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FiiO X1 Ultraportable Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.35106/5,
  • Poised for launch internationally in September 2014, the X1 will be FiiO's most compact DAP yet and is priced to move (target MSRP under 100USD) but does not skimp on features, with 192kHz/24bit playback just like its big brothers and preserves the successful UI of the current flagship X5, including physical scroll wheel and signature X keygroup.

Recent Reviews

  1. SOULSIK
    Fiio x1 - the golden eq
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published May 3, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Eq function, good build and sound for its price
    Cons - no Bluetooth, no dsd, reset button frequently used
    VIDEO REVIEW:


    INTRODUCTION

    You might be wondering why you need a Digital audio player when we are living in a century where we use our phones to listen to music. Your phones are dedicated to many other functions like photos, phone calls, data, etc. This in turn limits your phone from having variety of files types & dedicated hardware/software for music! What the digital audio player like the Fiio x1 offers is a dedicated dac/amp to make your music sound much better and battery life dedicated to just music, to name a few. There are of course many more benefits and variety of features depending on the digital audio player we are talking about ! READ ON to find more features for the FIIO X 1 digital audio player.

    [​IMG]

    ABOUT FIIO

    Fiio is a Chinese company that produces and sells high quality products at favorable prices to those who love music and style. They strive to raise the reputation of “Made in China.” It was first established in 2007 with the background experience in researching and developing countless portable music product of different types. Fiio strictly adheres to ISO9001 standards in quality management and thus Fiio products are sold internationally with pride. They ceaselessly pursues perfection in designing the perfect product for users, producing many variety of products with improvements until this day.


    DISCLAIMER

    This unit was purchased by me for this review and as usual I am committed to providing reviews with no bias.

    SPECS

    DAC: Texas Instruments' Newest PCM5142

    AMP: Intersil's newest ISL28291

    lossless music formats: APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, at up to 192kHz / 24bits Plus mp3, aac, ogg vorbis...

    Material: light durable aluminium alloys

    Weight: 106 grams

    Battery: 1700 milliamp hours (10-11 hours usage)

    Output level: 100 mW @ 16 ohms

    Recommended impedance range: 16 to 100 ohms

    BUILD QUALITY / FUNCTIONS

    Build quality: Fiio is known for their build quality and it is no exception for the Fiio x1, which is built in full aluminum. It is very durables and very nice to the touch. Even the buttons feel nice, although they are not the “nicest,” you cannot expect more from a 100-dollar digital audio player, for the price you pay, one thing you will have no complaints is the build quality.

    EQ functionality: Fiio really stood up to bring the best in a budget package here by adding this function. With this function, you can easily EQ your music just the way you like it. It even has its own set of EQs for different genres of music such as pop, vocal, rock, etc.

    [​IMG]

    Themes: adding to the style and beauty of the DAP, it features an all new UI theme rendered on a full colour display. Available in gold, silver, pink, orange, blue, and green themes.

    Line output: The X1 supports both driving headphones directly and line output as well, switching between the two easily via a menu selection. Using line output, you may expand the X1 by bundling it with dedicated headphone amplifiers for more demanding power hungry headphones.

    Micro SD card slot: support up to 128GB, which plenty for most individuals, even enthusiasts.

    Controls Buttons: the control buttons are very easy to access in your pocket and simple. Featuring center play and pause/enter button and fast forward, next song, etc in the nicely placed X – buttons.

    Factory reset function: on the side of the device, there is an extremely small hole that you can use in case your device starts malfunctioning or has a seizure, you will need it but we will get on this topic in the later sections of this review.

    The scroll button: It is a rubberized mechanical wheel. feels great, I have no complaints.

    PRACTIALLY

    The flat surface and reasonable size allows for easy pairing with externals dac/amp, not to mention being perfectly comfortable in your pockets.

    NEGATIVES / THINGS TO IMPROVE ON

    RESET BUTTON: the reset button was a nice touch because it is required because errors frequently arise with different files types of just in general. It is perfectly fine after using a reset button but it would have been nice to not have to use the reset button at all.

    Bluetooth: Fiio x1 (1st gen) does not have Bluetooth. Fiio did release the 2nd generation which has Bluetooth and if you really want Bluetooth, you can purchase an external Bluetooth adapter.

    Does not support DSD: this is if you really care about REALLY high quality digital files on the go, I would imagine most people are fine with flac files

    SOUND QUALITY

    I auditioned many different IEMS/headphones across over 100s of different test tracks in lossless flac files. (some include, noble x / LZ A4 / IE80 / HD598cs / m40x / re400 / he400 / h650 ETC)

    My conclusion was that this is one of if not the most classic fiio sound signature you will hear. This digital audio player will NOT give you neutrality but more a warm and smooth sound signature, which most people will enjoy. The clarity suffers a bit compared to their higher end DAPs or shanling m1 (another entry dap), especially in the highs. Also, fiio x1 is more powerful than shanling m1 but m1 beats the x1 by far in separation and imaging. But again, Fiio is more full sounding because of its more powerful amp and overall warmer sound signature.
  2. simba13
    Great Media Player
    Written by simba13
    Published Dec 13, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Awesome sound quality and easy to use UI
    Cons - Needs to read playlists properly. Better ways to modify playlists. Additional playback options needed (e.g. shuffle current list of songs AND loop al)
    Needs to read playlists properly. Better ways to modify playlists. Additional playback options needed (e.g. shuffle current list of songs AND loop al)
  3. audiophilefan
    Fiio X1 - The best value DAP price-to-performance wise
    Written by audiophilefan
    Published Jun 5, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Neutral yet very musical sound, great soundstage, great clarity, great bass, Line Out (LO) setting available, great pairing with a headphone amp
    Cons - No internal storage (a little con but SD cards are very affordable nowadays)
    BACKGROUND
     
    I used my smartphone for playing music for years. Though most smartphones can play most of the music formats nowadays, including flac (with the exception of Apple devices), there’s one thing lacking – resolution. Though the sound quality is very good, as a music enthusiast, you sometimes feel that you can push the envelope a little bit more to get the most out of your music. Thus, you need a hi-res player. To cut the story short, here’s a brief review of the capable X1. I won’t be posting pictures anymore as this product has already garnered hundreds of decent reviews online.
     
     
    PACKAGING
     
    The X1 comes in a premium package that looks and feel nice. What you get:
     
    1. Nicely designed box with scratch-off authenticity seal (you can authenticity by entering the code online)
    2. Fiio X1 Digital Audio Player
    3. USB micro cable (1m)
    4. Black silicone protective case
    5. 3 film screen protectors (1 pre-installed from factory)
    6. Owner's Manual
    7. Warranty card
    8. 3 Fiio stickers (these look awesome and can suit different tastes and each can give the X1 a different “personality” in terms of looks)
     
     
    FULL USER-INTERFACE (W/ LATEST FIRMWARE, 1.6)
     
    Pretty easy to navigate:
     
    1. Power and volume buttons on the side
    2. Scroll wheel to navigate
    3. Center button to select (long press to make the volume dial appear, adjust the volume with the scroll wheel)
    4. Menu button on the upper-left side of the scroll wheel (long press takes you to Now Playing, with the song details displayed briefly)
    5. Back button on the upper-right side of the scroll wheel (long press takes you to the main screen with all the options available, short presses takes you one folder/category out (pretty useful))
    6. Previous and Next buttons (within folders or categories, these will take you to the previous or next item on the list respectively)
    7. It’s pretty intuitive. Just test what the menu button would bring you wherever you are within the interface (in Now Playing, in a folder, in a category) then select what you need to do (Save to Favorites, add to a playlist, delete, etc.).
    8. One caveat with the UI is you really can’t clear the Playlists category. Previously created playlists that you deleted are still visible BUT not usable anymore. Let’s just hope that this gets addressed in future firmware updates.
    9. Be careful with the Line Out (LO) setting. This setting is intended for auxiliary use where the X1 is plugged to a dedicated amplifier (like a headphone amp or a stereo with a mini jack). Plugging your headphones directly with this setting on will damage your headphones, and MUCH WORSE, will damage your hearing. Volume controls and EQ settings do not work in this setting. It is very powerful and loud.
     
     
    SOUND
     
     
    Standalone Sound – Headphone Out (HO)
     
    I would say pretty decent. Soundstage for me is great. It’s a neutral sound with a touch of warmth, very suitable for long listening sessions. Though you need to crank up the volume up to at least level 40 to get some decent volume and power, it’s always an enjoyable listen. I love the bass it produces, it goes pretty deep and smooth, but not lacking in speed either. It’s just right. Mids and highs have decent clarity. Instrument separation is also decent. Imaging is more centered than too separate left or right. I like this presentation since some old jazz recordings tend to sound very separate left or right. I believe the player addressed this to some degree and made some of these songs sound more focus-centered and more coherent. I would summarize the sound as very musical. For the budget conscious, you do not need an amp to pair this with. It can power headphones up to 300 ohms. I would imagine it could power higher impedance headphones, though with less results in terms of volume. I would imagine you’d enjoy its musicality as it is. But if you can dig deeper in your wallet, pairing it up with a decent amp would do wonders. More on that on the following section.
     
     
    Paired Sound – Headphone Out + Fiio E11k headphone amp
     
    I would say a level up in sound in every respect. Bass this time is punchier and has a stronger sense of attack. It’s increasing the quantity without sacrificing the quality. I would even say that quality is improved considerably. There is more clarity in the mids and highs that you would immediately notice when unplugging the amp. Soundstage, imaging and separation are about the same. Since both the X1 and E11k are both neutral devices, you just get the sound improvements where you need them to be. The sound would not be colored negatively in any way when plugging an amp. To be fair, I do not have any experience plugging this to a different amp so you need to audition some to find the perfect pairing for your tastes. For me, this pairing is indeed a match made in heaven, as some reviewers suggested.
     
