FiiO X1 Ultraportable Hi-Res DAP - Reviews
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.



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.



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.
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)
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. 

 
Enjoy and happy listening!
BMARKB1963
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.
audiophilefan
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!
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. 
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.
 
 
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.
 
 
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.
 

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The Fed
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. 
glassmonkey
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
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.
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.
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!***
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:
 ​
 ​
 ​
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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.
 
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
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lock67ca
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.
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.
JuanLuis91
JuanLuis91
But technically , the c5 offer much better performance than e11k ? I refer to detail, clarity , soundstage , etc.
d marc0
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.
ahmadmlouk
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
Pros: Price, Format Support, Build Quality, Package completeness.
Cons: Bass roll off, reduced soundstage.
FiiO X1 Review
 
I've received the X1 as part of the X1 world tour, and have since passed the unit onto the next reviewer a long time ago... This review was mainly delayed by life events.
 
I've not bothered with pictures (there are so many of them with every review anyway) and tried to keep things succinct. Wall of texts is not the best way to convey messages, after all.
 
Physical
It's fairly compact and rather well built, although I still remain a fan of SanDisk's implementation of physically scrolling scroll wheels over FiiO's, but I digress. It has most hardware buttons you would ever want, with good tactility. I don't really understand the 'notch' in the chassis where the front panel curves back before meeting the sides, but this is negligible in the whole scheme of things.
 
The X1 package is fairly complete, containing
- FiiO X1 unit
- Silicone case
- 3pcs screen protector
- MicroUSB cable
- Documentation
 
The silicone case is fairly sticky and a lint-magnet, and not something I liked, but it works, although it does block the charging LED.
 
The controls are generally understandable - you don't need a manual to figure out how it works, although I'd call it usable rather than good. The UI however, can be a pain to work with in the sun with the combination of screen and colour palette chosen.
 
The battery itself lasts fairly long, about 10~11 hours with on-off usage across 3 days.
 
Sound
The raison d'etre of the player itself.
 
Set up goes as follows:
FiiO X1 -> FutureSonics MG6pro
 
The first thing I noticed was a rather severely rolled off bass, and a diminished soundstage. Trying to boost the bass with the EQ didn't make things any better, if anything the slight midbass bloat became even more prominent. There wasn't any real slam, and it was quite rather distressing (I am, if the CIEM didn't already expose me, somewhat demanding of bass performance [quality, not quantity!]).
 
This could admittedly work in favour with some of the cheaper IEMs out there with their rather uncontrollable bass, but two wrongs don't really make a right in my books.
 
The mids and highs don't have any glaring issues, and the intimate soundstage does work to make softer details a lot more clear.
 
Conclusion
Reading more words won't help you make up your mind, take an mSD card (formatted for FAT32) and head down to your local FiiO carrying shop and try it out. If it pleases you, treat my words as hogwash and buy it.
Pros: Sound Quality, Line Out
Cons: UI
Fiio's new X1 is an excellent low cost entry for those looking for better audio quality than what their current smartphones are capable of.

 

I must admit, I am not a fan of DAPs. Even the nicest, most expensive DAPs still don't have the capabilities of most mid range smartphones (touch screen, downloadable programs/album art, wifi transfers, etc). I would be very hesitant to spend $300+ to have none of those features available to me in a separate audio player. This is where the $100 X1 comes in. The DAC and amp inside the player ends up providing very good sound quality at a very affordable price. Here are my impressions of the X1 in the week that I had it. 

 

 

Build Quality:

 

Top notch for the price. The aluminum alloy chassis has a premium feel to it. It feels nice and solid in your hand, and the provided silicone skin and screen protector help prevent possible damage. The click wheel turns easily, and the buttons respond fluidly to touch.

 

Features:

 

-192kHz/24bit playback from just about every useful audio file type (FLAC, ALAC, MP3, OGG).

 

This is a major feature that most audio players ~$100 simply don’t have. This allows high quality playback from sources such as HDTracks with zero issues.

 

-A good (but not great) quality DAC and amp.

 

The DAC and amp used in the X1 (PCM 5142 + ISL28291) are better than your average DAC found in smartphones, but they still fall short to many of the higher level DACs (SABRE) out there by quite a margin. This combo simply doesn’t have the detail and resolution found in higher quality DAPs (X5), but it is better than what $100 normally gets you.

 

-Up to 128GB of SD card storage

 

Huge feature. Any respectable DAP should be using consumer friendly expandable SD card storage.

 

-Line Output

 

Another huge feature. This allows an external amp to pick up where the X1 lacks, which allows more demanding headphones (or speakers) to use the X1 as a source.

 

Ease of Use:

 

This is where the X1 stumbles a bit for me. With touch screen smartphones being such a large part of our lives now, having to use a scroll wheel feels like a time warp back to 2005. While it is easy to navigate through the Fiio UI, there were far too many times I missed the convenience of tapping where I wanted to be in a track.

 

Sound Quality:

 

The overall sound signature of the X1 surprised me with how flat it was. Normally I love a good flat signature, but bass levels actually seemed lower than flat, and with less extension. For bass heavy consumer earphones, this works out pretty well in cleaning up the bass bloat present. For higher quality neutral signature IEMs, it sucks the life out them. EQ ended up being a must in order to bring back sufficient levels of pleasurable bass. Luckily the Fiio EQ works pretty well, but more power hungry IEMs won’t do well off of the internal amp with a large bass boost.

 

Detail retrieval was a noticeable step up from a Moto G that I used in comparison.  

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Moto G vs. X1 got me thinking… which would be better, a standalone DAP, or a cheap smartphone with a USB DAC/amp attached? With the release of Android 5.0 Lollipop, most android phones now support USB DACs. I was finally able to use my Geek Out 1000 off of my Oneplus One the other day, and the results were fantastic.

 

The X1 is a nice unit that will work very well for most people. For me, while it was nice to try, I vastly preferred the interface of my smartphone and ease of use to run Spotify and Google Play Music (two major things missing from the X1).

 

My suggestion: Now with both Apple and Android supporting USB DACs, the time is now to make a compact, affordable, high quality, easily connectable 192/24 USB DAC/AMP for smartphones and anything else with USB. Separate devices with less features don’t make much sense anymore to me, and I don’t feel I’m alone in this.

 

 

FW 1.0 was used during the review duration.

 

Thanks goes to Joe @ Fiio for providing the X1 for review.

Pros: Nice size, clear screen, SHOCKINGLY GOOD SOUND
Cons: Bass may be a little too rolled off for some.
Ok, so this will be my first review ever, and I don't consider myself as 'audiophile' by any stretch so please forgive any wrong use of terminology and lack of vocab yea. =P

Firstly, many thanks to Joe Bloggs and Fiio for giving me this opportunity to try out the Fiio X1. This was a loaned unit and we were neither paid nor received any benefits to do this review.
I am also not affliated to Fiio in any way. Due to the arrangement, I happened to be the last guy on the list so when I received the demo unit, many others before me have reviewed it already. 
Therefore, I decided to make this review a bit of a comparison between the X1 and the X3 (which I own and love) under various parameters, including the X1 and E11K combo.
 
Now on to the review proper!
 
First up, tech specs:
Size: 96.7mm*56.7mm*14.1mm
Weight: 106g
Playable formats: APE, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, MP2
Memory: No onboard memory, MicroSD up to 128Gb
Line Out: Yes, selectable in UI
 
Box contents: 
1) 1m MicroUSB cable
2) 3PC screen protector, (1 already applied)
3) User Manual, Quick start Guide
4) Warranty Card
The black silicon case that should have come with the X1 wasn't in the box when I received it.
 
20141127_101652.jpg
 

First thing that struck me when I opened the plain white cardboard box was that it's really shiny, coming from the black X3.
The size and weight feel just right for me; it just sits nicely in my palm. The aluminium body was a real winner for me. The back, while plastic, feels pretty strong and rigid.
The buttons at the corners feel solid and I like how the X1 can scroll really fast with the wheel. However I feel that the wheel is a little too sensitive, quite often when trying to play or pause I would move it a little and the X1 would go to the folder view. Might have been better if the wheel has more resistance or if it was slightly recessed. (Right before posting this review I heard from Joe Bloggs that the scroll wheel issue has been addressed in the final production model. It has now been rubberised and the resistance has been adjusted.)
 
