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FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.04167/5,
  1. Dobrescu George
    FiiO X5-2. Amazing DAP!
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Feb 23, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Build Quality, Sound Quality, Detailed Treble, Wide Soundstag, Deep and detailed bass, Detailed mids, Exciting Sound
    Cons - Mechanical Wheel
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Introduction
     
    FiiO X5-2 is the second generation of X5 DAPs (digital audio players) from FiiO. I owned a FiiO X5 for quite a while before buying X5-2 and I was entirely happy with the first X5, except for a few details. If I were to say, the thing that bugged me the most on X5 was it's hardware button configuration. They were far too easy to press by mistake while in the pocket, making the original X5 skip songs at random times. 
     
    When I heard that there is an X5-2 coming along, I was quite excited, but I knew I won't have the money to buy one for a while. I waited and saved a few until I was able to buy it. At the moment of writing this review, X5-3 was already launched and I have one in my hands, but the review for X5-3 might wait a little bit as I need more time before having certain thoughts about it. FiiO X5-2 has been my benchmark for portable audio so far and until the appearance of X5-3 nothing really beat X5-2 as far as audio setups go, from what I tested. Since X5-2 is a mid range DAP, it is pretty sanely prices, like all FiiO products, so you can probably buy one without much hassle.
     
     
    About me
     
    My name is George and I enjoy music. I listen music while working, listen to music for enjoyment and listen to music while I'm gaming. Music is a thing that is everywhere around me, be it classical, pop, rap, metal, jazz or electronica. I also like to prepare long playlists to enjoy while working on my company's games. You can check out more on our pages here https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/     and here https://twitter.com/7heartstudios . My love for music has had some impact on our games as we hold the music close to our hearts and we are committed to only use ogg -q10 as the encoding format for our music since it offers the best space to sound quality ratio.
     
    Music is like a bad habit for me as when I listen to music, I generally do it for hours and happen to even lose sleep as sometimes I can't go to sleep without hearing "that one song". I happen to be very involved with my music and I believe that music is a form of love and emotion, music should be lived and music is an important part of one's life.
     
     

    First Impression
     
    I still owned X5 at the moment of first hearing X5ii. AVstore is a nie shop in Bucharest that happens to have FiiO products in shop and a nice showroom, so I was able to test FiiO X5ii. The first moment testing it, I thought that there was something funny going on, like some kind of EQ was engaged or something like this. To my shock, this was not the case, and X5ii was actually sounding different from X5 - in an impressive way. 
     
    My listening equipment was formed from ie800, which I will be using for the rest of this review as ie800 are very good at discerning the differences between equipment. I can only say that I was in awe at how x5ii reproduced bass. It was tight, fast, detailed, textured. In a single word, amazing. It was better than it's predecessor and considerably so. At that point, I knew I had to buy an X5ii, but I wasn't really sure how to do it. I put my X5 up for sale and after some waiting time I was finally able to get my very own X5ii.
     
     
    Packaging
     
    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
    Battery3300mAh
    Play Time~10 Hours
    Display Size / Type 2.4", IPS
    Display Resolution400x360 pixels
    Output Power 436mW into 32 ohm, THD+N <1%
    Weight195g
    DAC ChipPCM1792A
    Max Output Voltage8.2Vp-p
    Max Current250mA
    Cross Talk75 dB / 1kHz
    SNR117dB (A weighted)
    AMP ConfigurationOPA 1612 + BUFF 634

     
     
    Build Quality/Aesthetics
     
    X5ii is different from it's predecessor in many aspects, considering it's build and aesthetics. First thing you will notice is a much more unified, but still smooth aspect. Since I own the black version at this moment, I will talk about it. The buttons, sides and everything else is a deep black, with the wheel and center button being black as well. The color is deeo ad the aspect is unified, giving it a unique elegance and refinement. All edges are chamfered, giving it a plus of style and also giving it a good grip. On the tip of it you will find the headphone output and the line out / coaux port. On the bottom you will find it's dual mSD card slots and on the left side you will find 3 buttons, power, volume+ and volume-. I like that volume+ is easily differentiate from the other two buttons - volume+ has a little bit raised part and power button sits flush with the body, so you won't have any problem using X5ii while inside a pocket. The power button has a led inside which helps you determine whether X5ii is running or not, and it helps you determine when it finished charging. All in all, the build quality and aesthetics are pleasing and a nice addition to the DAP. 
     
