FiiO X5 High-res Portable Music Player - Reviews
Pros: sounds great, when it isn't cooking itself
Cons: had 2 units overheat
Bought my Fiio X5 and it worked great for a few months, then one day, it got very hot ! so I sent it back for a warranty replacement, and it worked great until for just over a year, and now the replacement has done the same thing, will not power up, plugging in the charge cable, the charge light stays green, and the unit gets hot, so since it is out of warranty, I popped the back off, and checked out the battery, it isn't the battery that gets hot, but the circuits under the battery ! I won't be buying another Fiio player
 I used it 5 days a week at work, so maybe I just used it too much.
Also had the problem with both of them not connecting to my pc, plugging in the supplied cord would charge them, but I could not access the files on the memory cards.
 to Dobrescu George, I'm glad you have had good luck with the X5, that being said, I'm not impressed with the X5's I had, and am getting an Ibasso dx80 :)
 I did email Fiio, and the response I got back was:
 

Dear user ,

Thank you for your mail and support to FiiO.


When did you buy the X5? It is X5 first gen or X5II? Are you capable to replace the battery yourself? It seems not only a battery issue only. You may take off the battery and collect the X5 to a power apply to see whether it can be turned on?

Looking forward to your feedback.
Have a nice day! 
 
Best Regards,

FiiO Customer Service
 
 
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
Hey there! 

Have you tried getting in contact with FiiO support again? 

I have used a FiiO X5 for a while now and it proved to be one of the best things that ever happened to me! 
 
They should be able to help you sort things out! 
Pros: Sings like a champion. Handles like a schizophrenic gimp. Stole the physique of Vin Diesel.
Cons: Scroll wheel, even on late models, is rather finicky. (not to be found in the body of the review... just 'cause)


I’ve had my eyes peeled for a staunch enough system to replace my GalaxyS4>UAPP>OTG>Dragonfly1.2 mobile setup. While this package sounds amazing, it’s cumbersome and time-consuming to connect and get running. I have all my adapters and cables, along with the Dragonfly itself, in a leather pencil roll. To set it all up I must unroll the bundle, take the Dragonfly out of its sheath, remove the cap, pull out the cable I need for going mobile, connect everything, load up USB Audio Player Pro, and select an album to play. Oh, and headphones, of course. Gotta have that.

Leatherpencilroll.jpg

Leatherpencilrollunrolled.jpg

All this can be accomplished in less than a minute. But in the doing, that time takes on a brutish quality. It’s a lot more work than it should be. I wanted something lighter and quicker, something self-contained, compact, and extremely easy to just pick up and go.

Them who roam the lands of high-end audio call a contraption of that sort a “DAP”. Queer little buggers… these audiophiles.

There are lots of options out there. Fortune placed a 2nd Generation FiiO X3 in my path at a reasonable mark-off. You can find that review on your own, if you fear what awaits you for not reading it. The X3ii did everything I could possibly want from a DAP, save one crucial mark: it did not match or surpass the Dragonfly in raw, unadulterated sound quality. It came close in some ways. The sound is so clean and lively, that after a week of not comparing it to the Dragonfly, I began to ponder why I should ever desire an upgrade.

Then, when I listen to the Audioquest again, I am refreshed of its spaciousness, clarity, and refinement. After that, it’s tough to reconcile the disparity and convince oneself to settle.




Perhaps a week and a half into owning the X3ii, I found a brand-new X5 Classic for $195. The taut, well-oiled reflexes of a degenerate sprang into action, and I pounced on the opportunity.

Allow me to say, if you’ve spent the last month reading every review of the X3ii, X5 Classic, and X5ii, forming proper expectations is a cruel and befuddling exercise. Part of me thought this could be a monstrous upgrade. Another part feared it might weigh in just under the X3ii, and sound rather too dark as a bonus. Both extremes informed by stuff I’d read.

My principle monitors for mobile and work listening were the fairly new AUDIO TECHNICA IM04 in-ear phones. Being on the warm side, I knew mingling with the X5 Classic might yield a very dark sound indeed.

ATH-IM04SpiralDot.jpg

As it turns out, it does. But only on a few especially dark albums—like Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, or Dookie by Green Day, or Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. Most everything else sounds marvelous. Using the ATH-IM03, which is a brighter, airier IEM, these darker tracks breathe again. The sonic signature is mildly warm, yet quite open and spacious. There is a rich, velvety smoothness to the music that favors slower acoustic pieces, yet somehow never falters on quick, complex tracks. Paired with a multi-driver earphone, you are treated to such immersive layering. The X5 is a clear, transparent, detail-oriented machine.

I’ve coveted the aesthetics of the X5, even before I knew what it was. Again and again, as I read up on various products, I’d see a photo of this bold, almost brash, hunk of metal. I’d think, “That’s right and good, isn’t it? That’s what a DAP ought to look like.” I much prefer this design over the 2nd Gen FiiO players. While smarter, sleeker, and, functionally speaking, superior, they’ve killed something in the personality department. Also, on a carnal level, the fluidity of the scroll wheel of the X5 Classic promotes a greater number of erections than the cog-like workings of the newer players. There’s a luxuriousness upon fingering it which frightens me.

When coupling this DAP with something larger, like the Sennheiser HD600, it holds up admirably. Setting the volume at 100/120 on High Gain, I reach a sufficient blast to meet the fundamental requirements of Metallica, the Black Album. These 300 Ohm headphones do not reach the same fidelity on the X5 as they do on my desktop amp. Then again, the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus with the OPA627 upgrade is a hellcat. Nonetheless, fed by the X5, it sounds more or less badass.

