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FiiO X5 3rd gen Premium Hi-Res DAP

  1. noobandroid
    Different perspective
    Written by noobandroid
    Published May 19, 2017
    Pros - Easy navigation menu, Android based, multiple I/O potential
    Cons - Player app crashes oddly, lacking driving power compared to 2nd gen
    [​IMG]The Fiio X5-3 is sent to me on a tour review setup, and so here is my impression on the unit and some illustrations on it's contents.

    P/S I'm still trying out this weird formatting mechanism



    The above is the Android mode of the device, where it can be switched from android powered to dedicated fiio music player alone as below

    In android mode, the familiarity towards android eases the use by a lot, like a drop down not. bar

    there is also an app menu, that has both fiio store showing supported apps and play store for going for something out of bound
    [​IMG] The Fiio app store

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    nice touch on having a dedicated play pause button. The volume is clicky so it's easy to know how much volume is spun up.

    Sound Impression
    The Fiio X5-3 sounds very different from the 2s. The 2s show a warmer tone with some slight bass and treble kicks in it, but on the 3s it's like a flat sounding player, not exactly my thing but hey, it's neutral and so it shows the characteristics of the IEM you use. If you use a heavy bass IEM, it's bass heavy, so it's a good choice for things like custom iem, where influence of the player sound sig shouldnt be there. I am pairing the 3s with RHA MA750i and Noble Audio Sage, and both performs well. The MA750i does need a high gain and a volume of 78 (on an accurate ripped CD source) though to be at the full form. Even the Sage needs close to that range, so power hungry pairings will certainly not apply, let alone headphones, dont think they can drive, but luckily for balanced output, things might change for the better, but I dont have a decent balanced IEM so I wont comment on that.

    Not forgetting there is a (as usual design) Line out / coaxial combined. So now pairing a desired amp, and this thing will be beasting!

    Fiio has improved the player on a correct direction but has done a series of sacrifice on what is already good, which was the UI and battery life of the 2s. The 3s has a shorter battery life due to the OS burden applied on it. Hope to see more software tweaks and improvements and this will be one versatile piece of player, as hardware is already there, just the software cant keep up
  2. emptymt
    Complete package in a small unit
    Written by emptymt
    Published May 6, 2017
    Pros - Sounds great and smooth across all frequencies, 2 micro sd, accessories, price, build.
    Cons - UI is not as snappy as competitors(not much different though), side buttons are a bit too soft
    Hi everyone, Before I start the review, I would like to thank Fiio for making this awesome DAP at an affordable price and rich features, and also to @Fiio for organizing the tour.

    This review will focus on the sound quality and not so much about other aspects, so I'll make the other sections as brief as possible.

    The official rating of this device for me is actually 4.5 stars, however with head-fi's latest change to the site it isn't possible for me to put 4.5 stars for the ratings.
    The review is long overdue so i decided to post it in anyway as a 5 stars as 4 stars is too low for this exceptional device.


    I'm an Indonesian working as a Web/PHP Developer in Melbourne, Australia.

    Other than programming/coding, listening to music is another one of my hobby.

    When I start my headphone hobby, music listening has been a very rewarding experience for me and has helped me in many aspects of life other than music enjoyment, although, with the booming price of high end headphones/IEM, etc at the moment, it has become a bit of a heavy hit on my wallet >_<.

    Starting from almost 2 years ago I've been really hooked in metal music, and nowadays my everyday music listening always incorporate metal tracks, I guess you can call me a Metalhead but I don't know about that, I also listen to other genres occasionally.

    I don't actually listen to all kinds of music, lets say for example Classical, therefore it is important to understand that this review is based on my observation on the kinds of musics I like, and those are mainly:
    - Metal (many kinds, mainly the extreme kind, everyday anytime anywhere)
    - Rock (mostly Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Radiohead or something like it)
    - Pop (90s stuff, rarely)
    - EDM (Mostly trance and it's sub-genres)
    - Jazz (Norah Jones, Diana Krall and the likes)
    - Indonesian Song (it's basically the Indonesian version of pop or rock, guitar is used all the time, sounds natural and relaxing, however, mastering of the song is not very good, this is good to test how good a headphone/Iem handle poorly recorded material)
    - KPOP
    - JPOP and JROCK/Visual Kei, whatever you call it (mostly the older stuff)

    - Shozy Stardust
    - Meze 99 Classic
    - Sony MDR Z1R
    - AK Jr
    - Chord Mojo

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    my unit come with a silicone case and also leather case.
    USB cable
    Coaxial cable
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    The Fiio X5
    The Build Quality is very nice, and also clean, nice colouring for the unit with sturdy construction, got a few option for colours too, the black one is really nice, but the red is very bold and daring looking, I like it.
    It is a little thick, but not overly so and still comfortable on my side pocket.
    Nice screen with good brightness to be used outdoor very easily.

    At the top of the unit there is nothing.

    At the bottom is the micro USB port for charging and data transfer duties, I'm a little disappointed that Fiio does not use USB C here, hopefully this will be rectified for future release.

    Other than that you will find 3.5 SE jack, 2.5 balance jack and combo coax/line out jack.

    On the right, You will find 2 Micro Sd slot (very nice, great job Fiio!), and power button.

    On the left is the play/pause button, volume rocker wheel, and also next and previous button, of which has too little easy to press.
    There are many occasion where I press it accidentally when handling the unit disrupting my music enjoyment.

    The player itself is very responsive to touch, but compared to the Cayin I5 which is the primary competitor of this unit, it is slightly less snappy, still very easy to use though, so this is just me nitpicking here.


    At the home screen, you will find your usual android interface here, nothing revolutionary here, I went straight to the music player as it is a DAP.

    There are 5 Navigation modes available:
    - Folder
    - Artist
    - Songs
    - Genre
    - Playlist

    For other navigation except folder, you need to scan your library first for it to work.
    I'm a big fan of Folder navigation since I like to group all my musics in folders based on my preference, so It is very good that Fiio has included this feature.