    The wheel is tighter than it was on the original X5 and same can be said about all buttons - making operation considerably better for all usage case scenarios. The screen (display) is also considerably brighter than it's predecessor, making usage of X5ii in daylight a real delight. I totally recommend X5ii for outdoors usage from all perspectives of it's build and design. The player is easy to grip, feels nice in hand and it's sturdy. 
     
    The buttons have been changed from it's predecessor to a design configuration that sits flat with it's surface, so you won't press any of the buttons by mistake. I consider the movement to be entirely in the right direction and I was able to even run with it in my pockets without any keys pressed by mistake. The device is also beautiful in it's design and is something I would be really content using in every environment possible, having a neutral to stylish design that gives it a certain appeal to look at. The thin silvery circles around the operational buttons also add to the style of X5ii.
     
    Both audio jacks are tight and firm. The jacks are not metallic anymore but made out of plastic, change which is for the better as it won't scratch the plugs you put in any day soon, and after about two years of usage I would say that it remained about as firm as it was on it's first days of usage. 
     
    The wheel mechanism is tighter than it was on the original X5, making scrolling and browsing a much better overall experience. 
     
     
    Firmware and UI
     
    The firmware developed by FiiO is great, I detected no problems with it and no problems in my daily usage. I did however install this  version https://mega.nz/#!Y0sDjSJL!xetgjoeQcDpFW4yzhnjj6ZtUGlxqyqQD-JQFUxlds2g   
     
    This version is not the original firmware, but a user interface tweak, made by @XVortex . It speeds up X5ii's firmware and UI, making it smoother in experience, giving it a snappy feel to it. I would name it the fastest DAP to date, but I already had the chance to have X5-3 in hand and that would be unfair given that X5-3 is my new benchmark for UI speed and fluidity (more about this in a few days). 
     
    After installing that incredible FW mod, I think that X5ii's firmware and UI are complete, it has gapless playback, very good EQ function, with function working from -6dB to +6dB and a volume attenuator that works do stop any kind of clipping / distortion that might appear, it works as a USB DAC and it's hassle free, tags work well in general and folder browsing works as intended. X5ii is very fast to scan my entire librare (1x128 GB mSD card + 1x 64 GB mSD card, both filled to the brink with a collection of FLAC, OGG and MP3), the FW is able to do a few other handy tricks as well. 
     
    Deep sleep is a feature that allows X5ii to sleep so it doesn't need full boot sequence when it is to be used. This is useful and I generally use it as it consumes very little battery. 
     
    The firmware is very intuitive and it took me less than a minute to find everything I needed. 
     
     
    Sound Quallity
     
    X5ii has a pretty neutral general signature, with no emphasis. The sound is vivid, clear, has absolute extension both ways - treble and bass and is neutral. Exactly like a DAP should sound like ideally. 
     
    Channel balance
    The channel balance is perfect on X5ii and I don't hear any imbalance at all. If you headphones do present a channel imbalance or if you need this function, X5ii can actually change it's channel balance by + or - 10 dB to one channel.
     
    Bass
    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. 
     
     
    Midrange
    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
    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. 
     
     
    Soundstage
    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. 
     
     
    Comparisons 
     
    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. 

     
    Value
     
    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.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    FiiO X5ii is one of the best DAPs in the world and it certainly is a good contender to the title of the "Best DAP ever made".
     
    I already own a laptop, a 6.4" smartphone and a few other devices so I don't really need my DAP to do anything else than play music from the mSD cards that are within. The only DAP that I tested personally and can threat X5ii's  position at this moment is its own successor, X5-3, which really does add a few more things to the mix! Stay tuned for more details as X5-3 is very interesting as well. 
     
    To conclude this review, I am using X5ii at this moment and I am most certainly happy with it but there's more to hear in the upcoming news about X5-3, about which I avoided to speak so far as I'm still testing it and I'm still making impressions of it. 
      trellus, dissembled and ryanjsoo like this.
    1. Burma Jones
      Very well written, thank you for the enjoyable read. Agreed with your assessment regarding the sound.
      Burma Jones, Feb 24, 2017
    2. Dobrescu George
      Dobrescu George, Feb 24, 2017
  2. 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.
  3. mosshorn
    Best Bang for your Buck DAP out there!
    Written by mosshorn
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    5.0/5,
    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.
     
