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FiiO X1 Ultraportable Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.35106/5,
  1. boneofimba
    A decent DAP for its price
    Written by boneofimba
    Published Nov 14, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - price, build quality
    Cons - UI seems lacking, plastic scroll wheel

    Disclaimer

    I do not own this unit – I had this unit for a few days as part of an Australasian tour. Thanks to @Brooko for providing his own unit for this tour.
     

    Build

    Honestly I didn’t expect a $100 device to have this build quality. Solid aluminum with machined buttons, although the plastic scroll wheel feels cheap and detracts the overall value.
    8.5/10
     

    UI

    The UI is an okay to me, while some buttons seems redundant at times. For instance pressing the lower left/right buttons in folder browsing simply moves the cursor to one item over/under, I can see an improvement for future firmware to change this into page scrolling instead.
    I personally think the unit need some rework in the line/headphone out department. The option to switch between the two is hidden inside system settings (took me a good 10 minutes before I found it) and requires you to manually pause currently playing song instead of doing it automatically when you switch options.
    7/10
     

    Accessories

    FiiO provides generous amount of accessories included with the package – silicon case, USB cable, 3.5mm interconnect and few stick-on stickers for personalisation. I won’t be using the case and stick on as I like the aluminum feels but YMMV.
    10/10
     

    Sound

    The X1 sounds warm, has more clarity than my iPhone 4S and less detail than DX50+C5D stack. It’s good enough to be paired with IEMs but I didn’t test the X1 with my headphones, barely tested the line out so I won’t comment on that.
    8/10

    Conclusion

    The X1 might not be for everyone but personally I think it’s a good option for introductory DAP for its price. UI needs to be smoothed out a bit otherwise it’s perfect.
    8.5/10
      DJScope likes this.
    1. DJScope
      Totally agree with you on the page scrolling. That would be a great idea. Or even have an option to choose either/or.
      DJScope, Nov 15, 2014
  2. AudioGG
    Great Daily DAP
    Written by AudioGG
    Published Nov 9, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great form factor, cheap, ok sound and easy to use
    Cons - wish it had more power but for price point its ok
    So I've being the using the Fiio X1 as my daily with  Havi B3 and my Dn 2000 to the gym and just during breaks at work, also a bit of listening at home and I must say its a really good compact DAP neutral sounding. It is easy to use took me 5 mins to learn all the functions and setting. I wish it just had a little more power as it I have to have it on 70 volume level for the Havi to actually become loud and with the DN 2000 I had it on 45 to become loud I know the Havi like more juice but a bit more power would be nice but it not something really to complain about. Great DAP Fiio surely is paving the way.
  3. musikaladin
    ...the X1, from in-ears to XXL cans...
    Written by musikaladin
    Published Nov 9, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Not only in relation to price the X1 is a real performer.
    Cons - Some settings in relation to the lockscreen, but nothing serious...
    I received the Fiio X1 as part of the X1 world tour which I forwarded to the next in line after 10 days of extensive usage. I am in no way affiliated with FiiO; my impressions as follows:
     
    Since there are more than enough reviews about the X1 describing its general qualities, I will mainly focus on the X1’s ability to drive different Headphones.
     
    I limited myself to cans that are at least halfway ready for mobile usage; meaning they show electrical properties allowing them to be combined to DAPs. With mobile I do not necessarily mean walking on the street. To me this also means enjoying fresh air on the balcony, a evening in a hotel room on a business- trip or just a long weekend in a hotel as recently with my X5 and AH-D600, shown below.
     
    X5andAH-D600.jpg
    X5 with AH-D600
     
     
    I will compare such headphone/X1 combinations mainly with the same headphones and the FiiO X5 and occasionally crosschecking with the ifi iDSD Micro.
     
    I copied two identical folders with some of my favourite tracks to the memory cards of the X1 and the X5:
     
    FLAC
     
    Jazz at the Pawnshop – Limehouse Blues
    Rush – Tom Sawyer
    Al Di Meola / Paco de Lucia / John McLaughlin – Friday Night in San Fransisco – Short Tales of the Black Forest
    Oslo String Quartet – Schubert String Quartet No.14 in D minor D 803:III Scherzo. Allegro molto
    Talking Heads – Listening Wind
    Club d’Elf – Live at Lizard Lounge Cambridge, MA
    Future Rock – Life at the Subterranean 2005
    Sound Tribe Sector 9 Life at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park
    Symbion Project – The Speed of Dark
     
    WAV
     
    Philip Glass – Akhnaten – Funeral Of Amenhotep III
    SOAD – Dreaming
    Van Morrison – Oh the warm Feeling
    Beastie Boys – Sabrosa
    The The – The Violence of Truth
    Faithless – To all new Arrivals
    Yello – Friday Smile
    Nits – House of Jacob
    SMV – Pendulum
    Zappa – The best Band you never heard in your Life – Florentine Pogen
     
    Headphones used
     
    Audeze LCD X
    Sensitivity wise on the higher side for a planar headphone, but that doesn’t make it generally easy to drive. It requires amps with low enough output resistance. The X5 drives it with ease, let’s see how the X1 is doing.
     
    X1LCD-X.jpg
     
     
    Denon AH-D7100.
    In my humble opinion, given a very extensive burn-in, one of the best headphones on the market. Very high sensitivity and also concerning output resistance very easy to drive. There is a certain emphasis in the lower frequency range, but never covering the fluid and crystal-clear mids and treble.
     
    Hifiman HE-400
    Despite remarkably lower sensitivity than the Audeze or the Denon still easy enough to be driven by some DAPs. The X5 is driving it with ease, when combining with a iPod Touch, I add a FiiO e12. As such it surely is a candidate for mobile usage, even if more demanding than the other candidates here.
     
    Monster Miles Davis Trumpet
    Great in ear monitor. Despite smallest audio membrane ever it comes with very substantial bass, the mids and treble are smooth and balanced and make long time listening a pleasure without fatigue.
     
    X1MonsterMilesDavisTrumpet.jpg
     
    Here the test rig:
     
    X1TestEnvironment.jpg
    Top Left the AD-D600, the AH-D7100 and the ifi iDSD Micro, center the X1 and the Miles Davis Trumpet, bottom center the X5, bottom right the HE-400. More pictures here.
     
