FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
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     and here . 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!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. 
Burma Jones
Burma Jones
Very well written, thank you for the enjoyable read. Agreed with your assessment regarding the sound.
Dobrescu George


New Head-Fier
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).
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.
"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.
It is not a review.not helpfull


New Head-Fier
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.


New Head-Fier
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.
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. 


New Head-Fier
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.
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.


1000+ Head-Fier
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.
Well done! Thanks for the review.


Headphoneus Supremus
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.
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.
 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?
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.


Sponsor: iFi Audio
Formerly with Unique Melody
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.
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500+ Head-Fier
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.
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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.
I use DT1350's with my X5ii & E12a too.
Thank you for those clarifications @SYRadio 


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: double sd card slot, well designed and built, powerfull amp., detailed sound
Cons: narrow soundstage, a bit artificially toned, some files won't read
Not as stylish as an A&K but very well built, apart from the flimsy wheel. Good materials and nice finishes and overall intiutive U.I. give a quite nice experience.
First of, some APE and DSD files won't play. Some will play only from the files. It doesn't happen that often but it is driving me mad.
The sound is quite pleasing, very detailed, smooth and warm even when using flat and clear phones like the AKG K550. The sound stage is quite narrow compared to the Ibasso Dx90. It doesn't shut down the trebbles like the previous X5 so the extention is not anymore an issue. It lacks air and sounds a bit artificial, not that musical, which is disappointing especially when listening to classical music only like myself. With my Shure Se215 it sounds a bit like you are being locked in a silent room in some kind of mental institution. Not fatiguing at all , quite relaxing but I will be looking for some clearer IEM's.
Everything is well controlled, pleasing but not very truthfull to the original recording, tonally speaking. Same result when plugged (line out) to the Marantz PM6005 + B&W CDM1.
It made me think of when they introduced Dolby : very impressed at first and later realising it couldn't be further from a live concert.
The only long term comparison I can share is with my ASUS Xonar STX sound card (Muse02) : The PC is the clear winner even though the Fiio is more relaxing.
At the end you just realise a 400€ DAP will never sound like a true hifi system, and that's understandable. I would be really interested to hear a double DAC A&K or Hifiman to compare.
Decent performer but no miracles !
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Panda Man
Reviewer at Headphone.Guru
Pros: Good thick sound, better UI than before, nice physical design, port options
Cons: Not $300 sound quality, lacking in transparency, UI isn't consistent


The FiiO X5 II is an update to the flagship DAP released almost two years ago.  This time it comes with a PCM 1792 DAC, IPS display, and DSD decoding. The changes may seem small but they are all beneath the hood.


Taking the X5 II out, I’ve noticed that while they used similar packaging ideals to that of the X5, the new one was much more streamlined in its ability to be removed from the box.  It comes with a screen protector pre-applied, its accessories, soft case, and the device wrapped in a white cover. You can see this process below:



The original was a black spacey hulk with rigid edges. The X5 II innovates on this aspect by reducing the aggressive side edges and increasing the box shape. This is more in line with the X1 style look.
The default color is now the same gray as the X1 and X3 II which makes the line the first comprehensive one that FiiO has released. This means that the entire series from little brother to big brother has a generational look to it and they do.
The most noticeable changes on the X5 II is the fully flat frontal area as opposed to a raised edge and the side buttons. The side now incorporates the LED status light into the power button itself as opposed to on the front. This is a nice aesthetical change but it makes me wonder if this could possibly make the power button ‘weaker’ to daily abuse.

Phsyical Feel:

The X5 II is more wieldable than the original. You had to sorta flex your hand and use an arced thumb to use the X5 original. With the new footprint and flat front of the device, it makes it easier for me to just use the device without constant hand motions. I like this change as it incorporates a lot more user input into the design.


IPS?! Yep, the X5 II now has an “HD IPS” display. I’m unsure of the exact pixel density, resolution, color reproduction numbers, and the specs but it does look better than before. The first thing you will notice is the wider viewing angle and the sharper menus. With each year and generational change of the DAPs, FiiO has been making the UI look better and more defined. This year was no difference and seeing the X5 II for the first time was quite the treat. The dark definition in the menu scheme really works well with this screen as opposed to a washed out grey it used to look like.
I’ve noticed that despite the speed upgrades to the GUI, it has some lag moving still. I believe this can be rectified by firmware updates as the X3 II’s GUI was actually speedier than the X5 IIs. I’m currently on X5IIFW0.05 which is indeed a beta so this can be the reason.  Firmware updates past this should have this rectified.
FiiO has incorporated fixes that many users have asked for including favorites, playlists, DSD, and playing within folders much to the joy of fans. We’ve all these updates in the X5 II and it feels like one of the most complete DAP products from FiiO yet honestly. The original X3 didn’t have much besides the ability to play music so we’ve certainly gone a long way.

Sound Quality:

The X5 II has a different sound signature to the original X5. Whereas the original had a sharper timbre with a tendancy to be clean and cold, the new X5 II has a thicker and bouncier sound towards the side of being fun. It’s not as fun as the X1 or as boomy as the X3 II but it certainly takes elements of these together.
The mid range of the X5 II is the defining part of the device. It has a smooth timbre and a darker background. It packs a forward note in this range but it isn’t annoying bright thankfully.
I didn’t find the soundstage overly large. It was contained and not all that expansive which may not suit open cans as well as other units. Solid-states don’t do too good here.
The bass on the X5 II was tight and abundant which may throw off users of high ends cans. I found it to be a bit too much at times for units like the HE400S while being great for use on dedicated subwoofers in cars.
The transparency of the X5 II is one of the main concerns and also a general FiiO signature. It’s just not there. Transparency is one of those elements that make it so that the device is separated from the unit. You don’t want to hear the device, just the music. The X5 II  makes this hard as the mids are overly colored, dark, forward, and with its abundant bass. You know it’s there and it makes for a bumping ride but it’s another added equipment you can hear.
Overall, the sound quality of the X5 II is good in my opinion. It’s general signature elements are fairly high quality and can be found in amps/Dacs in the $200 price range which isn’t bad at all. It’s not musty but rather does have a noble tone to it. The faults really are visible though when it comes to how well


FiiO has built a great DAP with the X5 II. It builds off previous GUI designs and comes out strong and ahead. FiiO has taken heed of concerns and really dealt with them. The X5 II is a testament to the companies earthly approach to fans and customers. It’s one of the best working audiophile DAPs on the market sub $500 from a GUI standpoint and sounds great. I would recommend it to seasoned hi-fi users.
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Good honest review, just wondering why you'd still give it 4,5 stars if you list the SQ of <$300 as a con? Isn't SQ ultimately the most important feature(?)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Plethora of features makes it very versatile, 2x card slots, great build quality, Native DSD
Cons: Could be more authoritative and lacks power.
Firstly, I'd like to thank Brooko for including me on this product review tour. I did not purchase the X5 and have only had a week with the unit. Though, in my opinion, a week is nowhere near enough to fully evaluate a DAP or any kind of source gear (I know from experience, as I'm still learning new things about DACs I've had for over 6 months), please take my opinions with a grain of salt or two.



I don't think I need I need to tell people about the legacy that is FiiO. FiiO has been bringing a lot of very well designed budget priced gear for a few years now, and continue to flood the market with some of the arguably best pound-for-pound portable and tabletop source and amplification gear to date. With great build quality, technology, user experience and cheap prices, they blow away their competition.
So it's not surprising that I was very excited to get my hands on the new X5, which to date is FiiOs TOTL DAP. I came into this review with extremely high hopes that it will absolutely blow me away with exquisite sound, build and user experience quality. While it didn't exactly live up to my expectations, I can only blame myself for putting it up on such a pedestal. My impressions were mostly positive, but unfortunately not where it matters most to me. Let's get into it...

A little about the FiiO X5

Normally, this is where I'd post the juice specs, but as the FiiO X5 has so many, I'd rather just post the link to the FiiO website for you to have a gander yourself. Saves me from flooding the pages with a giant table of numbers. 


FiiO X5 2nd Gen Specs: Click Here


[size=inherit]Packaging & Accessories[/size]

[size=inherit]The FiiO X5 came is a beautifully subtle black cardboard box with a tinny tiny "FiiO" on the front and nothing more. I absolutely loved the simplicity of the presentation, as it's not only powerfully appealing to look at, but to me it's also a metaphor for what FiiO stands for: simplicity, boldness and style. This box has it all, ironically.[/size]
[size=inherit]Inside the box the "less is more" approach is continued; you are greeted with the FiiO X5. Everything else is stashed away in a black cardboard box underneath the unit. Very "Applesque" is you don't mind me saying. [/size]

[size=inherit]Accessories that come in the box are:[/size]

  1. [size=inherit]Micro-USB cable.[/size]
  2. [size=inherit]A 4 pole 3.5mm (1/8") TRRS to RCA coax adapter for Digital SPDIF input. If I may add that it is quite strange that they've used a TRRS instead of a simple 2 pole mono plug like they used before. I have tried the 2 pole adapter that came with the FiiO E17 and it is not compatible with the X5. Quite strange.[/size]
  3. [size=inherit]A black rubber case which usually comes with all FiiO DAPs. (I really dislike it, but some people like it)[/size]
  4. 3x themed vinyl stickers: USA flag, wood grain, and carbon fibre. I absolutely love these things, but they do come off after a while. It's a bit of a gimmick, but a brilliantly fun idea nonetheless.
  5. A screen protector.
  6. [size=inherit]Documents & reading material: Quick start guide; A card with button layout, and social media links and other info; warranty card.[/size]
[size=inherit]These are the usual suspects for accessories that come with most FiiO products. You never really left feeling ripped off in this department with FiiO and it is a good feeling to know that they've went that extra mile to make you experience complete.[/size]

Design & Build

The build of the unit is really something special. Made from what I can only guess is machined aluminium, which is finished off with a bushed stainless steel look front and back, and a powdered metallic finish around the sides. Personally, I think they should've stuck with one type of finish all around but it still looks nice that way it is. 
The X5 looks heavier that it actually is. For the sheer size of the unit, it weighs less than a typical mobile phone; only 165 grams to be exact.  It has a centre of gravity very close to the actual centre of the unit giving the remarkable feeling of quality and weight when holding it in the hand. The sharp chamfered edges also adds to this appeal, giving it the sensation of a solid block of metal. 
One design feature that I am a huge off is the flush buttons on the front. Saving you from accidental button presses in the pocket for less annoyances on the go. But I wish that they also did this for the volume keys.
Scroll wheel has been carried across, as with all the new FiiO DAPs, which of course was carried from the original X5. It feels smoother but less tactile than the FiiO X1 but unfortunately still has that slight inaccuracy you get with the X1; it's nothing major but sometimes a turn position is either skipped or doubled, this happens of a rare occasion but could get annoying.
The X5 as with the original unit comes with 2x card slots, this will allow you to get up to 256GB of storage (2x 128GB MicroSD Cards).

