Separate names with a comma.
Digital Audio (FLAC/MP3/etc) Players (DAPs) item created by TheoS53, Oct 11, 2016
Pros - Sound quality, build quality, ease of navigation, features for price point
Cons - Speed (UI and library), poor Bluetooth performance, missing features (from old model)
Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click (photos in tables) to view larger images.
One of my first introductions to FiiO (from a DAP perspective) was the original X1. At the time I was looking for an affordable portable player which I could use on-the-go and also around home (pairing an appropriate amplifier for full sized cans). When it was first released, the firmware was a work in progress. It took FiiO a while to get it right, but eventually what we got was a fully featured pocketable audio player with very good SQ, and some killer features including true gapless and also replay gain. The only negative (for em anyway) was the mechanical control wheel. Mine had become loose over time (a testament to how often I used it), and now navigation with it is decidedly challenging (it jitters all over the place – no accuracy in selection). Enter FiiO's upgrade – the new X1 2nd generation (or X1ii). Could FiiO improve on what was to me the best sub $100 DAP being offered? Read on for my impressions.
By now, most Head-Fi members should know about the FiiO Electronics Company. If you don’t, here’s a very short summary.
FiiO was first founded in 2007. Their first offerings were some extremely low cost portable amplifiers – which were sometimes critiqued by some seasoned Head-Fiers as being low budget “toys”. But FiiO has spent a lot of time with the community here, and continued to listen to their potential buyers, adopt our ideas, and grow their product range. They debuted their first DAP (the X3) in 2013, and despite some early hiccups with developing the UI, have worked with their customer base to continually develop the firmware for a better user experience. The X3 was followed by the X5, X1, X7 and most of these DAPs are now into their 2nd or even 3rd generations.
They've also developed new cables, desktop and portable amplifiers, DACs, ear-buds and earphones. FiiO’s products have followed a very simple formula since 2007 – affordable, stylish, well built, functional, measuring well, and most importantly sounding good.
The X1 2nd generation (from this point known as the X1ii) was provided to me gratis as a review sample. I have made it clear to FiiO in the past that I did regard any product they sent me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. I have continued to use a lot of their gear for follow up reviews, but also for everyday use. I had previously purchased a lot of FiiO products and inquired if I could purchase other review samples a while ago from FiiO (for personal use). They have insisted I keep any further sample products for for my own use. So I acknowledge now that the X1ii I have is supplied and gifted completely free of any charge or obligation. I thank FiiO for their generosity.
I have now had the X1ii for around 9-10 months. The retail price at time of review is ~ USD 95-100. The reason I have waited to review this item is for eventual firmware maturity.
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)
Spoiler: Click here for a summary of my known preferences and bias
I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and it has mainly been with my own personally owned IEMs - the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and LZ Big Dipper. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present) is listed in my Head-Fi profile (note to self - it does need updating).
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not overly treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.
I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be skeptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.
For the purposes of this review - I've used the X1ii and tested most of the functions I am able to. I have prior experience with entry level Sony's (very early models), then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, iPhone4, iPod Touch G4, iPhone 5S, HSA Studio V3, FiiO X5, X1, X3ii, X5ii, X7, X1ii, X7ii, X3iii, iPhone SE, Cayin i5, and the L&P LP5, L5 Pro, and L3.
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.
WHAT I PERSONALLY 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.
Clean, neutral signature – but with body (not thin)
Good build quality
Reasonable battery life – at least 8-10 hours
Easy to use interface
Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.
Value for money
Enough storage to hold either my favourite albums in red-book, or my whole library in a reasonably high resolution lossy format (for me – aac256)
Bluetooth/Wireless if available
Did I get all of this with the X1ii, and more importantly was the X1ii an improvement on the X1 original? Well lets just say mostly on the features, but not entirely on the improvement, and although I hope that some of the remaining shortcomings with the firmware might still be improved over time, I have my personal reservations on how much can still be achieved.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The X1ii arrived in a fully printed white retail box measuring approx 95 x 165 x 40mm. The front has a full colour photo of the X1ii and the rear has a list of the main features (in both English and Chinese). Inside the outer retail jacket is a white rigid box and lid simply adorned with the word “FiiO”. Removing the lid gives us our first look at the X1ii. Under this is another compartment which is home to the accessories.
Retail boxInner boxFull accessory package
The total accessory package includes:
The FiiO X1ii
One USB data and charging cable
One clear flexible plastic / polycarbonate type case
Quick start guide and warranty
The accessories are reasonable quality and the case is a snug fit and protects nicely. With case fitted, the X1ii can be docked into both DK1 dock and also the K5 dock/amplifier.
(From FiiO's website), and I've included the original X1 specs, as well as the specs for the X3ii which is now very close in price.
ModelX1 2rd GenX1 OriginalX3 2nd Gen
Approx current price$95-100 USD$95-100 USD$140 USD
Dimensions~ 97 x 56 x 12 mm~ 96 x 58 x 14 mm~ 97 x 58 x 16 mm
Weight102 g106 g135 g
Lossless PCM SupportAPE, ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, WAV, WMAAPE, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, WMAAPE, ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, WAV, WMA
Lossy SupportMP3, AAC, WMA, OGGMP3, AAC, WMA, OGGMP3, AAC, WMA, OGG
Use as external DACNoNoYes
Battery1800 mAh1700 mAh2600 mAh
DAC ChipPCM 5242PCM5142CS4398
Main amp chipISL28291ISL28291OPA1612 + LMH6643
SNR (H/O)≥113 dB (A-weighted)≥110 dB (A-weighted)≥113 dB (A-weighted)
THD+N (H/O)<0.003% (32Ω/1kHz)<0.003% (32Ω/1kHz)<0.001% (32Ω/1kHz)
Output to 16ohm100 mW 100 mW224 mW
Output to 32ohm70 mW65 mW200 mW
Output to 300ohm8 mW8 mW24 mW
Line Out?Yes – combined with H/OYes – combined with H/OYes – separate outputs
External StorageUp to 256 GbUp to 200 GbUp to 200 Gb
Screen320x240 TFT320x240 TFT320x240 TFT
OSCustom FiiO (Linux)Custom FiiO Custom FiiO
CHANGES FROM X1 original
The main differences between the X1ii and X1 are:
Rounded more hand friendly build
Addition of Bluetooth
Change from mechanical to touch based wheel
Upgrade to internal components
Addition of deep sleep functionality
BUILD AND DESIGN
One of the first things I noticed when setting my eyes on the X1ii was how much different the external design was. It's sleeker, more rounded (curvy) and just looks so much more modern than the previous model. Dimensionally they X1 original and X1ii are actually very close, but the thinner body on the X1ii just adds to the impression of sleekness and more contemporary design.
The front is made of tempered black glass and is dominated by the 320x240 TFT screen at the top, and the touch wheel at the bottom. Around the touch wheel are the usual 4 buttons. The buttons are tactile and have a nice feel and feedback to being clicked. The upper left button brings up a context menu that is dependent on the menu you are in. The upper right button is a back button, and puts you back up one hierarchal level. 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). Like the X1 original – if you want to change volume – hold this button in (when screen is active) and the wheel volume control is activated.
Side buttonsInputs and outputs
On the left hand side is the power on/off and below that the vol up / down rocker buttons. The buttons again give a really nice tactile response, and for my hand, are nicely located within easy reach. At the bottom is the combined headphone out / line-out jack, the micro USB port for charging / data transfer, and the micro SDXC slot (which FiiO says will take up to 256 Gb cards). The micro USB is compatible with both of FiiO's current docks – the K5 dock/amp and the DK1 dock.
The actual X1ii casing is an aluminum alloy which is beautifully finished, smooth and nicely rounded – providing excellent fit in the hand.
The new touch wheel is easy to use, has reasonable sensitivity allowing easy movement and selection, but avoiding overshoot. FiiO did add a feature where you can use the actual wheel for button presses, but I advise to turn this off, as it actually interferes with the wheels tracking. It was a nice idea – just not really practical. The wheel is a marked improvement over the mechanical wheel on my X1, but falls a little short of the fine control available on Apple's Classic.
Screen comparison X1ii to X1Docking with K5 and DK1
The screen is the same size and resolution as the original X1, but where the X1's screen is quite warm (has an orangish hue), the X1ii's screen colour is a lot cooler (blueish tinge). Depending on the album cover, this can sometimes give more contrast, and sometimes less (very dependent on what you're viewing). Both are relatively clear, and easy to read – but both also suffer in direct sunlight.
