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FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

  • To be launched in June 2015, the X5 2nd gen is poised to take the flagship baton from the X5 of 2014 while gaining many refinements, some learned from the design of its newer little brothers the X1 and X3, others all new to this X5:

    -Switchable power supply voltage, improving high-gain driving power and low-gain playtime endurance;
    -Hardware DSD128 decoding with premium analog volume control to realize direct uninterpolated DSD output
    -Direct SACD ISO decoding
    -Dual silicon crystal oscillators for jitter <1ps at all output frequencies
    -Deep-sleep standby for instant-on music playback
    -Lighter and smaller than 1st gen X5
    -Screen and controls now flush with front plate for better durability
    -10 EQ bands
    -Support for headphones with in-line remote

Recent Reviews

  1. Dobrescu George
    FiiO X5-2. Amazing DAP!
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Feb 23, 2017
    Pros - Build Quality, Sound Quality, Detailed Treble, Wide Soundstag, Deep and detailed bass, Detailed mids, Exciting Sound
    Cons - Mechanical Wheel
    FiiO X5-2 is the second generation of X5 DAPs (digital audio players) from FiiO. I owned a FiiO X5 for quite a while before buying X5-2 and I was entirely happy with the first X5, except for a few details. If I were to say, the thing that bugged me the most on X5 was it's hardware button configuration. They were far too easy to press by mistake while in the pocket, making the original X5 skip songs at random times. 
    When I heard that there is an X5-2 coming along, I was quite excited, but I knew I won't have the money to buy one for a while. I waited and saved a few until I was able to buy it. At the moment of writing this review, X5-3 was already launched and I have one in my hands, but the review for X5-3 might wait a little bit as I need more time before having certain thoughts about it. FiiO X5-2 has been my benchmark for portable audio so far and until the appearance of X5-3 nothing really beat X5-2 as far as audio setups go, from what I tested. Since X5-2 is a mid range DAP, it is pretty sanely prices, like all FiiO products, so you can probably buy one without much hassle.
    About me
    My name is George and I enjoy music. I listen music while working, listen to music for enjoyment and listen to music while I'm gaming. Music is a thing that is everywhere around me, be it classical, pop, rap, metal, jazz or electronica. I also like to prepare long playlists to enjoy while working on my company's games. You can check out more on our pages here https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/     and here https://twitter.com/7heartstudios . My love for music has had some impact on our games as we hold the music close to our hearts and we are committed to only use ogg -q10 as the encoding format for our music since it offers the best space to sound quality ratio.
    Music is like a bad habit for me as when I listen to music, I generally do it for hours and happen to even lose sleep as sometimes I can't go to sleep without hearing "that one song". I happen to be very involved with my music and I believe that music is a form of love and emotion, music should be lived and music is an important part of one's life.

    First Impression
    I still owned X5 at the moment of first hearing X5ii. AVstore is a nie shop in Bucharest that happens to have FiiO products in shop and a nice showroom, so I was able to test FiiO X5ii. The first moment testing it, I thought that there was something funny going on, like some kind of EQ was engaged or something like this. To my shock, this was not the case, and X5ii was actually sounding different from X5 - in an impressive way. 
    My listening equipment was formed from ie800, which I will be using for the rest of this review as ie800 are very good at discerning the differences between equipment. I can only say that I was in awe at how x5ii reproduced bass. It was tight, fast, detailed, textured. In a single word, amazing. It was better than it's predecessor and considerably so. At that point, I knew I had to buy an X5ii, but I wasn't really sure how to do it. I put my X5 up for sale and after some waiting time I was finally able to get my very own X5ii.
    As I've waited quite a while before I was able to buy my X5ii, you can imagine my excitement when I was finally able to get one and open the package. 
    X5ii xomes with a hard plastic clear case by default and is wrapped in a white protective plastic layer. Underneath is a black box in which you will find the papers, bonus screen protectors, an coaux cable and a USB cable. From my understanding, X5ii comes with a very high quality shielded USB cable. 
    The  package includes all that you need to fully enjoy X5ii and I'm glad that FiiO decided to include a few bonus screen protectors. There are also some stickers that you glue to your X5ii  - I would name them skins. I haven't used any of the skins included in the package since I really like the original aspect and feel of X5ii which is made out of metal, but nevertheless it's a nice bonus that some of you will surely appreciate and I've seen more than one person rocking an X5ii with the skin put on - so they're clearly worth a lot to some customers. 
    The case x5ii comes in is a hard cardboard case, and I actually appreciate that as sometimes I hhad to shove X5ii in my bag so I would use the case it came in - especially when I had objects of questionably density that might had scratched it or objects that I would be uncomfortable touching X5ii directly (Hey, I'm an engineer and business director after all). The hard plastic case does an amazing job at protecting X5ii albeit it only protects the front and in the meanwhile I also got a FiiO HS7, their own carrying cases which are both pretty resistant but feel nice to the touch as well. Those cases are hard carrying cases and you can safely throw around your things in one then throw it in your bag. They also enable you to take a few spare mSD cards, or your favorite IEMs and such. 
    What I look in for a DAP
    When buying a Digital Audio Player, I have a few things that I really need or I'm looking for. Those are:
    - Battery life 
    - Good build so it can perform well in real world usage 
    - Display (screen) brightness, sharpness, colors and quality 
    - Good Value
    - Interesting design 
    - To work well with both my IEMs and my headphones
    - Sound quality
    - To be possible to use it as an USB DAC
    - To have a good EQ function
    Technical Specifications
    Output Impedance0.2 ohm
    Connector3.5mm Headphone Out 
    Frequency Response10 Hz - 65.000Hz (-3dB)
    Works as a USB DACYes
    Play Time~10 Hours
    Display Size / Type 2.4", IPS
    Display Resolution400x360 pixels
    Output Power 436mW into 32 ohm, THD+N <1%
    DAC ChipPCM1792A
    Max Output Voltage8.2Vp-p
    Max Current250mA
    Cross Talk75 dB / 1kHz
    SNR117dB (A weighted)
    AMP ConfigurationOPA 1612 + BUFF 634