    UI
    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.
     
    SQ
    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.
     
     
    Conclusion
    This is probably the best DAP for your money. It is a jack of all trades, and master of many. The sound signature will work well with several different headphones and IEMs. The USB DAC implementation was flawless across Windows AND Linux. If you can live with the form factor, I would say that you could buy this and leave Head-fi. Leave this forum of constant upgrades, and enjoy the quality that Fiio has produced in the X5ii.
      JoeDoe and bruce1967 like this.
    1. bruce1967
      Well done! Thanks for the review.
      bruce1967, Sep 30, 2015
  4. x RELIC x
    The Must Have Incremental Upgrade
    Written by x RELIC x
    Published Sep 30, 2015
    4.5/5,
    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
    DPP_0019.jpg  

     
     
    Disclaimer
     
    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:
     
    Lossless:
    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.
     
    Accessories:
     
    - 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
     
    DPP_0059.jpg
    DPP_0001.jpg
    DPP_0014.jpg

    DPP_0015.jpg  
    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. 

     
    DPP_0008.jpg  

    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.
     
    DPP_0023.jpg
     
    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
     
    DPP_0032.jpg
    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
     
    IMG_3137.jpg  

    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]
     
    DPP_0035.jpg  
    From the e12 I used the LCD-XC, no EQ from the player.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      http://www.head-fi.org/t/691332/the-all-new-fiio-x1-192k-24b-pcm5142-dac-and-100mw-output-with-lo-and-inline-remote
      x RELIC x, Oct 10, 2015
  5. 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
  6. DDDamian
    The Fiio X5ii: Can it do it all?
    Written by DDDamian
    Published Aug 15, 2015
    4.5/5,
    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....
     
    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!
    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.
    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?

     
    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.
     
    2015-07-2011.01.18.jpg
     
    [​IMG]
    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
     
    2015-07-2011.04.49.jpg
     
     
    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.
     
    2015-07-2011.03.41.jpg
     
     
    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.

     
    Conclusions
    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: http://www.head-fi.org/t/717947/fiio-x5-custom-modded-firmwares
    Fiio X5 second-generation themes: http://www.head-fi.org/t/771221/fiio-x5-ii-custom-themes-thread
     
    Fiio X5ii Mega-Thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/765943/fiio-x5-2nd-gen-impressions-and-discussion-tour-application-megathread
    1. View previous replies...
    2. DDDamian
      Thanks gents, and to Relic for all the themes and hakushondaimo for being the tour's major-domo!
      DDDamian, Aug 15, 2015
    3. Hawaiibadboy
      Great review, Thanks for the shoutout!
      Hawaiibadboy, Aug 16, 2015
    4. laatiftal
      Great job! I own it, and I LOVE it. Well done FIIO!
      laatiftal, Aug 18, 2015
  7. Tuneslover
    X5ii as FiiO's Flagship Unit - Oh YEAH!!
    Written by Tuneslover
    Published Aug 12, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Nice detailed & extended highs, Excellent screen size & brightness, Good amp section, 2 microSD slots
    Cons - Price (due to the poor Canadian exchange rate)
    Disclaimer:
    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.
     
     
    Introduction:
    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.
     
    X3ii:
    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!
     
    X5ii:
    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!
      Faber65, hakushondaimao and Ivanov like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. DDDamian
      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 :)
      DDDamian, Aug 15, 2015
    3. Tuneslover
      @ASpencer - what's even clearer is that Great MINDS think alike!  Rock ON!!
      Tuneslover, Aug 15, 2015
    4. Tuneslover
      @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, that...um 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.
      Tuneslover, Aug 15, 2015
  8. fleasbaby
    A fantastic player...fair price, packed with great features....and it sounds great to boot.
    Written by fleasbaby
    Published Jul 28, 2015
    4.5/5,
    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...
      Brooko, hakushondaimao and AlexCat like this.
    1. AlexCat
      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.
      AlexCat, Jul 28, 2015
    2. Brooko
      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.
      Brooko, Jul 28, 2015
  9. reihead
    Fiio X5 2nd generation, simply better. even better value
    Written by reihead
    Published Jul 12, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Great sound, build quality, instant On, enjoyable screen
    Cons - Not huge sound difference from previous version (could be a pro), UI somewhat limited, Combined Line Out/Digital Out socket
    Disclaimer
     
    1. I’m part of the X5 Preview tour. I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days thanks to FiiO.
    2. I have no affiliation with FiiO in any way.
    3. The following words are my personal opinion, I wasn’t forced to give a favorable review or leaded in any way.
     