If I was judging the X1ii based on build impressions alone – its a real improvement over the original X1, without many critiques.
Internally the X1ii has a variation of the chipsets used in the original X1, with the SoC from the same family (JZ4760B vs JZ4760BS), and the DAC being an upgrade from the same family (PCM5242 vs PCM5142). The LPF and OP amp used is the same on both devices (OPA2322 and ISL28291). In terms of measurements, the specs (refer the table I made above) are so close as to be indistinguishable (distortion, crosstalk, SNR etc). The X1 has fractionally higher peak voltage output, but when comparing the two with test tones, the FiiO F9 IEM, and an SPL meter, the actual output difference was negligible (both at vol 33/100 – and the difference only 0.3 dB higher on the X3ii). This would make comparisons pretty easy. The other major difference was the inclusion of Bluetooth in the X1ii (which we'll cover shortly).
The X1ii is powered by a 3.7V 1800 mAh Li-polymer battery which provides approximately 11-12 hours use in ideal conditions with an average load (like the F9), and Bluetooth disengaged. In my tests this was achievable using IEMs with the screen mostly off (with just the occasional checks to see how the battery was faring), and the DAP set to play continuously. This was very similar to the original X1's battery performance. Charging was slightly quicker with the newer X1ii using a 5V 2.1a battery pack – just over 3 hours with the X1ii vs approx 4 hours with the X1 original. You can also play and charge at the same time if using a battery pack like this. The one addition the X1ii has (relating to battery) is a deep sleep mode, whereby you can put the X1ii to sleep with inactivity, and it “sips” at the battery at a much lower rate, and can be almost instantly awakened (relatively anyway).
FiiO's output specs and recommendations show that they recommend use of 16ohm to 100ohm headphones – and the outputs are respectively:
100 mW at 16ohm
70 mW at 32ohm
8 mW at 300ohm
These are practically the same as the original X1's output – but what does this mean in the real world? With FiiO's 28 ohm 106 dB/mW F9, I was able to get to my normal listening level of 65-75 dB at around 35/100 volume on low gain. At 100/100 on low gain, this was pushed beyond the 100 dB level (again low gain). 40/100 was enough to adequately drive VE's 320 ohm Zen ear-buds, and even HiFiman's 60 ohm 103 dB/mW RE2000 was nicely driven at 40/100.
Power tests with F9, Zen2 and RE2000And with HD800S, MS Pro and HD630VB
I did try the X1ii with my HD800S, and while you could get it loud enough at 60/100, the bass just didn't sound right – not as articulate as usual – and realistically adding additional amplification was needed for harder to drive loads. But for most portable use (it was great with both the MS Pro and the HD630VB), you simply won't need an extra amplifier – the X1ii (like the original X1) has pretty good power output.
The X1ii comes with both Bluetooth 4.1, and is capable of two way transmission – so you could attach the X1ii to a portable speaker, and also a hand-held controller (like the RM1) and use the remote to control the X1ii, and the X1ii to feed the Bluetooth speaker. So how did the Bluetooth perform in real life? For this test, I used Trinity Audio's Bluetooth lanyard and also my pair of Fiil Diva portables.
First step – turning Bluetooth on – and a whopping 13 second wait between the time the Bluetooth switch is toggled, and the menu returns to say its ready. Not a good start. Another 10 seconds to search and find the Diva, and then a further 3-4 seconds to pair. The connection with the Diva at close range (ie in a pocket) was pretty good, the occasional hitch, but OK for walking outside. When I got into high traffic areas though – the connection wasn't the best, and even having it close was no guarantee of it working well. Next test was leaving the X1ii on the desk and walking away from it. I managed 6-7m before getting a lot of drop-outs. For the record, with my iPhone SE, the Diva finds and connects within a couple of seconds, has an operable range of around 10-12 meters (rock solid), and is also very stable in high electronic traffic areas. I'm suggesting the X1ii's Bluetooth transmitter is simply underpowered. The good news with the Diva was – all the headset controls worked well. End result, I'd use the Diva with the X1ii for walking, as long as I wasn't going to be in any high density traffic areas. And the Diva was pretty quick to connect again once the X1ii had stored it initially.
Next test – doing the same with the Trinity Audio lanyard. This time another 10 seconds to connect. And again about 3-4 seconds to pair. Connection was good with the X1ii in front of me. As soon as I moved it to my pocket, it started glitching, and even turning my head would cause cut-outs. Maximum range away from the unit was 3m, and its basically unusable. Again – checking with the iPhone SE, and its operable range is around 12m with the lanyard, and the audio is rock solid within that range. One final note – the Trinity lanyards full functionality worked completely with the iPhone, but didn't with the X1ii.
So final thoughts on Bluetooth:
Works well paired with gear which has reasonable BT receivers in unobstructed short range
Overall somewhat weak and unstable
Very slow connection
If turned on, slows the X1ii when restarting
Personally I'd use my iPhone
UI AND USABILITY
Anyone who's owned an X1, X3ii or X5ii will immediately recognise the UI. Its pretty functional and divided into 5 main areas
Browse Files (folder navigation)
Category (tagged browsing)
Rather than go through screen-shots of all the UI screens, its probably easier to cover the main features, usability/speed, what its missing, and any issues I think it has.
For the price, the X1ii actually packs in a lot. You have your normal settings like timers, sleep mode, the ability to recognise in-line remotes in compatible head-sets (and the F9 IEM is a perfect match with the X1ii in this regard), language settings etc. There are some nifty additions though. The X1ii comes with 6 UI themes (and they aren't too bad IMO either). You can choose to display cover art, lyrics, and also change the on-screen font size (great for those of us with older eyes). You can change screen brightness, key-lock settings, and it also has a USB mode for use in the car (I couldn't get this working with my Camry – so probably incompatible).
Main menuSettingsEQTagged library
In the play settings, there is a 7 band equaliser – which works pretty well, and has presets for those who use them. There is line-out functionality and this can be set to variable or fixed which is nice to have. You can toggle to play through folders, and there is a gapless function which works for FLAC but has a small micro-gap for aac256 files. It does not really bother me – but if perfect gapless is essential for you, then it may pay to look elsewhere for now. Interestingly gapless is perfect on the original X1.
You can browse in folder mode, or by tagged library, and there is a rudimentary search function (first letter) which works surprisingly well if you just want to skip to a certain album or artist. Playlist functionality is pretty crude, but if you make them with an external app, they are pretty easy to manage (I use one for my test tracks).
Missing Features / Issues
So gapless will be one of the big ones (depending on your tolerance to a micro gap), but the other one I really miss is the lack of replay gain which was working perfectly on the X1 original. For a device like this, I used to love (original X1) setting the player to shuffle all songs and not having to worry about changing volume. With the X1ii sadly we are still waiting, and I'm not sure if its likely to be implemented any time soon.
UPDATE 20 SEP – FiiO have a fix for lossy gapless being trialed on the X3iii. Expect this to filter down to the X1ii soon.
The other big issue is speed related – both the UI and scanning. I have 6576 tracks all very uniform aac256 on my sdxc card in my X1 original. It scan the entire library in about 3 minutes 30 seconds. Not rocket fast, but OK for someone who doesn't often add new music. The same card on the X1ii takes 12 minutes and 30 seconds. Yep – its like wading through molasses! And the UI is straight up sluggish. It lags more than the original X1, there is often a 1-2s delay between pressing play and music actually starting, and sometimes it looks as though its playing – but no sound. Usually its just a matter of pressing stop and then play again – but you shouldn't have to do this. I've also had a couple of instances when I've plugged in an earphone, and its engaged line-out mode. Thankfully you get a warning so you don't blast your ears – but these are all bugs, and they are very random.
Basically, if I was giving the X1ii a 10/10 for better build and aesthetic design (compared to X1 original), for the UI, usability, speed and even features, that score would be around 5/10 because in reality FiiO have gone backwards on the original. The worrying thing is that the X1ii is now 10 months old – and things aren't improving. The issue isn't navigation either, as the X1ii is very easy to navigate. Its simply the lack of, or broken state of, some features, and the extremely slow speed.