    Build Quality/Aesthetics
    X5ii is different from it's predecessor in many aspects, considering it's build and aesthetics. First thing you will notice is a much more unified, but still smooth aspect. Since I own the black version at this moment, I will talk about it. The buttons, sides and everything else is a deep black, with the wheel and center button being black as well. The color is deeo ad the aspect is unified, giving it a unique elegance and refinement. All edges are chamfered, giving it a plus of style and also giving it a good grip. On the tip of it you will find the headphone output and the line out / coaux port. On the bottom you will find it's dual mSD card slots and on the left side you will find 3 buttons, power, volume+ and volume-. I like that volume+ is easily differentiate from the other two buttons - volume+ has a little bit raised part and power button sits flush with the body, so you won't have any problem using X5ii while inside a pocket. The power button has a led inside which helps you determine whether X5ii is running or not, and it helps you determine when it finished charging. All in all, the build quality and aesthetics are pleasing and a nice addition to the DAP. 
    The wheel is tighter than it was on the original X5 and same can be said about all buttons - making operation considerably better for all usage case scenarios. The screen (display) is also considerably brighter than it's predecessor, making usage of X5ii in daylight a real delight. I totally recommend X5ii for outdoors usage from all perspectives of it's build and design. The player is easy to grip, feels nice in hand and it's sturdy. 
    The buttons have been changed from it's predecessor to a design configuration that sits flat with it's surface, so you won't press any of the buttons by mistake. I consider the movement to be entirely in the right direction and I was able to even run with it in my pockets without any keys pressed by mistake. The device is also beautiful in it's design and is something I would be really content using in every environment possible, having a neutral to stylish design that gives it a certain appeal to look at. The thin silvery circles around the operational buttons also add to the style of X5ii.
    Both audio jacks are tight and firm. The jacks are not metallic anymore but made out of plastic, change which is for the better as it won't scratch the plugs you put in any day soon, and after about two years of usage I would say that it remained about as firm as it was on it's first days of usage. 
    The wheel mechanism is tighter than it was on the original X5, making scrolling and browsing a much better overall experience. 
    Firmware and UI
    The firmware developed by FiiO is great, I detected no problems with it and no problems in my daily usage. I did however install this  version https://mega.nz/#!Y0sDjSJL!xetgjoeQcDpFW4yzhnjj6ZtUGlxqyqQD-JQFUxlds2g   
    This version is not the original firmware, but a user interface tweak, made by @XVortex . It speeds up X5ii's firmware and UI, making it smoother in experience, giving it a snappy feel to it. I would name it the fastest DAP to date, but I already had the chance to have X5-3 in hand and that would be unfair given that X5-3 is my new benchmark for UI speed and fluidity (more about this in a few days). 
    After installing that incredible FW mod, I think that X5ii's firmware and UI are complete, it has gapless playback, very good EQ function, with function working from -6dB to +6dB and a volume attenuator that works do stop any kind of clipping / distortion that might appear, it works as a USB DAC and it's hassle free, tags work well in general and folder browsing works as intended. X5ii is very fast to scan my entire librare (1x128 GB mSD card + 1x 64 GB mSD card, both filled to the brink with a collection of FLAC, OGG and MP3), the FW is able to do a few other handy tricks as well. 
    Deep sleep is a feature that allows X5ii to sleep so it doesn't need full boot sequence when it is to be used. This is useful and I generally use it as it consumes very little battery. 
    The firmware is very intuitive and it took me less than a minute to find everything I needed. 
    Sound Quallity
    X5ii has a pretty neutral general signature, with no emphasis. The sound is vivid, clear, has absolute extension both ways - treble and bass and is neutral. Exactly like a DAP should sound like ideally. 
    Channel balance
    The channel balance is perfect on X5ii and I don't hear any imbalance at all. If you headphones do present a channel imbalance or if you need this function, X5ii can actually change it's channel balance by + or - 10 dB to one channel.
    X5ii's bass is deep, gues down to 20 Hz and this is audible with ie800 or Dj One Pro. X5ii's bass is tight and tighter than the original X5, resolving details that otherwise weren't audible with the original X5. With music like Mindless Self Indlugence, you can actually hear the texture of the bass, the level of detail and tightness causes the bass to sound closer to it's original shape, you can hear the differences between different types of bass and they sound like an instrument with strings being played rather than a mass of energy. The bass is tight though, it doesn't bloat and it doesn't explore in any way, leaving all the work of coloration to the headphones. There is nothing I can fault on the bass and it is pleasing. 
    Wtih EDM, the bass is able to resolve many tiny dents in the bass that were otherwise treated as a large moving mass. With this new resolution of bass, the music itself has another meaning leading to a more intriguing experience. 
    The midrange of X5ii is clean, clear, vivid. Musical notes are played with life and energy and the whole music is pretty good. Instrument separation is good and it helps accentuate specific instruments from a composition, for example you can differentiate two background or rhythm guitars in a complex metal song. 
    The dynamic range is better than it was on the original X5, music sounding fuller and livelier on X5ii. 
    Treble is more clear and more detailed on X5ii than it was on X5 and it carries a lot of energy and strength. X5ii is one of the best DAPs I ever tested when it comes to treble, having a very lifelike treble, that expands in all directions and there is no sight of roll off. If I were to give it a name, this would be a true treble - exactly the way treble is intended to sound like. There is no harshness to speak of or false sibilance, but if the record was bad, X5ii will show that. If the record had a harsh processing of treble, X5ii will be able to show that (this is great for metal music, where the treble must sound aggressive and must be abrasive rather than smooth). This lifelike treble also brings a spark to Punk, Jazz, EDM and even classical. Due to the very good treble, X5ii will give a new life to many songs that might had sounded dull or lifeless before. 
    With Dance Gavin Dance - Acceptance Speech, it is possible to hear every fine sound of the cymbal, every semi hit - or quarter second hit that the drummer processed. A true amazing experience as it will be true to the live experience. The higher registers being well pronounced will also determine an interesting true to life tone to guitars. Every guitar solo shines and is full of life, every cymbal hit is so vivid that it's as if it happens directly in front of the listener. 
    This is actually interesitng; X5ii has a bit more width than it has depth. The height of the soundstage is similar to it's depth, bit the width is large. The final result is interesting and enjoyable albeit the size of depth might affect instrument separation a bit when it is compared to DAPs that offer more depth (FiiO X5-3).
    Even so, the instrument separation on X5ii is very good, it is easy to tell instruments apart and the transients are very good as well. The overall experience on ADSR and PRaT is very nice and X5ii will leave the listener satisfied. 
    Drive factor
    X5ii is able to drive many headphones, from Sennheiser ie80 to Sennheiser HD650 and everything in between (Sennheiser ie800, Ultrasone Dj One Pro, Sennheiser HD3800Pro, etc.). The line out of X5ii is clean and clear, provides a very nice signal and when compared to other TOTL DAC solutions, it is up to compete with products even 8 times as expensive at the same level of quality. Regardless, X5ii does not need an amp to sound very good and it is an enjoyable device by its own. 
    X5ii vs X5 - X5ii brings considerably tighter bass, wider soundstage that is a bit shallower, vivider mids and improved dynamics. The treble is better on the X5ii as well, providing better details, much better energy, the treble sounds real and lifelike on X5ii while it sounded a bit dulled out on the first generation X5. 

