers of the microSD slots, which require a bit of force with your finger nail to pop them out. This is probably not a big issue once you have your microSDs inside and start playing.
3. UI and experience:
The graphical UI of the X5 is fast, responsive to the wheel and buttons, and is user-friendly. Personally I didn’t need to read the manual to figure out the general way to use. I felt the UI experience is like a hybrid of Sansa Fuze wheel navigation and menu options of Cowon (minus the extra effects).
The X5 supports most of the popular file formats, so I would imagine there’s mostly no trouble making a move from another DAP. It may not be a breeze if you have all music only on iTunes, but I actually never used iTunes to manage music so I cannot advise or comment on that type of situation. The main reason I started off from old Cowon DAPs, then moved on to a Rockbox’d Sansa Fuze and diymod 5G, is that they all allowed file management by drag and drop, directly from the PC. For the X5, it’s great that you can transfer files this way too.
I tested the gapless playback (you can enable/disable in the playback settings), and it works good, both for gapless mp3 and flac, but at this stage not perfect. There’s either a tiny gap or the transition is not totally smooth, but still, acceptable.
One thing, that breaks my heart and puts me into tears, is that the X5 doesn’t support m3u playlists. This is actually a very important feature to me, so hopefully it will be supported later. Since you can drag and drop files to the X5 (or the microSD inside), making m3u lists is easy with the PC using Foobar2000, Winamp, WMP etc.
Currently with the X5, playing by genre or artist just sorts the files by file name (tagged with same artist or genre). To get those files or albums in the order you want, you will need to rename all of them so that the X5 sorts them in the desirable order. I’m sure m3u support will improve user experience, as you will not need to go through that process. It will also definitely make it easier for current Cowon or Rockbox’d DAP users to migrate to the X5.
This is where the X5 truly shines, and I suppose it’s where Head-Fiers have the most interest in. I believe people already read many impressions from others by now so I’ll try to keep it simple. I feel the X5 headphone output is "very powerful, neutral, with a touch of warmth". …Ok you expected that so I’ll expand things by comparing to other gear.
When I first heard the X5, the sound was reminiscent of desktop Audio-gd gear I used to have, particularly the units with the Wolfson WM8741 DAC chip (the NFB-12 and bigger NFB-10.2). I know it's different from the PCM1792 that the X5 utilizes, and, I normally don’t compare portable gear to desktop, as power advantages are obvious for desktop gear, but in this case I think I should. The sound signature, tonal balance is that similar, and the X5 feels similarly powerful. With high gain, it can even drive my Beyer T1 well too – just not up to the power and refinement of a dedicated balanced amp like my Violectric V181, but the X5 certainly takes total control of JH13. Simply, I never experienced a DAP powerful as the X5 up to now. With IEMs you’re expected to get all the body, slam and impact you will need.
The X5 is the first DAP that makes me think it doesn’t need an external portable amp (unless you're going to drive full sized orthos). The line out and coaxial out sound and work very well, but if I were to own an X5, probably those outputs will be used only for car audio or speaker systems.
Then for the past few days, I’ve done A/B tests (volume matched, and playing the same flac albums, by Hikaru Utada) to compare the X5 with my current portable rig, the Galaxy S3 USB to Apex Glacier. For this rig the GS3 digitally outputs audio via USB to the Glacier’s DAC input, so technically the X5 DAC/amp sound is compared to the Glacier’s DAC/amp section.
I was quite shocked, as the overall sound of both is similar. Only very few advantages are heard with the Glacier, such as slightly better control in bass and mid-bass. It seems the Glacier also has slightly more smoothness between notes. However I must point out that, the differences are minor and only noticed in this critical A/B test conditions, with JH13 customs that can be very analytical about the gear. I wouldn’t notice them outside, on the go.
On a side note, here’s just comparing the thickness of the X5 and my current rig. Only a few mms difference, but the X5 feels more compact in the pocket (though, I don’t consider my rig as a brick. It’s just a slim phone and slim DAC/amp).
5. Conclusion and decisions
The X5 has an outstanding price/performance ratio. It covers many of the basic features expected from a good working DAP and takes it further, with two microSD slots, Hi-res support, great line out and coaxial outputs, and you can also use it as a USB DAC to carry around. The sound quality comes very close to an Apex Glacier that alone retails at $499 (you will also need a DAP with line out or Android phone with USB out), while the X5 is $350 and can work on it’s own.
Now the question is, will I buy an X5? I’m actually very tempted to. The X5, in my opinion, sets a new standard of portable hi-fi. Probably Fiio is the first one that managed this level of sound for a reasonable price. I only have a few things that I still prefer with my current portable rig – the GS3 touchscreen control (I only prefer touchscreen if it’s fast enough), the GS3 supporting m3u playlists, and slight sonic advantages of the Glacier, although it’s difficult to justify the price difference. The battery life of the GS3 and X5 is similar, or slightly longer with the GS3 (that can go over 16 hours).
As I post this, the X5 has already been sent out to the next person in the tour. It was sad to see it go as the X5 sound and experience gave me a big smile. The pairing with JH13 was quite addictive. It’s a great creation by Fiio considering the X5 is still their second DAP. Thumbs up from an Audio Otaku.
To Fiio and Joe for organizing this tour, and giving us this wonderful opportunity.
Pros - -solid build, support 2 microsd card, good music detailing (lossless format) and overall neutral sounding
Cons - - cant change battery, non touch screen
First of all, would like to thanks Fiio for allowing me to review the X5 even it havent hit our shore yet. This review stay neutral and i didnt biased toward any of the company.
a picture line up of all the DAP i have use for this review. i try not to make much SQ comparison between each of them as they are all unique to me
Product name: Fiio X5
FW: X5FW1.00 (I have upgraded to FW1.10 and didn’t notice and noticeable change on the SQ)
The picture does not do justice to the actual product as the physical product looks more solid. Fiio has also finally got it right for the metal polish finishing. If Fiio uses the same finishing on their other products such as X3 and E12 series, it will be a good selling point in terms of appearance.
The scroll wheel takes some time to get used to it. Fortunately Fiio has included the 4 navigation button whereby most of the navigation can be performed by the 4 buttons.
Nice UI, snappy and responsive
Navigation of system is quite easy even without reading the instruction manual
Phone static test
None detected. I didn’t notice any interference even though I put my mobile phone (which is ringing) on top of the X5.
Gapless play is working fine for me. I don’t play classical music that much but I do play live concert music genre.
The X5 can detect earphone jack unplug, this is one of the features which I appreciate that Fiio has built in.
The bookmarked function is also nicely done but the only downside is that I can’t create a playlist on my computer and throw it into the X5. Hopefully Fiio can come up with something for this function in the near future. I’m sure other users will be pleased with this too.