I don’t own a portable amp to which to chain my DAPs. Something like the E12 or the C5 is the antithesis of what I want from a portable unit. As I only take IEMs on the go, this is not a problem. But should I ever want to go mobile with a king-hell headset, the X5 will serve splendidly in a pinch.

X5HD600.jpg

14 Ohms, 34 Ohms, 300 Ohms… all pair very well here. Even my 50 Ohm Klipsch X7i opens up like a prom date for the X5 Classic. It’s a privet agony, but the X7 has been relegated to backup duty in recent months. Once you go multi-driver, it’s impossible to willingly go back. Still, the X7 is the lightest, smallest, and most comfortable earphone I’ve ever tried. So they stick around, criminally underutilized, as my Podcast and Audiobook phones, played via the headphone-out of my Galaxy S4 (now S6). Heaven forbid if my IM03 were to go on a walkabout I could stride onward with the X5>X7i setup, head held high. They certainly make a handsome couple.

X5X7i.jpg

So… the FiiO thrills on all of my equipment. But does it compete against that which it’s meant to replace? Well…

The Dragonfly has a soundstage more-or-less equal to the X5, erring on the side of broader. There seems to be a greater degree of detail on the X5. It’s a close call, though. The Dragonfly sounds smoother, perhaps due to a combination of less detail and wider staging. Both sound very close to one another. I have trouble deciding which is darker and which is lighter. I believe the Dragonfly is a smidge brighter, if at all.

It’s particularly difficult to decide which is better. Smoother speaks to refinement I’ve always felt, but in this case, the X5 makes up for it in detail, a natural rendering of space, and a lively sense of musicality. Switching back and forth between the two, neither emerges a clear winner. They share so much in common.

Which makes this FiiO DAP a perfect replacement for the muddling mess of the Audioquest. I’ve been using the X5 Classic for weeks now, and have not once reckoned a lack in my listening sessions. This is what I had hoped the X3ii would sound like. Turns out my expectations were perverted by the lusty Dragonfly.

If all you need is a thumb-sized DAC to plug into a PC or tablet, the Dragonfly 1.2 cannot be beat for the price. But if you want an all-in-one portable music player of extreme audio fidelity, the X5 Classic is where you start.

I say “start”, because I’m nowhere near done yet. I still long to discover new levels of quality and refinement. But this will tide me over for a few months at least. It’s the beginning of August now. With my Christmas bonus I may give the Cayin N6 a try. See where that takes me.

This is the perfect place to rest for a time. If I were unable to buy another piece of gear, it would not kill me. The X5>IM03 is unreasonably great and delivers immaculate pleasure to your ear-holes.

-~::Pinky_Powers::~-

FiiOX5IM03SpiralDotLunashop.jpg
PinkyPowers
PinkyPowers
I know what you mean. Having JUST bought the X3ii, I was not planning on an immediate upgrade. A member here at Head-fi posted about an eBay auction for a brand new X5 for $225. When I clicked on the link, it had already dropped to $195 and I hit BUY NOW without a second's hesitation.

As you are no doubt aware, that is an outstanding price. I haven't seen a brand new one going for anywhere near that since. Sorry.

Got it from the eBay seller myluckydogs
3 toes of fury
3 toes of fury
Yo Pinky..thanks for the quick reply and info...i totally appreciate it.  And thanks again for such an outstanding review,  its write ups like yours which makes head-fi one of my favorite sites (and most dangerous sites for my wallet! he he he).
 
Peace .n. Living in Stereo
 
3ToF
PinkyPowers
PinkyPowers
My pleasure, friend.
Pros: Inexpensive, great battery life, good with most IEMs. Can be used as a transport or with a separate amp for good results. Dual microSD card storage.
Cons: Poor performance with full-sized headphones and needs a separate amp to work best with those. No touch-screen UI.
Thanks to FiiO for the loaner unit.

 
If there is a brand other than Apple that is more well-known at Head-Fi than FiiO I’d be very surprised.  A number of their products have become pretty much standard entry-level recommendations and their flagship amp, the E12 is a mere $129! However portable amps have been rapidly going out of fashion with the increasing number of DAPs, or Digital Audio Players on the market, itself a consequence of the increasing number of Android-based phones available, including inexpensive models in China, which in turn have provided much needed components to manufacturers of portable audio gear.
 
While not Android-based DAPs in themselves, FiiO has gone with this trend and through something of a trial-by-fire as they worked on the software, developed the hugely successful X3. As their software has reached something resembling maturity, they came out with the larger X5. I became interested in the X5 because of the design and feature set and due to the positive impression I had of the sound at the e-earphone headphone festival in Tokyo in December 2013.
 

I was lucky enough to get in the loaner tour for the X5 and hold onto a unit for a while to get the hang of its capabilities. Thanks to Joe Bloggs on Head-Fi for giving us this opportunity.
 
Fiio_X5_DSC_6415.jpg Fiio_X5_DSC_6397.jpg 
 
It would not be unkind to describe the X5 as looking rather like a modern take on the original iPod. From the outside, the case is almost a work of art which manages to balance style with form and function. A physical scroll wheel and central button with 4 un-labelled buttons evenly arranged around it make up most of the front, and a small 400x360 pixel screen sits behind a wider piece of or plastic that, by default, is covered with a screen protector. The main volume controls sit on one side, two microSD cards slots and USB on the bottom and three different outputs on the top. The net result is attractive and reasonably functional, feels good in the hand and, with help from the quick-start guide in the box, doesn’t take long to get the hang of using.
 
