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FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.04167/5,
  1. greencalx
    An unfunny joke
    Written by greencalx
    Published Aug 26, 2016
    0.5/5,
    Pros - For me -- nothing
    Cons - No bookmarking makes the device useless for me -- all other points are moot.
    Can’t believe nobody has commented on the lack of an extremely basic feature that exists on 99% of MP3 players but missing from this and many other Fiio units — which is the ability to bookmark. Without it, this player is garbage IMO — making it impossible to listen to audiobooks and flick between different books and music.
     
    Fiio developers have had dozens of people pleading with them since 2014, (all there in google on their forums) begging for this most basic functionality. Supposedly their support / forum moderator made the devs aware of this as something to: ‘maybe make it into the next firmware’. Well it did not — in any firmware on any of their products in over two years. They listened — but chose not to ignore the requests. Even in assembly language, adding this functionality is a few days work max by any competent programmer.
     
    I’m not interested in reviewing the hardware or sound quality in this review — as the only thing about this product and company that is noteworthy, (and not in a good way) is the contempt it has for its customers. I have only just bought the X5ii and it was obsolete before I even received it, (given that it had it’s final firmware in June 2016) which still did nothing to address bookmarks.
     
    I don’t care if Fiio was able to make a product that had £30,000 worth of sound costing £300 — when missing the most basic functionality — it is garbage. As is their ability to address their paying customers very reasonable requests, (that Fiio has known about for at least two years).
     
    If they had omitted the ability to pause it would be no more annoying. This player and this company are a joke IMO. I will be taking a lump hammer to my 1 week old unit — as that will be the only satisfaction this player will ever give me.
     
    ******* response to Cinder below -- as I can't comment on their comment *******
     
    Are you a Fiio rep ? I’ll assume you didn’t take a cursory look in Google — otherwise you’d have seen you’re mistaken with regard to my: ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill / loan nut’ assertion and see there’s plenty of people saying the exact same thing.
     
    You’re right about one thing —  I’m a little salty on it. £269’s worth of salt to be exact, (not USD which is all the form accepts).
     
    You seem to suggest that valid criticism of a product is unwelcome and dismiss it as: ‘fix in a few minutes / user error’, (by creating a playlist). However, there are people who call a spade a spade and afford no product or company sacred cow status if dissatisfied with a product. 
     
    A playlist is not a bookmark — nor can it ever serve that function; (some audiobooks have dozens and some even hundreds of files). I’m sure you don’t really think that the majority of all mp3 player manufacturers that do have bookmark capability took the trouble to implement an unneeded feature. I don’t even think I could find an Mp3 player without it, (except for the one I just bought).
      hieple193 and hsdw like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      People are neglecting to note that this isn't about the user, it's about the company.
       
      Whether or not he should have bought it isn't the point. Nor is it the point that he bought (or pretended to buy) an item that he knows doesn't have this functionality.
       
      The point stands, that if users complained about a widespread feature, Fiio knew about this, and did nothing about it, it says something pretty important about the company.
       
      While I don't think this should be specific to any one review (like twister said, more suited to a thread), it is a valid point, regardless of whether you should or should not have bought it.
       
      And yet, complaints in the thread seemed to have no impact on this issue. So I kind of see why someone would want to try a more drastic option.
      avitron142, Aug 28, 2016
    3. doctorcilantro
      "A DAP's most basic functionality is playing music."
       
      Very hard to do when the UX design is crap. E.g. the iBasso DX80 does not support M3U or an Play Next function.
       
      The lack of usability on many of these devices blows my mind.
      doctorcilantro, Aug 29, 2016
    4. DrSHP
      It is not a review.not helpfull
      DrSHP, Mar 3, 2018
      miguel.yarce likes this.
  2. eriksq
    Detailed, analytical, bright
    Written by eriksq
    Published May 1, 2016
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Storage space, looks, size
    Cons - Sound quality
    Just on sound quality, meh. It's very quiet, and detailed, but on my main headphones, AKG K712, the mid-treble balance is just too bright. The bass is nice and deep and honest, and midrange is OK, not particularly sweet or warm. In all a very analytical and a little tiring to listen to.
     
    To put it in perspective, a headphone amp I heard that to me was MUCH worse than this is the Oppo HA1. If that is an amp you like though you'll love this one too.
     
    To my ears and multiple headphones, the Pono is much better than the X5II or Oppo HA1 either of these two. The Pono is also currently more expensive, and has far too limited storage as well as an eco-system I don't want to jump into.
     
    The X7 with it's Tidal support is really kind of ideal, but twice the price as the X5, and I've never heard it. The DSD capable UFO DAC's are also GREAT sounding, almost as good as the Pono, but were not portable and mine died after 60 days.
     