There’s no issue for X5 to portray the dynamic range of the music. Lossless file like APE and FLAC gave this player some extra edge compared to mp3 format, especially on the music details. In my opinion, Fiio has managed to build a better music decoder for X5 as there are more music details in the X5 compared to X3 and DX50.
Throughout the whole review period, I have constantly tested different genre of music on the X5, and it passed all the test with no complaints J
Sound stage – balance / neutral sound stage which doesn’t make the whole music taste like artificial but yet it have plenty of room on it J
Treble – soothing and extensive
Mid –I would say neutral mid, by comparing it to X3+E12DIY (BUF634+MUSES01), X5 mid is lesser than my X3+E12DIY but I will gladly present this as a positive point for X5.
Bass – it’s quite neutral, not too overwhelming. X5 can handle it well enough for all the trance/jazz/rock track that I have played.
The Max volume is 120 for X5
Westone W4r – Low Gain, Vol 66-70
Phonak Audeo PFE232 – Low Gain, Vol 70-78
Westone UM3X RC –Low Gain, Vol 66-70
ATH M50 – High Gain, Vol 60-65
EQ setting: Normal/ None
Green Day – Jesus of Surburbia (Flac). Genre - Rock
Jane Monheit – over the rainbow (audiophile voices collection) (flac). Genre – Jazz
Colbie Caillat – Begin again. Genre – Pop
David Tao - Airport in 10:30 (APE). Genre – Pop/R&B
Kacey Musgraves - My House (flac). Genre – Country
MayDay – Second life album (Flac). Genre – Pop/Rock
Jacky Cheung – Live The Life (Flac). Genre – Pop/Concert
Pros - Outstanding build (body/case), easily navigable interface, loads of extra goodies and last but not least fantastic sound reproduction
Cons - UI - Weak library scanning and narrow tagging hierarchy, flimsy rubber TF covers and thin easily scratchable rubber painted wheel
X5 Review by musicheaven
Before I start, I would like to make a few points clear so no one will be misled about if I own one or got one as a review sample:
1. The X5 was loaned to me for 10 days by FiiO which was to be returned once the evaluation is done or 10 days have elapsed whichever came first.
2. I'm in no way affiliated with FiiO in any shape or form.
3. I can’t thank Joe and James enough for what they have done, if a vendor knows what personal touch means those two guys truly know. If there is a model other vendors should copy, I suggest they look at FiiO’s.
There is something else that I want to express: my gratitude to Jude and the site admins for their diligent work in creating and managing such an exciting and excellent site with people from all walks of lives and with so much human and user experiences. This site might be addictive, which I am sure lots would concur but wouldn’t be as exciting without the participations of countless members who have given me and many others the key to music nirvana but also wallet sliming. I extend my heartfelt thank you to all of you out there! One more thing; this is my first time so please be gentle but also join the club if you like or dislike anything, this is a democracy and everyone is welcome to comment, constructively .
Let’s go with the task at hand, the review:
First let me describe what it does not have:
With my SE535, I did not get any hiss whatsoever. This has to be the cleanest player I have heard so far. I am usually pretty quick to attach an amp to the player, but this has not been the case with the X5, it is clear from the headphone out and did not feel any major boost in sound quality or changes from the line out. I would say the amp section has to have been extremely well designed. I used my SE535, Sennheiser Momentum and HD600 headphones without ever moving into high gain.
The X5 is without a doubt a solidly built player. It is heavy and feels it’s built like a tank. The first thought you have when holding the player is holly crew, the dap feels heavy/solid. The body is bi-leveled aluminum construction all around, the display is raised a few millimeters above the base. To be honest I would be hard pressed opening the case, I still can’t find how they put it together so the silicon cover would definitively stay there to avoid any collisions. The size is about just right, slightly larger than the iPod Classic, it still stands nicely in your hands. The buttons on the side and tops are properly positioned, no chance of accidently pushing one by pressing on the others. The wheel action is very smooth and you can also feel the slight mechanical click as you move the wheel. The rubber mat covering the wheel definitively helps in having a good grip. I am a tad worried about the durability of the rubber mat as you could easily scratch it with your nails. The buttons are well placed and also slightly raised with a solid feel, akin to the iPod construction. The headphone, line out and coax out plugs are quite solid and seem to be made of copper allow with possibly gold platting but I can’t say for sure (James and Joe stated that in fact they are gold plated). The TF card readers sit at the bottom of the dap cover by rubber plugs. Not sure about the durability of those covers however the dap I own does not even have a plug.
The wheel middle button is quite sensitive, I have stopped and started the player a few times just lying in my coat pocket. If you want to avoid having any actions while transporting the player, you should definitively pick the lockscreen mode 1 but keep in mind that the only button you will have operating is the power on/off button. I think I can see FiiO adding additional lock screen modes, say just the power on/off, volume +/- and maybe just the play/pause button, best would be to allow customizations for the lock mode, have it a tad granular so we can pick our own settings without rendering the player useless.
The screen resolution is really outstanding, I have not tried it outside when the sun is out, my feeling is it will be hard to read. I believe the best for that (I did not have a single player that was easy to read under those conditions) would be a screen shield that can block the sun rays.
Functions and features:
• Supports up to 24Bit/192kHz - TI PCM 1792 24Bit DAC Chip
• 4 OPA1612 used for current / voltage conversion and amplification
• 2 LMH6643 used for headphone output
• 2.4” IPS color LCD (320*240)
• Up to 24 Bit/192Khz 3.5mm Coaxial Output
• 3.5mm Headphone Output, and Line Out
• 10 bands graphic EQ
• Dual TF card slots for a total of 128 Gb storage space (with support for 256GB, 512GB, etc. with future firmware upgrades).
• All-new mechanical scroll wheel (using Alps rotary switch components from Japan)
• All-new custom UI forged from years of experience and feedback
• Volume +/-, Power on/off button
• 2-setting gain software enabled switch
• Audio Formats Supported: DSD, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP2, MP3
• 3700mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery
• Support auto-turn off when sleeping, time can be decided.
• Auto track, support CUE playing by selection and fast forward/ fast backward of playing song
The functions and features I have tested: Playback low and hi-res up to 192khz/24 bit files including all supported file formats. I also tested the Equalizer unit and the USB-DAC function on both Windows 8.1 and Mac OS Maverick, also tested the HO and LO ports (with amps). The only feature I have not tried are DSD playback (not available yet) and the coax output.
I would strongly recommend for anyone who either evaluates the player or own one to consult the detailed user manual as indicated by the link below, it is filled with useful information and instructions on how to operate the player. I also added the X5 quick start guide link. I won’t repeat anything that pertains to the manual other than emphasizing the features and functions.