 
Next to the power button is the headphone socket, line out and a coaxial digital output for connecting to another DAC, for which a short cable is included. On the other end, astride the micro-USB socket are two micro USB slots, giving the potential for up to 256GB of storage (potentially costing more, I might add, than the X5 itself). While slower than a USB 3 reader, the X5 can be connected to a computer and the contents of the cards accessed in mass-storage mode or the X5 used as a DAC, where it will accept up to 192k and 24 bit input. The X5 will play the usual plethora of common file formats, including DSD, which is converts to PCM on the fly.
 
Fiio_X5_DSC_7995.jpg Fiio_X5_DSC_7997.jpg
 
The attractive interface, if you don’t mind reading the tiny, and in the case of some of the indicators, faded writing. Indoors it wasn’t a problem for me, but outside in the sun, especially with reflections, like other DAPs became impossible to read. For those so inclined, a number of members of Head-Fi have hacked the firmware to produce their own versions*. Despite being small, the interface is very quick. Scrolling fairly fast even though a large number of albums there are no delays or even stutter when turning the wheel at a moderate speed, though over two rotations per second it starts to struggle. Any delays come from having to repeatedly press and scroll through the menus. If you have as I do a very full 64 GB card, getting to an album in folder view half way down (or up, as scrolling jumps from beginning to end if done backwards and vice-versa) can take quite a while. The fastest way to drill down is via genre, if your music is tagged sufficiently well and you have a variety, followed by Album and Artist by picking whichever is closer to A or Z in the list.
 
Fiio_X5_DSCF1637.jpg Fiio_X5_DSCF1641.jpg Fiio_X5_DSCF1644.jpg
 
If you’re thinking now “Why not just load on some playlists?” you’ll be disappointed to know that one major omission is support for M3U playlists. In the Chinese market, according to FiiO, playlists aren’t a big thing. If you wish to use playlists, you have to manually create them inside the X5 by playing the song and adding it using the quick menu button to a playlist, which cannot be re-named from the default “Playlist 1/2/3/4/etc.” Similarly, while there is an equaliser with a number of presets available, the lack of a touch screen means that the custom EQ needs to be set via a series of scroll, press-and-scroll motions, which can be somewhat tiresome. 
 
The good news is, however, the battery life. When not playing music, even left switched on, the X5 takes days, if not over a week, to drain the battery. Switched off the battery didn’t deplete even when left for a month unused. Playback time for CD quality files is quite long, over 10 hours according to the specifications.
 
Fiio_X5_DSC_8000.jpg
 
The volume control has a very useful 120 positions, at least so for IEMs, with a setting for the default power-on volume level. It can be controlled using the side buttons, or using the scroll wheel after pressing one of the side buttons beforehand. Which buttons will still work after the screen is off/locked can also be controlled via settings, with three options for side volume buttons only, side buttons and play/pause button, or the previous setting plus forward/back buttons. While convenient, the idle power off setting, if on, is limited to only 1 to 8 minutes, though the sleep timer can be set to up to 2 hours.
 
Other than that, the X5 has a good number of settings for everything from balance and playback mode to being able to set whether songs are displayed by file name or title and whether or not to go to the last played song on startup.
 
Listening
 
What has now become something of a reference album with headphones, I put on Amber Rubarth’s Sessions from the 17th Ward. Switching between DAPs and IEMs it would become pretty quickly apparent which equipment was more or less capable of delivering the fine details buried in the tracks, from the birds tweeting outside to traffic noise and subtle movements of the musicians.  The IEMs I settled on for comparing, all high-quality, if varying in degree, were the FitEar Parterres, Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (UERMs for short) and JHAudio Layla universals.  While the Parterres didn’t reveal much difference between the X5 and my AK240 (single-ended output), as I stepped up to the other two, especially since the UERMs and Laylas have balanced cables, the differences became apparent. My first impression with the various IEMs was of a slightly warm, but not ultra-revealing presentation.  Out-and-about, the X5/Paterre combination made for a very enjoyable listen, especially given the slightly lighter-weight frequency response of the Parterres. The Laylas, on the other hand, just revealed how dull and one-note the X5 was with acoustic music, the bass when attempting to push so many drivers also somewhat boomy and loose.
 
While I felt that the X5 does an adequate job with IEMs, with full-sized headphones it clearly had trouble, despite the nice-sounding numbers of <115dB S/N ratio and <75 Ohms crosstalk shown in the specifications. Plugging in Sennheiser HD-800s and other high-impedance headphones resulted in the music sounding like it was coming from a blob in the middle, most noticeable where I knew the music should have a wide soundstage. My more basic Audio Technica ESW9LTDs were more along its capability level. FiiO’s E12 amp, designed for full-sized headphones, is the same size as the X5 and FiiO provides a kit allowing them to be joined together. While I didn’t have one on hand, I used my Headamp Pico Power instead, which was clearly far more capable with full-sized headphones. The combination with either amp is still cheaper than other DAP options that do a decent job driving full-sized headphones that I’ve tested, such as the Calyx M. The only rivals that I can think of would be the iBasso DX50 and DX90 which I haven’t had the chance to test.
 