    I'm really really sad this isn't going to work by itself. Perhaps the K7 warms up the sound, I'll update if I can later. EnjoyTheMusic's review says it does good things for it. Of course you could argue I could get different headphones, but last audio show I went to the AKG's sounded really good on most amps except the Oppo, so I don't think they headphones are the outliers. Of course, please your own ears, not mine.
      taffy2207 and Light - Man like this.
    1. Currawong
      Interesting. I never thought of the X5II as bright, but then I read the other negative review for the X5II which was based around AKGs (the K812s) as well, where the reviewer felt that he was missing a lot of bass. 
      Currawong, May 10, 2016
  3. jk47
    neutral sound but lacks bass, texture and air
    Written by jk47
    Published Jul 11, 2015
    2.5/5,
    Pros - neutral, uncolored sound reproduction, pleasant listening
    Cons - lacks sub-bass and weak in low bass into mid- bass, 2 dimensional sound with no sense of space, sound lacks texture - on k812, not iem's ?significance
    THOSE GREEN BARS DO NOT REPRESENT THE RATINGS I GAVE.  THEY APPARENTLY CANNOT BE CHANGED WHEN I EDIT MY REVIEW.
     
    i participated in one of the fiio x5ii tours.  i would like to thank fiio and all those who helped organize the tour.  i was eager to participate because i almost bought an x5 [1st gen] but then decided on a dx90 - i'd never heard either when i made that decision and wondered how they compared.  so given a chance to listen to the x5ii, i signed up.  my goal was to compare sq on the two daps. 
     
    i am grateful for the opportunity provided by fiio, and feel badly to post a critical review.  yet if a friend were to ask me for a recommendation, it would not be the x5ii, and i wanted to share my honest observations with the head-fi community.  
     
    other reviews describe the physical object, the interface and controls, and i'm not going to repeat all that.  i will just discuss sq.
     
    the music i used to evaluate it were the following tracks, all redbook, flac encoded:
     
    charlie hayden and pat methany - first song for ruth  - i use this the evaluate bass. hayden goes very deep in his solo.  a four string bass gets down to about 30hz, a five string about 25hz.
     
    melos quartet - schubert's quartet 14 "death and the maiden" - 2nd movement - andante -   i use this track to evaluate treble - the violin can get up to about 3500hz and of course produces overtones as well.  the first violin in this movement has runs getting quite high.  i also listen to the cello to see if the richness of the instrument is fully conveyed, and i listen to hear how well the individual instruments are defined.
     
    radu lupu- schubert piano sonata 18 - 1st movement - i have 8 versions of this sonata and lupu's is for me head and shoulders above the others.  in the first movement the left and right hands sound pretty far apart, i.e. the left hand's bass is quite separate and distinct from the right hand's treble.
     
    kleiber vienna phil - beethoven's 7th symph- movements 1 and 2 - i use this to hear how the massed instrumental sections sound.
     
    these are tracks i have heard many times and know very well.
     
    my method was to first listen to a track on the x5ii and then on the dx90, and then check my impressions by listening again on the x5ii.  i listened directly from HO via my k812's - the best headphones i have that can without doubt be driven by these daps without any extra amping.
     
    i had certain expectations as i approached this evaluation.  from things i'd read, i expected the x5ii to sound somewhat colored and, in particular, warm.  the first thing i noticed when i listened to the hayden/methany cut was that my expectation was wrong.  the x5ii sounded quite pleasant and quite neutral.  "hey," i thought, "this is pretty good."  i was shocked, however, when i played that cut through the dx90 - there was a ton of bass i was experiencing that had been missing from the x5ii.  without the comparison i don't think i would have noticed, but the difference was enormous.  the bass gets low enough that i felt vibration in my lower throat and upper chest.  as a check, as i am writing this i am playing this track through my speaker system- and there's very deep bass, bass that the x5ii did not convey.
     
    next i played the schubert quartet movement.  this sounded nice but the violin sounded a little thin.  i wondered if the dx90 would sound much different.  when i played it through the dx90, though, my immediate reaction was "AIR!" - something i hadn't thought about and wasn't looking for but it hit me in the face.  the sound was much more open and the 4 instruments more well defined.  i noticed that the cello sounded much richer - there's that difference in the bass frequencies showing up.  the violin sounded more textured, thicker.  i suppose this means that there are more harmonics reproduced, but i really don't know what is happening at the technical level.  the difference is comparable to a painting done with acrylics compared to the same image done in oils.
     
    i decided to listen to some piano music and queued up lupu.  the left hand sounded muffled and distant, almost missing.  again the dx90 gave full accounting to the bass frequencies and the left hand was contributing fully.
     