SOUND QUALITY & COMPARISONS
The following is what I subjectively hear from the FiiO X1ii. Some of you may find this section a little limited, so I’ll give you some insight into the way I’ve changed my opinion on how to describe the sound with any competently made DAC, DAP or amplifier. The problem with trying to break the sonics down to bass, mids and treble is that DAP / DAC / amp is designed (or should be designed) to be essentially flat across the frequency spectrum. If it has enhanced bass, then isn’t it adding colouration that should come from the headphones or EQ or recording? Likewise, I won’t comment a lot on sound-stage, as this is primarily a by-product of the actual recording, or the transducers you’re using.
So how do I go about describing it? Well my gear isn't great for measuring DAPs but judging by the correspondence from FiiO, and their own measurements, the X1ii is quite linear in its frequency response, apart from a small (0.3-0.4dB) drop in the sub bass from 60 hz down (graphs can be referenced here - http://www.fiio.net/en/products/57/parameters). What I will do is comment on overall tonality and resolution, and also expand further when comparing the X1ii to both the original X1 and also the X3ii (which is now a comparable price).
For the record – on most tracks, the volume on X1ii was adjusted to give me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.17556 When I tested side-by-side with other DAPs I used test tones, and an SPL meter to volume match. I used the same track, and had the players set up so I could rapid switch. Testing was performed with a pair of Earsonics ES3 IEMs which have a remarkably similar response to Campfire's Andromeda.
X1ii General Tonality
I had to check first with a couple of DAPs I own to get a base-line for neutrality first. This included my iPhone SE, FiiO X7ii and original FiiO X5 – all of which are essentially neutral, with perhaps the faintest hint of warmth in the tonality. After going back and forth several times, to my ears the X1ii has essentially a neutral tonality, perhaps the slightest hint of warmth, and is indistinguishable from the original X1, and essentially very close to the overall signature of the iPhone SE. It shares common overall tonality with the X5 and X7ii – but both surpass it in terms of smoothness in presentation of notes, and clarity.
Resolution / Detail / Clarity
Clarity and resolution is very good for this DAP, but after swapping with some of the other “higher tier” DAPs, the one thing which stood out for me was a slight harshness in the lower treble which isn't present in the likes of the X7ii. Its very subtle, but becomes more noticeable with longer sessions swapping back and forth. What also stands out though is how good the X1ii is able to render both detail and clarity – at this price point it is phenomenal. It misses nothing – from the different nuances of the cash registers in PF's “Money” to the clicks of Withers drumsticks in “Sultans of Swing”. If I didn't have the X7ii switching right now, I'd be even more impressed, but the X7ii is definitely at a higher level in detail retrieval.
Soundstage / Imaging
Why is this section even here? The perception of sound-stage in a DAP is a result of the music you listen to (the recording) and the transducers you use. The DAP has virtually nothing to do with it, as long as it has decent crosstalk measurements, and there is no DSP involved. I often laugh quietly to myself when I read reviews claiming one DAP has more sound-stage than another. For the record, I volume matched the X1ii and original X1 (practically same DAC sections), and tested my binaural tracks. Both sounded identical. And the ES3 sounds the same in terms of sound-stage whether I use the X1ii or X3.
X1ii vs X1 Original
This will be pretty quick. In terms of form factor and overall build quality, the new X1ii is a step up, both in terms of how it feels, looks, and especially how the navigation wheel operates. FiiO clearly did their homework here – and they've come with a nice upgrade.
In terms of sound – they are virtually identical – I could happily live with either.
In terms of features, the X1ii adds Bluetooth (and not really that well implemented) and also the deep sleep feature (which I really like). The X1ii does handle IEM's with on-control cables a lot better than the original. But it gives up 100% properly working gapless, and replay-gain (which I really miss). In terms of other features, the two are practically identical.
So now we come to speed and usability, and I'm afraid this is where the X1ii simply isn't an improvement – its actually a regression. The newer X1ii is simply bitterly slow, laggy, and at times extremely frustrating.
Overall – is it an improvement? I have to actually say no. It looks and feels better, and the navigation is an improvement – but the speed issue detracts from what could have otherwise been an improvement.
X1ii vs X1X1ii vs X3ii
X1ii vs X3ii
The X3ii was (IMO) the best value for money DAP FiiO had in their line-up through 2016. Its now only ~ $140 which makes it only marginally more expensive than the new X1ii – which makes this a very valid comparison.
Physically the X3ii has practically the same dimensions as the original X1, although the mechanical wheel on the X3ii was always far better than the original X1 (mine is still in great condition despite a lot of use). Still the X1ii is better in terms of form factor, looks and feel. The wheel is also better on the X1ii (should last longer), but its marginal. The X3ii does have the advantage of separate line-out socket, which doubles as a digital out. The X3ii is also a lot more powerful – almost 3 times the overall power output.
In terms of sound, the X3ii is a step up. More refined overall without giving up any neutrality. It can also play more formats including DSD. When taking into account features, the X1ii again adds Bluetooth, but both have the deep sleep feature. Again the X1ii handle IEM's with on-control cables better. And again it gives up 100% properly working gapless and replay-gain, as well as not being able to be used as a computer DAC. The X3ii also has a 10 band EQ compared to the X1ii's 7 band. Speed and usability once again go to the X3ii, and it is a joy to use in comparison to the X1ii's often laggy interface.
Overall – this is an easy choice – the X3ii is simply the better buy (especially at its current price point).
X1ii vs HiFiMan MegaMini
The MegaMini is due to be re-released with a few changes and a different price point. The internals remain the same, the shell becomes heavy-duty plastic/polycarbonate, and the new price point is supposed to be around the $150 mark.
Physically the MegaMini is a lot smaller and lighter. In terms of power (according to the specs) the X1ii actually has slightly higher output. Both can play similar lossy and lossless formats – although the MegaMini will do DSD64. In real life tests, the battery life is about the same, and both have very good sound quality.
The MegaMini is a lot faster, both loading the library (4 mins vs 12mins), scrolling, and just general speed of use. They both sound very good for the money, and general SQ is good to above average for the price point.
Which leaves us with features – and this is where we start to see some value in the X1ii. The MegaMini has no EQ, no line-out, no Blue-tooth (although that barely counts with the X1ii anyway), no in-line control support (headphones), no lyrics display, no gapless at all, and no settings for things like balance or volume presets. Its a very bare minimalist player. What it does, it does well – but it kind of puts things in perspective when comparing the two. This is one time I would prefer the X1ii.
X1ii vs HiFiMan MegaMiniX1ii vs Cayin N3
X1ii vs Cayin N3
I haven't had the N3 long – so please take the following with a grain of salt. Both the N3 and X1ii share similar overall dimensions, and both are extremely well built. In terms of power (again referring to the specs), the N3 should output close to double the power of the X1ii into a 32 ohm load, so an advantage there. The N3 has an AK4490EN DAC under the hood, so this gives it the ability to play all the formats the X1ii can cover, as well as DSD up to DSD256. The N3 also has Bluetooth (4.0 with AptX), and it is a lot better implemented than the X1ii. Battery life (per specs) is around the same for both units.
The N3 is a lot faster – loading the library, scrolling, and general speed of use. Both units sound very good for the money (although I would say the N3 is slightly smoother/flatter and the X1ii is a little more vibrant/edgy), and general SQ is again good to above average for the price point with both DAPs. The UI is slightly easier to navigate with the X1ii's wheel, but I'm sure given time I'd get used to the N3's button layout.
Which leaves us again with features – and this time the X1ii is on the back foot. The N3 virtually has all the features of the X1ii, but adds digital out, use as a DAC, has better implemented gapless, and has working replay-gain. It also has a 10 band EQ compared to the X1ii's 7 band. The difference in price between the N3 and the X1ii is $149 vs $99. If you can afford it – the N3 is the much better buy.
So how do I see the overall value of the X1ii? This is really a tough one, as I don't know too many devices around $100, and FiiO have created a device that sounds really nice, and has some nice features. It just handles pretty poorly (slow). I guess I'm on the fence with this one – paired with the F9, its nice and light, easy to use (on cable controls), and if I just hit shuffle its a pretty good experience. But as soon as you go to delve deeper into the UI, things start to slow up and the lag gets noticed. For the features you're getting your moneys worth and more. For the lag though – it takes a lot of the gloss off the price.
FIIO X1ii – SUMMARY
My thanks to FiiO for their support with my questions, for supplying the review sample, and for including me in their review rounds.
