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FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.04167/5,
  1. greencalx
    An unfunny joke
    Written by greencalx
    Published Aug 26, 2016
    0.5/5,
    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).
    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      People are neglecting to note that this isn't about the user, it's about the company.
       
      Whether or not he should have bought it isn't the point. Nor is it the point that he bought (or pretended to buy) an item that he knows doesn't have this functionality.
       
      The point stands, that if users complained about a widespread feature, Fiio knew about this, and did nothing about it, it says something pretty important about the company.
       
      While I don't think this should be specific to any one review (like twister said, more suited to a thread), it is a valid point, regardless of whether you should or should not have bought it.
       
      And yet, complaints in the thread seemed to have no impact on this issue. So I kind of see why someone would want to try a more drastic option.
      avitron142, Aug 28, 2016
    3. doctorcilantro
      "A DAP's most basic functionality is playing music."
       
      Very hard to do when the UX design is crap. E.g. the iBasso DX80 does not support M3U or an Play Next function.
       
      The lack of usability on many of these devices blows my mind.
      doctorcilantro, Aug 29, 2016
    4. DrSHP
      It is not a review.not helpfull
      DrSHP, Mar 3, 2018
      miguel.yarce likes this.
  2. anqallyt
    Good Balance. Vocals sometimes recessed. Good soundstage. Simple UI but works.
    Written by anqallyt
    Published Jun 4, 2016
    3.5/5,
    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.
  3. jackgu1988
    Excellent sound quality
    Written by jackgu1988
    Published Mar 13, 2016
    5.0/5,
    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.
  4. DJScope
    FiiO X5 (2G) - Feature rich audio toolbox.
    Written by DJScope
    Published Aug 23, 2015
    3.5/5,
    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.

     

    Introduction

    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. [​IMG]
     

    FiiO X5 2nd Gen Specs: Click Here

     
     

    Packaging & Accessories

    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.
    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. 
     

    Accessories that come in the box are:

    1. Micro-USB cable.
    2. 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.
    3. A black rubber case which usually comes with all FiiO DAPs. (I really dislike it, but some people like it)
    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. Documents & reading material: Quick start guide; A card with button layout, and social media links and other info; warranty card.
     
    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.
     

    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.
     

    Equaliser

    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.
     

    Power

    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.
     

    Sound

    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. 
     
     

    Ratings

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    Conclusion

    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.
     
    Cheers!
     
    [​IMG] 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. moracajay
      Thanks for the reply. Guess I have to wait for X7.
      moracajay, Aug 23, 2015
    3. heathdwatts
      Is it possible to use two 256gb cards with the new Fiio X5? Thanks!
      heathdwatts, Aug 24, 2015
    4. DJScope
      Not sure about that, sorry. Maybe someone else could comment.
      DJScope, Aug 29, 2015
  5. Cotnijoe
    Fiio X5ii: Another Worthy Upgrade to the Fiio Line
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Sep 18, 2015
    4.0/5,
    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.
     
    FullSizeRender7.jpg
    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.
     
    FullSizeRender8.jpg
     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!
     
    IMG_0138.jpg
    iBasso DX90 and Fiio X5ii
     
    Ending Thoughts:
    I think Fiio did a fantastic job with the updated X5ii. If you want to look at price/performance, it’s certainly not the best value in Fiio’s line of DAPs. At the same time though, if money isn’t an issue, I would certainly say go for the X5ii over the other two as the improvement over the X1 and X3ii aren’t subtle to me and certainly worth the additional cost to me.
     
    I think there will be people in both the DX90 and X5ii camps, and honestly I think both sides will be happy with what they have. The DX90 is a slightly more dynamic sounding DAP with just a little bit more detail to me, while the X5ii is the more accurate and neutral of the two.
     
    I think I may be a little bias, but when it comes down to usability, I still prefer the DX90. It’s a tiny bit smaller, and the touchscreen buttons hybrid is still a wonderful design in my opinion. Maybe I’m just really use to it after using it for 2 years. However, the X5ii’s better screen resolution, 2 micro SD card capability, and 10 hour battery life, are all aspects of the X5ii that should not be overlooked. So which is the better choice? I don’t know. You decide.
      Brooko likes this.
  6. intlsubband
    Good DAP overall, UI is better than some but feels a bit like a relic compared to others.
    Written by intlsubband
    Published Sep 10, 2015
    4.0/5,
    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.
    Introduction
     
    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.
     
