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FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.04167/5,
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. Cagin
    Fiio X5ii Improvements all around and remains loyal to its good sound
    Written by Cagin
    Published Aug 1, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Smaller, lighter, much more quieter background, standby mode, native DSD64/128 decoding, SACD .iso playability
    Cons - UI lags, minor lag delay with the scroll wheel, still no way of accelerated scrolling/navigation
     
    FiioX5X5iireviewbannerpic.jpg
     
     
    Head-Fi, Fiio X5 and me
     
    I came out of my lurking in January 2014 to join Head-Fi, I was looking for a DAP to replace my Creative Zen X-Fi's whose display had a 'black ink' spreading disease at terminal phase. I wanted to buy an X-Fi again, but I found out that with the advant of smartphones, MP3 players section had all melted away and all that was left were very cheap 4GB/8GB players or iPods. I couldn't find the Zen X-Fi in any stores in my area. Expensive iPod nano/touches with 32GB/64GB with no SD card capacity was a no go. I had resisted buying an Apple player for all these years (Creative fan since the inception of PC soundcards), I was almost tempted to buy an iPod Classic due to higher storage capacity , but the fear of damaging a micro hard-drive (lost my Zen Micro 16GB to a fall) made me consider going online to find a solution.
     
    I discovered about Head-Fi, and oh boy, I felt ridiculous and vain for being an enduring Creative fanboy. My brick & mortar only shopping world was just the tip of the iceberg. DAPs had gotten so much better and DAPs from SanDisk and Iriver still existed! It was time to go submarine mode and lurk through hundreds of pages of threads to get my universe updated (i.e. wow people even carry brick stacks of amps!).
     
    After an initial shortlist of the Fiio X3, iBasso DX50 and Astell&Kern AK240 (was enthralled by its beauty), I went back to my local shop to ask if they knew em, if they had any or if I could place an order. Turns out they were Fiio and A&K dealers too but had none in stock (the X5 and AK240 wasn't even in their database for pre-order). If I had to wait for an X3 to arrive, I preferred to pre-order the X-5 online instead.
     
    Only ultraportability interests me now. IEMs and a DAP. No cans, no amp stacking. I'm bulky enough to want to carry more stuff around. ;P
     
     
     
    My take on Fiio
     
    Portable Hi-Fi that works reliably while remaining affordable, simple as that. James and Joe Bloggs are very active on Head-Fi. Great feedback interaction with the members, involving us in the different parts of the design and production process.
     
     
     
    Disclaimer
     
    I want to give my thanks to James and Joe Bloggs at Fiio for giving me the chance to review this new dap. This is my first review. The unit I had was part of the World Preview Tour, European part. We each had 10 days to play with X5ii before shipping it to the next reviewer. I received no compensation for writing this review, I did not get to keep the review sample, and had to ship it to the next in line from my own pocket (full disclosure/shoutout to the Belgian Post Office, Belgium to Austria  €32.80 ...fleecers).
    I've got limited gear and experience so my review won't be very technical, but more oriented on how it affects me directly.
     
    Official Fiio X5ii product page: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/41
     
     
     
    My review sample box:
     
    IMG_1917.jpg
     
    1. Fiio X5ii DAP
    2. USB transfer and charging cable
    3. COAX cable
    4. Silicone body protective case
    5. Screen protectors (3 total, one already applied, 2 spare)
    6. 3 complete body make-over sticker kits (Carbon fiber / Light grainy wood / American flag)
    7. Button operation leaflet
    8. Quick start manual
    9. Warranty info
     
     
     
    X5 and X5ii side to side comparisons
     
    IMG_1905.jpg   
    ^
    X5ii size H: 109mm W: 63.5mm D: 15.3mm
    X5 size  H: 114mm W: 67.6mm D: 15.6mm
    X5ii weighs 165g, around 30g lighter than the X5.
     
    Coming from the X5 to X5ii, I immediately noticed the width and length decrease, the change of the 4 buttons around the scroll wheel to small slicker round ones matching the color of the body.
    I always found the X5 to look like a stove, so the X5ii was pleasing change, much more appealing.
     