The X1ii is a very well presented DAP with good build which looks great and feels really nice in the hand. It has a pretty good feature-set, which includes EQ, tagged and folder browsing, gapless (although not perfect) and even a search function. It has enough power for most portable headphones, and decent battery life.
FiiO has added Bluetooth this time round, but it has poor range, and is very slow. It is two way though, so if you pair with a remote and portable speaker, and have it not too far away from you, I can see how it could be appropriate for some people.
Its major failing is in its overall speed – both in scanning (simply dreadful) and generally laggy UI.
If you don't mind the laggy behaviour, don't use Bluetooth regularly, and simply want a very good sounding DAP for ~ USD100, then the X1ii fits the bill because it really sounds quite nice. But again – if that's what you're looking for, there are better options. My recommendation would be to spend an extra $40 and buy FiiO's X3ii (currently being replaced by a newer model), or an extra $50 and buy Cayin's N3. Both are simply a far better value proposition.
I agonised over rating this one. For a start I was considering 2.5 stars, but the X1ii is actually better than that and I think a lot of the detractors forget the price point, the features it does have, and the overall SQ. But there is no doubt it has issues, and to me 3 stars feels right. Sounds great – but I just can't really recommend it with its current speed and Bluetooth issues. There are better options out there.
Despite its shortcomings – great with F9and Alessandro MS Pro
Pros - Great sound for the price, continual FW updates, resolving and clear
Cons - Laggy UI, not all features available yet, slightly dry treble
I just got my X1 II but I'm really busy so I will first pen a few quick thoughts and edit this next time/respond to any comments or PMs you send me
Info and Specs here: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/57
Overall it is a very nice signature. There is just a slight bass boost because of the improved power architecture Fiio claims over the Gen 1 X1. I would still consider it relatively neutral overall with relatively energetic, forward presentation.
Bass: Great extension and power. The bass is clear yet punchy, which makes bassier earphones like my KZ ZS3 keep a control of the booming bass. The added punch and clarity helps a lot for jazz tracks where the electric bass has a much more defined line that isn't hiding in the background.
Mids: Haven't observed anything in particular so that isn't a bad thing. For now I can confirm that it handles congested classical music and rock tracks quite decently
Treble: Same as bass, great extension. It may be due to my KZ ZS3/ATR but I find the treble a bit dry depending on recording. My go to test is cymbals and hihats in Jazz tracks. I hear a complete shimmer rather than a flat "sch-iing" sound some DAPs give, but it just feels a bit drier compared to in real life.
Space: I haven't tried more expensive DAPs, but it gives more sense of space to the KZ ATRs then my previous Shanling M1. No complaints in this regard.
Line Out: I forgoed the digital out that my Shanling M1 had as I couldn't own something like the Chord Mojo anytime soon.... Anyway I love the line out on this nifty thing as now it hooks up to Aux In on my home stereo perfectly well! No double amping and because the voltage is now correct the sound from my home stereo is more balanced. When I used the HO of the Shanling M1/Fiio M3 the mids were very recessed while now the LO of the X1 works a treat. I find the output too high in fact on my stereo so I just use the -6db fixed gain LO option on the X1 II.
All in all, clarity smokes the Fiio M3 I used to own and is just a tad more resolving than my Shanling M1. The M1 was more neutral (maybe the AK4452 DAC is better?) but I suspect a well-optimised power/amp architecture allows the X1 to deliver a more extended and powerful reproduction of pieces. I don't have many IEMs to verify this so I will just guess that the X1 II will do a great job of cleaning up DD IEMs. Synergy is still convincing with my dual-BA Creative Aurvana In-Ear 3. A possible way for Fiio to improve the sound is maybe take the energy/spikiness of the sound just down a touch so that it is still more dynamic than the Shanling M1 sound and doesn't get too energetic as can happen sometimes now.
I won't mince my words here, the UI does lag. Then again, things like the Shanling M1 don't instantly change tracks but here there is a definite delay of about a second.
For example, a track change literally happens the same speed as you saying "Press button, change". In actual fact this is not too much slower and I am alright with it. My main gripe is even volume changing and opening the About page in settings can take full seconds to display (although Fiio rewards your wait by including the quick start guide in the About section for your reference on the go)! The good thing though is the UI is quite stable so to a certain extent, you can still press the buttons and the Fiio will follow the sequence, just that there is a delay. The really slow thing is a library update. I haven't timed it but my 1000 tracks takes about 2-3 times the scanning time on my Shanling M1. Again, no deal-breaker but you should make yourself a coffee when waiting for the library update
YMMV for the touch wheel, but I think it works well after you get used to it. I only used a physical wheel on a Shanling M1 so I have relatively few stereotypes (no iPod, X1 Gen 1) to begin with. There is an interesting touch select function where you can tap the wheel and use it as an arrow keypad for those who prefer. Fiio is currently working though on improving it as sometimes clicking the center physical button registers a tap on the wheel too.
Screen brightness is alright, colours are usable but meh. The rectangular screen is an unusual choice, as I would rather the screen is a smaller square that does not distort album art, and will be sharper than the current display.
There is an interesting in-car mode that ties in the Line Out settings and allows you to disable charging to preserve the battery's condition over long in-car usage. Funnily I use it at my home! When I switch on my USB power adaptor, the player boots up and plays music without charging the battery, and when I switch off the power the X1 II powers off too! Really neat and great for battery lifespan
One good thing I already use is the delete shortcut from the now playing screen. It allows me to dump whole albums on my microSD (I use a 64GB Samsung Evo+ formatted with the X1 II) and then delete tracks I don't like on the fly when listening.
I wonder if Fiio will launch a mid-life refresh of the X1 II with a faster processor and AptX support, as looking at the struggle I doubt the FW can be optimised enough to run smoothly on the current hardware. However, Fiio never advertised this as a speed beast, so I am alright accepting better sound for meh UI. The primary function of the DAP is music playback especially for a cheap one like this.
It is still new to me so there are no issues to report.
I will just point out some nice touches I appreciate. The plastic translucent case is great especially for entry level, as you are on a budget and won't splash out again for a separate case (ahem, Shanling). The only small gripe is the case isn't transparent and is not tight enough for a close fit yet too tight to remove easily. The stickers aren't the nicest but they are useful protection. I will leave the factory-installed protector on, which is something I like also since the factory will always be able to apply a screen protector much more neatly then what I can do myself. (I am a sucker for this as my M1 already got itself scratched before I could apply the included protector)
I got the black unit and like the sleek discreet look. The black tempered glass is the same shade as the metal so it goes really well together. Only the translucent case detracts a little but protection>looks I guess.
My box seems to be missing the HiRes stickers, with only one already stuck onto the back of the X1 II. HiRes is more marketing than anything, but I would be happy to have some spares just for bragging rights... (It isn't provided any more: http://www.fiio.me/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=41660)
From the link above, I also want to point out there is a change to newer screen protectors. The newer ones installed at factory cover the whole front panel while older ones according to the link only covered the display while leaving the remainder of the panel uncovered. I prefer the current one as it looks more uniform when the light catches it.
I still don't regret changing from the Shanling M1 as the sound is clearly better for this price bracket. As the primary function is a music player, it does its job better. I hope I will get used to the slower UI, lack of DSD support, lack of USB DAC and lack of AptX bluetooth my Shanling M1 had. On a day to day basis listening to a better sound through my IEMs, I think I will just get by
Still awarding a generous 4 stars as it does its primary function well for its price, and there is commitment by Fiio with continual updates. Nevertheless more users will be drawn to Fiio if they can get their interface working as well as the sound.
For those who want better UI and DSD/DAC functionality you may be better off waiting and saving up in the meantime for the X3 Gen 3. It seems Fiio is still maintaining the hierarchy with incremental gains from X1 to X3 and X5. (I know there is some controversy about the current X7 so I'm not including it, haha!)
I hope @FiiO will be able to make some improvements to the X1 II
1) I hope there will be a new cover art display option to display the cover art as the original square. The black region at the side can be left blank or display track information.
2) Make the UI faster! Library scanning and general operation should be smoother.
3) Improve the touch wheel press function to make it really useful for all user preferences. Instead of the left and right functioning as direction keys, touching them should allow the user to go back and forward respectively.
4) Pending features like WMA file support and gapless need to be added soon.
