1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

FiiO X5 2nd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

Rating:
4.04167/5,
  1. AndrewH13
    FIIO X5 2nd gen: Taking the X5 higher
    Written by AndrewH13
    Published Jun 17, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stylish Build, Two MicroSD slots, Display, Sound Quality, Native DSD, Ideal Digital transport
    Cons - EQ not available on hires tracks, Combined Line Out/Digital Out socket
    1506x5ii05w.jpg
     
     
    About Me
     
    As this is my first review on Head-Fi, a few details of my background. I am in my fifties and have loved music and music equipment all my life. From about 8 years old, I had my first exposure to my mother’s reel to reel tape recorder. A few years later, I was bought a slab-like cassette deck from Philips which I used to record chart songs. As a teenager I pored over Lasky’s HiFi brochures and my first purchase was a pair of big Celestion speakers. Over the years I have had Nad, Mission, Linn, Roksan and Naim equipment. Finally Tag McClaren HiFi where I was a volunteer software beta-tester for their numerous upgrades.
     
    However I always loved the idea of portables and returned with a gold Sony Mini-disc player, a Sony A808 and various iPods. But until that day a few years back when a Google search brought up Head-Fi, I was oblivious to the thriving portables community and the quality of sound that could now be obtained. I use DAPs mostly around the home so size is not a main consideration personally.
     
     
    Equipment owned and For Review
     
    A Fiio X5 and DX90 were my first hi-res DAPs, and I’ve soon gone from Westone W40s IEMs to Shure 846s and ie800s. And from B&W P7 Headphones to Musical Fidelity MF100s, Grado 325e and just recently Sennheiser HD800s alongside a Hugo portable DAC/AMP. I suffer iTunes (and its hidden art) for iPods in portable docks, but prefer drag and drop Players (Sony’s Sonicstage scared me for life!)  I am meticulous about tagging using mp3tag, and dBpower amp for converting a vast collection of CDs. Most of my listening is complete albums, either Folder view or Artist/Album meta data.  I now have a collection of Hi-Res and DSD music, which in some cases, does seem preferable to my older versions so will listen using all formats. Will test as a standalone and also my main use as a high quality digital transport.
     
    1506x5ii23w.jpg
     
     
     
    Disclaimer
     
    I received this X5ii for 10 days during the European leg of its World Tour in order to provide Fiio and prospective buyers with some feedback in the form of a review. I want to thank Fiio for including me in this program and will give opinions with an open mind how I find it.
     
     
    X5 2nd gen Specifications
     
    · Body is Brushed Aluminium with a 400 x 360 Screen
     
    · PCM1792A DAC

    · 3300mAh Lithium Polymer battery
     
    · 2 External Micro SD slots
     
    · 3.5mm combined LO and Digital Audio Output
     
    · USB DAC supporting 192KHz/24Bit
     
    · plays FLAC, ALAC, WAV, MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP2, and APE formats
     
    · Size is 109mm x 63.5mm x 5.3mm
     
    · Weight is 165g
     
     
    Main Changes from 1st Gen X5
     
    1. All-new exterior design, improved build, with metal finish changed from powdered to brushed;
     
    2. More compact and lightweight; smaller black borders around LCD;
     
    3. New independent amplification stage with analogue volume control, increasing audio resolution and enabling feature for native DSD decoding; 
     
    4. All new digital audio architecture, utilizing dual crystal oscillators dedicated to multiples of 44.1 and 48kHz respectively (including 176.4kHz=4x44.1, 192kHz=4x48 and DSD64 and DSD128 (multiples of 44.1), handling all major sample rates without resampling artefacts and minimal jitter;
     
    5. Supporting hardware DSD decoding;
     
    6. Supporting CTIA-standard in-line earphone remotes (e.g. Apple, Samsung compatible earphones)
     
    7. Breakthrough power architecture design that utilizes different system voltages for low and high gain, allowing maximum flexibility between long endurance and high driving power in the same unit.
     
    8. All-new power management feature: auto standby mode allows player to remain in standby for weeks, ready to continue playing instantly.
     
    9. Coulomb meter for precise battery level readouts.
     
     
    Feel and Usability
     
    The unit feels quality all over, cleaner lines in design, with just the right weight to be portable but not feel cheap. All the buttons are nice to push with a firm acknowledgement, special mention to the Power Button with its blue-illuminated light. I didn't notice any change in the use of plastic rimmed jack sockets, they made a nice solid connection, I like the scroll wheel but am informed retail units will have an improved version so can’t comment on the final design. The Display seems to have a really bright backlight but still keeps images well saturated in colour. Much improved from the first gen.
     
     
    1506x5ii02w.jpg
     
     
    Generally I was more than happy with the original X5's handling and I am again with the 2nd Gen. Pushing the top-right button 'to return' originally seemed strange but now seems second nature. Immediate Power-on is nice, making it seem a long wait now for all my other players, tablets, phones etc! An operational design I do not like about the menus and selections is that they don’t start and stop at each end but scroll round and round. This seems silly to me and makes it harder to quickly go to items you know are at the top or bottom as you overshoot.
     
    I am not a big user of EQ, generally using a neutral player and tailoring to my preferred signature with choice of IEM/phones. However not all albums are recorded very well and I occasionally like to subtly change things. And many users find EQ very useful so it is a shame that EQ can only be used on CD red-book rips and cannot be used for hi-res tracks.
     
     ​
    1506x5ii10w.jpg
     
     
     
    Sound Quality
     
    For a few years now, I have been alternating between a Fiio X5 original and an iBasso DX90. Differences in handling are obvious (touch screen v buttons and scroll wheel) but also to me the sound presentation difference is quite obvious. I’ve seen both units called warmer than the other countless times, they can’t both be!
     
    The X5 to me had a more closed in soundstage but more forward ‘in your face’ sound. The DX90 had a more ‘HiFi’ wider open expansive portrayal but at times seemed distant. I would change preference month to month but the truth is more dependent on the music playing, Norah Jones and any intimate solo artists, well recorded, sounded great on the DX90, but Rock such as The Darkness where you needed some oomph and aggression could lack excitement. Maybe X5 has mids pushed forward a tiny bit or iBasso has them recessed, I’m not interested in graphs, only what I like the best. Over time I felt the X5 had more excitement and PRAT, and that was the deciding factor making the X5 my favoured choice.
     
    Now where does the 2nd gen X5 stand? I’ve tried to not read reviews so far until I’d completed my own so as not to be influenced! I took a 128GB Samsung micro SD card straight out of my X5 and it played flawlessly throughout the week. On first listening, I felt it pretty close to the original, but maybe cleaner and with a slightly wider soundstage; further listening would no doubt confirm whether this was a good thing as it had less distortion, or a bad thing as it becomes a tad thin and blander!
     
    I like the X5ii's rhythmic sound and this was portrayed perfectly in a FLAC of Muse’s new ‘Drones’ album using Sennheiser ie800s. The track Psycho almost turns you into one, as the music took over and I completely forgot I was listening to the new player. But isn’t that what music is about, taking you away from any equipment, living the moment?
     
    A more familiar album to me is (Jeff) Beck, Bogart & Appice’s self titled album and I switch to using Shure 846 IEMs. The track ‘Sweet Sweet Surrender’ yields a perfect soundstage, bass underpinning the rest of the instruments. ‘While Should I Care’ has a nice crispness to the cymbals, a quick switch to the X5 suggesting just a touch less cohesion.
     
    Turning to DSD, which is played natively, I played Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Willy And The Poor Boys’ from 1969. Whether it’s the quality of DSD, the care taken over the mastering, who knows, but the sound is as clear as day but so natural at the same time, absolutely lovely.
     
    For me, it’s hard not to compare with existing products I own, further listening has confirmed the X5 2nd gen has a slightly wider, slightly cleaner sound than the original. Maybe losing a touch of upper bass excess? It is still very close to the X5 I like but leaning towards the DX90’s openness. But without losing attack or ever feeling recessed which to me can happen with the latter.
     
    Well done Fiio for taking an already fine sounding player, and subtly improving on it.
     
     ​
     
    Use as a Digital Transport
     
    I was itching to try it with my recently purchased Hugo and ultra-sized Sennheiser HD800s. I currently use the X5 in tandem with the portable DAC/Amp and it has been superb in every way. I have nearly deafened myself twice using the iBasso for this purpose, volume on the DX90 had to be set full on when connecting via Digital Out!  Fortunately Fiio have followed the 1st gen,  again having fixed volume for this output, retaining your normal headphone output volume independently. (EDIT: The DX90 has updated this in a firmware upgrade and now also has fixed output, thankfully!)
     
    Many say that any digital source will sound the same into a Hugo. My experience is that this isn’t the case. I have heard iPhones (using CCK), the DX90 and the Fiio X5 previous to this review. To me the X5 sounded superior.
     
    The X5 2nd gen unfortunately has combined the analogue Line out (post DAC) with the Co-ax Digital out using the same 3.5mm socket. No problem I thought, its a simple software switch in the Player Menu. But no sound at all.......  A quick query on Head-Fi and within minutes I learned because of combining the sockets, a 4 Pole 3.5mm connection must be made to the RCA out. Great help immediately from the forum, big thanks to those who responded so quickly. My existing Coax leads have more standard 3.5mm connection. Fiio do provide a dedicated 4-pole adapter cable but this goes to a female RCA/Phono connection. This necessitates using two cables and I used my QED 70 Ohm coaxial cable (borrowed from HiFi’s DAP connection), but this is three feet long. Shame that as it stands there is not one small cable that can be purchased for easily connecting to a DAC, which worked so well with the original X5. 
     
     ​

     
     
    I am investigating a suggested male/male 3.5 adapter that may solve this, allowing just the Fiio lead for Hugo duties.
     
    EDIT: With adapter from ebay, the included Fiio cable will just attach with a stretch, but really could have done with being an inch longer.
     
    1506x5ii31a.jpg
     
     
     
    I tried Madonna’s recent ‘Rebel Heart’ album on FLAC. Taking things up a notch now (and so it should with Hugo and HD800’s price) the early tracks displayed deep rumbling bass and a gigantic soundstage. Before giving way to later delicate tracks that made me feel she was so close in the same room!
     