    The X5ii  facelifting also includes brushed metal finish instead of powdered, and a color change (like the X3ii). I prefer the black original color but since I use the silicone case I admit it doesn't matter anyway. I gotta say the new color is much more coherent overall though, matching the 4 X and center scroll wheel buttons.
     
    The actual screen display size remains the same in the newer gen. On the X5 the glass was bigger than the screen display. With the X5ii, Fiio recessed the screen and made the glass flush with the body. A very nice improvement there.
     
    While my hands are somewhat average, it's not very proportionate. My fingers are shorter than average, but I got a big palm. The reason why I mention this is because the X5 always was at the limit of my comfort level. I always used it with the silicone body case which adds a bit to the size. It's bulky to operate with only hand only and at times was annoying when you also take into account the scrolling aspect of the Fiio X5/X5ii. So the the smaller size and weight change with the X5ii was a very welcoming advantage for me. Easier to hold and operate, a noteworthy plus for small handed users.
     
     
     
    IMG_1903.jpg
    ^
    The silicone body case of the X5ii feels more smooth in the hands, the X5 case is a bit more sticky, making it easier to slide in and out of my jeans pocket. The X5ii with the 4 new buttons and silicone case give a nice tactile feedback, more convenient use.
     
    The silicone material seems different. How it will affect its durability I do not know. In the case of the Fiio X5, the silicone case got a minor shred on the bottom left corner of the screen due to me having to expand it by sliding it on and off each time I need to add/transfer new music (the case covers over the microSD slot). I never could connect the X5 to my pc directly, so relied on the small Fiio USB 2.0 dongle card reader supplied. The X5ii review unit didn't come with such a dongle.
     
     
     
    IMG_1907.jpg
    ^
    The X5ii no longer has dust covers making it bit more elegant. While I prefer the covers for an added safety layer despite already using the silicone body case at all times.
    On the other hand it was reassuring that while there's no covers on the X5ii, the micro sd card goes deeper, so there's absolutely no risk of friction.
     
     
     
    IMG_1909.jpg IMG_1913.jpg
    ^
    The power+lock button moved to the left side on the X5ii and has a tiny led in its center. Very pale non-disturbing (for those using while in bed) blue color when ON/playing,  orange red when plugged in recharging and green when fully charged. Notice the tiny tactile raised dot on the Volume + button so you don't mistake it for the power button; it's easy to operate in the dark.
     
    When the player is locked, holding the Vol+/- buttons will skip tracks. So to change the volume in locked mode, you have to lightly press repeatedly to increment/lower step by step.
     
    Notice how nicely flushed the display and 4 buttons are now on the X5ii.
     
     
    IMG_1915.jpg
    ^
    X5ii on the left, X5 on the right. X5 original had 3 distinct output jacks, HP, COAX and Line out. The X5ii changed by having only 2; Coax and Line out have a shared output jack, switchable from within the UI (Multifunctional Outputs under System Settings menu).
     
    The visible hard reset pinhole on the X5 has gone on the X5ii, you'll have to press and hold the power button for about 15s to reset the player.
     
    Note: the X5ii HP out location switched sides. On the X5 it's at the top left of the DAP. On the X5ii, it's at the top right side. Users coming from the X5 might have the nasty suprise if plugging their sensitive iems to the Line out jack on the X5ii being used on this side, blasting their eardrums!
     
     
     
    User Interface
     
    Buttons
    You can adjust the volume two ways: hold the center dial for a second which displays the volume arc, and you can then turn the wheel to +/- the volume; or you can use the side buttons.
     
    The left and right button below the wheel serve as Previous/Next track skip if pressed once, or back/forwarding within the current track if held.
    The upper left button opens the tiny submenu where you can add the current track to your favorites (heart icon), change the playing mode like shuffle, repeat all or same track, and delete track.
    The upper right button serves as go back up a level or previous menu. If held longer it goes straight back to main menu centered on Now Playing.
     
