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.
Pros: Eq function, good build and sound for its price
Cons: no Bluetooth, no dsd, reset button frequently used
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.
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.
This unit was purchased by me for this review and as usual I am committed to providing reviews with no bias.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
The X1 comes in a premium package that looks and feel nice. What you get:
Nicely designed box with scratch-off authenticity seal (you can authenticity by entering the code online)
Fiio X1 Digital Audio Player
USB micro cable (1m)
Black silicone protective case
3 film screen protectors (1 pre-installed from factory)
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:
Power and volume buttons on the side
Scroll wheel to navigate
Center button to select (long press to make the volume dial appear, adjust the volume with the scroll wheel)
Menu button on the upper-left side of the scroll wheel (long press takes you to Now Playing, with the song details displayed briefly)
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))
Previous and Next buttons (within folders or categories, these will take you to the previous or next item on the list respectively)
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.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is this a big upgrade for my Fiio m3 player? Which is better in making a wider soundstage and improving sound quality, this or Xduoo X3? Planning to get a DAP that will work well with either Havi B3 Pro 1 or Fiio EX1 in-ear headset.