    As always big thanks to everybody at FiiO for allowing me to preview the player.
     
     
    About me
     
    I'm an avid music lover. I'm all about listening music on the go, I have tried several Apple product but never own one. To carry a brick has never been an option for me. Used many Creative players for years. The X3 was my first hi-definition portable player.
     
    I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but certainly can appreciate quality and I drive myself to find it with the better value possible. My music taste goes from Jazz, to Industrial, to Rap. My digital library is now mostly flac but also a lot of lossy mp3 files (224 kbps or more), and some 24bit flac files.
     
    I’m a web developer and app developer for smartphones, technology is part of my life.
     
     
    About this review
     
    This review comes after evaluating the player for 10 days straight as my main player.
    Many files type were used in the evaluation, FLAC, mp3, m4a, wav at different bit rates.
     
     
    IMAG0310.jpg
     
     
    Specifications
     
    http://www.fiio.net/en/products/41
     
     
    Built
     
    I'm a huge fan of the build of the original X5, I was looking forward to compare the build and the day to day feel while using it on the road. Have tried the X1 before, the X5 2nd gen follows the same line of design, indeed Fiio is establishing a solid uniform design across all DAP.
     
    Well build with premium aluminum, par with what Fiio has done with the X1 and the X3 2nd gen. Now this is a darker color, yet does not come in black (insert Morgan Freeman voice here).
     
    The device is smaller and lighter than the previous generation, big difference here in holding and handling the device, feels more natural to use the wheel as is easier to reach.
     
    The plastic flaps for the micro SDCard slots are gone, which is a good thing. Details like the power indicator light in the power button make the X5 2nd gen build one to enjoy.
     
    Now, not everything has been improved, ports has changed and not for the better, Line Out (LO) and Headphone Out (HO) changed side now, also the LO/Digital Out is a single 3.5mm jack switchable via menu. That being said, you will only feel this as an issue if you have used the original X3 or X5.
     
    IMAG0314.jpg
     
     
     
    Screen
     
    The screen has seen a huge improvement, is bright and with great color, this thanks to a new IPS screen. Main advantage here is usability in bright sun light. The screen of the original X5 looks washed out in comparison.
     
     
    UI
     
    User Interface is the other aspect Fiio has solidify and now is uniform for most of the X line, a few good improvements can be found, but no radical change from the Fiio UI found on other players. UI is responsive and easy to use, yet the playlist features could be more powerful and the lack of a proper now playing queue could be deal breaker for some.
     
    The new instant On feature is one of those features that you can’t have a feel for or treasure until you have tried it, Fiio accomplish this by putting the player in a deep-sleep instead of a full switch off, with this the player can wake up literally in less than a second, this translates into playing music right away, no need to wait, right where you left off, power, play, listen all in less than 2 seconds. In case you wondering, this feature doesn’t affect the standby time of the device, Fiio claims it will last up to 4 weeks from a full charge.
     
    Scanning of files for library is faster than ever. Yet if you have a huge library, be ready to do a lot of scrolling to find an album or artist.
     
     
    Sound
     
    So how does it sound? At first listen I couldn't hear any difference comparing to the original X5, Fiio stated that the original X5 sounded a bit flat, after a few days I started to hear the improvements, now keep in mind these were hard to pick up, if you are expecting a full upgrade step from the original X5 you will be disappointed. But that's not the goal of the X5 2nd gen, here what is achieved are small tweaks to the sound, which are gladly welcome.
     
    Key here is it sounds effortless, a more natural enjoyable sound. Bigger difference is in the bass, more defined and faster.
     
    On tracks like Mark Ronson - Uptown Special and Kendrick Lamar - i, the effortless sound translates into a more enjoyable tune. 
     
    IMAG0315_c.jpg
     
     
    Storage
     
    As with the whole X line of Fiio (except from the X3) there is no internal storage on the X5 2nd gen. Two Micro SDCard slot are available to satisfy loading a huge library, I threw two 128GB cards at it, worked flawlessly.
     
     
    Other considerations
     
     
    Battery life wasn't measured.
     