    i then decided to listen to some orchestral music.  here the difference was the increased texture and richness of e.g the massed violins in the 2nd movement.
     
    i said i had certain expectations - the 2nd expectation i had was that the differences between these daps would be subtle and take work to discern.  this had been my experience when i compared the dac sections of the dx90 and the ifi idsd.  i had used coax out of the dx90 to run the signal through the ifi's dac and amp, and compared this to using the dx90's dac and running a line out to the ifi's line in so that the signal would go through the same amp.  i went back and forth many, many times before i finally concluded that the dx90's dual sabres revealed a bit more detail than the ifi's dual burr-browns.  i expected this comparison to be like that.  it wasn't.  the differences were very marked.
     
    obviously this was not a blind comparison, and i suppose i could be somehow conditioned to the dx90's sound.  otoh i actually do most of my listening through my speaker system - vortexbox -> squeezebox touch -> DSPeaker anti-mode [just set to correct the room's effect on the bass below 150hz] -> nad c375 bee -> focal chorus 836v.  it is really my speaker system sound which is my reference for both daps, and through which i have great familiarity with my chosen test tracks. also, the differences were shockingly MUCH greater than i expected.
     
    so i feel a bit of an ingrate saying all this, but this is what i heard.
      Currawong, 7keys and Hawaiibadboy like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AlexCat
      before this review, i wanted to buy fiio x5 2nd, now after read....i don`t know....lack sub-bass, no textures......
      but i don`t wanna ibasso dx90, because weak knobs, and poor firmware and so much reboot - it from other users of ibasso dx90
      AlexCat, Jul 25, 2015
    3. jk47
      @AlexCat the dx90 has no knobs.  people have had problems with tags; if you use folders there is no problem. last couple of firmwares have been stable, 2.2.0 and 2.3.0.    sound is neutral/airy, sub-bass is strong but a little loose.  for me the dx90 @$400 is a better value than the x5ii @$350. i've been using a dx90 happily, just decided to try a cayin n6 [which i got on sale for $500] to see if it's a step up.  if i listened to very bassy music on the dx90 i'd want to use eq to dial back the lowest bass a little bit.
      jk47, Jul 25, 2015
    4. Currawong
      @jk47  Someone else just posted a review of the X5II who didn't like the combination with AKG K712s. The AKGs seem to have a bit of a reputation of being harder to drive well than their specs suggest. I will try myself with the K7XXs and update my review too. 
      Currawong, May 10, 2016
  4. anqallyt
    Good Balance. Vocals sometimes recessed. Good soundstage. Simple UI but works.
    Written by anqallyt
    Published Jun 4, 2016
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Neutral sound. Clean, fairly good separation. Relaxing not fatiguing sound. Good soundstage.
    Cons - No storage. Vocals sometimes recessed. Need to adjust volume sometimes as not consistant on different tracks.
    I really like this DAP but it does is make me want to get a top one. At times it really delivers and then on some tracks the vocals take a back seat.  I was debating on the ipod 6 with bigger storage or this. I find it very neutral with a nice sound stage. Its track dependent as some songs suffer. I copied all my iTunes songs and some ripped cd's and even some flac files and the unit is hard to figure out. I am constantly adjusting the volume even a few flac tracks. The ipod touch is  louder and works very well with all low impedance headphones/iems where as the FIIO is not as consistent. It can drive my 650's and he400i's at larger volumes but still is track dependent. When I a/b the ipod with it the FIIO sounds cleaner and I actually hear more but like I said the vocals can be recessed. The ipod is a more fun unit but I really like the clarity of the FIIO. If you love your ipod and music and need to replace it. Buy  another. The ipod is still a great portable music player with wifi/Bluetooth and a very good sound. If you want to listen analytically to experience sound and move into the audiophile(not sure its a gift, more like a curse) DAP's the FIIO X5 seems like a good starting point but it may make you want more which means a lot more $$$$ like an Astell and Kern ak240. Technically the FIIO is a better DAP but the ipod touch is more fun/practical/portable, easier to use, cheaper and can do more than just play songs. My ipod 16gb is low on storage but it still gets the bulk use of my listening. The FIIO I am still trying to figure out how to enjoy it more. 
     