    Sound
     
    The efforts taken to achieve good sound are rather different in both players; this is what I can get from the FiiO web-page:
     
    -The X1 utilizes a Texas Instruments DAC PCM5142 and a Intersil ISL28291 as (buffer-) amp.
    -The X5 comes with a top notch Texas Instruments DAC PCM1792A and 4 OPA1612 used for current / voltage conversion and amplification and 2 LMH6643 used for headphone output.
     
    …the larger housing of the X5 must be justified by something.
     
    Most obvious difference in the performance data is the output power:
    X5           460 mW@16Ω
    X1           100 mW@16Ω
     
    Besides the power of an amp the output resistance plays a crucial role. It defines the overall damping factor in combination with the headphone.
     
    In extreme cases a mismatch could lead to sound coloration. Or in less serious cases just to a reduced transparency and resolution of the sound, or a bloated and imprecise bass. Here the X1 with its 2Ω seems on the safe side, still excelled by the X5 with its 0.26Ω. So no serious issues to be expected from here.
     
    You might have already guessed where this is leading to:
     
    Both players have a very similar all over sound signature (no wonder in times of OP AMPs). The differences are somewhere else.
     
    With the easier to drive headphones as the AH-D7100 such differences are extremely subtle:
     
    AH-D7100: The X5 has a larger and more stable soundstage and sounds a little more relaxed. On the first glance the X1 even seems to be slightly more detailed, but after longer listening sessions I recognized that this was rather owed to the fact that all over the X1 sounded a little more slender in the frequency basement what put the mid and high range more to the font; but I concluded that the X5 is not missing any details, it just presents them not so much on a silver-tray. Still such differences are not very obvious and it needs extensive comparison to clearly recognize and identify them. Less discerning listeners might even have difficulties in hearing such differences at all.
     
    The Monster Trumpet is as easy to drive as the Denon. Still, in this case, the X5’s extra portion of heft in the frequency basement helps the small Monster to come up with little but crucial more of substance; which makes it sound bigger and in my ears more realistic and smooth. Still, I could imagine that some would even prefer the more stringy performance of the X1.
     
    With the HE-400, the most critical headphones used in this review, all such differences becomes more obvious. Especially with high volumes (and I mean really high): Now in comparison to the X5 the treble seems to solve not as well from the membranes, the transparency starts lacking and sound becomes fatiguing. Here the X5 has considerably more headroom, more authority. This widens the choice of headphones to combine with the X5.
     
    While the difference in upper bass impact with the Denon and Monster was still not too obvious, with the HE-400 the X1 was outperformed by the X5 with more punch. Also the X5 is forcing the HE-400 further down into the bass-basement. Owed to that, with the X5 the music has generally more substance. Bass control is good on both, whereas it is obvious that the X5 has approx. 4 times of the power of the X1 and sounds accordingly. The HE-400 at higher volumes displays the main difference between the two players: The X5 has more authority, which widens the choice of headphones to combine with and adds a certain audiophile extra to the sound compared to the X1.
     
    With lower listening volumes the transparency and separation is closer to the X5, differences remain on a similarly low level as with the less demanding headphones. As such still very OK and enjoyable. If you are just listening on “reasonable” volume levels and rather prefer a more detailed than brawny performance, even this combination X1 and HE-400 could be called a match.
     
    Combined to the HE-400, both of them (surprise surprise) were outperformed by the iDSD micro; the X5 by one or two hair’s breadth, the X1 rather more obvious.
     
    Still, I have to say the X1 understands pretty well to hide its lower power-profile.
     
    All of the above is in relative terms comparing the different players. But in absolute terms even the combination X1 and HE-400 is quite engaging and absolutely worth to give it a try.
     
    The real surprise was the combination with the LCD-X. Not based on electrical parameters, here they match quite well. Rather because that little player looks so completely lost besides the LCD-X.
     
    DSC01509.jpg
     
    The sound was quite engaging and I wouldn’t have missed a lot (at least not along mobile usage) if there wasn’t the direct comparison to the X5 and ifi iDSD Micro again. This time it was not so much about heft, control or soundstage, it was just that… while I did the comparison, I recognized that I unintentionally used the X5 more and longer in average than the X1. The X5 was simply more relaxed. And this is the strongest statement I could make in relation to their sound quality with the LCD-X.
     
    Sound / Conclusion
     
    In a nutshell, provided well matching headphones are used, the differences between the two players are rather small and do not immediately become obvious. Considering that the X5 already is well worth its price, the far cheaper X1 provides an extraordinary value for money.
     
    For a sound-wise demanding music lover that don’t mind if there is a still a better to the already very good, or for those on a budget, the observed sound-differences might not necessarily justify the additional price to the X5. But an audiophile on the quest for the better, willing and able to spend some more, will surely consider to take the step to the X5 and maybe even beyond...
     
    Me personally, for the time being I am happy enough with the sound quality of the X5. Still, I surely would survive a 3 week holiday with the X1 and the AH-D7100...
     
    Miscellaneous
     
    Comfort and Usability
     
    The smaller size of the X1 surely is an advantage if you are on a move. It is so much more comfortable to wear it in a trousers’ pocket.
     
    The general usage is pretty much the same as the X5. Easy to understand, self-explaining and logically arranged.
     
    Unfortunately the X1 has the same issue with the volume buttons as the X5. If the screen turns off and the key-lock settings become active, then the volume button only adjusts volume by multiple short clicks. If you press the volume button for longer to faster adjust volume, you will skip titles instead!
     
    Now, if you take the X5 out of your trousers' pocket you naturally grab it exactly where the volume buttons are; and before the X5 is out of the pocket you already skipped the title… not good.
     
    Strange enough: When using lockscreen setting 2 on the X5 respectively lockscreen setting 3 on the X1, the 2 buttons below the scroll wheel can be used to skip titles. But still the skip-title-function on the volume button stays active as well. Actually it could / should be inactive now so the volume button can be used to adjust volume only.
     