20141127_101701.jpg
 

I had initially thought that the X1 would be shorter and broader than the X3 but it was actually the same width, but shorter and slimmer.
The X1 starts up a few seconds slower than the X3 and the buttons react just a little slower as well, however, it starts playing music faster than the X3.
Comparing the screens, the X1 seems to have a higher definition screen and the colours are warmer. (I just realised I didn't take and side by side comparisons for cover art..)
Screen could have been bigger though as the words are pretty small.
The UI I must say is quite intuitive and I managed to pick it up within minutes without reading the manuals.
I really like how the volume buttons are still active even when the other buttons are locked.

When I first plugged in the headphones and fired up the player, my first thought was "Wow the sound is shockingly good!!"
To be perfectly honest, I was expecting a bigger disparity from the X3 due to the X1 costing almost half of the former. The vocals and acoustic instruments all really stood out. The bass was more rolled off than I was used to but all in all it was an extremely pleasant listening experience.
 
I did a back to back comparison when I first received the unit and again right before returning it, after listening to the X3 only for a couple of days as a control.
This was done by first trying to match the volume, then repeatedly playing the same track on both DAPs, pausing both and then plugging my headphones to the other unit. 
As it turned out, my observations/ opinions were quite consistent in both comparisons.
 
Equipment used:
i) Fiio X1 (of course)
ii) Fiio X3
iii) ATH-M40X Over-ear headphones
iv) Fiio E06 Amp
v) Fiio E11k Amp (borrowed)
vi) Car stereo
 
Album tested:
Wagakki Band - Vocalo Sanmai (FLAC format, 44.1 kHz)
Fusion of traditional Japanese instruments and rock music, with a couple of acoustic tracks.
 
Test Parameters:
1. X1 flat eq vs X3 flat eq, low gain
2. X1 flat eq vs X3 flat eq, high gain
3. LO to car stereo
4. X1 vs X3 SW Equaliser
5. X1+E06 vs x3
6. X1+E11k vs X3
 
1. X1 flat eq vs X3 flat eq, low gain
X1 sounds fuller and cleaner, vocals really stand out against the other instruments.
X3 seems to have more instrument depth but a narrower soundstage
Soundstage for the X1 is wider and imaging is good.
 
2. X1 flat eq vs X3 flat eq, high gain
X3 soundstage becomes quite a bit deeper, though the X1 still leads it in width and imaging.
The X1 sounds noticeably brighter than the X3 but feels a little 'muted', could be due to the lack of 'depth'
An observation here is that the gain of the X1 seems to be somewhere between the low and high gain of the X3
 
3. LO to car stereo
X1 sounds a bit more muted as compared to the x3.
Plucking of strings sounds far more crisp on the X3 (faster attack?). Bass is also more 'felt' as compared to 'heard'
X1 soundstage sounds a little wider but less deep, even with the car stereo.
On the rock tracks, the X3 has noticeably tighter and deeper bass, and can I could hear more of the reverberation of the diaphram of the Taiko drum after being struck.
With the X1, it is more like a bit of a duller thud.
The X1 sounds more closed than the X3, which is 'airier'.
Even with this though, the X1 still sounds like there is better serapation of vocals and instruments.
On bass heavy segments, the X3's bass seems to be slightly fatty and eats into the mids a bit. This is less evident in the X1.
 
20141127_101901.jpg
 
 
4. X1 vs X3 SW Equaliser
I tried to apply similar EQ settings to bump up the lower mids where the M40x is slightly softer.
The X1's equaliser sounds far more natural and 'airier' compared to the X3's newly reenabled sw equaliser. 
The effect of the eq is also more obvious on X1, but this could be because the x3 drops the level when applying eq but x1 doesn't.
As far as implementation goes, I much prefer the X1's equaliser in this case.
 
5. X1+E06 vs x3
Only the 4th eq setting (-3db) can be used as the others all produce distortion.
E06 gives the x1 a warmer sound and more depth than by itself.
To my ears the combination sounds somewhat like the x3, but the 'depth' is less. Bass in x3 sounds more thumpy and 'felt'.
The x1+e06 has tighter bass but is more 'heard' than 'felt'
X3 soundstage a bit bigger than the X1+E06 combo.
And now the main event:
 
6. X1+E11k vs X3
 
6.1 Low Gain and BB off
X1 soundstage dramatically increases in width and depth, and gains even greater separation.
Imaging improves greatly, I can actually pick out where the string instruments are and the plucking sounds very crisp.
Clarity and lushness increases as well.
Sibilance from flutes etc become audible where on the x3 sounded almost like noise.
The X1 gains a warmer tone, warmer than x3. 
Bass is tight and controlled and sounds bigger than x3.
 
6.2 High Gain
To my untrained ears, this just seemed to make everything louder so I ended up not using it a lot, as my cans are pretty low impedance.
 
6.3 BB on
With bass boost on, I felt that the bass became overwhelming and excessive but I can't really describe the effect it had on the mids, maybe someone with more experience can supplement this bit?.
 
All in all, the X1+E11k and X3 sound extremely close, and the price differential is small, with the X1/E11k combination coming out just on top of the X3 alone.
For the guys deciding between these 2, the choice would really depend on what you're looking for, an overall slightly better SQ or the smaller form factor of the X3 alone for portability. I would have gone for the X1+E11K combo for the same price as the X3. The improvement from the A/B comparison is marginal at best but still discernable.
 
In conclusion, the Fiio X1 is truly a fantastic DAP for it's USD100 price, punching far above it's level with the battery of features and the very very clean and natural sound.
I actively recommend it to anyone who is in the market for an entry level DAP. Great job Fiio! This is really a winner right here. =D
 
Finally, I would like to express special thanks to Stereo and ConnectIT for letting me borrow the E11k to test. Thank you guys!! 
RedTwilight
RedTwilight
Thank you for your kind remarks! Your situation is exactly the same as mine it seems. =)
hakushondaimao
hakushondaimao
Just happened to check out your review. Even though it was posted a while ago, I enjoyed reading it. Nicely done  :wink:
RedTwilight
RedTwilight
@hakushondaimao thanks for the kind comments! Hoping to improve and refine further with more practice. =)
Pros: Build quality, line out, overall SQ
Cons: Can be hot on treble depending on pairings
Disclaimer
 
I got this unit as part of Australasian tour arranged by Brooko, thank you very much for including me in this tour.
 
Introduction
 
I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 7 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
 
Since Fiio X1 is a DAP, I think it's only proper to compare them with other DAPs, having said that i never own a lot of DAPs, so for this review I will just compare them with the Kogan MP4 player and my phone, HTC One M7 in term of sound quality.
 
For the majority of my listening i am using T-Peos Altone 200.
 
Build Quality
 
I guess everyone will agree that the X1 build quality is simply superb, you got to love those aluminium body, it just feel solid and looks good. The Kogan MP4 player can't compete here, but of course they are about 1/3 cheaper so it's not really a fair comparison. 
 
Interface
 
This kind of stuff never bothered me much, but if anyone need to know i found them very easy to use, no problem here.
 
Sound Quality
 
Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? In short they sound awesome! They are leaning toward a bright and warm sound signature, music sounds fun and engaging. Some people says that they are neutral, but from my experience i would say they have a bit of U shape sound signature, the reason for this is my Altone can be a bit too bright going straight from the X1 using the silicon tips. Changing to a comply tips help tamed the highs here.
 
Compared to the Kogan, i would say either a). Kogan is more neutral, or b). Kogan is more mid centric, since the Altone sounds just about right coming straight from them even with the silicon tips. Kogan MP4 player provide a very good competition for the X1 in term of sound quality, i can't really say which one is better or worse since different pairings and amping will yield in different result. I guess it's safe to say that if you prefer some sparkle in treble and better bass, the X1 is the DAP to go.
 
Compared to HTC One, well i have never really like my HTC One SQ, it's not that bad, it's just ok, somehow i found music is a bit dull going out straight out of the phone, I am aware that i can install some DSP like Viper audio but i still think Fiio X1 sounds better even after all that DSP. Mind you i don't really tweaked the Viper setting that much, so your miles may vary.
 
Amping
 
As a part of this tour, i also receive Fiio e11k kilimanjaro 2 portable amplifier to be tested. Another good thing about Fiio X1 is that it has a line out mode when you want to chain them to another amp, and to be honest i am not expecting a lot of change with the amping, but boy am i wrong. Line out + e11k, double awesome! Remember when i said about the Altone being too bright, it's gone, they are perfect now. Switch on the bass boost on the e11k, oh wonderful. I can't believe how great a DAP + Amp + Altone sounded, i automatically start my foot tapping to the music. It is the perfect pairing, they must have made them to be paired together. In short if you got the extra budget go with the e11k as well, they complement the whole package perfectly.
 