User Interface

The new FiiO X-series user interface is one of the easiest and most user friend proprietary interfaces ever made for a DAP that is not based on Android. It has an abundance of settings, categorisation and even themes. The UI is akin to the original iPod layout, hence the scroll wheel, but with more flexibility. It is very easy to get used to, it doesn't lag or hang ever, and is very clear for the most part. The are also community built custom firmware images available on Head-Fi which add extra theme to better your overall experience.
One feature I would really love to make it's way to the FiiO DAPs is the support for Replay Gain - one can only dream!
@Brooko goes very in-depth on this subject so I'd suggest you have a read through his review if you'd like to know more: Brooko's review.

Battery Life

I can only say that the battery life is adequate for day to day use. I don't like to let Lithium batteries get bellow 25% so I did charge the X5 regularly, and did not pay attention to battery performance. All I can comment is that battery should not be an issue.

Input & Output Interface

The X5 performs very well as a digital transport. Using both the line out and coax out gave very commendable results. 
The X5 can be used as a USB DAC. I actually go the best sounding results while using it as a DAC more than using it as a DAP. Though when comparing it to the original FiiO E17 I own, it seems to fall short on power, detail, staging performance and EQ performance.


The X5 has a 10 band equaliser with pre-sets and 1 custom setting. Multiple custom setting would've been great though and the ability to name them. But saying that, the EQ is actually quite poor. The second you turn on the EQ you lose a lot of gain and introduce quite a bit of noticeable distortion and more cloudiness. I did play around with the EQ for a pretty long time thinking I could get it to work right but it was all in vain. The hardware EQ you get on the E17 and other FiiO products is galaxies ahead of what it is on their current DAPs and I do wish that it is brought to the DAPs even if it is at a cost of battery life, it's a small price to pay for sound quality.


The FiiO X5 does have enough power to drive all my headphones and earphone to good listening volumes and more, but what it lacks is authority. Loudness does not always lead to better results. I found that the X5 sounded very anaemic even with 60 Ohm full sized headphones. Everything is very laidback, and it ran out of steam very quickly. I don't know if it was the sound tuning that FiiO was going for, but it didn't float my boat at all.


This is where I wasn't as impressed as the rest of the package. I was hard pressed at finding a good matching pair of headphones/IEMs that went well with the X5 2nd gen. Until I tried it with the Havi B3 Pro 1 which actually pairs pretty darn good with the X5. The reason why I don't think that the X5 didn't match very well with the others I tried with is because it has that same sort of smooth, slightly cloudy sound signature you get with the FiiO X1. 
Don't get me wrong, though, the X5 does sound very good, but unfortunately it only sounds like an incremental upgrade from the FiiO X1 in terms of sound (I've not yet auditioned to the X3 2nd gen to compare). 
The impression of the overall sound signature is warm, with laid back treble and slightly thin mids. It lacks authority or "meat" where needed in certain tracks. This type of signature is almost perfect for chill out, ambient and other types of down tempo genres, but it's doesn't seem to go well with any genres which benefit a bit of excitement and energy.
Soundstage is wider than the X1 and imaging is slightly more accurate, but again, it's only incremental.
Micro detail is pretty good with the X5. It seems to retrieve details and bring them forward with ease but I feel like the "cloudiness" does hinder it in this department. 





Again I will parrot that I believe the amount of time spent is not enough for me to properly review any DAP or source. The X5 is a beautifully designed and built device. It has a truly top of the range UI and features packed to the rafters. But for me it lacks in the most important aspects that I look for in a DAP. I may have ruined my expectations of it by putting so much pressure on it to sound really, really good, but for a TOTL DAP can you really blame me. All I can do now is cross my fingers and really hope for the X7 to blow me out of the water like the X5 should've.
Thanks for the reply. Guess I have to wait for X7.
Is it possible to use two 256gb cards with the new Fiio X5? Thanks!
Not sure about that, sorry. Maybe someone else could comment.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Good build, decent amp and Line Out.
Cons: Sounds clouded compared to the Original X5, UI and Scroll Wheel need polishing.
Firstly a big thanks to Brooko and Fiio for providing me the X5ii for review. I am not affiliated or been financially compensated for the review.
I have had a plethora of DAPs for review in the past couple of months so this provides an excellent base to work off and judge the relative strengths and weakenssess of the X5ii.So without much ado, lets dive into it.
The package was very simple but smart and had all the necessary cables and other accoutrements
The FiioX5ii retails at USD$349 and the accessories and the build quality feel pretty solid and well worth the price. No shortcuts here from Fiio and the X5ii should last a fair bit.
To start with the exterior, its nicely finished metal and carries a smooth finish and well weighted buttons throughout although the wheel like the previous version still needs a bit more finesse and better gearing as it tends to slip a bit. Other than the wheel, the rest of the buttons are great to work with.
The interface also seems to be much more tidier and streamlined compared to the X5 and thats a big plus point for the newer version but internally it still seemed to mess up the ID3 tags and some playlists although that might be due to incorrect tags or mistakes on my side.
Without much ado lets jump to the meat of the review.
Treble: The treble is best described as being very smooth with good extension but lacks the very last bit of sparkle and openeness. Guitars come across as crunchy but need just that extra bit of sharpness and sparkle alongwith the cymbals. The treble just seems to linger about without really coming upfront, something the X5 was really good at.
The mids are very slightly recessed compared to the original X5 and while the majority of the mids sound just fine and clean, there is just a very tiny bit of cloudiness in the upper mids which could need a bit more cleaning to standout and probably the reason why the mids seem slightly recessed compared the the X5.
Coming to the bass, its clean, very tight and delivers the right amount at the right time without interfering with the rest of the spectrum. Could use a bit more punch and impact but I reckon it would satisfy most overall critical listeners who might find excessive bass a turn off and intrusive.
The biggest roadblock in the X5iis way is the Original X5, there I said it!!
To elaborate, I listened to the original X5 for a fair bit and was astounded by the price to performance and the overall sound quality. The Line Out on the X5 was a revelation and the Headphone section was very clean too with barely any frequency humps or anything else out of order. As much as I tried I just couldn’t love the X5ii considering the original was an absolute 180 from the typical warm Fiio house sound and delivered a fantastic sound signature, which somehow was lacking from the X5ii.
I tried both the Fiios extensively in my car with a pretty comprehensive setup and the X5ii just seemed to go back to the “Fiio of old” sound which while listenable is not what I am guessing it was aiming for.
Tracks used:
ATB- See You Again. FLAC 16/44
Digimax & Javiera Mena - Complejo de Amor. WAV 16/44.
Hammer & Bennett – Lost. FLAC 16/44.
Alizee- Veni Vedi Vici. 320 kbps mp3 16/44.
Kraftwerk-Das Model. WAV 16/44.
Javiera Mena – Otra Era 320kbps mp3 16/44.
The headphones used were:
JHAudio JH16.
Sennheiser Amperior.
Maddog 3.2.
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i also auditioned first gen and went with it. i agree with you.


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Amazing price/performance ratio, excellent SQ, powerful drive, good build quality
Cons: Interface not perfect, scroll wheel, open micro-SD slots
The Latest X5 Second-generation DAP from Fiio
- a worthy successor to the X5 classic

First off, thanks to Fiio for allowing me a sneak-peek of the new X5 Second-generation DAP, referred to hereafter as the X5ii, as well as to the tour organizers and fellow reviewers. I'll apologize up-front for the delay in posting this but here's why: after a week with the unit I knew I'd be purchasing one, and I wanted to at least get a peek at the production version as well. Now that I have, on with the review!
Here's the boring, intro stuff....
[size=11.0pt]Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Fiio, nor any vested interest or gain from reviewing the Fiio X5ii and presenting my findings. I have studiously avoided previous reviews to avoid any pre-conceived impressions or bias affecting my review. If I do have a bias it is in being the owner of several Fiio devices, and an overall experience with those has left me impressed with their quality and excellent price/performance ratio. I wish to thank James and Joe at Fiio for including me in the Canadian leg of the Fiio X5ii world tour![/size]
About me: I am a 47-year-old music lover who has been in the game forever (lol) with an appreciation for high-fidelity sound starting from childhood, inheriting a taste for tube gear and quality speakers and headphones from my father. My hearing has been tested annually for some years and, while it shows the normal age-related losses in the upper-treble range, it is generally above the baseline for my age group.
My first PortaPro's on the original Sony Walkman CD were my first foray into personal audio on a students budget. I all but stopped listening to headphones over the years as floor systems took over my audio world, and with them the ever-worsening quality of receiver headphone outputs and finer speakers falling into my budget.
Now we are spoiled with the ever-growing availability of high-quality headphones, amps and sources, and I've returned to headphone listening as a hobby and with more discerning tastes than the years of bad mp3 players and consumer-grade headphones allowed for.
[size=11.0pt]When I listen to portable gear like the Fiio players I am setting a very high bar - perhaps unfairly comparing to my full-sized, high-powered desktop equipment and demanding headphones. So, just how will the Fiio X5ii fair?[/size]

My Prior Fiio Experiences
As mentioned in the spoiler above, I am no stranger to the Fiio world, and my current experience with them has run through the E17, E12, X5 and now the X5ii and X3ii. Yes, I bought an X5ii after hearing the tour unit, and at the same time bought an X3ii for my father as way to thank him for first introducing me to the high-fidelity world so many years ago.
Each unit has struck me with the incredible build quality, sonics and bang-for-the-buck which increasingly seems to be Fiio's claim to fame.
I'd also like to mention the versatility of their players. My go-to was of course the X5 classic. Standalone it would easily drive most cans I would consider portable, and with it's decent screen, two micro-SD slots and excellent sonics it out-classed any previous portable player I'd used, let alone a smartphones' mediocre drive capabilities. Add on the HS-6 stacking kit and a very low-cost E12 amplifier (both from Fiio) and I had a portable unit capable of driving my most demanding headphones to nearly full potential. As a DAC or source for my desktop amps the slightly warm but highly-detailed sound never failed to impress, and saved a lot of cable-swapping from my dedicated desktop DAC.
Thanks to Fiio's foresight and the hard work of some truly gifted modders and themers on Head-Fi, the rather plain theme supplied was easily replaced with a buffet of choices from modern, stylish and simplistic themes to classic, retro, vintage styles. Kudo's to all those themers for your hard-work! Links to the threads highlighting their work are included at the end of this review.
Now, the X5/E12 combo wasn't perfect. Let's face it, it's a brick I could use in self-defense, and entirely unsuitable for anything more physical than a stroll around. Unless wearing a coat with deep pockets it was not the most portable solution and its presence was always felt. I'm not normally an IEM user (just don't fit my ears well) and most of my cans were a little too hard to drive with the X5 alone.
Soooooo, what could Fiio do better this time around?