    Now, with the X1 this issue is not that serious, because the volume buttons are lower on the body, so you can grab it in your pocket without touching them. Still, above the volume buttons is the power button. You will most likely touch it when getting the X1 out of the trousers' pocket; but then it didn’t happen that I accidently turned off the X1 because
     
    a) the reaction time of the power button is long enough to get the X1 out of the pocket and
    b) due to the smaller size of the X1 it is easier to get it out of the pocket; so you do not need to grab so hard and do not necessarily press the button.
     
    Still I would prefer if the volume buttons remain volume buttons exclusively. Also in key-lock mode, because I want to adjust volume faster and easier than pressing a dozen of times...
     
    So FiiO, I am waiting for a firmware update at least for the X5 [​IMG]
     
    Another issue, the writing on the screen (and the screen itself) is quite small. Even if wearing my glasses and the surrounding light is rather on the bright side, I sometimes had issues reading (and actually my eye-sight is seven without glasses is not that bad).
     
    Would be nice if the text size could be adjusted in the settings menu. In combination with a ticker-style scrolling-text that shouldn’t be an issue, …
     
    Maybe the X7 will have a larger touch screen? …and WIFI and can be used as a phone? …no, better forget that, at least the part with the phone…
     
    Still, the volume button and the screen size are issues I could accept for the great given sound- and build-quality.
     
    Cheers!
      earfonia likes this.
    1. earfonia
      Really interested to hear the LCD-X driven by X1 :D
      Super cool review!
      earfonia, Nov 9, 2014
    2. musikaladin
      ...a nice side effect of this review was, that I actually learned to really value the X5/ LCD-x combination ...
      musikaladin, Nov 9, 2014
  4. n05ey
    Great little player, I enjoyed my time with it immensly
    Written by n05ey
    Published Nov 6, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Size, industrial design, sound especially from line out
    Cons - Headphone out not as strong, scroll wheel is a little imprecise
    First off, thanks heaps Brooko it is a privilege to be included in the tour! Thanks also to xtralglactic and boneofimba before and after me for showing me some gear and generally being top head-fiers!
     
    My History
     
    My only previous exposure to the Fiio range was the old E7 which didn’t blow my socks off as I found that it didn’t add anything special to my setup at the time which was a volume hacked Note 1 feeding my ety er4s’. Since then I have increased my line-up a little adding an Epiphany O2, a Topping NX1 and the Stoner Acoustics UD110 fed by my Note 3. I no longer have the ety’s but I now sport the lovely (IMHO) akg q701’s. I also have a set of havi B3 pro 1’s for travel, takstar pro80’s (which I really don’t use if anyone would like to borrow/buy) and a px200iii (destined for a senngrado build in the future).
     
    For your reference I spent my time on the tour testing with the q701’s as they are the most testing of my equipment.
     
    Fiio X1 physical impressions
     
    She is a beautiful little box. Solid little box with well thought out industrial design…I really like the package. Minimal but very well presented. I did find the player a little chunky coming from using mobiles as my music transport for the last couple of years, but it does feel good in hand. The silicone case was a nice little addition but not having indication of button actions on it made it a little bit of a guessing game until I was used to the controls.
     
    The buttons themselves and scroll wheel were all nicely implemented and positioned although I did find my attempts to be precise with the wheel a little frustrating, despite the mini clicks on the wheel the correlation between the click and the advancement on the list didn’t seem to match… a little thing, but when you are trying to get to a list item in a hurry made it a little frustrating.
     
    Volume and navigation were not immediately intuitive but once I got used to the system were a logical enough system. I did find I never quite got used to the screen unlock on the side, I always wanted to just hit the middle button on the scroll wheel. I can understand the decision, but it made it a little more awkward when the unit was say, on the desk at work…
     
    Fiio E11k physical impressions
     
    Once again, Fiio have managed to make an impressive little device. I really dig their styling. On the other hand, as others have mentioned, the placement of the volume knob was a killer on this and actually led me to stop using it after a shorter time, replacing it with the NX1 in the stack, partly on battery life and partly on that baffling decision. A couple of positives on the decision though, a) it does make for a prettier design b) It is easier to change the volume in a stack sitting on your desk…but to be honest, it didn’t really work out for me… shame really, I thought I would enjoy the difference…
    My Big Contribution to the Tour Impressions
     
    Well, I was thinking… what can I really add to this tour? Many people with great experience will give you their thoughts which mine will often mirror, but I do have a bit more to offer…
     
    This is my first non-phone player since the original iPod and since getting into the head-fi community, so my key question coming into this was, will I enjoy not having it all-in-one…
    The answer is undoubtedly yes.
     
    To be honest, it was not the sound quality or the UI (which I actually find a little cumbersome after the ease of the note 3 graphic interface) but actually the dedication to the music that I enjoyed. There is always another distraction when the phone is with you so the chance of really listening to the music diminishes. I found myself purely tethered to the music and that made me walk around doing little projects to music, or just sitting listening rather than getting distracted on head-fi (it’s a disease, I swear) or other mobile activities and that  was an absolute joy, I re-found a love…
     
    So, I will be looking to pick up a player at some stage. Is it urgent and necessary? Not really, I still enjoy my phone and tbh don’t have the money now. However, I will be picking a player up at some stage and I really look forward to the day.
    My Sound Impressions
     
    Just to reiterate, I did my sound checking with the Q701’s to be as demanding as possible so this may mean that some of the distinctions I draw are a little exaggerated compared to listening through less picky phones… I recognise that but at the moment I don’t really want to listen to anything else in my collection so if you don’t like that, suck it up princess J
     
    X1 – headphone out first – The major standout (in a negative way) was that the soundstage collapsed and it was left with a weaker centred image. That being said, there was plenty enough volume and the general sound was still pretty balanced. It was a listenable sound, but there was a bit of the magic missing from the q701 sound, almost a little stuffy.
    Note: the sound was improved with the updated firmware and became far more listenable at a pinch but wasn’t a patch imho on the next iteration below.
    Line out amped with either the NX1 or E11 – Ah, here is where the magic is! To be honest, I was shocked at the difference this made, the sound stage and definition to the sound came back in spades creating an open strong platform for music. It seemed to me to be really well balanced with no real colouration, just the music coming through strong with nothing missing.
     