     
    Paired Sound – Line Out + Fiio E11k headphone amp
     
    I would say some improvement but not a complete level up. There is a touch more prominence and clarity in bass. Same with the rest of the spectrum. There is a touch more clarity. BUT the downside of Line Out in my opinion is it sounds flat. That is to be expected though since volume and EQ settings do not work in this setting. It is the flattest, most powerful, and purest sound the X1 can produce. That’s why this setting works best if your X1 is paired with an amp or plugged in as an auxiliary to play music through speakers. The main benefit of this setting is it is powerful enough to decently drive multimedia speakers that have sub-woofers. I have the Edifier M1386 and with the X1 Line Out, it sounds very good. I would dare say that it comes pretty close to full sized component systems. And even at low volumes, you do not lose detail. Though this is partly because of the speakers themselves. Edifier is in fact one of the respected brands for multimedia audio.
     
    After several tests with some tracks, I prefer the Headphone Out setting due to EQ. A “touch” of improvement is not enough for me to totally abandon EQing and not make my music sound the way I wanted it to. As one reviewer suggests - Headphone Out and Line Out are not that too far off in terms of SQ so using either are both enjoyable depending on your needs.
     
     
    CONCLUSION
     
    For a portable DAP, in my opinion, no other player can provide the value that the X1 can provide. Though you will have some noticeable improvement with higher end DAPs like the X3 or X5, or even the Ibasso DX series, it will be mostly on the features (can be used as a DAC, DSD decoding, touchscreen UI, etc.). And expectedly so since they cost at least twice or thrice as much. Sound in my opinion is enjoyable enough that going up the ladder, even just a level up to the likes of the X3, diminishing returns immediately kicks in. I had the chance to audition the Ibasso DX80 + Chord Mojo + Hifiman HE-400i. Though this setup sounds darker/richer, deeper, and even considerably “weightier”, well, it should be. It’s a fortune compared to my current portable set up – Fiio X1 + Fiio E11k + JVC HA-RX700. The latter sounds brighter, though lacks a little depth and weightiness in sound, is competitive enough in terms of soundstage and to my ears, sounds faster and more enjoyable.
     
    I highly recommend the X1. It deserves the high ranking here at head-fi and anywhere else in the internet. And if price-to-performance ratio is the main consideration, I would even rank it at number one. It’s that good. [​IMG]
     
    Enjoy and happy listening!
      BMARKB1963 and trellus like this.
    1. BMARKB1963
      TY!  I have been considering buying a DAP for awhile now, and wasn't sure if I should spend the extra $ (given the lousy exchange rate on $CDN) for a X3g2 or the X1.
      BMARKB1963, Jun 6, 2016
    2. audiophilefan
      I suggest you give them both a try, if you can. It's worth the while to try both. Normally stores have pre-saved music in their test units so find songs that are quite familiar to you then test them. 
       
      Also, please consider the features that come with both (for your needs). I'm not familiar with the X3 sound since I do not own one and did not audition one. But it can be used as an external DAC and has native DSD decoding (sorry, not so familiar with this technology either). If you need these features, go for the X3. If you need a basic, great sounding DAP for portable (and even at home) purposes, go with the X1. :)
       
      Thanks for taking the time in reading my review! Really appreciate it. Happy listening!
      audiophilefan, Jun 6, 2016
  4. bretemm
    Great, convient, EQ
    Written by bretemm
    Published Dec 4, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - flexible storage, small, light
    Cons - different then a iPod (when switching the sound signature is just different)
    I've been getting more and more into indie rock and have found great new bands, but, not enough space on a iPod. 
     
    so i got the x1 and the flexible swappable microSD is awesome. THIS IS EASIER THEN A IPOD SYNCING! 
    (drag and drop is great!)
     
    I've already used 7 of 8gb of the card (just to start out with testing my music, I'm going to get a 32gb or higher card next)
     
    im wanting to change some of the AAC formats to WAV, FLAC or OGG latter on. 
     
    i mainly listen to classic rock like Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Who, Led Zeppelin, ECT... or new rock like the Black Keys.
     
    coming from a iPod, some music (for now, if it needs to be -broken in-) kinda sounds different. 
    some music like the grateful dead sounds better and detailed then a iPod, but then some like zeppelin kinda sounds farther away and not as detailed.
    but then, other songs do sound fine. 
     
    is there a "break in" period?
     
    over all I'm probably am going to get the x5ii (i don't know when) latter on. 
  5. The Fed
    Fiio X1 - iPod For Audiophiles
    Written by The Fed
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - High Res, Battery Life, Storage Capacity
    Cons - Clunky UI, Sonics are mediocre, soundstage
    In the wake of the great Portable Audio Player renaissance of the last two or three years, I have been bewildered by just how many manufacturers are now involved in the battle for market share. What initially seemed to be a cottage industry for a specialized niche market now has dozens of companies with serious engineering chops developing into a robust audio segment.​
     
    The first major sortie fired to announce this coming wave was fired by iRiver’s re-branded Astell & Kern players, which many claim has set a new gold standard for performance. And then came the marketing juggernaut Pono with its bold claims of sonic utopia and even bolder rock star endorsements. Pono has balls and made no bones about its intent to poach Apple’s enormous customer base with promises of better sound quality from its Toblerone shaped player and Pono centric music market.
     
    Since the market explosion in 2013, Astell & Kern has enjoyed its position at the Vanguard and Pono’s success is ballasted by rock star endorsements. Even against an onslaught of derision from audio critics and tech sites alike. The rest of the portable audio player segment is left to duke it out over the scraps on limited R&D budgets and next to nothing in marketing.
     
    If you consider that both tech giants Microsoft and Samsung bent the knee to mighty Apple just a few short years ago and pulled their Zune HD and Samsung Galaxy players from the shelves. It's absurd to think that an obscure group of Korean and Chinese audio houses could submit products that compete for King Cupertino's crown. And yet that is exactly where we find ourselves... How?
     
    Simple really.... Apple's throne is in jeopardy because Apple has let its vast portable/ digital audio kingdom fall into disrepair. It has spent the last few, Jobs-less years focused on multi-media content consuming devices like the iPad and iPhone, while the music focused iPod has become a bit of a bastard in the Apple hierarchy. This was never more apparent than when Apple decided to kill off the The Classic, which is the only unit it its line up with respectable storage capacity, in favor of the more app and cloud friendly Touch.
     
    One could argue that Apple has lost interest or at least lost their vision in the portable audio market just as the market itself has matured. It was the iPod that resuscitated the segment from near death after years of failing health and atrophy from too many years of plastic disc spinning Sony Walkmen. By the late 90's you could buy a CD spinning Walkman at a gas station for $20
     
    If it weren't for iPod there may be no such thing as Audeze, Inner Fidelity, Cypher Labs, ALO Audio or possibly even Head-fi.
     
    Yet now we find Blue Chip audio companies like Sony, Yamaha, Pioneer, Kenwood, TEAC, and Onkyo focusing significant resources on the portable audio market while carefully walking back from their "All In" position on 5.1 and 7.1 Channel A/V to try and repair damaged reputations in the 2 channel stereo game.
     
    Meanwhile life giving Apple is focusing its efforts on..... digital horology?
    iWatch.... Times are Changing.
     
    Still, this year alone I’ve counted at least half a dozen companies who are bringing devices to market to try and ride this Portable Music Player, Digital Audio Player, MP3 player (WHATEVER!) wave. Whether we’ve reached a saturation point with new devices is anyone’s guess but I doubt we’ve seen the last of them.
     
    For me the question is whether these new market players, like the queued up review sample (The Fiio X1), are setting a new state of the art. Or are they all just traveling down a well-worn road Apple blazed years ago while bringing nothing new to bear. It could be that they are simply filling the vacuum left by Apple's faltering interest. Basic economics.
     
    We shall tease out the truth at the entry level jumping off point today.
     
    [​IMG]

     
    For me to be willing to consider a future life with a Fiio X1 or any other DAP it must show itself as superior to the current experience I have with my litany of iPods. And that isn’t just a cut and dry matter of sound quality. Mind you I am flush with Apple devices and am not one who finds their tone offensive, so the notion of moving out of the Apple ecosystem is not so easy. I currently have no fewer than 6, including two “audiophile” approved Apple iPod videos (5th generation) with the older Wolfson silicon as well as 3 Nano’s an iPad Air and an iPhone 6.
     
    With such a large collection of Apple devices, the idea of leaving iOS based playback feels a bit like the idea of abandoning Nikon for Canon or ditching DSLR for mirrorless. It’s not just the camera itself that you are replacing. It’s the ecosystem and long term investment in lenses, filters, software etc… that makes the switch far more disruptive.
     
    And while I do have a fair amount invested in iOS/ Apple based playback it is not insurmountable. I have a few line out docks to tap analog line level signal from Apple’s proprietary connectors into a portable amp, I’ve got a dock that extracts digital audio from my lightning based products and I’ve got DACs purchased because they work with iOS devices using a CCK.
     
    Apple’s User interface makes for a hell of transport if you can move conversion and amplification off board. But those same DAC’s are likely going to work with this modern crop of portable units just as easily.
     
    Flexibility and connectivity are important in todays market. Consumers won't accept the Casino like cradle to grave environment of iTunes from modern DAP makers.
     
    For this reason among others, I've stayed away from using iTunes for music management or playback. That honor goes to JRiver and because of its plugins library I am able to sync and load most all of my iPods with music directly from JRiver. Making the move away that much easier. The only devices I sync with iTunes are my phone and tablet because they are governed by the iOS monopoly.
     
    Meanwhile only Pono has had the gall to try to create its own iTunes like ecosystem, but Pono offers a line out that doesn’t require custom cables. So in that regard it isn’t as closed a system as Apple. I do think a great number of consumers are like me and are going to need more than just promises of better sound quality to justify the change, especially since it seems like everyone is promising better sound quality. Despite the fact that sound quality differences at the transport/ front end stage of the game are relatively small.
     