    Rush’s mid-career albums on CD have seemed to lack body and sounded thin to me previously, drums being almost synthetic. A FLAC 24/96 version of ‘Roll The Bones’ from 1991 seemed much improved. My feet were twitching immediately, before hands started drumming! Time to revisit other Rush albums I believe.
     
    Just like the X5 before it, clipped onto Hugo’s reverse using the DAC’s supplied bands, this combo is bliss for me. Years spent in my lounge listening to full size HiFi has now largely been replaced with this transportable system. Can take from bedroom, to garden, or beside sofa in the lounge and listen at any volume I like without disapproving looks from my wife!
     
    I also connected to my HiFi via a Rega home DAC. Good sound from my PMC’s floor-standing speakers. In my opinion, the ideal transport for any portable or home DAC. Then unplug, and take anywhere still retaining a very good sound quality.
     
     
    Conclusion
     
    The more I’ve used the X5 2nd gen, the more I’ve come to accept it as the most neutral of players. Only a few slight operational niggles, nothing is perfect!
     
    Overall, lots of small changes have improved upon the first gen. It seems the youthful younger brother or sister of the X5, slightly lighter of foot and a touch more energetic.
     
     
    1506x5ii15w.jpg
      Joe Bloggs, Peridot, Jill and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AndrewH13
      Thanks for your comments Samandhi
      AndrewH13, Jul 12, 2015
    3. samandhi
        No, none of those things sound like enough to re-buy the X5 in any way (for me). I Really like the versatility of the gen 1. I will stick with the combo of X3II and X5 (for the different purposes I have assigned them).
       
        Looking at your pics, I can see the issue you are talking about with the cabling. I ran into the same issue with the cable when trying to run my X3II to my stereo via coax. It worked perfectly with the X5, but no sound with the X3II (I didn't know the issue, actually until you mentioned it in your review, so thank you again for that tidbit of information). I suppose instead of the nice 1" long cable that comes with the X5, I'll have to use that little nubbin' that comes with the X3II. :) I find the one included with the X5 works better (for me) because it puts less strain directly on the jack, than the little nubbin' aforementioned.
       
        I just leave my X5 on high gain all the time. I find my HPs to sound a bit more "dynamic" than on low (even with the lower, more efficient headphones), plus I find it to have an absolute black background even in high. I guess having an output impedance of <1 (actual 0.26) helps to keep things quite too.. heh 
      samandhi, Jul 12, 2015
    4. Carmantom
      Nice review. Re: CCR recordings were mastered from originals by Steve Hoffman. . I have always loved his insitence to maintaining as close to original masters.

      My Fiios arrived today. They are beautiful except for cheap case. Its a shame for $399 dap, especially such a beautiful piece of equipment. Oh well off to buy one of my preference. Thats what they probably thinking.

      Still have lots of listening to do. They paired nicely bluetooth with new Bowers Wilkes P7s. I'm not sure how to get line out to work (with volume) with my Audeze LCD2s. Volume is a tad much for me, although only a little louder than I like.
      Carmantom, Mar 4, 2017
  2. semaj8james
    Battle of the sibilings
    Written by semaj8james
    Published Jun 16, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Smaller, lighter, sharper display, quicker, price, 2 * MicroSD slots
    Cons - Cannot use HP out and L/O at the same time, jumpy scroll wheel, less 'intimate', hasn't released yet
    Introduction
     ​
         A young member, but certainly not new to the community, I've enjoy a bass heavy style of music, ranging from most EDM genres like dubstep and trap to other genres such as classical, classic rock and metal. For this review I'll review a total of 5 songs, two dub, one trap, one unique sampling piece and one one metal piece. The IEMs used for the review will be the Westone W40s. The music player it will be up against is the famed Fiio X5.
     ​
     ​
    Review
     ​
           Ah, the X5 2nd generation. For this review I'll be putting it up against it's older and bigger brother, the X5. The second generation X5 (known from hereonout in this review as the X5K) is 22.9 grams lighter than it's brother, weighing in at 170.8 grams compared the previous iterations 193.7 grams. The sizes are similar, however the X5K is around 2-3mm shorter in both directions while being the same width, this is of course ignoring the flush screen, buttons and wheel on the X5K that the X5 doesn't have. The X5 is noticibly larger but portability is still similar between the two.
     ​
     ​
    Initial impressions
     
           After the first glamour wore off, the X5K really reminded me of an old iPod classic - much more so than the X5 did. It has a wonderful, sturdy, brushed aluminium body like most other Fiio products have came standard with, and the display is much more crisp than the previous iterations display. Scrolling speed felt slower (it is, at 5 ticks less on a full rotation than the X5), and general response times were similar and marginally quicker, with the most noticible difference being the 'return' speed after hitting the back button. The sleep feature is phenomenal and I rarely turned the player off entirely. Battery life is OK, nothing spectacular but nothing terrible. I'm assuming it'll be better after firmware updates. The UI is a lot nicer in my opinion, especially due to the crispness, and I hope that the X5 will be able to adopt a similar layout. I'm a big fan of the X5's looks, however the flush screen, buttons and wheel on the X5K is definitely appealing. 
     
           As much as it may look like an old iPod (a friend even commented on me having an old iPod, mistaking the X5K for an iPod classic) it certainly doesn't sound like one. My initial impressions were very warm as I noticed the bass notes were much more lush and powerful than what I would get from a phone, or most other DAPs, however it wasn't overwhelming. It was a relatively nice, deep feeling that didn't drown out the rest of the music. Compared to an X5, it's very, very, very similar, however there is one little nuance about it that is subjective to different people - it feels a lot less 'intimate' than other DAPs. What I mean by that, is it has a recessed feeling throughout the 400Hz - ~5kHz frequencies. As a result, I felt the need to continuously turn on volume at times in order to achieve the full feeling of immersion. The X5K though does a really impressive job in keeping up with complex and highly detailed tracks that boast a high pace, and thus suits electronic music and metal very well. 
     
    User interface and practicality
    I never once had to use a manual in order to understand and navigate through the UI, however I may be different since I am relatively familiar with Fiio products such as the X5 and X3. The UI is clean and simple, and looks well constructed. The volume buttons are responsive and accurate, and all buttons are nicely tactile and offer good feedback upon clicking a button. Developing a full understanding on how to use the player is very quick, and the vast majority of people would likely share a similar experience to me. Setting it up as a USB DAC on Windows 7 SP1 was a breeze, and I instantly got to using it with Foobar via USB output on my computer to the X5K. I am not sure about the current state as a USB DAC for Max OS, Windows 8 and Linux. 
     ​
     ​
     ​
    Specs compared to the X5
    This is a rough consolidation of all data I have found. If you find more, please let me know so I can update the chart. Some information may be incorrect. There is a LOT of different information out there regarding the same things, so it's not possible to have completely accurate data.
     ​
     Fiio X5Fiio X5 2nd Generation                                                            
    Display 2.4" IPS 400 * 360 2.4" HD IPS 400 * 360 
    OutputAnalog & Digital 1 *  1/8" (3.5 mm) headphone output jackAnalog & Digital 1 *  1/8" (3.5 mm) headphone output jack 
    DAC USB: Supports 192 kHz, 24-bit
     
    Texas Instruments PCM1792A
     
    USB: Supports 192 kHz, 24-bit
     
    SoC:JZ4760B,DAC:Texas Instruments PCM1792A,LPF:OPA1612,OP:OPA1612+BUF634

     
    Impedance range16 to 300 Ω  
    Volume control 120 high and low gain120 high and low gain 
    EQ10 band multipass EQ10 band multipass EQ 
    Gain selection+- 6dB+- 6dB 
    Supported formats WAV, FLAC, MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA, ALAC, APE, DSD, AIFF, HE-AAC
    24/192kHz (WAV, DSD, APE, FLAC, ALAC), 24/96kHz (APE, WMA
     
    WAV, FLAC, MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA, ALAC, APE, DSD, AIFF, HE-AAC
     
    24/192kHz (WAV, APE, FLAC, ALAC), 24/96kHz (APE, WMA), DSD64, DSD128

     
    Line ouput specs< 0.0025% @1 kHz, 20 Hz to 20 kHz(+/-0.1), > 100 dB @10 KΩ @ 1 kHz, > 1.5 vRMS  
    Headphone output specs Output Power 1: > 460 mW @ 16 Ω, THD < 1% 
    Output Power 2: > 255 mW @ 32 Ω 
    Output Power 3: > 28 mW @ 300 Ω

    20 Hz to 20 kHz (+/-0.1)
    < 0.26 Ω, > 75 dB @ 1 kHz crosstalk, > 8 Vp-p maximum output voltage, > 150 mA maximum output current
      
    Battery size3700mAH3300mAH 
    Battery duration~ 12 hours~ 10 hours 
    Charging time~ 4 hours~ 4 hours 
    Dimensions2.7 x 4.4 x 0.6" (67.6 x 114.0 x 15.6 mm)63.5 * 109 * 13.5 mm 
    Weight193.7 grams170.8 grams 
    CPU600MHZ? 
    SNR =>115dB=>117dB 
    Storage256GB expandable (MicroSD)256GB expandable (MicroSD) 
    Gapless playback                          X                       X 
    Headset support                        X 
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

     ​
     ​
    Packaging
     ​
     
                   The X5ii/X5K came with a large variety of accessories, seen standard with many other Fiio products. Included are the following:
    1. Fiio X5 Second generation
    2. Silicone case
    3. Micro USB cable
    4. Three sets of stickers (carbon fiber, American flag and wood panel)
    5. Two spare screen protectors + one pre-installed
    6. Digital to coaxial output cable
    7. Warranty card
    8. Quick start guide
    9. Layout diagram
     ​
     ​
     ​
    Pictures
    Apologies for the celery quality photos, I broke my good camera
     
     
                                Fiio X5K (left) and Fiio X5 (right)
    IMG_20150616_140616.jpg
     
                  .
                         Bottom sides of X5 and X5K
    IMG_20150616_140733.jpg
                       
                          Left sides of X5 and X5K
    IMG_20150616_140800.jpg
     
                           Top sides of X5 and X5K
    IMG_20150616_140821.jpg
     
                             Face view of X5 and X5K
    IMG_20150616_140942.jpg
     
                             X5K with Westone W40
    IMG_20150616_141730.jpg
     
                                   Fiio X5K Weight
    IMG_20150615_175111.jpg
     
     
                                  Fiio X5 Weight
    IMG_20150615_175126.jpg
     
     
     
