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.
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.
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
|Output Impedance||0.2 ohm|
|Connector||3.5mm Headphone Out|
|Frequency Response||10 Hz - 65.000Hz (-3dB)|
|Works as a USB DAC||Yes|
|Play Time||~10 Hours|
|Display Size / Type||2.4", IPS|
|Display Resolution||400x360 pixels|
|Output Power||436mW into 32 ohm, THD+N <1%|
|Max Output Voltage||8.2Vp-p|
|Cross Talk||75 dB / 1kHz|
|SNR||117dB (A weighted)|
|AMP Configuration||OPA 1612 + BUFF 634|
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.
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.
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.
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.