    Considering that my first X5ii (owned more than one since I had some financial problems) costed me over 370$, I would say that it was entirely worth it's money at that price. One of the best companions for me when I was traveling long roads and it's entire build and future set made my day brighter every single day I used one. When I had to sell my unit due to a few financial constraints, it was one of the hardest decisions I had to make and I regretted it ever since I made it and until I acquired another X5ii. A DAP to keep and with good value. At the price it can be found for nowdays that it will be replaced by X5-3, I can safely call X5ii a steal and a must-get DAP if you fancy its signature. The only thing that might be holding you in place from buying one is X5-3 for which I promise to write an in-depth review in just a few days. X5-3 also offers great value and I strongly suggest checking the differences between models, both their features and their sound is different, with X5-3 coming on better in most aspects, but at a bit steeper price.
    FiiO X5ii is one of the best DAPs in the world and it certainly is a good contender to the title of the "Best DAP ever made".
    I already own a laptop, a 6.4" smartphone and a few other devices so I don't really need my DAP to do anything else than play music from the mSD cards that are within. The only DAP that I tested personally and can threat X5ii's  position at this moment is its own successor, X5-3, which really does add a few more things to the mix! Stay tuned for more details as X5-3 is very interesting as well. 
    To conclude this review, I am using X5ii at this moment and I am most certainly happy with it but there's more to hear in the upcoming news about X5-3, about which I avoided to speak so far as I'm still testing it and I'm still making impressions of it. 
      trellus, dissembled and ryanjsoo like this.
    1. Burma Jones
      Very well written, thank you for the enjoyable read. Agreed with your assessment regarding the sound.
      Burma Jones, Feb 24, 2017
    2. Dobrescu George
      Dobrescu George, Feb 24, 2017
  2. greencalx
    An unfunny joke
    Written by greencalx
    Published Aug 26, 2016
    Pros - For me -- nothing
    Cons - No bookmarking makes the device useless for me -- all other points are moot.
    Can’t believe nobody has commented on the lack of an extremely basic feature that exists on 99% of MP3 players but missing from this and many other Fiio units — which is the ability to bookmark. Without it, this player is garbage IMO — making it impossible to listen to audiobooks and flick between different books and music.
    Fiio developers have had dozens of people pleading with them since 2014, (all there in google on their forums) begging for this most basic functionality. Supposedly their support / forum moderator made the devs aware of this as something to: ‘maybe make it into the next firmware’. Well it did not — in any firmware on any of their products in over two years. They listened — but chose not to ignore the requests. Even in assembly language, adding this functionality is a few days work max by any competent programmer.
    I’m not interested in reviewing the hardware or sound quality in this review — as the only thing about this product and company that is noteworthy, (and not in a good way) is the contempt it has for its customers. I have only just bought the X5ii and it was obsolete before I even received it, (given that it had it’s final firmware in June 2016) which still did nothing to address bookmarks.
    I don’t care if Fiio was able to make a product that had £30,000 worth of sound costing £300 — when missing the most basic functionality — it is garbage. As is their ability to address their paying customers very reasonable requests, (that Fiio has known about for at least two years).
    If they had omitted the ability to pause it would be no more annoying. This player and this company are a joke IMO. I will be taking a lump hammer to my 1 week old unit — as that will be the only satisfaction this player will ever give me.
    ******* response to Cinder below -- as I can't comment on their comment *******
    Are you a Fiio rep ? I’ll assume you didn’t take a cursory look in Google — otherwise you’d have seen you’re mistaken with regard to my: ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill / loan nut’ assertion and see there’s plenty of people saying the exact same thing.
    You’re right about one thing —  I’m a little salty on it. £269’s worth of salt to be exact, (not USD which is all the form accepts).
    You seem to suggest that valid criticism of a product is unwelcome and dismiss it as: ‘fix in a few minutes / user error’, (by creating a playlist). However, there are people who call a spade a spade and afford no product or company sacred cow status if dissatisfied with a product. 
    A playlist is not a bookmark — nor can it ever serve that function; (some audiobooks have dozens and some even hundreds of files). I’m sure you don’t really think that the majority of all mp3 player manufacturers that do have bookmark capability took the trouble to implement an unneeded feature. I don’t even think I could find an Mp3 player without it, (except for the one I just bought).
      hieple193 and hsdw like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      People are neglecting to note that this isn't about the user, it's about the company.
      Whether or not he should have bought it isn't the point. Nor is it the point that he bought (or pretended to buy) an item that he knows doesn't have this functionality.
      The point stands, that if users complained about a widespread feature, Fiio knew about this, and did nothing about it, it says something pretty important about the company.
      While I don't think this should be specific to any one review (like twister said, more suited to a thread), it is a valid point, regardless of whether you should or should not have bought it.
      And yet, complaints in the thread seemed to have no impact on this issue. So I kind of see why someone would want to try a more drastic option.
      avitron142, Aug 28, 2016
    3. doctorcilantro
      "A DAP's most basic functionality is playing music."
      Very hard to do when the UX design is crap. E.g. the iBasso DX80 does not support M3U or an Play Next function.
      The lack of usability on many of these devices blows my mind.
      doctorcilantro, Aug 29, 2016
    4. DrSHP
      It is not a review.not helpfull
      DrSHP, Mar 3, 2018
      miguel.yarce likes this.
  3. anqallyt
    Good Balance. Vocals sometimes recessed. Good soundstage. Simple UI but works.
    Written by anqallyt
    Published Jun 4, 2016
    Pros - Neutral sound. Clean, fairly good separation. Relaxing not fatiguing sound. Good soundstage.
    Cons - No storage. Vocals sometimes recessed. Need to adjust volume sometimes as not consistant on different tracks.
    I really like this DAP but it does is make me want to get a top one. At times it really delivers and then on some tracks the vocals take a back seat.  I was debating on the ipod 6 with bigger storage or this. I find it very neutral with a nice sound stage. Its track dependent as some songs suffer. I copied all my iTunes songs and some ripped cd's and even some flac files and the unit is hard to figure out. I am constantly adjusting the volume even a few flac tracks. The ipod touch is  louder and works very well with all low impedance headphones/iems where as the FIIO is not as consistent. It can drive my 650's and he400i's at larger volumes but still is track dependent. When I a/b the ipod with it the FIIO sounds cleaner and I actually hear more but like I said the vocals can be recessed. The ipod is a more fun unit but I really like the clarity of the FIIO. If you love your ipod and music and need to replace it. Buy  another. The ipod is still a great portable music player with wifi/Bluetooth and a very good sound. If you want to listen analytically to experience sound and move into the audiophile(not sure its a gift, more like a curse) DAP's the FIIO X5 seems like a good starting point but it may make you want more which means a lot more $$$$ like an Astell and Kern ak240. Technically the FIIO is a better DAP but the ipod touch is more fun/practical/portable, easier to use, cheaper and can do more than just play songs. My ipod 16gb is low on storage but it still gets the bulk use of my listening. The FIIO I am still trying to figure out how to enjoy it more. 
    Edit: Well I spent the day with FIIO and changed some IEM tips and found my Westone w40's really do well.  Even my audiofly af78's which I never used much of(changed tips) sounded great. Some tracks still need volume bumps but I have to admit its a very relaxing experience listening to the FIIO X5. I then put on my ipod and I was surprised that I felt the music was not clear and I actually didn't like the loudness. I noticed micro distortion. I have no carrying case or protector for the FIIO so its not going to be used on the go. That's fine the ipod does the job and it's clearly a great portable music player. I was never one for a forward  sound but I am tempted to try the Shure 535's with the FIIO X5 might be a good match to put some fun into them.  So I have to say my Ipod will now be an outdoor dog only.
  4. eriksq
    Detailed, analytical, bright
    Written by eriksq
    Published May 1, 2016
    Pros - Storage space, looks, size
    Cons - Sound quality
    Just on sound quality, meh. It's very quiet, and detailed, but on my main headphones, AKG K712, the mid-treble balance is just too bright. The bass is nice and deep and honest, and midrange is OK, not particularly sweet or warm. In all a very analytical and a little tiring to listen to.
    To put it in perspective, a headphone amp I heard that to me was MUCH worse than this is the Oppo HA1. If that is an amp you like though you'll love this one too.
    To my ears and multiple headphones, the Pono is much better than the X5II or Oppo HA1 either of these two. The Pono is also currently more expensive, and has far too limited storage as well as an eco-system I don't want to jump into.
    The X7 with it's Tidal support is really kind of ideal, but twice the price as the X5, and I've never heard it. The DSD capable UFO DAC's are also GREAT sounding, almost as good as the Pono, but were not portable and mine died after 60 days.
    I'm really really sad this isn't going to work by itself. Perhaps the K7 warms up the sound, I'll update if I can later. EnjoyTheMusic's review says it does good things for it. Of course you could argue I could get different headphones, but last audio show I went to the AKG's sounded really good on most amps except the Oppo, so I don't think they headphones are the outliers. Of course, please your own ears, not mine.
      taffy2207 and Light - Man like this.
    1. Currawong
      Interesting. I never thought of the X5II as bright, but then I read the other negative review for the X5II which was based around AKGs (the K812s) as well, where the reviewer felt that he was missing a lot of bass. 
      Currawong, May 10, 2016
  5. jackgu1988
    Excellent sound quality
    Written by jackgu1988
    Published Mar 13, 2016
    Pros - Sound quality, Portability, Features
    Cons - Not very clear when the device is on and consuming battery, Does not show date/time
    The sound quality of this thing is absolutely amazing! I understand why some people are not very happy with the user interface, but if you spend 5-10 minutes to navigate through all the options I am sure that you will figure it out.
    The price is a bit high, but I think that spending a bit more for something that will stay is better than going for a cheaper option that you may not completely satisfy you.
    People also have complained about the lack of internal memory. Personally, I prefer it like that, as I don't have to erase/transfer new music all the time.
    My only two (minor) problems are:
    1. It does not show the time. It is not that important, but it would be a nice to have feature (if supported by the hardware).
    2. The battery life is a bit weird. Either the indicator is not very accurate, or if you don't manually turn the device off, it stays awake even if no music is playing for hours. There is a "sleep" option that I did not have the time to try yet, but it may be doing the trick. Besides that, battery life is quite good.
    Overall, it is a great product. I highly recommend it if you are after sound quality on the go and don't mind a little old-fashioned interface.
  6. Currawong
    The FiiO X5II is a good improvement in all areas over the original and brings it back into contention as a good, bargain DAP or digital transport.
    Written by Currawong
    Published Feb 27, 2016
    Pros - Dual micro SD card slot storage, long battery life, including standby, neat design, good software features.
    Cons - iPod like UI slow to navitate, poor playlist support, digital output needs a custom cable, no optical output, heavy, full-size HP drive not great.





    If you head into the headphone audio section of the major electronics retailers here in Japan, you can buy a veritable smorgasbord of Head-Fi’s most well-known brand-name products, from ALO Audio through to Ultrasone. However, the brand that got in there before all the others that didn’t make headphones was FiiO. While they started out making simple apps to add between your iPod and a pair of headphones, they have come all the way through to making full-blown Digital Audio Players (DAPs). Top of the range, at least until the up-coming X7 is released is the X5, which is now in its second iteration. 
    The X5 took the Head-Fi world by storm. Fairly reasonably priced and, with the release of Sandisk’s 128GB micro SD cards, able to hold 256 GBs of music, albeit at a cost for the cards more than the player itself. A fairly attractive unit, it was solidly built, if something of a throwback to the original iPod with its physically spinning front wheel and selector buttons.
    The second generation version has slimmed down and neatened up, removing some of the complexity of the outer case -- chamfering making way for flatness, the covered card slots losing their covers and recessed position, and the coax and line out sockets combining into one, changing the way the outputs work. The piece of plastic covering the screen on the original was always a bit odd, being wider than the screen by a considerable margin. With the slightly smaller overall size, the screen now sits more neatly behind the plastic, no longer looking comically narrower, even if the sider borders are slightly wider than those at the top and bottom.  
    FiiO_X5II-7.png X5 left, X5II right.
    When I unboxed the X5II, I was surprised to find sets of stick on designs -- faux carbon fibre, US flag and a wood design which can be attached to the X5II to give it something of a different appearance than just silver. A rubber case is also included which, aside from the screen and sockets, has a small hole for the indictor light on the power button.
    That power button too has been included as part of the makeover, moving to the side and now including the power status light which was previously above the USB port. That leaves it lighter, neater and more pocket-able but still somewhat heavy compared to a Sony or Lotoo PAW5000 for example. 
    The new power button with indicator.
    Likewise, the user interface has been improved. The thing that bugged me about the original X5 user interface was that on the main menu, the options scrolled endlessly, confusing me as to where I was and which direction I should scroll to get to the option I want. With the X5II interface, they have fixed the icons on screen, and scroll the highlighting instead, which is an improvement. The main menu options have also been reduced from 7 to 5, the Favourites moved to the music menu and are now called "Collections". The EQ has also been moved into the settings. 

    While the user interface is much the same as a classic iPod, there are more options, especially in the settings than one would get with an Apple device. One of those options is settings for the key lock, which can be restricted to just the play/pause center button, or include back/forward or back/forward and volume controls. 
    X5 left, X5II right.

    Now that the number of outputs have been reduced, the line out also doubles as a digital output, which must be activated in the settings. Unfortunately that means the pinouts for digital output have changed. Instead of a standard TS plug working, the X5II requires a special 4-pole TRRS cable which uses the last ring and sleeve for the digital connection. The X5II also introduces a setting to allow inline controls on headphones and IEMs (where included) to be used or switched off. Sadly there is still no optical digital output, which would make pairing with a DAC easier.
    New X5II digital cable top, X5 cable bottom.
    Another great feature, most handy for podcast listeners is a setting to have the track resume where previously stopped when the unit is restarted. 