    You can then access you on-board memory or to your sdcards to play your music.

    You can also change the setting in the device, such as wifi, brightness, etc.
    On the audio side, you can adjust gain and balance, etc
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    Sound Quality

    The Signatures
    The Fiio X5 has a warm musical signature with slighly laid back highs and slight emphasis on the bass.
    It works well with most modern music and my favourite genre (Metal & rock), The bass although quite a bit north of neutral never intrude the mids at all, and speaking of the mids I find it detailed and smooth with good body without being overly lush in any way.

    The Bass
    The Bass is has a slight emphasis to it with good extension and sounds quite tight and fast.
    It Hits quite hard with good punch, so the dynamic is definitely there and it is good.
    The bass is tight however it still has good body so the ratio is spot on on this, very slight bloom does help with musicality at times, adn Fiio surely know about this as the implementation is very nice.
    The speed is excellent and combined with the tightness of the bass it portrays distinction between each drum hits very well, giving a distinct presentation per drum hits/beats.
    For Metal tracks especially in Brutal/Technical Death metal, double blast beat hits strong and fast with excellent rumble and distinction on each hits, portraying the intensity perfectly.
    On EDM tracks, the bass extends down to the sub-bass well and because it is not too tight, you still get that club room bass bloom that you expect in club music.

    The Mids
    The mids is detailed and has slight warm tilt to it, not too much though.
    Clarity of the mids is very good without any overly excessive sibillance and just flows naturally with the music seamlessly, the warm tonality definitely helps with this, very enjoyable.
    Screaming and growling vocals in metal track are slightly intimate and smooth, you can definitely hear the crackles in the vocals quite easily with this.
    On Jazz Tracks like Norah Jones, the slight warm touch to the mids increase the emotions in her voice while exposing all the detailsin it very well.
    Electric Guitar sounds smooth with excellent bites in it, it makes the guitars pop in the mix and I love it.

    The Treble
    The treble is smooth and slighly laid back, the good this is it is not fatigueing even in a long listening session, some treble sparkles is still there here and there but it is not the focus of the music.
    The bass and mids are more forward then the trebles but the trebles does not feel lacking at all, in fact it provides the perfect company for the rest of the spectrum for engaging musical listening.

    The Soundstage, Imaging and separations
    The soundstage presentation is not very large but it is quite good, imaging is accurate and all the instruments are separated nicely and there is no congestion in the sound.
    It more wide than tall/deep, so the positioning of instrument can be clearly heard in X axis across the songs but, meaning left-right channel separtion is excellent.


    Shozy Stardust earbud (hi-end earbud)
    The stardust has an excellent synergy with the X5, the bass hits hard and the mids are detailed but musical sounding, treble is smooth and not fatigueing with relaxed listening experience.
    The presentaion is also bigger in a sense, this earbud is excellent on its own in this regard but the Fiio takes it to the next level, sounding more full and bigger in soundstage.
    Details in the treble is there and the presentation is still laid back so the mids and bass(mid-bass) pops out more in the mix.

    Sony MDR Z1R
    The Z1R is not a hard headphone to drive but I'm still impressed with how well the combo sounds, The driver in this headphone is huge but I see no occation where it feels underpowered on The Fiio.
    Bass is still there along with the Z1R signature of powerfull but tight bass that sounds grand hall like in presentation, speed is still well maintained and speedy metal track still sounds like an absolute joy on this.
    Mids is still detailed and does not get intruded by the bass, has good body and the details are still there, it drives the Z1R excellently and The power of Z1R still shines through in this combo.
    Despite the slighly laid back nature of the X5, I don't feel that it changed the Z1R's treble to be too laid back. I actually feel it still remains laid back but detailed just like when I pair it with my desktop setup.

    Meze 99 Classics

    I expect the Fiio X5 to pair best with this headphone, in fact it does, but it doe not transform the headphone just like the Cayin I5 + meze99 combination.
    Bass still hits hard and deep with excellent extension, compared to my AK Jr, the bass seems more refined and full force and unrestrained, it has that immediate effect to it that I like.
    Mids is still true to the meze's natural presentation, it is still a litle u shaped as the bass seems a bit more emphasized xompared to the mids, vocal is lush and detailed with steady and quick decay, it is musical and engaging, and if you want to hear the details, you can, it's all there.
    Treble is still smooth and laid back with enough sparkles when needed, it never gets fatigueing.


    AK Jr
    The Fiio X5 beats the AK Jr very easily in my opinion.
    The bass has better dynamics and sounds bigger with better extension and clarity even though it has more empahasis, the tightness is about the same yet the details shines through more on the X5.
    The mids has similar tonality but is way more detailed with crackles and raspness of vocals very easily heard without much efforts.
    The treble on the X5 is slightly more laid back and smooth, the AK Jr's treble is not as laid back but details is more apparent and clear on The X5.
    Soundstage is bigger in the X5 especially the width, sounds more spacious with more defined instrument separation.

    Chord Mojo
    Not a DAP, but I found the X5 is quite competitive despite the price differences.
    Mojo's Bass is tight, accurate and still musical and is closer to neutral than the X5, details is slightly more and is also feels a little faster and more natural.
    Mojo's mids expose more details and has better extension and decay, the decay on the mojo is very apparent and details in it still shines through as it fades, The X5 is good too, but the final bit of the decay is harder to hear due to stronger bass and less detail retrieval.
    Mojo's treble is not as laid back and again is more detailed and neutral compared to the X5's laid back treble, both offers smooth treble and is not the thin analytical type.
    Soundstage is about the same overall, the width is probabbly better on The X5 but the mojo is more 3D in it's presentation.