    E11k – I am not going to go too detailed into this suffice to say that in my opinion this little critter sits between my NX1 and O2. I find the NX1 gets a little strident in the top end and soft in the bass when pushed, only really noticeable when I sit down again with the O2 which fills out the sound just a little more and bass with a little cleaner impact and a smoothness to the highs. If you were to sit the E11k on a scale between the two I would say that it sits about a quarter of the way from the nx1 to the o2 (NX1<E11k<<<O2) on that experience description. Not sure if that makes sense but I hope it adds to your picture of it all [​IMG]
     
    Conclusion
     
    Well, this has been a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed the little player and already miss it. It doesn’t have me rushing out the door to purchase it, but I will carefully be saving up my pennies and seriously considering it in the future. It does add something to the music experience coming from a mobile phone music listener to have a dedicated DAP, maybe not too much difference sound wise coming from the Note3 – ud110 – nx1/o2 and from an experience pov adds a whole lot.
     
    Thanks for reading and I hope it helps [​IMG]
  5. fnkcow
    Portable Audio for the Budget Conscious
    Written by fnkcow
    Published Nov 5, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Affordable, Great Build, Small Size
    Cons - Scroll Wheel and User Interface could be better
    Disclaimer:
     

    This unit was in my possession for a few days as part of the Fiio X1 Australasian tour. I'd like to thank @FiiO, @Joe Bloggs and @Brooko for making this tour possible.
     
    IMG_20141105_162122aa.jpg
     
    Build:
     
    In the world of audiophile DAPs, at $100, the looks alone could have you fooled that it costs more. The X1 has a solid build with an aluminium body along with the buttons, and and feels nice to the touch with a nice weight to it. Fairly smooth edges, no protruding parts or looseness. The buttons are firm and responsive. Recessed power button is a nice touch. Navigation buttons are easily accessible one-handed, and not too far apart or too close to tell the difference, though I would suggest the power button to be at the top instead for even more straightforward control if fumbling it in the pocket. The scroll wheel, though, is my main gripe with the build. It is made of plastic, and not as responsive as it could be, making selections within sometimes will not register. More grip and tactile feedback on the scroll wheel would be my suggestion. Screen display resolution is sharp but lacks a bit in contrast, especially under direct sunlight. There's no internal memory and the X1 accepts one MicroSD card. As there is no cover on the MicroSD slot it is best to avoid exposing the unit to any contact with water at all costs. X1 does not accept DAC.
     
    User Interface:
     
    The UI is reasonably intuitive. I was able to find my way around the menus and settings without much fuss without referring to the manual. There are a few user-friendly settings such as sleep-timer, brightness, changing button assignments etc to customize the device to your liking. The device sometimes is a bit laggy and takes about half a second to respond. The lack of memory on power-off is a bit letdown. It'd be a nice feature to have to have your last song/playlist when you power it back on.
     
    Battery Life:
     
    The X1 is listed to last around 12 hours. The battery was still at more than 50% despite me already passing the 6 hours mark some time ago. Pretty impressive for such a unit.
     
    Sound:
     
    Headphone Out (Unamped)
     
    X1 unamped is more than adequate for most, if not all IEMs on the market. As I only use IEMs, I will only comment on its usage with IEMs, in this case mainly my ASG-1Plus. X1 offers a fairly neutral sound with only a tinge of warmth, which was less warmth than I was expecting given Fiio's general line of products, but a welcoming change nonetheless. 
    Bass is tight with good impact while lacking a bit in extension. The vocals are full and natural. It has a fairly wide soundstage but not deep, with good imaging and instrument separation. Detail is there but not for critical listening purposes. The noise floor is present with sensitive IEMs but not an issue when music is playing.
    My main comparison here would be against my Vivo XShot. The X1 has slightly thicker and fuller mids than the XShot, and has punchier bass. On the other hand, the X1 has slighly smaller soundstage and less clarity and airiness. The two are not huge gaps apart though and both compare favourably.
     
    Line Out (Amped)
     
    Line out was tested mainly with the E11K on low gain that is included as part of the tour. Again, E11K is fairly neutral, and this latest offerings from Fiio might indicate a more neutral house sound in future products which I am more inclined to be interested in. Since both X1 and E11K go for similar tuning, the difference or increase between headphone-out and line-out is small.
     
    Verdict:
     
    For the price of $100, what you get is a DAP that decodes up to 24/192 for a Line-Out with a clean and neutral sound in a portable device. The X1 is a solid deal, with sound quality, build quality, portability and usability all rolled into one package that doesn't break the bank of the consumers. Fiio is the brand that has brought many into the audiophile world with its affordable pricing, and with the release of X1 will continue to benefit many, especially the budget conscious.