    One of my favourite aspects of the X5II's design is the low battery power usage, obviously a consequence of having a player that doesn't use an Android-based interface. I've had enough players here that I had to pretty much keep on charge, or keep switched off because their batteries would drain in a quarter of a day or less. Not so with the X5 and X5II which I would leave switched off for weeks, or switched on for days and there would still be plenty of charge left. 
    Rather amusingly, the X5II comes with stick-on front, back and side coverers with wood, carbon fibre and American flag patterns, allowing the DAP to be spruced up a bit. The rest of the design still has something of a 2001-era iPod user interface, though playlists are now supported, something only more recently available on the original X5. Playlists themselves take some formatting trickery to be read properly, however. This is the result of it being targeted primarily at the Chinese market, where playlists aren’t considered important and the good-sounding smart phones we take for granted are vastly more expensive. 
    One thing that hasn’t changed about the X5II is the excellent battery life, and the ability for the DAP to sit, switched on for many days, yet hardly draining the battery. Also, not having to deal with the complexities of Android, the UI is pretty fast to scroll through.  Likewise, the X5II will also double as a DAC to your computer, so it can be readily used with your computer’s entire music library.
    There are also still two micro SD card slots, which, if you don't mind either waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales or paying a lot of money, you can fill with up to 2x200GB cards and carry quite a lot of music, more so than many other players.
    FiiO_X5II-9.png X5 left, X5II right.


    I compared the original X5 with a few IEMs, the Sony XBA-30s for the low-end, FitEar Parterres for the mid-range and my UERMs and Roxannes for the high-end. My impressions back then were that it hit the wall at the mid-range, not getting the most out of the high-end IEMs. What is more, it wouldn't drive the Laylas well at all. 
    Likewise with full-sized headphones the original really needed an amp to shine with most good headphones and found much improvement with my Headamp Pico Power.
    The X5II improves on this considerably, moving up in sound quality to close to, if not as good as the Calyx M, both in IEM driving ability and performance with full-sized headphones, doing a good job with both. I managed to get a good soundstage with the HD800s and the Laylas were driven very well. Compared to using it with an amp, such as the E12A or Pico Power, the improvement was far less than it was with the X5. 
    The X5II has what may seem to be a very slightly warm tuning, I assume tuned towards their main market in China, though this could be an impression that comes as a result of comparing it with the output of my iPhone, that can seem a bit bright and harsh in the treble. As with every DAP or DAC I've used that uses off-the-shelf digital components, improvement in the naturalness of instruments could be had via iZotope up-sampling in Audirvana when used as a DAC from my computer. Even with that, it couldn't beat Chord's Mojo in that regard, but at the same time the difference wasn't extreme. The FPGA-powered Soundaware M1 Esther was a similar story, sounding more detailed and natural, but is more expensive. 
    The surprise of the day was how well the X5II performed with MrSpeaker’s Ethers. While I wasn’t expecting much, at a moderate volume I could still get something of a soundstage with most music, albeit with not as much impact as a full-sized headphone. Also, due to the limited power output of the X5II there was significant fall-off in the low bass. Handing over the heavy duty lifting to the E12A, with it’s more substantial 460 mW of output, the soundstage opened up noticeably, instrument detail become more clear and the low bass was as present as it should be. 

    The hardest test was yet to come. JHAudio’s Laylas thoroughly slayed the original X5, which simply couldn’t handle the complex crossover inside them. The X5II passed the test well, much as it had with the Ethers. Likewise the E12A added space, dimension and delineation to the music.
    That makes it is nicer to listen with than my iPhone 6, and does quite a good job even with full-sized headphones, but still I feel needs at least the matching E12 or E12A or another amp to get the most out its sound capabilities, especially with full-sized headphones, albeit with far greater diminishing returns than with the original. With dynamic IEMs and headphones it is still behind my Headamp Pico Power in driving capability. Where I felt it really shines best is with mid-range balanced armature IEMs. FitEar’s brighter Parterre and FitEar models, as well as my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors were a pleasure to use with the X5II.  With some great balanced armature IEMs, including the UERM customs when heavily discounted, it is possible with the X5II to have a very good-sounding portable listening rig for under $1k.
    If you're OK with the iPod Classic-like interface and value battery life higher than having a touch screen, as long as you don't mind it being slightly weighty, the X5II is great DAP, holding its value well and adding much-needed performance that the original didn't have.
    Thanks to FiiO for providing the X5II for me to review.
      Brooko and PinkyPowers like this.
  7. mosshorn
    Best Bang for your Buck DAP out there!
    Written by mosshorn
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    Pros - Excellent SQ thru HP out and Line Out, USB DAC, Build quality
    Cons - Improvements for EQ, UI themes are not the best
    Whew, this one took longer than expected to get around to but it is finally done! Thanks to Fiio for including me on the X5ii tour! (I will have pictures up later tonight)
    I'm going to skip all details of this DAP with exception of build quality, UI, and SQ. Even though most of this has been covered ad nauseum, those three parts are subjective.
    Build Quality
    The build quality of the X5ii is superb. The player feels solid in the hand, but not overly weighty as the first gen did. I personally enjoy the button layout, and all had a very good feel to them, with little to no squishiness. While the scroll wheel on the demo wheel has been said to need some work, I didn't find it too much different from the production X3ii. The display is BEAUTIFUL. I didn't think I would want a big display for a DAP until I tried it. Wow.
    The UI is snappy and for the most part intuitive. If you've browsed on any trackwheel based Fiio, you know what to expect. One thing I would like to see would be more minimal theme options, or at least more polished ones. This is obviously a minor nitpick and doesn't affect the usability of this player.
    For reference, I didn't care for the first gen X5 (albeit I had different headphones at the time) or the X3ii. They were by no means bad, just not quite there for me. I will take a player with slightly less resolution if it has a tone I like. The DIYmods come to mind: they sound dated, but have a certain sweetness that I always found appealing.
    The X5ii is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable DAPs I have experienced. The soundstage when using my UERMs was astounding, and combined with the ALO RX IEM amp was nothing short of stellar. The detail is there, but not so much that you lose the overall flow of the music. I still can't get over the soundstage. A particular album to reference is “Benji” by Sun Kil Moon. The player is very close to a true “natural” sound to me. If I had to find something truly wrong, it would be that it is almost too natural. Even though this is against my goals of a neutral sound, sometimes I like a little more coloration. While the EQ is an improvement from the last generation of Fiio players, I still feel like the EQ changes the feel of the player rather than simply sculpting it.
    This is probably the best DAP for your money. It is a jack of all trades, and master of many. The sound signature will work well with several different headphones and IEMs. The USB DAC implementation was flawless across Windows AND Linux. If you can live with the form factor, I would say that you could buy this and leave Head-fi. Leave this forum of constant upgrades, and enjoy the quality that Fiio has produced in the X5ii.
      JoeDoe and bruce1967 like this.
    1. bruce1967
      Well done! Thanks for the review.
      bruce1967, Sep 30, 2015
  8. x RELIC x
    The Must Have Incremental Upgrade
    Written by x RELIC x
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    Pros - Form factor, Build Quality, Deep Sleep mode, multiple themes, sound quality improvements, battery life, Native DSD decoding, Price/Performance ratio
    Cons - Same interface shortcomings as previous generation, Combined line out/coaxial out, No dust covers for the mSD slots