    Edit: Well I spent the day with FIIO and changed some IEM tips and found my Westone w40's really do well.  Even my audiofly af78's which I never used much of(changed tips) sounded great. Some tracks still need volume bumps but I have to admit its a very relaxing experience listening to the FIIO X5. I then put on my ipod and I was surprised that I felt the music was not clear and I actually didn't like the loudness. I noticed micro distortion. I have no carrying case or protector for the FIIO so its not going to be used on the go. That's fine the ipod does the job and it's clearly a great portable music player. I was never one for a forward  sound but I am tempted to try the Shure 535's with the FIIO X5 might be a good match to put some fun into them.  So I have to say my Ipod will now be an outdoor dog only.
  5. flognarde
    Solid build, warm sounding
    Written by flognarde
    Published Sep 5, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - double sd card slot, well designed and built, powerfull amp., detailed sound
    Cons - narrow soundstage, a bit artificially toned, some files won't read
    Not as stylish as an A&K but very well built, apart from the flimsy wheel. Good materials and nice finishes and overall intiutive U.I. give a quite nice experience.
    First of, some APE and DSD files won't play. Some will play only from the files. It doesn't happen that often but it is driving me mad.
    The sound is quite pleasing, very detailed, smooth and warm even when using flat and clear phones like the AKG K550. The sound stage is quite narrow compared to the Ibasso Dx90. It doesn't shut down the trebbles like the previous X5 so the extention is not anymore an issue. It lacks air and sounds a bit artificial, not that musical, which is disappointing especially when listening to classical music only like myself. With my Shure Se215 it sounds a bit like you are being locked in a silent room in some kind of mental institution. Not fatiguing at all , quite relaxing but I will be looking for some clearer IEM's.
    Everything is well controlled, pleasing but not very truthfull to the original recording, tonally speaking. Same result when plugged (line out) to the Marantz PM6005 + B&W CDM1.
    It made me think of when they introduced Dolby : very impressed at first and later realising it couldn't be further from a live concert.
    The only long term comparison I can share is with my ASUS Xonar STX sound card (Muse02) : The PC is the clear winner even though the Fiio is more relaxing.
    At the end you just realise a 400€ DAP will never sound like a true hifi system, and that's understandable. I would be really interested to hear a double DAC A&K or Hifiman to compare.
    Decent performer but no miracles !
      Vartan likes this.
  6. DJScope
    FiiO X5 (2G) - Feature rich audio toolbox.
    Written by DJScope
    Published Aug 23, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Plethora of features makes it very versatile, 2x card slots, great build quality, Native DSD
    Cons - Could be more authoritative and lacks power.
    Firstly, I'd like to thank Brooko for including me on this product review tour. I did not purchase the X5 and have only had a week with the unit. Though, in my opinion, a week is nowhere near enough to fully evaluate a DAP or any kind of source gear (I know from experience, as I'm still learning new things about DACs I've had for over 6 months), please take my opinions with a grain of salt or two.

     

    Introduction

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

    A little about the FiiO X5

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

    FiiO X5 2nd Gen Specs: Click Here

     
     

    Packaging & Accessories

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

    Accessories that come in the box are:

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

    Design & Build

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

    User Interface

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

    Battery Life

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

    Input & Output Interface

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

    Equaliser

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

    Power

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

    Sound

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

    Ratings

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    Conclusion

    Again I will parrot that I believe the amount of time spent is not enough for me to properly review any DAP or source. The X5 is a beautifully designed and built device. It has a truly top of the range UI and features packed to the rafters. But for me it lacks in the most important aspects that I look for in a DAP. I may have ruined my expectations of it by putting so much pressure on it to sound really, really good, but for a TOTL DAP can you really blame me. All I can do now is cross my fingers and really hope for the X7 to blow me out of the water like the X5 should've.
     
    Cheers!
     
    [​IMG] 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. moracajay
      Thanks for the reply. Guess I have to wait for X7.
      moracajay, Aug 23, 2015
    3. heathdwatts
      Is it possible to use two 256gb cards with the new Fiio X5? Thanks!
      heathdwatts, Aug 24, 2015
    4. DJScope
      Not sure about that, sorry. Maybe someone else could comment.
      DJScope, Aug 29, 2015
  7. gikigill
    I tried loving it, I really did,,,,,
    Written by gikigill
    Published Aug 19, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Good build, decent amp and Line Out.
    Cons - Sounds clouded compared to the Original X5, UI and Scroll Wheel need polishing.
    Firstly a big thanks to Brooko and Fiio for providing me the X5ii for review. I am not affiliated or been financially compensated for the review.
     
    I have had a plethora of DAPs for review in the past couple of months so this provides an excellent base to work off and judge the relative strengths and weakenssess of the X5ii.So without much ado, lets dive into it.
     
    The package was very simple but smart and had all the necessary cables and other accoutrements
     
    The FiioX5ii retails at USD$349 and the accessories and the build quality feel pretty solid and well worth the price. No shortcuts here from Fiio and the X5ii should last a fair bit.
     