    A lion share of Canon cameras use an 18 MP sensor which is a far lower resolution than Nikon’s 24MP spec on even its cheapest D3300 DSLR, yet Canon outsells Nikon with general consumers because they’ve marketed their gear as “fool proof” with celebrities like Ashton Kutcher fumbling and bumbling around taking perfect shots without any training. The average Joe sees Canon’s as easy to use and approachable and will drop $400 on a T5 without even considering image quality.
     
    Not to say one is better than the other!
    I really don't want none of that fight!
     
    Although I do appreciate the handsome nature of the Astell and Kern 100 and 120, and am even taken with the look of the new entry level X1, before I venture too far down this DAP rabbit hole, I need to understand what the aftermarket DAP manufacturer is bringing to the table and where it may conflict with my sound system and my listening habits.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    So to begin in earnest, I don’t think Fiio needs much of an introduction for anyone on Head-Fi. They are a prolific entry level company for us Head-fi types. Early on their reputation suffered from perceived “cheapness” and even I was skeptical of buying any of their budget gear fearing it was cheap Chinese plastic fit for Walmart. Maybe a step above Radio Shacks Boostaroo in my book but certainly not up there with HeadRoom, Ray Samuels etc...
     
    As years wore on, Fiio held strong to its core mission and earned a reputation in the Head-fi community as a fantastic company that offers very good performance on a budget. Their line up of battery and USB powered headphone amps and DACS are what many a Head-fier has cut their teeth on, and still are to this day.
     
    I personally have owned their E10 dac/amp for 4 years and it has made more than a dozen trips across country with me and is a vital part of my travel routine.
    Fiio has 3 tiers to their digital audio player line up ending with their $350 TOTL X5 (recently updated with Mark 2) which is chocked full of features, inputs & outputs. But I chose the golden $99 X1 for no other reason than I thought it looked best and because I am testing waters here, not diving in head first.
     
    IT BEGINS!
    So with a 64 GB micro SD card in hand I quickly formatted the card to Fat32 using the Fiio X1 (as per the user’s manual) and proceeded to drop some 60 odd GB of uncompressed 16/44 CD Rips onto the card from my PC.
     
    I spent the next couple hours listening through my main system while watching the music get written onto the drive and waiting for the X1 to reach full charge.
     
    Once the SD Card was filled to the brim with musical goodness I punched it into the slot on the side of the X1 and hit the power button. Turning the device on you are met with a colorful Fiio greeting then taken to setup screen where you select language and update library. What took nearly two hours to write onto the SD Card took a matter of seconds for the X1 to scan and organize. I added some 1300 songs in a matter of seconds and the Fiio X1 was ready to play. I used the scroll wheel to take a look at the music and selected the “Artist” category… Sure enough it was all there… What was more is the X1 read all of my WAV file format tags without a single hiccup. Even though I've spent a God awful amount of time updating tags on all my music(I use Tag Scanner BTW) they usually vaporize into thin air when moving files from one device to the other or from program to program, so 'Good On Ya' Fiio!
     
    Next I plugged in the only in-ear monitor I own and the only one I’ve ever listened to that agrees with me, The VSonic GR-07 and listened for a bit finding nothing at all offensive. SO far so good.
     
    I didn’t want to be hasty by turning the unit on, listening for 10 mins… shouting “IT’S CRAP!” and shove it back in its box with a return label from Amazon…. It’s not entirely fair to pass judgement without giving it some time to break in. Now I know I am acknowledging the existence of voodoo here and I couldn't tell you how it works to save me life but I do feel there is something to it. Letting component parts fully energize and allowing the caps, resistors, diodes etc… to stabilize does seem to do.... something?
     
    Maybe it is brain burn in, but  (big but!) reality is that my perception is perception, my reality is reality, so if I perceive it as my truth…. It’s the truth as far as I am concerned! It doesn't matter what the underlying laws of physics are. 
     
    So I plugged it into my computer through a constant power USB port and sorted by All Songs, selected the first song  and hit play... By JRivers calculations it should take the X1 4.25 days to play all the music I had loaded onto it, but I only gave it 24 hours +/- of run in. The next day I unplugged it from the computer and beater phones and plugged in the GR-07...
     
    It sounded ok.
     
    I didn’t really feel like I was listening to something extraordinary but I was using a $150 set of IEM too. There was a bit of sharpness in the tone and some of my hotter recordings did cut at my ears a little, which is not something you typically hear with the  VSonic GR-07. The GR07 is about as warm and cozy an IEM as I have ever heard.
     
    Luckily this bad boy has an EQ! Go ahead and groan audiophiles, I really don't care. 
     
    I've said it before, and I'll say it again... Certain music can sound flat or thin or 2 dimensional depending on source material, amp, headphone etc... Having tone controls is a good thing and I tend to use them often. 
     
    Attempting to move the sliders the best I could to mimic a Fletcher-Munson loudness contour I was able to de-ess the treble and goose the bass a little. Making the adjustments proved a bit counter intuitive with the Fiio interface but after a couple oops & damnits I was set. This added a bit of depth and a degree of warmth to the tone. With a nice rich full sounding recording like Smashing Pumpkin’s - Siamese Dream or Gish things were sounding pretty damn good. The part of “Today” where the guitars and drums flood the stage after the small guitar intro was a bit harsh but other songs like Quiet, Geek USA, and Rocket sounded full and had a good amount of live character. With less than stellar studio efforts like Off With Their Heads ‘Home’ the Fiio sounded harsh and the albums already strident nature was pretty bad with the Fiio, EQ or not.
     
    UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
    I swapped out the GR-07 and pulled the microscope down off the shelf. The Sennheiser HD800 is probably the best headphone I have for analyzing gear because of its sometimes brutal honesty. I tapped the headphone out of the X1 directly to the HD800 and cranked up the volume to 75% and while I was getting a good volume level out of the X1, it was showing clear signs of strain. Static and electric hash were tainting edges of transients blurring the cymbal  crashes and lower bass was not distorted but truncated in the sense that overall dynamics were severely compressed. Not to worry! It was an unfair test of the little X1 in the first place. Although it is good to know that the X1 is a no go with pro grade full size cans… The same holds true for my planar magnetic headphones. The LCD2 was serviceable but like the HD800 the dynamics and punch of the music was compressed and the overall presentation was diluted pretty bad. With the HE400 things were better but at this point I was certain that the X1 would benefit from off board amplification. 
     
    Time to bring in support. The ALO Audio National has been my go to portable amp for close to three years now and even though it doesn’t sound all that good with the HD800 because it’s tone is a little too clean, it does not lack for power with the HD800 and I am familiar with its good, bad and ugly. I knew the National/ X1 pairing would probably double down on problem areas in tone but wanted to use it in its likely context. Tethering the X1 to a $1500 desktop amp seemed like a waste of time, as I can’t imagine anyone would use it like this. So I did it anyway to check its performance against the E10.
     
    I'll just briefly cover this before going into portable impressions. I found the X1 a near equal to the E10 with the E10 acting as offboard DAC to my laptop and the X1 acting as transport/dac with both sending a line level analog signal to my desktop gears. Both sounded good running into Godzilla (my hot-rodded Sansui AU517) and my April Music/ Stello deck. I wasn’t able to identify any appreciable differences between the two in terms of sound quality and performance. That is pretty impressive considering I have about $2000 and a couple hundred man hours invested in optimizing my digital front end.
     
    VS. King Cupertino
    This is where it really shakes out for me... It was a comparable transport to my desktop set up, but the screen is too small and isn't the right form factor. No, the X1 is a portable transport and it must needs beat the iPod if it expects to see time in the starting rotation. Can the X1 unseat the iPod? This is where it will win or lose.

    So I grabbed a male 3.5mm to Y adapter with 2 female 3.5mm so I could compare the two directly. The iPod was tethered to the National with a Forza 30 Pin Line Out Dock and the X1 with a 6" Forza mini to mini. I wasn't able to strap the X1 to the National because it's design doesn't lend itself to using rubber bands... The bottom buttons on the X1 are too low and you have to cover up the top ribbon on the screen. Not a big deal at all but still something to keep in mind if you want to bundle the X1 to a portable amp. Once they were both connected, I could cue up a song on both and easily switch back and forth to listen for sonic differences.
     
    I was listening to "Taken For a Fool" by the Strokes on the iPod and then switched over to the X1... when ouch! Damnit! The volume jumped into the danger zone. The output on the X1 is significantly louder than the iPod. I found that I needed to attenuate the signal about 8 hash marks on the National volume pot to level the volume between the two. With all the cables and devices all clustered together and the small size of The National's volume pot and the front face of the National being a bit crowded my fingers had a bit of trouble getting at the volume dial, but they always kind of do. After listening to the X1 and my iPod Nano for some time, with albums from The Strokes, Weezer, New Order, Blur, Beck, Studio One era Wailers, and a bit of Lorde I was able to get a pretty accurate picture of the X1’s overall performance.
     
    The Achilles heel, if you want to use it with full size headphones, is that Fiio disables its inbuilt EQ when you are using the line-out option from the jack. Without any of the X1’s tone shaping abilities available through the line out, the X1 exhibits a tendency towards sharpness in the upper register and though the treble was bright and revealing did not have the necessary level of refinement needed for such illumination through the top of the stage. Laid bare by the HD800, the X1’s tone gets fatiguing and I cannot reconcile myself to it even with softer headphones like the LCD2. 
     