Enter the X5ii, or is it the X5SG?
Upon first seeing the new, second-generation X5ii the most obvious change was to its size. Those clever engineers at Fiio have promised more power, better screen usage, more features and the same battery life from a smaller unit?
Pictured below are some units for reference: the older E17, X3ii, X5ii and the X5/E12 stack.

While not as portable and compact as the X3ii it is easy to see it's a lot more pocket-friendly than the stack. Also obvious is the common build and control scheme between the newer units. The finish is a beautiful brushed gun-metal shade which looks well-capable of withstanding minor scuffs.
It's also remarkably light while still maintaining its solid, quality feel. On both the pre-production tour model and my later production model everything is perfectly machined and well-fitting, with good tactile feel to both buttons and the ubiquitious scroll wheel.
The Wheel (here we go...)
It had to be said sometime.....Nothing has divided fans and prospective buyers more than the mechanical scroll wheel now used on several Fiio models. For those from the iWorld it was clunky, unresponsive (and sometimes too responsive) and raised concerns about its longevity.
The X5 had very subtle detentes or clicks which never seemed to align with the actions on the screen, and would overshoot when navigating.
The new X5ii has improved upon this somewhat: there is a more positive click-feel to the scroll wheel and it seems closer to the one-step, one-scroll expectation but isn't perfect. The production model again seems one step closer, but can still trip you up.
The other common complaint is that fast-turning does not accelerate the scrolling action through menus. Getting through a long list of artists, albums or (yikes) songs takes forever. Both these issues have long been on the firmware update most-wanted lists (yes, the firmware is easily updatable) but remain there still.
The most common work-around has been careful arrangement of libraries under sub-folders like A-E, F-L, M-S, etc. I'm quite religious about properly tagging my music, and given the number of RedBook FLAC or higher-resolution files I have on my units it hasn't been too much of a problem. For those who do not tag as arduously, or who have cards filled with compressed files, this will be a sore point for sure.
All-in-all I live with the wheel. It's not perfect, but for me it isn't as much of a nuisance as for others. It's just not a focal point for me - unlike the sound quality which is, but for those new to the Fiio players or those upgrading: it's better but not there yet. I do hope that an accelerated scrolling mode becomes available with future firmware.
'Nuff said about the wheel.
Controls and Interface
I wasn't initially thrilled with the X5ii's change to the round buttons and lack of distinction from its siblings, but I can see the rational. Buttons and scroll wheel both provide solid tactile feedback, and placement is both logical and easy to learn.
Concerns were raised over the pocket-friendliness of the side buttons controlling power and volume, but the recessing of the power button, the small nib differentiating the volume up/down buttons, and the multiple settings for lock-screen options all make this very intuitive to use and virtually fail-safe from accidental presses.
The screen is a marked improvement over the original. It is far brighter with better clarity and colour, and a real plus for outdoor usage. The GUI now boasts five themes which can be selected via the System Settings screen, but may be a little ho-hum. Here's where Fiio and the headphone community have pulled a winner: Fiio has provided unpacking tools and the software means to allow some talented themers to create their own. You can quickly and easily change the interface more to your liking with several choices available online (see links at end). The ability to personalize the GUI makes for a better experience, and it's fun to sample the skilled work of the themers. Holding multiple themes - up to five - in memory and switch easily between them is a nice touch.
Shown below is a stock X5ii theme and the "Corrosion" theme by @theUKMrT
If I (and perhaps the themers) had one wish it would be the ability to change font size. The screen isn't huge, and while better and brighter than its predecessors it will still be a challange to read in bright conditions and for those with less-than-perfect vision.
Noticeably missing from an audiophile-grade player is ReplayGain. The addition of shuffle playback in this and earlier models was a nice firmware improvement, but given the range of recording levels in the wild (from high dynamic-range classical to loudness-war casualties like much of modern rock/pop) this can lead to some deafening moments. It's an open standard and easy to implement in software so I'm surprised this hasn't found its way into the unit yet.
There is a nice multi-band equalizer with multiple presets for quick selection - a real plus for those with several headphones or IEMs in play. The caveat is it will only work up to RedBook CD bitrates - not with higher-definition files or DSD.
Did I mention DSD? New to the second generation is native DSD playback - no conversion to PCM. Note that this applies only to files on the player, not through an external USB connection. This may be an important feature to many who prefer what is considered a more analog, natural format. I'll stay out of that quagmire but can report that DSD playback was flawless, and the ability to read ISO containers without extracting the DSF streams was well-implemented. For a player in this price range it's a stellar feature and very welcome.
For those considering this player (as a first or as an upgrade from a lower model) the dual micro-SD card slots should be a strong consideration. Hi-res files take a lot of space. With the latest 200GB cards or even a pair of 64GB cards this player can hold a ton of music. The ability to quickly swap cards makes for an endless supply of music, and in the Catagories or library browser modes the twin cards are seamlessly integrated. One firmware feature I wish was incorporated would be a Clean Library function: it seems a little silly to remove both cards and reset the library to clear the player of music missing after a card-swap or change to a card's contents. Minor but I'll throw it out there.
A dislike is the loss of the micro-SD slot covers from the previous X5 classic. For those using the silicone sleeve or an aftermarket case it may not be a factor, but for those going au natural I have a paranoia of pocket lint or other nasties getting into the slots. Just feels like a step backwards there.
Lastly I'll mention one of the other nice improvements over the first generation: the deep sleep function. For those with previous versions this is a very nice touch. Basically we no longer need to go through the long-press device shutdown/startup to get to our music. The player will automatically sleep after a predefined idle time, and instantly awaken on a press of the power button. There's very little reason to do a full power-down now, and instant access to the sleeping player is a nice feature.
All-in-all this is a solid player with decent controls (the wheel, the wheel!), rugged construction, a much-improved screen and a customizeable interface. Decent battery life, Line Out and Co-Axial output versatility and a pocket-friendly housing and controls make this almost perfect for on-the-go. Those coming from the iWorld may decry its interface but it's functional and doesn't get in the way of the main reason to own one: the sound.
Well done Fiio.