5) Fiio should correct their slogan to the grammatically-correct "Fiio - For Music and Happiness". For the X1, it should be "Recently Added Tracks" not "Recently Added Devices". The grammar was intentional and the recently added tracks will be changed soon.
6) Remove unsightly silver sticker on the sexy black metal finish at the back and print the correct model information directly on the metal surface. It's intentional
7) Enable long press of forward and backward (not just short press) when the screen is locked, so you can seek the track with the screen off. Already added!
8) Include an optional clock display at the top status bar. (Actually was quite useful on my Shanling M1, I'm sure the X1 II can support this since it has sleep timers and standby etc.)
9) Make the status LED optional when the unit is on. The charging lights are important and should stay, but users will appreciate a choice of whether to have the light (rather than cover it with a sticker). Since the LED has multiple colours, it will be really cool if we can customise the colours to our preference!
10) The scroll wheel click sound means that the X1 II has a inbuilt speaker. Why not let it do more things like other UI sounds or even play tracks if the speaker doesn't sound too bad? Of course, keep it optional as not everyone wants their DAPs clicking with every action they do. It's only a buzzer it seems.
11) For the next update, Fiio should use a faster processor and support AptX. Optional, consider using the AKM AK44XX chip the Shanling M1 uses and include a backlight for your buttons to make it a really awesome DAP? I would love to imagine how the AK4452 with Fiio's power/amp architecture will sound.
12) Sometimes with large number of tracks, the DAP will hang when loading all tracks screen. FIXED WITH 1.6.2 FW
UPDATE: Fiio has been great in addressing users like me with updates and answers to questions, really appreciate it!
Pros - cheap and decent sound quality
Cons - buggy firmware
I owned X3II. It is premium quality but sold at cheap price.
I want a portable DAP with bluetooth to off load music from my iPhone. I bought X1II without reading any reviews. Because I put a blind trust in Fiio brand.
It turned out I was wrong and dead wrong this time.
The firmware is buggy. I have upgraded to the recent one 1.5. It was still unacceptable.
UI response is slow. It feel like controlling Mars Rover from earth that kind of slow. What make things worst is that the touch wheel is extremely sensitive. I hate control this dam thing. So I only push the start button. I gave it up trying to control it.
To use bluetooth, you have to turn on your headphone first before turn on X1II. Otherwise, you have to reboot X1II. It is slow to reboot. TBH, I forgot how many times I forgot this sequence and cursed Fiio out loud. Really? Are you brain dead to get the bluetooth connection right?
If possible, I will rate it 0 star. My advice is Don't buy it.
Pros - Very good sound quality, continuous support from Fiio with frequent firmware updates, up to 256GB of storage, light, small, sturdy construction
Cons - Firmware still not 100% optimal (1.6.2), Bluetooth support sketchy, touchwheel may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Review updated for firmware 1.6.2
The DAP And Package
Sturdy, slick and well built. These were the first things I thought of when I took my player out of the box for the first time.
The Fiio X1ii generation is a delight to touch with it's smooth lines on its all aluminium body. It certainly does not feel like it would break if you were to drop it (mind you, I have not tested this myself).
In the package you get some faux carbon fibre body stickers, a mini USB cable to charge and transfer files, some screen protectors and a plastic body protector. It is a shame though that the screen protectors have a tendency to show every finger print that comes within 20 metres of the player, but it's a minor inconvenience for what it's a very well made and designed DAP.
Charging to a full battery takes about 3 hours and will give you over 10 hours of music. Not bad and it can comfortably get me through my work day with continuous music.
The player does not come with any internal storage so you have to provide your own in the form of a micro SDcard. The X1ii can support up to 256GB of storage. That's a lot of music but you do have to wear the cost of storage on top of the price of the X1ii.
A common complaint is the speed, or lack of, of file transfers. I can attest to this as transferring 16GB of music took the better part of an hour. It is recommended you use an external card reader with write capabilities till Fiio figures out a fix.
A lot of people have complained about the UI. I, personally, do not find it terrible. It's functional and laid out in a logical manner. It does even allow you to change themes with different colour schemes to suit your mood.
One of the biggest complaints about the X1 2nd gen is the issue of responsiveness. Firmware updates have helped tremendously with this, however, a certain degree of sluggishness remains. I'm talking fractions of a second. Not sluggish enough to be unusable but there's enough of a delay to be noticeable.
To be fair, I'm listening to music, not playing a video game. I do not need ultra responsive controls.
Creating playlists can be a bit touch and go. I used MusicBee to sync files and it's not as straight forward as my Sony Walkman. You do have to tweak the settings to get things to work.
Once the files and playlist has been uploaded, they do not show in the playlist section under categories. To use your playlist, you have to have to browse files and find the playlist files. Not overly complicated if you separate them into its own folder but an unnecessary step for something that should be detected by the player.
Bluetooth apparently works for some people but I must say I've had no luck pairing it to my car. My car requires me to enter a pin into the device I'm trying to pair. The X1 ii does not have a feature to do that so the pairing simply fails. Others have had much better luck than me with their cars and BT headphones.
Gapless has been added as of firmware update 1.6.0. Works great with FLAC files but it is not supported for MP3s.
Paired with ATH-IM70 and ATH-M40X.
Sound quality can be subjective and my only point of reference is my old 4GB Sony Walkman NWZ-E374.
The X1ii sounds lighter, more detailed and controlled. My old Walkman had a mid/upper bass boominess that felt overwhelming specially with male vocals and pianos. This is not apparent in the X1ii, although the bass seems to have lost some of the impact, I do appreciate the clarity and balance my music has now. Certainly far more detailed than my old Walkman at least, and it does not seem to have an aneurism when the bass range gets too busy.
Soundstaging is OK. Not great, but it does give a sense of space. Although my old Walkman did give me a better sense of verticality, the X1ii does provide better horizontal imaging.
The equaliser does not seem all that effective. Perhaps it's my ATH-IM70 but moving the dials on the EQ does not seem to make a lot of difference, at least not as much as my old Walkman.
The deal breaker
While functional, there are a few issues that could well be deal breakers.
Despite multiple software updates from Fiio, the software still buggy.
My X1ii somehow managed to corrupt my SD card.
I had to format and transfer all the files again.
Normally, this would be no big deal, but you must consider transfer speeds.
To fill up my 16GB SD card, the transfer too over ONE AND A HALF HOURS.
Consider that this DAP supports up to 256GB.
You could literally spend the entire day transferring files.
I don't think this is something that can be fixed with updates either.
I suspect this is a hardware issue caused by Fiio cheaping out on components.
I'd love to be proved wrong, but considering that no update has changed this, I think I could be right.
Wrapping It Up
The X1ii is the troubled child in the Fiio DAP lineup. Despite its flaws and quirks, I found great value in this DAP. Your mileage may differ, obviously, but I have become quite attached to it. It does what I want it to do. I'm mostly concerned about sound quality, so for me, this trumps most other issues I may have come across. However, with woefully inadequate transfer speeds and its predisposition to corrupt your SD card, it demands more patience than some people may have.
I do recommend this DAP, but I would strongly advise trying it before handing out your money..
Pros - Design, Output Power, Battery Life
Cons - Audio Quality, UI
At first, I want to say great thanks to FiiO who allowed me to join world tour of X1 2nd gen. This review is written as a part of its world review tour. I have to add that, I have't got any compensation from FiiO.
Introduciton: Now I owe FiiO X3 1st gen and X3 2nd gen, so I was very looking forward to try bland-new desigin DAP, X1 2nd. Its new design is very cool and may be satisfied from non geeks I thought. Audio quality is not bad, but it was lower than I expected.
FiiO X1 2nd has improved its chips from X1 1st. It is true I thought, its sound resoltion has improved ordinally X1 and its output power is higher than one. But when I compared X1 2nd to other DAPs cheaper ones such as Seiun Player or Xduoo X3, I couldn't feel larger improvemnt. Unfortunatelly, this makes me bit disapointed.
Output: To review this X1 2nd I used it everyday in a week with Etymotic Reserch ER-4P and KZ IE80.X1 2nd's output power was good enought to sound these earphones and there seemd no disconent. I have to point, this DAP is not designed to sound headphones such as AKG K702 or other ones, but for earphones great to use.