Joe's user manual translation from Chinese to English - Click Here
Top port view
Bottom TF card readers and USB input/output
Volume Buttons (+/-)
Frontal View (Rotary main menu)
Size comparison (from left to right X5 – iPod Classic 5[sup]th[/sup] gen – DX50)
· Missing on the photos the HDTracks.com and quick control cards.
The user interface is centered around the scroll wheel motion. That is the theme used. It is well laid out and is very intuitive (even more so for the ex or current iPod classic user). It will take you few minutes to get used to it. I have noticed a bit of lag when selecting songs and moving from song to song however I am hopeful it will be fixed in a future release. It has all of the main functions available from the main menu. You go to detail selections by selecting the top level and then using the scroll wheel to position yourself on different selected items. To confirm you selection, you use the center button. Notice that you cannot work on the current displayed song if you are navigating the menu selection. You will have to select Now Playing in order to go back to the Now Playing screen. If you are on the now playing screen and you activate the scroll wheel, you will browse your song selection using the scroll wheel theme with all of the songs being displayed depending on how you got there (directory of album listing).
File format art work is recognized:
Art work loaded in Playing Screen
Easy navigable user interface, once you get the hang of it, you can operate it with one hand.
Sound reproduction is fantastic.
Option based feature selections instead of hardware (e.g. gain).
A one second lag going from song to song although I am hoping that they will fix this issue.
The fast forward and reverse do not provide acceleration when keeping the button depressed, it is constant. It would be amazing if they could increase the speed trough acceleration.
It only recognize embedded art work instead of allowing a generic picture file to be picked up if one is missing.
I was not able to fully take advantage of the library using my current song library due to possible file and/or tag conflicts, it is always hoped that the player can deal with those issues like some well known manufactures I won’t mention. (James and Joe have stated that the library scan issues will indeed be addressed in a firmware update before the player launches worldwide in late March).
Usage as a DAC:
The DAC implementation is flawless, it sounds as good on the PC as it sounds on the Mac. The driver needs to be installed in Windows in order to get it recognized by the operating system. But once you do, it works without a hitch. It will play any music with up to the player top resolution. I have played my hi-res sample files with the same results than playing them directly on the player. The DAC does use the amp as I connected my headphones on the HO port. I also connected the LO port to one of my amps and worked beautifully. So your choice is yours, you can go and enjoy the DAC with your favorite headphones/iems or just plug it to your nearby stereo through the LO out and enjoy a room full of music. Goes without saying that if you have coax in from your favorite stereo system, the better. I did not attempt to connect the coax out as my sound system did not have the coax in and I do not own an amp with coax in.
Using the Equalizer:
I did not spend a lot of time with the EQ other than trying the different settings and the custom one. I can only say it just works and it does change the sound frequency/amplitude response according to your selection. I am not much of an EQ proponent, I have always enjoyed the player as is with its pros and cons. If the vendor is serious enough to make a great sounding player, they will make it nice untouched (flat as much as possible), that is what FiiO has confidently done with the X5.
It is airy, light, delicate, open, and seemingly unrestricted in the mid and upper extension. Instruments are playing in what I can perceive as ample surrounding space. Vocals are articulate, voices come clearly and sound well-spoken. Aliveness is one quality that comes to mind, I feel the performers to be located close to me.
As far as imaging is concerned, it would classify it as in the semi-wide (in the middle), you can get the feel of space between the instruments and the singers but not to a point where you could place the different singers (back and front) on a stage, at that level they blend in and tend to be gathered right in front of you. The musical instruments feel somewhat closer but you do feel some separation. Spanning and field depth is truly felt on the X5, this is what gives it a feeling of depth and perception of a wider soundstage.
The sound is truly transparent, pretty much even across the frequency range however I do sense that the mids and highs are slightly prominent but in good way more towards being clear/transparent, I truly enjoyed the vocals from the player, to me so far that is the best player for vocals.
I would classify it as analytical but not excessively, quite detailed sounding, playing with different music file res makes me say “ah I never heard that sound before”.
In general, the player tilts towards being a neutral clean player. The bass is there but it isn’t prominent nor recessed but with enough confident energy. For an audiophile, I believe it to be just right, that is if you do not like this section of the audio frequency being boosted. With high sampling rate (hi-res) music, this part truly shines, you can easily feel every stick hit on the drums as if you are only few feet away. The sound is truly clear and crisp and quick. There is no heft or heaviness to it.
The mid-range and highs
This is where the player truly shines, the vocals on this player is a joy to listen to. I haven’t had so much fun listening to such a clear, crisp and non-fatiguing sound, you can literarily spend hours listening to the music and not get tired.
By the way I have already been through one firmware update and no sound changes, so that makes me happy as I don’t have to change the review according to how the dap sounds after each update.
What is nice and great about the player is it is really easy on the headphones, IEMS you are throwing at it. I used my cheaper SE215 IEMS and the more expensive SE535 and they all sounded very good with it. My SE535 have never sounded so good with the player as I had difficulty using them with prior players to a point of satisfaction. My HD600 really came to life using the dap, to me it’s so far the best pairing I can dream to achieve not going beyond a certain price point. For portability, A+ as I never had to carry an amp, the HO out is crystal clear and the output power is more than enough to power my HD600 headphones, I also used it with my SennHeiser Momentums at work and it was a delight.
Outstanding build, easily navigable interface, loads of extra goodies.
Sound reproduction is fantastic; exceptional sound quality, clear, airy neutral and non-fatiguing.
No need for an amp, truly portable and friendly with headphones and iems. The hi-res on this player is a joy if you love details you are in for a treat.
Easy navigable user interface, can be operated with one hand (did it and did not drop it).
Option based feature selections instead of hardware (e.g. gain).
I don’t see that many cons but if I have to pick a few the user interface do need some tuning to allow for a smoother scrolling using the album/artist/genre Library features and the next levels that the interface should tackle, for example once artist is selected, album would be displayed then one can pick an album to play instead of all songs from the artist (that is my preference, may vary with other members). A last one would be to get a flawless scan and somewhat more tolerant of file naming and tag info. I truly find that a player which can handle directory and library browsing is more useful than one that does not. I also found myself turning the player on/off with just the friction of it on my inner wall pocket, not a desirable thing that explains most likely why the lock screen option 1 is available.
In Summary I would definitively classify the player as one of near reference. I don’t want to over emphasize the player but I have to say its implementation is impeccable. You will certainly gain from playing hi-res music playback but yet will provide a great performance for better recorded lower res files. I can say with confidence that you will not regret purchasing this player.
Pros - Excellent sound reproduction, great build, very capable UI, a host of features!
Cons - Battery Life, Problems with Library Database, scroll wheel sensitivity and durability questionable.
This X5 is a pre-production unit that is part of a FiiO organized US tour. We are not being paid for this nor are we being “forced” to sing praises. The following review are my views and opinions on this DAP compared to my current stable.