To be fair i also try e11k with my Kogan, and again it improves the sound of my Kogan as well, but i will say they are better paired with the X1.
 
And of course to be fair i also pair them with my phone, and again it also improves the sound, but meh, will take the X1 anytime.
 
Quick note, just for fun i tried my AKG K340 on the X1 + e11k combo, and to my surprise they manage to drive them quite well. Obviously it's not as good as my desktop DAC/Amp (Micromega MyDAC/Project Sunrise) but they manage to deliver those particular beautiful acoustic guitar sound that made me fell in love with the K340, i am quite impressed.
 
Summary
 
I love the Fiio X1, i am currently considering to buy them, but probably will wait until i have enough money to buy e11k as well since they are just perfect together. You can't go wrong with these, they are simply awesome :)
Pros: Build quality, value for price, sonic performances
Cons: to get the top need an amplifier

Hello guys !!!
Because I wanted to be included in FiiO’s X1 Preview World Tour for the review of their product I had only 10 days, but I tried to make the most of the time to give a serious review that is not limited only to the acoustic description of the product. In fact the first thing I did after checking the X1, was testing it and checking if the graphs and data reported were real.

 

FiiO certainly does not need any introduction, if you think about portable audio electronics surely FiiO is among the first that come to mind.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

As always I want to start this review with thanks ...


My thanks go to Joe Bloggs (FiiO’s PR) who was keen to know what you thought of this crazy reviewer always ready to be meticulous on any product regardless of price.


Thanks of course go to FiiO itself as a company that once again proves worthy to be where it is now.

 

INTRODUCTION
I was chosen as a reviewer for the FiiO X1 preview world tour, I’m not paid by FiiO (in fact I'll pay the shipping charges to the next previewer, thankfully they are cheap) and have not received the X1 as a gift. I also have to say that the review is my personal opinion.

 

PACKAGING

The packaging is simple: it arrived in a simple cardboard box, but if the savings in packaging allows me a much better quality ... so let it be. (note from FiiO: retail X1’s come with different packaging.)

 

BUNDLE
The bundle consists of everything you need:
Silicone Cover for protection from accidental impact.
USB cable to connect it to your PC and / or DC power.
4 screen protector films (1 applied on the screen out of the factory, 3 spares).
Warranty and User Manual.

 

MATERIALS
The structure of the FiiO X1 is solid, consisting of metal and really nothing to say from this point of view.

 

DESCRIPTION
First, as always, the link to the manufacturer

http://www.fiio.net/en/products/18
And a quick description with regard to aesthetics is delegated to the photospublisched here cose I've not the permission to pubblisching photo on this site at the moment

https://www.facebook.com/marco.bicelli.33/media_set?set=a.1510392935887069.1073741832.100007491309933&type=3


I would like to start from the two beating hearts of the DAP: the DAC and the OPAMP.

The DAC is the PCM5142 from Texas Instruments : http://www.ti.com/general/docs/lit/getliterature.tsp?genericPartNumber=pcm5142&fileType=pdf


It is not top of the line, but is a good DAC for the price.

 

The OPAMP is the OPA2322 (not mentioned on the product page, but info provided by FiiO) http://www.ti.com/general/docs/lit/getliterature.tsp?genericPartNumber=opa2322&fileType=pdf  

whereas the buffer is actually the Intersil ISL28291
http://www.intersil.com/content/dam/Intersil/documents/isl2/isl28191-291.pdf


Here, although this is also the amp chip used by the AK100, I would have preferred something more , you can get peaks in voltage of 4.2 V and only 43 mA of current. Reasoning in what I wanted was an operational amplifier or a headphone amplifier chip so you can have voltages and higher currents, but that would have greatly disturbed the X3.

Reasoning on operational rather that they could not in any way disturbing the other products (operational operating power voltage maximum of 5.5 V) ... I believe that the ISL28291 is a good product.
All you remember how often my speech has little to do with the volume, it is more than sufficient, I speack  relating to details, dynamic. (keep in mind this part because it will return all in listening)

 

My speeches are, however, well known to FiiO in fact She start to describe the product from the hearts and the fact that this player is at first a DAP, in fact She speak now of portable amplifiers (I had connect the X1 to my dual mono amplifier... an interesting experience).

Continuing in compatible formats ... ok serious and important ones are inside.
Continuing it seems interesting to say the device accepts micro sd cards up to 128GB.
The key issue is to say that the X1 unlike his older brothers is only a player and is not a DAC for other devices, USB fact only serves to recharge the battery and upload their own music on the memory card.

 

Moving on to the technical specifications.
The 106 grams stated are respected (weighed 100 times on different days and considering measurement errors, the weight is ok).

 

The FiiO guide only X1 headphones up to 100 ohms ... well I have bored before telling you about Volts and Amperes because these data so difficult? No They tell us what FiiO  X1 can do and what it can not do. I consider quite useless those reviews where the volume is tested with 300 ohm headphones; FiiO itself say t that X1 is not good for greater than 100ohm headphones, if we consider the evidence-based techniques and my beloved physics these criticisms are funny .

 

And now we come to my favorite graphics ... the ones you find on the product page are real ... They're not marketing, but science.


The first that I want to analyze is the frequency response one; there is a very linear frequency response with one drop of -0.4 dB at 20 kHz, essentially a graph like that I call linear, the decline starts from 10 kHz and covers the area of highs where our hearing is less precise. The frequency response of the FiiO X1 certainly does not disturb their older brothers (X3 and X5) which instead attain 0.2 and 0.1 of flexion.
The second graph we have a lot interest  in it that because THD is the rate of total harmonic distortion; also in this case there is a minimal distortion that remains inaudible: 0.01% at least up to about 14-15kHz, for my personal opinion from the point of view of the THN, the X1 is comparable to the X3, the X5 however, remains on another level over the entire audio range.
The only real "flaw" that I find in a technical technical analysis of the X1 is the output impedance including always within 2 ohms. Why call it a lack? Simple most raises the output impedance will have more problems of noise with headphones within the 100ohm, however, because in reality it virgoletto although the output is not as perfect and does not reach the ideal values ​​by 0.01 ohm, is however well far from the order of 10 ohm impedances that make it really impossible to create a good headphone amplifier impedance of less than 100 ohms.

 

TEST ABOUT THE FREQUENCY
As always somewhat like a minimum test to see if what the company says is true or not. This time I used the line in of the Xonar U7 to check the graphs. The test is not obtained by ear, but through the use of the Leveller by REW (freeware program to test the response in the environment), the conclusions I draw from the tests already insert errors.
Essentially I decided to keep four levels of output volume: 100, 75, 50 and 25.
As for the headphone output:
At 100
are obtained by slight fluctuations of 0.1 dB at 20 Hz

30 Hz you get a stable output
Since 8000 I get -0.4 db
 

At 75
Are obtained fluctuations of 0.2 and 0.3 db both at 20 Hz, both at 30 Hz
40 Hz you get a stable output
At 15 kHz get -0.2 db
At 19 kHz get -0.3 db
 

At 50
A 20 Hz fluctuations are obtained of 0.5 db
At 30 Hz fluctuations are obtained in 0.1 dB
40 Hz you get a stable output
At 15 kHz can be obtained - 0.1 db
At 19 kHz can be obtained - 0.2 db
 

At 25
A 20 Hz fluctuations are obtained of 0.2 db
30 Hz you get a stable output
At 15 kHz can be obtained - 0.1 db
At 19 kHz can be obtained - 0.2 db

Essentially I obtained that with regard to the 'headphone output it is more precise in ultra-high range when it is not at the maximum, on the contrary the best stability under 40 hz I obtained by the maximum output. I think that considering the errors of measurement I can declare the graph proposed by FiiO as correct and verified.
 

For  the line output what I obtained is easier to say. I obtained that by 8000 Hz there is a reduction of 0.4 constant up to 20 Khz tested; to any output level from 30 Hz has a certain stability in output; to 100 and 75 to 20 Hz there is a fluctuation of 0.1 dB, while at 50 and 25 there is a fluctuation of 0.2 dB
In this case, what I got is slightly in contrast to the stated, but I can not compete in instrumentation with FiiO, considering that the measurement errors, however, the graph is quite similar to that stated.