    Cayin I5
    I was once areviewer of the Cayin I5 a couple months ago, and I have to say I was impressed with the DAP, just like I am now with The X5.
    Both offers exceptional performance for the price, there are a couple of difference though:
    The bass of The I5 was more stronger in quantity than the X5 tight but emphasized presentation, but also more dynamic and more punchy, detail retrival I give a slight edge to the X5, but not by much.
    The mids in The I5 was more forward and more lush and engaging but lose out on details to the X5 by a bit, The X5's mid is more align to the rest of the frquencies and not as forward but not laid back either.
    The trebles on The I5 is a bit more laid back than the X5, but both has good extension and is not your typical bright DAP.
    Soundstage is wider on The X5 due to the intimate vocals on The I5.
    Pricing and feature are better on The X5 with 2 micro sd for a cheaper price and also balanced out, but The cayin has better player interface in my opinion and also feels snappier, buttons are also more resistant preventing accidental presses unlike The X5 which happens every once in a while.
    I have to say that comparing the 2 DAPS in all aspects(not only sound), The X5 is a better buy, however depending on your preference you might feel that the I5 is more compelling for it's presentation.
    It depends on what you like I guess.

    For the price of the Daps, it is a complete package really, have many features, sounds great and very practical with great pricing.
    I would recommend this DAP for anyone under a budget or for people who wants to put more of their money on their desktop set-up.


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  3. xkonfuzed
    Spacious and Musical
    Written by xkonfuzed
    Published Apr 25, 2017
    Pros - Impeccable Build. Great sound. Versatile.
    Cons - Not the smoothest UI. Price point somewhat high. Minor caveats in SQ.
    The device was lent to me as part of FiiO's review tour. I was given 10 days with the device to evaluate it and in return give my honest opinion about it. My current equipment is an LH Labs Geek Out V2 as my source, my headphones include a balanced HD650, Sony MA900, M-Audio Q40. I listen to a wide variety of music and generally tend to prefer my sound to be transparent, musical, and detailed. 
    Build Quality:
    FiiO absolutely nailed this part. I have never held the previous generations of the X5, however the X5III is built impeccably well. Everything is nice to the touch and the device itself has a good amount of heft to it giving the impression of quality. The buttons - albeit weirdly laid out and positioned - feel solid and give good feedback. The device has an analog volume knob (even though you could still adjust it digitally on screen). The volume adjusts in small increments and reacts linearly to minor adjustments. FiiO did a very good job here.
    The X5III uses Android version 5.1 and for the most is actually pretty quick and responsive. However, I have encountered that apps like Tidal experience hiccups every once in a while. Another problem I encountered is that the Wifi cuts off randomly sometimes, and when I try to re-connect it takes longer than usual. Battery life is nothing special, however I am quite disappointed with the way this device loses juice when its idle and not in use. Overall I am happy FiiO went the Android way as this means a wide selection of music apps and players, and a lot of customization. For reference, I am using the stock FiiO firmware and did not want to fiddle with anything. 
    All music testing here was done in Tidal using the HiFi quality (lossless files).
    The way I would describe the sound on the X5III is that it doesn't compromise on anything in favor of another. It manages to achieve and impressive amount of detail without tuning the sound to be bright. I have always preferred a warm, laid back sound but I have found that this often comes at the price of perceived clarity and detail. The X5, surprisingly, manages to achieve outstanding musicality with its warm, spacious sound while also retrieving subtle information in music. 
    Instrument separation and a wide soundstage is one of the first things that stand out when listening to the X5. Instruments are widely spaced out and never feel mushed together. This, along with the wide soundstage, gives off a euphoric, almost life-like sound. 
    The bass and midrange are beautifully integrated together to achieve a certain "thickness" to vocals and instruments which really enhances the musicality. One caveat with the bass is that it sometimes sound sluggish sometimes. The transitions in different bass frequencies dont seem to be as seamless as other gear I own (GO v2). The decay one the notes is also somewhat slower. This is not easily picked up but I thought I'd mention it since I noticed it a few times compared to my GO v2. As a whole though, the bass is extremely well defined and detailed, and is very pleasant to listen to. There seems to be more elevation in the mid/upper bass areas than deeper subbass. Gives an extremely satisfying thump to certain instruments and makes them stand out. This also contributes to the overall warmth characteristic that it possesses. I was listening to Woodkid's "Iron" and the way the drums are represented on the X5 is beautiful. They hit with authority, detail, and clarity. The midrange of the X5 has a certain sweetness to it. It is not forward nor recessed, however its warmth resonates a certain delicacy in instruments and voices that renders them beautifully. The midrange carries tons of detail and never sound shouty or harsh.  
    The highs seems to be - relatively speaking - laid back and not as pronounced. I do miss the sparkle I got on my other sources, however the softer treble translates to me being able to listen for longer periods of time and relaxing more while doing so. The treble still offers plenty of detail and extension, however, if you like brightness you may want to look elsewhere. 
    Comparison to LH Labs GO v2:
    To be clear this is will be comparing the sound through the 3.5mm SE output as opposed to the Balanced out. I would have loved to test out the 2.5mm TRRS on the X5, however my balanced HD650 terminates in a 3.5TRRS and there wasn't enough time for me to get an adapter shipped in time. Therefore, this is a comparison of the SE outputs only. 
    It seems that overall, the GO v2 seems to be the slightly faster, more detailed, and more forward source. It has a neutral signature with emphasis on the crystal clear mids and a sparkly (though not-fatiguing) treble. Bass is extremely quick and tight. What it lacks in musicality it makes up for in its technical ability. 
    The X5 is a somewhat different story. On the surface it may appear like it may not have perceived clarity of the v2, however the more you listen the more the notice that it in fact "perceived" and the levels of clarity on the X5 are impressive. The soundstage is wider, instrument separation is better, and there's seems to be more room to "breathe". For me, it falls behind the v2 in terms of detail, speed, and decay, however it makes up for all of this with its warm, musical signature. 
    Closing Thoughts:
    To say that I enjoyed my time with the X5 would be a vast understatement. I found its musicality very appealing and ended up listening to it hours upon hours endlessly. I just wish it was cheaper as I feel (and this is purely my opinion) it is priced somewhat high. FiiO have made an excellent job of putting together a device that not only sounds incredible, but is also built remarkably well and has a lot of options and potential in the future.
    Thanks for reading my review. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
  4. ObjectVoice
    Great Android DAP
    Written by ObjectVoice
    Published Apr 23, 2017
    Pros - Beautiful Spacious Detail, Net-Connected Android Device
    Cons - Net-Connected Android Device, a few intereface glitches