     ​
     ​
     ​
     ​
     ​
    Music
    Here is a relatively brief comparison of the two DAPs using songs I'm incredibly familiar with. I used these songs in particular due to my familiarity with each of the songs, thus making it easier for me to compare each player to the other in the best way I can. 
     ​
     ​
    1)
    Seven Lions - Isis
    Genre: Dubstep
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​
    Quality:
    44.1kHz Sample rate
    2 Channels
    16 Bits per sample
    1029 kbps
    FLAC
     ​
    Listening Volume on X5: 62
    Listening Volume on X5K: 62
    Gain for both devices: Low
     ​
     ​
    At 62 volume on low gain, the two players had nearly identical volume to my ears (not an accurate way to measure, however it'll have to do). The X5K has a supposed SNR of  ≥117 dB while the X5 has a SNR of >115 dB. Immediately during the intro of the song, I definitely noticed more clarity from the X5K than it's younger brother, but again, that veiled/hiding midrange that makes the listening experience much less intimate than it's predecessor. With that being said, retrieval of details feels quicker and more accurate, and on a clarity scale with the X5K being the benchmark 10, the X5 would be at around an 8.5-9. Although the clarity of the music in general was cleaner, the intimacy lacked, and as a result for me felt less enjoyable if I were to be casually listening - however due to the detail retrieval of the X5K, I'd rather use the X5K for this type of song. 
     ​
     ​
    2)
    Cyrus - Winter Writer
    Genre: Dubstep/ DnB
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​
     ​
    44.1kHz
    2 Channels
    24 Bits per sample
    1046kbps
    FLAC
     ​
    Listening volume on X5: 62
    Listening volume on X5K: 62
    Gain for both devices: Low
     ​
    This is where the intimacy plays a bigger role. This is more of a DnB/dubstep track than the previous, and is much less complex than the last song, and this is where the big difference came to life between the two brother DAPs. The intimacy on the X5 makes the music sound like it's touching you, rather than just speaking to you. The bass notes carry a certain lustre, while the synth leads feel more forward in presentation. Subtle sound cues present themselves in a more noticeable, yet less refined way. The claps/snares feel less prominent in the X5K, and overall I'd rate the listening experience of the X5K lower than the X5 in this type of song.
     ​
     ​
    3)
     ​
    Zomboy - Beast in the Belly
    Genre - Trap
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​
    44.1kHz
    2 Channels
    16 Bits per sample
    1081kbps
    FLAC
     ​
    Listening volume on X5: 57
    Listening volume on X5K: 57
    Gain for both devices: Low
     ​
    On the X5, high frequency notes were rather sibilant, and almost draining out the bass note(s). The entirety of the song felt relatively fatiguing, and less pleasant for my ears in general. The bass was smoother and almost punchier on the X5K, and the higher notes were less tiring on the ears and brain. Without a doubt I'd prefer the X5K for this song, as it's less tiring, less sibilant, and although felt less intimate, it felt infinitely more appropriate for this song. In fact, while I felt like taking out my IEMs with the X5, I felt like getting up and dancing whilst listening with the X5K. It may be a placebo of sorts, however those are my opinions for this certain song.
     ​
     ​
    4)
    Gramatik - I Still Remember
    Genre - Trip-Hop
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​
    44.1kHz
    2 Channels
    16 Bits per sample
    320kbps
    MP3 CBR
     ​
    Listening volume on X5: 57
    Listening volume on X5K: 57
    Gain for both devices: Low
     ​
    Immediately, the X5K drew me in with the songs fantastic string work, making sure I hear the reverberations of the strings and the crisp peaks.The bass notes present a thick, lush tone to them and the entire experience was over much too quick, but again, the intimacy lacked in contrast to it's older and bigger brother. The X5 had a heavier bass attributed to it, and the strings were even more lively than the X5K presented. The only thing that the X5K had was very slightly more clarity overall in the piece. The strings almost seemed to sing to me with the X5, where with the X5K it was simply just coaxing me. Both players did a fantastic job with this song and basically told me that I should be outside right now, drinking some lemonade with some gin in it and enjoying the outdoors. With that being said, I'd rather listed with the X5 to this piece due to the intimacy brought to the table.
     ​
     ​
    5)
    Metallica - Devil's Dance
    Genre - Metal
     ​
    [​IMG]
     ​
    44.1kHz
    2 Channels
    16 Bits per sample
    969 kbps
    FLAC
     ​
    Listening volume on X5: 68
    Listening volume on X5K: 68
    Gain for both devices: Low
     ​
    Although Metallica songs have god awful recording quality, I've listening to this song so much and am really familiar with it, so I can pick a part the song on both players.
     ​
    The guitar riff beginning around 1:15 is incredibly recessed on the X5, and on the X5K is
    The intial bass notes are incredibly strong, almost shocking on both players - however for the X5 it felt exhilerating. Cymbals are clearer and crisper on the X5K than on the X5.
    Vocals on the X5 are more 'violent' for lack of a better term, and more immersive as a result, and you can almost feel the emotions emanating from the vocalist. 
    The guitar is much cleaner on the X5K and the overall presentation felt polished by a nice microfiber cloth while listening with the X5K. I guess the entire experience felt more balanced with the X5K than it did with the X5, but less emotional and captivating than the X5. With that being said, the X5 is certainly a much funner player compared to his younger brother, but is more wild and less reserved. It's difficult to say which player I enjoyed the song more with. I'm leaning more towards the X5K due to the clarity and cleanliness, however the X5 really wanted me to speak. I'd personally have to say I'd prefer the X5K for this song since the guitar pieces and drumming just felt a lot more accurate and sober than the X5.
     ​
     
     
     
    Conclusion
     
           It's difficult to draw a conclusions, especially after 10 days (around 50 hours total listening with it), however it's even harder to decided which one I like better. Certain songs and pieces really shine on the X5K, and the same goes for the X5. The build quality is fantastic on both units, however for some reason I prefer to scroll wheel on the X5 compared to the X5K, and same for the aesthetics. The display on the X5K is steps ahead of the X5, and really puts the X5K together neatly, and I definitely appreciate the resolution much more. I prefer the large buttons on the X5 more than I do the X5K, but enjoy the smaller profile of the X5K over it's younger brother. The sleep feature is invaluable and really helps with preserving battery life and startup times from having to boot from off every time. Although the general aesthetics make the X5 feel like a more 'expensive' device, the screen resolution of the X5K really seals it. If the X5 had similar screen resolution, I think I'd be in love. They're very similar players as a whole, so I cannot exactly make a recommendation based only on my 10 days. Try out both and see what you think!
     
           Changes are likely to happen with the X5K so not everything I've said is set in stone yet, however as an overall package, I'm impressed with what Fiio has been able to pack into a small aluminum box. For the ~$300-$350 MSRP price tag, this player certainly holds its weight against other, more expensive setups. Minor changes once the second generation fully releases will of course take effect and improve this player even more.
     
     
     
     
    If you have any comments about the review, please let me know so I can change things! 
      Vartan and tiddlywinks like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. mandrake50
      OK, again just curious. I can see  why it might be X5ii, or X5II, or X5G2. The K is lost on me.
      BTW, nice review. Not fond of the fact that you did not come up with a favorite at the end. I kind of want somebody to tell me that I just have to have the X5II..  So far everyone has pretty much called it a draw. It looks more and more like I will stay with my X5 and see what the X7 is all about.
      I did like the fact you had links to the songs that you used. Nice touch
      mandrake50, Jun 16, 2015
    3. AndrewH13
      Now I've completed my own review, I'm enjoying catching up with the others. I know how you feel with the summary, there was no night and day changes in sound quality. Subtle change that one may prefer, another might not.
      AndrewH13, Jun 17, 2015
    4. semaj8james
      @mandrake50 I just used X5K as naming nomenclature for simplicities sake, and I wish someone would clean up the condusion as hell haha.
       
      After sending off the X5K, I've had time with my X5 again and the only feature I really miss is the instant sleep feature on the X5K.
      semaj8james, Jul 1, 2015
  3. nmatheis
    Fiio X5 2nd generation: A solid iterative improvement!
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Jun 15, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - High-quality sound & build. Smaller, sleeker, more ergonomic and pocket-friendly design. 2 mSD slots. Deep sleep mode. Increased screen brightness.
    Cons - No internal storage. HO & LO reversed from previous generation. UI not as mature as some competitors.

    zpTbnB6s.jpg

     

    DISCLAIMER

    I was provided the X5 2nd generation (from here on, I'll refer to it as X5ii) as a review sample as part of the U.S. tour.  There is no financial incentive from Fiio in writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with Fiio, and this is my honest opinion of the new X5ii.  I would like to thank Joe & James from Fiio for giving me the opportunity to test drive the X5ii!
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  From electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush), I listen to a wide variety of genres and artists. 
     
    My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. 
     
    I typically listen with IEMs from my ever-growing collection from budget to mid-fi. Less often, I grab a pair of full-size cans.  Recently, I've been listening a lot with my SoundMagic HP200 and T-PEOS Altone200.  I do have a lot of other gear, though.  You can always check my profile for a reasonably up to date gear list. 
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which often affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front. 
     

     

    REVIEW

    Here's a LINK to Fiio's produt page for the X5ii.  Previous reviews have great unboxing pics and a full accessories list. I'm not going to duplicate that effort and will instead focus on a more experiential take on the X5ii.  I will say that if you've purchased a Fiio product recently, the unboxing experience will be very familiar and you get all the accessories you need to get up and running and to protect your new DAP.  It's really nice that the X5ii comes with a screen film pre-applied.  Thumbs-up, Fiio!  Unlike the recent X3 2nd generation (X3ii), Fiio has not installed nor provided a protection film for the back - not sure why.  However, do yourself (and your X5ii) a favor and buy a Dignis leather case for it when they become available - you will not be disappointed!
     
    xTyLmH5p.jpg
     

    BUILD & ERGONOMICS

    My first reaction after opening the box was, "This looks exactly like what I wanted from the X5ii!"  When I lifted it from the box, I was happy that it was smaller and a bit lighter than the original X5. It may be smaller and lighter, but it felt very solid just like the original X5.  I was also struck by how attractive it is, with careful attention to detail. 
     