 

THE FIIO X1 ON CAR
Among the conditions to review the X1 was
“Reviewers are Reminded to listen responsibly and safely to the X1, to not use it a when operating machinery or driving, and not to drive headphones to excessive volume with the X1. “
Interesting is the part about the driving but when I drive I want good music.
Honestly it performs well, I can not quite say everything right (I was concentrating on driving), but it seems that, despite the limitations imposed by the situation, I listen good music with FiiO X1 .
Dynamic was not great, but the instrumental band was well executed and monitored, because in general I did not hear annoying resonances .

I cannot tell whether it was better the headphone or line output, it seems to me they were the same,.

 

USE AT HOME WITH YOUR SPEAKER SYSTEM
Who ever said that these players are not side by side to a home listening?
They have advantages in convenience it will light up immediately and without delay, make available their discography.
The experience was quite funny, but as you can see in REINFORCEMENT FOR THE FIIO X1 with my pre-amplifier X1 done a massive jump forward
Now speaking of the X1 without reinforcement.
First I decided to take advantage of the headphone output which I preferred to the line for better airiness and stage. Compared to the line seemed even more dynamic.
My discography test as usual it was all focused on rock music.
As for the sound:
Bass there was when needed, good dynamic and instrument that will play on the stage located in a fairly good; lack of energy only the lowest notes in the 40-50 Hz.
Medium present them properly without being shot in the face or shaky, all instruments and voices are played back correctly and in fact are quite musical, but the positioning is observed.
High treble is also very present, they are not fatiguing but remain well detailed.
For ultra-hight I must say that even though these lacked in airy.
In general one can say that the FiiO X1 also manages alone to give a good musical experience with a listening relaxing, with a good scene, and a musical figure interesting.
It sounds the perfect player: low cost, useful at home and on the move, sounding etc ...
Obviously it has his faults and anyway it cannot replace an hi-end.

Might you want more dynamic, body and life in bass, in mid you might rightly want a better musical figure, and a better sound stage, in the high you might want more detail, and you may also want more air between the instruments. So you could still rightly want more, but then the FiiO X1 is a portable low-end and you can rightly ask for more of what he can do.

 

USE WITH HEADPHONES
I tried the FiiO X1 with some cheap headphones:
Superlux HD685, hi TAKSTAR 2050 BitFenix ​​Flo (aka the superlux hd662) and of course the Superlux hd681EVO .
I must say the FiiO has always behaved well enough (not the HD681EVO), good management of the soundstage, and a product that wants to do almost everything myself has always recreated a musical figure pretty good, not excellent, but still appreciable; also there was always a good dynamic.
However, even with headphones commonly thought of as easy to drive, however, the defects X1 popped up: at the bottom feels like lack of impact when you require more power, the scene is quite small, and at the top you would want a bit 'more air.
In short, the same story as before ... there is everything that needs to be there ... but there's always that but he does say, "Something is missing."

CONCLUSIONS  1

This initial findings because the end of the shoot out after the piece more interesting imho showing the goodness of FiiO X1 makes it bloom potentials and eliminating defects.
The conclusion is quite simple: it is used as the FiiO X1 is one of the best players I've ever tried, it's convenient to carry around, reads almost all formats and sampling helpful. Sonically speaking feels that power has many advantages, however, remains clear that there are also shortcomings.
 

FAULTS: SOMETHING OF TECHNICAL
Well do you remember all that technique information that I have served up first?
Well you said enough all you are going to hear with the ears, especially when as in this case the data reported are real.
1 The graphs of frequency response tell us how the X1 manages to sound quite neutral. Neutrality has also been confirmed to listen.
2 The electrical parameters tell us rather than be able to play well every acoustic band and how to play the music scene. Essentially the Volts and the Amperes told us that it could be paired to the X1 a low-impedance headphones is required, but you would never be able to push them for good without showing the side.
Well I have listed the flaws, those that every reviewer should go to find ... now we go to the reasons because I still think the FiiO X1 is right also for the finest ear.

 

REINFORCEMENT FOR THE FIIO X1
The same FiiO propose to connect the player to an external amplifier allows me to catch the ball and talk a little also the only non-invasive and effective implementation that can be made ​​to the FiiO X1: assigning to it a portable amplifier.
FiiO offers its line of portable amplifiers, excellent both in relation to the cost, both for performance but I could not miss the chance to try it with my DIY  headphone amplifier and preamplifier.
Since I had my transmission line speakers that  looked at me enticing and I could not fail to make them play on this occasion interposing between the amp and the FiiO this "small" portable dual mono preamp... but also HD681EVO told me: "And who are we? The daughters of the servant? ... A few stories we want it too! "
Attached to my little X1 has made a significant jump forward in terms of the entire musical figure. I have to say that it is as unlocked, the dynamic, the airiness, placement, detail ... everything has become more musical more accurate, powerful and obvious.
The bass is reborn largest, most dynamic and dry; mids have become, if not perfect, precise and present with a level of positioning dazzling also when the instruments or singers were particularly close in space between them (also the choruses). The highs were already very good, but they received more ariosity. Essentially, if first seemed to listen to a small stage where it all is this, but a bit 'in a small space; now seemed to be in front of a real stage, consider that the quality of the player is actually exploded showing how the FiiO X1 can give much more at home.
And finally headphones could express themselves if not the best without breaking the boxes too, and without complaint or Vatt neither of the amps, confirming the ratings and the evidence obtained through the speakers.


TEST PAIRE TO MY HEADPHONES AMPLIFIER / PREAMPLIFIER
It seems proper to bring some measurement obtained by the use of the amplifier for headphones.
Since listening through this device is setting the volume to 40/100 tests were made ​​with this release.
The graph of the frequency response obtained is identical to the previous one.
So because it sounds better? The answer is simple t volts and amperes management is much better.


CONCLUSIONS
It 's now time to draw final conclusions in light of all the ratings and tests carried out.
Without doubt the FiiO X1 is a great player, with different positive sonic characteristics, but they need an amplifier to come to the surface.
Compared to older brothers X1 has only one real flaw: the fact that it is not a DAC.
But this defect we try to read it in a more appropriate manner. The FiiO X1 is a portable player that allows the use of micro SD cards up to 128 GB or say the equivalent of about 400 FLAC albums ... we want to put too high sampling? Ok do 200 albums; a number such that before finishing them all passes a really good amount of time.
If the justification of the amount, however, may be enough to even the most inexperienced and least demanding ... we face the lack of the fact that the X1 does from the DAC. Well before you say that this is essential, consider two factors: the first is very practical and corresponds to the question "is it for?" (Meaning: I need to walk around with a DAC? It will connect to a PC, phone etc to play music or always listen to uploaded files?); the later is more realistic and you have to answer the question about whether you have a DAC in the house (well if you have one at home probably sounds better than the 99% of portable DAC ... and take a portable DAC loses meaning)
I think the second reason is to make more sense on which to continue; In fact, if we consider the DAC or sound card is not moving they provide better output not only of 'X1, X3 and X5 as well, then so if the real reason for buying a player is his use as a reader, because at home you still better, the FiiO X1 becomes a very interesting product, then if you take it to an amplifier the whole thing becomes even more interesting because it is the luxury of competing products more expensive and noble.


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Pros: Price, Features, Overall Build Quality
Cons: None, at least not for its price.
FiiO has been quite successful with their X series of high resolution digital audio player. So much so that perhaps even they themselves didn’t anticipate that the company will have to shift its focus away from their portable amp business in order to keep up with the DAP demand. But with Apple fading grip on the pure DAP market, a new niche of higher end DAP is born from music lovers seeking a better device to replace their aging iPod. Well, maybe ‘new’ isn’t the right word here - the higher end DAP niche has been around since Hifiman HM801’s invention late last decade, but now it is in a new era of growth and competition. The significant of X1 is not in its technology or sound quality, but rather being the first 24bit / 192kHz capable DAP that is priced just under US$100. Does the affordability mean HD music isn’t just an expensive audiophiles’ thing anymore but rather going mainstream? It is probably too early to say with just one DAP, but it certain is one of the sign that the music world is moving toward that direction – and FiiO is on the forefront trying to catch a piece of the action with their new X1.
 