In my head-fi journey there is something that has always been constant and that is a whole lot of music being bought, ripped and enjoyed. A few years ago, the company I work for decided that they were not going to let us use “tablets” as our personal MP3 players due to security issues. I had a crappy Archos 7 Internet Media player with 160GB of disc space where I put all my songs and movies and although quality was NOT that great, I valued disc space and something more important to ME, battery life. From that moment on I started looking into different options, from the traditional iPod Classics, to the Touch, to the Sansa’s, etc. Most of them failed in one area, memory, with the exception of the Classic but I didn’t liked iTunes, have never bought a single song through their store and in fact I haven’t liked Apple a lot either so that left me with few options. Decided then on a simple Cowon C2 because battery life was excellent, I could use 64gb microSD cards and I had used their players before (plus I was already Ok with crappy UIs using Archos players such a long time – owned a 604, 605, etc.) Soon I noticed that my HD tracks were growing in numbers and I needed even more space but not only that, my headphone collection was growing bigger, better and I needed a bump in sound quality. So last year I began the search, the search for the “perfect” DAP… now, what do I think it’s a perfect DAP? Easy, one that:
1)Offers great battery life
2)Has enough space for my songs (or supports 64gb microSD cards)
3)Can play my WHOLE collection via Shuffle mode without problems
4)Easy to use UI
5)Offers a sound upgrade on previously owned DAPs.
Is the X5 MY perfect DAP? Let’s find out:
Too much info to fill this review so, just go here:
Just like the X3 before it, the new X5 brings us in its compact case:
FiiO X5 (of course)
Documentation (Quick Start + Warranty, etc.)
USB charging / data cable
Rubber/silicone protective case
Protector plugs for inputs/outputs
Digital out to coax cable
USB micro SD card reader
Not sure if this is the “Final” content that will arrive to us on March, but seems pretty complete to me!
Design and build:
Now, this is something that I was afraid of. The X3, even though is a very capable player, had such a horrible design. Not from a “looks” standpoint but from a usability standpoint. The button layout was just too confusing. Of course, you get used to it after a while, but it was definitely flawed. I’m happy to say “not so” with the X5. Not only does it sport kind of like an “old-school” design, but this thing is built like a tank! Button placement is definitely an improvement and the inclusion of the scroll wheel was an excellent choice. Navigating through folders with the X3 is a nightmare, really, especially if you have LOTS and LOTS of files but with the X5 not only is it faster, it feels natural.
Didn’t see anything out of place, nor badly constructed in this “pre-production” unit, my only critiques: possible issues with the scroll wheel and SD card rubber protectors. These are PROBABLY the only Achilles-heel I think regarding longevity but of course, that’s just an assumption. I also found the “Volume” buttons to be a bit difficult to press, not sure if this was on purpose or not but thank God for the capability of the middle button and scroll-wheel combo as another option to increase volume. (Edit: Joe stated that the volume buttons are stiffer on your preview units than the production units.) Love the feel of the device, the color and matte finish, the all “metal” enclosure it looks and feels like a high-end device.
This is always something that I’ve been concerned with on all of these new DAPs. We (the community) have discussed this on the forums a whole lot. Why are we paying for players with incomplete software implementation and horrible UIs? (Studio V, I’m looking at you!) The X3 actually does a good job regarding UI, the AK100 MK2 has a simple (read: “Ok”) software implementation but I have to say, the X5 takes the cake!
Configuration menus are clean, well-organized, easy to navigate and straight-forward. System Settings include options for: Language, Media Library updating, Key-lock setting (important, once you press “Power” to “lock” the device, NONE OF THE BUTTONS work (this is the default "lockscreen 1" option)! But a second key-lock setting actually lets you forward a track, change volume… Nice!), Screen timeout, brightness, etc. You also have Play Settings where you select your Play Mode (long live Shuffle!), turn On/Off Gapless playback, select between Low and High gain, etc. Again a bevy of options at hand, all working as they should. Also, did I mention that there’s a 10 band equalizer as well? Well, there is (with presets and optional “Custom” entry. )
Navigating through the menus with the scroll wheel, although it feels natural and easy, is a bit confusing at first (i.e. the animations are a bit jerky and I got confused if I was actually going up or down when scrolling) but you get used to it. You can go to a “Browse Folders” menu which lets you select the microSD card you want to navigate through or you can browse by Categories which includes: Artist, Albums, Genre or my favorite the “All Songs” one.
Of course, browsing by Categories (tags) is good and all if it works… One of the roadblocks for me was that every time I tried updating the Media Library with my 2 64GB microSD cards, it hung… It seems the player either has problems reading OTHER files (i.e. not music files), or problems with specific characters in tags, long filenames, etc. because it always failed for me at a specific number. FiiO mentioned that they are aware of the problem and a future firmware issue will/might fix this. (Edit: Joe stated that the library scan problem will/might be fixed before international launch in late March.)
As mentioned in the “design” section, button layout and usability is very good so the UI seems “in-sync” with the hardware, we are talking Apple-like good here (and yes, that’s a compliment!).
The X5 not only provides headphone-out (duh, right!?) but also has Coaxial out and Line-out. Only tested Line-out to my Schiit Magni and my Lehman BCL and have to say that output is clean, powerful, I don’t feel I missed anything at all. This DAP also has a DAC option and again, same results, excellent implementation and if it wasn’t that I already “know” how my Nuforce Icon HDP sound, it would have been a bit difficult to select which I liked best.
And here it comes, what I was waiting for. Now, I have to say that I expected a slightly better version of the X3 but no, I was wrong. The X5 crushes the X3 regarding resolution/detail/clarity. It provides a slight warm signature in the bass through mids without obscuring nor hiding any details. It feels it has less lower-end quantity than the X3 (I felt it had lower impact in the sub-bass region) and it feels a bit less “airy” than the AK100 MK2 but somehow every one of my test tracks sounded better through it!
Directly comparing the AK100 MK2 to it, I just found it … “soft” as if lacking energy. Meanwhile the X3 even sounded a bit “muffled” and closed in sometimes compared to both. For testing I used: Beyerdynamic T5p, Perfect Sound Dido D901, Ultrasone Signature DJs and MrSpeakers Alpha Dogs. And yes, the X5 did not have any problems driving all of these cans, even the Alpha Dogs in High gain… it lacked a bit Oomph but it did better than both the X3 and the AK100.