    Deep sleep stand-by
    The X5ii comes with a Deep sleep stand-by mode that's a very good improvement I think. In daily/weekly usage I didn't have to shut it down completely, it used very low battery while on stand-by mode, and resumed instantly. My X5 unit with X Relic X's mod takes around 9-10 seconds of waiting time between Power ON booting to being fully functional. So this new deep sleep stand-by mode is quite welcomed.
     
    Folder browsing
    I solely used my X5 in folder browsing mode. The lack of proper tagging of my library makes the Play by Category mode absolutely chaotic. This is an issue with the ZX2's default music app too because I can't apparently access my memory card in folder browsing mode and only allows categorized mode.
     
    Folder browser on the X5 and X5ii is easier for me. My TF card root has artists/bands folders, sub-folders are albums. Here lies a big problem, it can take me up to half a minute of spinning the scroll wheel just to get to the artist/band I want to listen to. There's no progressively accelerating scrolling either from the wheel nor the buttons.
    The bottom left and right buttons also serve as scrolling keys, so my only chance at scrolling faster is by using two hands, one is holding the scroll button while the other is spinning the wheel resulting in a moderately faster scrolling up or down, but I can't stress how much absurd this looks and feels.
     
    A workaround fix would be to have the root folders be alphabetically ranked and have artists inside them. Like 26 folders; A-Z. But this solution is not fitting for me because of my personal nature in regards to listening music. Which track I pick depends on my mood of the moment, browsing through names which I associate with feelings is the deciding factor. But Cagin, be rational, surely you'd prefer changing your listening habit and put stuff in  A-Z folders first instead of the boring up to 30 seconds of spinning wheel to fit your 'mood' no? Well... ok sure, if it wasn't for a bothersome aspect of organizing by alphabetical folders at the root folder; the lag. I'll come to this on the next paragraph. Now I understand the scroll wheel is mechanical, and doesn't allow acceleration, but I would've liked if at least the bottom buttons could be set to like skip 5 by 5, or a whole screen of folders, or maybe alphabetical letters directly.
     
    One quality of life improvement I'd like to see in a future firmware would be the ability to just play the highligthed folder without having to go through its subfolders and pick a certain track before it starts playing. I'd like it if when folder browsing, I scroll down to say an artist folder and I just press say the top left button and it automatically will play it's content starting from the top album, top track and go from there. 1 click instead of 3.
     
    Lag?
    My 128GB SanDisk microSD card was formatted by my X5 (fat32), it works flawlessly with the ZX2 as well, and is recognized and working with the X5ii fine. But I did notice a major lag issue and perhaps I should've formatted the card from within the X5ii to make sure it wasn't due to format origin, but I admit it was too daunting to it all over again via the X5ii. So take the lag details with a grain of salt ok.
     
    In folder browser mode, TF1 main root access had a 2.5 second delay (1.5s on the X5). This means, each time I go in Folder Browser mode, and pick TF1 card, it takes 2.5s before I can start scrolling through folders. Accessing a sub folder brings a 0.5s delay on the X5ii (not noticeable on the X5). Now if I'm in the Artist sub-folder and want to go back up a level to main root, I get a 2 second delay on the X5ii (1.5s on the X5).
     
    On the X5ii when spinning the wheel to adjust the volume, if I make more than a few incremental steps, there is a delay as the volume will keep adjusting even if you stopped spinning the wheel.
    On the X5, it's more responsive. There's no delay lag regardless of if I make wide volume changes or small increments.
     
    Note about the Scroll wheel: Fiio said the production units will have higher damping factor (similar to production X3 2nd gen units) for more positive tactile feedback. Hopefully this will address the delay lag I experience when spinning it fast.
     