    To start with the exterior, its nicely finished metal and carries a smooth finish and well weighted buttons throughout although the wheel like the previous version still needs a bit more finesse and better gearing as it tends to slip a bit. Other than the wheel, the rest of the buttons are great to work with.
     
    The interface also seems to be much more tidier and streamlined compared to the X5 and thats a big plus point for the newer version but internally it still seemed to mess up the ID3 tags and some playlists although that might be due to incorrect tags or mistakes on my side.
     
     
    Without much ado lets jump to the meat of the review.
     
    Treble: The treble is best described as being very smooth with good extension but lacks the very last bit of sparkle and openeness. Guitars come across as crunchy but need just that extra bit of sharpness and sparkle alongwith the cymbals. The treble just seems to linger about without really coming upfront, something the X5 was really good at.
     
    The mids are very slightly recessed compared to the original X5 and while the majority of the mids sound just fine and clean, there is just a very tiny bit of cloudiness in the upper mids which could need a bit more cleaning to standout and probably the reason why the mids seem slightly recessed compared the the X5.
     
    Coming to the bass, its clean, very tight and delivers the right amount at the right time without interfering with the rest of the spectrum. Could use a bit more punch and impact but I reckon it would satisfy most overall critical listeners who might find excessive bass a turn off and intrusive.
     
    The biggest roadblock in the X5iis way is the Original X5, there I said it!!
     
    To elaborate, I listened to the original X5 for a fair bit and was astounded by the price to performance and the overall sound quality. The Line Out on the X5 was a revelation and the Headphone section was very clean too with barely any frequency humps or anything else out of order. As much as I tried I just couldn’t love the X5ii considering the original was an absolute 180 from the typical warm Fiio house sound and delivered a fantastic sound signature, which somehow was lacking from the X5ii.
     
    I tried both the Fiios extensively in my car with a pretty comprehensive setup and the X5ii just seemed to go back to the “Fiio of old” sound which while listenable is not what I am guessing it was aiming for.
     
     
    Tracks used:
    ATB- See You Again. FLAC 16/44
     
    Digimax & Javiera Mena - Complejo de Amor. WAV 16/44.
     
    Hammer & Bennett – Lost. FLAC 16/44.
     
    Alizee- Veni Vedi Vici. 320 kbps mp3 16/44.
     
    Kraftwerk-Das Model. WAV 16/44.
     
    Javiera Mena – Otra Era 320kbps mp3 16/44.
     
     
     
    The headphones used were:
     
    JVC FXZ200.
     
    JHAudio JH16.
     
    Sennheiser Amperior.
     
    MDR-SA1000.
     
    Maddog 3.2.
     
    JVC-SZ2000.
     
     
     
     
     
      vaibhavp likes this.
    1. vaibhavp
      i also auditioned first gen and went with it. i agree with you.
      vaibhavp, Aug 20, 2015
  8. ade_hall
    A lot to like
    Written by ade_hall
    Published Aug 2, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - External playlists, size, build, feel, usability, line out, screen, battery life, price
    Cons - No onboard storage, interface could be better
    Many thanks to Brooko for arranging this tour unit
     

    Pros:

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

    Cons:

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

    Sound:

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

    Summary:

    The X5ii has so much going for it at the price point and I really enjoyed using it, I personally prefer a livelier presentation so will be interested what the X7 has to offer
      daduy likes this.
  9. Currawong
    The FiiO X5II is a good improvement in all areas over the original and brings it back into contention as a good, bargain DAP or digital transport.
    Written by Currawong
    Published Feb 27, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Dual micro SD card slot storage, long battery life, including standby, neat design, good software features.
    Cons - iPod like UI slow to navitate, poor playlist support, digital output needs a custom cable, no optical output, heavy, full-size HP drive not great.

    Unboxing​

    [​IMG]

     ​

    Review​

    [​IMG]
     
    If you head into the headphone audio section of the major electronics retailers here in Japan, you can buy a veritable smorgasbord of Head-Fi’s most well-known brand-name products, from ALO Audio through to Ultrasone. However, the brand that got in there before all the others that didn’t make headphones was FiiO. While they started out making simple apps to add between your iPod and a pair of headphones, they have come all the way through to making full-blown Digital Audio Players (DAPs). Top of the range, at least until the up-coming X7 is released is the X5, which is now in its second iteration. 
     
    The X5 took the Head-Fi world by storm. Fairly reasonably priced and, with the release of Sandisk’s 128GB micro SD cards, able to hold 256 GBs of music, albeit at a cost for the cards more than the player itself. A fairly attractive unit, it was solidly built, if something of a throwback to the original iPod with its physically spinning front wheel and selector buttons.
     