*http://www.head-fi.org/t/717947/fiio-x5-custom-modded-firmwares/
 
Specifications:
 
http://www.fiio.net/en/products/2/parameters
 
For further discussion, check out my DAP-off thread here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/714374/
Fiio_X5_DSC_6391.jpg
Fiio_X5_DSC_6414.jpg
Hawaiibadboy
Hawaiibadboy
I do have to use mine with a Cayin C5 for over ears myself but the customization of themes is amazingly easy and makes it a very personal experience in the interactive sense. Thanks for linking to the Mod thread. It's a great sell point that FiiO never mentions itself.
Currawong
Currawong
@AmberOzL: that should have been 3.5 stars. I thought that's what I clicked. :)
twister6
twister6
Hi Amos, glad you got a chance to test and to review X5.  A lot of good points in your review, including that it's best used with external portable amp (E12A pair up is excellent).  Btw, X5 2nd gen supposed to be released very soon, and their first android-based touch-screen X7 is not too far away.  FiiO has been on a "smartphone" release cycle, and keeps improving both hw/fw with every new release.
Pros: Tight & Clear Bass, Very clear & articulate midrange, detail high end, dual microsd slots, build
Cons: UI, Costs
Fiio X5 Review
 
Introduction
Fiio as company in the Audio Market is very well known for bringing Audio equipment to the mainstream market that not only sounds good and looks good but priced good. There was a point in time where we would’ve turned our back on Chinese Audio Companies but recently we have been accepting them and they have been outdoing their competition with quite a few successful products. Over the years Fiio has made a name for itself with portable headphone amplifiers and dacs but in 2013 the company decided to make a move into the world of Digital Audio Players or DAPs. They did this by giving us the successful Fiio X3, while it had an old school look it provided a great sounding portable music player that could play almost any file format at a great price. But being Fiio they always like the one up themselves where they can, so in the beginning of 2014 we saw the fabulous Fiio X5 come to market which aimed itself in the Mid-Fi to High-End Market by coming in at a price of £450.00 (RRP) and here it saw competition from the likes of iBasso, Colorfly and Astell & Kern who are very big names in this portable audio market. So did it deliver? Yes it did!
 
Exterior Design
The exterior of the Fiio X5 is a well made and solid design, the entire chassis and housing has been constructed from Metal with the buttons being constructed of Metal. The top output ports are gold plated, this is to ensure a more durable connector and overall increase lifespan. There is a myth that gold plating does improve sound but so far this hasn’t been confirmed and the original use of gold plating on electrical connectors such as 3.5mm connectors and usb connectors is to get a better contact between the two connectors and improve durable which in turn improved the life span of the connector. Next we have the big design choice which sticks out like a sore thumb, this is the mechanical scroll wheel. This is reminiscent of the older iPods which used this to control the device but where the Fiio differs from the iPod is by using a mechanical scroll wheel which does feel better but unfortunately there are some problems where by the scroll wheel can be a bit loose and it can take time to respond in some cases. The IPS Screen is a very nice touch, providing very nice colour and a good resolution with Text and album Artwork looking very good on it. The Dual MicroSD Cards is another very good addition, as with most Music Fans their libraries will be huge especially if they are in FLAC or Hi-Res so therefore having dual MicroSD Card Slots means we get up to 256GB of Storage and I’m sure Fiio will allow us to expand further when larger MicroSD Cards become available, but the only problem here is the covers for the MicroSD Slots are quite difficult to remove and to be far I don’t see why Fiio just didn’t use a sliding door like Astell & Kern. Overall the exterior is very well made and mostly designed with thought but in some cases they could of done better.
 
Internal Hardware
 
Internally the Fiio X5 also has us covered using a PCM1792 DAC for the digital conversion, then we have 4 op-amps which are OPA1612 handling Volt Amp, I/V Conversion & Low-Pass Filtering. Then to finish it off we have two headphone output chips which are LMH6643 which hand the Current Amplification and the Headphone Output. The PCM1792 is a superior DAC to that found the original X3 which was a Wolfson DAC, WM8740SEDS. Now the little brother, Fiio X1, uses another PCM DAC which is the PCM5142 and the new X3 uses a Cirrus Logic DAC which is the CS4398 but in the case of the X3 it uses the same OPA1612 as the X5 but only two which handle Volt Amp and Low-Pass Filtering and then a single LMH6643 for Current Amplification and Headphone Output, so where the X5 can split the output into Left & Right the new X3 does them both on a single chip. The hardware found in the X5 is very good, but at this point I can’t compare it to the X1 or X3 to see how this hardware configuration compares to them. Now comparing the hardware of the X5 to the iPod Video 5g and Note 4, well the iPod uses a Wolfson Dac which is the WM8758 DAC which in itself is a pretty great DAC. Now the Note 4, well not sure we know what it is cause as far as I am aware I can’t seem to find out what it is so if people know then please comment but we do know that it will decode 24-Bit/192Khz Music Files so it’s not a slouch.
 
User Experience (UI)
The UI is another section that needs to be done right, as if the UI is poor then users will not want to use it. Well I am partly happy to say it’s good, ish! Now the good thing is that once your library is updated, the X5 is able to successfully compile your music by Artist and Album without issues plus navigating the UI is fast thanks to the Dual-Core Processor found inside the X5. But for me I feel the UI could've been designed a lot better, to me it doesn’t seem to well thought out and compared to the likes of the iPod it does seem old fashioned. Plus navigating and finding your way around can be difficult at first but you do get used to it. Overall I feel that the UI is ok but not great and could’ve been done a lot better.
 
Sound
Now let us get to the sound, I shall try to explain as best I can the sound I can hear coming from the X5 but please do remember that this is my own personal feelings of how I hear the sound. Everyones ears are different!
 