    I got my hands on this as a part of the UK X5iii review tour.
    1. Almost at once there was a keen ‘Oh ****, I’m just going to have to buy one of these’ moment for me when listening to Joni Mitchell and getting a sense for the first time ever of being able to judge or perceive the actual sound absorbency or acoustic qualities of the particular and different environments in which she recorded each of her individual vocal tracks. Just crazy.
    2. The very, very slightly smooth tone of the X5iii made me switch from almost always using HD650’s (with my X5ii) to almost always using HD600’s. It seemed like: Smooth + Smooth = Slightly Too Damn Smooth. It was great with HD600’s though.
    3. The wheel is fantastically useful on the go but it feels slightly odd at first: like you’re torturing a tiny sea creature with your thumb or something - and that’s just a little bit yucky.
    4. There were a few glitches, crashes & other semi-weird interface miss-fire moments with it. Enough to make you appreciate the 'dumb' interface of non-Android DAP’s a bit more. (It seemed not to like you switching between using the Line out and headphone out mid-track and froze or crashed a couple of times.) The X5iii does make you realise that it takes very little in terms of interface glitches to make your belief in the overall coherence or the functional integrity of a device wobble a bit. It produces wonderful audio – but the impression of the player as a whole becomes peppered with the repetition of the still fairly numerous little ‘uh?’ moments. Probably the updates will fix this stuff though.
    5. I ended up getting a bit more distracted from listening with the X5iii due to the access it offers to the endless blur of t'internet and/or Android system tweaks pulling my focus away from the music. Non-Android DAPS are pretty dull - and that’s arguably a good thing.
    6. I worry about dropping my X5ii and I worried about dropping this more.
    7. It’s obviously great for use with downloaded audio and since that’s basically how I get stuff now that’s obviously a huge plus over shifting stuff to SD cards from other download devices.
    If FiiO offered to sell me the UK review tour X5iii ‘second hand’ at a hundred quid or so off the new price I’d probably buy it in a flash and flog my X5ii. Would I flog my X5ii now and buy one of these new? No - but then I buy almost nothing new and certainly not fancy DAPs. 
    After a period of intense listening to both of them it’s made me realise afresh how much I actually really like the X5ii (particularly with my old beat-up HD650’s) and what an amazing audio device it is.
    1. Dobrescu George
      Interesting view over X5-3 though! 
      Dobrescu George, Apr 23, 2017
  5. ironpeg
    X5G3 Android PlayerGreat for the price!
    Written by ironpeg
    Published Apr 5, 2017
    Pros - Aggressive sound with great bass impact, Sparkling Treble, Forward Mid, Android operating system, 2 memory card slots, luxury build
    Cons - Firmware changes sound dramatically, cannot get Tidal, sometimes it went blue screen, distortions in bass and mid
    EDITED: Firmware Comparison
    This X5 Gen 3 unit is provided by Fiio for my honest review. The unit will be returned at the end of my review period.

    I come from AK380Cu+Amp Cu which is ten times the price of Fiio X5 Gen3 but has the same DAC that Fiiio X5 Gen3 has. So most of my thought about Fiio X5 Gen3 will be compared to AK380Cu+Amp Cu
    Testing Equipment: Zeus-XRA + Effect Audio Mars+Leonidas Bespoke 8 braids 2.5 TRRS.
    Packaging: Fiio did a very good job in packaging. It looks like a luxury packaging that AK does for all their DAPs. There are 2 cases, silicone and leather, in the box already. I don't see screen protector in the box but I remember my friend said he has one in his retail purchase. There is a memory card slot opener in the box, and usb cable.
    Design: Fiio X5 Gen3 has a perfect size for a small hand. It's roughly the size of iPhone 4 but thicker. It doesn't fits Pelican 1010 case but fits Pelican 1020. Design looks cool, nice and luxury. It comes with 26 Gb Storage and 2 Micro SD card slots which I remember that they support up to 256 Gb. This makes X5 Gen 3 has a massive storage.
    Original Firmware 1.1.4
    High Gain Setting
    Sound presentation: The stage size is around 60% of what AK380Cu+Amp provides. It is tall but narrow. Depth isn't that deep. Therefore, it's less airy than AK380. Judging from my memory, its presentation is quite similar to AK240.
    Bass: Bass has a very nice impact considering my iem isn't good with bass impact. Bass is fast, tight, and clean. Bass hits deep but lacks body. I heard some distortion of bass drum from Tidal. 
    Mid: Mid is very clean and clear. Male vocal position is just right for me; not too forward nor laid back; however, female vocal seems to be laid back. Mid has more body than bass. Snare hits hard and pretty forward; just slightly behind the singer. Details are pretty fine but still at different level comparing to AK380Cu+Amp Cu. Also found some distortions from Electronic music.
    High: High is laid back in X5 Gen3 but it has good sparkles. It's not piercing or harsh. This would be the best area that Fiio did. I'd love it more if it's not too laid back. Details are not impressive but still good for the price.