Sound Quality
Okay, brass tacks here: the reason you should be buying a high-quality DAP is for the sound. Perhaps you are new to this level of player, or are a seasoned vet, possibly considering an upgrade from a previous model.
I'll state up-front that my usage will differ from most users. I am not a commuter, jogger or someone who will work-out with one of these strapped to me. Battery life is just fine in my books (yes, a full 11 hours playing FLACs or DSD with occasional screen use) and I've commented on how much more portable this unit is for lighter physical activity. I use my portables as a way to free myself from a desktop setup, for use around the house and occasional long walks, for occasional office use and as a source to my desktop amps. What I want from a DAP is pristine SQ, the ability to play high-bitrate files, and enough drive power to satisfy more demanding cans like the HD-650, LCD2.2, etc. I love the ability to use it as a DAC that won't let me down for critical listening as much as I love being untethered and free to hear high-quality sound away from the desk. That's my usage and here we go....
As a DAC
My setup here was feeding the X5ii from Foobar 2K using WASAPI through a nothing-special USB cable. The Line Out was connected to a tube amp (the Bottlehead S.E.X) and later a solid-state amp (the Gustard H-10). I was able to use a Y-splitter to alternate between the X5 classic and the X5ii with minimal switching time. Comparisons were made using the Sennheiser HD-650 and the Audeze LCD2.2 (pre-fazor). I tested with a range of music genres spanning classic rock, jazz, R&B and some classical. All test files were RedBook CD quality or higher.
The differences between the two were subtle but noticeable. The X5 classic presented a slightly warmer, more refined signature. The X5ii had slightly better resolution and a more treble-tilted overall sound. There was a touch more air around the instruments. This translated into a slightly more spacious sound, although soundstage was only slightly improved. Seperation of the instruments was likewise improved.
If I had to characterize, I'd give the nod to the X5 classic for a more-relaxed sound with slightly smoother FR and a bump to the mid-bass spectrum. Detail is very good but slightly bested by the X5ii. The X5ii is a more lively and engaging sound, more transparant and with a better sense of dynamics. It left me feeling it was the more neutral of the two, and brought out more from the music.
These differences are subtle, and those looking for a stark improvement in SQ over the classic X5 may be disappointed, but I'd call that more a credit to the SQ of the classic than any fault of the new X5ii. They both sound excellent, and it takes fairly critical listening to come to hard conclusions. They are both capable of resolving incredible detail and nuance with a very black background. At no time did either feel bloated or muddy.
I also compared the X5ii to my standalone desktop DAC - the Teac UD-501. The X5ii sounded a little more brash, with an edge to sharp transients but held its own very well. That's a pretty resounding feat for a battery-powered unit with all the constraints size and component-spacing bring.
In short, the DAC section of the X5ii is top-notch. It provides detail, transparancy and neutrality on par with (or close to) standalone DACs costing several times more. The experience is very musical, and slightly more "fun" than the classic X5. I would rate it an improvement, if subtle, over the classic.
As an amplifier...
Okay, so the X5ii has a stellar DAC implementation with a great Line Out sound. Time to go portable. Again, I'll compare to the X5 with and without the E12 amplifier, with a brief comparison to the smaller sibling the X3ii.
First go will be with the ATH-M50x. For years the original model were the go-to recommendation for entry-level yet acoustically-discerning listeners. They fell somewhat from grace as having a definite V-shaped signature (far from the studio-monitor moniker portrayed by their maker) but had a great sense of dynamics and detail. These are the newer version which, both subjectively and by testing, improve upon the linearity of the FR over the original. To my ears they are still V-shaped, but they have great bass extension and are capable of fast transients and detail. They are also closed, easy to drive and built like tanks, making them my favourite portable over the Momentums and others.
Both the X5 classic and X5ii drive these cans amazingly well without additional amplification. I found on both units that high gain (while not necessary to reach very high levels) provided a meatier, more visceral listening experience. Bass response was deep, tight and punchy - power was not lacking. These cans can have fatiguing highs for those sensitive to them (I am) but I never felt shrillness or excessive harshness over several hours of listening. With decent though not stunning isolation, these make for an excellent pairing for commuters or office use. The sound of the M50x's stays quite dynamic at lower levels and provides an energetic sound that pairs well with either unit for those who prefer an upbeat sound with good resolution. As expected, the X5ii drives these perfectly.
Now for the torture test: what can this thing do with audiophile-grade cans? For those with more portable, travel/commuter or work-out needs feel free to skip this - it's already a winner. For those who want to break free from the desk and still have audiophile-grade sound with high-end headphones here's a shake-down.
The original X5 is a powerful beast, but coupled with an E12 amplifier you have in your hand/pocket something capable of incredible reproduction of music through some of the staples of higher-end headphones. Whether you're driving high-impedance cans like the HD-650, Beyer DTxxx's or other 300+ ohm cans, or current-hungry planars like the LCD2.2, HifiMan line-up or some of the new Oppos, something more than the standard iDevice or smartphone is required.
The X5/E12 is very capable with these types of cans. It's not going to match some powerful discrete desktop amps or eke out every last drop of what they can bring to the party, but I've consistently been impressed with just how good that combo sounds with these phones. I would never have thought, five or ten years ago, that the equivalent of a higher-end floor system could ever fit in one's pocket and go for a stroll.
But we are still left with a brick of no small weight, and two devices to charge and carry. Can the X5ii compare?
One of the innovations of the X5ii is its change to the gain implementation. Switching from Low to High now switches the voltage rails to the amplifier for higher output voltage swing, a necessity for getting the best from high-impedance cans like the HD-650. It also provides more current capability for the planar designs now widely-available and gaining acceptance and applause from the audiophile community. Most of these designs are open, meaning they provide little isolation both in and out. Not your commuter-friendly closed choice at all. But several closed cans now sport high-impedance dynamic drivers or power-loving planar magnetic designs too.
I tested the X5ii with the Audeze LCD2.2(pre-fazor) and HifiMan HE-400 planar headphones. Neither performed well enough in Low Gain, but to my surprise were both very well driven when switching to the new High Gain implementation. It was stunning to hear just how well the X5ii was able to drive these. The sound was full, rich and (especially with the 2.2) capable of high sound levels without objectionable distortion. Simply jaw-dropping that so much sound could come from such a small device from cans that are widely accepted to require multi-watt desktop amps to perform their best. I'm not suggesting this will replace your desktop setup, but for the ability to use these higher-end cans outside on a deck or around the house the X5ii is a capable amp indeed.
It did not fair quite as well on the high-impedance HD-650, which I was hoping would benefit the most from the voltage-boosted circuit. Sound was muffled, veiled (there I said it) and just couldn't being the 650 to its potential the way a good OTL desktop could. Suprisingly the X5/E12 did a better job here. For those who have an E12 it's still required for these demanding cans, and brings it's own stellar sonics of warm detail to the mix.
Still, for those who need more power than the X5 or X3ii can bring, the X5ii in High Gain is surprisingly capable. It may be the unit that frees you from the heavier stack. It's remarkable for the versatility it brings in being able to adapt from easy-to-drive portable cans to those that strike fear into lesser desk-top gear.

For those new to audiophile-grade players this is a winner through and through. At half the cost of the latest cellphone it will bring a world of sonic enjoyment in a small, sturdily-built and customizeable portable player. The SQ is a huge improvement over consumer MP3 players or smartphones. The interface is not going to thrill those coming from iDevices but if you care more about sound you'll likely not care.
Is it worth the step up from the X3ii? I heartily say yes. The depth and detail of the sound are a definite step up, and the bigger screen, two micro-SD slots and only marginal increase in size and weight to me are worth the difference in cost. Add in the ability to change themes to the work made freely available by those talented souls on Head-Fi and that's all the justification I would need. If you absolutely need a smaller, lighter player for work-outs or jogging then I'd give the nod to the X3ii. Good thing I'm lazy :wink:
And finally, is it worth upgrading from the X5 classic? That's much harder to judge: they both have excellent sound and features, with a subtle nod to the X5ii. The brighter screen and instant-on features are nice to have, as is the DSD playback. It really requires some thought if you're on a budget, and who isn't? My advice? Gift your X5 to someone who shares your audio-enthusiasm or you wish to infect with this disease (lol) and share the music. Or sell on your original and jump in.
Critical thoughts:
I'll close with the areas I though could have been better, and there are a few that I'd like to point out:
- if this is the flagship (at least for the non-Android, non-touchscreen units with the X7 coming) did it go all the way? In some ways no. Just as I'd give up the ultra-thinness of my smartphone for a bit more battery life, I'd give up the more compact size of the X5ii relative to the classic for just a bit more power and a slightly larger screen. These are the constraints of a portable unit, and engineering trade-offs must be made. If anything I'd like to have seen the X3ii become what the X5ii is in terms of abilities, with the flagship not making the sacrifices and taking just a bit more of a step up. That said, this is first and foremost a portable player, and making it better than the X5 in a smaller package is an outstanding feat. My usage is unusual and I can certainly see why this path was chosen for it.
- the lack of ReplayGain is unusual considering how easy it is to implement
- the lack of accelerated scrolling continues to limit the usefulness of mega-storage and user-friendliness
- the lack of larger fonts can make operation in brighter light or for those with less-than-perfect vision more difficult
All three of the above are fixable in future firmware, and Fiio does have a history of listening to the community and releasing improvements over time. That said, they are a smaller company with finite resources providing an already outstanding package for their price range.
If you remember one thing from this long and rambling review make it that: the X5ii is, in my opinion, unbeatable in price/performance ratio and an absolute winner in portable audio value. The sound quality and versatility far outweigh what I'd consider minor interface complaints.
Congratulations Fiio on another winner, and thank you for including me on the tour. I wish you continued success!