      Brooko, H20Fidelity and d marc0 like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. rekondita
      Did the DAP give you trouble with hiss using high-sensitivity IEMs?
      rekondita, Nov 5, 2014
    3. fnkcow
      It didn't give me much issue regarding hiss, at least not that I'm aware of. Just that it's not dead silent when the music is not playing. So okay for me with limited hours of testing. 
      fnkcow, Nov 5, 2014
    4. rekondita
      Cheers and thanks.
      rekondita, Nov 6, 2014
  6. jorge8
    X1 listening impressions - top sound quality at a low price
    Written by jorge8
    Published Nov 5, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound quality, Small size, Price
    Cons - None at this price
    FiiO X1 - Listening impressions 1. Set-up I had a FiiO X1 on a loan for about 10 days. During that period I used it through line out with VorzAmp Pure II and FiiO X12 DIY. I also used the headphone out directly and through Kameleon amplifier. All these set-ups were feeding Sennheiser Momentum Over Ear. I also tried it with my desktop setup: Violectric V200 amp and Sennheiser HD650. For reference, I use the FiiO X5 and iPhone 4 (on its own and with Onkyo HF Player). I’ve seen lots of nice photos from other reviewers that made me feel that there’s no need to add more photos. 2. UI and operation The UI is a simplified version of the X5. It seems intuitive and easy to use. One major difference is that the headphone and line out are software controlled through the same switch. It adds simplicity but I still prefer to have separate switches as the X5. Although the X1 sends a message warning that lineout is active (to avoid trouble), it’s easy to ignore it when you’re familiar with it. I had one incident like that but fortunately it didn’t damage my headphones. I didn’t try it with other DAC’s because the X1 doesn’t have any digital out. I cannot comment much on the UI because I don’t use playlists and many popular features like shuffle. I listen to albums, mainly classical and jazz. Most of it is acoustical. The model that I received had the V1.0 firmware installed. I formated a microSD card on the X1, copied a few albums and all the process went smoothly. 3. The sound After trying several combinations I settled with the headphones out to Kameleon amplifier. This doesn’t mean that the X1 had any problem driving the Momentum directly. The Kameleon is a fixed gain headphone amplifier that uses custom designed filters to optimize output to each headphones. Mine was using a generic filter with gain set to +3dB. The volume is controlled from the player (X1). I always prefer to use an amplifier either line out or headphones out. It seems to me that such a combo, acting as a two stage amplification, sounds better: it adds body, bigger sound image and richer tone. In this setup the X1 gives a clearer presentation than the X5, about the same bottom extension and definition, a little thinner midrange and a little more top extension but never sounding harsh. There was more instrument separation and a more defined image. The overall sound quality is very high and it’s beyond belief considering its price point. Will I buy one? No because I still prefer the “creamier” presentation of the X5 and because I find useful the much bigger storage capacity from 2 microSD slots. If you buy one player every 2 or 3 years the difference in price is not that big for me to skip the X5 in favor of the X1. However if you’re on a tight budget, or if you value the smaller size, the X1 is a steal and deserves my full recommendation. Note: I don’t have any affiliation to FiiO. The X1 was on a loan through HeadFi world tour. Thank you FiiO and Joe for the opportunity to try the X1. Looking forward to hearing the X7.
    1. yalper
      I hate this term as con `none at this price`, they add $2 cost additional materials and sell it for 2x price and we say `oh, this is much better" 
      ...
      yalper, Nov 5, 2014
  7. Allucid
    Not just an X5 on training wheels
    Written by Allucid
    Published Nov 2, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality, form factor, usability, price, sound, no software bugs
    Cons - UI & click wheel are a letdown
    Sorry for the semi-quick review. :p
    I'm part of the X1 Australia tour. I'd like to thank FiiO, Joe Bloggs and everyone in the tour for making this possible.

    I'm going to be as blunt as possible. It's the X1 vs an iPhone 5, using my Audiofly AF180s. I have headphones but prefer IEMs, headphones for me collect dust.
    The iPhone is a consumer market DAP. The X1 is a budget DAP. Both can play FLAC & ALAC files. I'll review parts that make a DAP for me.

    1. Build Quality.

    The X1 is built from aluminium / metal. It's almost wholly made from metal except from the click wheel, which is rubber / plastic. The click wheel is okay, kind of like the iPod classic. It's not too sensitive and easy to use.

    The buttons are made from metal and have a solid feel to them. The power button is recessed, which is a good choice as it stops the player from being turned off or locked. Overall, build quality is a 7.5/10. The click wheel lets the whole thing down. The audio jack isn't gold plated, but that keeps the price down.

    Form factor
    Form factor is 10/10. I couldn't of asked for better form factor in my hand, it's so light the buttons are easy to use.

    UI
    UI is a 7/10. It's not quite there yet, and I'm coming from an Apple device to this. The UI is good, easy to use but there's just something missing that I can't put my finger on. It's mainly the lack of a touchscreen.


    Battery life
    Battery life is a 9/10. For me it lasts about 1-2 days on 1 charge. On paper it says 12 hours, so battery life will be different from person to person depending on how much you use it. Line Out uses more battery, but not by too much.

    Sound
    Sound is almost analytical compared to the iPhone's warmer sound (I use the canopener app so my sound is altered)
    Personally I like the clarity of the X1, it's really clear but the flatter sound lets it down for me. It's still enjoyable, but I'm not sure that I'd move completely from an all in one solution for better sound.
    The X1 isn't forgiving of bad recordings and highlights their weaknesses.

    Overall, the X1 is an 8.5/10. The UI lets it down, but everything else is perfect for a $100 player. Everyone should have this, it's a direct replacement for Sansa Clips and all those other cheap budget players.
    I don't want to give it back, it's become a good part of my life. Probably buying one soon.


    Would this be your go-to audio player? No. It's good for high-quality files and for times you don't want to get your phone out your pocket.

    What was the best thing I noticed about this DAP?
    No itunes. Easy, straightforward file to file sharing. Insert high five emoji here.

    The main reason I love this DAP is the full package - the sound, the UI, the build quality and the usability. There's no glitches I can see, the soundstage isn't flat like on an iPhone, the build is amazing for a $100 player, it's small and lightweight. The sound is different to the iPhone and both have their perks. I'm not sure which is the overall contender, but I'd have both by choice.

    Is it for you? Listen to it and see. Be warned - once you've used it for a week, you'll want to keep it.
      Brooko and altrunox like this.
  8. CasperBxl
    FIIO X1 DAP world preview tour report; A great device for most users!!
    Written by CasperBxl
    Published Oct 30, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Very good sound quality, compact, light, easy to use, not expensive
    Cons - none
      
    FIIO X1 DAP world preview tour report
    By CasperBxl on Head-fi.org​
     
    Disclaimer:
    The unit was made available by FIIO for a review without any expectations or requirements, other than doing a review of the product.
     
    I am not a professional reviewer or a ‘real’ audiophile (whatever that might be). I like good music and good equipment in general and can appreciate things for what they are, in all honesty of what they are.
     
     
    The short version:
    The FIIO X1 is a DAP, Digital Audio Player. It is not a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and it is not an AMP (Amplifier). It does have a “Line Out” Setting for its 3.5mm connection.
     
    This is a great product for anybody who want to listen to music on the go or relax at home or work. I used the unit extensively at home, at work and on the go. The X1 is easy to use, small, light and delivers very good sound. Battery life is great and listening more than 1 day on a charge is no problem.
     