    As with the X3ii, I was again impressed with the attention to detail.  All the buttons were  centered perfectly within the frame.  This is something that can get overlooked even at higher price points.  Not only were all the buttons nicely centered, they felt good when pressing them with just the right amount of resistance. 
     
    Some much-appreciated differences coming from the original X5 were the four control buttons, which are now round, recessed, and well-marked.  The four control buttons on the X5 are okay, but their shape as well as being raised makes them much, much easier to accidentally press.  Again, as with the X3ii, having smaller, recessed targets means far fewer navigational faux-pax. 
     
    8nMhrlSL.jpg
     
    The power button has been moved from top right on the original X5 to the left side just above the volume controls.  Surprise, it's exactly where the X3ii's power button is, but whereas the X3ii's power button was completely recessed the X5ii's is just slightly raised.  It's not as raised as the nearby volume buttons, though, which is a good thing.  Again, this means fewer accidental presses, saving battery life by keeping the screen off. Speaking of the power button, it now contains the power indicator LED (Blue = Powered On, Red = Charging, Green = Fully Charged).  The volume buttons are more distinct and separated than those on the original X5, and the X5ii's volume up button has a small raised dot to distinguish it from the nearby recessed power and volume down buttons.  
     
    2dIiNPaU.jpg wXKI157b.jpg
     
    Like the X3ii but in contrast to the original X5 and X3ii, the X5ii has a shared Line / Coaxial Out jack. I think this is a quite reasonable compromise to conserve space.  When I reviewed the X3ii, I found one UI quirk that I suggested Fiio fix before final release.  The X3ii's default was Coax Out, which was an odd choice given how many people use Line Out vs. Coax Out.  I could easily see this leading to confusion when people hook their new DAP up to their favorite amp and get no signal.  I'm happy to report that Fiio fixed this and made Line Out the default.  This is just another example of Fiio's responsiveness to customer input.  Way to go FIio!
     
    W54hJIhN.jpg
     
    I saved my two of my favorites for last: the screen and scroll wheel.  The screen is flush with the X5ii's body.  In contrast, the original X5's screen is raised up a few mm above the face.  Scratching the original X5's screen is something I worry about, however unnecessarily given the screen protector.  With the X5ii, this is much less of a concern. Like the original X5, the X5ii has bezels on the screen, but they aren't as prominent or intrusive.
     
    5fIOZR2C.jpg
     

    And finally the scroll wheel, what a love or hate thing it is. I'm in the love it club and found the X5ii's scroll wheel to be a nice improvement over the original X5's.  Even though Fiio has stated that the pre-production model doesn't have the finalized scroll wheel, I found it an improvement over the original scroll wheel. Maybe it's just a firmware tweak, but I found the X5ii finally has one to one parity with scroll wheel clicks and movement of the selector on screen.  How nice to finally see this.  If this makes its way into final firmware, it's going to make a lot of people happy!
     
    KDuP2wwF.jpg
     

    To sum up: The smaller size and weight, as well as improved placement of controls makes for easier one-handed and increased pocketability.  Attention to detail like "right-sized" buttons with just the right amount of resistance means fewer accidental button presses.  Small details like the nearly recessed power button and raised dot on the volume up button allow Fiio to place important buttons in close proximity while allowing for blind operation.  I'm very happy to see that the physical design improvements I liked on the X3ii have finally found their way to the X5.  For me, this finally made Lockscreen 3 a pocket-friendly choice.  Big thumbs-up, Fiio!
     
     

    USER INTERFACE / FIRMWARE

    User Interface (UI) can make or break your experience with any piece of technology.  Luckily, Fiio is learning fast!  I was an early adopter, buying the original X3 on pre-order and buying the X5 after reading the initial positive reviews on headfi.  To be  honest, it was a bit of a wild ride at first.  To their credit Fiio not only listened to customer feedback, they actively solicited customer feedback.  I'm proud to say that I was among many fellow headfiers who actively participated in that process, identifying bugs, suggesting new features, and beta-testing firmware, making Fiio's DAPs better and better with each successive firmware release. 
     
    Next came the X1 and X3ii, and it was clear that Fiio had learned much from their initial outings.  The X1 and X3ii had sleeker hardware and firmware design.  The X5ii follows the same trajectory, and it should be very easy for anyone who's used the original X5, X1, or X3ii to pick up the X5ii and get going with no real learning curve.
     
    u0jAjyds.jpg  

     
    That said, the X5ii shares some weaknesses with its siblings, lacking some features more mature DAPs have with respect to tag-based music browsing.  So if you're used to using a smartphone or a DAP with more mature firmware, you need to go in eyes wide open.  Many commonly-used tags just aren't recognized by Fiio's DAPs - like Album Artist, CD#, and Composer.  For example, when browsing by Genre, you just get a big list of songs for each Genre in numerical order.  IMHO, it would be handier to have Genre browsing act like a filter for Genre-specific Artist -> Album browsing. 
     
    To overcome these limitation many Fiio DAP users have become fans of File Browsing, which doesn't rely on the database.  For instance, the 128GB mSD card I used while testing the new X3 was organized at the top level with folders named A-C, D-F, G-I, etc.  Inside those, I maintain the following folder naming scheme: Artist / Year  Album / Songs.  This can be easily accomplished (and even automated) with many tagging programs.  This structure lets me quickly navigate through my artists and once I'm at the album level, albums are all arranged in chronological order - nice!
     
    Moving on to themes, the X5ii lets you choose between five themes.  I think Fiio's could've spent more time and attention to these.  The only two I found attractive were Themes 1 and 2, which were fairly simple with black backgrounds (albeit textured).  That said, Theme 1 has transparent white icons in the topbar, so good luck reading them if you've got white album art - so much for Theme 1. Theme 2, you're it!  I didn't use the three remaining themes, which were skeumorphic (denim, leather, and wood).  Of course, there is a flourishing community of themers for Fiio DAPs on headfi, so if you're not completely satisfied with the stock UI just wait a bit and the themers will have you covered!
     
    ZQ1eNIdk.jpg
    1XAxNsmS.jpg
     

    Just like the X5 and X3ii, the X5ii features a highly-functional 10-band equalizer with several fully-customizable presets.  If you learn how to mod the firmware, you can even rename them.  I did this with my X5, renaming the presets after my most commonly-used HP / IEM.  This allows me to tailor each preset for my HP / IEM and then easily switch between them without remembering whether my Altone200 was the Metal or Rock preset - handy!
     
    One cool "Easter Egg" I found was that the Launcher UI switches to a linear mode when you start use the FFWD / RWD buttons for list navigation.  I'm not sure if this is implemented in X1 or X3ii, but it was a pretty cool nod to some of the X5 themers (you know who you are!) 
     
    OZwgeKPk.jpg
     
    Just as with the X3ii, the new X5ii's "deep sleep" mode works a treat!  Battery life is good to begin with, and deep sleep helps stretch it further by allowing you to set the X5ii to sleep after one minute without having to waste time and energy rebooting when you wake it up.  And man, does it wake up quickly!  No more waiting through the boot sequence after that annoying coworker interrupts you for the fifth time this morning (you know who you are!).  Nope, just push the power button, and you're ready to go - instantly!
     
    To sum up: Just like most of the boutique, audiophile DAPs, the X5ii is no iPod and lacks support for some commonly-used tags.  This will frustrate some users - especially classical music fans.  For most users though, this is easily overcome with some basic file / folder organization and File Browsing.  And despite not being as feature rich as a more mature DAP like an iPod, the X5ii is very easy to use and most users will find little to complain about, especially with the lightning-fast response of the new "deep sleep" feature. 
     
     

    SOUND

    During my time with the X5ii, I used the following HP: HiFiMan HE-400, Oppo PM-2, and SoundMagic HP200 and IEM: Heir 4.Ai-s and T-PEOS Altone200.  I didn't encounter synergy issues with any of these, and could easily recommend any of them for use with the X5ii.  I performed critical listening with X5ii vs. my X5 and DX90, volume matching across the three DAPs using a 1kHz test tone and the Decibel 10th iPhone app.
     
    anbfVSCu.jpg
     
    I'll be completely upfront here and state that I think there are a lot of other reviewers who are much better at describing what they're hearing than me.  Several of them have already weighed-in on the X5ii's sound - and have done a very good job at it! In light of that, I'm going to make the sound section the lightest part of my review. 
     
    I typically switch off between my DX90 and X5, but as soon as the new X3's arrived I started using it as my sole DAP and sound-wise found nothing to be lacking. It drove all of my HP / IEM well with one exception to he noted later.  I typically used High Gain for HP and Low Gain for IEM, as I would with my X5 and DX90. 
     
    OEitDVDG.jpg
    PLqEEPBZ.jpg

     
    When comparing more closely with my DX90 and original X5, I found subtle differences in the X5ii's sound signature that could sway you towards one of the others.  However, I'd like to make it very clear that to me these were subtle differences that required an A/B switcher to confirm.  Once you grow accustomed to the sound of any of these three DAPs, the differences melt away leaving you with a very satisfying listening experience.  Okay, so what were the differences I heard?
     
    As compared to my original X5 (FW 2.5), the X5ii has less mid-bass emphasis which tightens up the low end and overall impact of bass on the sound signature.  This was one sticking point with a lot of people with the original X5, so the X5ii will make those people happy.  I found X5ii's mids to be a bit less lush than the original X5's.  I found the X5ii's upper end slightly more detailed and clear but not fatiguing.  All of these differences were subtle but added up to a slightly more analytical / linear sound signature with a more 3-dimensional soundstage.  Personally, I've been very happy with the original X5's slightly warmer, more intimate sound signature and found it was a toss-up which DAP I preferred depending on the music.  With electronic and metal, I found myself preferring the original X5 for the slightly enhanced low end and slightly warmer sound signature.  With classical and jazz, I'd reach for the X5ii for the more 3-dimensional sound signature and to hear more details.
     