    The second generation version has slimmed down and neatened up, removing some of the complexity of the outer case -- chamfering making way for flatness, the covered card slots losing their covers and recessed position, and the coax and line out sockets combining into one, changing the way the outputs work. The piece of plastic covering the screen on the original was always a bit odd, being wider than the screen by a considerable margin. With the slightly smaller overall size, the screen now sits more neatly behind the plastic, no longer looking comically narrower, even if the sider borders are slightly wider than those at the top and bottom.  
     
    FiiO_X5II-7.png X5 left, X5II right.
     
    When I unboxed the X5II, I was surprised to find sets of stick on designs -- faux carbon fibre, US flag and a wood design which can be attached to the X5II to give it something of a different appearance than just silver. A rubber case is also included which, aside from the screen and sockets, has a small hole for the indictor light on the power button.
     
    That power button too has been included as part of the makeover, moving to the side and now including the power status light which was previously above the USB port. That leaves it lighter, neater and more pocket-able but still somewhat heavy compared to a Sony or Lotoo PAW5000 for example. 
     
    FiiO_X5II_DSCF4555.jpg
    The new power button with indicator.
     
    Likewise, the user interface has been improved. The thing that bugged me about the original X5 user interface was that on the main menu, the options scrolled endlessly, confusing me as to where I was and which direction I should scroll to get to the option I want. With the X5II interface, they have fixed the icons on screen, and scroll the highlighting instead, which is an improvement. The main menu options have also been reduced from 7 to 5, the Favourites moved to the music menu and are now called "Collections". The EQ has also been moved into the settings. 
     
    FiiO_X5II-10.png
     ​

    While the user interface is much the same as a classic iPod, there are more options, especially in the settings than one would get with an Apple device. One of those options is settings for the key lock, which can be restricted to just the play/pause center button, or include back/forward or back/forward and volume controls. 
     
    FiiO_X5II-8.png
    X5 left, X5II right.

     
    Now that the number of outputs have been reduced, the line out also doubles as a digital output, which must be activated in the settings. Unfortunately that means the pinouts for digital output have changed. Instead of a standard TS plug working, the X5II requires a special 4-pole TRRS cable which uses the last ring and sleeve for the digital connection. The X5II also introduces a setting to allow inline controls on headphones and IEMs (where included) to be used or switched off. Sadly there is still no optical digital output, which would make pairing with a DAC easier.
     
    FiiO_X5II_DSCF4546.jpg
    New X5II digital cable top, X5 cable bottom.
     
    Another great feature, most handy for podcast listeners is a setting to have the track resume where previously stopped when the unit is restarted. 
     

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

    Sound

    I compared the original X5 with a few IEMs, the Sony XBA-30s for the low-end, FitEar Parterres for the mid-range and my UERMs and Roxannes for the high-end. My impressions back then were that it hit the wall at the mid-range, not getting the most out of the high-end IEMs. What is more, it wouldn't drive the Laylas well at all. 
     
    Likewise with full-sized headphones the original really needed an amp to shine with most good headphones and found much improvement with my Headamp Pico Power.
     
    The X5II improves on this considerably, moving up in sound quality to close to, if not as good as the Calyx M, both in IEM driving ability and performance with full-sized headphones, doing a good job with both. I managed to get a good soundstage with the HD800s and the Laylas were driven very well. Compared to using it with an amp, such as the E12A or Pico Power, the improvement was far less than it was with the X5. 
     
    The X5II has what may seem to be a very slightly warm tuning, I assume tuned towards their main market in China, though this could be an impression that comes as a result of comparing it with the output of my iPhone, that can seem a bit bright and harsh in the treble. As with every DAP or DAC I've used that uses off-the-shelf digital components, improvement in the naturalness of instruments could be had via iZotope up-sampling in Audirvana when used as a DAC from my computer. Even with that, it couldn't beat Chord's Mojo in that regard, but at the same time the difference wasn't extreme. The FPGA-powered Soundaware M1 Esther was a similar story, sounding more detailed and natural, but is more expensive. 
     
    FiiO_X5II-11.png
     
    The surprise of the day was how well the X5II performed with MrSpeaker’s Ethers. While I wasn’t expecting much, at a moderate volume I could still get something of a soundstage with most music, albeit with not as much impact as a full-sized headphone. Also, due to the limited power output of the X5II there was significant fall-off in the low bass. Handing over the heavy duty lifting to the E12A, with it’s more substantial 460 mW of output, the soundstage opened up noticeably, instrument detail become more clear and the low bass was as present as it should be. 
     

    The hardest test was yet to come. JHAudio’s Laylas thoroughly slayed the original X5, which simply couldn’t handle the complex crossover inside them. The X5II passed the test well, much as it had with the Ethers. Likewise the E12A added space, dimension and delineation to the music.
     