Bass:
So the bass is by no means overpowering and by now means fitting for real bass heads, there is a bass boost but I don’t use EQ so the out of the box SQ is not bass head ready. However the bass is strong, tight and clear, there is no sense of it being weak nor withdrawn. The bass has great presence without overpowering the rest of the frequency range. It has very good separation, by being very cable of separating Kick Drums from Bass Guitars makes for a very good low end experience.

 
Midrange:
The mid range for me is great, its neutral and is always there, it just never goes away! Which is a great thing, the one I like is hearing Vocals which falls into this range so having the mid range clear, articulate and neutral means it never gets overpowered nor gets put aside, for Metal/Rock/Rap/Pop or anything with vocals this is something I always want from my Audio equipment.
 
Treble:
This is where I feel the detail of the X5 gets into its own, the highs are detailed and extend very well. They can sound a bit bright but overall I love it, hearing cymbals crash and high guitar notes clear without distortion makes for a very pleasing experience.
 
Separation/Soundstage:
If you pair the X5 with a headphone that can separate well then the X5 will compliment it by separating instruments very well. It almost feels as if I can sense the silent space between the instruments and for that really gives great airiness to the sound. This provides a great soundstage as well, it doesn’t feel compressed nor claustrophobic. Remember “The music is the silence between the notes” and does it ring true when the song is separated well.
 
Overall the sound quality is neutral with each section of the audio spectrum well presented and not overpowering each other, each range is allowed its space to perform without the other ranges coming in its way. The treble can sound a little bright or harsh but this is very dependent on the track and how the track is mastered. If I was to sum up the way the X5 sounds, its that the Music drives the X5 not the X5 driving the Music.
 
The following comparisons were done using the following albums:
 
Killswitch Engage - Disarm The Decent
AC/DC - Back In Black
Warpaint - Warpaint
Slash - Slash
 
I know I specifically chose these albums mainly because Disarm The Decent and Warpaint can suffer from a too much low end and muddy sound, this would allow me to see how each player would handle these kind of tracks. Then using the AC/DC Album & Slash Album allows me to see how well each player separates the sound and how clear the SQ can be. So while it may seem unfair using partly poorly mastered albums it helps to see how each player handles them, as remember not all albums are mastered perfectly.
 
Compared to iPod Video:
The first things I notice is how the bass on the iPod does become a little boomy when compared to the X5 especially because of the Bass Guitar and Low Electric Guitar notes, however the X5 also suffers a little bit a boomy bass due to the track but not as much as the iPod, with the iPod I feel the slightly worse bass management on the iPod does affect the other ranges where the X5 has better bass management allowing the other ranges to work better. The next thing is the kick drum which sounds a little weaker on the iPod compared to the bigger presence it has on the X5. The vocals also sound a little bit more withdrawn on the iPod than the X5, whether than means the X5 is more forward in the midrange than the iPod who knows but having the vocals sound a little bit withdrawn is quite annoying. Plus I sense a lot more airiness and spaciousness on the X5 than the iPod. By no means does the iPod do poorly, in fact it does a good job and performs well but the X5 just out does it in almost all aspects. Would I say upgrade to the X5 from the iPod, well for me the slightly boomier bass from the iPod and slightly weaker midrange makes me want the X5 a lot more.
 
Compared to Samsung Note 4:
The Note 4 does have a clearer sound than the iPod and better management of its bass, the separation of the Note 4 is actually quite good and overall the SQ is quite neutral and similar to the X5 but again I feel the X5 just has a little bit better clarity and spaciousness. But by no means does the X5 get a clean whitewash over the Note 4, as on it’s own with and without the Fiio E11K which when added to the Note 4 makes the SQ a little thicker and deeper adding nicely to the clear SQ. So while I recommend the X5 over the iPod Video, if you already own a Note 4 have a go at pairing it with a Fiio AMP like the E11K or E12 and you could even pair it with an AMP/DAC like the Oppo HA-2 if you want to.
 
So while I recommend the X5 over the iPod and mostly over the Note 4 but with the Note 4 I would say have a go with some portable AMP/DACs and see how it goes as you may be surprised. I still feel for the price of the X5 + MicroSD Cards, I would highly say have an audition of the Fiio X1 and Fiio X3K to see how they sound compared to your current setup and I will only really recommend the Fiio X5 for those who really want the top end from Fiio, like me!
 
Final Thoughts
Well this has gone on for a while! Please do remember this is all my own opinions and your own experience can differ for the better or the worse. For me the X5 serves as a great foundation to build upon with better headphones and IEMs, it allows me to have a great source to which I can then plug in some great headphones. But like a lot of things I own, I don’t always recommend it even though I love it a lot and the reason being because when comparing to the Note 4 I was surprised how the Note 4 was able to keep up mostly with clarity and spaciousness to the X5, it really shows that if you try it out with some portable AMP/DACs it can shine. And with the X1 and X3K below it, it makes much more sense for people to try those out first as considering the Fiio X3K uses a similar circuit to the X5.
Sefelt103
Sefelt103
Excellent review. Interesting comparison with Apple iPod 5G. The iPod's bass was always the problem, slighly lacking in level and equalised in some manner. How would you compare the UI of the iPod with the X5 ? For thise of us in the UK the RRP is almost double what people in the rest of the world pay. Considering there is the additional storage cost this makes this player quite expensive and puts into the orbit of players like the QLS QA360.
HUM24H
HUM24H
I prefer the UI on the iPod, the UI on the X5 is ok but like I said could've been done better. 
Pros: Modifiable User interface
Cons: EQ, library navigation,

 
 
Theme in video     https://www.dropbox.com/s/3r8b8wlkcyiw4hn/x5.fw?dl=0
 
 
 
This is an updated video review and it is highly suggested you try and enjoy the multiple custom options this device offers.
 