    ON AN ISLAND WITH X1
     
    In order to try and reset my brain, I tried ditching the Nano as a reference point to see if I could get my brain & ears to buy in with the X1 on its own merits. I left the Nano at home in the morning and drove the 20 miles to work with just my X1. I was hoping the X1 would sound more agreeable without King Cupertino casting its shadow over the audition. I still wasn’t able to find peace with it. With the EQ engaged using a small portable headphone or with a warm cozy IEM like the VSonic GR-07 the sound is pretty good. But the X1 does not work well with off board amplification because the line out configuration cripples what I consider to be necessary EQ functions that can massage the X1’s tone enough to soften is otherwise fatiguing sound. 
     
    Mind you my 2nd generation Nano is one of the closest things you'll get to a audiophile quality iPod. Some of you may snort with derision at that statement, but the older iPods used Wolfson silicon (WM8975) and of all my iPods (3 nanos, 3 Classics, 2 shuffles, 1 iPhone and 1 iPad) the 2nd Gen Nano has the most refined sound of them all. It has a much quieter output (as evidence earlier in this review) but as long as you have amplification that is up to the task, it has a level of refinement and more width to its stereo image than any other I have. Plain and simple It is the best of my iPod stable and if there is a compliment to be paid sound quality wise to the X1 it's that the two are very close to each other without any DSP.
     
    The big score with the 2nd Gen Nano is its well implemented EQ presets which elevates tone density significantly when needed. The more popular iPod Classic and A-Phile approved Video 5th gen have well documented issues with EQ presets that cause clipping and distortion. So I tend to gravitate towards the lighter, smaller Nano and just have to sync up and change playlists more often if I want different music.
     
    Also the X1 seemed to have a shallower and narrower sound stage. Switching to the X1 from the Nano, lead singers invariably moved towards me quite a bit and the outer edges of the stereo image collapsed considerably. While this presents as a forward and aggressive sound signature, which my inner punk rocker enjoys. Contrasted against something with more honest stereo imaging, the X1’s sound stage is pretty narrow.
     
    I’d say it’s probably the most significant delta I can give the X1 between the two. Its sound stage is too forward and crowded.
     
    Tone wise, all things equal, the deltas between the X1 and iOS were pretty minor. If you aren’t looking to move amplification off board, and are looking to use the X1 with IEM or small efficient portable headphones then it provides a near equal sound quality to the iPod. Functionally the iPod wins out with off board amplification because its EQ is still working in line out mode, but that is only if you want the added muscle for larger headphones.
     
    So while I’d give the sound quality edge to the Nano. Which is simply softer, more refined sounding and is able to add a significant dose of warmth when using the preset of the EQ. It’s really not a night and day thing. The X1 keeps pretty good pace when you consider the two devices on their own merits. The caveat here being the soundstage... The X1 is very narrow and forward. But this is more obvious on staging giants like the HD800 than it would be on a pair of IEM's.
     
    As far as user interface, I won’t even bother comparing. It is well known that the Cupertino giant trades heavily on the snappy nature of their interface. The UI is what has allowed them to stay ahead of the Android Army. Android is far better today than it was just 2 years ago, but still doesn’t hold a candle to Apple. The sheer simplicity, speed, and responsiveness are their UI has no rival in the market and Fiio is certainly not the company to overtake them.
     
    Interface wise the X1 screen is relatively grainy and the scroll wheel is not the smoothest. The forward and back buttons seem a bit counter intuitive and doing things like adjusting the EQ are laid out a bit odd. With enough time everything is serviceable but it takes a bit of trial and error. The volume buttons on the side are fine, if a bit shallow and sometimes hard to get response from. One significant niggle I had with the X1 was that its screen could not be woken up by pressing any key. You had to press the power button in order to wake the X1. Good I suppose as this help avoid accidental volume spikes when in your pocket or song changes but still after 2 weeks of use I would still hit buttons or the scroll wheel on the front screen expecting it to wake up only to remember I had to press the power button to get it to come back to life.
     
    So what’s good? There are a number of areas where the X1 does have significantly better performance than iPod and if, like I said, you were going to use the X1 strictly with small portables and/ or IEM then these are welcome victories.
     
    Storage: Right now you can utilize up to 128GB Micro SD cards with the X1 and because it scans and assembles libraries so quickly you could have 2 or 3 or 4 different cards with different libraries and the few seconds it takes the X1 to assemble a library is nominal. This flexibility and ability to keep your library on Micro SD cards is definitely a plus.
     
    High Res: I personally don’t own any hi-res music (beyond weird samplers of music I’d never really listen to) so the high resolution capabilities are a zero sum gain for me… But those who live and breathe hi-res certainly won’t find the same capability in an iPod. Betwixt the two, X1 is the only one that can play that game.
     
    Battery Life: The iPods, being a bit long in the tooth, and with a habit for quickly losing battery memory suffer relatively short charging cycles, even with updated batteries. I did not track hours with the X1 but played music through it relatively frequently for nearly a week before I needed to plug it in and get it charged back up. My iPod requires a trip to the charging station once every day or two depending on volume of use. X1 slaughters it here. How it holds up over the course of a year or two I couldn't say... Head-fi's impressions thread may have the answer.
     
    So does the X1 overtake the king? Not in my book. With my listening habits and the way I want a portable player to work.
     
    That said if you are looking for a modern player that spends most all of its life tethered to a pair of in-ear monitors like the iPod was originally marketed, then it offers comparable sound quality along with storage flexibility, battery superiority and high resolution capability.
     
    All good things to the right customer.
     
    That customer just isn’t me. So does the X1 turn me off to digital audio players? No. I am leaving room for the potential. If the right device with the right interface popped up I could see it as a portable transport that could take my entire library anywhere I go. Ditch the laptop altogether. But for now that device remains elusive to me.
     

      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. The Fed
      Hey yeah I mentioned uncompressed 16/44 CD rips... May not have made the same clarification with the Nano. Everything in my library is either AIFF or WAV redbook standard. You can't put but maybe 9 or 10 albums on a Nano but that is how I do it.
       
      My Stello, A-RT Legato and Dac960 are all limited to 16/44 digitally. But that is the point really... Stick with one format and do it really well.
       
      Only hi-res gear I have is the iFi iDSD and it gives me a headache after a while ( I assume because it upsamples everything into ultrasonic territory but I can't say for certain).
       
      I'll see if I can hunt down something on HD Tracks that is worth it... I know they've got a fair amount of Clash and Ramones on there now. 
      The Fed, Oct 1, 2015
    3. glassmonkey
      I recommend Acoustic Sounds over HDTracks. Get some Creedence Clearwater Revival. If you like classical, there is lots of good classical out there and it is a great way to test certain aspects of a DAP.
       
      http://store.acousticsounds.com/superhirez
      glassmonkey, Oct 1, 2015
    4. glassmonkey
      Qobuz is another good option. Rock music is generally not audiophile quality, with a few notable exceptions. The new Led Zeppelin remasters are very well thought, as is Neil Young. Qobuz is the best place to buy them but you'll have to pretend you are in Europe, I recommend the Netherlands on your VPN. If you don't have one, it is worth it. I have like 20 flavours of netflix and can buy digital audio from whoever has it cheapest. I live in the UK, but am American and have US billing etc..., which is really useful. I wanted the hi-rez Father John Misty album, but could only get it on a site restricted to the USA, so VPN was very useful.
      glassmonkey, Oct 1, 2015
  6. MMansell
    Good Enough For The Money
    Written by MMansell
    Published Jun 9, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - small, light, reasonable SQ, good UI, well built
    Cons - It sometimes has problem playing 24 bit 192 kHz FLAC files , impossible to see something on the screen in direct sunlight, no GAIN setting
    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
     
    Battery Life: 4/5 (with "Idle Poweroff" feature turned on it should last a couple of days at the least)
     
    Design: 4/5 (good and beautiful but mediocre scroll wheel)
     
    User Interface: 4/5 (convenient enough!)
     
    Value: 3.5/5 (would have given it 5/5 if it weren't for the "24-192 problem" mentioned below)
     
    I have had this DAP since at least 6 months ago and have listened to music by it almost every day.
     
    Just a few clarifications:
     
    Scroll wheel is inaccurate but then again it's a luxury in this price range IMO. also you can use the other buttons to navigate.
     
    It has problem playing 24 bit 192 kHz FLAC files...the sound gets chopped up for 2 or 3 secs like a rectangular gate had been applied to it. I tried changing the albums and pressing the reset but the problem persists even though resetting made the frequency of this occurrence much less. that reminds me, I have had to reset the device 3 times in this 6 month period because it wouldn't turn on at all!
    maybe changing the sd card's format to ex-fat will solve this issue but I don't have more than a few 24-192 albums and I don't listen to them much, so ... who cares !
     
    The screen in washed out, which means it has less than enough contrast to cope with extreme lighting such as sunlight. well... this is "kind of" acceptable considering the low price too, I guess.
     
    Sound quality is good but I can't compare it to anything except my fiio e7k connected to my laptop and X1 actually is better sounding than E7k. It feels like the e7K has a narrower soundstage and a looser bass in default setting.
     
    Overall, I'm satisfied with my purchase though I would have bought "X3 second generation" if it was available back then.
  7. Judge Buff
    Number 1 For Many Reasons...
    Written by Judge Buff
    Published May 8, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Price, sound quality, users' support, build quality, 128GB support, many file formats supported
    Cons - Selector wheel, file # limit (as of this writing) despite 128GB support (Fixed as of FW 1.51beta!)
    After many months of almost daily usage, this excellent, budget-fi DAP is with me wherever I go. The only complaint I have is that the selector wheel is imprecise. While I only have a 64GB card in it at the moment (~ 2000 files), one day the 5800 files limit may come into play.
     
    It has paired well with every amp I've thrown at it, from cmoys to a G3 and Project Horizon. Most of my iems do well with the X1 without being amped, though. Sound stage complaints are not viable in my opinion, either.
     
    Good sound quality has to have excellent components throughout the system. This is an excellent, entry-level, high fidelity portable amp... at this price point, especially. It's also better than many costing a lot more.
     