    Background
     
    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.
     
    Sound
     
    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.
     
     
    UI
     
    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
     
    Memory
     
    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.
     
    Features
     
    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.
     
    Conclusion
     
    The FiiO X5ii is a very good DAP with a simple but easy to use UI, and includes many helpful features. It has some significant advantages on similar DAPs in its strong output and dual micro SD. However, the file/folder – based UI still cannot compete with a well-executed android software and a big touchscreen such as on the AK100ii. However, given that the UI of the X5ii is significantly better than the DX90, I may have waited a bit longer before upgrading.
      DJScope likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. SYRadio
      I have owned the FiiO X3 and now the X5ii.  I upgraded for several reasons, but the ability to use two 128GB cards was a serious factor.  I am very satisfied with the X5ii.  I wanted to comment on the UI.  While I mainly use the file/folder method there are other ways to access your music.  The Update Media Library function will create a data base that can then be accessed by album, artist, genre, collection and playlist.  This database includes BOTH memory cards.  You can, for example, have a 2CD collection in one folder and the album function will organize all the tracks in the correct order.
       
      It is important to note that, for these functions to work, you metadata must be correct.
       
      The have been some comments about the media library hanging up during an update.  I found that this is due to having non-music files on the memory card.  It particular, my ripping software creates .log files which FiiO does not like.  Also, pdf, pamp and jpg files should be removed since they take up space and the FiiO can't read them anyway.  I had to transcode some files to imbed album art in the metadata.
       
      Other than comparing the X5ii to the X3 I have no other DAP's to compare with (other than an iPhone 6).  To my ears the X5ii is more open and transparent.  I run the X5ii into an E12 amp.  I find that the additional output power improves the sound quality.  I have a set of Beryerdynamic DT 1350's that are 70 ohm and benefit from the higher output.
       
      I use an external USB 3.0 card reader to transfer files.  It is much faster than the FiiO USB 2.0 interface.  I you do use the USB connection on the FiiO, turn off the standby mode in the DAP. This will prevent it from disconnecting from the computer and generating "Card not ejected properly" errors.
      SYRadio, Sep 10, 2015
    3. Tuneslover
      I use DT1350's with my X5ii & E12a too.
      Tuneslover, Sep 10, 2015
    4. intlsubband
      Thank you for those clarifications @SYRadio 
      intlsubband, Sep 10, 2015
  7. flognarde
    Solid build, warm sounding
    Written by flognarde
    Published Sep 5, 2015
    3.5/5,
    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 !
      Vartan likes this.
  8. bowei006
    A great step towards Success
    Written by bowei006
    Published Aug 25, 2015
    4.5/5,
    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

    Introduction:

     
    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.
     

    Unboxing:

     
    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:
    [​IMG]
     
     

    Build:

     
    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.
     

    Usability:

     
    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
     

    Conclusion:

     
    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.
      DJScope likes this.
    1. flinkenick
      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(?)
      flinkenick, Aug 26, 2015
  9. gikigill
    I tried loving it, I really did,,,,,
    Written by gikigill
    Published Aug 19, 2015
    3.5/5,
    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:
     
    JVC FXZ200.
     
    JHAudio JH16.
     
    Sennheiser Amperior.
     
    MDR-SA1000.
     
    Maddog 3.2.
     
    JVC-SZ2000.
     
     
     
     
     
      vaibhavp likes this.
    1. vaibhavp
      i also auditioned first gen and went with it. i agree with you.
      vaibhavp, Aug 20, 2015
  10. ade_hall
    A lot to like
    Written by ade_hall
    Published Aug 2, 2015
    3.5/5,
    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
     

    Pros:

    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
     
    Interface/Usability:
     
     
    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
     
    Price
     
    The X5ii has a lot of features, and as such I feel is keenly priced 
     

    Cons:

    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
     
    Interface:
     
    Hopefully Fiio will continue to improve the interface, including adding album artist, showing artist and album info when browsing tracks and playlists 
     

    Sound:

    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
     

    Summary:

    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
      daduy likes this.