    DAC function wasn't tested.
     
    Firmware used: 0.11
     
    Earphones used: V-Sonic's GR07 BE and Fidue A83, both in Low Gain, Volume 45-60.
     
    No comment about the buttons or scroll wheel (test unit didn't have production version)
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    If you are in the search for a DAP, I can recommend the X5 2nd gen even more than I recommended the original X5. Again, great price and great value is the main focus here. Fiio manage to keep the same price as the original X5 while upgrading pretty much every aspect of it and keeping the sound quality and tweaking it.
     
    For owners of the first incarnation of the X5, the decision is not that easy. The slight change in the size and the instant on are features welcomed by everybody, now you would have to ask yourself if native DSD decoding, screen readability in the sunlight, better ergonomics and other improvements are important to you, if the answer is yes, then you can justify the upgrade.
     
     
    You can check my review of the original X5 here
      ASpencer likes this.
    1. x RELIC x
      Nice review. FYI the original X5 screen is also IPS and I wonder if they are actually the same screen. Default brightness is three notches higher on the X5ii though. There may be a different layering/coating on the new screen or slightly different HW settings, but they are very very close when the brightness is matched.
      x RELIC x, Jul 12, 2015
    2. reihead
      Thanks. That wasn't my experience, they feel miles away in color reproduction and as you said brightness is higher. Maybe my X5 1st gen screen is acting up?
      reihead, Jul 13, 2015
    3. AndrewH13
      Agree with all that, good review!
      AndrewH13, Jul 13, 2015
  10. RedTwilight
    Noob-friendly review of this sleek looking beauty.
    Written by RedTwilight
    Published Jul 2, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Nice size, vibrant screen, very convenient deep sleep feature, lively sound and superbly black background.
    Cons - Soundstage is slightly smaller than its predecessor
    Preamble:
    I'm a budding audio-appreciator since starting on this journey a year ago. I just have average ears that like to listens to slightly above average sounds and so don't consider myself an 'audiophile' by any stretch. Please forgive any wrong use of terminology and lack of vocabulary yea. (I seriously cannot tell how 'extension' and 'texture' are supposed to sound like..) [​IMG]
     
    First up, many thanks to Fiio for once again organising this demo tour so that the common folk like us get to try out these wonderful players. Also many thanks Eng Siang and Jeremy of AV One (http://www.av1group.com.sg/) for graciously allowing me to loan not only the X5 Second Generation (X5ii) but the X5 Classic (X5C) as well.
    These units were loaned to us on the local arm of the X5ii world tour to give a fair and unbiased review. We were neither paid nor given any benefits in return for this review.
    I am also not affliated to Fiio , Eng Siang or AV one in any way.
     
     
    As I only had 3 days to spend with the X5ii, I wasn't able to gather much in-depth feedback. As such, a major part of this review will be in the format of comparisons between the X5 2nd Gen (X5ii) and it's predecessor the X5 Classic (X5C).
     
    And now on to the review proper!
     
    When I went down to AVOne to collect the unit, I was given a choice to loan the entire box, or just the unit alone. I opted for the latter and received the just X5ii and its protective silicon case. I was assured however, that the box contained all the usual things:
    1) Coaxial Wire
    2) Charging/ data cable
    3) 2 spare screen protectors (one already applied)
    4) 3 types of masking stickers (wood, carbon and USA)
     
     
    Upon popping the X5ii out from it's protective case to insert my microsd card, I saw the beautiful gunmetal finish (yes, I'm an unabashed fan).
    Button layout is identical to the X1 and the X3ii, except that the ports have been reversed. Just briefly handling both DAPs, I decidedly like the X5ii more for it's form factor.
    Not only is it smaller, lighter and prettier, the buttons on the front have been made flush with the body.
    The effect was immediately apparent during my fumbling around as I managed to accidentally go to the next song on the X5C by simply holding them together.
    The flushed buttons are much less prone to getting accidentally pressed, and the 1-click deep sleep/ lockscreen mode is exceeding helpful in this aspect.
    Functionality of the buttons during deep sleep can be selected as well, whether to disable all the front buttons or enable just the play/pause or fwd/rev as well.
     