    ***FW 1.51 beta fixes all of my issues!***
  8. castleofargh
    transparency in a budget DAP
    Written by castleofargh
    Published Apr 8, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - audio quality, pretty good amp section, price
    Cons - UI
        edit: January 2016, the X1 is at the time on firmware V1.6, I've been using it for some time now, and it is again a great improvement. no more of what I called FIIO's bug, now after coming back to the "now playing" song from any menu, the "back" button takes us to the list of songs for that album like any other DAP would do. it's a drastic and very significant improvement. added to this the firmware got rid of the 3 thousand something song limit it could scan(was still accessible when browsing by folder though). also the wheel works way better than before thank to firmware update.
    so right now I take the FIIO out of my "Chinese DAPs with crap UI that sound good" list, and place it into my "DAP with ok UI that sounds good" list.  more than ever before I believe the X1 to be a real bargain for the price.
     
              At the moment of that review we're at firmware V1.3, I waited to post this since V1.1 to see if the firmwares would bring important stuff like they did on the X3. Now with some adjustments done on the µSD for practical use, and enough time to stop wondering if the wheel would break(I now believe it's a sturdy little wheel), I feel that this DAP is honestly worth reviewing and most of all worth buying for its audio qualities.
    As always with FIIO there are a few things that I find great, and make me wonder why other brands don't do it? And other functions and UI choices that scream unfinished business and show that FIIO is still pretty new to DAPs interfaces.
    My very short writing about sound was made using a switch(matched as closely as possible by reading the voltage output into my laptop with a 1khz tone), and compared to a few other DAPs and amps. All with mostly IEMs not sensitive to impedance as not to mistake the FR change from impedance with the actual sound of the DAP.

     
    IMG_5712.jpg
     
    X1 with my faithful UHA760

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    IMG_5713.jpg
     
                        for size reference, with sony A15, and good old sansa clip+. as you can see it's still a very pocketable DAP, don't mistake it with the size of a big X5.
     
     
     
     
     

     

     

     
     
     
     

     
    Using the monster:

     
    Speed:
    The boot time is about 15seconds for me, nothing impressive, yet good compared to most products doing a full boot. So a very ok time.
    if you change tracks or pause and then press play again, or simply select a new song while browsing, the music might start in advance of the screen's refresh. And that lag gives a feeling that the DAP is slower than it really is. In effect it is pretty fast and tends to start playing songs faster than on my sony A15. Where strangely enough, using the sony's smooth movements and screen switching, you get the false idea that it's the faster DAP to react to a command.

     
    Wheel:
    8buttons+a wheel is overkill, I would expect between 7 and 9 buttons, or a lot less and the wheel, not both. Here the UI wasn't optimized for the wheel like Apple did. If next/previous could do vertical scrolling in all menu pages(it does in most), then you could effectively not use the wheel at all. I personally would love a setting to disable the wheel(never liked them and never bought ipods, I'm a button guy).
    That wheel brings more of an alternative choice for the user than a simplification of anything in the interface. Like the long press at the center for volume when you have already 2 side buttons for volume, or scrolling your library when you could do it with the 2 bottom buttons. It takes some learning and we can find a few of those redundancies in the actions. Anyway, after 2days I had adapted and didn't whine as much as I did the first day. So most of it really ends up to getting used to the DAP and personal choices.

    Some people might complain about the wheel being very slightly wobbly, but it looks like a million bucks, and in the end the DAP feels sturdier to me than the X3 did.
    My first day with the X1 reminded me of my deathadder's scroll-wheel(mouse), about 20steps, but you end up miss-clicking sometimes because it doesn't get locked into a position precise enough. Just like the rest, with some practice you do get better at it.

     
    Looking for a song:
    Here I'll have 2 opinions, the default one, and the one you get once you have “optimized” your library.
    Looking for a song is a bad experience. I can't say it another way, you waste too much time scrolling the entire library. So be it by folder, or by artist, or by song, it's all the same, there are too many songs to start at A each and every time.

    Now my take on it:
    - If you have a huge library, first I would suggest to use the lower button to scroll instead of the wheel, you look a little less like a psychopath when you'll do that in the street(just saying from how people looked at me when I played “hamster simulator 2015” in front of them). The buttons are just easier for long massive movements.

    - Getting alphabet folders to drastically improve browsing speed, a DIY UI.
    My own way of dealing with it requires mp3tag (PC) or you knowing how to do the same with another software.
    Or if you never ever cleaned your tags, then you will go faster just drag and dropping folders manually. As mp3tag uses tags to do whatever you ask, if your tags are a mess you'll ruin your library.
    /!\ WARNING /!\ If you never used mp3tag or are not familiar with it, I urge you to make a backup of your albums before starting to fool around with them!!! Don't blame me later.

     
    With mp3tag I use something like this to change name from tags:
    J:\Music\$left(%artist%,1)\%artist%\%album%\$num(%track%,2)-%title%

     
    J:\Music\  that part is just my drive path, disc J being my µSD nothing special. I would have already uploaded my music on the µSD and will change the folder paths directly inside it with mp3tag. My µSD cards are already all full of the music/audiobooks I want on them, so I only wished to reorganize them. But obviously it would all go faster to do it on your computer and then move the result onto the µSD.

     
    $left(%artist%,1) that one is the juicy one, it tells mp3tag to get a folder that will be named with the first letter of the artist's name(using the artist's tag, if you want something else just replace artist by the proper tag name). Boom!!!! Mind blown!!! You just got yourself an alphabet browsing.
    You will end up with all artists starting by A in the folder cleverly named A ^_^.
    Again you can also do that manually by making ABCD.. folders and then drag&dropping.

     
    \%artist%\%album%\$num(%track%,2)-%title% that might not be what you guys want. And you should exclude from the selection in mp3tag any album with different artists tags in it(else you end up with one folder per song, Itune style). Just move them manually when all is finished, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
    I suggest to use that part $num(%track%,2)-%title% for FIIO anyway as having the track number at the beginning of the track name will make sure the DAP will always play the album in the right order(again if your tags are a mess that might make a bigger mess).
     
     
    Anyway you do it however you like, the result should be that you will browse by folder on your X1.
    IMG_5717.jpg
     
     
     see one folder per alphabet letters(or you could group letters if you have few albums in some of them), so you rapidly go to the letter you want.
    IMG_5718.jpg
     
     
    then inside it will be the artists starting with that letter.
    IMG_5719.jpg
     
     
    etc. untill you get your song.
    IMG_5720.jpg
     so a lot less lines to scroll into. I believe me browsing 10 times faster isn't an overstatement.
    The more songs you have the more you will benefit from something like this. It makes browsing soooo much better. And when you want to lose yourself, you can still browsing by artist or album. So you waste no features in the process(at least if you do it before having 15playlists^_^).
    I really recommend doing that with your X1 as with that low-fi alphabet browsing, you realize there really is nothing much missing in FIIO's UI. It's simple, works nicely, and apart from a more rapid access to the EQ, I can't say I'm really missing anything in my everyday life.
    So overall very usable UI once I've sorted out my folders.

     
                                In the pocket:
     
    IMG_5725.jpg
    You can set it so that when the screen turns off, the volume buttons on the side are still active(and the front buttons are locked). Short successive press on the volume buttons let you set … the volume. Amazing, I know!!!
    But a long press becomes next/previous track!!!!! Ain't it genius? 2Buttons on the side is almost all you need, I find it to be simply my best “in the pocket” experience ever.
    And as you've already noticed, I'm not sucking up to FIIO, those instant 2 side buttons<=>4actions are all I need in my back pocket. And in practice, they never activate just from me moving around, so I never need them locked.
    I loved a few sony DAPs because of the side buttons, I also love the Cowon system where you decide if you want the volume to be volume, or track change. And can easily use unlock to switch between functions.
    Well the X1 has the same kind of idea, except it's de facto better to use IMO. And anything that has only front buttons or touchscreen is simply useless in a pocket. You have to take those DAPs out for every single action you want to perform, they all fail from my “portable on the move” perspective.
    The ON/OFF button(that also turns ON the screen/unlocks) is right next to the 2 volume buttons but isn't standing out, you can barely feel it. So you really immediately feel the 2 volume buttons and don't risk hitting the wrong one by mistake.
    Really it works just as it should and I find that perfect in my back pocket. Most will find that trivial, but to me that's what makes for a good experience with a DAP(but then nothing beats a remote and a few basic functions are available on the X1 by remote).
    With the silicone case you downgrade the experience from brilliant to functional because the silicone power button is out too much, but still easy to identify.

    I tried the other lock options, but to me they're not for on the go use, more like for the desktop kind of setting, or when you really need a fast way to press pause(but for that you could try to get a remote).

     
                              In my hand:
     
    Browsing the library isn't good by default, I've said it enough. It lacks alphabetical search so you need to do as I did and make one with your folders.

    There is still what I call the FIIO bug(should be solved on the android one at least). When you leave the “now playing” window to do something(EQ, change a setting, activate the line out...) you can go back to the now playing song real fast, but from that moment the “back” button will only take you back to the main menu instead of going “one up” into the browsing three. Meaning that you will now need to browse from the start if you want to select a new album. It is very annoying TBH, you get used to it, but it's lame. Obviously my DIY alphabet browsing helps a lot to get past that “bug” faster.
    this is no longer true, check the 1.6V firmware improvement at he start of the review.
     

    So once the all “looking for a song” problem is solved, the rest of the UI is actually simple and pretty intuitive. For example you can get back to the “now playing” screen with one long and one short press of the “back” button from anywhere. Even on my Sony I can need up to 3 and 4 actions to do the same, and I think very highly of Sony’s UI. Like I said in introduction, a few things are annoying, and others are nothing short of impressive. There is no avoiding them, so it will really come down to personal appreciation of the pros&cons of this DAP.