    The FiiO X5ii was provided to me as part of the Canadian leg of the world tour in exchange for my impressions and honest opinion on the device. It has long since left my possession and has made its way through the next reviewers. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have not been able to post my review for some time. The good news is that I in fact did purchase a retail X5ii very shortly after my time with the review unit was over so I have some long term experience with the unit that I hope I can convey in my review. I am in no way affiliated with FiiO and have not been compensated for in exchange for my impressions. This review is based entirely on my impressions and your impressions may vary.
    About Me
    I am an audio enthusiast in my mid forties and have enjoyed listening to music since my youth with vinyl, cassettes, and later CDs and digital files. I listen to wide variety of music from a perspective of losing myself to the experience. At times I like to be transported to different states of mind or emotion in the case of classical and OST recordings. Other times I go to the venue in the case of live recordings, binaural+, or studio sessions. Some times I just like to rock out. Every time, however, I want the clearest and most natural representation of the music that I can afford. If the track has thumping bass I want to hear it. If the track is complex with many instruments I want to hear each one. I listen critically often but also appreciate timbre and musicality. 
    I've used Sony Walkman cassette players, mini disc players, Sansa Clip+, iPod classics, iPhones etc., over the years. My first digital high resolution player was the FiiO X3 first generation. My current player is the first generation FiiO X5 and I enjoy it for it's revealing and honest presentation of the music, and it's flexibility to integrate with the rest of my gear. This review will be mostly in comparison to the X5 with different headphones and amplifiers currently in my possession.
    Fiio X5ii General information:
    FiiO X5ii Product page LINK
    General Specifications:
    Model/Number - X5 (X5 2nd gen)
    Headphone Port - Standard 3.5mm Headphone Port
    Color - Titanium
    Drive Ability - 16~150 Ω
    Dimensions - 109 mm× 63.5 mm× 15.3 mm
    Volume Control - 120 steps digital potentiometer
    Weight - 165 g
    Equalizer - 10-band equalizer (±6dB)
    Display Screen - 2.4", 262,144 color HD IPS screen with 400x360 pixels
    Line Out - Standard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
    Digital Out (coaxial) - Standard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
    Balance - 10 dB
    USB DAC - Supporting up to 24bit / 192kHz and DSD (driver installation required)
    Gain - 3.6dB(Gain=L) // 9.1dB(Gain=H
    Partial Performance Parameters for Line Output
    THD+N - <0.001% (1 kHz)
    SNR - ≥114 dB (A-weight)
    Frequency Response - 20 Hz~20 kHz
    Dynamic Range - >110 dB
    Crosstalk - >115 dB (10 KΩ/1 kHz)
    Line Output Level - 1.53 Vrms (10 KΩ/1 kHz)
    Partial Performance Parameters for Headphone Output:
    Output Power 1 - >245 mW(32Ω//THD+N<1%)
    Output Power 2 - >436 mW(16Ω/THD+N<1%)
    Output Power 3 - >27 mW(300Ω/THD+N<1%)
    Output Impedance - <0.2 Ω(32Ω)
    Crosstalk - >75 dB (1 kHz)
    THD+N - <0.001% (1 kHz)
    Frequency Response - 20 Hz~20 kHz
    MAX Output Voltage - >8.2 Vp-p
    SNR - ≥117 dB (A-weighted)
    MAX Output Current - >250 mA(For reference)
    Power and Battery:
    Power - DC5V 2A recommended
    Battery Capacity - 3300 mAh
    Charge Display - Red light indicates , green light turns on after fully charged 
    Battery Life - >10 h (32Ω; normal volume with display off )
    Battery Display - Yes (Accurate battery % readings))
    Charging Time - <4h (DC5V 2A)
    Audio Formats Supported:
    DSD: DSD64, DSD128 (.iso&.dsf & .dff);
    APE(Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit;
    APE(Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit;
    APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit;
    AIFF: 192 kHz/24 bit;
    FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit;
    WAV: 192 kHz/64 bit;
    WMA Lossless: 96 kHz/24 bit;
    Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit;
    Lossy compression: MP2、MP3、AAC、ALAC、WMA、OGG...
    New features compared to the first generation X5:
    1. All-new exterior design, improved build, with metal finish changed from powdered to brushed;
    2. More compact and lightweight; smaller black borders around LCD;
    3. All-new independent amplification stage with analogue volume control, increasing audio resolution;
    4. All new digital audio architecture, utilizing dual crystal oscillators dedicated to multiples of 44.1 and 48kHz respectively (including 176.4kHz=4x44.1, 192kHz=4x48 and DSD64 and DSD128 (multiples of 44.1), handling all major sample rates without resampling artifacts and minimal jitter;
    5. Supporting hardware DSD decoding;
    6. Supporting CTIA-standard in-line earphone remotes (e.g. Apple, Samsung compatible earphones)
    7. Breakthrough power architecture design that utilizes different system voltages for low and high gain, allowing maximum flexibility between long endurance and high driving power in the same unit.
    8. All-new power management feature: auto standby mode allows player to remain in standby for weeks, ready to continue playing instantly.
    9. Coulomb meter for precise battery level readouts.

    The packaging
    DPP_0050.jpg   DPP_0051.jpg   DPP_0052.jpg  
    DPP_0053.jpg   DPP_0054.jpg   DPP_0055.jpg  

    The X5ii comes in standard FiiO packaging and simply says X5 on the box.
    - 1m high-current micro USB data / charging cable
    - 3.5mm TRRS coaxial S/PDIF to RCA adaptor
    - Silicone case (Black) for earlier models, clear hard case for later models
    - 3 screen protectors (1 applied in-factory)
    - Quick reference sheet, quick start guide, warranty card
    - Body stickers - 3 sets (USA flag, wood grain, carbon fibre)
    - HDtracks coupon
    DPP_0056.jpg   DPP_0057.jpg   DPP_0058.jpg  

    Note the S/PDIF to RCA adaptor is different than the first generation.
    You will need to use this 3.5 TRRS adaptor for coaxial output on the X5ii
    Hardware Look and Feel

    The new X5ii is overall an improvement in ergonomics and aesthetics to me over the last generation. The face buttons are less prone to accidental pushes given their new design and the power on/off feels more accessible on the side rather than on the top. The wheel is stiffer and feels like a better implementation. 


    One comment about the wheel is the detents are much more noticeable on this generation over the last. I feel this is a mistake on FiiO's part to make the 'clicks' more prominent. There seems to be some difficulty in generally lining up the hardware click with one movement in the menu structure and this has led to a lot of criticism of the wheel. If they made the wheel slightly more resistive (not as free moving) than the first generation and with less mechanical wobble then they'd have avoided a lot of negative feedback about the clicks. Personally I don't care if a click lines up with a selection or not, but I can see the point of view that others have. Over time the detents on my unit have somewhat become less prominent, yet at the same time without feeling ‘mushy’ or too loose.
    The main chassis is made of aluminum with a brushed texture that is pleasing to look at and doesn't show finger prints. I really like the new titanium colour of the new unit.

    The screen is an IPS 400x360 resolution LCD screen and is bright and vibrant with very good viewing angles. Compared to the previous generation it seems initially to be quite an improvement in colour and contrast as well as improved sharpness. However, after adjusting the brightness on the old generation to match (3 notches brighter) the differences are very slight. I initially commented that the screen was a giant improvement but that gap is significantly narrowed when matched in brightness.
    Hardware Usability
    Interaction with the X5ii is a combination of four buttons around the mechanical scroll wheel on the front face and power and volume controls on the left side. The main usability is the same as the X5 Classic but I really do like the power button on the side better. The layout of the buttons and wheel is something that I really enjoy using in a DAP. Everything is pretty much where it needs to be for quick access and I’m never really doing any finger acrobats to control the device.
    The volume buttons also act as track forward/back buttons when the screen is locked. In this mode a brief press incrementally adjusts the volume and a long press skips tracks. The nice thing about FiiO DAPs is there are a multitude of shortcuts that are available depending on the screen or menu that is currently displayed. I recommend users find out what navigation easter eggs are available by pressing, or holding down, the menu and back buttons in different screens. It really helps with usability.
    DPP_0026.jpg I'm loving the light indicator on the power button!

    Inputs and Outputs and Storage
    On the top is the output jacks. There is the Headphone Out and the combined Line Out / Coaxial out. I much prefer the individual output jacks for coaxial and line level output on the X5 Classic given that I’ll often pop in to desktop listening straight from portable and it’s so much easier without digging in to the Settings Menu to switch the output.
    DPP_0012.jpg The HO and LO are reversed on the unit
    compared to the previous generation.

    Headphone Out produces:
    >436 mW(16Ω/THD+N<1%)

    >245 mW(32Ω//THD+N<1%)
    >27 mW(300Ω/THD+N<1%)
    Generally FiiO recommends using headphones with an impedance of 16~300 Ohm.
    1. Line Out bypasses the internal headphone amplifier and sends the 1.53 Vrms (10KOhm / 1kHz) stereo signal from the DAC to an outboard amplifier.

    1. Coaxial SPDIF outputs the decoded digital signal to use an external DAC to handle the digital to analogue conversion.

    DPP_0006.jpg No more dust covers on the mSD ports.
    On the bottom of the unit you'll find the micro USB jack and the two mSD slots. The USB jack is used for charging as well as transfering data and also when using the X5ii as a USB DAC from a computer. 

    The battery life of the unit is rated at >10 h (32Ω; normal volume with display off ) and I found this to be about what I was getting playing a variety of redbook CD 16bit/44.1kHz files to high resolution 24bit/192kHz files. I find the unit does not get that warm compared to other DAPs I’ve used, but it does heat up a bit. I’m quite happy with the battery life. When connected to a portable amp the battery life approaches ~20 hours and through coaxial I’m able to get ~30 hours use. Not bad. 
    Of note is the Deep Sleep mode on the X5ii and one of the main reasons for me purchasing the unit. When the player is idle it will enter Deep Sleep mode determined by the idle time set in the Settings Menu. In this mode the X5ii can last for up to a month in standby. The function works brilliantly and is a joy to have instant 'power on' compared to the power cycle that’s required with the X5 Classic.
    The mSD slot supports the current 128gb and 200gb cards on the market and I had no trouble using the Sandisk 128gb FAT32 formatted card straight out of my FiiO X5. Scanning music from the card seemed on par with the X5, that is to say pretty snappy considering the amount of files. I was also able to upgrade the firmware from 1.0 to 1.1 using this card with music files on it so no worries there.
    Software Usability (GUI)
    Just like the FiiO X5 the new X5ii pretty much uses the same interface. - The main theme of the X5ii is slightly different with its layout and five menu items vs seven on the original X5. This is no Apple UI but it gets the job done and I have no real complaints here. The nice part about the FiiO 'X’ series players is that we can modify themes to create custom theme for our unit. The functionality remains the same but custom themes can be much more pleasant to use than the default ones. On top of that the X5ii has five themes built in. While I appreciate the work FiiO has done on the themes I quickly transferred my existing X5 themes to the X5ii. Another reason I wanted to own one.
    Boot time is fairly quick and about on par with X5 Classic.
    I had no issues playing a variety of music files from mp3 320kbps, aac 256kbps, to 16/44.1 lossless FLAC and ALAC, and high resolution ALAC up to 24/192.
    The X5ii has a 10 band EQ that adjusts in increments of 0.5db. The EQ lowers the volume by ~5db when engaged to avoid clipping when the sliders are at their maximum. This is a welcome implementation and the EQ works well to shape the sound output of the device. Users should be aware though that the EQ does not work on files that are over 48kHz sampling rate. For 48kHz and below you are good to go! The reason is the amount of processing power required is simply too much for the device to handle above 48kHz sampling rates. Not a big deal in my book. Another knock against the new model is the EQ is buried in the Playback Settings menu. I much prefer to have it in the main menu where it's easier to access.
    You can also use the EQ with Line Out and Coaxial Out. Another perk for custom themes is that you can change the name of the EQ presets if you open the FW up. It’s fairly easy to do and I thank FiiO for providing the tools for users to customize their players.
    Gapless playback works mostly without a hitch for me and I did not notice any transitions in the lossless tracks of albums such as Pink Floyd's The Wall, or Hans Zimmer's OST The Dark Knight Rises. On lossy ACC files I do notice a very slight gap between tracks and I wonder if this can be fixed in a future FW update.
    Custom Themes Examples
    You may have noticed that there isn't one of the default themes in my X5ii images. I had converted my themes to the X5ii before the tour unit arrived so I've had very little time using the default interface. With that said the default GUI is an improvement over the last generation, it's just that I prefer mine. For those that want to try out some custom themes here are some of my examples. Please keep in mind that custom themes do not change any of the basic functionality of the player.
    I'll also note that these photos are not indicative of the quality of the screen or the themes shown.
    Click on any image to enlarge.
    DPP_0037.jpg   DPP_0038.jpg  