    IMG_1918.jpg
    ^
    Main menu  Now Playing / Play by Category / Folder Browse / Play settings / System settings
     
     
    IMG_1920.jpg
    ^
    Play by Category sub menu
    I never go here ^^
     
     
    IMG_1923.jpg IMG_1925.jpg
    ^
    Play settings
    Here you can change things like:
    1. Left/Right channel balance (+/-10dB)
    2. Low/High gain
    3. set which volume you want your player to automatically fix to each time you power it on (avoiding any eardrum blasting suprise)
    4. fix a hard volume cap
    5. Equalizer has 10 bands and 9 presets, it reduced output -6dB by default when active. You can edit the preset names via firmware if you desire.
    6. The 'play through folders' option is nice if say you browse into one artist folder containing like 4 album folders, it will automatically keep on playing by switching to the next folder in line (top to bottom); and once all sub folders player, will go to the next main folder and start from there working through sub folders, on and on.
     
     
    IMG_1926.jpg IMG_1931.jpg
    ^
    System Settings menu
    1. 3 Key-lock modes. I prefer the one where only the side volume buttons are working when display is locked. I can adjust the volume and skip tracks from the pocket without taking it out. Minimal risk of pressing something wrong.
    2. Idle standby and timer. If player is on pause the time lapse before it goes to stand-by mode from lack of user input to save on display battery
    3. Sleep + timer. If like me you like to go to sleep while listening to music or some ASMR, will automatically cut the music and go stand-by, alternatively if you're lazy and unsure of when you're about to sleep you can just unplug the headphone jack, it will pause the player, and then Idle out ^^
    4. Multifunctional outputs. Switches from Line out to Digital out Coax
    5. USB Mode. Storage for data transfer or DAC mode
    6. Supports in-line headphone. 3.5mm TRRS cables with track skip/pause/play [volume +/- not incl]
    7. Format. Allows the device to format a TF card to FAT32. Recommended you do it via the device for optimal compatibility, avoid hanging ups during library scanning.
     
     
    GUI Themes
     
    The Fiio X5 allowed users to modify the GUI (Graphical User Interface) via firmware files, we could to change the colors, fonts and placing of objects. This led a growing number of daring creative headfiers to make modded themes.
    There's many flavors, from minimalistic to flamboyant ones.
     
    Here's the superb repository thread for the X5 original gen: http://www.head-fi.org/t/717947/fiio-x5-custom-modded-firmwares
     
    The X5ii takes the theme potential even higher by allowing up to 5 customizable themes. There are 5 default themes that came with the X5ii, but fellow headfiers @X Relic X and @AsianInvasion have already adapted their mods to the X5ii firmware, so you can have a whopping 5 completely different big modded themes available to switch from one to another from inside the menu directly without any need of rebooting. Quite convenient also for having for example one theme made for easier contrasting while outside in a glaring daylight situation.
     
    Click here for the X5ii theme mods repository: http://www.head-fi.org/t/771221/fiio-x5-ii-custom-themes-thread
     
    Here are the 5 default themes:
     
    IMG_1940.jpg IMG_1943.jpg
    IMG_1935.jpg IMG_1936.jpg
    IMG_1939.jpg
     
     
     
     
    Sound
     
    Gear at hand
    I've received my X5ii review unit at the same time as my custom EarWerkz Omega iems arrived. Being my 1st set of ciems, I was very critically attentive during my listening sessions with the Fiio X5ii. I also had received my Sony ZX2 a few days earlier, so there were a lot of switching back and forth between the Fiio X5, X5ii, the Sony ZX2, the new Omega ciems and my faithful Zero Audio Duoza's.
    During the comparisons my Sony ZX2 was at 50-90 hours burn-in period, was using the Sony Music Player app with the following settings off: Clear Audio, EQ, DSEE HX, Dynamic Normalizer.
    The X5 and X5ii were with EQ off
     
    All my music library fits in one 128gb SanDisk microSD card, comprising of .FLAC, .wav, .mp3 files, I have no DSD contents to play with sadly. Those with DSD recordings will be interested to know that the X5ii has an "all new digital audio architecture, utilizing dual crystal oscillators dedicated to multiples of 44.1 and 48kHz respectively (including 176.4kHz=4x44.1, 192kHz=4x48 and DSD64 and DSD128 (multiples of 44.1), handling all major sample rates without resampling artifacts and minimal jitter", so no need for PCM conversion.
    For all the hardware components, I'll refer the reader to the official product page where it's all detailed very clearly (http://www.fiio.net/en/products/41).
     