 

 
Spec
Recommended Headphone Impedance Range: 16~100 Ω
Dimensions: 96.7mm × 57.7mm × 14.1mm
Volume Control: Digital, 100 steps
Weight: 106g     
Display Screen: TFT 320×240
Analog Output: 3.5 mm headphone jack              
Left and right channel adjustment: 5 dB
 
Line-out Performance
THD+N: Less than 0.003% (1 kHz)             
SNR: More than 110 dB (A-Weighted)
Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
Dynamic range: Over 110 dB
Crosstalk: Over 100 dB (10KΩ @ 1kHz)
Line output Level: Over 1.46 Vrms
 
Headphone-out Performance
Output Power: Over 100 mW (16Ω THD<1%)      
                      Over 65 mW (32Ω THD 1%)
                      Over 8 mW (300Ω THD 1%)
Output Impedance: under 2Ω
Crosstalk: over 70 dB (1 KHz)
THD+N: under 0.004% (1 KHz)
Frequency Response: 20Hz~20kHz          
MAX output voltage: over 4.2Vp-p
SNR: over 110 dB (A-Weighted)
MAX output current: over 46 mA
 
Battery Capacity: 1700 mAh
Battery Life: over 12hrs
Charging Time: under 4hrs (USB 5V, 1A)
 

 

 
Accessories and Build Quality
Accessories wise, it is pretty basic. You will get some screen protector, a silicone case, plus a USB cable. There are some optional accessories you can buy them yourself, namely a flipping case, an amp stacking kit as well as 3.5mm interconnecting cable.
 
Build quality wise, the X1 is very solid. As the company third DAP, FiiO has most the design recipe figured out. To put it short, it is a shrink down X5 with the same scroll wheel and 4 corner button design. The use of mechanical scroll wheel has been tested on X5 before so it shouldn’t be a problem as far as durability is concerned. Since X1 is more compact, it feels easier to navigate without trying too hard to reach from one button to another with just one hand. To save cost and space, FiiO decides to build both headphone-out and line-out into the same 3.5mm jack. It won’t be a problem for user who only uses one of the function, but you need to be extra careful if you are swapping the function form time to time. You really don’t want to plug your headphone in when it is outputting line level signal. The front housing of X1 is made out of aluminium, where the back panel is plastic. Though the smallest of the X series, it is still fairly big in size if you were to compare it to a truly small DAP like iPod nano 7G. However, it is definitely still fairly pocket friendly and at most, feels like carrying a smartphone around, maybe even less. Last but not least, the DAP itself doesn’t come with any user accessible memory. You will need a micro SD card to store files and playback music. The good news is that the current firmware does support up to 128GB, which is the biggest uSD card you can find at the moment.
 

The UI functions similar to that of X5.
 
Navigation
X1 has the power button, reset hole, and volume up and down buttons on one side, plus the scroll wheel, select and return, next and previous buttons on the top. The firmware UI itself is pretty similar to that of X5 and designed around the scroll wheel, but simplified. You will find most of the basic functions available on the X1 as well, but not the more advanced USB DAC function as well as the gain switch. Given that navigation is fairly intuitive, I don’t want to spend much time explaining all the detail as you should be able to figure them out with just a few minutes of use (if not, read manual please). A few things that I’ll like to mention are (again) the headphone-out / line-out selection as well as the library limitation – basically the current firmware only allows 5800 songs to be add to the library (no limitation if you use the file browser), but FiiO is working on firmware that will allow for a lot more. Not sure when it will be released though.
 

X1's headphone-out and line-out FR curve.
 
Sound Quality
As usual, let starts with some basic measurement. RMAA reveals no issue at all. The frequency response is flat from 20Hz to 20kHz in both headphone-out and line-out. THD+N, SNR and crosstalk are all normal. Output impedance is measured and calculated to be 2 ohm, which is what FiiO has listed in spec. Though not exactly under 1 ohm, it is low enough that you shouldn’t have any problem with the majority of headphones out there. Current output is quite decent – not as powerful as its elder siblings but certainly among one of highest in the sub-$100 DAP market. Max voltage output on headphone-out is about 1.6Vrms and on line-out is about 1.5Vrms, which are not too far from the listed spec. All and all, the measurement indicates a fairly solid DAP.
 
Sound Signature wise, X1 can be classified as having a very classic FiiO house sound that is warm and smooth. It is obvious FiiO has decided that a warm sound will be more popular for the average consumer as opposite to a neutral and transparent sound signature (i.e. X5) that is more appreciated by audiophiles. As far as tuning goes, I’ll think FiiO has gotten the X1 just right. Regardless of the difference in sound quality, X1 is probably the most mainstream sounding FiiO’s DAP yet.
 

X1 next to E11K
 

A match made in heaven
 
So how is the actual sound quality? Well, it is a solid upper entry DAP. Even though it is the latest of FiiO DAP, it is not going to be as good sounding as the mid level X3 or top level X5. Overall, you are looking at a DAP that is roughly on par to iPod nano 7G and Sandisk Clip+ / Fuze. The major difference are of course the high resolution support as well as a more powerful amp section, but neither of them instantly translate to class smashing performance. If you are not listening HD music or using a fairly demanding headphone, you might not be able to hear any distinctive quality difference between X1 and other solid DAP around the $100 mark.
 
One of X1 biggest competition, in my opinion, is ColorFly C3. Despite showing its age and can’t match up to X1’s many features, it is still one of the cleanest, most transparent sounding DAP in the same price range. The only downside to its sound is that it doesn’t really have that great an amp section and therefore doesn’t give a lot of control and tightness when driving a headphone directly. But what it does excel is when it is used as a source to feed a portable amp. The signal is so clean that it doesn’t diminish its sound quality with double amping. Without an amp however, X1 still hold an edge. Even though C3 might be a better source, it is not to say X1 doesn’t scale up noticeably with a portable amp. In fact, I find that X1 makes an excellent pairing with the new FiiO E11K, and arguably can be almost* on par with a standalone X3 (*I don’t have a regular X3 anymore, so it is based on memory).
 

Size comparison (from left): iPod nano 7G, X1, X3, and X5
 
In Sum…
As I have said, you won’t find anything revolutionary in the X1, either on hardware or software. Nor will you find a giant killer that is going to sound so good that it will shame all other DAP in its price range. No, those are not what X1 is about. What you will find is just a very solidly built DAP that has all the fundamentals covered and then priced very competitively, designed to fill in the breach between the cheap ‘mp3 players’ of old days and the expensive audiophiles players of today. That is where FiiO is breaking new ground with the X1.
WaltFrench
WaltFrench
I'm curious about a “warm” sound with a ruler-flat EQ curve. I'd think if there were any difference from “neutral,” “out of the way of the music,” it'd be “clinical.”
 
What spec would correspond to the “warm” sound you hear?
ClieOS
ClieOS
Neutral and warm can be a function of frequency response, but they are not exclusively so. There are factors not shown by a frequency response that can affect the tonality of sound, such as phase, harmonic distortion, etc. One of the reason X1 is on the warm side is because it has pretty good texture over mid to low region, which add detail to bass and (more importantly) vocal. That gives the impression of warmness.
WaltFrench
WaltFrench
Thanks, @ClieOS, for the quick answer. Yes, odd harmonics come across as distortion; I forgot about that.
 
Still, I'm still surprised… the 0.003% THD+N says odd harmonics are 50 db or more below the signal; hard to imagine even a very careful listener would detect/discern that tiny level as coloration. After all, that's more than the entire dynamic range of a lot of popular, or even carefully-recorded classical music. It's not much less than the difference between background noise in a quiet home and the loudest sound you'd tolerate.
 
I didn't see phase specs, but I'm not aware of any DACs producing significant phase distortion, nor how a listener would hear it as other than a shift in the stereo imaging.
 
Anyhow, thanks again!
Pros: Bang for buck, Build quality, High output power
Cons: Scroll wheel implementation can be better, Battery life, UI limitations



Disclaimer:



I received this unit for review purpose as a part of the Australasian tour. The unit is owned by Paul (Brooko). Thank you for making this happen.
 
Summary:
This is the review of Fiio X1 high resolution DAP. I am a new aspiring audiophile member and have experienced quite handful of DAPs from Colorfly C4, HM901, AK240  and several others. But this is my first experience with any Fiio product. I am currently owning AK120II, therefore there will be some reference comparison among X1 and AK120II.  The earphones used for this review are IE800 and JH Roxanne Universal. The X1 DAP is always reviewed with Equalizer Off.
 