    The X5ii was running the preproduction beta firmware FW0.05Beta. Understandably, it had a couple of teething problems but I'm pretty sure they'll get ironed out in the production version:
     
    Scroll wheel is a little glitchy and EXTREMELY sensitive. Just pressing close to the side of the play/pause button will trigger the scroll. Even waggling the play/pause button will make it scroll.
    As such, it was slightly difficult to do the pause and switch test as I kept going into the song selection screen.
    For some reason the X5ii doesn’t support a few of the 8kHz/ 8-16 bit wav test tones that work with the X5C.

    The unit spontaneously hung on the 3rd day; I was still able to connect and disconnect usb and it was on but the buttons were all unresponsive. Managed to shut down and restart the X5ii by holding down the power button for more than 10s.
     
    Round 1: First impressions
     
    It's smaller and cuter than its predecessor, but the screen is much sharper, brighter and more vibrant. It looks more refined as well.
    Volume was about 5db less than the X5C for the same volume level (roughly measured using spl app and holding the iem up to the phone's mic).
    Both X5s sound significantly cleaner and slightly more open than my X3 Classic. I could hear smaller details that would have otherwise faded into the background.
    Functionality-wise I really like that a long press on the volume buttons will change track.
    Battery life felt rather short however. I didn't get to time it but it seemed like it'd run out of juice at the end of the day. Or I was just listening a lot.
     
    Round 2: Comparisons
     
    This was the test  method I employed:
    1) Listened to X5C for a day to acclimatise to the sound, then the X5ii.
    2) Simultaneously playing the same song on both players, pausing and switching.
    3) Headphone Out on high gain for better dynamics.
    4) Tried to volume match with the SPL app on the phone.
     
    Test Apparatus
    a) Havi B3 Pro 1 (Stock Tips)
    b) ATH-M40X
     
    Test Songs
    Wagakki Band
    I love to use their songs as they're recorded with great imaging, due to all the traditional instruments being used.
    Nadeshiko zakura - Soundstage width by the shamisen off to the left
    Nijiiro chouchou - Favourite test song, most familiar and listening for plucking transients.
    Tsuki Kage Mai Hana - Drum placement and imaging. Also for the softer instruments in the background during the bridge.
     
    Hanafugetsu
    Kazaguruma - Female vocals, as the singer Yuko has an incredibly beautiful, sweet and flowing voice.
     
    Fiction Junction Yuuka
    Kouya Ruten
    Akatsuki no Kuruma
    FictionJunction songs always have a lot going on in the background, so I listen for those. The composer, Yuki Kajiura, is exemplary at harmonising background vocals with the lead singer.
     
    With Havi B3 Pro 1
    The Havi is famous for its budget king clarity and soundstage so I'll be mainly comparing those.
     
    X5C sounds cooler and more 'clinical'.
    X5ii is warmer sounding somewhat (I can't really describe but it sounds less clinical than the X5C.). Soundstage is a little smaller in width however.
    X5ii sounds smoother and more alive.
    I could get excited listening to X5ii, and start tapping my feet along with the songs. Vocals are sweet, and for acoustic tracks, I could hear the crisp plucking of stringed instruments.
    X5C lends itself to a more analytical experience where I end up trying to listen for small details.
    X5C is marginally darker and bassier
     
    With ATH-M40X
    Closed back and reputed for being neutral with a bassy tilt.
     
    X5ii has slightly punchier bass and more engaging mids, is more lively.
    X5ii feels MARGINALLY more resolving than the X5C.
    X5ii is brighter and has slightly better defined bass.
    X5C has greater bass quantity, and goes deeper as well; bass is more ‘felt’ as compared to X5ii where it is more 'heard'.
    X5C has wider soundstage, songs sound more ‘airy’.
    X5ii has an subtly but audibly blacker background.
     
    Conclusion:
    After going through all that, I must say that the differences are VERY slight. It was often quite easy to forget which X5 my iems were plugged into. With the M40x I could hardly tell the difference unless I was looking for it. Both DAPs have great levels of detail, so much that it was quite difficult to compare. If you have an X3C and the X3ii didn't feel like a big enough step up, I daresay you'll find in the X5ii a player worthy of your cash.
     
    Once again many thanks to Fiio for organising this world tour. It was pretty fun while it lasted, and perhaps I'll swing by AV One to play with the X5ii again.
     
     
     

      Brooko, Hawaiibadboy and JAMEZTHEBOI like this.
    1. earfonia
      Nice write up! Thanks!
      earfonia, Jul 21, 2015