    Note: I will not say anything regarding low gain because I feel that high gain provides much better sound and impact. There is no hiss on high gain with Zeus-XRA which is considered to be very sensitive to hiss.
    Verdict: This could be secondary DAP (Gym DAP) for Audiophiles or Entry level DAP for beginners.
    Original Firmware 1.1.1
    High Gain Setting
    Sound presentation: The stage size is still around 60% of what AK380Cu+Amp provides. Stage has way better presentation. It's no longer way bigger height like 1.1.4. Judging from my memory, its presentation is very similar to AK240.
    Bass: Bass is faster than 1.1.4. Less impact. No distortion. 
    Mid: Mid is slightly move backward comparing to 1.1.4. No Distortion.
    High: Similar to 1.1.4. Still laid back.
    Verdict: At this price, I'd get Fiio X5 G3 rather than AK240.
    Modified Firmware by WindowsX
    High Gain Setting
    Sound presentation: Best soundstage among all firmwares. Stage is wider, and a bit deeper. This has the best realistic stage among the 3 firmwares.
    Bass: Bass is nimble but smooth, lean, fast, and tight. Impact is very noticeable that it's quite less than 1.1.4. No distortion.
    Mid: Mid is similar to original 1.1.1. I can hear a bit more details.
    High: Not much changes.
    Verdict: WindowsX did a great job modifying the Rom. Now X5G3 sounds closer to High-End DAP. WindowsX also does hardware mod. He claims that it sounds way different level than the stock. I would say with the right ROM X5G3 could easily beat AK240 from my memory.
    1. Layman1
      A useful and interesting review, thanks!
      Possibly worth mentioning for those that don't know, the AK380Cu is approximately 10 times the price of the X5iii. It's certainly a valid comparison, but perhaps a bit 'David vs Goliath' lol :D
      Layman1, Apr 5, 2017
    2. ironpeg
      @Layman1 Thanks. I've edited and said AK380Cu is 10 times the price of X5iii.
      ironpeg, Apr 5, 2017
    3. TwinACStacks
      Most beginners aren't going to pop for that Kind of $$$ (Fiio) For a DAP unless they have a Trust fund or extremely good job with tons of expendable cash. Personally I would never pop AK money for a portable player or even try to compare it to a mid fi player. But it's still an informative review.
      TwinACStacks, Apr 5, 2017
  6. leaky74
    A Compelling Proposition
    Written by leaky74
    Published Mar 20, 2017
    Pros - Value, functionality, build quality, detailed & clear sound
    Cons - Slow wifi & file transfer. SQ maybe a little clinical and cool.
    Before I start, many thanks to Fiio for arranging this tour and allowing many Head-Fiers, including myself, to be a part of it. I am not affiliated to Fiio in any way.
    A bit of background about me, I guess you’d say I’m a keen exponent of what many on Head-Fi would refer to as mid-fi gear; with a view to getting the most ‘bang for buck’. This is due in most part to having a young family and other interests which, for the most part, win in competing for my disposable income!! To that end, my current set up consists of Meze 99 Classes for home (where I’d say I do 90% of my listening), 1 More Triples for use on the go and I was, until recently, using a Dragonfly Red as DAC/AMP out of my MacBook Air at home (and occasionally for longer trips away from home, paired with my iPhone 6S Plus). I long since stopped buying music (apart from a period of investing in a decent vinyl set up, subsequently sold), because most of my listening is done via Tidal Hi-Fi.  
    Prior to the tour, again with one eye on maximising value and usage, I had been considering a DAP to replace the Dragonfly Red. So, a DAP that doubles as a USB DAC at home, scores high on my checklist. Prior to receiving the X5iii tour unit, I had literally just splurged on an iBasso DX80. So, I was still open to being persuaded by the charms of an alternative. Oh, I just remembered, I did splash out on an A&K AK70 before Christmas but returned it. It was honestly a great DAP (using a single implementation of the CIRRUS CS4398 DAC chip vs dual usage of the same chip in the DX80). Where the AK70 fell down though, badly, was when used as a USB DAC - as well as occasional noise (pops & clicks), it struggled badly when sample rates changed between tracks.
     So, in summary this tour came around at a timely point for me! The following make up my short, DAP main features shopping list:
     - Doubles as a USB DAC
     - Sound quality - might sound obvious but given the relative quality of the iPhone, a DAP has got to offer a decent step up in order to justify carrying a second device
     - Works as a standalone - I don’t want to carry a stack for when I am out and don’t especially want to feel as if I need an amp to get the most out of my setup at home. Fortunately, the Meze are ridiculously easy to drive so that’s not really an issue.
     - Bonus feature: ability to stream Tidal. As this is currently my main media channel this would definitely be a nice to have. On the other hand, not having this as a DAP feature would encourage me, bit by bit, to build on my long neglected library; by adding to it and replacing existing content with better quality files.
    Anyway, onto the Fiio X5iii. Whilst I’d consider this DAP to be priced at a, relatively speaking, mid-fi price point - the packaging has a premium look and feel to it. Both the bundled clear silicone & leather cases are a nice touch and of good quality. This is carried forward into the build of the unit itself. It has a lovely build quality and weight to it, though I agree with others observations that button positioning makes it too easy to accidentally skip tracks when hitting the power button to shut the screen off. The screen is both lovely to look at and faultless in operation. GUI comes courtesy of Android and again is implemented  in a clean no fuss fashion (which can be further dialled back in ‘Pure Music’ mode, freeing up system resources to focus only on music reproduction. 
    Set up is also quick & simple. What’s not so quick is transferring content to the device. What’s even slower is the downloading of firmware updates over wifi - a good couple of hours for a not particularly big update.
    Downloading streaming apps from the marketplace is simple & work flawlessly when either streaming or downloading for offline listening (I only tried Tidal). Using the device as USB DAC also worked perfectly. Just a note here; like the DX80, the device tries to draw a  
    Sound quality - probably top of most people’s priority list. My impressions are that the X5iii is fairly neutral in tonality. It offers good detail retreival and decently wide staging. It has well controlled & punchy sub-bass and bass, the detail I mentioned, is prevalent in the mids and slightly, pleasantly, rolled off through the treble so as to be not fatiguing. It’s all positive stuff and I can’t really fault it. When I compare it to the DX80 however, it sounds slightly clinical where the DX80 I find to much warmer, smoother and analogue sounding. The DX80 too carries good levels of detail retrieval and has a wider soundstage. Bass on the DX80 is less ‘tight’ but goes, pleasingly, deeper. Sound wise, for me, I think the DX80 is a better fit for my ears.   
    The X5iii in summary, offers a compelling and complete package at a price point that means it’s, rightly so, likely to capture a large fan base. It doesn’t do anything particularly poorly (other than file transfer and updates slowly), which won’t, I’m sure, be fixed by future updates. It certainly ticks all the boxes on my shopping list. If I were to apply a weighting to my criteria though, I think my preference for the tonality of DX80 means I’m likely to keep hold of that for now (not to mention the X5iii currently costs £100 more). For those though after a do it all DAP, whose primary use case is entered around purely portable use - it’s a compelling proposition. 
  7. Matrix Petka
    Just critical review about player with bright futu
    Written by Matrix Petka
    Published May 26, 2017
    Pros - Great design, hardware potential, customer service
    Cons - Veiled sound, beta software.