    That makes it is nicer to listen with than my iPhone 6, and does quite a good job even with full-sized headphones, but still I feel needs at least the matching E12 or E12A or another amp to get the most out its sound capabilities, especially with full-sized headphones, albeit with far greater diminishing returns than with the original. With dynamic IEMs and headphones it is still behind my Headamp Pico Power in driving capability. Where I felt it really shines best is with mid-range balanced armature IEMs. FitEar’s brighter Parterre and FitEar models, as well as my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors were a pleasure to use with the X5II.  With some great balanced armature IEMs, including the UERM customs when heavily discounted, it is possible with the X5II to have a very good-sounding portable listening rig for under $1k.
     
    If you're OK with the iPod Classic-like interface and value battery life higher than having a touch screen, as long as you don't mind it being slightly weighty, the X5II is great DAP, holding its value well and adding much-needed performance that the original didn't have.
     
    FiiO_X5II_DSCF4551.jpg
     ​
    Thanks to FiiO for providing the X5II for me to review.
      Brooko and PinkyPowers like this.
  10. Cotnijoe
    Fiio X5ii: Another Worthy Upgrade to the Fiio Line
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published Sep 18, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build, Easy UI, Dual Micro SD Slots, Very Competitive Sound
    Cons - Lint Magnet Case, Title Listing, Scroll Wheel Can Be Slow
     Quick Introduction:
    I’m sure by now, many people know of the tours that Fiio often hold for Head-Fiers interested in giving their line of DAPs a listen. The X5ii I have in my possession is part of the North American tour and also the third Fiio tour that I have participated in. I’m glad that Fiio has continued to send units out to give those interested in hearing their products a chance to listen to them in the comforts of their own home and set ups, and certainly hope to see more from Fiio in the future.
     
    Construction and Build:
    Fiio seems to have gotten their recipe down in terms of making their DAPs. Besides the soon-to-be released X7 DAP, most of their new generation DAPs have the same general layout and design – and it’s a design that I’d say works. You have your scroll wheel with the select button in the middle of the wheel, as well as the four buttons at the four corners of the front and the volume and power controls on the side.
     
    The build of the X5ii is very good. Each generation, from the X1 to X3ii to X5ii has shown slight upgrades in the build. I don’t have the X3ii to directly compare the difference in size between it and the X5ii, but they’re certainly very similar. The upgrade from X3ii to X5ii gives you a brushed aluminum plate both in the front and the back of the X5ii, which makes the X5ii look just a bit better. In addition, rather than having rounded edges like the X1 and X3ii, the edges in the front have sort of a geometric angle to them instead – a change that I think really makes the X5ii look more aesthetically refined. I’m sure there are other changes that I’ve missed, but these are just the changes that I can recognize without having both in front of me.
     
    FullSizeRender7.jpg
    iBasso DX90, Fiio X5ii, and Their Respective Cases
     
    UI, Usability, and More:
    I have to get this out first: There are TWO micro SD slots! What? It’s real! The original X5 also had dual slots, but the X5 and X5ii are pretty much the only two popular mid tier DAPs to have this. I’m very happy to see Fiio answer the calls of the consumers and implement something people have been asking for since… a long time.
     
    The UI of Fiio DAPs is also another recipe that Fiio seems to have stuck with. There are slight differences in terms of color and graphics, but besides that, the UI is basically the same as, if not very similar, to that of the X1 and X3ii as far as I can tell – and that’s certainly not a bad thing. When compared to the DX90, the resolution of the screen seems to be way ahead of the DX90. I don’t know the specs and how the two compare, but album art, for example, is much nicer and clearer on the X5ii. I won’t get into too much detail about how the UI works here since you get a good idea by looking at any X1, X3ii, or X5ii review.
     
    The UI is fairly intuitive, and it certainly doesn’t have too steep of a learning curve. Navigating through the settings is a breeze as well. There are only two issues I would like to bring up that I would like to see improved from the X5ii (and other X series DAPS) UI. First, I would love some sort of smart scroll system. When you get over 1,000, 2,000, or maybe even more songs, finding a song you’re in the mood to listen to gets to be quite a pain. Being able to hone down on a song by searching the first letter or something like that would be incredibly helpful. The second issue I have is that the titles still display as the file name. I know there is an option in the settings for the song to be displayed as either the title or the file name, but the toggle doesn’t seem to work for me. My tags work when I try other players from iBasso or Sony, so I’m not sure why it doesn’t work for Fiio’s DAPs. Hopefully this can be resolved in the future as finding a song becomes a matter of knowing what number it is on an album, which is very difficult to do. I’m glad to see that Fiio are taking steps to have the songs listed as titles though. Who knows, I might be the only one having issues with it. On the other hand though, at least Fiio’s forward and back actually work when the player’s on shuffle. iBasso has yet to figure out how to actually make that work… the back button doesn’t take you back – it’s just another shuffle button.
     