Links to the Theme-modding threads:
As mentioned there's a growing body of themes available for both the X5 classic and X5ii. The talent and hard work of folks like @x RELIC x, @Hawaiibadboy, @AsianInvasion, and others just adds the icing to the cake for these great little players. Give them a try, and be sure to thank the creators for their works. They are a great bunch of guys doing this for free and sharing with all - many thanks!
Fiio X5 classic themes:
Fiio X5 second-generation themes:
Fiio X5ii Mega-Thread:
Thanks gents, and to Relic for all the themes and hakushondaimo for being the tour's major-domo!
Great review, Thanks for the shoutout!
Great job! I own it, and I LOVE it. Well done FIIO!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Nice detailed & extended highs, Excellent screen size & brightness, Good amp section, 2 microSD slots
Cons: Price (due to the poor Canadian exchange rate)
I have no affiliation with the FiiO company whatsoever.  I jumped at the opportunity to participate in auditioning the pre-release X5ii Canadian tour unit and was selected to be one of the lucky reviewers.  I would like to thank FiiO and the tour organizers for including me.
I am a long time music lover and audio enthusiast and for the most part have concentrated primarily on 2 channel speaker audio systems, but approximately 2 years ago I ventured into DAC’s, Headphone Amplifiers and good quality Headphones.
My Portable Audio History:
About 5 years ago my wife and I decided to treat our selves with 160GB iPod Classics so that we could enjoy music when travelling or to relax in bed before calling it a night.  Although hardly audiophile quality, the iPod sound was acceptable enough for the occasional portable use.  However recent events has me travelling more frequently now so I find myself listening to portable on the go music much more as well.  This increased exposure to my iPod highlighted something to me, namely that I craved something more, something more satisfying in sound quality.
Enter FiiO:
In an effort to find something better sounding than my iPod, my research led me to discover FiiO and it’s terrific line of products.   Over the years I have always appreciated and admired audio companies that deliver very good sounding equipment at fair and affordable prices.  Companies such as NAD, Oppo, PSB, and yes, even Schiit are such companies.  I must say that I would now include FiiO within this group.
I first chose the E11K amplifier and eventually upgraded to the E12a.  Although these amplifiers (along with my Beyerdynamic DT1350’s and Westone UMPro30’s) certainly elevated the sound of the iPod, I sensed a somewhat unnatural bonding between FiiO and the iPod.  Shortly after the release of X3ii I decided to purchase one and discovered that it, along with the E12a, as they say, was a match made in heaven.  I absolutely love the sound of my X3ii (without & with the E12a) and could not envision the need to upgrade to anything else for a very long time.
First allow me to briefly comment on the X3ii sound signature as a basis for comparison to the X5ii.  To me the X3ii strikes a thoroughly satisfying chord in that it is quite neutral with just a touch body in the bottom end.  The high frequencies are just ever so slightly rolled off which, to my ears, permits long satisfying listening sessions.  I guess it’s best summed up as a smooth sounding device.  This is a very good sounding DAP for a very reasonable price, well done FiiO!
Being very familiar and happy with the X3ii sound I was looking forward to hear how the X5ii sounded by comparison, or if the difference was noteworthy.  Well to my ears I was immediately aware of the X5ii’s more noticeable high frequencies which allowed me to more clearly pick up details that with the X3ii were smoothed over or barely perceptible.  I was simply hearing more information with the X5ii.  In addition, I also sensed a slightly wider and deeper soundstage that presented a nice airy sense of instrument and vocal location within the soundscape.  Percussion and especially cymbals had a very “live-like” sound that I really liked.  Good recordings sound very good on the X3ii, but on the X5ii some of the tracks I used to compare players transported me to the recording studio or live venue.  The X5ii’s bass punched just as satisfyingly as with the X3ii’s.  So yes, I believe the X5ii distinguished itself from the X3ii.
With respect to power, the X5ii had plenty to drive my portable 80ohm on-ear DT1350’s providing very nice sub-bass when the music called for it.  In fairness though the X3ii could also achieve this but the X5ii delivered it clearly and effortlessly.  I also enjoyed comparing the X5ii with my X3ii/E12a combo and here the power comparison was more equally matched.  For the most part I listen to my X3ii with the E12a and prefer the slightly different sound signature that the E12a gives.  To me the E12a is like an aural telescopic lens that brings the soundscape slightly closer to the listener and sharpens the details of music.
X5ii with the E12a:
Since the power ratings of the X5ii and E12a are pretty similar, I questioned the need for the E12a.  However as stated above the E12a does offer a different sound signature to the listening experience and if a slightly more forward sound is your cup of tea then it may be something for you to consider.  I do like the E12a’s bass boost capability with a simple flip of the switch you can introduce a slightly elevated bass lift for those rather thin sounding tunes.  Certainly not a necessity, especially if you favour ultimate portability but if you get an opportunity to audition it with the X5ii I would encourage you to do so.
X5ii Line Out:
Schiit Magni:
When I upgraded my Schiit Magni to the Magni 2Über on my computer setup, the original Magni found a new home on my bedside table.  Since then it has become an almost nightly ritual listening to my X3ii via the Line Out through the Magni.  Naturally when I received the X5ii I made sure to give it plenty of audition time with the Magni. The Magni cleanly amplified the aforementioned detail and clarity of the X5ii, perhaps a touch more brightly than the E12a.  Being very accustomed to the sound of the X3ii/Magni combination, the more detailed sounding X5ii took me a bit by surprise but after a brief brain burn in period I absolutely loved this combination and stopped comparing it to the X3ii/Magni combo altogether.
Lake People G109S:
This amplifier, along with a Schiit Bifrost DAC is part of my main 2 channel system.  I use the Schiit SYS to toggle between my speaker system and headphone system.  First up, I connected the X5ii Line Out straight into the G109S.  To be consistent, I continued to use the DT1350’s as I did with the Magni, and the X5ii did not disappoint.  The very neutral sounding G109S really let me hear how the X5ii’s DAC performed, and I have to say, it did so extremely well.   As with the Magni, the detail and clarity of the X5ii was there in spades.  The X5ii/G109S combination sounded satisfyingly controlled and did not exhibit the shrillness of the Magni if pushed too hard.  The X5ii/G109S combination sounded clean and effortless no matter how high I turned the volume up.   Since this is my main headphone listening system, I also briefly auditioned my HD650’s and HE500’s and had absolutely no complaints.  In fact, the extra clarity that the X5ii brings to the offering is heartily welcomed on this setup.  Comparatively the X3ii sounded very good as well, but to my ears I appreciated the more audiophile like sound of the X5ii.
X5ii Coax Out/Bifrost/G109S or Speaker System:
Unfortunately due to my limited time with the X5ii I wasn’t able to spend very much time with this configuration.  I can say that I liked this setup when I originally experimented with my X3ii.  To the best of my recollection the X5ii sounded very similar to the X3ii.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts:
First off I would like to thank FiiO for giving me the opportunity to audition the X5ii.  My time with it was a real pleasure and an ear opener.  It highlighted to me that even as good and truly satisfying a player that the X3ii is, in my opinion the X5ii offered just that bit more in detail and clarity that I immediately liked and appreciated.  This difference is particularly important to me because I not only use a DAP for portable travel use but also find it practical and enjoyable to use in conjunction with my other audio setups in my home.
Is the price difference between the X5ii and X3ii worth it?  Well that’s a personal decision and I would encourage anyone considering either of these DAP’s to first audition and compare.  If I only used a DAP for occasional portable use then I would be completely satisfied with the X3ii.  It’s a terrific DAP and it is a tremendous value.  For me personally, I not only valued the slightly higher sound quality of the X5ii but also appreciated the bigger and brighter screen.  The X3ii screen, in my opinion is perhaps the only negative thing I could say about the X5ii’s little brother.  Also the extra microSD slot is a welcomed feature.  Finally, if you are interested in driving demanding headphones then the X5ii offers very good amplification that will mate well with all but the most demanding of headphones.  For now, the X5ii offers enough features and sound quality to put it squarely in FiiO’s flagship status.
So yes I made the very difficult decision to sell my X3ii and upgrade to a new X5ii.  Had my wife not offered the upgrade dollar difference as a birthday gift, who knows.  I guess that’s a testament to how good the FiiO DAP’s sound, to me they immediately satisfied that conscious checklist that I look for in audio products.  Nice job FiiO!
Great review Tuneslover! Some nice gear you've paired it with as well. Obviously you found it worth the upgrade from the X3ii and I couldn't agree more. Thanks for your time writing this up :)
@ASpencer - what's even clearer is that Great MINDS think alike!  Rock ON!!
@DDDamian- First ever review and it was like Christmas when you sent me this bundle of joy.  It reminded me of when I was a Kid...wanted to try this, no wait, no, how about this...Uhgg...why only 10 days...ah screw it, I was smitten the only way to fully appreciate this gem is just buy the bloody thing!  Glad I did but I already miss my X3ii.  Life has it's down's but this stuff is the HIGHS for sure.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: External playlists, size, build, feel, usability, line out, screen, battery life, price
Cons: No onboard storage, interface could be better
Many thanks to Brooko for arranging this tour unit


External Playlists:
Pretty much my number one priority after sound, this took some fiddling to get working from my Mac/iTunes but I got there in the end. This feature could do with some work (see Cons) but is, I’m happy to say, operational!
Size, Build, Feel:
Nothing to complain about here, the X5ii is very well built, the fit and finish are to a high standard and it feels great in the hand
Pleasantly surprised here, I had no issues during the short period I spent - it played all my formats with no issue.
Line out (analogue)
This is an important feature for me, I hooked it up to my home system and it sounded great
The X5ii has a lot of features, and as such I feel is keenly priced 


There's not many!
External Playlists:
I have this in both pros and cons: pros because it's there and it works, cons because I'd like it to be better - took me a while (and a few crashes) to get it going which might put off some users, I'd also like to see them showing up in categories and to show album info whilst browsing
Hopefully Fiio will continue to improve the interface, including adding album artist, showing artist and album info when browsing tracks and playlists 


Tested mainly with JH-13 Pro and against my Hifiman HM-801:
I found the X5ii to have a black background with good levels of detail, in my opinion surpassing the HM-801. 
The X5ii has a warm, smooth and slightly bassy signature with large left to right separation.
I initially liked this sound but as time went on thought that the sound was a little too flat and without energy, the left to right is there but the front to back is slightly missing for my sound preference