Sound Quality: As for its sound quality, the balance of its quality is better. But thought the bass sounds is worth than other DAPs including FiiO X3 2nd. Sound resolution is clear but it did not make me satisfied enough. Some of reverb is difficult to hear from X1 2nd althoght I can hear from X3 2nd.
The worst thing of X1 2nd is noise. I take it everywhere everytime, X1 2nd always catch noise from cellphone.The noise was larger than we expected, to avoid the noise, I had to put my cellphone my bag or other side pocket. The problem of noise from cellphone is pointed from X1 1st, so I'm very disapointed why it is not solved yet.
FiiO X1 2nd was changed its design dramatically from FiiO's other DAPs such as X5, X5 2nd, X3 2nd. Integrated display and touch panel wheel is very cool and X1 2nd's rounded body is very well to catch by hand. We Japanese geeks sometimes call FiiO's ordinally DAP style as "ガスコンロ=Gas stove" but balndnew style will be never calld as that.
UI and response: FiiO X1 2nd's UI is almost same as its ordinally ones. I favorited FiiO's UI style, so I can say it as duly evolution.But as for response, balnd-new wheel response is not good than I thought. When I select songs, I always use additional keys to select that.
And I have to add for responses, when I selected play, pause, skip and so on. The deleay is longer than other DAPs including X3 2nd. It sometimes made me annoyed. I updated to FW 1.41, it is bit improved, but still worth. Hopes to improve that.
Battery life: I used X1 2nd very long time everyday, but battery life was very well enough, when I use it 5-6hors in a day,there still too much life.
Conclusion I've used X1 2nd for a week and surprised its cool design, unfortunatally there still have some problems when I use that. Too slow response, noise from cellphone and so on. But at all, I can say X1 2nd as a one of the most great cheap DAP around 100USD. I can suggest my friends who is non geeks on audio as a best DAP for daily listening. I'm looking forward to meet more great DAPs from FiiO.
Now you can read review in Japanese here:http://www.chinadap.com/2016/12/fiio-x1-2ndx1fiiodapfiio-x1-2nd.html
Pros - Very good build quality, Quite good value, Very good sound quality
Cons - A few bugs, UI needs polising, Bluetooth could be better as well as battery life
FiiO X1 - 2 Gen. Review
Disclaimer: The product I am reviewing was provided to me from FiiO in exchange for an honest review on it. Please note that being a review unit certain aspects of the final retail product might vary. Unfortunately I can't add pictures to the post but I will link them down below.
Item Information and Specs:
Firmware version: 1.3.3
Supported files formats: WAV, MP3, APE, WMA, MP2, SLAC, FLAC, OGG, ACC,
Bluetooth: 4.0 with no no apt-X
Battery: 1800mAh (up to 10 hours of playtime)
Dimensions and Weight: Weight: 102g / Dimensions: 97mmx55.5mmx12mm
For more detailed information about features and specks you can check out the product on their page at - http://www.fiio.net/en/products/57
FiiO X1 2[sup]nd[/sup] generation is the next incarnation of the FiiO X1, now right off the bat if you have ever seen the old X1 the difference will be obvious in the looks department. It keeps the metal chassis but opts for a build with rounded edges instead of a more boxy design and features a full glass front panel that features a touch wheel instead of a rotating one. The new rounded design is very comfortable to hold seeing at it is not a small device, and even if the front glass will always get dirty from fingers, it dose clean very easily.
The internals have undergone some changes as well the DAC in the old X1 - PCM 5142 has been changed to a newer PCM 5242, that has a better signal to noise ratio making it a better chip. While the AMP seems to have remained the same FiiO claim that it is better optimized this time around. Of course the real change is is the inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0, now unfortunately it dose not seem to have apt-X, which would have enabled better quality, but thanks to the moderate price it is not a deal breaker in my opinion.
It is important to remember that like the previous X1 and other models like the X3, X5, etc. this dose not feature any internal storage, all your music will be stored on a micro-SD (that is not included). The maximum card that it can take, as stated by FiiO, is 256 GB. Depending on your card and the format that it is in you may need to format it on first use, now you can do this from the options and it will delete all your information on the card, personally i did not have to do that, after inserting my card I update the library and it worked fine, but your millage may vary.
The Build Quality and Box Content:
It comes in a nice box well packaged and wrapped up to keep it secure during shipping and make sure it arrives intact to you.
Now in the box under the device you will find the charging cable, which has a decent length to it, some paperwork, the two skins that you can put on it and a plastic case for it.
The skins have a pattern to them different from each other and come in black and white, kinda looks like a carbon fiber pattern. There is supposed to be a screen protector or two in the box but this being a review unit it is not included it would seem
I will say that the plastic case for it is a letdown it seems to be made of very cheap plastic, very soft and glossy, leading to a lot of scratches on it, also the corners are kinda jagged with small pieces of plastic, but this could be to the fact that it is a review unit, still I would like to see a better case for it, I will say that it doses fit well and it is very easy to put on and take off.
Now as I have stated the build quality feels excellent, it gives off a solid, premium feel in hand. Now the side buttons, volume and power, seem to have a very different texture to the rest of the device, not only that but the jiggled about quite a bit and worse they seemed to be made of plastic, now I am not sure if that is due to being a review unit but it seems silly to put plastic buttons on a all metal, good quality build.
The front glass seems to be of good quality and cleans up very nice from the obvious marks that it will accumulate.
The “wheel” that you use to navigate around works very well, I did find it a bit strange at first but it worked flawlessly, one small problem I did find is that if you don’t lock the screen before putting it in my pocket I would activate the wheel and change the songs around. Just remember to close your screen and you will not have any problems. Also occasionally it would skip over the thing i wanted to select. So it can be tricky.
Lets talk about the screen now, it is OK, not fantastic but it does its job. It looks decent, nothing mind blowing, and the brightness is sufficient to use it during a sunny day but the viewing angles are bad, not so bad when looking side to side or from down up but when looking at the screen from above the color shift is appalling. I don't mind so much, being a MP3 player, i will not be watching movies on it, i don't need a super high quality screen that will drain the battery further, but some improvements it think are needed
The UI and Performance:
In general I was pleased for the recommended price of approx. 100$ it dose provide a excellent music listening experience. Now unfortunately there are still a good number of bugs that, depending on your personal preference, could be a deal breaker at the moment. So I would recommend this product but whit a warning that certain things might take a while to be patched up from FiiO.
For starters I can say that the sound is very good, very nice, detailed and an amazing appearance when comparing it to the sound quality of something like your standard phone or some other MP3 like the Sansa Clip + that I usually carry with me. I can say that I enjoined my music more the non any other device.
Now the UI, it works fine did not have many problems with it, I was able without reading anything to find and do all I wanted to do in it. But there are things that could be improved. Long words go by very slowly, the themes are just a different color pretty much, they could have added more. No options for fonts or display time, not essential but it would have been nice to see. Also perhaps for some people who are not used to equalizer that has just numbers instead of options like bass, treble, etc. it can seem very confusing.
I have also seen the odd bug here and there, one was putting songs on shuffle, now it plays songs randomly, problem is it dose that both ways, so skipping forward to the next song will give you another song, but if you skip over a song by mistake and want to go back instead of playing the previous song it will play another random song, it dose not seem to remember what it played last, i guess it is a very random setting . Now also in my case i can hear a small pop when skipping between songs, not horrible but noticeable. The pop is removed if you switch the skipping mode to fade out/fade in but then skipping from one song to the next takes a good number of second.
Now what about the Bluetooth, one of the key feature of this device. Well it is decent i found paring it to a lot of Bluetooth devices to be easy, but powering on the Bluetooth takes a good few sec, could be faster, also on occasion after powering it off and on the device that was stored would not play the music and i would have to delete and redo the paring. The range seems fine, i would say it is just about under my test iPhone 5 that I used, so very close but just under a regular phone.
I also was pleased that taking out my SD card, powering on the device and then inserting my card dose not erase the library, a problem I had on certain other MP3 devices that would have to re-sync on every card removal.
The battery life is decent, it lasted me from 2 to 3/4 days (mostly 2 - 3 days), compared to my Sansa Clip + that has a life of about 4 - 5/6 days. If you compare the size of the devices it seems a bit odd that the very small Sansa can hold up so long, but compared to the X1 Gen. 2 it can not hold up in output power, and sound quality. So i would trade some battery life for a much batter music experience.