My usual test tracks were used:
Thrice - Under a Killing Moon
Miguel Bose - Este Mundo Va
Kaskade - One Heart
Blink 182 - Kaleidoscope
Jon Cleary - So Damn Good
Mima - Oigo Voces
Esperanza Spalding - What a Friend
Sara Bareilles - King of Anything
Killswitch Engage - Fixation on the Darkness
Juancho - Amor en la Mesa
Boston - More than a Feeling
J-King y Maximan - Ella me Pide Something
Calvin Harris - Feel so Close
Three Six Mafia - Late Night Tip
Orquesta Macabeo - Me Repito
Amber Rubarth – Tundra and Washing Day
Loved how the X5 sounded “wider” (sound stage) in tracks such as “Me Repito” and Jon Cleary’s “So Damn Good”. Metal-core tracks sounded energetic/fast even with that hint of warmth (I thought it was going to be a problem especially for guitar driven tracks but nope.) Could not really find faults with sound reproduction as it was effective with my current gear and that’s what’s important here. As a whole I would rank X5 > AK100 MK2 > X3.
Good synergy, good sound, can’t ask for more. (ok ok, I can… Keep reading )
Battery life test, it took me 10.5 hours to drain the battery from full charge until the player turned off by itself. For most people, 10.5 hours is good, but not enough for me (the X3 can provide almost 16 hours, the same with the AK100 MK2 using the same 2 microSD cards). But I have to reiterate that this is a pre-production/not final unit. So... battery life MIGHT change via Firmware updates, or not…
Also, THIS HAS BEEN THE ONLY DAP THAT HASN’T FROZEN on me while playing tracks. Yes, from the Archos to the AK100, ALL of them have frozen on me at one time or another. After almost 40hours+ of play time, the X5 only froze when updating the library (as mentioned before) but other than that, very stable (and I’m VERY impressed with that!)
So, to answer the question posed, is the X5 my perfect DAP?
It is robust, easy to use, sports one of the best UIs and functionality out there, gives me the ability of Shuffling all of my songs but, until the media library thing is fixed and maybe battery life improved, it is NOT my perfect DAP. SO I might say, not yet… but close.
Will it be the “perfect” DAP for others? Probably. Not everyone has the same needs and although I might see battery life as short, others will see it as sufficient, while I might see library issues as unacceptable, others might live by the “Browse by Folder” capability, etc.
I do have to say that FiiO is looking mighty serious in the DAP landscape. Not only is the X5 the better sounding DAP I have heard yet, but they are not charging an arm and a leg for them. 2014 will definitely be a good year for us enthusiasts. I’m just hoping that future firmware updates provide fixes to my “nitpicks” and if they do, I’ll be selling my other DAPs and just get an X5.
Finally just want to give a big THANK YOU to James and Joe for preparing this tour, and providing us the opportunity to “test the waters”.
It might sound selfish but I would like in future updates:
1)Better battery life
2)FiiO to provide Internal memory (at least 32GBs?) I mean, I’m already using my 2 microSD cards plus like 7GBs of the AK100 MK2 internal memory.
Pros - Sound quality, build, usability, interface, output power, versatility, boot speed
Cons - UI features not yet complete (gapless, hierarchical menus artist/album/track), scroll wheel a little loose, SD slot caps difficult to remove. -FW 1.00
X5 - Strength and BeautyThe Fiio X5
My audio chain has actually been pretty stable of late, my last addition being the Studio V3 Anniversary (DAP) and Dunu DN-1000s. With the addition of the Studio V3, I had pretty much solved the one missing component – a decent DAP for my requirements. I watched the progress with other “audiophile” high-res players being released (DX100, DX50, AK100 & 120, X3 and others), but beyond mild curiosity, I wasn’t overly tempted to go beyond what I currently have. Then Fiio advertised that they were looking for reviewers for a World tour for the X5 – and with the hype building I put my hand up and was fortunate to be included.
My main reasons for wanting the opportunity were to further my experience with reviewing and to make a comparison with the Studio V3
So how does the X5 perform in my eyes? Is the current hype justified?
I was provided the Fiio X5 as a tour sample. It now goes on to the next reviewer once I have finished reviewing it. There is no financial incentive from Fiio in writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with Fiio - and this review is my honest opinion of the X5. I would like to thank Joe & James for making this opportunity available.
NOTE - I later paid for the review sample from Fiio at a price I am not at liberty to disclose.
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
(This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
I'm a 46 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile - just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current mid-fi set-up. I vary my listening from portable (iDevices and Studio V3) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP). My main headphones at the time of writing are the Senn HD600, Grado RS1, Beyer DT880, Dunu DN1000 & Shure SE535 Ltd Ed. IEMs.
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz to grunge and hard-rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, indie, classic rock, and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I tend to like audio chains that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range. I am neither a bass or treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though). Current amps = NFB12 and LD MKIV. I also formerly owned several portable amps - the most notable being an Arrow 4G and GoVibe PortaTube. I have also in the past owned Fiio’s E7, E9 and E11.
My experience with DAPs in the past have been initially with very cheap Sony offerings, then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, my iPhone4 and iPod Touch G4 – which are both very good sounding and have excellent interfaces, and finally to my HSA Studio V3. I've also listened to various other devices along the way - including Cowon's J3.
I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent. For my portable listening – it has been my preferred format (space vs quality). All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).
I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A DAP
I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I really look for in a new DAP.
Great (neutral) sounding – but with body (not thin)
Good build quality
Reasonable battery life
Easy to use interface
Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.
Did I get all of this with the X5? Mostly – yes, and I’m sure what is missing will come with firmware updates. Will I be buying an X5 – likely based on my very short time with it, but this would be dependent on FW upgrades which I will be watching closely. So please pull up a chair, sit for a while, and let me relay my experiences with Fiio’s new flagship.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
Retail Carton FrontRetail Carton Rear
First up – the review sample I was sent was really well packaged with exterior foam – so Kudos to Fiio for that. The retail box is red and black, actually reasonably compact considering the contents, and very smart looking IMO. There is a great photo of the X5 on the front, whilst the rear has information on the build, specifications, and other features of the DAP.
Retail Carton SideOuter and Inner Box
On opening the retail outer box, you are presented with an inner black textured box and lid which houses the X5, silicone case, documentation, and in a compartment underneath, the accessory package. This includes:
A USB charging / data cable (very well constructed and shielded)
A digital out to coax cable
3 x socket pin protector plugs (for the output ports)
A Fiio branded USB micro SD card reader (this is very handy!)
2 spare screen protectors for the X5 (plus one already fitted)
Documentation and Fiio X5Accessory Package
A Fiio warranty card
An HD tracks discount card (15%)
A contact card
The Fiio X5 quick start guide
X5 In Its Silicone CaseThe Silicone Protector Case
The entire package is IMO very good, covering everything you initially need for the player. Materials are all good quality. Cables are particularly sturdy.
The tables below list most of the relevant specifications. I’ve collated these from information on the box, information found on line, my own personal experience with the X5, and also information from Joe.