    Test Tracks
    Jardín de la Croix - 187 Steps to cross the Universe EP, especially the "Colorado Springs" track
    Cowboy Junkies - live binaural recording by Immersifi (available free right here on Head-Fi forum in the free flac thread); track #1 to #8
    Envy - A Dead Sinking Story album - #1 Chain wandering deeply and #2 Distress of ignorance tracks
    Florence and the Machine - Lungs album
    KOAN sounds - Forgotten Myths EP
     
    Sound quality differences?
    As much as I could write a page and a half about the difference of sound quality between my Duoza's and the Omega's I just can't reliably notice a difference between the 3 DAPs themselves while playing music. Aside from the hiss, the X5 and the X5ii sound the same to me (even with both equal volume dials). And when I add the ZX2, it's an eye opener on two fronts really. Yes the X5ii is just as good as my ZX2 in the music reproduction. The X5ii didn't feel lacking at all compared to the ZX2. The balance was right, the bass wasn't overwhelming and the trebble clarity was there. I might prefer the drums for a bit more details on the ZX2 but I certainly don't feel confident about it enough to certify in a courtroom for example. Sure ZX2 might not be at the optimal burn-in period but still.
    Unfortunately I don't have any equipment/program to volume match the players so I could have a better way to compare.
    Another factor why I had a hard time differenciating anything was the impossibility of instant A/B comparisons. Had I two cards I could have one inside each DAP and just switch jacks.
    My other revelation was just how good the Duoza iems were as a pairing match for the X5ii and the ZX2. Everything feels just balanced, each parts given an equal footing. No instrument boasting over another. I like bass but not overwhelming bass that ruins the details of distinguishing each element. The Duoza/X5ii or ZX2 pairing avoids a boomy bass so I can actually enjoy the nuances of the bass guitar. The treble is clear and detailed always just below my sibilance treshold, the drum kit's hi-hats, cymbals and snare aren't relegated to the background, they have this sparkling pride, and lasting decay that gives me great pleasure.
    The Omega's on the other hand are a bad pairing with the X5ii or the ZX2. Voices can be explosively uncontrolled, non seductive, aggressive. And when I say aggressive voice is not due to sibilance, oh no, the Omega's are completely immune to any risk of silibance whatsoever from any source possible. It avoids sibilance so much that drum kits feels muted, gagged, and relegated to the background. Treble is tamed hard. The electric guitars on the other hand are given immense power and ooze with omph goodness. Electric guitars definitely gets forefront emphasis; too much maybe because it overshadows the bass guitar details.
    I seriously need to find a DAP to get enjoyment out of the Omega's.
    But I digress, this ain't a review comparison about Omega's or Duoza's, but about the X5ii. And the X5ii still has this somewhat neutral flat signature that I long for (with bit of warmth). 
     
    Hiss - background noise
    The background noise comparison gave a cleaver cut divide. The EarWerkz Omega's are very easy to drive and overly sensitive, prone to hissing noise.
    Using them one the X5 and ZX2 I get moderate hiss noise. The X5 is a bit hissier than the ZX2. When listening to most genres it's not audible, but on slower or more quiet tracks like solo piano or live acoustic it can be distracting. When on pause it's quite audible and annoying.
    The X5ii was very suprising because it was in another category regarding background noise, when on pause it was quite low hiss, and inaudible during playback.
    With my Duoza's, the X5ii is simply quiet even when on pause.
     
     
     
    Battery life
     
    With my usage habit of always locking the display after picking a track, and mainly flac listening I get around 10 hours of music before battery going out. Same as my X5. A nice average stamina but when you take into account the power output of it, it's good. The X5ii has 3300mAh battery, the X5 had 3700mAh. If I had to guess why they both having the same stamina despite lower battery on the X5ii has to come from the redesigning of power architecture regarding low and high gain.
     