    As compared to my DX90 (FW 2.2.0), the DX90 has a slightly more v-shaped sound signature, with slightly enhanced bass, more energetic treble, slightly better separation and layering, and a slightly larger soundstage. There was one area where I found the DX90 to clearly win out over both original X5 and X5ii, and that was driving my HiFiMan HE-400.  The DX90 really filled them out and significantly widened the soundstage.  Other than that, the differences were again subtle.  There are plenty of advocates and detractors in both Fiio and iBasso's camps. While I enjoy both Fiio and iBasso's DAPs, I do find myself reaching more for my X5 and also found myself reaching more for the X5ii partly due to sound signature, UI, and battery life.
     
    pvsv7eQ9.jpg
     
    To sum up: I found the differences between the X5ii and my X5 were subtle.  They have similar sound signatures, and I could easily live with either. If you prefer a more linear sound signature, go for the X5ii.  If you prefer a warmer sound signature, stick with the original X5.  As mentioned, I prefer both to my DX90 for various reasons and would recommend the X5ii as a good substitute for those looking into the DX90.
     
     

    SUMMARY

    The X5ii is a very attractive, well-made DAP with excellent attention to detail that builds on the success of other current-generation Fiio DAPs (X1 and X3ii). Fit and finish are superb.  Its size and design make it more pocket-friendly and ergonomic for one-handed use when compared with the original X5.   The more linear sound signature really allows the unique sound signature of your HP / IEM to shine through without worrying about synergy. 
     
    The only detractors for me are minimal and not enough to prevent a strong recommendation.  First - the UI isn't as polished as more mature DAPs like the iPod. However, this can be easily mitigated with basic file management and tagging practices. Second - there's no internal storage, which could've brought the X5ii close to 400GB.  Third - when compared with the original X5, the X5ii's HO and LO jacks are switch which exposed me to some high volumes as I inadvertently plugged into the wrong jack a few times.  Being an original X3 owner, one thing I wish Fiio would bring back is hardware Bass / Treble EQ.  It works a treat!
     
    In short, if you're looking for a well-built mid-tier DAP with a neutral sound signature that's easy to use and pocket-friendly, the X5ii from Fiio should be at the top of your list. Fiio's learning how to make very competitive DAPs very quickly, and I can't wait to see what Fiio has in store for us when the X7 when is released!
     
    Thanks again to Fiio for giving the headfi community an early taste of this brilliant new DAP!
      HK_sends, Jill, x RELIC x and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. raybone0566
      nicely done
      raybone0566, Jun 16, 2015
    3. AndrewH13
      Now I've published my own review, I'm really enjoying catching up with the others. Great detailed review, love the first photo!
      AndrewH13, Jun 17, 2015
    4. bruce1967
      Great review! Thanks very much.
      bruce1967, Jun 17, 2015
  4. originalsnuffy
    X5 Generation II: Flagship Updated. Top of the FIIO Line Until X7 ships
    Written by originalsnuffy
    Published Jun 8, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Crisp clear sound, powerful amplification; 2 MicroSDXC slots; Improved Display
    Cons - Some features unstable with beta firmware or beta hardware; "lively" sound implies non-linear frequency response

    X5 Generation II review
     
    IMG_1424.jpg IMG_1428.jpg
     
    IMG_1429.jpg
     
    IMG_1431.jpg
     
    IMG_1432.jpg
     
     
     
     
    Introduction:
     
    I was fortunate enough to be in the first wave of the review tour of the X5 Generation II hi fidelity, hi power personal audio playback device.  I did not receive any compensation from FIIO for providing a review other than the loan of the machine for 10 days, and I was responsible for shipping the unit to the next reviewer in line.
     
    The design goal of the X5 was to provide a slightly livelier sound than the original X5, which had a flattish sound according to information provided by FIIO. 
     
    Most listeners will be very happy with the high degree of instrument articulation that the unit provides.  Combined with more than ample power amplification, for many users this will be a dream portable music player.  However, I think the "lively" sound signature implies a playback that provides some upper midrange emphasis, at least with current beta firmware.  This is a fairly subtle effect that only was audible with some male vocal driven recordings. 
     
    About the Technology:
     
    The unit is designed to provide native DSD playback and has dual crystal ocscillator circuitry to provide optimal playback for all currently used PCM  and DSD sampling rates using multiples of 44 and 48 khz.  Compared with the X3 series (I have both the first and second generations) it also has stronger independent amplification circuitry with analog volume control to increase audio resolution.  It has been enhanced to use power efficiently using different system voltages for hi and low gain amplification.   The auto standby mode also provide power management enhancements.  I never had the unit away from a power source to run it to zero power so I cannot verify battery life but many listeners are reporting ten to eleven hours between charges.
     
    IMG_1435.jpg
    IMG_1438.jpg
     
     
    As the photos demonstrate, it is a slightly longer unit than the X3 Gen II.  The unit can also handle two TF (micro SDXC) memory cards, whereas the X3 family only handles one TF memory card. 
     
    This review will not review the user interface, which is almost exactly the same as the X3 Generation II.  It appears that the final scroll wheel will have improved tactile feedback compared to the beta unit under review.  In my view, the current wheel is quite nice so any improvements would probably be lost on me.  The display has much better color fidelity than the X3 Gen II and is somewhat easier to see in direct sunlight.  For future units, I would suggest that FIIO look into technologies that are even easier to read in direct sunlight.  At least for me, a portable unit by definition gets used in broad daylight and I find myself having to shade the screen in order to see what I am doing with my FIIO units including this unit.
     
    Sound Quality and Amplification:
     
    To me, the two most important things that I want to cover in this review are sound quality and amplification.    Unlike many head fi readers, none of my headphones are extremely demanding.  I used my most inefficient in ear headphones for much of my testing and comparison testing with the older units, the Phonak Audeo PFE-022.  These are balanced design headphones that sound relatively flat.  To achieve proper bass response with these headphones the tips must be inserted fairly deeply into one’s ears. I had aftermarket Comply foam tips that I use for this purpose.  In sort, I found that the X5 drove these IEM units well.  Whereas for typical listening on most of my headphones I set my X3 to about 60 on the low gain setting, I need to go to about 80 for the Phonak units.  On the X5, the setting was roughly 70.  So there seems to be more power available.  I tried high gain, and frankly could not hear much difference. On paper distortion and other artifacts are reduced using low gain, so that is how I did most of my listening.
     
    Also tested were Carbo-Tenore in ear headphones, Sennheiser PX-100, and Sony folding sports headphones.  The Carbo Tenore IEM units sounded great; but those units are fairly efficient and did not tax the X5 Gen II at all.   The power of the X5 unit came through on the Sennheiser headphones; which could barely keep up with the accurate yet powerful bass signal provided.  Similarly, the Sony headphones came to life on the low end with this unit.  The low end response is very accurate; the improvement in the low end was a function of powerful and clean amplification and in no way reflected negatively on the X5.  There is a reflection on the aging headphones that were tested and on the owner of the headphones who is reluctant to invest too much in other the ear headphones due a preference for earbuds and IEM units for traveling.
     
    In terms of sound quality, I did detect greater articulation of instruments with the X5 compared with both the X3 first and second generation units.  I did almost all the comparisons with the x3 Gen II unit.  The X3 Gen II is known as a flatter playback device than the original X3 which has some low and mid bass emphasis. 
     
    On some musical sources featuring male vocalists I felt that the frequency range just above the vocals was somewhat emphasized.  In particular, this seems noticeable with Rod Stewart recordings.  At least one other reviewer noted a similar effect in a post on the X5 Gen 2 forum so I do not think I am alone in this observation.  I think that is what FIIO means by a slightly livelier sound in their reviewer notes. 
     
    I did contact our regular information source at FIIO who stated that the unit is designed for flat frequency response.  I ended up creating a custom EQ for certain recordings, but that only had limited applicability as above 48 khz EQ is not active on either the X3 Gen II or the X5 Gen II.   I do not think the frequency emphasis was a show stopper but for me it was apparent on many recordings but not all.  An alternative reading is that I was noticing artifacts in the original recordings but I did detect different frequency response with the X3 Gen II set to flat and the X5 Gen II set to flat.
     
    The greater articulation came to the fore when playing certain sources such as the recently released HD Tracks version of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.  This release features the remastering of Steve Wilson without any manipulaton by other individuals.  It turns out that the DVD Audio release of this remastering had been altered before pressing by another engineer; but not the new HD Tracks version.  The clarity of this remaster rang true with the X5 Gen II, and the playback on the X3 Gen II was to my ears somewhat more congested.
     
    Additional Features Tested:
     
    I did not have a chance to test the DAC playback on this unit as I am in the process of beta testing Windows 10 on my notebook. 
     
    I did test DSD files played back directly from the microSDXC card.  I was very impressed with the sound quality of native DSD playback on this unit.   Frankly, I felt like I may well have been in the control room of a well run studio.  Almost like I was sitting next to Steve Hoffman or Steve Wilson during a mastering session.  The files played included Dire Straits and Bob Dylan.  For more details on extracting DSD files from SACD ISO files I suggest heading over to ComputerAudiophle.com.  I also suggest SteveHoffman forums for great discussions of music and the quality of varous musical releases. 
     
    One feature that did not live up to expectations was the use of OTG playback.  It would appear that FIIO engineers have made some modifications to their OTG circuitry, and the firmware has not quite caught up to the new designs.  Management is aware of the issues with OTG, and knowing FIIO this will eventually be addressed.  However, for now FIIO is not emphasizing this capability and purchasers should be aware that I can not in good faith recommend this unit for this feature at this time.
     
    It is a Beta Unit, After All:
     
    The unit that was tested is one of 200 early production models with beta firmware.  That gives test users a chance to get a handle on the new unit before general release. However, beta software and firmware can often be less than rock solid.  The unit had two fairly meaningful hard stops on my first day of testing, which required holding down the power button for an extended time to perform a reset.  I did experience one other crash later in testing, but generally the unit ran well.  The memory card involved and the music files that were under review had been formatted using a different FIIO unit and has caused no problems on either a first of second generation X3.    In fact, the same files played just fine once the unit was restarted so I attribute this to beta firmware.  I do not anticipate that production models will have these issues.
     
    Conclusions:
     
    This is, no doubt, a premier playback unit.  Personally, I would prefer a flatter frequency response in the upper midrange with the same articulation benefits of this unit.  This effect is subtle; I suspect it is no more than 3 db and many users will be fine with this.
     