64.6 x 114 x 15.6 mm (W/L/H)
2.4” 260K HD IPS (400x360)
Ingenics 4760B 600MHz dual core
PCM1792A (supports up to 192/24 res)
3.5mm headphone out, 3.5mm line out, 3.5mm digital coax out
2 x microSD (max support 64Gb x 2 at time of review)
3700mAh Li-Polymer, up to 15 hours playback (~12 hours currently)
0 / 6 dB
APE, WAV, FLAC, WMA, ALAC, MP2, MP3, AAC, OGG
Up to 192K/24bit – dependent on format
>75 dB @ 1KHz
< 0.003% @ 1KHz
MAX output voltage
> 8 Vp-p
MAX output current
> 150 mA
> 115 dB
460 mW @ 16Ω, 255 mW @ 32Ω, 28 mW @ 300Ω
> 100 dB @ 10KΩ @ 1KHz
< 0.0025% @ 1KHz
> 115 dB
> 1.5 Vrms
The build on the X5 (IMO) is what I would expect (mostly) in a top of the line DAP. The casing looks to be a 2 piece high quality CNC aluminium alloy with a very nice matte finish. I see no blemishes on this unit – everything seems to fit extremely well together, and the corners are smooth, and bevelling gives a nice touch of class. The X5 feels more expensive than its RRP. The screen has a really nice resolution, and is very clear and easy to read. It does suffer a little in direct sunlight, but just shading the screen with your hand helps.
Fiio X5Fiio X5 Side View
The scroll wheel flows nicely, and is easy to spin. My only critique is that there is some side-to-side play with this unit – not much but it is there. Probably the only part of the unit that feels a little flimsy. The wheel itself is fairly sensitive, and takes a little getting used to – but practise makes perfect, and the buttons are also very easy for advancing and reversing through menu choices.
Scroll Wheel and ButtonsRear Plate
The buttons themselves are nicely placed, and feel good to the touch. They are easy to locate on the unit, and equally easy to use unsighted (or with the screen off).
X5 Top / PortsX5 Bottom / Micro SD Slots
Moving to the ports – once again, an excellent fit – nice and snug for plugs. All connections feel very solid. The best I have seen from Fiio in this regard. There are three ports in the top of the unit – the headphone out, a dedicated 3.5mm line out, and also a digital plug (works with a 3.5mm to coax adaptor – which Fiio supply).
Finally the micro SD ports – functional, and positioned well. My only criticism is the covers for these. I appreciate them being there, and I’m probably a user who wouldn’t be removing the cards a lot. But the covers themselves are extremely difficult to remove. Maybe something that loosens over time, and therefore fixes itself.
Overall – the build for me is a solid 4.5/5. TheX5 feels reassuringly solid in your hand at 122g.
UI (USER INTERFACE) / USABILITY
Please note that this is with the released firmware 1.00.
Let me preface by saying that for me the overall usability sits above my experience with my Studio V3, but still falls short of the benchmark (Apple). However – the surprising thing for me is how good the interface is considering it is just the initially released firmware.
Fiio Welcome ScreenFiio Boot Animation
On starting the X5, you are greeted with a very nice “welcome” and Fiio animation – before moving to the menu. The menu can be navigated using either the scroll wheel or buttons. At the top of the menu is a status bar which shows (left to right) : volume, gain, current screen, sleep timer – if set, SD card in use, play status, and battery level indicator.
Menu Screen10 Band Equaliser
The menu choices include: now playing, equaliser (10 band), audio settings, general settings, folder mode, library access (via tags), and favourites.
General SettingsMusic Settings
The general setting and audio settings screens are straight forward, and pretty much include everything you’re likely to need. General settings include language, media library updating, lock screen settings (2[sup]nd[/sup] option allows manual button access while locked), timer, brightness and power settings, access to different USB modes, information about the player, and ability to format. Audio settings give access to the play
modes, gapless on/off, volume default settings, gain and balance modes.
The equaliser is 10 band, and comes with 10 presets including ‘flat’ and a custom one you can save. The presets are OK – I probably wouldn’t use them – but the custom one is handy, especially if you have a headphone that needs a tweak. My only wish would be that there was an option to add more custom EQs, or simply ditch / override the presets, and replace them with your own. I would rather have 3 or 4 EQs for different headphones rather than different music types. It would have been nice to have a parametric EQ setting – but the 10 band is functional and works well.
Accessing Library Via Tags - GenreAccessing Library Via Tags - Artist
Folder mode works very well, and is far easier to use with this firmware release than browsing by tags. In tag mode you can select one major level of operation, and then one minor level – e.g. choosing artist brings up the artist list – but then all material from that artist is listed in file name order (i.e. there is no sorting by album etc). So if you have multiple albums under an artist, and your filenames list by 01 name, 02 name, 03 name – then all the 01’s are listed first (i.e. albums are scattered). Similarly – browsing by album brings up individual albums – but if you have multiple CDs within an album, and they aren’t noted in the album name (e.g. “The Wall CD1”) then you have the same problems. Fiio will be apparently fixing this – and they need to. Browsing by tags at the moment for me is pretty much not going to work.
Issue (Tags) - Songs Lumped TogetherSolution (for now) = Folder Mode
Going to folder mode is better – as you have the ability to then organise a folder hierarchy to suit (much easier to navigate). Mine are always stored artist > album. The only issue I have again is that (being used to Apple and also any reasonable PC software) I sometimes store multiple-disc albums together (again The Wall) – but have differentiated the 2 discs in the tags rather than in separate folders. This is a relatively easy fix (I have to manually do it). The best answer is having tagging working.
Artist / Album - Folder ModeTracks In Folder Mode
The upper left button brings up a context menu that is dependent on the menu you are in. Amongst this is a favourite’s button so that you can save a song to a favourite’s playlist. This works really well, and it is quite easy to add and remove songs from favourites using the context button. Unfortunately there is only one favourites list – so no using multiple playlists at this stage.
The upper right button is a back button, and this is literally what it does – puts you back exactly to your last menu choice. It has a memory too – so you can go back 4 or 5 choices. This is something I would personally change. IMO it would be far more practical to have this as an “up one level” button instead. When navigating simply as a back button, it is quiet easy to get lost if you’ve been in a number of screens. Holding this button down (no matter where you are) will take you back to the main menu.
The bottom two buttons are forward, back / up, down / fast forward, rewind – depending on your application.
The middle button is simply to select (i.e. action button). One thing I have found – if you want to change volume – hold this button in (when screen is active) and the wheel volume control is activated. Nice little touch.
Overall the UI is reasonably responsive – but can sometimes have some small lags between button press and actual action (this includes the wheel). Hopefully this gets better with later firmware releases.
A couple of final notes on the UI – the gapless play is not entirely seamless (still a noticeable micro-pause between songs. I can live with this – many wont. This needs fixing. Also the gain is 6 dB and is much appreciated especially for driving my DT880 and HD600.