     
     
     
     
     
     
    Technical aspect:
     ​
     ​
     ​
     ​
    EQ:
    7bands equalizer going from +6 to -6db. It does the job in most situations, and doesn't clip the sound or lower the volume from ON to OFF. So a relatively easy to use EQ.
    The sound doesn't clip at any volume setting, because activating the EQ set the maximum volume possible at 88 out of 100(6db lower). So you don't have to be careful with the EQ, FIIO is careful for you. How cool is that?

     
    Balance:
    This setting will be useless to many people, but to anybody with one ear more damaged than the other(from a position at the job, from shooting firearms...) it can be nice to have it. What it does is change the volume level to make left or right channel louder. So basically you change the settings until you have the lead singer right in front of you again.

     
    Hiss/noises/and anything that isn't music:
    With the hf5 or IE80(both low impedance high sensitivity IEMs) I can notice a very little hiss only when getting the volume almost at zero while not moving at all in the most quiet place possible, and it's super low. If you know me a little I pretty much always complain about hiss on DAPs, and I'm very happy with the noise floor of the X1. It's about the same level as a clip+(and in fact better as it doesn't have the annoying buffering noises of the clip+). My A15 hisses about twice as loud(subjectively). And I remember the DX50 to also hiss a lot(again with sensitive IEMs only).
    So for a DAP's headphone out, it's really a good job again. I really value FIIO for that, the X3 had maybe the cleanest background I ever experienced on a DAP. With most DAPs nowadays sounding clean and pretty much transparent, hiss on IEMs is one of the last criteria that really matters to me for audio quality.

    There is a small noise when going from 16/44 to 24/96 or back(I experienced that on a few DACs sometimes), Only on changing resolution. Some might get annoyed by it in “shuffle ALL” setting. Else when listening to an album it won't happen and all is silence and music. Using almost exclusively 16/44 flac and mp3 it's a non issue for me, I only noticed with my test tracks for the review TBH.
     
     
    I have another thing for noise, and that is shielding against cellphones. In that respect the X1 fails bad. My phone calling at 40cm(15inches) makes some still loud noises with the X1.
    And this ends up being the only thing stopping me from telling everybody to go buy one as a cheap way to get excellent sound. It's a great little DAP, I really believe that. And would still believe it if it was costing 2 or 3 times as much. But for me, bad shielding is a problem depending where I go.
    Other brands suck at this too, as if we were living in 1980 and cellphones were a non issue...
    DX50 wasn't great at shielding, the studioV, the CK4, were nightmares... And even many amplifiers are actually very sensitive to cellphones. So I'm complaining because I find this to be a problem, but I'm well aware that it's not an isolated problem at all, still FIIO might want to start looking that up to at least reduce it a little.
    What's the point of running after hifi sound if we end up with a “tatatak tatatak tatatak” noise each time a phone looks for a tower? At a time when so many people pretend they can hear the benefits of high-res, I don't get how this is still accepted in audio?
    My sony daps are fully shielded, but they also don't have an amp section so to speak. So I'm guessing maybe op amps don't like cellphones, and anything with a good amp section will be sensitive? IDK.
     
    As a global noise conclusion, that still makes the X1 a really good product compared to the competition, but it could be better with shielding.

     
    Line out:
    As usual with FIIO, the line out is great and rather loud(about 1.5v just like HO maxed out). For portable devices it's really good(ideally a line out would have 2v but only rarely gets there on portable devices). I definitely think that people in need of high gain for some low sensitivity headphones, can benefit from the extra push of a source delivering higher voltage to the amp.
    By comparison, my sony A15 has a very quiet line out that is 16db quieter than the X1's(10db is considered twice as loud), so possibly worst SNR on the sony, and my amp has to do some extra effort to get the same gain level(loudness).
    In some special situations, it can also be a double edged sword. If you're using very sensitive IEMs with your amp, then that extra voltage might force you to reach the imbalance region of your amp's knob.
    Something like a Pico slim will not be concerned(“digital” control of the volume shows close to no imbalance at any level), while a Pico(not slim) had in my experience some imbalance problems at lower volume. So as always, make a clear list of your needs before you pick a DAP or an amp. You will often end up regretting going for the FOTM on headfi without really looking into the power output and impedance of the DAPs. For example this cheap X1 can drive headphones that the very expensive sony ZX2 cannot(fact, not opinion). So don't get blinded by overly simplistic statements of superiority you are bound to read on headfi. Truth is never so simple and can only be reached with the complete sound system in mind, starting with your own headphone and what it needs to work at its best.
     
    All in all it's an excellent line output and I do recommend the X1 to people willing to use an amp. A nice FIIO amp, maybe a C&C BH(people seem to love it), or something like that. I'm not a pro when it comes to cheap amps sorry. Obviously the better the amp for your headphone, the better the sound, the amp section on portable devices being the main bottleneck after the headphone itself.
    I repeat it often, but the right external amp is often the only real answer to some specific IEMs or headphones problems. To deal with hiss, impedance, crosstalk, power limit... You will rarely check all marks with just a DAP for all your headphones/IEMs. So going cheap with the X1 as a DAP when you know you will use an amp is a very interesting option for actual sound quality.

     
    Impedance:
    2ohm.
    I'm a believer of lower is better, but realistically, most DAPs are around 3 to 5ohm(because it's an easy cheap trick to improve the source's behavior, but of course that's the usual “I need to look good and don't care if what you plug into me will suffer from it”.
    2ohm with the 1/8minimum ratio recommended for impedance bridging, means that you might want to avoid any IEM that goes below 2*8=16ohm(many multi BA IEMs go below that even if they are specced higher).
    So for most IEMs above 16ohm things will be great and the signature variation should mostly stay below 1db. (you know, all the feedbacks saying that a DAP is cold or warm when in fact people are talking about their IEMs reacting to the DAP's impedance).
    For multidriver IEMs below 16ohm, expect more than 1db variation in the signature(the amplitude depending on the impedance's curve of the IEM itself).
    If impedance is important to you, then the X3 has 0.3ohm or below over the audible frequency range, it's really impressive even for non portable amps.

     
    µSD:
    IMG_5727.jpg
    You can chose the library update to be automated or not.
    You do need the card to be formatted in FAT32 like on almost all DAPs for ideal behavior(the DAP can format the card for you, just do it befor loadin it with msc ^_^).
    The scan is pretty fast, I must say that was a very nice surprise.

     
    Accessories:
    Well for 100$ you get a usb cable, a silicon casing some screen protections and a few stickers. Anybody who's into buying second hand or reselling his gears will know how much that actually means. I personally don't use cases because I don't sell my DAPs(I mostly give them away), and I'm looking for small portable DAPs. So I'm not so keen on making them bigger with a case. But usually people are very happy to have a way to keep their precious DAPs in good shape for years.
    So it's easy to understand how attractive this X1 can be. When I see what I get for the price, I can't help but also think about the AK240 and whine at the margin they make on customers. Thank you FIIO for letting us know the value of things.

     
    Gapless:
    Didn't work perfectly for me on mp3 but worked on flac. I didn't try more than 2 albums made on purpose, because I'm used to have my live albums and classical music in one single track(so that it will be gapless on any DAP).
    So maybe don't take my word for it.
     
     
    Replaygain:
    No. :frowning2:
    I suggest hard coding it on the files you put on the µSD if you get bored of changing the volume level all the time. If you shuffle a lot, you do need that in my opinion.
     
     
    USB:
    It charges the DAP and let you transfert files on the µSD if you don't have a faster card reader. No DAC input capabilities like a X3 or X5.
     
    IMG_5728.jpg
     
     
    Playlist:
    The X1 offers 2kinds of playlists by itself, and you can use a third one with .m3u(or m3u8).
    -The first one is to create playlists using the X1 itself, when playing a song, you can add it with the playlist option (top left button and go to the +sign). You can't name your playlists but you can create several.
    You then access them here:
    IMG_5723.jpg   IMG_5724.jpg
     
     
    -The second option is again on the top left button, to click on the little heart icon to make your favorite list of songs. This is limited to one list, but this time you go in the favorite menu and add several songs at once. When the playlist system only let you add the actual playing song to a list.
    You can access that list here:
    IMG_5722.jpg
     

     
    -Third option is to use .m3u to make playlists in the same usual way(keep the direct path between the .m3u and the songs identical)
    But still the X1 requires a little organization as the .m3u playlists will not show up in the playlist menu(only the lists made with the X1 will show up there), you will basically see the playlist where you placed it when browing by folder.
    I placed my .m3u playlists at the root of the µSD so that they would all be together when browsing and immediately accessible by reverse scrolling(as they appear at the end of the list after the folders). That way there is no problem with the relative path to the songs(as they're all starting at the root of the storage), and they are fast to access when browsing by folder.
    Again with a little trick you turn the X1 into a pretty convenient DAP.
    IMG_5721.jpg
    (3subfolders, 3playlists, and one test tone ^_^) Just click on the playlist you want to get the list of songs as if it was a folder.
     
     
     
    Compatibility:
    With my overly universal µSD card I had zero trouble. It's a card with only 1 embedded pics per track, no bigger than 300*300, nothing else but music files, limited number of sub-directories, with track number as the beginning of the song's names(01 02 …), only 4 or 5 tags(album, artist, track name, track number, number of discs), ID3 2.3, and no tricky symbols or languages.
    And that's pretty much what I suggest doing if you get a X1(or any non android FIIO DAP). None of those stuff are required to listen to your music, but it could make sure you'll have the best experience possible.
    Now with another old µSD with random mess for test purpose, I had tracks in the wrong order(alphanumerical order instead of track order). It didn't see some of my Japanese albums, even when the track name was in roman letters(romaji), but the name of the artist was in Japanese. The songs simply didn't show up when browsing(I use english language setting).
    Some .jpg didn't work, I didn't look too much into it as I now tend to embed pics. That works on pretty much all DAPs and avoid to have to rename the covers depending on the DAP. Using bigger images seems to slow down the screen refresh slightly when you change tracks so I don't recommend it. The other reason why I don't recommend it, the size and quality of the screen.