Final thoughts and Conclusion:
In the end i enjoyed my time with the FiiO X2 - 2 Gen. the build quality, all the options i had to tune my music, and especially the sound quality sold me on it. Now my device being a review one, it could have certain problems that are unique to it so take that into account. Now there is certainly room for improvement, a lot actually in the UI, but the core feature the listening experience i would say they nailed it, if you can put up with waiting for Firmware updates for the other niggles that the product has I would say that you can buy it now with little hesitation, and if you think that these bugs would ruin your enjoyment hold a bit out till a few updates come out. I think the price is fair and for the sound quality a very good deal actually at 100 $, of course that will depend on your area as usual ( where i am it is 140 $ which i would say is a bit much )
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask and i will do my best to answer them !
Pros - Audio Quality, Output Power, Batter Life, Storage
Cons - User interface
Disclaimer - I received the X1 2nd gen as part of its World Review Tour. After ten days I shipped it off to the next reviewer. No compensation was offered or implied by Fiio.
The Fiio X11 second generation is an excellent audio player. As I have never had a DAP other than my apple products I do not have anything else to compare it to. For starters, the build quality feels excellent. It feels solid and comfortable in the hand and has a nice curve to the edges that make it very enjoyable to hold in your hand. The setup process was quite simple although having a USB-3 speed connection would be excellent because there is no other way to get music onto the device unless you have a card reader handy, which not everybody has. The indexing process was sort of slow, but not a terrible thing. After putting music on it I updated the firmware to 1.3.3. As I updated the firmware I can't comment on the issues with the previous firmware. The audio quality from this little iPod sized device is excellent. I did not feel the need to use any of my amps with it, even with 100ohm headphones. It drove them with ease. I never felt the need to adjust the gain in the playback settings. The battery life was excellent. I am not sure what the rated playback time is. But I used it every night for a new hours for around 3 days before I had to charge it.
There are a few negatives about this player. As I am used to Apple devices with a touch wheel, my instinct was to use the touch wheel to adjust the volume, but that does not work. To adjust the volume when the device is playing and asleep, you have to use the volume buttons on the side of the device. If you want to play or pause from sleep you have to wake up the decide before you can do that. When playing a song for the first time, it pauses for a second and you miss the first seconds of the song. If you rewind once the song is playing you will be able to hear the beginning of the song. There are lots of small stutters in the user interface which give it a personality, but also make it slightly more difficult to use with ease. There are many other user interface quirks that come up and impact the smoothness of the user experience.
As I am coming from Apple devices I can't help but compare it to them. There were many things that I expected to be there but were not there. That along with the small stutters in the user interface that impact user experience makes it hard for me to recommend it.
In conclusion, while I loved how it sounded and that it had plenty of power to drive whatever I threw at it, the lack of polish to the user interface make it less appealing. I would recommend this if you are looking for a high-resolution DAP that it not expensive and are willing to accept the many small quirks that this device has.
Build quality 4/5
Audio quality 5/5
User interface 2/5
Battery life 4/5
Pros - Nothing stands-out
Cons - The scroll-wheel is finicky and annoying
I've done A/B listening sessions (out of simple curiosity) with two other quality DACs, and with songs which I'm extremely familiar with, and the X1 2nd-gen's performance is nothing spectacular, it's not atrocious, but it's not amazing either.
1: In the kick-drums the bass is lacking weight around the all-important 50Hz-60Hz range, there's an annoying sense you get when listening, a constant nagging feeling where I keep saying to myself... "where the **** is the deep thump in the bottom-end, where is it?"
2: Some parts of the treble region sound slightly dry, and also exhibit an undesirable sharp/brittle tone around 8kHz-10kHz, which is quite off-putting.
3: The soundstage is acceptable with good imaging and separation, and detail levels overall are more than adequate.
4: A sound-signature which is 90% neutral, bordering on cold, but not freezing.
5: Good PRAT (Pace, Rhythm & Timing); the FiiO X1 2nd-gen does not drag its feet, it maintains intricate timing and dynamic responsiveness.
6: It has an exuberant personality, but I reiterate... it lacks bass weight in the very bottom regions. To clarify, I do not like exaggerated or boomy bass, but here it's lacking bottom-end because when I switch to my other DAPs - Ahhhh that's better, thump thump thump, but in the X1 2nd-gen in many songs it's not there, it doesn't extend far enough, and just to be clear, I'm not a bass head.
If you need a DAP that isn't shy, and is a little bit weird with prominent dry sharp treble, then maybe you'll like the X1 2nd-gen.
The value-for-money ratio of the X1 2nd-gen is reasonable, but I wouldn't recommend it. I'll sell this, I'm sick-&-tired of lopsided tones and unbalanced sound from DAP makers.
It seems to me that FiiO still hasn't nailed it when it comes to their DAPs, they have come a long way, but apparently they still lack engineering finesse when it comes to fine-tuning; where is the classy mature balanced sound?
With sharp dry treble and a lack of bass extension, well you get the picture, even my smartphone does a better job, so why would we buy a DAP if our smartphone does a better job? The reason we buy a DAP is to get pro sound.
Regarding vocals, I noticed they usually sit slightly forward in the mix, which is not really a good sign, but not necessarily a bad thing either.
If you would like to try an acceptable alternative to the default sound-signature, there is an EQ function available.
The sound with the previous FW1.3.3 sounded decent, and with full-bodied tone, but slightly warmish, and it did however slightly lack 'air' and treble-extension in the top-end, plus the bass was slightly boomy, but now with FW1.4.1 the treble is sterile and dry, and the bass lacks important weight in the bottom-end. FiiO really needs to wake-up. They clearly lack the nous and ears to get the job done, but really it should be so hard should it? Is there no one at FiiO who understands what 'balanced' sound is with neutral/natural tone for the song, and with deep accurate bass? I hope FiiO will retune it for the next FW update, otherwise I can't tolerate it.
Pros - Great battery life, nice DAC, great Bluetooth implementation
Cons - Slow, unresponsive, buggy, weak built-in amp, library scan works half the time
Disclaimer I received the X1 2nd gen as part of its World Review Tour. After ten days I shipped it off to the next reviewer. No compensation was offered or implied by Fiio.
Intro So, the X1 2nd gen. Fiio’s newest affordable music player. If high-quality audio reproduction is an addiction then the X1 is a getaway drug sold to children at schools. At mere 99$ this little device promises to open the eyes of the infidel to the truth of the Audio God. So how much of the Truth can you learn for 99$? Let’s find out.
The player arrived in a nice, white cardboard box with Fiio logo and a picture of the X1 2nd gen itself. Inside you can find:
The player itself
MicroUSB cable (you can never have too much of these)
Some screen protectors
Manual and warranty cards
The case is sturdy enough not to break despite the fact that I dropped the X1ii twice during my time with it. I hope Fiio sells them in different colors for even more customization. So far so good.
If you’ve ever used an iPod you’ll instantly recognize the touch wheel controls implemented on the X1ii. Touch wheel is used to scroll through the menus, and the center button selects the currently highlighted option. The wheel also plays a very annoying ding while scrolling which, luckily, can be turned off in the device settings. I’d love the touch wheel to be more precise though, as I often missed the desired item in the system menu.
Aside from the wheel there are seven physical buttons on the device. Volume up, down and power button placed on the side of the player as well as Back Prev Next and Menu placed on the front. They’re a little bit laggy but overall, work as designed. The only downside of the controls I can think of is that for some reason the Prev and Next buttons are inactive when the screen is off.
X1 worked out of the box with my 128GB Samsung Micro SD card. Supposedly it supports up to 256GB of storage however I was not able to test that claim. It took over 20 minutes to scan my full library which is kinda slow. For comparison, my phone needs less than seven minutes to scan the exact same SD card.
User interface is unfortunately its worst part and the biggest annoyance. It’s slow, unresponsive and buggy.
You want to listen to a song from a different album than the one that’s currently playing? Prepare for a 5-10 second pause between tracks.
Listening to a track but want to skip to the next one? Both tracks will overlap each other for a few seconds.
Feel like something is missing from the intro? That’s because for some reason first few seconds of every track are muted.