    In the future, I would suggest that FIIO consider adding either hardware equalization like the original X3; or extending the equalization circuitry to handle hi res PCM and DSD files.
     
    If the reader has demanding headphones then this unit is a must consider purchase.  On the other hand, if one's headphones are generally non demanding, the X3 Generation II could also be considered. The sound is not quite as detailed, but is quite listenable and the unit is smaller and less expensive ($349 suggested US retail for the X5 Gen II vs. about $199 - $229 for the X3 Gen II).
     
    I thank FIIO for the opportunity to test this high quality unit.
     
    IMG_1442.jpg
    IMG_1439.jpg
     
    IMG_1441.jpg
      HK_sends, Jill and Light - Man like this.
    1. Light - Man
      Thanks Snuffy for an honest review, I hope Fiio can sort out the upper midrange emphasis issue?
      Light - Man, Jun 9, 2015
    2. AndrewH13
      Now I've completed my own review, I'm enjoying reading previous ones. Interesting reading comparisons with X3, thank you.
      AndrewH13, Jun 17, 2015
  5. fnkcow
    Fiio X5 Second Generation DAP – The Complete Fiio Experience
    Written by fnkcow
    Published Jun 8, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality, Solid Build Quality, Smaller Size than Predecessor, Lighter Weight, Dual Micro SD Slots, Price
    Cons - UI still need some tweaking. UI a bit laggy. LO and HO opposite of other Fiio DAPs. Silicone case a lint-magnet
    IMG_20150601_220719aR.jpg
    Disclaimer
     
    This unit was in my possession for one week as part of the Australasian tour. I'd like to thank @FiiO and @Joe Bloggs for making this tour possible, and @Brooko for organizing and including me in this tour.
     
    First and foremost, I would like to let it be known that that the tour unit I received was a pre-production review unit running beta firmware, and the retail version released in the future may differ in the hardware as well as the firmware from what was offered in this tour unit.
     
    I listen at relatively high volume level, so my impressions will be based on this. Please be aware that there might be variations in impressions at different volume and issues present on different volume level may/may not exist on this product. As I only use IEMs, I will only comment on its usage with IEMs. No EQ/sound effects were applied throughout duration of having this unit on all devices.
     
    Packaging
     
    Current tour units come inside a blank black box and will change to color printed packaging once the design of the X5 2nd generation has been finalized.
     
    Unboxing the whole package reveals the following:
     
    IMG_20150525_161022aR.jpg
     
    1. Fiio X5 2nd gen (will be referred to as X5ii from now on)
    2. A silicone protective case for the X5ii
    3. A USB charging / data cable
    4. A digital out to coax cable
    5. 3 different themed sets of stickers for the X5ii – carbon fibre weave, wood grain, and USA
    6. 2 spare screen protectors for the X5ii (plus one already fitted)
    7. A foldout warranty card
    8. A X5ii layout diagram
    9. The X5ii quick start guide
     
    Build
     
    IMG_20150601_215914_craR.png
     
    Front view: The X5ii has a solid build with brushed gun-metal aluminium body along with the buttons, and feels nice to the touch with a nice weight to it. Fairly smooth edges, no protruding parts or looseness. Front buttons are recessed.  
     
    IMG_20150601_215836aR.jpg
     
    Back view: Solid brushed gun-metal aluminium body.
     
    IMG_20150601_221340aR.jpg
     
    Top view: Line/Coaxial Out on the left, and Headphone Out on the right. I think this is quite an oversight by Fiio, as do take note that this is exact opposite of the other Fiio DAPs so those used to the original arrangement might get your eardrums blown out when plugging your earphones into the wrong jack! Selection of the Line Out or Coaxial Out can be accessed from the settings menu.
     
    IMG_20150601_225349aR.jpg
     
    Side view: On the left side are the Power button followed by Volume Up and Volume Down. The Power button is recessed whereas the volume buttons protrude out. This enables easy recognition and blind fiddling inside the pocket. Fiio has indicated that the side buttons will be manufactured differently in production units to improve tactile properties. There's no buttons on the right side.
     
    IMG_20150601_221545aR.jpg
     
    Bottom view:  2 Micro SD Slots with official support up to 128GB on each side (hence total of 256GB) with one on the left also designated to be used for firmware updating. Micro USB in the middle for charging and also as USB DAC. When connected to PC, the Micro USB can function as storage or USB DAC, with the selection accessed from the settings menu.   
     
    IMG_20150525_161935azR.jpg
     
    The scroll wheel in the review units is the same one used in the old X5 and will be upgraded for the production units so it’s redundant to comment on its usage. The scroll wheel in mass production units to follow will have higher damping factor (similar to X3 2nd generation units) for more positive tactile feedback.
     
    Display screen is vibrant in colour and easy to read. I took the X5ii out for a walk and having adjusted the screen brightness to maximum, it was easily readable under direct sunlight. 
     
    The silicone protective case for X5ii appears to be a bit better in quality in that it feels sturdier and less sticky than the ones with X1 and X3ii. However, it still attracts lint and dust fairly easily, as shown in the picture above which was taken just after unboxing!
     
    User Interface and Usability
     
    The UI is reasonably intuitive, similar to its younger brothers X3ii and X1. I was able to find my way around the menus and settings without much fuss without referring to the manual. Buttons are easy to get used to. The boot-up time is quick and the UI has a nice overall presentation. Updating is simply drag-and-drop latest firmware into the root folder of the Micro SD card, and long pressing power button on the side and top left button on the front to initiate firmware update. Scan time of music from Micro SD card is within reasonable bounds.   
     
    When I unplug my earphones it pauses and few minutes later goes into standby to conserve battery. The instant on feature is a really nice touch. When I want to use it again, just short press on the power button and the X5ii switches on instantaneously. With screen off and music playing, long pressing the volume buttons become next/previous song. These default actions for the various buttons are customizable. Also, there's no 'pop' sound when switching on X5ii with earphones plugged in. The move to support CTIA-standard in-line earphone remotes shows Fiio's continuous commitment to accommodate an even wider base of consumers. I tried it with in-line remote on my Android phone: Single-click to pause/play, Doube-click for next song, Triple-click for previous song. No luck with volume level adjustments. 
     
    I noticed that there was some lag between pressing a button (or using the scroll wheel) and the action happening, such as when switching songs once I pressed the button to select it the screen seemed to freeze for a second or two before the chosen song's details appear on the screen. I hope that Fiio will look into this and improve the response time in future firmware upgrades as it's quite apparent when compared to DAPs from other companies.    
     
    IMG_20150601_225732aR.jpg
     
    Battery Life
     
    Using low gain I got about 11 hours under normal usage and continuous play. Using high gain instead I got almost 10 hours. Pretty impressive for such a small unit compared to other DAPs of similar calibre.
     
    X5ii doesn't warm up much after continuous use like some DAPs do. I only realized this is a win for Fiio users after having the likes of N6 which can get very warm and would be a bother to those who put it inside their clothes' pockets and during hot summer.  
     
    USB DAC issue with Windows 8/8.1
     
    The X5ii couldn't be recognized as USB DAC when connected to my Windows 8.1 and this issue seems to be quite common. There is a workaround to this problem and just follow the instructions in the link below:
    http://fiio.me/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=40391&page=1&extra=#pid106818
     
     
    Sound Impressions
     
    Headphone Out (Unamped)
     
    As the X5ii offers plenty of juice for me using IEMs and earbuds, even high impedance ones (320 ohms), I didn't test adding any extra amps hence I'll only comment on impressions formed using Headphone Out. 
     
    Using my 1964 Ears ADEL A12 with somewhat high sensitivity (16 Ohms impedance and 117dB SPL @ 1mW) and other IEMs of similar sensitivity, I don't hear any noticeable hiss against the backdrop of a very black background. 
     
    The soundstage of the X5ii is oval-shaped, where it focuses more on the depth than width. It sounds intimate and yet still provides solid layering and positioning. Resolving ability is good with plenty of details and fast attack. The bass decay could be a bit longer, but bass hits hard with good impact and texture, but I wont say overly so as to affect the rest of the frequency. Only when dealing with songs with big bass that it becomes a bit too overpowering. It still maintains its sound signature towards fairly neutral tuning, leaning a bit towards musicality with a tinge of warmth. This is also reflected in its forward sounding meaty mids, with meaty as in sounding a bit thick with slight veil masking small details. Vocals are rendered with full body and realism without being digital sounding. In some songs the vocals sounds a bit shouty. Treble is smooth and a touch rolled off, slightly soft resulting loss in headroom space and airiness. For me personally X5ii is seeking a bit too much musicality, going for similar direction as its younger brothers X1 and X3ii, and in doing so sacrifices a bit of transparency and airiness. 
     
    Sound Comparisons 
     
    All comparisons were done using a Multi-channel Headphone Audio Signal Switcher to enable fast switching between DAPs, and a 1kHz test tone was tested using a Digital Sound Level Meter to do the volume matching between DAPs to ensure a level playing field under controlled condtitions. 
     
    IMG_20150604_162342bR.jpg
     
    X5ii vs Cayin N6
     
    X5ii > 1964 Ears ADEL A12 (Low Gain, EQ Off, Volume = 67/120)
    N6 > 1964 Ears ADEL A12 (Low Gain, EQ Off, Volume = 36/100)
     
    I used the A12 with somewhat high sensitivity (16 Ohms impedance and 117dB SPL @ 1mW).
     
    Against the N6: Differences between the X5ii and N6 were impressively close, considering the X5ii costs about AUD$300 less than the N6. They have very similar sound tuning. The N6 has a slightly bigger soundstage due to having better airiness, with slightly better positioning and layering. It is a touch more defined with better dynamics and timbre. There's a slight recess in the upper range making it a bit less forward, giving the sense of a more organic/analogue and fuller sound. 
     
    IMG_20150601_222819aR.jpg
     
    X5ii > VE Zen (High Gain, EQ Off, Volume = 103/120)
    N6 > VE Zen (High Gain, EQ Off, Volume = 59/100)
     
    I used the Zen for its high impedance (320 Ohms impedance and 105dB SPL @ 1mW) that requires a powerful source to sound good.
     