     
    Screen:
    As it happens, it's pretty much the same screen size as my sony A15. But having it horizontally reduces the effectiveness of the browsing in my opinion.
    Others have mentioned it, but the colors and contrast are washed out(well it's a 100$ DAP). And while I have no problem with that, as I didn't plan on watching my summer holiday pics on 300pixel screens anytime soon, it does make browsing a little more difficult in a sunny day.
    The good part is that there is no strong angle limit to look at the screen(it doesn't turn all white when you're not straight in front of the screen). So a better experience than with my Sony E585 or Cowon I10 in that respect.

     
    Save your ears:
    I love the volume that can reset when you turn the DAP OFF(another of those great FIIO functions you wish were on all the DAPs in the world). Using all kinds of IEMs with all kinds of sensitivities, I set the volume for my most sensitive IEM to be right, and go up from there on other IEMs. That way I never hurt my ears because I forgot to turn the volume down after fooling around with another headphone.
     
    Same with switching from line out to headphone out(it is physically using the same input and you set it in the menu).
     
    IMG_5726.jpg
    The idea of plugging my IEMs while in “line out” setting scared me A LOT! But the guys at FIIO thought about security, when you turn ON the DAP in “line out” mode, the music doesn't start instead you get a warning. As the music can resume automatically when using the headphone out setting, it's a great way to remember, even if you don't look at the screen warning, you get a hint that something is not right. And you will avoid blowing your ears off by mistake.
    The same way you can't change to line out while playing a song. It may seem annoying, but it saves you from a bad manipulation launching 1.5V into IEMs that reach 115db with 0.3V. So it's a very wise choice made by fiio.

     
    Sound:
    The sound is pretty nice and clean, not warm or anything. I have clear memories of the X3 being warm and needing some treble boost to make voices to sound neutralish(/!\ With the very first firmwares, I didn't hear the x3 recently). The X1 just sounds neutral.
    So I'm going to make some people angry again, but to me as long as the IEM doesn't require much and isn't impedance sensitive, a clip+ sounds very very close. And so did the Sony A15(done with a switch and volume matched at 0.2 or 0.3db as I couldn't get better with volume controls). It felt like soundstage/headstage might have slight differences, but I can't swear I would succeed in a blind test only based on that aspect of the sound. I find that more and more DAPs do sound clean and transparent nowadays(great for us), and the main differences now are impedance output, hiss, and what they can drive.
    Now to be honest, the X1 is superior to the A15 in pretty much all audio specs you could think of measuring. If you read my review on the sony A10 series, you see that I use almost only it and not so much the X1, but that's for convenience, certainly not for sound.
    I also think it is better than a good old sansa clip in all audio specs except for impedance(the clip is 1ohm the X1 is 2ohm).

    Trying my hd650, didn't change much between my A15 and the X1, meaning that I would add an amp anyway. Now on a more realistic scale, the X1 can get more gain(how loud it goes) and certainly more power than the Sony, and will be very fine with most portable headphones.
    The X3 when I had it(again it was with the very first firmwares so it might not stand now) had some stereo stuff going on, the headstage felt like everything was pushed in front. I didn't get that feeling on the X1 and the stereo imaging seems perfectly normal.
    So good sound, good volume control, nice power, no hiss, cheap and versatile. Anything else?

    This DAP sounds nice, People who can stand the UI should get this DAP and put money in a good pair of headphone/IEM or even amp instead. Of course if you guys can afford the best of everything, then go ahead, but as a starting block for a portable sound system, the X1 has the specs and versatility needed to get good great fidelity.
    Some reasons to get a more expensive DAP could be size, weight, connectivity/features, UI(obviously), battery life, the idea that cheap stuff can't sound good and you need a 4 digits price to get your placebo going full throttle, etc. But sound is fine as it is and a great value for the money IMO.

     

     

     
     

     
     
    Conclusion:
     
     
    +
    +OK loudness(close to 1.5v into most loads)
    +Sound(low distortions, low noise, all is pretty good).
    +Line out, good quality and loud(1.5v)
    +µSD slot.
    +Physical buttons (and the great side buttons that can do both volume and change track!!!!)
    +Better looking than a pono.
    +Can turn ON to a preset volume however loud it was when turned OFF. You get a Warning when line out is ON.
    +Balance (left/right loudness) for people with uneven hearing it can help put the lead singer back at the center of the headstage.
    +Can read low sample rate tracks(some podcasts and free audiobooks are recorded below44.1khz)
    + 7band EQ
    +Background hiss is super low compared to many other DAPs.
    +Still a portable size (the X5 is too big for an all purpose DAP IMO).

     
    -
    -All the UI/browsing troubles!
    -No internal memory.
    -EMI shielding is not good.
    -Screen isn't amazing(I don't care but some do).
    -The wheel is a little wobbly and overall isn't that great of a choice when there are already so many buttons.
    -Some work is required from you to rename and/or retag/sort music to improve compatibility/track order/browsing speed.
    -No replay gain
     
     
     
     
    FIIO X1, the IKEA of UI. You get it cheap because you have to build the browsing method yourself. ^_^
    If your library/tagging skills are bad you end up with a mess and should avoid at least all non android FIIO DAPs(not yet out at the time of the review). Clearly not everybody is willing to spend time working on “making” a DAP better to use, just like IKEA isn't for everybody. So some will rather buy the ready made furniture at a higher price and be happy for all the time they saved.
    Now if you're willing to spend a little time on it, you end up with something nice to use and you saved a good deal of money compared to a Sony or an Apple product.

     
    Sound quality is rather good, to me it's neutral, pretty clean, really low hiss level. 2ohm impedance output is still low enough for almost all IEMs(16ohm and above ideally). it goes louder(1.5v) than my rockboxed clip+ at max level(my sony A15 max out is around 0.32v...). But voltage isn't all there is to driving a headphone(unless it's a 600ohm one), and the X1 will drive adequately a wider range of headphones than a clip or a sony(any sony), or most cowons. So even for sound only, it's a very nice entry point DAP that delivers on audio specs.
    This little buddy being at about 100$ also justifies some leniency. So while I would never get a DAP with that UI at 500$, I find it fine at 100$. After all even a Sansa clip takes some time to get used to. And did you ever try some of the really cheap Chinese DAPs? For some you even wonder how to turn them ON.
    People willing to get a DAP not too expensive, but with actual sound quality should buy this(as long as the headphone used is within driving specs). That's my sincere opinion, as long as you don't mind the UI too much.
    FIIO doesn't use fake marketing claims(hello pono), doesn't talk about all the DAC greatness while forgetting to mention that the output will still be only as good as the crap amp section they use(hello sony). FIIO doesn't make big claims, and publishes many specs to prove they're not all marketing and no guts.
    It's obviously a very personal judgment, but if honesty was an audio value, then the X1 would indeed be one of the very best at any price. I wish great success to FIIO if only for that transparency and open dialogue they have kept with us on headfi.
     
  9. koloseij
    1st Great Leap from iPod
    Written by koloseij
    Published Jan 24, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sounds beautiful, Large capacity, Comes with silicone case
    Cons - 5800 track limit (for now), interface needs refining, no alarm clock
    It seems petty to complain about a $100 hi-res/high capacity player, but I'll give it whirl.
     
    It might help to understand that I've been using iPods and iTunes since Apple came out with the Classic 3rd gen in 2003.
    In the most recent years I've been mostly happy with a 5th gen 16gb Nano. Though it has been a tad frustrating being required to shuffle my library around as the occasion demands.
     
    Also it might help to understand, that while I don't have a tin ear, I'm unlikely to migrate my library to FLACs, let alone hi-res FLACs. I have difficulty hearing a significant difference between the mp3s I have and the FLAC rips. Maybe I do have a tin ear, but will experiment with this in the near future.
     
    So when you see large capacity player, that support lossless format, I see a player that will fit every single music mp3 I have. Down the road I may even splurge on a 128gb memory card and add all my audiobooks too.
     
    The X1 is my 1st step in breaking my dependency from Apple, but since a portion of my audio library comes from Audible, I'll still likely use my Nano for listening to audiobooks.
     
    I bought the X1 in a package from Amazon that included a 64gb memory card (SanDisk Ultra 64GB MicroSDXC Class 10).  Since the card came 1st, I pre-formatted it to fat32 and copied the latest firmware (1.22Beta). Yes, despite the last FAQ I've seen about installing firmware from a memory card of 32gb or smaller, it did work from my 64gb card. Can't guarantee it will work for you.
     
    I also followed someone's advise and installed MediaMonkey. I bought the license to gain access to the extra features(auto playlist with "advanced" settings is a nice alternative for iTunes "smart" playlists). I then used Media Monkey to transfer my library to the memory card.
     
    A day later, got the X1, Installed the memory card, updated the firmware, updated the library, listen to my tunes, became a convert (rip from my cold dead hands).
     
    However, a few pitfalls along the way:
     
    - The screen protector
        - because the case was already on the player, I tried removing the paper label from screen protector, starting from the left end.  It of course ripped and left residue
          and I immediately started questioning my purchase (now I know better).
        - so 1st thing, take the case off and carefully lift the paper label from the right end, it should lift a disposable plastic film off of the actual screen protector. If you see residue, you've done it wrong.
     