Now Playing ScreenA natural match - DN-1000 and X5
Overall – if the Apple (think iPod Touch 4 / iPhone4) UI is a 10 (and that’s what I’d give it) – this initial release would come in about a solid 6. It’s usable, has plenty of features, and I believe will get better with more firmware releases. But it needs work.
Probably best if I preface this section with a small note so that you are aware of my thoughts on audiophile type DAPs. I like my iPhone4. It is linear, user friendly, sounds pretty good actually – and I can tailor the sound via apps. When I got my Studio V3, I was very surprised in the increase (to me) of perceived SQ. Sonically the Studio seemed to have a more holographic/spacious sound to it. Now I’m not sure if this is crossfeed, a dsp they’re using, or simply in the frequency response (I know the Studio is slightly on the bright side). All I know is that I like it.
X5 vs iP4 vs Studio V3X5 vs iP4 vs Studio V3
Also – when doing comparisons – to make sure I’m comparing correctly – I equalised the volume on all 3 devices with an SPL meter, and used the same files for all 3 devices.
So without further ado ….
The X5 (IMO) sounds phenomenal. My initial impressions, and this is also comparing to my desktop (NFB-12) is that the X5 essentially has a very black background, is essentially flat/neutral – but with a slightly warmish tint to it. It sounds very similar to my NFB-12 when level matched. So the sound is quite full bodied (yet not dark). I’ve noticed no hiss at all, and even with sensitive IEMs (SE 535), no issues with any channel imbalance.
I won’t go into highs, mids, lows etc. – as that is more to do with the frequency range of the headphones being used. But I will say that I am very happy with the detail presentation, and also with the overall sense of space when listening via both my HD600 and DT880. There is nothing lacking.
After level matching, I tested the following tracks with the Studio V3, Fiio X5 and iPhone4. I used the DT880 250 ohm as it’s the most neutral can I currently have (and it was easier level match than the IEMs).
Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen
Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
Amber Rubarth – Tundra (ideal for soundstage and imaging tests)
Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanca – Lakme, The Flower Duet
Porcupine Tree – Trains
I had two main revelations when doing this:
How close the V3 and X5 sounded in terms of detail and sense of space
How good the iPhone sounded comparatively
In terms of absolutes (and please remember this is very subjective - my ‘old and imperfect ears’) in all of the tracks tested …..
V3 is definitely slightly brighter than both the iP4 and X5
I’d actually call the iP4 the most neutral – sitting between the V3 and X5
V3 and X5 have similar detail retrieval – withiP4 comparatively just a little behind, but still performing well.
Whilst the X5 is still very flat/neutral – it does have a slight hint of warmth to it – and this does it give a slightly fuller sound than both the iP4 and V3. The X5 does this without losing its sense of detail.
Both V3 and X5 have a bigger impression of spaciousness (than the iP4)
HD600, DT880, RS1 + iP4, X5 and V3X5 and RS1
For my personal preference and rankings – skip forward to the end.
The review wouldn’t be complete without a quick word regarding the other features the X5 offers, and this is where it truly sits apart from my other devices (as they do not have some of these features).
As a digital transport – using the 3.5mm to coax out – it works extremely well. This is ideal for anyone who is away from home (e.g. at a Meet) and wants to test an audio chain – but with their own music. I actually tried this feature going straight to my NFB-12, and then alternately using the NFB-12’s SS amp and also my LD MKIV.
With line-out to an external amp. The line-out (to my ears) is essentially very clean, with no discernable noise or degradation of SQ. I used this feature going straight to the LD MKIV – and the X5 in combination with my HD600s was simply sublime. I actually ended up getting lost in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Anne-Sophie Mutter) for about half an hour while I was supposed to be evaluating. To me, getting lost in the music is always a great sign of an audio chain done right.
As a DAC. It did take a while to get the drivers loaded for Windows 8.1 (if you’re having trouble try this link [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM1MN8QZhnk] – thanks to John aka musicheaven for the help with that). Once the drivers were installed, the X5 performed flawlessly with no recognisable dropouts or glitches. The interesting thing was that I did a volume matched (using an spl meter) comparison with my NFB-12 and DT880s, and they sounded pretty much identical. Blind, I don’t think I could have picked one from the other. From my point of view – this is a great endorsement, as it means I can essentially have desktop quality whilst on-the-go. Fantastic!
The X5’s amp section is a good one. The power output is listed in the specs earlier in the review. Basically I tested these with: HD600 @ 300 ohm, DT880 @ 250 ohm, RS1 @ 32 ohm, SE535 @ 36 ohm and DN-1000 @ 10 ohms. At no stage did I feel any of the headphones were under driven, or in any way lacking. With the X5 – for my tastes, there is simply no point in having an add-on amp.
Fiio rates the battery life under current firmware at around 10-12 hours, and thinks they can get up to 15 hours once the firmware matures. I ran a ‘real world’ test from fully charged, and playing overnight with screen off. I managed 11.5 hours before the X5 quit (playing red-book FLAC files) – so consistent with the information released. From fully depleted using a 1a wall-wart, full charging took ~ 4 hours (again consistent with Fiio’s released information).
SD MICRO CARDS (PERFORMANCE/SCANNING)
With my Studio V3 – one of the ‘issues’ that I have is that every time it’s switched on, it scans the card for changes. With approx. 2200 lossless tracks – this takes around 1m15s (64Gb card). After that it’s pretty good – with very little lag.
With the X5 – the nice thing is that you only have to scan once – and then no scanning again unless you update / add to your library.
Scanning the same micro SD card on the X5 took approximately 3 minutes, - dual cards roughly double that. Scanning a single 64Gb card filled with a mix of FLAC, aac and MP3 files (approximately 5500 files total) took considerably longer – but once again, after the initial scan – access has been very snappy.
Ok – time for me to state my personal rankings – and remember these are mine – your own thoughts may be different.
Packaging / accessories – 5/5 – nothing missing IMO. Packaging is smart and accessories are well thought out.
Build/form factor – 4.5/5 – excellent build, and size is good considering it’s feature set (audio only), and power capabilities
X5 > V3 > iP4
UI – 3.5/5 – still some work to do, but promising feature set. Slight responsiveness lag at times and the hierarchy within the audio structure needs to be multilevel and fixed. This is essential to the X5’s success. Other features need tweaks, and there is room for added functionality.
iP4 >>> X5 >= V3
Sound – 5/5 – I can’t fault it. The X5 sounds fantastic. I wouldn’t change anything.
X5 = V3 > iP4
Other features – 5/5 – the versatility of this DAP is going to be one of its greatest strengths
X5 >>> iP4 > V3
Power – 4.5/5 – it’s not going to drive power hungry orthos, or extremely high impedance cans – but it’ll drive practically anything else. Based on my tests – I’d guess an effective target impedance range might be between 10-300 ohms (depending on sensitivity).