 
 
I cannot and did not use the default theme as i have never seen it. That's how easy it is to customize this device or use another persons theme.
 
If you have not updated to FW 2.5 it is strongly advised.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Pros: Sound Quality, Looks, Price/Value, Storage, Versatility
Cons: UI, Wheel
The X5 from Fiio. Where to begin...
 
Perhaps I'll start with dual-CPU processing power... or maybe the dual TF card slots... or perhaps USB DAC functionality... then again how about the exceptionally black background...
 
So many options. You know what? I'll make your life easier. Since every other review is pretty dang thorough, I'll just include the highlights and then my personal impressions.
 
The Hits 
  1. Support for every lossless format under the Sun
  2. USB DAC capability
  3. Two TF-card slots (up to 256 GB!)
  4. Exceptional firmware/UI development that continues to improve
 
The Misses
  1. The click wheel implementation
  2. Non-removable battery
 
My Thoughts
 
To give you an idea of where I'm coming from, my head-fi DAP history has included a plethora of iPods, a sample of Sansas, a cache of Colorfly, a basket of iBassos, and a few Fiios. Some like the iPods, C3, and DX50 were used with additional amps & DACs, while the X3, DX90, and now X5, have been standalones. 
 
The X5 is the one I've decided to keep and here are the reasons why:
 
Sound
 
Duh. This whole journey has been a pursuit of better sound without sacrificing much else. The X5 does it right. It's a noticeable step up from the iPods, Sansas, and Colorfly so I won't reference those.
 
In comparison to its younger sibling, the X3, the presentation is more neutral, with just a dash of warmth in the lower mids. Both have the Fiio sound, but to me, the X3 is the obsessed-with-being-cool younger brother, and the X5 is more sophisticated, eternal-bachelor uncle. Just more refined, clear, authoritative sound. Since it's often a subject of contention, I'll cast my vote confidently for the X5 over the DX90. It's got a more organic (less digital) sound and comes at a substantially lower price. 
 
Mid- and sub-bass are both very textured and well-balanced. From Paul's upright to Bassnectar's bass cannons, I've never once wanted more. This is definitely a pro for the X5 over the DX90. The 90's bass is heard. The X5's is felt. Which, if you ask me, is better. I've never been to a concert or venue where, when it was time, I didn't feel the bass, whether it be from a drum or an instrument. 
 
Vocals and instruments presented in the midrange are in a word: rich. From the distortion in Jimi's electric to the rasp in Norah's voice, I've always felt that the X5 does the mids better than is let on. Often in DAP-world, we judge by extremes. Depth of soundstage. Low-listening noise. Extreme upper and lower-end frequencies. Sometimes we forget about the middle. Well, have no fear. I did not forget, and neither did the good people over at Fiio. The X5 gives them just like they were recorded. 
 
The X5's upper end is solid. It's not as spacious as the DX90, but it's certainly close. It extends farther than the X3, and offers more detail than the DX50. Thanks to the exceptionally noiseless background, all the details you only hear up top are easy to discern. Things like Joe's fingers sliding on guitar strings, Adele's breathing, and Neil's cymbal rolls are very detailed and lifelike. In my experience, these kinds of things are lost in live recordings with most DAPs. They just don't have the resolution capability to make instruments recorded live sound like it. Luckily for us, the X5 does.
 
All in all, the X5 offers a complete audio experience that doesn't leave this listener wanting anything. In a world where DAP to DAC to AMP to headphone pairings are all the rage, this is quite a feat if you ask me!
 
Function
 
With regards to the X5's user experience, we've been presented with something original (always scary) yet very capable. Physical buttons require a little getting used to, but they follow a reasonable navigational scheme. I also appreciate the thought that has gone into making this player one-handed and non-visual operational. Being able to choose which buttons function when the screen is off is a nice touch. I can operate all audio functions without seeing the player!
 
The UI has a pretty short learning curve, which is certainly appreciated. Honestly, no matter how good the sound is, a bad UI can be a dealbreaker. Fiio's folder-based UI is easy enough to navigate and adjusting player and audio settings like gain, EQ, sleep, and card-scanning are reasonably intuitive. Heck, I like the look of the nav screen with it's circular design. Even the volume adjustment is cool. Unfortunately, I can't stop here though...
 
The qualms I have with the UI right now are that 1. the playlist support is clunky at best. 2. the Verdana-style font with now-playing information is a little annoying and 3. the click wheel. Why oh why would you try to make a different click wheel the the most popular portable player of all-time? That's asking for it. The X5's wheel works just fine, but it's mechanical design (as opposed to the iPod's electronic) drops the ball in two ways. First, it has as limited scroll speed - super annoying for those of us with large libraries. Second, one click of the wheel does not equal one move on-screen. Sometimes it does and then sometimes it doesn't. This makes for a lot of missed selections. 
 
Even though I don't use them much, there are other functions that the X5 offers which should satisfy most users. First, it's USB DAC capability is quite nice. It offers some seriously quality sound for those of us who are doing most of our listening through a laptop or portable rig. It's coax and line out are also very convenient. The line-out is one of the cleanest I've ever heard!
 
Finally, I should mention that the driving power of the X5 is excellent. I've yet to use a headphone that made it feel insufficient. From the 215s to the KSC75s to the PS500s to the ZMFs, the X5 drives everything I've thrown at it with authority. This is great not only from an SQ standpoint, but also from a convenience factor: I don't need to look for an additional amp! No more double-stacking! Woohoo!
 