    - As others have indicated, the media library seems to only support 5800 tracks. My library is large and easily exceeds this limit
       - on the bright side, FIIO seems dedicated to updating the software, so I'm certain this will be resolved "officially" in the near future
       - since the music is actually on the card, just not being indexed by the album/artist interface, you can use the folder browser or imported playlists to work around the issue
     
    - Line out, yes its a great feature, but sharing it with the headphone jack requires some interface tuning.
       - the latest firmware (and I believe earlier versions) provides a warning when you plug in headphones with the output to line out, however this is short of ideal
       - after warning you might be jacking a headphone into a line out, you should be able to immediately switch output mode(without jumping 2 or 3 menus. I'm will be constantly
         switching between my car stereo and headphones and adding this feature would be greatly appreciated.
       - Maybe an option for a pop-up menu to show, anytime a line is plugged in. 
      ** Man I hate eating crow, but it seems this switch functionality is already there, not certain how I got to it with a single button press, but it is there **
      
    - Browsing acceleration, its been mentioned before
       - yes, using both the wheel and button do speed things up(not significantly), but require both hands
       - unlike the iPod, this isn't a touch sensitive surface, it's a revolving wheel with wear, tear and friction. Anything that reduce that significantly should be investigated
     
    - Sniff, Sniff, no ratings (gee maybe I'll miss my iPod after all... a little)
       - can't see a way around it unless FIIO provides an integrated program like iTunes. Maybe if the favorites were little more diverse and actually left a list on the memory card
     
    - Listing songs by Track #/Filename instead of by title from ID tag?
       - can't see how this possibly slipped through the cracks, but I'm certain this will be fixed by a firmware update (soon I hope)
     
    Despite all this, I'm impressed with this solid product and foresee using it for the next 10 years. I also suspect the X5 suffers from the same shortfalls being it has a similar layout (but with separate line out)
     
    On a related note, I've mentioned that I'm using MediaMonkey to transfer my files to the X1. However there is a small issue with playlists that you may encounter if follow my route. 
     
    The auto generated playlists that MediaMonkey transfers with your music uses absolute paths based on the device's drive name when it hooked up to the computer (I:, K: etc).
    The X1 doesn't have a clue what the drive name means when reading the playlist. Essensially all the instanced of I:\Music\.... need to be changed to ..\Music\... . There are some
    articles about adding scripts and changing some entries in an ini file.  For now I'm using a Cygwin bash command while the device is still hooked up to the computer (found it on: http://www.brunolinux.com/02-The_Terminal/Find_and%20Replace_with_Sed.html)
     
        find K:/Playlists -name '*.m3u' -type f -exec sed -i 's/K:/../' {} \;
     
    It will replace the 1st instance of 'K:' with '..' on each line of all the playlist files(.m3u) found in the Windows folder K:\Playlists
      altrunox and svil3 like this.
    1. lock67ca
      Good review. I have some of the same little nitpicks you do, but they're not nearly bad enough for me to give this player anything but the highest recommendation. Since I tend to use the File Browser over tags anyway, the 5800 limit doesn't bother me at all, if the Folder Browser isn't effected by it. Would still be great if it's fixed in the near future. All things considered, I think this is the best player you can get at its price point, and easily beats any of the Apple/Ipod options out there.
      lock67ca, Feb 11, 2015
  10. d marc0
    An Excellent Budget DAP Solution!
    Written by d marc0
    Published Jan 19, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - User-Friendly, Great Build Quality, Good Audio Quality, Better than average UI, and Affordable!
    Cons - Headphone Out doesn't sound as good as Line Out. Screen legibility can be an issue under direct sunlight.
     
     
     
    FiiO X1 Hi-Res DAP Review

     
     
    Introduction
     
    I exclusively use a Colorfly C3 for serious listening but it doesn't have the proper user interface for on-the-go usage. Browsing through the music library is so tedious that it takes away the enjoyment in my experience. As a result, I resorted back to the iPod Touch whenever I travel because it's just so much easier to use and the audio quality is quite decent. Everything seems to work for me but there are times when I wanted to share my experience with high fidelity music to a friend but I couldn't because all my high resolution files are back home. I managed to install the Accudio App on the iPod Touch allowing it to play FLAC which is a good work around but it's still not the solution I need. I need a portable digital audio player that can provide a user-friendly UI, versatile storage capacity, and great audio quality. Unfortunately, the DAPs that can satisfy my needs are out of my affordability range. 
     
    _DSC3850.jpg
     
     
    Then came the FiiO X1 and this may just be the one that I need. It measures 96 x 56.7 x 14.1 mm and weighs only 106 grams which makes a decent portable solution. The best thing is it costs just merely US$99! That’s far cheaper than many of the high resolution portable music players out there! It can play most types of music files including FLAC and ALAC up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution. Although it doesn't have onboard memory, there's a card slot for a microSD that can support up to 128GB of storage. Specs-wise, the X1 is also capable of driving power hungry headphones. So on paper, the FiiO X1 is a highly capable music player that can deliver the goods without breaking your bank. The only questions left for me are the User Interface and Audio Quality... fortunately, FiiO has organised a review tour and I got the chance to review the FiiO X1 to confirm my expectations.
     

     
     
    Design and features
     
    The X1 is available in silver and champagne (gold), and comes with a black silicone case to help protect the device from scratches and bumps. Much like the Fiio X5, the X1 has the same basic design that reminds me of the classic iPod. It has aluminium body with a large scroll wheel and a few buttons at the front and side for added functionality.  Altogether, a well constructed simple design without compromising aesthetics.
     
    The X1 features a 2-inch, 320 x 240 pixels LCD; not the brightest and clearest of screens but it does the job well for indoor use. Direct sunlight legibility can be a problem but it can be overcome by changing the background theme.
     
    As a storage option, the microSD slot is a great feature especially if you have a massive music library. Files can be transferred via the USB cable interface and managed in folders through any basic file explorer in your computer. Otherwise, a memory card reader can be used which is just as easy for any computer user.
     
    Navigation via the scroll wheel is very reminiscent of the classic iPods and that's a relief! Not as smooth as the premium Apple mechanism but it still does the job really well. My only gripe is the lack of fast scrolling which can improve the efficiency when browsing through hundreds of entries.
     
    Other features include playlist and track info support, equaliser, and many more... more than you could ever ask for from a high resolution music player in this price range. There is one other feature that is worth mentioning and that is the line out feature making the X1 a perfect companion for any amp. I just wish there was a shortcut button to toggle between line out and headphone out instead of going through the menu system which takes time. Other than that, the user interface is better than I expected from a budget player. FiiO claims 11 hours on a single charge and takes just under four hours to fully charge. From my experience, the X1 delivers as promised and is more than enough for my daily needs. Heavy users need not to worry as USB access is quite common nowadays.
     

     
     
    Sound
     
    Now for the most important question... how's the sound? 
     
    The FiiO X1 as a standalone player sounds ok through the headphone out although there's an audible hiss when pairing it directly with super sensitive IEMs such as the Noble 4. Other pairings seem to be "black" silent especially full-sized headphones so it shouldn't be a worry for most users. There's a bit of warmth in the lower frequency with decent texture and extension down to the sub bass region. The midrange is quite natural sounding with great detail retrieval. Going up the high frequency, there seems to be a lack of "air" but nothing too drastic to my ears although I did notice a lack in refinement and articulation. This shortcoming tends to affect the overall presentation and at times complex tracks can sound a bit congested and less articulate in the upper frequency. The soundstage width is not as wide as I'd normally like. Fortunately, the impressive depth and height make up for the lack in width. Compared to the iPod Touch 5th Gen, the X1 does better in projecting a more 3D image but lags behind in overall refinement and clarity. Personally I prefer the iPod Touch because it sounds more refined and articulate. Bringing the Colorfly C3 in the group makes it stand out as a high-res player. The C3 is a lot more articulate and clear with excellent imaging making it the better sounding player despite its deficiencies in features and user interface.
     
    Switching to the LINE OUT and pairing the X1 with a decent amp like the JDS Labs C5D is a different story. The level of detail and clarity is at a level closely comparable to the Colorfly C3. The soundstage width is noticeably changed as well, sounding so much more expansive with no trace of congestion. Imaging is more precise making the overall presentation very coherent. What impresses me the most is the endless possibility of sound characteristics just by pairing the X1 to a different amp. Changing the amp to the FiiO E11K for example noticeably brings a difference in bass texture and soundstage presentation. 
     

     
    _DSC3842.jpg
     
     
    Conclusion
     
     
    So did FiiO answer my prayers for a portable dap solution that I can readily afford? Oh yes they did! I immediately bought an X1 hence the main photo in this review...
     
    The FiiO X1 is a great portable DAP and should be in your short list if you're in the market for an affordable and great sounding music player. The User Interface is quite mature for a budget DAP and its usability should be more than enough if you aren't too technical in your listening habits. For serious listeners, I highly recommend that you pair the X1 with a decent amp and use the line out for optimal sound quality. I am now having a difficult time in choosing the iPod Touch 5gen over the X1 whenever I go travelling. It is only when I don't have the luxury of taking an amp that the iPod Touch gets my attention. FiiO has taken their products to a different level while staying true to their roots... they continue to provide quality products that are not beyond the reach of people on a budget. Kudos to FiiO and I hope they continue to surprise us with their excellent consumer friendly products!
     
    Special thanks to @FiiO, @djvkool and @Brooko for making this review possible.
      Brooko, djvkool, H20Fidelity and 6 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. JuanLuis91
      But technically , the c5 offer much better performance than e11k ? I refer to detail, clarity , soundstage , etc.
      JuanLuis91, Feb 24, 2015
    3. d marc0
      @mychkine as a standalone dap the c@ is more refined, mature, detailed and clear. It just lacks a bit of sub bass presence compared to the x1. Using the line out both daps are comparable in performance.
      d marc0, Sep 16, 2015
    4. ahmadmlouk
      Would just like your input whether theyre good enough for the shure 535 ?
      Im using them on my htc one m9 and i feel its lacking in the bass and clarity department
      ahmadmlouk, Jan 27, 2017

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