X5 >= V3 >>> iP4
Battery – 4/5 – average-to-good for its class, and if Fiio can get it to 15 hours, it would be ideal. The V3 can’t be beat here though.
V3 >> X5 = iP4
Overall – given its feature set and current FW, I’d put the X5 ahead of the Studio V3 for my preferences. The main points (given SQ is similar) is the potential for better UI, plus the far quicker boot time and access to both SD cards simultaneously.
X5 > V3 > iP4
So will I be getting one? That will very much depend on the development of the firmware, If Fiio gets it right – then the purchase of the X5 is a given. The value proposition is simply too good at USD 350.00 to turn down.
Firstly – my apologies for the length of the review. I really couldn’t do it any other way without glossing over essential information. My thanks to Joe and James for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I will genuinely miss having this unit when I have to send it on to the next recipient next week!
Pros - Sublime micro-detailing, smooth sound without being rolled off or overly smooth, wonderful mid-range. Natural, organic sound, good build quality.
Cons - Scroll button can be jittery causing you to select the wrong options or songs, the covers for the micro SD slots are cumbersome and look frail.
To start off, I'd like to thank Joe for giving me an opportunity to demo this unit. I'd also like to thank James for being so active in the community and really taking our fellow headfier's feedback into consideration. This is a first to my knowledge, and really goes to show how much they care .
I received the X5 on the 17th and of course was skeptical regarding the design and sound quality. To be honest I wasn't really expecting much. Not that I was going into the demo biased. Just wasn't expecting it to be so good . I first used the unit with the Flat 4 Suis and that was "the pairing" for me. These two are just made to go together IMO. Extremely musical, detailed and effortless. Before I go into more detail on the sound I'll talk about the packaging and the build quality.
The X5 is well packaged and comes with some novel items such as 3.5 plugs which will help prevent the plugs from getting contaminated with dust. There is also extra screen protectors and a silicone case to help protect your investment. Other than that the X5 comes with a USB plug, some sort of coaxial plug, a USB memory stick (not exactly sure is on that, maybe music or directions?), and book-manuals.
The X5 has rather good build quality. It feels solid in hand and is made mostly of metal. As I mentioned earlier though the scroll wheel is a bit of a sore point for me. It does seem a bit jittery and due to this I end up selecting wrong settings or tracks at times (keep in minda Fiio did mention fixing this issue with a firmware update in the future?). Also the micro SD slot covers are cumbersome and feel a bit frail. Personally I think they should have gone with a design like the AK units do where it slides open and closed (hint, hint!). I don't think the current covers will last a long time. Other than that I think the build quality is quite good overall.
It's quite well known that audiophile DAPs have & still lack quite a bit in this department. Only recently have things started changing and thank goodness for that. The X5 is definitely going in the right direction with the UI. I had minimal issues with the UI and found it rather easy to use. I don't have much to complain about in this regards. The unit boots up pretty quickly and shuts down as it should. There are multiple features within the UI that makes this player nifty and versatile. Although it doesn't look like they have playlist support . I hope Fiio can add this as it would make this player perfect for me. I'm a control freak and like to have all my music organized how I want it .
Anyways, you can view your music via folder view, album, artist, favorites (add favorites to your list first), genre & all music. Even with WAV it recognizes the tags and allows for this. They all work. This is excellent.
In System Settings you can manually update the library (scan). You can switch this feature to manual or auto by pressing the bottom left or right buttons on the player. I prefer to manually do it anyways opposed to having the unit scan every time . There is a key lock setting which gives you two options Option 1 disables the buttons on the DAP so you can't switch tracks or adjust volume while the screen is off. With option 2 it gives you that ability. Sweet! You can also adjust the screen time out, idle power and sleep mode. You also have a USB mode feature which can be switched from either storage or DAC. Under this menu you also have info about the X5, the ability to format either SD slot, and you can do a factory restore.
Under Play Settings you have Play Mode which allows you to play songs @ random, repeat, Play all, and there is one more function but I'm not sure what that play mode is... You also have gapless playback under this menu which can be enabled or disabled. You can also adjust the max volume, and a fixed volume setting. There is also a Power on Volume settings (will start the unit at a specific volume @ your choice). Lastly there is a Low and High gain setting and balance . With balance you can adjust how loud the left channel or right channels are if you have hearing loss. Very sweet. Lots of customizations available on this UI. .
This is probably the most important part for a good amount of you folks (it sure is for me) and the X5 doesn't disappoint for me in this area. I've been extensively listening to the X5 through my Flat 4 Suis for the past week.... I love this player. Sounds very good. Fiio surpassed my expectations. Silky smooth sound. Spacious, detailed, slightly warm but on the neutral side to my ears. Just love the contrast and texture of the sound. Separation is good. Vocals really stand out for me. Very natural, easy on the ears yet not rolled off or overly smooth. Very well done Fiio.
The treble has great extension while sounding rather smooth and natural. Its generally non-offensive unless the track is poorly mastered. The contrast throughout the frequencies is very impressive and still being able to strike a balance between detail, neutrality & natural sound is amazing. The overall sound has a nice thickness to the sound which is what I relate to a natural sound.
The mids is one of my favorite aspects of this player. Really stands out in a good way for me. I guess you could say the player is a bit mid-centric. Although I feel the overall signature of the player is on the neutral side. Just the mids really stand out in a way where I could see where people are coming from stating it is mid-centric.
The bass is tight and punchy. It is just ever so slightly emphasized which gives the player a nice amount of warmth to it, without deviating too much from a neutral signature.
The Sound-staging for some reason reminds me a bit of how my SE5s portray its Sound staging. It has a decent amount of width to the presentation with a bit more depth than width to it.
This is by far my favorite aspect of this player. Micro-details just stand out so much more than I'm use to and in a good way. Normally I give Hisound players the nod in this area but the X5 manages to do it and I think even better. As mentioned earlier the player has great contrast and this goes hand in hand with the micro-detailing this player outputs. Everything just stands out and is easy to differentiate. Yet the player still has a natural sound to it without sounding overly thin.
It has been a pleasure to demo this unit and sadly I had to send it back earlier today ;(.... I'll have to wait in line like everyone else, but I plan on buying a unit for myself. I had no intentions on buying another player (owning an AK120 S-mod & Rocoo BA) but I'm sold. The X5 has many more pluses than it has minuses. With the minuses being the scroll wheel and the micro SD slot coverings. If you can look past that and want a player that sounds excellent and has a UI that is easy to use and just works, well you found the right player . I'd like to once again thanks Joe and James for the opportunity to demo this unit and I think they have a winner on their hands.