    I bought my FiiO X5III for my money and have no interest to promote anything. Just my critical opinion, because lot of reviewers was talking about good and all good stuff about this player it is easy to find.

    Packaging 5/5

    Double shell – outside thin, with FiiO X5 III photo, basic specifications of device, etc. Inside – trending black box, promising something nice inside and nice unboxing experience.

    Accessories 5/5

    I would give 7. There FiiO set new high standard in the black box you will find:
    Protective glass screen shield factory assembled
    Two cases – one transparent silicon, another – nice black artificial leather!
    USB cable
    Coaxial adapter
    Special key for SD card removal

    Build 5/5

    Red dot award – what I can to say more? Really nice looking, good feel at hand. Choice of three colors – black, titanium and red (why red, not blue?) Safe durable closed slots for SD cards. One thing I don’t like – power button – hard to push inside, especially when turning on, because you need to do it for quite long time.

    Battery life 3/5

    Mediocre. Hope, will improve when FiiO will fix software issues.

    Computing hardware 3/5

    Processor – mediocre, slow. RAM – small. There start problems – about them I will talk later.

    Sound, video hardware 4/5

    All chips are really high class, promising good sound. Display – just OK, lacking of resolution and vivid colors.

    Connectivity 5/5

    Bluetooth, WiFi working flawless, SE and balanced output sturdy with lot of grip, separate line out with possibility for coaxial output, OTG – it looks not working, but, hope, coming soon.

    Software 2/5

    Software full of bugs plus slow processor – and we got slow FiiO. You have wait eternity when you turn on, holding power button till you thumb feel tired – then you know, that player waking up and you have time for some breathing exercises to calm down. Second part of exercises you will have when you will start FiiO native player. Even when you turning on Viper effects you need to wait for about 2 seconds when they start working. Slow. Very slow.
    Bugs…. Software so raw, that still full of bugs. Player freezes and need to be restarted. FiiO is doing their best to fix them and updates are coming often. Improves.

    UI 3/5

    Tricky navigation, some features access need unnecessary clicks and jumps.

    Sound 3/5

    Honestly, I was expecting more from chips and amps, balanced output available. By my opinion player have much bigger potential and it is limited by software. Why? Maybe FiiO wanted not to compete with X7, maybe lack of experience with Android. Maybe both. Maybe at first all attempts were concentrated only for mp3 files reproduction to make it sound pleasant and not harsh? Anyway, good friend of mine working on mods on FiiO software and now my player sounding much better without any EQ. That’s why I can tell that problems with sound is in software, not hardware.
    Native sound veiled, lacking of micro dynamic and details, sound stage mediocre, poor depth and instrument placement. Distortion in some middle frequencies. High frequencies recessed, lacking of air and sparkle. Bass boomy and woolly.
    Musical, emotional, pleasant sound, but in need for improvement.
    Output power – enough even for up to 300 Ohm headphones to have mediocre loudness.

    Customer support – 5/5

    FiiO listening their customer and doing all they can to improve their products and solve issues. Nobody is perfect.

    Overall score 48/12 - 4
      seanwee likes this.
  8. Hawaiibadboy
    FiiO X5iii Review
    Written by Hawaiibadboy
    Published Apr 27, 2017
    Pros - Sonics, Versatility, Price, FiiO support
    Cons - Firmware is almost perfect....almost

    I was one of the first to showoff this beauty on YouTube and Head-Fi

    It is a fantastic item with smooth sonic replay that does not sacrifice any detail.

    I compared it with the double the cost iBasso DX200
    I found the sound and usability of the X5iii to be superior.

    FiiO has offered a premium device at an extremely cheap/affordable price relative to the competition.