    DPP_0039.jpg   DPP_0040.jpg  

    DPP_0043.jpg   DPP_0044.jpg  

    For more themes or to try your hand at making one for the X5ii see this custom themes THREAD LINK.
    X5ii DAC section
    The X5ii uses a single DAC architecture with a top of the line Texas Instruments 1792A DAC chip, same as the X5 Classic, and FiiO has done an even better job with the implementation. Using dual Crystal Oscillators for multiples of 44.1kHz/DSD64/128, and 48kHz there is little to no digital distortion/smearing (jitter) that I can detect with my most revealing headphones/IEMs. The DAC section can deal with DSD high resolution formats DSD128 and DSD64 natively (.iso & .dsf & .dff), as well as up to high resolution 24bit/192kHz for lossless PCM ALAC, FLAC, WAV, APE  formats, and lossy PCM MP3, AAC, WMA formats.
    The DAC section of the X5ii is well implemented with no real smearing or loss of detail for a Delta-Sigma implementation that I can hear. Thumbs up FiiO.
    To use the X5ii as a USB DAC you'll need to instal the drivers provided on the FiiO website for Windows. For Mac users no drivers are required for the USB DAC functionallity. 
    X5ii Amplifier section
    FiiO has paid close attention to the amplifier section in the X5ii. One of their main marketing points is the higher woking voltages of 14V+- using high gain (a 40% increase over the last generation) to supply power to the amp. I’ve learned that the working voltage is the direct result in how the signal is amplified without distortion resulting in better dynamics. When the unit is used with low gain the voltage is reduced resulting in longer run times. There have been many discussions on Head Fi about how low vs high gain should be used and the benefits one may hear between the two. The standard thought is that if it’s loud enough on low gain you should use that, but with different gear as well as with the X5ii I’ve personally found that the more voltage feeding the amp then the cleaner the signal. The resulting boost in dynamics (the difference between the quietest undistorted signal and the loudest undistorted signal) is welcomed by me, slight as it may be. I’m sure others would disagree and as I said the difference is slight but undeniably I can hear it.
    The X5ii also outputs more current at the headphone jack than the X5 Classic. The output buffers used are claimed to output 250mA current output which is a 67% improvement over the first generation. All in all to me the X5ii headphone output is clean, fast and more articulate than the previous generation. With a slight bump in dynamics and transient speed I really have no complaints with the X5ii amp section. I’ve even used the LCD-2 straight out of the headphone output with positive results. 
    DPP_0002.jpg Yes! It can be done.

    FiiO X5ii overall Sound
    When describing the sound of a player there are many factors to consider - from the files being used and how they were mastered, the headphones being used, the volume one is using, the output chosen (headphone out, line out, coaxial out) and the other gear in the chain. Also, the perspective one is coming from I feel is of great importance. If a user has never heard a very detailed and analytical source they might find the X5ii to be too bright and analytical, or too revealing of the flaws in poorly mastered music. On the other hand if coming from a perspective of highly revealing source gear and quality masters one may find the X5ii to be too warm and not analytical enough.
    I'll be describing the signature of the X5ii from the use of generally well mastered music with a range of headphones with different sound signatures in my collection. One last note before I begin with describing the sound. If you don't like the sound signature of your headphones the X5ii will not magically change them in to something else. These are my findings and you mileage may vary.
    Basically the X5ii is a neutral player with a clean and detailed output. I feel the overall sound is balanced with perhaps a slight leaning toward an analytical over a musical presentation. That’s not to say that I can’t get my toe tapping while listening to the X5ii, it’s just that there is a sense of detail and cleanliness being a priority over bass thump and euphonic sound. For my tastes this suites me fine. The imaging is very good from the X5ii but the soundstage is somewhat narrow, like it’s older brother. Compared to DAPs from other manufacturers I’ve heard it can sound a bit flat but in no way do I think it sounds bad on its own.
    Sound Comparison to FiiO X5 Classic
    Note the obvious size difference. X5ii has been on a diet!

    The first thing I noticed was slightly better separation of instruments compared to the X5. The space between instruments and the detail is slightly better. I can pick out subtleties in track better. When I go back to the X5 Classic the upper bass and lower mids seem elevated, and while this may seem like this would add more 'musicality' it does not. It just sounds like the original has some EQ applied instead, while at the same time the new generation does not sound like it’s lacking either. Very strange difference but that’s how I hear it.
    Besides the slight difference in upper bass and lower mids I'd say the sound signature of both these DAPs is very close with the X5ii edging out the X5 Classic in dynamics and micro detail. These differences aren't huge but can make an overall better impression in the long run. That’s the key here. At first listen (and when doing quick a/b comparisons) the X5ii doesn’t seem to be all that much of an upgrade. After some solid listening time exclusively with the unit then going back to the X5 Classic reveals some very obvious improvements in the new generation.
    Headphone Pairings
    DPP_0036.jpg The usual suspects.

    To be honest I don't beleive that a certain headphones must be paired with a certain piece of gear or a certain genre. I beleive in synergy with gear, sure, but if you don't like your headphone you should move on to a different set rather than wrestle with gear to compensate, or use an EQ. 
    Vmoda M-100 - The X5ii helps the bass heavy (though somewhat detailed bass) M-100 a little with the detail. Overall though the M-100 has so much bass that without an equalizer I prefer not to listen to it. On the X5ii I dialed the 31Hz-62Hz range down by -6db, 125Hz down by -5db, 250 Hz down by -4db, and 500Hz down by -3 db. This helped quite a bit to balance the these headphones closer to my LCD-2 with regard to the frequency balance, and the EQ worked well. However, the M-100 did nothing for soundstage.
    AKG K550 - These headphones can sound a bit hot in the treble but the lower bass has a good kick to them and can punch hard when the music calls for it. I  found the K550 a bit bright from the X5ii with its treble detail. The K550 did help with some extra soundstage added to the rather narrow presentation of the X5ii. Overall an ok match and a fun listen.
    Audeze LCD-2.2 non fazor - The fact that these planar dynamic headphones can be driven from the X5ii without using a portable amp is good news. The X5ii increased the sense of treble and provides a good enough source for the LCD-2. It's not a match made in heaven though. The dynamics are somewhat crippled and it sounds a bit hollow to me compared to my desktop gear. This is expected though. Still you can use the X5ii with the LCD-2 to drive it to good volumes when in a pinch. High gain was used and brought the sound of the LCD-2 up a notch over low gain.
    Audeze LCD-XC - The LCD-XC is a different animal than the LCD-2. It's much more efficient and has much faster drivers with more detail retrieval. The X5ii paired very well with the XC for drivability but the elevated upper mids and treble on the XC were a bit too much coming from the somewhat neutral output of the X5ii. However, if I want to dig in to the details of the track these headphones are the ones I grab. Of course we are talking about some serious headphones and I find them very enjoyable but the X5ii wasn't the best paired with the XC.
    JH Audio Angie Universal IEM - The JH Angie has a bass attenuator on the cable to dial in the amount of bass you want. It’s an easy and elegant solution to tweaking the output of your source. With the X5ii I bump up the bass dial on the Angie and the music really comes alive. There is detail readily on hand and the musicality to tap my feet. This is different to the bass from the X5 Classic and I can’t quite get my head around how to describe it. There’s just more of an analogue feel to the Angie bass attenuator than the sound signature of the X5 Classic. Perhaps its the combo with better dynamics, or the slightly blacker background. Either way this is my favourite pairing with the X5ii.
    Line out to Oppo HA-1

    For these tests I used the LCD-XC with the balanced output from the HA-1, no EQ on the player.
    X5ii Line Out to the HA-1 was generally good, as is the X5 Classic. The DAC architecture compared well with the HA-1's built in ESS9018 DAC for detail retrieval, if not slightly behind. The X5ii DAC implementation had good seperation and was nice and clean. The leading edge of the notes had a great impact and the decay was tight and controlled, albeit slightly flat. Overall the Line Out from the X5ii is a well implemented and can be a clean source for an external amp.
    Line Out to FiiO e12 [bass boost off]
    From the e12 I used the LCD-XC, no EQ from the player.