The X5ii has so much going for it at the price point and I really enjoyed using it, I personally prefer a livelier presentation so will be interested what the X7 has to offer
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Smaller, lighter, much more quieter background, standby mode, native DSD64/128 decoding, SACD .iso playability
Cons: UI lags, minor lag delay with the scroll wheel, still no way of accelerated scrolling/navigation
Head-Fi, Fiio X5 and me
I came out of my lurking in January 2014 to join Head-Fi, I was looking for a DAP to replace my Creative Zen X-Fi's whose display had a 'black ink' spreading disease at terminal phase. I wanted to buy an X-Fi again, but I found out that with the advant of smartphones, MP3 players section had all melted away and all that was left were very cheap 4GB/8GB players or iPods. I couldn't find the Zen X-Fi in any stores in my area. Expensive iPod nano/touches with 32GB/64GB with no SD card capacity was a no go. I had resisted buying an Apple player for all these years (Creative fan since the inception of PC soundcards), I was almost tempted to buy an iPod Classic due to higher storage capacity , but the fear of damaging a micro hard-drive (lost my Zen Micro 16GB to a fall) made me consider going online to find a solution.
I discovered about Head-Fi, and oh boy, I felt ridiculous and vain for being an enduring Creative fanboy. My brick & mortar only shopping world was just the tip of the iceberg. DAPs had gotten so much better and DAPs from SanDisk and Iriver still existed! It was time to go submarine mode and lurk through hundreds of pages of threads to get my universe updated (i.e. wow people even carry brick stacks of amps!).
After an initial shortlist of the Fiio X3, iBasso DX50 and Astell&Kern AK240 (was enthralled by its beauty), I went back to my local shop to ask if they knew em, if they had any or if I could place an order. Turns out they were Fiio and A&K dealers too but had none in stock (the X5 and AK240 wasn't even in their database for pre-order). If I had to wait for an X3 to arrive, I preferred to pre-order the X-5 online instead.
Only ultraportability interests me now. IEMs and a DAP. No cans, no amp stacking. I'm bulky enough to want to carry more stuff around. ;P
My take on Fiio
Portable Hi-Fi that works reliably while remaining affordable, simple as that. James and Joe Bloggs are very active on Head-Fi. Great feedback interaction with the members, involving us in the different parts of the design and production process.
I want to give my thanks to James and Joe Bloggs at Fiio for giving me the chance to review this new dap. This is my first review. The unit I had was part of the World Preview Tour, European part. We each had 10 days to play with X5ii before shipping it to the next reviewer. I received no compensation for writing this review, I did not get to keep the review sample, and had to ship it to the next in line from my own pocket (full disclosure/shoutout to the Belgian Post Office, Belgium to Austria  €32.80 ...fleecers).
I've got limited gear and experience so my review won't be very technical, but more oriented on how it affects me directly.
Official Fiio X5ii product page:
My review sample box:
  1. Fiio X5ii DAP
  2. USB transfer and charging cable
  3. COAX cable
  4. Silicone body protective case
  5. Screen protectors (3 total, one already applied, 2 spare)
  6. 3 complete body make-over sticker kits (Carbon fiber / Light grainy wood / American flag)
  7. Button operation leaflet
  8. Quick start manual
  9. Warranty info
X5 and X5ii side to side comparisons
X5ii size H: 109mm W: 63.5mm D: 15.3mm
X5 size  H: 114mm W: 67.6mm D: 15.6mm
X5ii weighs 165g, around 30g lighter than the X5.
Coming from the X5 to X5ii, I immediately noticed the width and length decrease, the change of the 4 buttons around the scroll wheel to small slicker round ones matching the color of the body.
I always found the X5 to look like a stove, so the X5ii was pleasing change, much more appealing.
The X5ii  facelifting also includes brushed metal finish instead of powdered, and a color change (like the X3ii). I prefer the black original color but since I use the silicone case I admit it doesn't matter anyway. I gotta say the new color is much more coherent overall though, matching the 4 X and center scroll wheel buttons.
The actual screen display size remains the same in the newer gen. On the X5 the glass was bigger than the screen display. With the X5ii, Fiio recessed the screen and made the glass flush with the body. A very nice improvement there.
While my hands are somewhat average, it's not very proportionate. My fingers are shorter than average, but I got a big palm. The reason why I mention this is because the X5 always was at the limit of my comfort level. I always used it with the silicone body case which adds a bit to the size. It's bulky to operate with only hand only and at times was annoying when you also take into account the scrolling aspect of the Fiio X5/X5ii. So the the smaller size and weight change with the X5ii was a very welcoming advantage for me. Easier to hold and operate, a noteworthy plus for small handed users.
The silicone body case of the X5ii feels more smooth in the hands, the X5 case is a bit more sticky, making it easier to slide in and out of my jeans pocket. The X5ii with the 4 new buttons and silicone case give a nice tactile feedback, more convenient use.
The silicone material seems different. How it will affect its durability I do not know. In the case of the Fiio X5, the silicone case got a minor shred on the bottom left corner of the screen due to me having to expand it by sliding it on and off each time I need to add/transfer new music (the case covers over the microSD slot). I never could connect the X5 to my pc directly, so relied on the small Fiio USB 2.0 dongle card reader supplied. The X5ii review unit didn't come with such a dongle.
The X5ii no longer has dust covers making it bit more elegant. While I prefer the covers for an added safety layer despite already using the silicone body case at all times.
On the other hand it was reassuring that while there's no covers on the X5ii, the micro sd card goes deeper, so there's absolutely no risk of friction.
The power+lock button moved to the left side on the X5ii and has a tiny led in its center. Very pale non-disturbing (for those using while in bed) blue color when ON/playing,  orange red when plugged in recharging and green when fully charged. Notice the tiny tactile raised dot on the Volume + button so you don't mistake it for the power button; it's easy to operate in the dark.
When the player is locked, holding the Vol+/- buttons will skip tracks. So to change the volume in locked mode, you have to lightly press repeatedly to increment/lower step by step.
Notice how nicely flushed the display and 4 buttons are now on the X5ii.
X5ii on the left, X5 on the right. X5 original had 3 distinct output jacks, HP, COAX and Line out. The X5ii changed by having only 2; Coax and Line out have a shared output jack, switchable from within the UI (Multifunctional Outputs under System Settings menu).
The visible hard reset pinhole on the X5 has gone on the X5ii, you'll have to press and hold the power button for about 15s to reset the player.
Note: the X5ii HP out location switched sides. On the X5 it's at the top left of the DAP. On the X5ii, it's at the top right side. Users coming from the X5 might have the nasty suprise if plugging their sensitive iems to the Line out jack on the X5ii being used on this side, blasting their eardrums!
User Interface
You can adjust the volume two ways: hold the center dial for a second which displays the volume arc, and you can then turn the wheel to +/- the volume; or you can use the side buttons.
The left and right button below the wheel serve as Previous/Next track skip if pressed once, or back/forwarding within the current track if held.
The upper left button opens the tiny submenu where you can add the current track to your favorites (heart icon), change the playing mode like shuffle, repeat all or same track, and delete track.
The upper right button serves as go back up a level or previous menu. If held longer it goes straight back to main menu centered on Now Playing.
Deep sleep stand-by
The X5ii comes with a Deep sleep stand-by mode that's a very good improvement I think. In daily/weekly usage I didn't have to shut it down completely, it used very low battery while on stand-by mode, and resumed instantly. My X5 unit with X Relic X's mod takes around 9-10 seconds of waiting time between Power ON booting to being fully functional. So this new deep sleep stand-by mode is quite welcomed.
Folder browsing
I solely used my X5 in folder browsing mode. The lack of proper tagging of my library makes the Play by Category mode absolutely chaotic. This is an issue with the ZX2's default music app too because I can't apparently access my memory card in folder browsing mode and only allows categorized mode.
Folder browser on the X5 and X5ii is easier for me. My TF card root has artists/bands folders, sub-folders are albums. Here lies a big problem, it can take me up to half a minute of spinning the scroll wheel just to get to the artist/band I want to listen to. There's no progressively accelerating scrolling either from the wheel nor the buttons.
The bottom left and right buttons also serve as scrolling keys, so my only chance at scrolling faster is by using two hands, one is holding the scroll button while the other is spinning the wheel resulting in a moderately faster scrolling up or down, but I can't stress how much absurd this looks and feels.
A workaround fix would be to have the root folders be alphabetically ranked and have artists inside them. Like 26 folders; A-Z. But this solution is not fitting for me because of my personal nature in regards to listening music. Which track I pick depends on my mood of the moment, browsing through names which I associate with feelings is the deciding factor. But Cagin, be rational, surely you'd prefer changing your listening habit and put stuff in  A-Z folders first instead of the boring up to 30 seconds of spinning wheel to fit your 'mood' no? Well... ok sure, if it wasn't for a bothersome aspect of organizing by alphabetical folders at the root folder; the lag. I'll come to this on the next paragraph. Now I understand the scroll wheel is mechanical, and doesn't allow acceleration, but I would've liked if at least the bottom buttons could be set to like skip 5 by 5, or a whole screen of folders, or maybe alphabetical letters directly.
One quality of life improvement I'd like to see in a future firmware would be the ability to just play the highligthed folder without having to go through its subfolders and pick a certain track before it starts playing. I'd like it if when folder browsing, I scroll down to say an artist folder and I just press say the top left button and it automatically will play it's content starting from the top album, top track and go from there. 1 click instead of 3.
My 128GB SanDisk microSD card was formatted by my X5 (fat32), it works flawlessly with the ZX2 as well, and is recognized and working with the X5ii fine. But I did notice a major lag issue and perhaps I should've formatted the card from within the X5ii to make sure it wasn't due to format origin, but I admit it was too daunting to it all over again via the X5ii. So take the lag details with a grain of salt ok.
In folder browser mode, TF1 main root access had a 2.5 second delay (1.5s on the X5). This means, each time I go in Folder Browser mode, and pick TF1 card, it takes 2.5s before I can start scrolling through folders. Accessing a sub folder brings a 0.5s delay on the X5ii (not noticeable on the X5). Now if I'm in the Artist sub-folder and want to go back up a level to main root, I get a 2 second delay on the X5ii (1.5s on the X5).
On the X5ii when spinning the wheel to adjust the volume, if I make more than a few incremental steps, there is a delay as the volume will keep adjusting even if you stopped spinning the wheel.
On the X5, it's more responsive. There's no delay lag regardless of if I make wide volume changes or small increments.
Note about the Scroll wheel: Fiio said the production units will have higher damping factor (similar to production X3 2nd gen units) for more positive tactile feedback. Hopefully this will address the delay lag I experience when spinning it fast.
Main menu  Now Playing / Play by Category / Folder Browse / Play settings / System settings
Play by Category sub menu
I never go here ^^
Play settings
Here you can change things like:
  1. Left/Right channel balance (+/-10dB)
  2. Low/High gain
  3. set which volume you want your player to automatically fix to each time you power it on (avoiding any eardrum blasting suprise)
  4. fix a hard volume cap
  5. Equalizer has 10 bands and 9 presets, it reduced output -6dB by default when active. You can edit the preset names via firmware if you desire.
  6. The 'play through folders' option is nice if say you browse into one artist folder containing like 4 album folders, it will automatically keep on playing by switching to the next folder in line (top to bottom); and once all sub folders player, will go to the next main folder and start from there working through sub folders, on and on.
System Settings menu
  1. 3 Key-lock modes. I prefer the one where only the side volume buttons are working when display is locked. I can adjust the volume and skip tracks from the pocket without taking it out. Minimal risk of pressing something wrong.
  2. Idle standby and timer. If player is on pause the time lapse before it goes to stand-by mode from lack of user input to save on display battery
  3. Sleep + timer. If like me you like to go to sleep while listening to music or some ASMR, will automatically cut the music and go stand-by, alternatively if you're lazy and unsure of when you're about to sleep you can just unplug the headphone jack, it will pause the player, and then Idle out ^^
  4. Multifunctional outputs. Switches from Line out to Digital out Coax
  5. USB Mode. Storage for data transfer or DAC mode
  6. Supports in-line headphone. 3.5mm TRRS cables with track skip/pause/play [volume +/- not incl]
  7. Format. Allows the device to format a TF card to FAT32. Recommended you do it via the device for optimal compatibility, avoid hanging ups during library scanning.
GUI Themes
The Fiio X5 allowed users to modify the GUI (Graphical User Interface) via firmware files, we could to change the colors, fonts and placing of objects. This led a growing number of daring creative headfiers to make modded themes.
There's many flavors, from minimalistic to flamboyant ones.
Here's the superb repository thread for the X5 original gen:
The X5ii takes the theme potential even higher by allowing up to 5 customizable themes. There are 5 default themes that came with the X5ii, but fellow headfiers @X Relic X and @AsianInvasion have already adapted their mods to the X5ii firmware, so you can have a whopping 5 completely different big modded themes available to switch from one to another from inside the menu directly without any need of rebooting. Quite convenient also for having for example one theme made for easier contrasting while outside in a glaring daylight situation.
Click here for the X5ii theme mods repository:
Here are the 5 default themes:
Gear at hand
I've received my X5ii review unit at the same time as my custom EarWerkz Omega iems arrived. Being my 1st set of ciems, I was very critically attentive during my listening sessions with the Fiio X5ii. I also had received my Sony ZX2 a few days earlier, so there were a lot of switching back and forth between the Fiio X5, X5ii, the Sony ZX2, the new Omega ciems and my faithful Zero Audio Duoza's.
During the comparisons my Sony ZX2 was at 50-90 hours burn-in period, was using the Sony Music Player app with the following settings off: Clear Audio, EQ, DSEE HX, Dynamic Normalizer.
The X5 and X5ii were with EQ off
All my music library fits in one 128gb SanDisk microSD card, comprising of .FLAC, .wav, .mp3 files, I have no DSD contents to play with sadly. Those with DSD recordings will be interested to know that the X5ii has an "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", so no need for PCM conversion.
For all the hardware components, I'll refer the reader to the official product page where it's all detailed very clearly (
Test Tracks
Jardín de la Croix - 187 Steps to cross the Universe EP, especially the "Colorado Springs" track
Cowboy Junkies - live binaural recording by Immersifi (available free right here on Head-Fi forum in the free flac thread); track #1 to #8
Envy - A Dead Sinking Story album - #1 Chain wandering deeply and #2 Distress of ignorance tracks
Florence and the Machine - Lungs album
KOAN sounds - Forgotten Myths EP
Sound quality differences?
As much as I could write a page and a half about the difference of sound quality between my Duoza's and the Omega's I just can't reliably notice a difference between the 3 DAPs themselves while playing music. Aside from the hiss, the X5 and the X5ii sound the same to me (even with both equal volume dials). And when I add the ZX2, it's an eye opener on two fronts really. Yes the X5ii is just as good as my ZX2 in the music reproduction. The X5ii didn't feel lacking at all compared to the ZX2. The balance was right, the bass wasn't overwhelming and the trebble clarity was there. I might prefer the drums for a bit more details on the ZX2 but I certainly don't feel confident about it enough to certify in a courtroom for example. Sure ZX2 might not be at the optimal burn-in period but still.
Unfortunately I don't have any equipment/program to volume match the players so I could have a better way to compare.
Another factor why I had a hard time differenciating anything was the impossibility of instant A/B comparisons. Had I two cards I could have one inside each DAP and just switch jacks.
My other revelation was just how good the Duoza iems were as a pairing match for the X5ii and the ZX2. Everything feels just balanced, each parts given an equal footing. No instrument boasting over another. I like bass but not overwhelming bass that ruins the details of distinguishing each element. The Duoza/X5ii or ZX2 pairing avoids a boomy bass so I can actually enjoy the nuances of the bass guitar. The treble is clear and detailed always just below my sibilance treshold, the drum kit's hi-hats, cymbals and snare aren't relegated to the background, they have this sparkling pride, and lasting decay that gives me great pleasure.
The Omega's on the other hand are a bad pairing with the X5ii or the ZX2. Voices can be explosively uncontrolled, non seductive, aggressive. And when I say aggressive voice is not due to sibilance, oh no, the Omega's are completely immune to any risk of silibance whatsoever from any source possible. It avoids sibilance so much that drum kits feels muted, gagged, and relegated to the background. Treble is tamed hard. The electric guitars on the other hand are given immense power and ooze with omph goodness. Electric guitars definitely gets forefront emphasis; too much maybe because it overshadows the bass guitar details.
I seriously need to find a DAP to get enjoyment out of the Omega's.
But I digress, this ain't a review comparison about Omega's or Duoza's, but about the X5ii. And the X5ii still has this somewhat neutral flat signature that I long for (with bit of warmth). 
Hiss - background noise
The background noise comparison gave a cleaver cut divide. The EarWerkz Omega's are very easy to drive and overly sensitive, prone to hissing noise.
Using them one the X5 and ZX2 I get moderate hiss noise. The X5 is a bit hissier than the ZX2. When listening to most genres it's not audible, but on slower or more quiet tracks like solo piano or live acoustic it can be distracting. When on pause it's quite audible and annoying.
The X5ii was very suprising because it was in another category regarding background noise, when on pause it was quite low hiss, and inaudible during playback.
With my Duoza's, the X5ii is simply quiet even when on pause.
Battery life
With my usage habit of always locking the display after picking a track, and mainly flac listening I get around 10 hours of music before battery going out. Same as my X5. A nice average stamina but when you take into account the power output of it, it's good. The X5ii has 3300mAh battery, the X5 had 3700mAh. If I had to guess why they both having the same stamina despite lower battery on the X5ii has to come from the redesigning of power architecture regarding low and high gain.
Concluding ponderings & alternatives to consider researching/auditioning
I think that it's good to have options. Especially when I'm thinking of upgrading. Gives me clarity noticing what matters to me in the end. What functionality I can dispose of, what I can't do without anymore, to reveal what I'm really after.
Some questions I feel must be considered:
Do I honestly hear a difference noticeable enough to warrant such a price jump? 
 - At time of comparisons, with a burn-in period of 50-80h on my ZX2 , I found the X5ii equal sound-wise.
Can my ego take the hit for disappointment after HYPE buying? 
 - Hype and aspirations have to be allowed but also tamed.
Does the user interface help me or do I fight it too much? Does it hamper me getting me to enjoy my music? 
 - With my X5 it can take me up to 30sec of scrolling to find the music I want. With a touch sensitive Android based ZX2 it's immensely faster, I personally do no longer want to come back to an UI that doesn't allow a form of acceleration or faster scrolling. (Questyle QP1R and Cayin N5 I'm looking at you; that's why the X7 will get all my attention)
Am I ready to change my iem/headphone in case it doesn't pair well with my dap? Or would I prefer to change the DAP to match my gear?
 -Gotta have a matching pair to enjoy. If it sounds good to you, who cares if it looks like a downgrade.
To those interested about the Fiio X5ii, I'd suggest considering listening to the X3ii if budget is tighter.
Sidegrades possible are the QLS QA360, iBasso DX90.
Potential upgrades would be the Lotoo Paw 5000 (balanced headphone output and Bluetooth but with a fun/musical signature instead of neutral flat like the X5ii). If patience is your virtue, then these options open up as well, Questyle QP1, Cayin N5, Fiio X7 (to be released in mainland China in August, Fall worldwide).
And oh suggestion to consider =/= advise to buy  0:)
To me the X5 2nd Gen is clearly an upgrade to the original X5. Smaller, lighter, more tactile feedback makes it easier for me to handle. Very more quiet background (quite important with sensitive iems if you don't tolerate hissing noise). The X5ii can play DSD64/128 and play SACD .iso if you have those. The X5ii still has that great neutral sound with bit of warmth that I liked so much in the original X5.
It still has that oomph of power to not feel the amping requirement if you use iems and some cans. The stand-by mode is the cream on the top.
I'll conclude with this though, even if I had golden ears, and I don't -I only got to silver ears at the Phillips challenge before I gave up tired ^^- you only have your ears to enjoy your music. I doesn't matter if it sounds great to me; how good will it sound FOR YOU !?! Do your best to attempt an audition.
Does the Screen have more Pixel than than that of the X1?
Fiio X1 has a 2 inch Display (262k color TFT display, 320×RGB×240 pixels)
The X5ii has a 2.4 inch Display (262k color IPS display, 400x360 pixels)