     
     
    Concluding ponderings & alternatives to consider researching/auditioning
     
    I think that it's good to have options. Especially when I'm thinking of upgrading. Gives me clarity noticing what matters to me in the end. What functionality I can dispose of, what I can't do without anymore, to reveal what I'm really after.
     
    Some questions I feel must be considered:
     
    Do I honestly hear a difference noticeable enough to warrant such a price jump? 
     - At time of comparisons, with a burn-in period of 50-80h on my ZX2 , I found the X5ii equal sound-wise.
     
    Can my ego take the hit for disappointment after HYPE buying? 
     - Hype and aspirations have to be allowed but also tamed.
     
    Does the user interface help me or do I fight it too much? Does it hamper me getting me to enjoy my music? 
     - With my X5 it can take me up to 30sec of scrolling to find the music I want. With a touch sensitive Android based ZX2 it's immensely faster, I personally do no longer want to come back to an UI that doesn't allow a form of acceleration or faster scrolling. (Questyle QP1R and Cayin N5 I'm looking at you; that's why the X7 will get all my attention)
     
    Am I ready to change my iem/headphone in case it doesn't pair well with my dap? Or would I prefer to change the DAP to match my gear?
     -Gotta have a matching pair to enjoy. If it sounds good to you, who cares if it looks like a downgrade.
     
    To those interested about the Fiio X5ii, I'd suggest considering listening to the X3ii if budget is tighter.
    Sidegrades possible are the QLS QA360, iBasso DX90.
    Potential upgrades would be the Lotoo Paw 5000 (balanced headphone output and Bluetooth but with a fun/musical signature instead of neutral flat like the X5ii). If patience is your virtue, then these options open up as well, Questyle QP1, Cayin N5, Fiio X7 (to be released in mainland China in August, Fall worldwide).
     
    And oh suggestion to consider =/= advise to buy  0:)
     
     
    To me the X5 2nd Gen is clearly an upgrade to the original X5. Smaller, lighter, more tactile feedback makes it easier for me to handle. Very more quiet background (quite important with sensitive iems if you don't tolerate hissing noise). The X5ii can play DSD64/128 and play SACD .iso if you have those. The X5ii still has that great neutral sound with bit of warmth that I liked so much in the original X5.
    It still has that oomph of power to not feel the amping requirement if you use iems and some cans. The stand-by mode is the cream on the top.
     
    I'll conclude with this though, even if I had golden ears, and I don't -I only got to silver ears at the Phillips challenge before I gave up tired ^^- you only have your ears to enjoy your music. I doesn't matter if it sounds great to me; how good will it sound FOR YOU !?! Do your best to attempt an audition.
     
      Jill and Light - Man like this.
    1. willyvlyminck
      Does the Screen have more Pixel than than that of the X1?
      willyvlyminck, Aug 1, 2015
    2. Cagin
      Fiio X1 has a 2 inch Display (262k color TFT display, 320×RGB×240 pixels)
      The X5ii has a 2.4 inch Display (262k color IPS display, 400x360 pixels)
      Cagin, Aug 1, 2015
  9. WayneWoondirts
    FiiO always delivers
    Written by WayneWoondirts
    Published Jul 31, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - audioquality, price, design, build, screen, two mSD slots, native DSD, power
    Cons - user interface, very responsive center button
    Disclaimer

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

    I am in no way affiliated with FiiO. I would like to thank Joe and James for giving me this opportunity and for organizing the tour. It was a lot of fun discovering the device.
     
    Introduction
     
    When I received the X5 my first thoughts were „So that's why the X3 is called an ultraportable device“. It's bigger than the pictures can show, yet still handy. It felt great, I couldn't wait to put my card in it and update the database. It's a 128GB SanDisk mSD card containing around 2700 songs, including some DSD albums.
    This took pretty long. My X3 2nd gen updates in no time compared to that.
     