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What's in the box:
  1. Fii X1 player
  2. Black silicon case.
  3. Micro USB cable for data transfer and charging purpose.
  4. Documentation: Quick start guide, screen protectors, warranty, etc.
 
 
Hardware and Build quality:
  1. The unit is made from machined aluminum screaming excellent quality throughout. The only non aluminium part is the jog wheel which has a rubber coating on the top.
  2. The X1 design cue comes from Apple Ipods.
  3. The size and form factor feels just right. It is quite light and easy to carry around.
  4. The screen size and resolution is good enough to get the job done. But the screen is hard to see on outdoors though.
  5. The DAP's physical interface has standard buttons such as Prev/Fwd track, Back button and a menu button. The buttons have small symbols etched beside them to indicate their functionality. If you press and hold the back button it will take you to the home screen. There is a learning curve in remembering what each button does and can be annoying when the DAP is in the case.
  6. Dedicated pause and play button would have been better.
  7. There is a welcome tiny blue LED light on the bottom of the DAP to indicate the DAP is on.
 
Photo5.jpg
 
 
  1. The volume buttons are on the left side of the player. The Up volume key has a small nub on it to distinguish between up and down volume key.
  2. I am not a fan of silicon cases. The rubbery silicon case feels bit cheap and it accumulates dust.
  3. The DAP has a 3.5mm audio jack which functions as a line out too. I have not tried the line out as part of the review.
  4. The DAP can support up to 128GB of micro SD card and has no internal storage. The media update for my 64GB card full of songs took only few seconds, very impressive!!!!
 
Battery:
  1. I got around 8 to 9hrs runtime. The Fiio website says approx 11 hrs. Though majority of my listening included 24bit tracks.
 
Software:
  1. The UI is simplistic and offer all the standard options, for e.g. Now Playing, Albums, Artists, Genre, Favs, Playlists, Folder view.
  2. I generally browse songs by albums and it would have been good if the software allows the user to configure default shortcuts in the home screen so that I don’t have to go through several clicks to access the album category.
 
Photo6.jpg
 
 
  1. I love the way the settings have been divided into Play settings and system settings.
 
Photo7.jpg
 
 
  1. The following play settings got my attention.
    1. Allow the user to resume from where it was playing.
    2. Gapless playback.
  2. The remaining settings are standard audio settings such as Equalizer.
  3. The system settings have info about the firmware, themes, auto power off, etc.
  4. One annoying thing I noticed is every time the screen turns off, I have to press the power button to turn on the display. Maybe there is a way to change the behavior but I could not figure it out.
  5. I was surprised to see that a player for $100 USD is about to play 24bit songs without any hiccups. It can play APE/FLAC/ALAC/WMA/WAV at max 192KHz/24 Bit.
 
Photo8.jpg
 
 
Sound Quality:
  1. The sound is excellent based on the price point and I found it better than AK100 which costs about 4 times the price of this player.
  2. The sound felt bit thick and on the warmer side with a narrow centre stage. Sometimes it felt the treble is attenuated and the sound is almost there but something is missing.
  3. The DAP was not able to drive my JH audio Roxanne to its full potential, which the Calyx M and AK120II did with ease.
  4. However, the synchronization with my IE800 was actually very good much better than AK100.  The background was not completely silent with the Roxanne's. There was a small hiss noise which is not there in the AK120II for the same track.
  5. The output power is great and at 50 volume level (max 100) my IE800 was singing pretty excellent.
 
Conclusion:
  1. You cannot go wrong with this player for this price point.  The only bad thing is $99 will not get you going out of the box, you need to invest in micro sd card as there is no onboard memory. I think the X1 is the most musical hi res player you can get amongst its competition. Hopefully they will solve the wheel UI synchronization issues with some firmware updates.
Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
Thanks for the detailed review piksnz!
Pros: Good build quality, size, and price
Cons: Scrollwheel is loose, UI needs abit more tweaking
Disclaimer:
This unit I am doing a review is from the "Fiio X1 Preview World Tour". I would also like to thank Joe and FiiO as well! Unfortunatly, there will be no pictures at the moment since my only camera, which is my phone, has problems at the moment so I apologize for that. Lastly, as usual, please take my review with a grain of salt.
 
 
Short story and my expectation for the FiiO X1:
Not so long time ago, I was in a market for a DAP because my current (not anymore) needs to be replaced. I found out a thread about the X1 and I thought it would be a good DAP for replacement because it is basically a simplistic no-frills DAP that might possibly have a decent sound. But then I came across some reports that it is warmer than a FiiO X3 or a Ibasso DX50, which I am not fond of its sound. At that point I became skeptical if it would be my replacement DAP. Also, having owned different DAPs from Chinese/Korean manufacturers before I sold them, most, if not, all of their UI ranges from so-so to good. Nothing really impressed me even one of the previous "high-end" DAP which is an Ibasso DX100 (which I also owned before by the way) did not also impress me regarding UI.
 
Then the "Fiio X1 World Tour" came, and I signed-in so that I can try the X1 first before purchasing an actual unit.
 
 
Impressions and random stuff:
 
At this point of review, I have yet to receive the box and accessories from the previous reviewer, he only brought the unit when we meet up. Although I do know from a retail package, it comes with a couple of screen protectors, a USB cable, a manual, a rubber case, and a bunch of vinyl stickers for one to customize the X1's appearance.
 
When I get my hands on the accessories, I wouldn't really put those vinyl stickers because I would basically call that a "downgrade" instead of making it look "better." I mean, the X1 is already made up of aluminum, why put a sticker on it? And there is that rubber case as well in case one does not want his/her X1 get scratched. Personally, I would just leave the X1 as it is. The X1 just looks much better that way.
 
Anyways, going back on track, the build quality of the X1 is really good. Maybe it simply because it is made of aluminum? Probably. But if one puts the X3 beside the X1, the X3 will actually look like an entry level DAP, compared to the X1. The X1 has this "premium" look on it, compared to the X3.
 
However, I have a bit of an issue with the review unit's scroll wheel, it is loose and inaccurate. For example, when I am looking for a song, and the song I want to listen to is directly above or below the current song that is playing. Turning the scrollwheel will either not move, or move past that song majority of the time, which I find it abit annoying.
 
I don't know whether the X1 was abused during the tour or not because I was the last one to receive the X1. Although I would guess that the scrollwheel "issue" is normal since when I first tried the X5, I got a similar impression of it. Maybe it could be fixed with a firmware update (this review unit is still using 0.17beta)? I hope so!
 
I also found out about the lettering on which buttons is which specially infront of the X1, which I find it funny. From the first few days I've owned the X1, I am abit confused about the four buttons in front until my friend borrowed it. I am baffled why he does not have problems navigating the X1, and he said there are markers beside the buttons infront, and indeed there is! I was expecting no markers and said "I can probably memorize those buttons in a few minutes..." and oh boy, I was wrong!
 
In addition to the buttons, the power button at the side is further inserted compared to the volume buttons. I first thought it was a defect but I realized it makes sense so that there will be no accidental presses, making the screen appear, combining with a loose scroll wheel inside a pocket, it will have a bit of a problem there.
 
Overall, the buttons are sturdy, it needs abit of force to press it in order to register, which I like. It would be perfect if the scrollwheel does not have issues!
 
MicroSD card position is good, and I don't think it needs a cover for it to prevent accidental dismount of the MicroSD card. I mean, I either need a really long fingernails, or use another MicroSD card and use its edges to make the MicroSD card inside the X1 to be unmounted because it is seated really deep.
 
Battery I think lasts for about 10-11 hours, which is good enough in my book. I really wish that the battery is user-replaceable though.
 
Regarding the UI, I find it fantastic, but with a bit of improvements. Again, please note that the firmware of the review unit is using is still at 0.17beta, and I can already tell that this beta version of firmware is better than the previous Chinese/Korean DAPs I tried/owned. When I first installed my MicroSD card in the X1, I didn't have problems recognizing the tags, specially non-english ones. Even the embedded artwork is already recognized! Those two is already a big plus for me because everytime I own a new DAP I have to edit tags or re-embed artwork and that usually took from at least a couple of hours to days to finish, depending how many files I am going to put into a DAP. I do not have any complains about media scanning, although I only tried 500 songs that consists FLAC and mp3 files, I find the scanning them is fast and does not try to scan again when the X1 rebooted, so all is well.
 