    It plays about all file formats, from low grade MP3 to 192Khz/24bit FLAC and everything in between.
     
    The sound quality is great, no if’s or but’s, simply great. From Dubstep, Trance, Dance all the way to Classical. The sound is neutral, fun and engaging. Using the customizable EQ you can tune it further to your liking.
     
    I used the X1 with B&O H3 in ears, Sennheiser Momentum over-ear and the AKG K551 over-ear headphones.
     
    Construction is almost full aluminum with only the back being made of plastic in an aluminum look.
     
     
     
    … and now in a bit more detail …
     
     
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    The X1 as a device.
    Dimensions:                          96.6 x 57 x 14 (mm)
    Weight:                                106 grams
    Screen:                                 Color TFT 320 x 240 pixels
     
    Storage on board:             none
    Storage options:               1x µSD Card up to 128GB
     
    Connection:                       3.5mm jack
    Headphone imped.:            16 to 100 Ω
     
    Operation:                          Mechanical buttons and circular control disk
     
    Supported File Formats:
    Lossless:
    APE (Fast):192K/24B; APE (Normal):192K/24B; APE (High):192K/24B; FLAC:192K/24B;
    WAV: 192K/24B; WMA 9.1 LOSSLESS: 48K/24B; Apple Lossless: 192K/24B


    Lossy compression
    MP2, MP3, AAC, ALAC, WMA, OGG (vobis), ....
     
     
    Detailed specs on FIIO Website
     
     
     
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    Menu System:
    The X1 is operated by the rotating control disk (it physically rotates) and the buttons on the front of the unit. Rotate the wheel to the menu item and press the circular center button on the unit to select the menu item.
     
     
    The base color of the background and menu can be set in the “System Settings”.
     
     
     
    Now Playing: Jump to the screen showing the currently playing item.
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    Category: Find you music by criteria. List of “All Songs”, “Album”, “Artist”, “Genre”, “Favorites”
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    Browse Files: Find you music by your own folder structure
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    Play Settings: All the different setting for playing music. Linear, Random, Gapless, Max Volume, EQ, Balance, …
    EQ: numerous presets and custom settings possible
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    System Settings: Manual Library Update, Lock screen (what buttons can you use when the screen is locked = off), Screen Timeout, Brightness, idle power off, etc
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    For Reference:
    I used the B&O H3 in ears, Sennheiser Momentum over-ear and the AKG K551 over-ear headphones. My colleagues at work also used it combined with Shure 215 in-ears and the Bose Noise Canceling on-ears.
     
    In total we used with about 6 people, myself and colleagues at work. My colleagues range for casual listeners to audiophiles with a good musical ear.
     
    Comparative or other usual sources:
    Astell & Kern AK 100 II
    iPod Classic 160G Gen. 7
    PC with E18 DAC/AMP
    PC with Asus Xonar sound card
    Ipad 2 (on its own)
     
    Files used:
    iTunes standard lossy format (mp4)
    FLAC in 44Khz/16bit up to 192Khz/24bit
     
    Anne Bison: Blue Mind
    Lisa Ekdahl: Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile
    Passenger: All The Little Lights
    Leonard Cohen: Live in London
    Varia: Classic Appalachian Blues
     
    I Musici: Antonio Vivaldi
    Hilary Hahn: Plays Bach
    Hilary Hahn: Bach Concertos (2003)
    Great Empire Classics: The Famous Waltzes
    Keith Jarret: The Köln Concert
    Lang Lang: The Romance of Rachmaninov
     
    Boesgaard: Time Travel, Unforeseen
    Armin van Buren: Intense
     
     
     
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    OK! OK!! OK!!!    Well … how does is it? How is the FIIO X1?
     
    The X1 itself sounds very neutral, a nice, non-aggressive, non over boosted, relaxing sound. A great thing to achieve with a device that is intended for a large audience, young and old enjoying music on the go, at home or at work. The X1 has plenty of power to drive all the mentioned headsets with ease, even louder than would be good for you.
     
    I find it important to indicate that the gear you use to listen, in-ears, on-ears or over-ear headphones will noticeably change the sound signature and quality. If you plan on buying a listening set, start with choosing a player, then try the headsets with your player to find your best match.
     
    My personal experience: The Sound
    I like the neutral sound in a player as my preferred music kind is classical music, mostly instrumental. Piano, violin all type of music with a lot of fine detail, high and low tones. But, on the other hand I like a nice trance part as well. Boesgaard, Van Buren …. Hmmm, they can please my ears as well.
     
    The FIIO X1 presents the classical and vocal music with a lot of the detail I like, hearing the fingers of the pianist on the keys, the pedals being operated, the bow striking the strings on a violin or cello give so much more then content then only the tune. I find the X1 presents the artist playing the music, in all the delicacy it was played.
    The same goes for delicate vocals like Lisa Ekdahl’s “Give Me That Slow Knowing Smile” or “All The Little Lights” by Passenger.
     
    When I put on some tracks by Armin van Buuren the base goes deep, nicely deep. “Sounds of The Drums” starts slow with a bit of piano, then a bit of delicate vocals … then it hits you … van Buuren!! Yes!! Smile on my face, pure joy! On my Sennheiser Momentums, no EQ, with the AKG K551 I put the EQ on “Classical” (??) with a great sound from the X1.
     
    My personal experience: Using the FIIO X1
    The user interface and controls work very well. I am more used to my AK 100 II and Samsung Galaxy S5 touch screens but found my way around the X1 in a couple of minutes. Controls are easy to use can give good tactile feedback. Everything feels solid and well built. I do prefer touch screens for general browsing … BUT … the physical buttons are practical with no need to turn on the screen to select the next track, get back a track etc. That is something that is not possible on my phone and something I happily found on the X1.
    The rotating disk is not so practical for me, but without a touch screen a good and tried solution, and many will recognize it from the Apple devices.
    Operation is fast and responsive. Finding what you want to listen to is easy.
     