    Changes from first to second generation:
     
    Native DSD decoding
    Deep-sleep mode
    Dual crystal oscillators
    Better amplification
    Brushed metal exterior
    Smaller and lighter device
    Supports in-line remote headphones
     
    Headphones used:
     
    Final - Sonorus VI (formerly known as „Pandora Hope VI“)
    AKG - K240 Sextett (made in the 70's)
     
    P7300324.jpg
     
    Build
     
    The exterior is completely made of metal, which gives it a premium feeling. The colour comes close to the X3's but is a little lighter. One of the things I really like about the design are the edges, unlike the X1 and X3 the X5 isn't rounded at the top.
    The buttons are more recessed than on the other players from FiiO, also the screen is now in line with the whole body. The center button was a little too sensitive for my taste, I often found myself clicking it when I didn't want to.
     
    P7300313.jpg   P7300318.jpg
     
    The scroll wheel was pretty soft and when turning it around I hardly felt the clicks, please note here that I had a preview unit, the wheel was changed to a better feeling one (like the X3's). I actually liked the soft wheel. The player has a protector already applied to the screen when leaving the factory.
    The volume and the power buttons are located on the left side. The power button also includes the LED indicator which shows you if the device is on (blue), charging (red) or fully charged (green).
     
    P7300325.jpg   P7300312.jpg
     
    On the bottom there are the two mSD slots and the micro USB port for charging, data transfer (computer or OTG) and for docking.
    The headphone and line/coax out are found on top of the device.
     
    P7300311.jpg   P7300314.jpg
     
    A very big improvement is the screen. It's a very clear and wonderfully readable IPS screen. You can easily use it outside without making shades to read the screen. It never bugged me that I had to put the backlight to 100% when using my X3 on the outside, but now that I've seen its bigger brother, I know how good it feels to use a higher quality screen.
    Another thing that was changed are the jacks on top of the device. Instead of three there are only two remaining on the second generation. Now Coaxial and Line Out share the same output.
     
    Package and Accessories
     
    The unit comes in a simple and elegant black box with the FiiO logo in the middle. Inside you'll find a quick start guide, an overview of the X5 and a warranty card. Also there are a few accessories like a coaxial adapter, an USB cable (not in the pictures), two screen protectors and some stickers to individualize your player.
    There's also a black silicon case for protection, which later got changed to a clear plastic cover, because of complaints about the smell.
    Please note, that the coax-adapter is a four pole plug, and won't work with any first generation X player. Also the adapters from the first gen X3 and X5 won't work with the second gens. The reason for this is the shared output for Line Out and Coax Out, you can use any stereo mini jack for LO usage.
     
    P7310310.jpg   P7310311.jpg
     
    P7310312.jpg   P7310316.jpg
     
    P7310318.jpg   P7310319.jpg
     
    P7310320.jpg
     
     
    User Interface (UI)
     
    FiiO is not known for its great UI, there are yet a lot of improvements to be made. The basics of course are covered. You can browse the database via Artist, Album, Songs, Genres or Favourites (personal made list). Or you can access your files directly with folder navigation.
    It also supports gapless playback and has two gain settings (high/low).
    When using in the pockets the X5 let's you pick between three different key-lock settings, where different buttons are active even though the screen is turned off.
    I would have used lockscreen two (volume and center buttons), but with the super responsive center button it was not very comfortable. The production units might be more suitable for this option.
    For me personally the UI is the biggest minus about the device, since there are so many features missing that would increase the usability by a lot. Like a better playlistmanagement. The ability to add songs to a playlist without having to start them first, is one of the keyfeatures I'm hoping for. Or simply to be able to name your own playlists. I know I can create playlists with my computer, but I'm always changing the files on my card and discovering new songs and artist, having to edit a playlist every time is a real pain. Screen time out and Idle standby are set in the system settings. Idle standby sets when the device goes into deep-sleep mode. Currently both times are a little too long for my taste (30s for screen time out, and 60s for idle standby).
    There's also a 10-band equalizer, which comes with eight presets (Rock, Classical, Jazz, Pop, Dance, Vocal, Blues and Metal) and a custom one, or you can turn it off and don't use it at all.