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: audioquality, price, design, build, screen, two mSD slots, native DSD, power
Cons: user interface, very responsive center button

I was part of the european leg on the X5 world tour, so I did receive a review unit, free of charge, for ten days, but it was already running FW 1.0.

I am in no way affiliated with FiiO. I would like to thank Joe and James for giving me this opportunity and for organizing the tour. It was a lot of fun discovering the device.
When I received the X5 my first thoughts were „So that's why the X3 is called an ultraportable device“. It's bigger than the pictures can show, yet still handy. It felt great, I couldn't wait to put my card in it and update the database. It's a 128GB SanDisk mSD card containing around 2700 songs, including some DSD albums.
This took pretty long. My X3 2nd gen updates in no time compared to that.
Changes from first to second generation:
Native DSD decoding
Deep-sleep mode
Dual crystal oscillators
Better amplification
Brushed metal exterior
Smaller and lighter device
Supports in-line remote headphones
Headphones used:
Final - Sonorus VI (formerly known as „Pandora Hope VI“)
AKG - K240 Sextett (made in the 70's)
The exterior is completely made of metal, which gives it a premium feeling. The colour comes close to the X3's but is a little lighter. One of the things I really like about the design are the edges, unlike the X1 and X3 the X5 isn't rounded at the top.
The buttons are more recessed than on the other players from FiiO, also the screen is now in line with the whole body. The center button was a little too sensitive for my taste, I often found myself clicking it when I didn't want to.
P7300313.jpg  P7300318.jpg
The scroll wheel was pretty soft and when turning it around I hardly felt the clicks, please note here that I had a preview unit, the wheel was changed to a better feeling one (like the X3's). I actually liked the soft wheel. The player has a protector already applied to the screen when leaving the factory.
The volume and the power buttons are located on the left side. The power button also includes the LED indicator which shows you if the device is on (blue), charging (red) or fully charged (green).
P7300325.jpg  P7300312.jpg
On the bottom there are the two mSD slots and the micro USB port for charging, data transfer (computer or OTG) and for docking.
The headphone and line/coax out are found on top of the device.
P7300311.jpg  P7300314.jpg
A very big improvement is the screen. It's a very clear and wonderfully readable IPS screen. You can easily use it outside without making shades to read the screen. It never bugged me that I had to put the backlight to 100% when using my X3 on the outside, but now that I've seen its bigger brother, I know how good it feels to use a higher quality screen.
Another thing that was changed are the jacks on top of the device. Instead of three there are only two remaining on the second generation. Now Coaxial and Line Out share the same output.
Package and Accessories
The unit comes in a simple and elegant black box with the FiiO logo in the middle. Inside you'll find a quick start guide, an overview of the X5 and a warranty card. Also there are a few accessories like a coaxial adapter, an USB cable (not in the pictures), two screen protectors and some stickers to individualize your player.
There's also a black silicon case for protection, which later got changed to a clear plastic cover, because of complaints about the smell.
Please note, that the coax-adapter is a four pole plug, and won't work with any first generation X player. Also the adapters from the first gen X3 and X5 won't work with the second gens. The reason for this is the shared output for Line Out and Coax Out, you can use any stereo mini jack for LO usage.
P7310310.jpg  P7310311.jpg
P7310312.jpg  P7310316.jpg
P7310318.jpg  P7310319.jpg
User Interface (UI)
FiiO is not known for its great UI, there are yet a lot of improvements to be made. The basics of course are covered. You can browse the database via Artist, Album, Songs, Genres or Favourites (personal made list). Or you can access your files directly with folder navigation.
It also supports gapless playback and has two gain settings (high/low).
When using in the pockets the X5 let's you pick between three different key-lock settings, where different buttons are active even though the screen is turned off.
I would have used lockscreen two (volume and center buttons), but with the super responsive center button it was not very comfortable. The production units might be more suitable for this option.
For me personally the UI is the biggest minus about the device, since there are so many features missing that would increase the usability by a lot. Like a better playlistmanagement. The ability to add songs to a playlist without having to start them first, is one of the keyfeatures I'm hoping for. Or simply to be able to name your own playlists. I know I can create playlists with my computer, but I'm always changing the files on my card and discovering new songs and artist, having to edit a playlist every time is a real pain. Screen time out and Idle standby are set in the system settings. Idle standby sets when the device goes into deep-sleep mode. Currently both times are a little too long for my taste (30s for screen time out, and 60s for idle standby).
There's also a 10-band equalizer, which comes with eight presets (Rock, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Dance, Vocal, Blues and Metal) and a custom one, or you can turn it off and don't use it at all.