     
    The colleagues at work: The Sound
    I have less information but I can confidently say the all of them were impressed (I did not disclose the cost of the FIIO X1). They used my AKG K551 or Sennheiser Momentums to listen or their own devices (Shure 215, Bose, …). All of them listened to the same set of albums as in the list above, each could find what they like as type of music.
    In general when I gave them the X1 to listen … I had to go get it back... All listened quite happily as long as they found music genres they liked. Many of them switching back and forward between the X1 and their iPhone, iPad, Android Phones to compare.
     
    The general consensus on the sound; “great”, “very nice”, “detailed”
     
    The colleagues at work: Using the FIIO X1
    Well … we are all IT specialists (between 30 and 62 years old), that said, I did not explain anything to anybody and nobody came to ask how to use it. So, user friendliness is good and intuitive. Finding music, volume, general operation is a win! Often I saw them try touching the screen first, then automatically switching to the disk/button based operation.
    With the rubber case on it was not handy to use for people not familiar with its controls as there are no marking on the rubber protective sleeve. This might be an attention point for the future.
     
    The general consensus on the ease of use; “easy to use after 5min of use and fiddling”, “it is like an iPod”, “the disk rotates, that is strange (iPod user)”
     
    The colleagues at work: Price reveal
    Whuuut? 99€?
     
    They know my AK 100 II and know that one was about 1000€ … so a positive surprise.
     
    My question to them: Would you buy one at 99€? Most of them where positive, some asked when it would be available for order. Some have other, better equipment and will not change, of course.
     
    The colleagues at work: General point they made
    Most of them find the FIIO X1 fills any expectation and need they have for a music player. Most of them stated that they wonder if they would be able to hear the difference with the AK 100 II, not that they doubt the AK 100 II, but in a noisy office and with little music listening experience they evaluate the FIIO X1 cover their needs.
     
     
     
    Would I advise the FIIO X1 for most people?   YES
     
     
     
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    Size comparison​
    Samsung Galaxy S5 and FIIO X1​
     
     
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    Music Everywhere!!!
     
     
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      earfonia, Audiophile1811 and altrunox like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. pyramidsong
      @CasperBxl thanks, appreciate you checking and sending the message. You're right, it is a shame, although it's a common problem; there's very little in the way of software/hardware that I've found which is geared towards classical music (in terms of metadata). Spotify is the worst..! I suppose there's just not that much demand for it. FIIO might be interested though! Thanks again.
      pyramidsong, Nov 3, 2014
    3. ChickenWaffles
      As you had the X1 with the momentums, do you think they pair well? I have the momentums and am looking for dap to go with them. My budget is ≈ $100, just to reference.
      ChickenWaffles, Dec 21, 2014
    4. Ting Tiew Yik
      i heard that x1 is amped,isnt it?
      Ting Tiew Yik, Dec 13, 2015
  9. harshkamboj
    My first DAP and it couldn't have been better
    Written by harshkamboj
    Published Oct 30, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Cheap, Excellent sound quality, Scroll wheel, light and portable
    Cons - Bit of hissing, Lags a bit when playing high quality format (Nothing serious though for this price)
    I am new to head-fi and this is my first ever review. Basically I joined head-fi to read people's expert opinions on different products, as I'm not an audiophile and do not know much about the science of all the media devices and headphones being reviewed. Here I would give some simple observations I've had with Fiio X1. Previously I used to listen to music using my HTC One M7 and I thought that DAP's won't make much of a difference to the sound quality which matters for me the most (sq > ui, for me), until I got one on my cousins suggestion. And for my surprise, it made a lot of difference, something which is not easy to explain for me as I don't understand much of the audiophilic terms used during reviewing a product.
     
    In-ears used:
    - Shure se215
    - Monster Copper Turbine Pro
    - Dunu dn1000
    - Logitech ue900
     
    Music played:
    - Time by Pink Floyd (24/96 flac)
    - Hotel California by The Eagles (24/96 flac)
    - You shook me all night long by ACDC (16/44.1 flac)
    - Turn the page by Metallica (16/44.1 flac)
    - Fear of the dark by Iron maiden (16/44.1 flac)
    - Trains by Porcupine tree (16/44.1 flac)
     
    I've mentioned these in-ears and music files with their formats as I compared the X1 with my friends X5 and could barely differentiate the sound quality and sound stage (A mere difference of 19-21 as one can say in short). I prefer it over X5 because of its weight and size (portability), whereas X5 is too bulky for my pants. :p
     
    Rest I've written my critical findings in the pros and cons section. Hope this basic review could be helpful for the ones who are still in a fix to go for the X1.  
      sardar17 likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. sardar17
      plus some pics would be great,,,u have good inventory,would love to see some pictures if possible
      sardar17, Oct 30, 2014
    3. harshkamboj
      1. The battery life is about 8-9 hours when fully charged.
      2. It has a 7 band eq with 7 pre-installed eq settings and one custom setting.
       
      And I would surely upload the pics soon! 
      harshkamboj, Oct 30, 2014
    4. sardar17
      sir,where are the pics that u so much promised?
      sardar17, Nov 9, 2014
  10. geetarman49
    Tales From The Somnambular Side
    Written by geetarman49
    Published Oct 29, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - great price, good sound, very nice form factor
    Cons - protective skin is a dust magnet, no crossfeed, no inclusive memory
    when asked if anyone was interested in reviewing the x1 alongside the he-560, i jumped at the chance. 2 new headphones at once; would make for a great compare & contrast, i thought ... not! it's not the philips x1 but the fiio x1, portable dap. oh great, what do i know about daps? about fiio? i don't use them ... sure, i own an e6 (still in the box), have had a sansa fuse and the m$ zune120. but i've never seriously used any of them ... relegating them as gifts instead.
     
    for the experienced, you may choose to depart now for i doubt that i have anything to contribute that you have not come across before ... for you others, thank you for humoring me and following the words of an idiot ... sorry, there's no savant here. Here’s my anecdotal recollection of the events of those days as they occurred. May you find them humorous if not technically interesting.
     