Conclusion
 
In closing, the X5 from Fiio bests most of the other DAPs in and (obviously) below it's price bracket in almost every category. I can't compare it to the offerings from A&K or the brick of a player that the DX100 is, but I can assure you that it leads the race in my experience, for sub-$500 players. From it's excellent sound quality (I don't remember the last time I listened so exclusively to my portable device), to it's "extras" like dual-TF slots and USB DAC capability, to it's authoritative amplification, this DAP has proven it's worth time and time again. If you want an all-inclusive solution to hear your music more clearly and enjoyably when you're on the go, look no further than the Fiio X5. 
Subseastu
Subseastu
does anyone have any idea if this is a marked step up in SQ over a cowon J3?
kenz
kenz
It is a very clear step above the Cowon J3.
In fact, the Fiio X1 is a step up from the Cowon J3;
 
Great review. 
 
The X5 is not perfect, but it does so many things right that you'll forgive the small quirks.
For its sound quality, performance and price, it is hard to find any credible competition in its category or above its price point.
Subseastu
Subseastu
Thanks Kenz, I was a bit worried that its wasnt really a significant step up. I may hold out for the X7 though
Pros: Sound quality, build quality, options
Cons: File transfer speed, navigation memory
To be able to value my review I think it is important to mention some things about my preferences and experience with audio equipment and writing reviews. This is my first review for audio gear and I got involved in the audiophile world about 5 years ago when I bought my first earphone upgrade with the Ultimate Ears Superfi 5. Later I got the triple fi 10, UE900, Unique Melody Miracle and Cosmic Ears CE4E. I’ve been listening to my iPod with a Meier Audio 2Stepdance and was always very happy with this gear. I’ve tried the Colorfly C4, Fostex HP-P1, Fiio X3, Ibasso DX50 and DX100, but neither of these convinced me enough to trade in my iPod combo. Not that they weren’t good, but the upgrade wasn’t worth the money in my opinion. I have to admit though that it’s been a while since I listened to the other players. I would very much try the AK240 and compare it to the X5 but it is and will be beyond my budget.
I am a detail freak. I like to hear everything in a song and I don’t like to use eq, because I’d like to hear the music the way the artist intended it to sound.
 
I have tested the X5 with the Cosmic Ears CE4E.
To my ears the sound can be described as very detailed, spacey and without coloring. I mean that neither the bass nor the highs are emphasized, well-balanced that is.
 
I decided to give you my impressions based on some songs that I know very well and that I always use as a reference when I listen to new gear. I don’t care a lot about UI and I think the build quality has been discussed enough so I’ll skip that and I am satisfied with it anyway. The only thing I would have liked is that you don’t lose your place in the folder when you go from the main menu back to the ‘now playing’ song. You have to browse to the song folder again from the main menu. Fiio is constantly updating the firmware so this might not be an issue in the future. One of the reasons I was willing to try the X5 was the possibility to have up to 256 GB of storage. I would very much like to express my appreciation to the Fiio people who show that they are really committed to make a product that meets the wishes of the customers to whom they are actually listening! I have no relation with Fiio besides being a customer.
I listened to CD quality songs and HD songs, but unfortunately I couldn’t hear a significant difference. So besides the Beatles remasters at 24bit I used 16 bit/44khz files.
 
I Am the Walrus              The Beatles
I always found the Beatles recordings sound a bit amateurish and not very transparent, but when I listened to the 24bit remasters with the X5 it sounded very transparent and I heard instruments I hadn’t noticed before, for example I never noticed that there was an electric guitar playing along with the electric piano in the verse part. The strings are very pronounced where you can hear the overtones and the bow touching the strings. Even when there are other instruments playing at the same time.
 
Chuck E’s in Love            Rickie Lee Jones
I’ve always loved the production of this song. Really clear and you could always hear all of the instruments. The X5 didn’t reveal things that I hadn’t heard before, but some instruments are a bit more refined. For example the kick drum isn’t just like a low bump, but it has more details, as if you were standing next to the drum kit when you can even feel the kick.
 
Getting Better                 The Beatles
Like I Am the Walrus, more details and a wider soundstage. A silly detail that caught my attention was the click (a guitar being turned on) you hear when the ‘high’ guitar part (the one the song starts with) comes back in the chorus. These kinds of details, however not musical, make me happy.
 
Dogs                                     Pink Floyd
I have been listening to this song since I bought the album in 1985. There are acoustic guitars almost throughout the whole song (except the electronic intermezzo that I used to skip…). When the acoustic guitars fade in in the beginning of the song they sound really dry and natural and you can even hear the pick touching the strings, wonderful! Until I Iistened to the song with the X5/CE4E I didn’t really notice the acoustic guitars in the part of the guitar solo just before the lines ‘…And when you lose control..’ They are really present and detailed where they were masked by the electric piano and bass listening to it with my old gear.
 
Babylon Sisters                               Steely Dan
I find the production of this song already very pristine, so transparent, but I was surprised that it could sound even more transparent. The best way I can describe it is that it made me feel as if I was ‘in’ the song. I could ‘feel’ the music like you feel a kick drum when you are standing next to it.
It seems to me that well produced music sounds even better with the X5/CE4 combination, but that it doesn’t improve bad recordings. If tried songs that I thing lack dynamics and they are not sounding better with the X5. For example While You See a Chance from Steve Winwood. Although I love this song it has always sounded ‘thin’ to me and it still does with the X5/CE4, even the 2012 remaster. Matter of production I guess.
 