    This review will be updated and edited when I figure out how to use this new forum:confounded:


    I highly...highly rec this item :call_me:
      Dsnuts likes this.
  9. justjag
    Excellent value proposition
    Written by justjag
    Published Apr 12, 2017
    Pros - Myriad features, thoughtful design, competitive price
    Cons - Acceptable sound quality, button placement, usability quirks
    Many thanks to Fiio for extending the opportunity to review the new X5 3rd Gen as part of their review tour.
    A brief look at packaging
    Attractive boxes, sensible layout, nice accessory package.
    Before sound
    A note on objectivity
    Objective measurements serve as a basic benchmark of audio performance that all audio manufacturers should strive towards, and one in which Fiio products have traditionally fared very well in. They offer a measure of objective transparency and provide credence to the marketing claims of a product’s performance vis-a-vis other competing devices (including smartphones).
    As expected, the X5 performs admirably here, but I still look forward to loaded (ie. real world) measurements of the X5.
    Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack)
    Output power 1
    ≥480 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%)
    Output impedance
    <1Ω (32Ω loaded)
    Output power 2
    ≥250 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%)
    Channel separation
    >73 dB (1 kHz)
    Output power 3
    ≥28 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%)
    <0.003% (1 kHz)
    Frequency response
    5 Hz~55 kHz(-3dB)
    Peak output voltage
    >8 Vp-p
    ≥115 dB (A-weighted)
    Max. output current
    250mA (For reference)
    Balanced headphone out specifications (2.5mm TRRS headphone out jack)
    Output power 1
    ≥400 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%)
    Output impedance
    <3Ω (32Ω loaded)
    Output power 2
    ≥240 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%)
    Channel separation
    ≥98 dB (1 kHz)
    Output power 3
    ≥26 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%)
    <0.003% (1 kHz)
    Frequency response
    5 Hz~55kHz(-3dB)
    Peak output voltage
    >7.5 Vp-p
    ≥111 dB (A-weighted)
    Max. output current
    >250 mA (For reference)

    Subjective preamble
    Beyond numbers and graphs, differences in voicing may nonetheless exist between sources which are important to consider. While these differences may ultimately be small, they can result in disproportionately large differences in the subjective experience of listening to music in terms of enjoyment and immersion.
    Sound quality
    That said, I have found the subjective performance of the X5 to be respectable but not particularly impressive. Make no mistake, the X5 is not remotely a bad sounding player, and in fact has quite an enjoyable and pleasing sound. It just has a few caveats which I have found to take away from MY own listening enjoyment which I feel are important to note for your consideration. Broken down into various aspects:
    Soundstaging comes in with a solid performance. It does not sound compressed or claustrophobic in the least, but it is not particularly spacious either.
    Separation and general resolution is rather underwhelming. The X5 does not sound congested but imaging is not especially precise or defined and note edges have a soft tone.
    Presentation is intimate, present and engaging, but notably soft and smooth (no accentuation of textural details, stage elements not exaggeratedly distinct)
    Bass has impressive if slightly elevated body and heft, making for a chunky, visceral sound that can be very satisfying. However, it is a little muddy and does not have the last say in punchiness and control which causes it to fall a little short in offering grit and realism.
    Midrange is largely a matter of personal taste. It is forward and engaging but soft in character. It is not notably textured or detailed and has a comforting and pleasant presentation.
    Treble is present and detailed but smooth.
    Overall, the X5 generally meets but does not exceed expectations. Presentation is smooth and pleasing, while bass is visceral and impactful but could stand to be more controlled.
    Not sound
    Build and design
    The X5 is gorgeous, functional and constructed impeccably. It features a compact design, tasteful angles, thoughtfully laid out transport buttons which are easy to identify and press, a sleek and well constructed volume wheel, a premium finish, attractive glass back panel and secure headphone ports.
    My only gripe, which amounts to so much more of a shame in light of the otherwise fantastic design, is the awkward power button placement. It is too high up to reach comfortably one-handed and results in frequent misclicks of the play/pause button flanking the the same position on the opposite side.
    Speed is passable. There is a slight delay with certain actions, but it doesn’t significantly hamper over experience or operation. Overall experience remains fluid other than a few hiccups and is very much usable.
    Android interface is familiar and easy to use. Downloading third party apps such as Spotify and Tidal can be done through the Play Store or the FiiO Market which is less polished but still simple to use.
    Pure music mode works well and is mostly smooth and intuitive to operate.
    The X5 is absolutely jam packed with useful features, most notable being:
    Wifi support (OTA updates and streaming):
    1. Streaming apps work well. No stutters or crashes
    2. Rather poor wifi reception. Slow OTA updates and streaming hiccups even for lossy 320 kbps Spotify tracks with a single concrete wall separation.
    1. Hard to access, quick settings bring up settings page rather than allowing immediate selection of filter choices.
    2. Minimal differences between filters. You might find a preference but honestly I struggle to tell a difference between filters beyond a vague gut feel.
    1. Channel balance (this should be a standard inclusion on every DAP honestly)
    2. Vipereffect
      1. About half of the features are locked behind a paywall (payment can be done through WeChat, Alipay or Paypal) but there is still a good selection of free effects like various surround simulations, gain adjustment, and upscaling
      2. Effects generally work well but there is a few seconds of delay before the settings take effect making finding the right setting quite laborious.
      3. Overall nothing astounding (at least based on the free effects) but nice to have the additional functionality and features.  
    USB DAC, dac out
    1. USB dac installation much easier than before. No need to allow unsigned drivers in Windows settings.
    2. Software is laden with features usually absent on other daps featuring USB DAC functionality such as channel balance and even basic but important functions like volume adjustment with the screen off.
    3. However, some issues remain such as occasional crashes when changing usb streaming settings in the fiio driver software and notable latency making it unsuitable for video streaming/gaming. It is bearable on “minimum latency” setting but latency is still noticeable.
    4. Seems to not work through USB hubs whereas other dac/amps like my HA-2 worked just fine.
    5. Instant play/pause, no idle mode where the amp turns off after certain durations of inactivity.