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

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

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

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

    MSRP: 349 USD $
    it goes around 429€ in the EU
     
    General Specifications:

    Model/Number - X5 (X5 2nd gen)
    Headphone Port - Standard 3.5mm Headphone Port
    Color - Titanium
    Drive Ability - 16~150 Ω
    Dimensions - 109 mm x 63.5 mm x 15.3 mm
    Volume Control - 120 steps digital potentiometer
    Weight - 165 g
    Equalizer - 10-band equalizer (±6dB)
    Display Screen - 2.4", 262,144 color HD IPS screen with 400x360 pixels
    Line Out - Standard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
    Digital Out (Coaxial) - Standard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
    Balance - 10 dB
    USB DAC - Supporting up to 24bit / 192kHz and DSD (driver installation required for Windows PCs)
    Gain – 3.6dB (Gain=L) // 9.1dB (Gain=H)


    Partial Performance Parameters for Line Output:

    THD+N - <0.001% (1 kHz)
    SNR - ≥114 dB (A-weight)
    Frequency Response - 20 Hz~20 kHz
    Dynamic Range - >110 dB
    Crosstalk -
    >115 dB (10 KΩ/1 kHz)
    Line Output Level - 1.53 Vrms (10 KΩ/1 kHz)


    Partial Performance Parameters for Headphone Output:

    Output Power 1 - >245 mW(32Ω//THD+N<1%)
    Output Power 2 - >436 mW(16Ω/THD+N<1%)
    Output Power 3 - >27 mW(300Ω/THD+N<1%)
    Output Impedance - <0.2 Ω(32Ω)
    Crosstalk - >75 dB (1 kHz)
    THD+N - <0.001% (1 kHz)
    Frequency Response - 20 Hz~20 kHz
    MAX Output Voltage - >8.2 Vp-p
    SNR - ≥117 dB (A-weighted)
    MAX Output Current - >250 mA(For reference)


    Power and Battery:

    Power - DC5V 2A recommended
    Battery Capacity - 3300 mAh
    Charge Display - Red light indicates , green light turns on after fully charged
    Battery Life - >10 h (32Ω; normal volume with display off )
    Battery Display - Yes (Accurate battery % readings))
    Charging Time - <4h (DC5V 2A)


    Audio Formats Supported:

    Lossless:
    DSD: DSD64, DSD128 (.iso&.dsf & .dff); not DST compressed
    APE(Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit;
    APE(Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit;
    APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit;
    AIFF: 192 kHz/24 bit;
    FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit;
    WAV: 192 kHz/64 bit;
    WMA Lossless: 96 kHz/24 bit;
    Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit;

    Lossy: MP2, MP3, AAC, ALAC, WMA, OGG
      Jill, peter123, bruce1967 and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. KLJTech
      Great review! I think one of the nice improvements over the OG X5 is the improved amp section of the X5 II. I've felt no need at all to stack it with my E12A, which did indeed improve the sound of the X5. Nice job FiiO!
      KLJTech, Aug 2, 2015
    3. catspaw
      One thing that bothered me in fiio products was always the connectors. In my E17, the headphone jack stopped operating effectivly after a year of use (HEAVY use, so I am not really that dissappointed).
      Fiio was very nice and sent me a headphone jack to replace the damaged one, but as it was my first soldering experience, I ended up destroying the unit :).
       
      I am unsure if the headphone jack is more resistant in the X5 (as far as I know fiio recognized the problem in the E17 units and added a better hp jack in products from that time), but if not, it would be a bummer. 
      catspaw, Aug 7, 2015
    4. bruce1967
      Nice review! I'll definitely be upgrading from the X3ii to the new X5.
      bruce1967, Sep 3, 2015
  10. 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