    The e12 flattened the soundstage a bit further and music was presented in a dryer fashion than the X5ii headphone out. Clearly the amplifier implementation in the X5ii is cleaner. It seems FiiO e12 has a dryer presentation overall with more grain and musical dynamics seemed somewhat hampered.
    X5 Classic Line Out to e12 sounds very similar to the X5 Classic's headphone out. The e12 adds the required power for difficult to drive headphones and has slightly less grain than the X5 Classic headphone out, but overall the similarities are obvious. Given the sound of the e12 I felt better using the X5ii headphone out. 
    Line Out to the new ALO Rx (IEM version)
    DPP_0028.jpg DPP_0030.jpg

    This is my new favourite portable combo! The clean output from the X5ii Line Out mates extremely well with the ALO Rx and it's wide soundstage and deep musical presentation. I've been groovin' with this combo for a while with the JH Angie and I just love it. The Rx adds just a hint of organic musicality while being very transparent to the source. Music seems to take on another dimension with this pairing and it is precisely this pair that has prevented me from upgrading my DAP to anything else, tempting as it may be with the slew of recent and near future DAP releases.
    Coaxial Digital Out to HA-1
    DPP_0045.jpg Although the X5ii can decode DSD files natively it outputs the 
    decoded digital signal as PCM 88.2 through coaxial.
    Not a big deal as it still sounds the same as on the player.
    DPP_0049.jpg High res PCM is output bit for bit through coaxial.

    Given that coaxial output (should) simply bypass the internal DAC on a player and send the decoded digital signal to an external DAC this is an area where I don't expect any real difference. There is an obvious similarity in the coaxial output between the X5 Classic and the X5ii that for all intents and purposes they sound the same. The coaxial out is detailed and provides a good digital source to an external DAC.
    Final Thoughts
    There is something about the X5ii that is hard to put my finger on which has led me to purchase one very soon after the review unit left my hands. In my mind it’s a combination of improvements that does the trick. I like custom themes and there are five themes available at the same time with the X5ii. I like imaging and dynamics in my music and the X5ii is an improvement in those areas. I like the smaller form factor and button shapes over the previous generation. I love the Deep Sleep mode and feel I’d really miss it now if not available. 
    Overall the incremental improvements over the first generation may not seem worth it to upgrade on their own, but the combined improvement in sound quality and the improved form factor have sucked me in and led me to part with my money once again. Thanks FiiO!!
    Thanks for reading.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. x RELIC x
      Well as I mentioned in my review the X5ii drives my LCD-2 satisfactorily so you should have no problems with most of your headphones. Fiio officially recommends headphones with an impedance from 16-150 Ohms, but I've found that number to be conservative. The only headphones that may not be driven as well as you'd like are the t-90 and the hm-400, for those you might need the e12 but I don't think it would be necessary..

      The EQ is well done in the X5ii and doesn't over drive the amp. Not sure what you mean by overpowering the DAC. I describe the EQ on the X5ii in the 'Software Usability' section of my review.

      The X5ii will sound much better than the iPod touch in my opinion and is much more powerful for your headphones.
      x RELIC x, Oct 9, 2015
    3. Gram2
       Thanks for your advice when no one helped! I wanted to know if when you connect another device to the Fiio is the Fiio going to be the second source and the volume going to be controlled by the amp or the Fiio X1? And I do want to start at a reasonable price with the X1 . How are your opinions with the two gadgets?
      Gram2, Oct 9, 2015
    4. x RELIC x
      When using the X1 to the e12 you should use the Line Out function and that will use the volume on the e12 and disable the volume from the player. You can use the headphone out from the X1 but it won't be as clean a signal as the Line Out. The DAC in the X1 to the e12 amplifier will sound very good for the price.

      For more advice I suggest you go to the X1 thread as this review is for the X5ii. Good luck.