Other improvementwishes include:
- add more shortcuts in now playing (e.g. EQ and Brightness)
- Replaygain
- Crossfeed
- showing the percentage of remaining battery
- database sorting by title and filename
- faster scrolling through the library
- updating the library in the background, so music doesn't stop when updating
- multidisc support for albums
Rockbox for the X players would be huge, but that's not going to happen any time soon, even though I've read that one of the keydevelopers bought an X1 some time ago.
Hands down, this is the best sounding FiiO to date. I have the current generation players at home. Neither the X3 nor the X1 comes close to the X5.
It sounds more neutral, more precise and natural than any of its siblings. It's very detailed and I couldn't really find it leaning towards any sound. It also has a black background and shows some space and air between the instruments. Which makes especially DSD files sound like you're in the studio with the band.
Needless to say, I loved it.
For experiments I tried the X5 with my vintage AKG K240 (600Ω) and surprisingly found them well driven. Still not pushing them to their best, but way better than any other DAP I tried them with.
Advantages and disadvantages over the X3 second Gen.
The X5 definitely wins the most important part: sound, like I said before, it's the best of the FiiO's right now. It also features two mSD slots, so double space, which makes a lot of sense for people with a giant music collection or someone who has a lot of DSD files. The wonderful screen and it's readability on the outside is also a big plus over the X3.
I noticed that the X5 gets a little warm when using it for a while. I don't know if that's a preview unit issue or if the massproduction samples do the same. The X3 doesn't do that.
The X3 wins two contests in my opinion. First is the portability. For a device that small it makes incredible sound. The second is value. Nothing beats the X3 at its price point, while the X5 has a serious competitor with the DX90, especially the rockboxed one.
Working as a DAC

Unfortunately for me, FiiO names all of their devices the same, at least Linux reads them with the same name, when connected as USB DAC. Because of that I had to delete the soundcard configuration on my laptop to make it work. I had the X3 set up as primary device, but since X5 and X3 don't share the same ID it didn't output any sound when connected to a USB port.
After deleting and reconfiguring my setup I was able to use it in DAC mode also.

The sound definitely improved and is superior to any other of their DAPs to date, but it appears that the only thing that's holding FiiO back is FiiO themselves. They made a wonderful device, and they had to save somewhere to make it this inexpensive. Too bad it hit the software and it's still missing some important features in the firmware. Otherwise there wouldn't be a competition.
Maybe after the launch of their new flagship, the X7, there will be more time to add some of the requested features.

So, would I buy the X5? I will. Simply because of it's beautiful and neutral soundsignature and the ability to store two mSD cards to hold my entire DSD library.
Final Words
Again I would like to thank FiiO, especially Joe for all his work and support through the tour. Also I'd like to say a huge thanks and big up to Tiefparterre Records and Mr. Dero & Klumzy Tung who provided me with their quality music in high resolution.
  P7310312.jpg  P7300319.jpg
  P7300320.jpg  P7300316.jpg
  P7310314.jpg  P7310313.jpg

MSRP: 349 USD $
it goes around 429€ in the EU
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 x 63.5 mm x 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 for Windows PCs)
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); not DST compressed
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: MP2, MP3, AAC, ALAC, WMA, OGG
Great review! I think one of the nice improvements over the OG X5 is the improved amp section of the X5 II. I've felt no need at all to stack it with my E12A, which did indeed improve the sound of the X5. Nice job FiiO!
One thing that bothered me in fiio products was always the connectors. In my E17, the headphone jack stopped operating effectivly after a year of use (HEAVY use, so I am not really that dissappointed).
Fiio was very nice and sent me a headphone jack to replace the damaged one, but as it was my first soldering experience, I ended up destroying the unit :).
I am unsure if the headphone jack is more resistant in the X5 (as far as I know fiio recognized the problem in the E17 units and added a better hp jack in products from that time), but if not, it would be a bummer. 
Nice review! I'll definitely be upgrading from the X3ii to the new X5.


Member of the Trade: Wabi Sabi Headphones
Pros: Size, build, sound
Cons: None
This review will cover the X5ii, comparing it to the Pono player and the original X5. I have a Pono in my possession now. I unfortunately sold my original X5 prior to receiving the review sample, but had spent a good amount of time with it before selling it (I pre-ordered it at its release time from B&H).
The X5ii I listened to was a review sample sent out on a tour of the United States by FiiO. It was not given to me, and I am in no way affiliated with FiiO. It was forwarded on to the next tour participant as soon as I had spent ten days with it.
I used CD quality 16/44 flac files on all three devices. Headphones used were the Koss Portapro, the Sennheiser HD650, the VE Zen, the TPeos Altone 200 and the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore.
With all that seriousness out of the way, let’s discuss me, and the awkward cross-roads I find myself at here. I am a long-time fan of FiiO DAPs. They are affordable, they sound great, and they take a beating. FiiO as a company are great folks…always responsive to the community, encouraging theme modders, always looking for feedback. Let’s face it, they are an anomaly in the electronics world. They bring the attentiveness of a boutique manufacturer to a very large audience.
I loved my X5. I really did. I use the past tense here, because sadly, sometimes love loses its lustre. We grow old, we change. One day you’re a vigorous young man in his prime, the next you have saggy butt-cheeks, a tendency to fart easily, and a profound dislike of young hooligans in that supreme contradiction….the saggy pair of skinny jeans (how the hell did they do that….make something tight so poorly fitted all at the same time?).
We all change. Life changes us, gray hair changes us…it’s depressing if thought of as a negative thing. Personally, I like that I will never be the same person from instant to instant (even if part of that change is becoming smellier). Change is what you make of it.
What does my flatulence have to do with the X5ii? Well….life happened to me in terms of my audio journey as well. I used to think the X5 was hot. It was sleek, sexy, slightly unique looking. All the things that make my little heart go pit-a-pat. So I made it mine. We made this a permanent thing (well…as permanent as anything in this life can be). We were very, very happy. Even when I introduced a third party (the FiiO E12) and a stacking kit to give the X5 a little more oomph in those trickier headphone situations.
We were rock-solid….until the X5ii was announced. People are fickle things. I instantly plonked my beloved X5 in a classified and sold her off at a good price to a nice fellow down in Louisiana. Let’s face it, there are worse places to go when you are left and need a change of scenery. At least I didn’t ship it to outer-Mongolia or somewhere like that (can you tell I feel a little guilty?). I gathered my pennies, put on my Sunday suit, and prepared for my first meeting with the X5ii. All was set to go…until the Pono happened.
I had always been curious about the Pono. It’s nothing that fits my usual criteria. It’s a little too quirky looking, its battery life is a little sub-par….but the tricks it can do. My goodness. It can do balanced. It can drive a pair of HD650 or a pair of VE Zen with no amp. More than that, it sounds different. It’s different from anything I have heard. Brooko was close when he described its sound as “…almost holographic…” I hear details I never heard before (yes, I did just use that cliché), and I truly, actually do hear a difference with hi-resolution music. When I listened to the Pono, the heavens opened and little angels sang as I closed my eyes in ecstasy. What was worse was, the Pono snuck into my line of sight while I was waiting for the X5ii. It was a happy accident. A deal on eBay got it into my hands. I thought “…this will be quick…a casual interlude before the X5ii is released…”. Sadly that was not to be.
I listened to the X5ii. I tried really hard. But the Pono had already worked its charms on me. There was no going back. It was truly a depressing ten days I spent trying to make things happen with the X5ii. It sounded great. Better than the X5, better than the X3ii, better than the X1 (I was on those tours too). It beat out my iPhone 5, and it trounced my Clip+ (Rockboxed and my old iPod Touch (1st Gen).
The X5ii is a superior player, no doubt about it. I would take it over anything…anything except my freaky, funky, dirty Pono. I will refrain from the usual clinical dissections of bass, mids, treble. I am not a very structured writer, and I know plenty of others will cover this ground very well. I will praise the positives of the X5ii though:
  • It sounds better than the original X5.
  • The UI is great. It’s the new one put out on the X1 and X3ii.
  • The build is amazing. Solid, re-assuringly so, and pretty.
  • Capacity is awesome. I love the two micro-SD slots (one thing my Pono won’t entertain…multiple micro-SD cards at the same time).
  • The price point is perfect.
If you’re looking for a new player, add it to the list for consideration. Add it near the top. Seriously. Ignore me and my deviant love for the Pono. I'll probably be back and begging at the X5ii's door in a few months...
Im Fiio x5-2nd owner & i think x5-2nd is very good choise for everyone! Simply listen the music without clinical dissections of EQ. It`s great step to Hi-Res music.
Great review Bruce - and I know exactly where you are coming from.  If the Pono had a better battery life, and slightly better user interface, I'd possibly go down that road as well.  Here's hoping that Ayre do bring out a Pono2 at some stage and fix the flaws it currently has.  In the meantime both X5ii, and Pono both hit the sweet spot for price / performance - as long as you're prepared to live with their individual quirks.