File management is not that great either. X1ii often fails to find files on my SD card. They are visible in the file manager on my phone, on my PC and on the X1ii itself but any attempt to play them results in “Unable to find xxx.xxx file" being displayed. I tried rescanning the library a few times, deleting and copying files again to the SD card. Nothing helped. As if the player had its own mind that refused to play Leonard Cohen and Rage Against The Machine. If that’s the case, congratulations to Fiio for creating first self-aware music player in history which also hates Leonard Cohen.
Moreover if the X1ii fails to find an entire album (which it often does) it’ll display the “Unable to find xxx.xxx” for every song in an album/folder. One by one. Slowly. As if user annoyance was a priority over music playback.
But wait, there’s more! You want to switch the 3.5mm port to line-out mode? No worries, the X1 has your back. Just go to System Settings and switch output from headphone to line-out.
You want to switch the line-out volume to fixed? Just go to System Settings and... WRONG!
For some reason fixed/variable volume switching is not in System Settings where user would expect to find such option considering the fact that this is where headphone/lineout switch was placed. Instead the user must navigate to Playback Settings and look for the volume switch there.
Why is the default lineout volume set to 33% variable? Is there any reason to use X1ii own digital volume control if pairing with an external amp?
Dac chip used in the X1ii is the Texas Instruments CM5242. I wasn’t able to track any other devices that use it internally so my ears will have to suffice as a judge here. Compared to the dac in Fiio E18 (which I frequently paired with the player) X1ii is less resolving, slightly less detailed and a tad more smooth. Definitely an improvement over a smartphone though.
I feel that the amp section is the weakest part of the X1ii. I understand that it wasn’t build with HiFiMan HE-6 in mind but the built-in amp is so underpowered that even my portable Beyers Custom One Pro needed the volume to be set to 60% for comfortable listening and even then sounded weak and thin.
And these are 16ohm portable headphones, easily powered by a smartphone. Shure SRH1840 needed 80% volume to even be audible and these aren’t difficult to drive either.
Situation improved somewhat when I used the X1ii with my Porta Pros but I can’t really recommend that pairing either. Frankly, the only headphones that sounded good with the X1ii alone were earbuds. Anything bigger than those screamed for more power. An external amp is a must here if you want to use anything other than IEMs.
Can’t say a bad word about battery life of the X1ii. During the 10 days I got to spend with it I only charged it twice so that’s about 3 days of daily use per charge. Great job Fiio!
Frankly, I don’t really see why Bluetooth capability could be a selling point of a music player. Since all the audio processing is done within the circuitry of the receiving device there really is no benefit in using a music player over a smartphone unless your wireless headphones/speakers support APT-X and your phone doesn’t.
To test the quality I paired the X1ii with my Sound Blaster X7 (which does support APT-X).
I’m not going to lie, I was surprised with the quality of the Bluetooth connection. I expected music to be dull and lifeless but it turned out to be enjoyable and really pleasing. Great job Fiio, keep it up!
X1ii product page states that it can be wirelessly controlled via Bluetooth. Great idea Fiio? I don’t need to take the player out of my bag if I want to switch tracks, I can just use my smartphone/smartwatch for that...WRONG AGAIN! Bluetooth remote control works only with Fiio’s own remote control. Y u do dis Fiio? This was supposed to be an amazing feature not an upsell on yet-another-proprietary-gadget.
I’d love to be able to tell you that the X1ii is the perfect getaway drug to get your friends/children hooked. But it’s not. It’s really really far from being that.
The controls are too unresponsive,
Music playback is too buggy
The interface is too annoying to use
The library scan is too slow.
The Amp is too weak.
Remote control works only with Fiio's own remote
All of the above give me an impression of a product that was not thoroughly tested and shouldn’t have been released to the market in its current state. I’m really disappointed in Fiio and hope that future firmware upgrades at least partially resolve the playback and interface problems. So, is the Fiio X1 2nd gen an amazing value for the money in its current state? Definitely no. Will it be after a few firmware upgrades? Yes, it will. It has potential to be an amazing product and I really hope that it will live up to its potential one day. It's just not going to be today.
Pros - Small, Lightweight, BT (maybe, i have no way of testing)
Cons - Firmware, processing speed, screen reso
Special thanks to Fiio for sponsoring this review unit for testing purposes
Firmware installed : 1.2
Micro SD size used: 128GB C10 Sandisk
Spec sheet: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/57/parameters
Introduction Put aside the spec sheets and things you can read easily from their site, like functions and stuff, this baby X1 is the second iteration of the player, and design wise, i like the lightweight that the player is, in comparison to their elders, the x3ii and x5ii. Below are some of the pictures of the unit in box, out of box, paper works and everything else not within the unit interface.
Now as you can see above images, the accessories that comes with Fiio X1ii is quite an amount, that includes sticker covers, transparent back case, 2 extra SP on top of 1 factory applied, 3 Hi-Res Stickers for whatever reason given, and a USB cable. HO, SD slot and USB are all at the btm, and power + vol on the left side body, nothing on top and right.
Interface In terms of navigation fluidity, I wouldn't say the device has the speed needed for a swift nav to some places, like through the setting menu, it might choke up a bit and gets you into the wrong selection. It could be also because of the non step navigation wheel which makes controlling the wheel a bit harder to get precise. Startup time is also so slow, Let me show you the startup process which is so weird.
1. Welcome (ok, polite)
2. Fiio logo (ok..)
3. Fiio Logo (again?)
4. Main playback screen
Now, 2x Fiio logo? is that needed?
Sound Quality Based on RHA MA750i iem
Bass The bass of the X1ii is not very strong but has the precision. No volume just precision and availability. In the album Bullet for My Valentine - Venom, there are tracks with mixes of bass drums and a lot of bass guitar strikes, I couldn't feel the weight that defines the power of the songs BFMV is good at. At times, the bass could get somewhat drowned out and not in the action. There wasn't the boom that metals should get.
Mid The vocals are quite well conveyed and forward. Electric guitar shredding notes clearly and I can see this is the part where the X1ii will do well as a kickstarter for audiophiles. Note by note you can hear the guitars going head on as the star when the guitar solo comes in. Although it gives a good sense of vocal's, but somehow I cant help but to have some fatigue for a (maybe) dead flat mids.
Treble Treble is also not the best coming from a budget DAP, high hat notes were not shown, crispiness wasn't there, and I tried the whole album and didn't had the cymbals out at it together with the song, especially the importance of it in "Army of Noise" where the drum set has it's own importance. But hey, at least it has something for the sensitive ears, softer trebles, haha.
Soundstage The soundstage coming from X1ii isn't exactly hall wide, but it does extend to a certain range, which dishes out the slight perception of echo. The height of the stage isn't extensive too, and doesn't have any sense to it, Just you can hear it far side, near side, mid , face front.
Software Lets start off the software part with another set of images, some settings are self explanatory.
From the above images, you can see the 2nd one and you realize that it uses similar interface as X3 and X5 2nd gens. Settings wise, these are the distinct settings to X1ii:
Bluetooth on/off + settings
Output: a headphone logo for HO or a square with an arrow out of the box (Line out)
USB Mode: Storage or In-vehicle, where you connect it to a car charger and HO, the car starts and the player will initiate and shut down when car turned off.
Cover display: None / Normal / Full screen
Speed test with X3ii and X5ii
X1ii: 14 seconds
x3ii: 7 seconds
x5ii: 9 seconds
Scanning a media SD of 128GB
x1ii: 6 minutes 49 seconds
x3ii: 1 minute 12 seconds
x5ii: 1 minute
x1ii: 14 seconds
x3ii: 1 second
x5ii: 3 seconds
Surprisingly, the x3ii turned off completely by a mere second, x5ii blazed the micro sd lib scan, but the x1ii didnt accomplish anything in this speed test and was always last.
Gain comparison with x3ii and x5ii x1ii :has no gain control, sounds very forward and bright, detail extraction is hinted by the aggresive forward sound
x3ii high gain: a laid back vocal, much darker sounding, bass attack is weaker, song speed seems slower
x5ii high gain: also has a laid back vocal, softer bass with short but accurate bass attack
Conclusion Well, if price was the super constraint, then the x1ii will be part of the option, and tolerance level for SQ is big, then this is the player for you. Lightweight, on and play, toss it into the bag or pocket and go mobile, thats all that is the best of X1ii IMO, for 99 USD, not a lot can go against this form over function excellence.
Minor note: This thing is fingerprint magnet, look at my X1ii
The black side is filled with FP if not taken care of and use their skin / protectors