      x RELIC x, Oct 10, 2015
  9. Cotnijoe
    Fiio X5ii: Another Worthy Upgrade to the Fiio Line
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Sep 18, 2015
    Pros - Build, Easy UI, Dual Micro SD Slots, Very Competitive Sound
    Cons - Lint Magnet Case, Title Listing, Scroll Wheel Can Be Slow
     Quick Introduction:
    I’m sure by now, many people know of the tours that Fiio often hold for Head-Fiers interested in giving their line of DAPs a listen. The X5ii I have in my possession is part of the North American tour and also the third Fiio tour that I have participated in. I’m glad that Fiio has continued to send units out to give those interested in hearing their products a chance to listen to them in the comforts of their own home and set ups, and certainly hope to see more from Fiio in the future.
    Construction and Build:
    Fiio seems to have gotten their recipe down in terms of making their DAPs. Besides the soon-to-be released X7 DAP, most of their new generation DAPs have the same general layout and design – and it’s a design that I’d say works. You have your scroll wheel with the select button in the middle of the wheel, as well as the four buttons at the four corners of the front and the volume and power controls on the side.
    The build of the X5ii is very good. Each generation, from the X1 to X3ii to X5ii has shown slight upgrades in the build. I don’t have the X3ii to directly compare the difference in size between it and the X5ii, but they’re certainly very similar. The upgrade from X3ii to X5ii gives you a brushed aluminum plate both in the front and the back of the X5ii, which makes the X5ii look just a bit better. In addition, rather than having rounded edges like the X1 and X3ii, the edges in the front have sort of a geometric angle to them instead – a change that I think really makes the X5ii look more aesthetically refined. I’m sure there are other changes that I’ve missed, but these are just the changes that I can recognize without having both in front of me.
    iBasso DX90, Fiio X5ii, and Their Respective Cases
    UI, Usability, and More:
    I have to get this out first: There are TWO micro SD slots! What? It’s real! The original X5 also had dual slots, but the X5 and X5ii are pretty much the only two popular mid tier DAPs to have this. I’m very happy to see Fiio answer the calls of the consumers and implement something people have been asking for since… a long time.
    The UI of Fiio DAPs is also another recipe that Fiio seems to have stuck with. There are slight differences in terms of color and graphics, but besides that, the UI is basically the same as, if not very similar, to that of the X1 and X3ii as far as I can tell – and that’s certainly not a bad thing. When compared to the DX90, the resolution of the screen seems to be way ahead of the DX90. I don’t know the specs and how the two compare, but album art, for example, is much nicer and clearer on the X5ii. I won’t get into too much detail about how the UI works here since you get a good idea by looking at any X1, X3ii, or X5ii review.
    The UI is fairly intuitive, and it certainly doesn’t have too steep of a learning curve. Navigating through the settings is a breeze as well. There are only two issues I would like to bring up that I would like to see improved from the X5ii (and other X series DAPS) UI. First, I would love some sort of smart scroll system. When you get over 1,000, 2,000, or maybe even more songs, finding a song you’re in the mood to listen to gets to be quite a pain. Being able to hone down on a song by searching the first letter or something like that would be incredibly helpful. The second issue I have is that the titles still display as the file name. I know there is an option in the settings for the song to be displayed as either the title or the file name, but the toggle doesn’t seem to work for me. My tags work when I try other players from iBasso or Sony, so I’m not sure why it doesn’t work for Fiio’s DAPs. Hopefully this can be resolved in the future as finding a song becomes a matter of knowing what number it is on an album, which is very difficult to do. I’m glad to see that Fiio are taking steps to have the songs listed as titles though. Who knows, I might be the only one having issues with it. On the other hand though, at least Fiio’s forward and back actually work when the player’s on shuffle. iBasso has yet to figure out how to actually make that work… the back button doesn’t take you back – it’s just another shuffle button.
    When taking out the X5ii, I have just a few things to note. The first thing is that the X5ii does get a bit warm after a while. Nothing uncomfortable or unbearable, but it is something to note. The second thing is that when I wear tighter jeans or pants with smaller pockets, there are occasions when the play/pause center button does get pressed on accident. Yes, I could just switch the buttons setting so that the middle button is disabled, but I like having the ability to play/pause at the push of a button as well. It wasn’t too big of a problem, but it did occur. Finally, I found the battery life to be pretty good. I never got it to run out of battery, but I would estimate it to be around 10 hours or so. It’s certainly better than the 6 hours or so that my DX90 is capable of.
     X5ii with Noble Audio Savant and Earwerks Supra 2
    Listening Impressions:
    Most of my listening was done with my Noble Audio Savant and sometimes my Earwerkz Supra 2 plugged directly into the X5ii. A lot of my listening impressions will also focus on comparing the X5ii to the iBasso DX90 since the two products are now just less than 30 dollars from one another on Amazon, making the DX90 the most direct and obvious competitor for the X5ii.
    The X5ii is probably the most neutral of Fiio’s DAPs – compared to the X1and X3ii at least. It’s also tonally very pleasing and correct sounding to me. I also find its sound to be more accurate than the DX90, which tend to give a little extra weight in the bass and extra sparkle up top.
    The X5ii is also the first Fiio DAP that I think really competes with the DX90 – and boy does it give the DX90 a run for its money. After spending a good amount of time with both, I honestly cannot confidently say that one is better than the other and that one is the clear choice over the other when it comes to sound. Both also have very low noise floor, and almost identical functionalities. USB DAC, line out, gain, etc. I think the only thing the DX90 has that the X5ii doesn't is that coaxial out, but then the DX90 doesn't have dual micro SD slots!
    The DX90 has a heftier bass region, with more sub bass extension, texture, and bass presence overall. All of this is just by a little bit though. The DX90 certainly does not slay the X5ii in any department or vice versa. The weightier bass of the DX90 does make its sound a little more dynamic and can leave the X5ii sounding just a tad plasticky-sounding. At the same time, however, I really do appreciate the fact that the X5ii is less colored than the DX90.
    I think the midranges of both are quite good, but I would give the edge very slightly to the X5ii. To me, the vocals of the X5ii have just a little more focus to it and sound a little more natural. However, I do think that separation on the DX90 is just a little better. I’ve found that iBasso products always tend to have very clean separation and imaging that punch beyond their price point.
    The DX90 has a bit more of a sparkly lower treble, which makes the sound a little more energetic than the X5ii. While neither every sound harsh or sibilant, the X5ii does sound smoother up top in comparison, but seems to have just a slightly slower decay overall.
    The biggest difference between the two I think would be the presentation of the sound. The DX90’s soundstage feels a good bit narrower as it doesn’t extend as far out to the right and left as the X5ii, but it also excels at height and depth in comparison to the X5ii. The DX90 tends to present its sound more in front of you, with a good bit of layering, while the X5ii feels more around your head. I think it’s really a matter of preference choosing between the two, so I’ll leave it at that!
    iBasso DX90 and Fiio X5ii
    Ending Thoughts:
    I think Fiio did a fantastic job with the updated X5ii. If you want to look at price/performance, it’s certainly not the best value in Fiio’s line of DAPs. At the same time though, if money isn’t an issue, I would certainly say go for the X5ii over the other two as the improvement over the X1 and X3ii aren’t subtle to me and certainly worth the additional cost to me.
    I think there will be people in both the DX90 and X5ii camps, and honestly I think both sides will be happy with what they have. The DX90 is a slightly more dynamic sounding DAP with just a little bit more detail to me, while the X5ii is the more accurate and neutral of the two.
    I think I may be a little bias, but when it comes down to usability, I still prefer the DX90. It’s a tiny bit smaller, and the touchscreen buttons hybrid is still a wonderful design in my opinion. Maybe I’m just really use to it after using it for 2 years. However, the X5ii’s better screen resolution, 2 micro SD card capability, and 10 hour battery life, are all aspects of the X5ii that should not be overlooked. So which is the better choice? I don’t know. You decide.
      Brooko likes this.
  10. intlsubband
    Good DAP overall, UI is better than some but feels a bit like a relic compared to others.
    Written by intlsubband
    Published Sep 10, 2015
    Pros - Good power output, useful features, very nice build quality, excellent feature of double msd, clickwheel easy to use.
    Cons - UI still text-based, no internal memory.
    Disclosure: I received a demo unit of the FiiO X5ii as part of an “Australian tour”. I’d like to thank Brooko for organising the tour and including me in it.
    10 years ago, shortly after it was released, I bought the iPod video 60gb, and it fundamentally changed the way I consumed music. I used it (and its larger capacity relatives) constantly for the next 8 years. The ease of use and the UI was incredible, as were the many playback features.
    Then, early in 2013, I decided to finally take the leap and get a new DAP altogether. I did this for several reasons, including the need for expandable memory (I’m a bit of a digital music hoarder) and the ability to play a wider variety of files. I was also hoping for possible improvements in sound, although I think the sound from the ipod was good.
    My first stop after the ipod was the iBasso DX90. I really enjoyed all of the extra features of the DX90, and I think it’s an excellent DAP. However, the UI, while functional, is a significant downside. Especially after the ipod, it felt like a downgrade in terms of UI. Then, about six months ago, I decided to upgrade from the DX90, mainly because of the UI. It might sound a bit insignificant, but I find that with poor UI, I also tend to listen to a smaller selection of artists and albums.
    The upgrade came in the form of an AK100ii, after a long period of lurking the “for sale” section for a decently priced unit. The AK’s UI is really miles beyond, and I’ve been enjoying this nifty little machine ever sense. However, the DX90 does have some advantages and extra features which makes it still a very good DAP. As I still own the DX90, I was able to compare the FiiO to both the DX90 and the AK100ii.
    About the review:
    This review is my first ever experience with a FiiO DAP – I never owned one, or even listened to one. Right out of the box, it pushed my nostalgia button with the ipod-reminiscent look. I then loaded some micro SD cards with some of my favourite testing tracks. These include rock (Black Crowes), soul (Donny Hathaway), funk (Funkadelic), country (John Hartford), and jazz (John Coltrane).
    My favourite portable headphone is the PSB M4U2, which I use daily, on public transport, at work, and even walking around. I mainly used this headphone to test the FiiO and to compare it to the other devices.
    First, I enjoyed listening to all 3 devices and the differences were not very substantial. Having said that, I found the X5ii to have a generally neutral tone with perhaps a small hump in the mids. I think that the DX90 has excellent detail but it can also sound a bit sterile at times. The AK100ii brings in a similar amount of detail, but all those details seem to come together more smoothly and organically. Compared to these two, the FiiO held its own well. I thought it sounded a bit more neutral than the DX90. It had similar bass to the DX90, but the AK100ii has noticeably better textures in the bass department. It is hard to say anything definitive about the sound though, given that I didn’t do a proper blind testing, but I would say that the differences are not that big. Winner: Inconclusive without proper blind testing.
    In this category, the hierarchy for me is clear. The UI is the “Achilles heel” of the DX90, with fonts that are hard to read and many of the functions are not intuitive. The FiiO is definitely a step up from the DX90 with a more intuitive use, and a much easier to read fonts. However, the AK100ii is on a league of its own here. A huge improvements on both the DX90 and the FiiO. Winner: AK100ii
    Power output
    In this category, the more expensive DAP in the group is actually the weakest. DX90 seems to be the most powerful to high gain (3 gain settings), then the FiiO not far behind (2 gain settings) The FiiO should have enough power to drive every portable you can throw at it. Winner: DX90 and X5ii
    Here, the FiiO has the advantage, with two micro SD card slots. The second slot, for me, more than compensate for the lack of internal memory. The AK has 64gb internal storage + 1 micro SD, while the DX90 has 8gb + 1 micro SD. Winner: FiiO X5ii.
    The FiiO and the DX90 both have some very useful features such as a separate line out port, multiple gain options, and OTG. While the AK lacks those, it does have its own unique features, including Bluetooth and wifi connectivity, although I don’t think that the AK utilises these well enough (the wireless file transfer is still unnecessarily clunkier than via cable. The X5ii does not have a touch screen, but I didn’t feel it was necessary because the wheel worked just fine for me. Winner: DX90 and X5ii.
    Form and looks
    The X5ii has a very nice metallic casing, which us similar to that of the AK100ii. The DX90 seems plainer, but it feels smooth and light. However, the AK has the best case out of the 3, and the large colourful screen makes it the winner for me. Winner: AK100ii.
    The FiiO X5ii is a very good DAP with a simple but easy to use UI, and includes many helpful features. It has some significant advantages on similar DAPs in its strong output and dual micro SD. However, the file/folder – based UI still cannot compete with a well-executed android software and a big touchscreen such as on the AK100ii. However, given that the UI of the X5ii is significantly better than the DX90, I may have waited a bit longer before upgrading.
      DJScope likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. SYRadio
      I have owned the FiiO X3 and now the X5ii.  I upgraded for several reasons, but the ability to use two 128GB cards was a serious factor.  I am very satisfied with the X5ii.  I wanted to comment on the UI.  While I mainly use the file/folder method there are other ways to access your music.  The Update Media Library function will create a data base that can then be accessed by album, artist, genre, collection and playlist.  This database includes BOTH memory cards.  You can, for example, have a 2CD collection in one folder and the album function will organize all the tracks in the correct order.
      It is important to note that, for these functions to work, you metadata must be correct.
      The have been some comments about the media library hanging up during an update.  I found that this is due to having non-music files on the memory card.  It particular, my ripping software creates .log files which FiiO does not like.  Also, pdf, pamp and jpg files should be removed since they take up space and the FiiO can't read them anyway.  I had to transcode some files to imbed album art in the metadata.
      Other than comparing the X5ii to the X3 I have no other DAP's to compare with (other than an iPhone 6).  To my ears the X5ii is more open and transparent.  I run the X5ii into an E12 amp.  I find that the additional output power improves the sound quality.  I have a set of Beryerdynamic DT 1350's that are 70 ohm and benefit from the higher output.
      I use an external USB 3.0 card reader to transfer files.  It is much faster than the FiiO USB 2.0 interface.  I you do use the USB connection on the FiiO, turn off the standby mode in the DAP. This will prevent it from disconnecting from the computer and generating "Card not ejected properly" errors.
      SYRadio, Sep 10, 2015
    3. Tuneslover
      I use DT1350's with my X5ii & E12a too.
      Tuneslover, Sep 10, 2015
    4. intlsubband
      Thank you for those clarifications @SYRadio 
      intlsubband, Sep 10, 2015


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