    Power is not an issue with the X5ii and N6. They both drove the Zen with authority and findings are similar as above, with the X5ii a bit warmer and more musical. The laws of diminishing returns is apparent comparing the two DAPs and finding only minor differences. One reasoning would be that N6 requires way more burn-in time to sound their best as I only had 30 hours on mine, since it has 13 op amps built into its analogue circuit, rivalling that of desktop audio components, but then again, same can be said for the X5ii tour unit as it had only slightly longer burn-in time than my N6, for those who believe in burn-in. As of the review period though, they sounded remarkably close and this to me speaks volumes of X5ii's value. 
     
    IMG_20150601_223456aR.jpg
     
    X5ii vs Vivo XShot
     
    X5ii > 1964 Ears ADEL A12 (Low Gain, EQ Off, Volume = 67/120)
    Xshot > 1964 Ears ADEL A12 (EQ Off, Volume = 74/100)
     
    There's no photo of the X5ii taken side-by-side with the XShot as I only have the XShot with me and it was busy taking all the photos in this review [​IMG]
     
    Against the XShot: If XShot could keep up with X5ii's youngest brother X1, slightly outpaced by younger brother X3ii, it was certainly outclassed by the X5ii on all fronts except the treble where XShot was only very slightly better in terms of airiness. Next to the XShot, X5ii sounds much livelier and engaging, with comparatively much thicker and fuller mids yet with pronounced textured throatiness, and the bass is much weightier, with longer decay and better texture, all the while X5ii offering clearer and more refined details. Soundstage of the XShot sounds flat next to the X5ii. 
     
    IMG_20150601_225547aR.jpg
     
    Conclusion
     
    With the introduction of the X3 from just two years ago, Fiio has gone from strength to strength with quick and much improved releases of DAPs until the X5ii that we now see today. The DAP scene is very crowded nowadays with lots of companies getting themselves involved for a piece of the pie. Question is: Could Fiio still hold the line against the barrages of the many choices of DAPs available on the market today? The answer for me is a definite YES! with the introduction of yet another stellar product by Fiio in the form of the X5ii. With its competitive pricing, and rather complete package from its packaging, build quality, usability, features, sound quality, and ability to decode DSD natively, it's very hard to fault the X5ii amongst the sea of DAPs and it stands heads and shoulders with its much more expensive competitors. It's an easy recommendation to those looking for a relatively clean sound with lots of features and easy portability.
     
    IMG_20150601_220546_craR.png
      pedalhead, HK_sends, Jill and 8 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. fnkcow
      Yep that's fair enough about posting only brief impressions, since it'll be at a Head-Fi meet afterall with quite some ambient noise. Very interested to see which has the upper hand driving the cans!
      fnkcow, Jun 13, 2015
    3. AndrewH13
      Now I've posted my own review, I'm enjoying catching up with the others. Great comparisons, especially interested what you said comparing with the Cayin.
      AndrewH13, Jun 17, 2015
    4. fnkcow
      @AndrewH13 Yes the X5ii is definitely a winner for its value, it's no slouch at all next to the much more expensive N6
      fnkcow, Jun 18, 2015
  6. hakushondaimao
    Fiio Brings Their A-Game Again
    Written by hakushondaimao
    Published Jun 4, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality, "Deep Sleep" feature, 2x Micro SD Slots, Responsive Scroll Wheel, Familiar User Interface
    Cons - No internal memory. Protective Case a lint-magnet. Confusing as LO and HO opposite on X3 and X5.
    Before I start my X5 2nd Generation review, I should state that I received a pre-production review unit from Fiio as part of their pre-release “World Tour.” I got to keep the unit for 10 days, during which I used it extensively, before sending it on to the next reviewer on the Canadian tour. I did not have to pay for the unit (only to forward it to the next reviewer), and unfortunately do not get to keep it. Because I was reviewing a pre-production unit running beta firmware, it is possible that release models will feature changes and/or improvements to hardware and firmware over what is reflected here.
     
    IMG_6127.jpg
     
    In my review I did comparisons using a number of DAPs (Fiio X3 2nd generation, Hidizs AP100, Cayin N6) and headphones (Sennheiser HD650, ESS RLM-713, T-Peos Altone 200, Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 and AKG K7XX). I also did extensive general listening using the previously listed headphones in addition to the Noble 6 and Havi B3 Pro 1. Some of the equipment I used in my reviews was my own, and some was provided by producers and distributors for review purposes.
     
    As of the release earlier this year of the 2nd generation X3, Fiio’s naming conventions changed, and updates to existing models will stay the same and have the term “Xth Generation” to set them apart from previous iterations. For the sake of my fingers, I’ll call the “X5 2nd Generation” the  “X5ii” in this review, and the recently released X3 update the “X3ii.”
     
    About Me
     
    Before getting into the review, a little background and context. I’m 50 years old, and so probably have deficiencies in my hearing (in a recent, entirely non-scientific test I discovered I can’t really hear anything over about 15 kHz, with roll-of starting around 12 or 13 kHz, which is actually pretty good for someone of my vintage). I’ve been a music lover for decades, but am still relatively new to the MidFi/HiFi/Head-Fi game; I haven’t listened to a lot of high end equipment, and am not an expert on the technical aspects of electronics or musical terminology. I have read a lot of reviews and threads on Head-Fi, and spend a lot of time on the site; as such I know what has been helpful to me in reviews and endeavor to provide what I consider useful insight to help others make decisions about items they might want to try or buy.
     
    I listen to a variety of music genres, in particular, Classical (mostly mid 1700s to mid/late 1800s), Jazz (late ‘50s to early 70’s), Rock and some Prog-Rock (‘70s), ‘80s New Wave/Electro, and Trip Hop/Acid Jazz (90’s into 00’s). My preferred sound signature would be characterized by a good sub-bass presence, tight mid bass, and relatively linear, detailed mids and highs. I like my music quite lush and rich, but with a good level of detail. I’m not a bass-head, am not a big fan of anything too boomy, and don’t like highs that are too intense or harsh.
     
    Unboxing and First Impressions
     
    1Box.jpg
     
    The box I received containing the X5ii was obviously a pre-production design as it had no artwork or information on it. It was a simple black box with “X5” in large letters, some Chinese text, and then in smaller letters it said “Portable High Resolution Music Player.” That’s it. The box size is similar to the box I received my X3ii in a couple of months ago, so I assume this will stay the same when production units start being delivered.
     
    4Inside.jpg
     
    Stuff that came with the review unit: USB cable, coaxial adaptor, 2 spare screen protectors in addition to one pre-installed, 3 sets of "body armour" stickers, and a rubberized protective case.
     
    5Unit.jpg
     
    The unit itself: The X5ii has a gorgeous finish! Full metal jacket, good heft and nicely finished all over. Feels high-end. Horizontal screen, mechanical scroll wheel with select button in centre, menu button top-left, back button top-right, and track forward/backward at bottom of scroll wheel. Layout is very sensible and intuitive.
     
    6Top.jpg
     
    Top Side: Headphone Out jack and switchable Line Out/Coax. These are in opposite positions to the X3ii, so I got caught a couple of times almost exploding my eardrums when I plugged headphones into the Line Out instead of the Headphone Out jacks! Careful!
     
    7Left.jpg
     
    Left Side: Power button and volume controls. Power button is recessed and volume buttons slightly raised, so identifying buttons blind when the unit is in your pocket is easy. The power button doesn’t actually turn music on and off; it controls display power, so if you DO accidently push it, your music won’t stop inadvertently. Volume can also be controlled during playback using the scroll wheel by pressing and holding the select button in the middle.
     
    8Right.jpg
     
    Right Side: Nothing to see here!. Move along...
     
    9Bottom.jpg
     
    Bottom: Two Micro SD slots (the unit is officially compatible with 128 GB slots, so supports 256 GB of storage). Micro USB, for charging and DAC usage.
     
    10Back.jpg
     
    Back: Nothing special to report. On my X3ii, I used the provided Carbon Fiber sticker on the back and it looks really sharp!
     
    11X5iiandE12A.jpg
     
    X5ii and Fiio E12A portable amp side-by-side: Size and materials are similar, making for an attractive stacking combination. The X5ii has enough driving power that an external amp is, in most cases, unnecessary, particularly for portable use.
     
    Other impressions:
    1. Scroll Wheel: As a long-time iPod user and now X3ii owner, the scroll wheel is simple and intuitive. I actually prefer the Fiio mechanical scroll wheel over the old iPod tactile wheel. The X5ii scroll wheel is more responsive and accurate than that on the X3ii.
    2. Deep Sleep feature: Once the X5ii has been powered on and booted up for the first time, the power button acts like a sleep/wake switch, with "instant-on" feature a massive improvement over having to wait through a full boot-up cycle every time you wake the device.
    3. Size: The X5ii is a bit bigger than the X3ii. I have never actually seen or held a 1st generation X5, but photographs indicate that the new X5 is smaller than it’s predecessor.
    4. The X5ii lacks internal memory: This is one of only three faults I could find with the new X5. I have two 64 GB micro SD cards at the moment, one with Classical music, and one with Jazz, Rock, Pop, Funk, etc. These I switch back-and-forth between several DAPs, and I have on occasion picked up a DAP on my way out somewhere not realizing my SD cards were in other players; with on-board memory, I could have a few favorite, heavy rotation albums at my finger tips at all times without having to switch out SD cards. This is a relatively minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.
    5. Protective silicon case: The X5ii black silicon case is sturdy and appears to protect the unit well from bumps and scratches. That said, the case attracts lint. Again, a minor annoyance, but an annoyance.
    6. Display and user interface: I love the user interface introduced with the X3ii, and the X5ii UI is the same. Something I discovered after purchasing the X3ii is that the display contents are hard to see outdoors in bright light; happily, the X5ii display is much brighter, so this should not be a problem.
     
    IMG_5990.jpg       IMG_5991.jpg
     
    Using our ears
     
    So far I’ve discussed the look and feel of the X5 2nd generation, but what really matters to me and you is how it sounds, so let’s plug in some headphones and get to listening.
     
    I divided my listening into comparisons (looking for differences between the X5ii and other music players) and general listening (choosing a song and listening through it several times and trying to pick out details in the music that indicate a quality or deficiency in the player). All comparisons utilized a Line5 switcher unit, allowing for auditory (though non-scientific) volume matching, and fast switching between DAPs (which reduces the effect of memory and bias in detecting subtle differences). I didn't test using any amps; all comparisons were done using Headphone Out.
     