    nestled inside the big shipping container for the he560 i spy a small, white rectangular box. flipping open the end flap tabs, you slide out the inner carton to reveal a smooth white rectangular cardstock folder and small, narrow rectangular box. you lift out the folder (which you just know contains warranty & guide) and underneath is the x1 almost fully cloaked in what feels like, rubber or silicon.  & the other box, you just know contains an interfacing cable of sorts.  you lift out the x1 and assess its weight and compact form ... you look ... no, you examine intently, looking for the seams of its silicon dress. but there's nothing; no visual clues as to how to access its storage slot. consulting the manual reveals nought; still no way to undress the bride so to speak. it's late, better to wait for the light of day than to antagonize fiio with your apish groppling & ruining a tour experience.
     
    a new day & all is revealed ... & you get it. the folks at fiio could have easily just ensconced the x1 into one of those plastic clamshells that require a chainsaw to access. but that's not fiio. you just know that the team members of fiio who are responsible for the x1 are of a singular gestalt.  they know the import of end-user experience and they're adamant at not letting the price point dictate their vision of catering to their community.  it leads you to believe that more than one soul at fiio is a practitioner of zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance & whose goal is to continually upend the apple cart, so to speak.
     
    breaking my routine of playing silvery discs, i rip the discs using eac & remote freedb into multiple uncompressed wav files. this generates the following hierarchy [artist]/[album name]/ [01filename, 02filename, ...] which i copy in its entirety over to a 16gb microsd card.  Locating the slot on the side of the x1, I insert the microsd card and watch as it skews awkwardly; I try again, and again … nope, not going in straight at all. Could it be that you have to insert the card with label side down? And yet, if you use it with an sd adapter, it’s label side up? Just seems all too inconsistent to me. At any rate, the card is not recognized despite repeated attempts. I stuff it back into my pc and verify that the contents are indeed still there. Try it with the x1 once again, and bingo! There is content.
     
    The interface seems familiar enough but doesn’t respond to me swiping from left to right or right to left. Okay, I guess I better consult the manual. Got it – follow the ring (swipe with a circular motion). Let’s check the settings – super, it has gapless. What about that other whatchamacalit? Hmmm … nope, nothing that I can see. Too bad, it would have made my day … but half a day is better than none.
     
    Enough of this, let’s start playing some tunes … cue up #1. Eh? The tune is showing, along with the file attributes, but no sound … I turn it up even louder …. ¾ of the full ring. What the hey?? The player shows that time is advancing on the tune, but there’s no sound? Hit the back button to go back up one level and try again.   Aye-yah, Caramba!  It’s blasting my ears at 100++dB! My brain is apoplexied by the moment & my arms are caught mid-stream between punching the down volume button vs flinging the headphones off my ears. Luckily, common sense prevails and I fling the portapro off my ears, then I lower the volume .  pop the phones back on for a quick listen … tune after tune (having gapless is great), it’s all quite respectable … no, it’s more than that … there’s an evenness to the response, from the lows to the highs; it’s smooth with a decent sense of dynamics & great clarity & impact. If there’s anything to criticize it’s a slight lower-mid predominance but that is an attribute of the phones being magnified by the x1. I dabble a bit with the equalizer to try to tame this bump but the built-in ‘curves’ don’t quite do it – it’ll require fiddling with the custom settings.
     
    I have the new hifiman he560 next to me, so I swap out the 6.3mm trs and grab the 3.5mm cable. Plug into the x1 and I hear a muted and indistinct single channel. I try another tune with the same results. Then I check the 3.5mm plug … hah, it’s not a trs, but a trrs.  Oh well, looks like the 560 isn’t going to be a candidate for use with the x1 this time around. Next, I turn to the q701 … no lack of power here. I listen to a few tunes before setting the x1 aside in order to resume my he-560 reviewing session.
     
    The next time I pick up the x1 Greg is here to partake in a 560 reviewing session. He has brought his dbv3 modded fostex t50rp along. I fire up helicopter girl on the x1 with his t50s … ‘oh –wow’ are his first words. He listens intently for a couple of tunes before commenting that this is much better than out of his macbook. I proffer the q701 & while he listens, I inform him that these cost all of $99usd. He is duly impressed, but time is of the essence & we go back to the 560 evaluation session for the remainder of the afternoon.
     
    I dedicate the next day solely for x1 listening with the q701. I go through the gamut of recordings on the microsd card – from bbng, beth gibbons, the bad plus, eccodek, chilly gonzales, melanio de biasio, helicopter girl, my morning jacket, justin rutledge to mahler symph #8 (decca 145). When I wake up, it appears to be on its 2nd cycle … somewhere along the line, I have dozed off. I continue listening for another hour or so.  So, bunky, it’s so smooth you can’t help but nap? Sleepily good, you say? Noddingly great? Alas, it’s just the accumulation of sleepless nights and long days dedicated to 560 listening taking their toll.
     
    So from my somnambular accounting, I can say that I like this – it’s more than passable; almost great in my books. What’s not to like? Well… that rubber sheathing picks up lint and dust like a well-served dust magnet (if it was another color, the dust would not be as obvious). & it doesn’t offer the fullness in the bass and lower-mids that my full-size tube amps achieve, nor does the soundstage extend as deep and wide, nor is it as nuanced in the mids. Its highs are not as ephemeral as that achieved through tube circuitry and the system is unable to assign artist and album names from the folder names … but then again, no other portable dap can either as far as I know. With phones like the q701, there is accentuation in the lower-mid that is not present when listening through my tube amps. But consider the price differential … a couple of output caps and coupling caps alone (mods for my tube amp) cost more than the x1. my biggest beef is that there is no included memory with the package - even a token 8gb would have been appreciated, even if it meant raising the price to 99.99
     
    Would I buy this to personally use? My general answer would be a resounding ‘no’ because I’m not a portable dap user, nor a bud or iem user. But I can easily see myself grabbing one or two as gifts for valued friends or, indeed, one for myself if I was taking one of those long distance flights of 5 hr or more. Oh, & what’s that whatchamacalit feature, you say? Well, you can guess, right? Hint … rockbox has it.
     
    My sincere thanks to fiio and joe bloggs for the opportunity to try the x1.
    1. Joe Bloggs
      That was a fun review to read indeed!
      Joe Bloggs, Oct 30, 2014