    I could not get the USB OTG out option to work even with third party apps like the Onkyo HF player to test the X5 with external DACs.
    Usability quirks
    1. Amp section turns off after short period of disuse and produces audible clicks when turning off/on. Delay in output when turning on (almost 2 seconds).
    2. Occasional clicks when switching between tracks (either selecting a different track or simply during continuous playback)
    3. Power button too high up and positioned opposite the play pause button leading to accidental pauses.
    About 8 hours (just short of 10 hours as per Fiio’s claims), capable of lasting several days between charges depending on usage.
    Should you buy it?
    At the end of the day, the X5 3rd Gen presents an incredible value considering it’s outstanding feature set (including streaming support, dual micro-sd slots, quick charging, balanced output), sensible and attractive design, and incredibly competitive price point.
    However, it’s few usability quirks do amount to palpable annoyances in day to day usage and while the X5 is far from a bad sounding player, it’s relatively soft, smooth voicing and modest subjective technicalities mean you should probably give it a listen to see if it pairs well with your existing setup and if it suits your tastes before purchasing one.
    Overall, the X5 is still a good sounding player and presents a strong value proposition worthy of a 4/5 rating.
      Dobrescu George likes this.
    1. MinnieOne
      8 hours of power on battery isn't "just" short of 10 hours. That is a huge statistical and real world difference.
      Imaging/soundstage blew me away. Admittedly I'm not a long term nor expert DAP user but sometimes I'll be looking around the room to see where certain sounds are coming from, a bit freaky IMO. Don't get that with my stereo and headphone set up from days past on the same music. 
      MinnieOne, Apr 12, 2017
    2. justjag
      I agree that a 2 hour difference is statistically significant but in view of the fact the manufacturers frequently overstate the battery life of their products (figures provided under ideal conditions), and the fact that battery life can vary so greatly depending on screen usage, brightness and wifi, 8 hours is a fair average in terms of actual real world usage.

      I have also experienced the pleasant surprise of thinking a sound from my music came from elsewhere but I must say this experience is more a result of the headphones than the source. Even from my phone I can perceive this sense of imaging, but when put in relative to other premium daps like the Onkyo DPX1, the x5 does not fair as well in terms of soundstage or imaging.
      justjag, Apr 12, 2017
  10. F700
    An afFIIOrdable DAP that needs an amp to shine...
    Written by F700
    Published Aug 12, 2017
    Pros - Smooth and slightly warm sound signature, accessories, pure-music modus, bang for $$$
    Cons - Needs the A5 amp to shine, weak Wi-Fi, just a bit narrow-sounding overall, UI could have a better response, average balanced-output
    It will be a short review. I am not affiliated to FiiO in any kind. I bought the device and this is my honest opinion. No pictures, there are plenty of them already a bit everywhere around the web and on Head-Fi. Nevertheless, I could post some if requested.

    Sorry for any grammatical or spelling errors, english not being my first language.

    It actually is a X5III/A5 review. All of my audio-files are FLAC, ALAC or DSD.

    The FiiO X5 III seems to divide people on Head-Fi a bit more than other pieces of equipment. Let’s say it right from the start, I never owned a DAP before the X5 III. I can say that I have some experience with full-size headphones and the arsenal a music enthusiast needs around them, but I am a newcomer in the world of DAPs. I blindly purchased the FiiO and I was expecting a noticeable improvement over my iPhone 6S, because I thought the investment made was supposed to bring something better in my ears. It was the case. Immediately. I fall in love with its sound signature. I am ready to accept the fact that it may be a bit veiled compared to the extra transparent offerings available on the market, but suffering from a slight tinnitus, I played it safe and trusted the reviews…and let’s face it, I always liked a slightly dark sound signature, with controlled but tight bass and a nice midrange. Driving a pretty wide range of headphones and IEMs, the FiiO A5 joined the X5 III a few days after the purchase of the DAP. Both have been stacked since then. I listened to the X5 III without the A5 a few time, but always had the impression that something was missing. It’s difficult to describe. It’s like the X5 III has to focus on the DAC and let the A5 doing the work of the amplification. Team working at its best.

    Here are the headphones/IEM used with the X5 III/A5 combo and short comments about the pairing:
    • Sony Z5 (out-of-your-head experience with good recordings - fantastic SQ, also in SE, close to perfection)
    • Sony N3AP (cannot be beaten with electronic « bass » music, remind me a bit of my LCD-X with desktop setup)
    • Sony MDR-Z1R (smooth and relaxing, cosy yet detailed SQ, wide soundstage - have a drink, seat in an armchair and enjoy)
    • MEZE 99 Classics (lot of energy, uplifting SQ, good dynamics - brings party mood)
    I bought the FiiO X5 III thinking I’ll use Tidal, WiFi and all the features which sounded promising on the paper. I ended up only using the device on « pure music » mode with a full 128GB SD card. Wifi is too weak, BT is ok. Tidal on iPhone on-the-go or connected to a wireless B&O is sufficient for me. So, it’s pure music and nothing else.

    In my opinion, the X5 III needs the A5 to shine. Too bad there’s no balanced output on the A5, because the one on the X5 III is average. The difference with the Z5 is very small, if noticeable. Going SE with that IEM on the A5 is better than balanced with X5 III alone.

    Short summary of the X5 III (with A5):

    • Smooth yet detailed and multi-layered sound
    • Non fatiguing SQ, treble is never harsh or too sibilant
    • Pure music mode is intuitive (for me at least) and quite stable
    • DSDs sound amazing, even in SE
    • Good built quality
    • Nice (p)leather case
    • Line-out cable is very short, perfect for the A5
    • Lots of power to drive a wide range of headphones (300ohm impedance is no problem with the A5)
    • Fiio seems to make a nice effort in order to bring FW-update and thus correcting bugs
    • Since I bought the X5 III, I definitively believe that DAPs may deliver much better SQ that any smartphone on the market today
    • Could have a wider and opener presentation on some recordings
    • A tad snappier UI would have been great
    • Wifi is too weak, BT is just ok
    • No balanced-out from the A5


    Owning an USD 5K+ desktop setup (DAC, AMP & cables), I am amazed by the X5III/A5 pairing. It makes me wanting for more. The X5 III being qualified as a Mid-tier DAP, I am convinced that there something out there which will bring the experience to the next level… I am looking at you Sony NW-ZX300… :)

    Thanks for reading!
      knudsen and buonassi like this.