    IMG_6217.jpg
     
    I didn’t test the DAC features of the X5ii as it’s not what I typically us a DAP for, and didn’t perform any measurements of inputs or outputs. Again, not my thing. I can almost guarantee that more technically-minded reviewers will provide all the details you might want, in due course.
     
    Listening Comparisons
     
    1) X5ii vs. Cayin N6
     
    Al Di Meola – Mediterranean Sundance (flamenco style acoustic guitar duet with Paco De Lucia, from Elegant Gypsy)
    ALAC > X5ii > Sennheiser HD650 (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 110/120)
    ALAC > N6 > Sennheiser HD650 (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 65/100)
     
    1. X5ii: Warm, full, great body to overall sound. Energetic and sweet tonality. Guitar strings ever so slightly flabby (soft entry to pluck/strum, decay a bit slow)… sustained vibration means a very slight bleed of notes into each other. Sound is lively. Bass is not overpowering (in fact not really a highlight of the recording), but there is a floor of bass activity low down that adds life to the other frequencies. A feature of this piece is the use of the guitar body as a drum, and this knocking has a nice thump and resonance to it. Mids are well presented, with good texture to the two guitars, though notes are not as “plucky” as I might like. Highs are a touch rolled off, which may explain the feeling of constrained roundness to the higher guitar notes.
    2. N6: Differences between these two were minimal. The N6 is ever so slightly better defined, with faster attack and decay on guitar notes. This gives a slightly cooler feel to the music, and a sense of being in a bigger room (so bigger sound stage). Otherwise, no real difference.
    3. Just out of interest, switched to the AKG K7XX and the upper end of this piece came alive. Suddenly the high end became livelier, with notes no longer rounded off as before. Texture improved, with nice graininess and sense of the left hand manipulating individual strings. At the same time the low end almost disappeared, and the knock knock drumming lost its impact. Differences between X5ii and N6 were again minor, with X5ii slightly warmer and bleedy and N6 a touch clearer and better defined.
     
    Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (from Rumours)
    ALAC > X5ii > ESS RLM-713 (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 110/120)
    ALAC > N6 > ESS RLM-713 (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 65/100)
     
    1. The ESS RLM-713 is a bass-heavy on-ear headphone with Ebony encased drivers. Mids and highs are nicely balanced. That sound signature translated well to both DAPs here. This is a very familiar track to many Head-Fi listeners, so I won’t go into the details too much. As with the Al Di Meola track, there was very little between the two DAPs on this track. Differences if any were subtle. Bass through the N6 was quicker and clearer, while X5ii had very slight bleed. High hat, snare and acoustic guitar were better defined from the N6. Stevie Nicks’ voice had her typical rasp and textured throatiness, but both hers and Lindsey Buckinham’s vocals were subtly smoothed over by the X5ii.
     
    IMG_6224.jpg
     
    Verdict: While the N6 did sound very slightly better than the X5ii, we have to remember that we’re comparing a $600 DAP to an item that is set to cost around $350 on its release in mid-June. The N6 is significantly bigger than the X5ii as well; although it seems significantly more able to drive power-hungry cans. In reviewing and reading about the N6 and X5ii, indications are that the X5ii has better battery life. If you’re looking for a truly portable DAP on a budget, the X5ii will be a solid purchase.
     
    2) X5ii vs. Hidizs AP100
     
    Dire Straits – Private Investigations (from Love Over Gold)
    256 kbps AAC > X5ii > T-Peos Altone 200 (Low gain, EQ off, Volume = 86/120)
    256 kbps AAC > AP100 > T-Peos Altone 200 (EQ off, Volume = 46/80)
     
    1. The Altone 200 his known to be a “bright” IEM, with solid highs. Some users find them harsh, but I really like them. Perhaps my old ears appreciate the help they give in distinguishing highs. As with the X5ii vs. N6 earlier, with volumes matched these two DAPs were almost indistinguishable. Part way through the 3rd play through of the song, I started to notice subtle differences though. X5ii was clearer, more detailed on plucked solo guitar and piano, while on AP100 those same instruments were ever so slightly subdued by the bass. Knopfler’s vocal was drier and more textured from the X5ii than AP100, which smoothed his voice out just a tad. Otherwise the two sounded very similar.
     
    IMG_6225.jpg
     
    Verdict: The Hidizs has a reputation for sounding fantastic (main complaints have been around user interface, which was improved with a firmware update in February). Price-wise these two are close (the Hidizs runs around $300), and they are similar sized as well.  Sound-wise the X5ii just outshone the AP100 in my opinion, which – if reputation is to be believed – means the X5ii is a mighty fine sounding DAP.
     
    3) X5ii vs. X3ii
     
    Blue Mitchell – Graffiti Blues (from Graffiti Blues)
    320 kbps AAC > X5ii > ATH-MSR7 (Low gain, EQ off, Volume = 84/120)
    320 kbps AAC > X3ii > ATH-MSR7 (Low gain, EQ off, Volume = 88/120)
     
    1. The MSR7 is a clean, quite linear closed headphone. It has a lovely natural tone that pairs well with the Fiio line of DAPs. This track is from Blue Mitchell’s foray into a more funky blues sound in the mid ‘70s. To me this is the most successful of several similar albums made by him around this time. The track is incredibly funky with a hypnotizing bass line overlaid with energetic, piercing trumpet and soulful blues guitar, with harmonica, drums and rhythm guitar in the background. X5 and X3 both allowed this song to shine, and again I found it hard to tell the difference right off the bat. With a few repeated listenings, I noticed nuances that separated the two. Bass is tighter and quicker from the X5, but still very acceptable from the X3. Mids from the X5 are clearer and more textured; trumpet and sax shone brighter, but I noticed the mid difference most in the lead and backing guitars and high hat, which were all a shade more laid back on the X3.
     
    Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 2 (Emil Gilels, Chicago Symphony, Fritz Reiner)
    320 kbps AAC > X5ii > AKG K7XX (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 104/120)
    320 kbps AAC > X3ii > AKG K7XX (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 108/120)
     
    1. The K7XX is a tough-to-drive open headphone. In past tests with the X3ii, I’ve found the little DAP struggles to drive it adequately, so I usually pair it with a portable amp when using the AKG. With this dynamic concerto, I was able to get the music to a good volume without an amp but sound quality suffered, with the X3ii showing some distortion and lack of body and clarity as it chugged along at close to maximum volume. The X5ii faired better; while volume setting on the two DAPs was almost the same, body and clarity were more natural and the music more enjoyable from the X5ii.
     
    IMG_5968.jpg
     
    Verdict: I was surprised how well the X3ii performed against its newer, larger sibling. The X5ii wins on tightness and control of bass, and clarity and texture of mids and highs.  Differences in sound quality are not huge though. The other advantage of the X5ii is power; it is more capable of driving high impedance, low sensitivity phones than the X3ii. Which is better is up to you, but both represent solid value.
     
    General Listening
     
    Cannonball Adderley – One For Daddy-O (from Somethin’ Else)
    ALAC > X5ii > Noble 6 IEM (Low gain, EQ off, Volume = 65/120)
     
    1. Sound is beautifully balanced. There is warmth and body without being colored. Tonality of piano is bright without being too sparkly. Sax has a lovely, full tone, with nice sense of reediness. No bloat or syrup at all. Trumpet is bright and smooth, some rasp in the attack of each note. High notes exquisitely piercing but musical. Bass soft but nice and plucky. Snare, toms and high hat have life and clarity. Hear every crackle from original recording. Not sitting amongst the players, but front row seat?
    2. Combination of detail and body, lovely acoustics. Every frequency is present, very balanced and none overly emphasized. Warmth of the X5ii pairs well with the relatively analytic/linear Noble 6.
     
    IMG_6206.jpg
     
    Sade – Bullet Proof Soul (from Love Deluxe)
    ALAC > X5ii > Havi B3 Pro 1 (High gain, EQ off, Volume = 90/120)
     
    1. Wide open presentation! First impression is just masses of space… This is what the Havi is known for. Bass is tight and punchy, but not as full as I’ve heard with other phones; that said, it has great quality and doesn’t overpower the rest of the instruments. Snare, toms, sax and piano are clear and bright… very fresh sounding. Sade’s vocal is lush and airy, good texture and slight graininess to her voice. Backing vocals (male/female) clearly presented in the background. Definition, detail and texture are excellent.
    2. Havi is also known to be a hard IEM to drive (almost like an over-ear headphone). The X5ii drove them fine, with room to spare on the volume. This is another lovely combination.
     
    Conclusions
     
    When I reviewed the 2nd generation X3 a couple of months ago as part of that World Tour, I gushed and bought one as soon as they were released. This time around, with the X5ii, Fiio have hit it out of the park again. Not having used the original X5, I can’t really comment on improvements or differences between it and the updated version, but I can say I’ve really enjoyed listening to it over the last week and a bit, will be sad to part with it later this week as it goes to the next reviewer, and will strongly consider picking one up on release later this month.
     
    Thanks to Fiio for the opportunity to participate in the tour, and I hope this review was useful. I welcome feedback, questions and comments below.
      HK_sends, Jill, Loquah and 11 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. DDDamian
      Hi Eric - finally got to read this and I've been wanting to badly (I renounced reading other reviews until mine was complete). Very detailed and informative! Good choices of songs to highlight differences as well. Overall a very complete and professional review!
       
      Thanks for being the front-runner and organizer of the tour - it was great to be part of it.
      DDDamian, Aug 15, 2015
    3. hakushondaimao
      @DDDamian, thanks for the kind comment. Also enjoyed your review, and glad to hear you've got an X5ii of your own now. It really is a great player.
      hakushondaimao, Aug 15, 2015
    4. NightFlight
      For any X5i owners still considering - I had them side by side and after two swaps back and forth, the X5 was boxed for sale. The X5ii is brighter and tigher and cleaner sounding. Most of the 'muddiness' complains against the X5 were addressed in the 2nd generation. However I just jumped to a pair of CIEM JH13Pro and I don't find they match as well as the X5 does with the Westone W40. 
      NightFlight, Feb 19, 2016