The menus, there are some options there that are not present in the previous DAPs I've owned, like changing to a different theme, volume limit lock (I only saw this on an iPod, nothing else), and an option how does a user want to resume playback. All of them are not really needed, but those are still good features for anyone to enjoy. I personally use the volume limit feature, it is really nice.
 
In addition to that, I saw something special that is not present on majority of the DAPs in the market-- The L-R Balance. This feature is a godsend for those who have imbalanced hearing, like me, although only a bit. Before this feature is only available through RockBox, and not all DAPs can support it. FiiO has done a great job by adding this neat feature.
 
As of this version (0.17beta), my only complain with the UI is only one, and its about scrolling through songs. Scrolling through a lot of songs will be much easier if they did it similar to iPod's scrolling, where the scrolling gets faster as long as you spin the scrollwheel. Not sure if it is implemented in newer firmware versions but I sure hope so!
 
Lastly, the price. For $100 (~$130 converted in our country), all these features, the quality of build, the accessories included, and the UI, it pretty much is a winner in my book. Note that I did not mention the X1's sound because if I assume that it sounds warmer than the X3, the price is still pretty much worth it. I can just use an equalizer if it is needed anyway.
 
 
Impressions:
 
In this section is my impression about the X1's sound and how do they compare with other DAPs. I will describe the sound mostly for newbies, who might be in a market for a DAP, and majority of my impressions are on the tonality-side, since IMHO newbies will most likely won't be able to tell those technical terms like soundstage, instrument separation, etc.. Of course, I will still give a bit of info regarding other technical terms. I also did not have all the DAPs side by side with me, I just took notes as I listen to the DAPs.
 
Headphones/IEMs used:
  1. Sony MDR-EX800ST w/ EX1000 Cables
  2. Sony MDR-Z1000 w/ Mundorf Cables
  3. Sony MDR-CD900ST
 
Songs used:
  1. Majority of it are poorly recorded tracks, FLAC or mp3 format. I have my reasons for it.
  2. Songs come from most genres, except metal and dubstep because both genres gives me a headache for some reason.
 
Sound Quality Impression:
 
First thing that came into my mind, is the X1 is not THAT warm at all, which is not expected! Very surprising. It is still warm in a sense but the best that I can describe that the X1 is fairly neutral/balanced sounding, with a bit of warmth added to it. The X1 has decent soundstage and instrument separation, I don't really notice those until I changed songs with a good recording, which makes both of them noticeable almost immediately. Considering that the X1 is only $100, that is a plus as well.
 
Comparison to other DAPs:
 
For this section, I will just use bullet form for this comparison. I won't be pairing an amp with it, I only used headphone out with as close volume between DAPs from each other as possible since I don't have a device to measure the SPL through headphone out. All headphones/IEMs that I tried are good enough to run through the X1's headphone out anyway.
 
Against Ibasso DX50
  1. The X1 sounds smoother than the DX50. I said smoother because there is this bite on the upper midrange/lower treble that the DX50 always has no matter what song I threw, while that bite is not present on the X1. It is noticeable on accoustic guitars and sibilant tracks.
  2. The DX50 is defenitely bassy than the X1. Even on non-bass heavy songs, the bass on DX50 is apparent when compared to the X1.
  3. Soundstage on the DX50 is a bit bigger, but I can't tell the difference unless I do some critical listening.
  4. A friend (who owns the DX50) can't really tell the difference between the DX50 and the X1 on his song choicess, and got a bit sad why he bothered buying a DAP that has twice its price than a FiiO X1 (lol)
 
Against FiiO X5
  1. If I just do some casual listening, like throwing a random song and just enjoy the music, I honestly can't tell the difference between the X1 and X5. Seriously.
  2. But when I use some specific test songs that has good recording, and the X5 outshines the X1 on soundstage and detail retrieval.
  3. The X1 is more forgiving than the X5 on poorly recorded tracks.
 
Against FiiO X3
  1. The X3 is warmer than the X1, which I did not expect at all! I thought it will be similar to the DX50 where it is bassier, but not.
  2. Same as X5, the X3 has bigger soundstage than the X1 in specific songs with good recording.
 
Against iPod Touch 4th Gen
  1. X1 is better overall because it is more balanced-sounding than the iPod Touch
  2. Giving abit more specifics, the X1 bass is refined than the iPod Touch, the X1 is alot less boomy too!
  3. On poorly recorded tracks, the iPod Touch is really harsh, specially on upper midrange/treble.
 
Against Hisoundaudio Studio V
  1. Studio V is brighter then the X1, but not harsh.
  2. Soundstage and instrument separation is clearly noticeable even on poorly recorded tracks compared to the X1. Not sure what sorcery Hisoundaudio put into their Studio V, but I really can't say the same impressions with the X5.
  3. Overall, the Studio V trumps the X1 in sound quality. I can simply say it is night and day difference no matter what song I throw at it.
 
 
Final words:
 
The FiiO X1 gave me a very positive impression during this preview tour because it gave me more than what I would want. This is honestly the first time I had this impression on all the DAPs I've owned in terms of overall performance in terms of UI, build, sound and price. Definitely bang for the buck. The X1 does not even need hype to get it running! It clearly stands on its own.
 
I would definitely recommend the X1, specially for newbies, specially with that price. Even students who has limited budget can most likely afford to buy an X1. It is no means a "giant" killer per se, but it gives way too much pros than its cons for its price. Other expensive DAPs there gives more cons than its pros, which is kind of disappointing in most cases, so the X1 really has great value.
 
Should I buy one after the tour? Thats not even a question! :p
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Pros: Small Form Factor, Great Sound and Build Quality.
Cons: Scrollwheel isn't always acurate, Software might get cramped with very big media library's
Hello Head-Fi Community,
 
I actually made my Review and Unboxing into Videos, check them out below.
I hope you enjoy!
 
Greetings, 
 
Experge
 
 

 
 
 

Pros: Performance at its price, nice UI, line-out option, compact size, light weight
Cons: Slightly flat (not dynamic) sound
Thank you to FiiO and @Brooko for arranging the tour of the FiiO X1 (and E11 amp). This review is based on my brief use of the tour units and comparison with a few other "alternatives" that I personally own.
 
I'm going to keep the review fairly brief because there are already lots of reviews out there so I'm guessing you don't need to read the basic features again. Also, I've been unwell this week so my thought processes are a little foggier than usual so the simpler I keep things the better for everyone I think.

 

Overview

 
After releasing the X3 and X5 portable players (DAPs), FiiO turned its hand to creating an entry point offering that still played the major hi-res audio formats, but at a much lower price than anything on the market (that I'm aware of at least). The X1's price of around $130 (AUD) makes it astonishing value for a number of reasons that I'll expand on shortly.
 
If you've read the other reviews you'll know the specs, etc. If you haven't read those reviews, all you need to know is that the X1 offers reasonable power, the ability to play multiple formats including the ubiquitous formats such as MP3 and FLAC, but most importantly it handles hi-res audio (24 bit, 96 / 192 kHz) despite it's incredibly low cost. It uses a single microSD slot for storage, has a simple, wheel-based interface with a few mechanical buttons, a nice clear screen, and has a single 3.5mm output socket.
 

Design & Build

 
WP_20141115_10_18_38_Pro.jpgThe X1 shows FiiO's ongoing growth as a manufacturer because they've managed to make a product that's significantly cheaper than their own X3 look and feel higher quality and more solidly built. The X1 does not look like a $130 player - it looks like a $200-300 player - and the feel is just as good.
 
The tour unit is in the silver colour (a champagne / gold colour is also available) and it looks and feels wonderful. The rubberised black scroll wheel sets off the whole look of the X1 really nicely and makes it a great baby brother to the X5.
 
Size-wise, the X1 is really compact. You can see in the image here that it's smaller than the X5 (bottom) and iPod Video (middle). It's still about as thick as both of those, but the compact footprint makes it feel much smaller. I personally like a player with a little bit of size because it's easier to hold and use so I think the X1 is pretty much perfect in that regard.
 

User Interface (UI)

 
The UI on the X1 is an obvious spin-off from the X1 with some nice improvements. The layout is easier because all icons are visible at the same time and the scroll wheel is stiffer which makes it feel more accurate and controlled. It's still possible for some scroll-wheel movements to create unexpected responses on the visual display (more movement than you 'd expect or no movement at all), but I'd say it's a noticeable improvement over the X5's implementation.
 