    When taking out the X5ii, I have just a few things to note. The first thing is that the X5ii does get a bit warm after a while. Nothing uncomfortable or unbearable, but it is something to note. The second thing is that when I wear tighter jeans or pants with smaller pockets, there are occasions when the play/pause center button does get pressed on accident. Yes, I could just switch the buttons setting so that the middle button is disabled, but I like having the ability to play/pause at the push of a button as well. It wasn’t too big of a problem, but it did occur. Finally, I found the battery life to be pretty good. I never got it to run out of battery, but I would estimate it to be around 10 hours or so. It’s certainly better than the 6 hours or so that my DX90 is capable of.
     
    FullSizeRender8.jpg
     X5ii with Noble Audio Savant and Earwerks Supra 2
     
    Listening Impressions:
    Most of my listening was done with my Noble Audio Savant and sometimes my Earwerkz Supra 2 plugged directly into the X5ii. A lot of my listening impressions will also focus on comparing the X5ii to the iBasso DX90 since the two products are now just less than 30 dollars from one another on Amazon, making the DX90 the most direct and obvious competitor for the X5ii.
     
    The X5ii is probably the most neutral of Fiio’s DAPs – compared to the X1and X3ii at least. It’s also tonally very pleasing and correct sounding to me. I also find its sound to be more accurate than the DX90, which tend to give a little extra weight in the bass and extra sparkle up top.
     
    The X5ii is also the first Fiio DAP that I think really competes with the DX90 – and boy does it give the DX90 a run for its money. After spending a good amount of time with both, I honestly cannot confidently say that one is better than the other and that one is the clear choice over the other when it comes to sound. Both also have very low noise floor, and almost identical functionalities. USB DAC, line out, gain, etc. I think the only thing the DX90 has that the X5ii doesn't is that coaxial out, but then the DX90 doesn't have dual micro SD slots!
     
    The DX90 has a heftier bass region, with more sub bass extension, texture, and bass presence overall. All of this is just by a little bit though. The DX90 certainly does not slay the X5ii in any department or vice versa. The weightier bass of the DX90 does make its sound a little more dynamic and can leave the X5ii sounding just a tad plasticky-sounding. At the same time, however, I really do appreciate the fact that the X5ii is less colored than the DX90.
     
    I think the midranges of both are quite good, but I would give the edge very slightly to the X5ii. To me, the vocals of the X5ii have just a little more focus to it and sound a little more natural. However, I do think that separation on the DX90 is just a little better. I’ve found that iBasso products always tend to have very clean separation and imaging that punch beyond their price point.
     
    The DX90 has a bit more of a sparkly lower treble, which makes the sound a little more energetic than the X5ii. While neither every sound harsh or sibilant, the X5ii does sound smoother up top in comparison, but seems to have just a slightly slower decay overall.
     
    The biggest difference between the two I think would be the presentation of the sound. The DX90’s soundstage feels a good bit narrower as it doesn’t extend as far out to the right and left as the X5ii, but it also excels at height and depth in comparison to the X5ii. The DX90 tends to present its sound more in front of you, with a good bit of layering, while the X5ii feels more around your head. I think it’s really a matter of preference choosing between the two, so I’ll leave it at that!
     
    IMG_0138.jpg
    iBasso DX90 and Fiio X5ii
     
    Ending Thoughts:
    I think Fiio did a fantastic job with the updated X5ii. If you want to look at price/performance, it’s certainly not the best value in Fiio’s line of DAPs. At the same time though, if money isn’t an issue, I would certainly say go for the X5ii over the other two as the improvement over the X1 and X3ii aren’t subtle to me and certainly worth the additional cost to me.
     
    I think there will be people in both the DX90 and X5ii camps, and honestly I think both sides will be happy with what they have. The DX90 is a slightly more dynamic sounding DAP with just a little bit more detail to me, while the X5ii is the more accurate and neutral of the two.
     
    I think I may be a little bias, but when it comes down to usability, I still prefer the DX90. It’s a tiny bit smaller, and the touchscreen buttons hybrid is still a wonderful design in my opinion. Maybe I’m just really use to it after using it for 2 years. However, the X5ii’s better screen resolution, 2 micro SD card capability, and 10 hour battery life, are all aspects of the X5ii that should not be overlooked. So which is the better choice? I don’t know. You decide.
      Brooko likes this.