Beyond the display and scroll wheel, everything else is nearly identical to the X5 which is a good thing in my opinion. Options are clearly labelled and easily selected.
 

Line-Out

 
The X1 uses a single 3.5mm socket which can be both headphone jack or line-out. There are pros and cons to this approach. I'm guessing it was implemented to save space and costs which, given the $130 price tag, was a great decision, but it may prove frustrating for some depending on your usage.
 
The challenge I faced with the switchable output was that it makes adding and removing an amp slightly cumbersome because you need to go into the menu and choose which output style should be used. The output selection option also happens to be in the middle of one of the menus so it adds a few extra spins of the wheel to get there. Of course, if you're only using the X1 with or without an amp, and not regularly changing like I was during the testing process for this review then this is absolutely not an issue, but if you're someone who might use the X1 with IEMs during a commute and then use line-out to an amplifier in the office / home, you may find this process slightly tedious.
 
On the bright side, it's very easy to switch from line-out back to headphone out mode because a warning is displayed if the player is in line-out mode (due to the potential damage to your ears from plugging in earphones while using a full volume line-out). When the warning is displayed, pressing the "back" button (top right button surrounding the scroll wheel) brings up a simple selection panel where you can choose headphone out or line out.
 
Just to reiterate, all this may be irrelevant to you if you intend to permanently strap on an amp, or never use an amp so please give it the appropriate weight based on your intended usage.
 

Sound Quality

 
Given all the in-depth discussion that's already around Head-Fi about the pros and cons of the X5's interface and library management (which is nearly identical to the X1's) I'm moving straight to the good stuff, the sound.
 
I'm going to address the sound by way of a series of comparisons, but first let me summarise the X1's sound. The sound is clean and quite neutral overall. There's plenty of detail and clarity to be enjoyed. There is very good left-right separation in the sound, but I found the soundstage was a little flat. Adding FiiO's own E11 (version 2) amp opened the sound up nicely and makes a great addition to the X1 if you're happy to carry a mini-brick. In fact, with the E11 added, the X1/E11 combo comes quite close to the sound quality X5. You don't need the E11 with the X1, but it's great to have the option.
 
Indeed, on it's own and for the incredible price, the X1 makes a great one-piece solution, but to help me get a handle on how good it really was I decided to put it through a few select comparisons.
 

FiiO X5

 
The FiiO X5 is a marvel of bang-for-buck performance. At a $350 price point, the X5's performance edges remarkably close to top-end alternatives like the Astel & Kern players or high end iBasso offerings so it's with no sense of disappointment that I say there is a noticeable difference between the X5 and X1. In terms of signature they are not dissimilar, but side-by-side, the X5 leaves the X1 sounding a little flat and digital. Where the X1 sounds like a beautifully reproduced recording, the X5 starts to create a better sense of realism in the sound.
 
I can't stress enough that this is not a criticism of the X1 and is purely for contextualisation. If you're like me, you'll be wondering "How much different is there between the X1 and the X5, really?" or "Is it really worth spending that much more on the X5?" These comparisons are aimed at those questions, not overall assessments of the X1's value - I'll come to that at the very end.
 
So, the X1 doesn't compete with the X5 and nor should it. Let's pit it against a different rival...
 

Apple iPod Video (5.5G)

 
The 5.5G iPod Video is the closest Apple ever came to an audiophile player. I own the Classic, the Video, a Nano, and a Shuffle, but I pitted the X1 against Apple's best as a real test of its mettle.
 
The X1 and iPod Video present a slightly different style of sound with the iPod leaning towards a more analog / organic sound and the X1 sounding slightly more digital, but not in a bad way. With the more "digital" sound comes a level of detail and resolution not present with the iPod. Given that this is probably Apple's best ever offering and that it's price tag was significantly north of $200 compared to the X1's price of $130, you start to see just how great the X1 is as a product. Sure, some people might prefer a more organic sound, but the X1 is by no means artificial sounding - it's detailed, full, clean and neutral. Often a more organic sound comes at the expense of some treble extension and excess smoothness to the notes and the X1 suffers from neither of these, offering outstanding treble and bass extension with no sense of roll-off or smoothing throughout the audible spectrum (based on my music auditions, not testing).
 
Just to wrap up this comparison, it's basically a draw on sound quality which puts the X1 way ahead when you bring price and size into the picture. Its UI is good enough to not interfere with the equation and the fact that it plays lossless and hi-res files straight out of the box is a huge plus in today's market.
 

Shozy Alien

 
This is a different kind of comparison because of distinctly different UI approaches. The Alien is a little more expensive than the X1 and offers a thinner, lighter player focused 100% on sound quality at the expense of any kind of in-depth UI. In sound quality alone, the Alien is a noticeable step up from the X1, but it has less power to drive more hungry headphones and has no UI so browsing through anything more than about 10 albums is a very tedious affair on the Alien and there's no shuffle function. In other words, if you are looking at a well-priced player with good abilities to play from a large library then the Alien shouldn't even be in your short-list and the X1 is easily at the top of that list. There's no doubt that the Alien offers better sound quality, but it still costs more money (around $230) and offers no UI so it's a different product rather than a direct competitor. I included it here because I'd just received my Alien and wanted to do the comparison for myself and thought it was interesting to prove that even better sound quality is available for a budget price, but it's also shown me that you can't get the whole package that the X1 offers (UI and the ability to easily access a large library, sound quality, versatility of line-out and HPO, etc.) for anywhere near the price of the X1.
 

Comparison Summary

 
WP_20141115_10_18_04_Pro.jpgCompleting this comparison proved 2 things to me about the X1 - firstly that there's better sound out there, but secondly that there is nothing that can come anywhere near the X1 for a combination of price and performance - it is simply amazing that FiiO can create this type of sound performance and UI experience for a little more than $100.
 
The most striking comparison to me was the iPod Video which is a recognised standard in UI and audio performance. The X1 easily held its own against the iPod Video and offered multiple advantages which set it above and beyond the iPod in my eyes. All this, and it costs about half the price of the now discontinued (and not quite as good) iPod Classic.
 

X1 with Varying Loads

 
The final question around the X1's sound quality for me relates to using it with different loads (i.e. higher impedance headphones versus low impedance IEMs) so here are some notes from some brief tests with different options:
 
  1. Shure SE846 (9 ohm) - the X1 sounds enjoyable and clean with the SE846 even if it's not the ultimate source. There's a slight hint of hiss, but nothing loud enough to disturb once the music is actually playing.
  2. Brainwavz R3 (32 ohm) - this is a really nice budget pairing. The R3 and X1 are both excellent budget products and the X1 seems really comfortable driving the R3's 32 ohm load with precision and authority.
  3. Thinksound On1 (50 ohm) - the X1 still drives these with full authority to my ears. Like the SE846, the 'phone is capable of scaling with higher quality gear, but I don't feel anything is getting lost from lack of power or control from the X1.
  4. Beyerdynamic DT1350 (80 ohm) - this is the first point that I felt like the X1 was running out of puff. The sound is still completely acceptable and passable, but it was starting to lose some dynamics and control compared to adding an amp.
 
Of course, headphone sensitivity will play a part, but I would say that, in general, 'phones with impedances above about 50-60 ohms will probably need amping to really sound right with the X1. I didn't bother checking the 600 ohm T1s or lower sensitivity LCD 2s with the X1 because it's just not made for those types of loads and an X3 or X5 would be a better bet. For any portable 'phones with <60 ohms the X1 proved itself to be a great choice.
 

Summary

 
I love FiiO's X5 player and was impressed to see just how much of the X5 was inherited by the X1. The X1 feels like a very mature, well-considered DAP that performs better than you would ever expect from a budget player. Knowing FiiO's efforts over the last 12 months or so the incredible quality of the X1 probably shouldn't be a surprise, but it's just so good for the money that it does still surprise me.
 
In short, if you're looking to spend <$200 on a player (including as an upgrade to a mobile phone which the X1 will beat in almost all cases) then there is really no contest in that part of the market. For UI, sound quality, build quality and every other factor I can think of (except if you're looking for a tiny clip-on type player), the X1 is simply unbeatable quality and value.
Apom
Apom
Thanks for the detailed review and comparison.  Do you have any sense of how long on a full battery charge at normal use levels the battery will last
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