Conclusion
For my needs the X5 is a wonderful player. It has been a very big upgrade from the iPod and although I haven’t tested it with headphones of lesser quality I thing you need a good pair of IEM’s to fully appreciate the power of the X5 (as I have done with the Cosmic Ears CE4). I participated in the European tour of the demo unit, but I had ordered an X5 even before I forwarded the demo unit as I didn’t want to miss that listening pleasure! I hope I have given you a useful impression of the device. Any questions? Please let me know. 
Cachicamo
Cachicamo
For now it's the X5. Though I still like the iPod for it's ease of use and the fact I can use it in my car...
Cachicamo
Cachicamo
For now it's the X5. Though I still like the iPod for it's ease of use and the fact I can use it in my car...
DigitalGrounder
DigitalGrounder
Great review I might need to get an x5 of my own
Pros: Huge variety of file support including DSD, solid feel, included accessories, doubles as standalone DAC
Cons: Scroll wheel needs refinement, UI could use some improvement as well
Background
 
I am writing this review about a tour unit that I received from Fiio for a 10 day trial. I currently own the Fiio X3 and use it as my portable DAP as well as my DAC with my home setup. I tested this tour unit as a portable DAP by itself, as a portable DAP combined with the Fiio E12, and as a DAC with my desktop and Schiit Mjolnir. I listened to these setups with Sennheiser HD 598s, HD 700s, and Audeze LCD-Xs (as well as some Skullcandy "The Fit" earbuds for some train rides through Chicago).
 
Unboxing
 
Upon receiving the X5, I was happy to see the numerous accessories included with the unit:
 
- Fiio X5 unit with screen protector applied
- Two extra screen protectors
- Silicone case
- USB Cable
- 3.5mm to RCA digital coax adapter
- Three 3.5mm dust covers for the 3.5mm ports
- Micro USB card reader
- User manual and HD Tracks coupon code
 
My X3 came with a plethora of accessories as well, so it was nice to see Fiio continue this very much appreciated trend.
 
Initial Impressions
 
Holding the X5 for the first time I noticed that it felt very solid. It has a good weight, but is not necessarily heavy. It seems very well built and like it could stand quite a beating with the exception of the scroll wheel. The wheel seems a bit loose and that it would be the 'life-limiting' feature of the unit. Aside from the wheel, the buttons feel solid and durable. The input/output jacks seem well laid out as well. I'm happy to see the line out jack is at the top of the unit. This makes it easier to pair the X5 with the E12. The line out is on the bottom of the X3 so the E13 must be turned upside down to use one of the short line out cables. One thing that seems a bit odd to me is the placement of the four buttons surrounding the scroll wheel. Perhaps it's my experience with iPods that makes me want to use the top, bottom, left, right locations for moving through the menus, but it seems a bit more natural than the current layout of the X5. I guess the buttons fit the given space, though. The only other feature that seemed a bit of a hassle were the microSD card slot covers. They were a bit difficult to open and I had to resort to the tip of a mechanical pencil to pry them open. This isn't a huge issue, though, since I wouldn't be accessing the cards on a frequent basis.
 
Standalone DAP
 
I found the X5 very useful as a standalone DAP. I could see it very easily replacing my X3. I really like the idea of dual microSD slots as my music library is ever-growing and high-res files take up quite a bit of space. The X5 was able to drive all three of my headphones to a good listening volume. Unfortunately, I didn't do a proper back-to-back comparison between the X3 and X5 from an audio standpoint as I spent most of my time with the X5 on a trip to Chicago and did not want to bring both DAPs. I used my sh***y Skullcandy earbuds during this trip and was actually surprised at how good the music sounded out of such a low-quality earbud. For my few days back home listening to the X5 as just a DAP, I noticed no distortion or coloration of the music, but did notice that the X5, like the X3, did not have enough power by itself to bring the LCD-Xs to their full potential - not that I would use them as a portable headphone anyway. 
 
X5 + E12
 
After returning from Chicago, I tried out the X5 with the E12 for a brief period (only an hour or two to listen to some of my favorite songs). I noticed that the E12 gave some extra oomph to the X5 and increased the soundstage of my 598s and 700s. Pairing the combination with the LCD-X left them sounding a bit veiled (if that's the right word), though not as much so as with the X5 alone. Again, I wouldn't plan on using this setup with my LCD-Xs as a portable rig, so no worries there. I would be perfectly happy with the X5 --> E12 --> 598s.
 
X5 as a DAC
 
During my remaining two days with the X5 I used it as a DAC. My setup was high-res (FLAC and DSD files) to the X5 and fed via line out to the Mjolnir. I listened to this with my HD700s and LCD-Xs through balanced cables and was very happy to see that I could finally listen to some of the DSD files that I hadn't been able to listen to previously. (The X3 is now capable of playing DSD files via firmware update released since my time with the X5) I was very impressed with the clarity of the X5 and found myself sitting for hours on end into the wee hours of the morning absorbed in my music. Using the X5 as a DAC brought forth the best of both worlds. It gave me the high-res DAC capability of the X5 and the powerful amplification of the Mjolnir. The extra power from the Mjolnir really helped to open up my LCD-Xs and bring them closer to their full potential. Even though they are efficient headphones and the X5 alone can bring them to a comfortable (or more) listening level, the extra power from a separate amp is a noticeable improvement. 
 
Final Thoughts
 
As a result of my demo of the X5, I do plan to try to sell my X3 and upgrade to the X5. I've heard Fiio plans to release another DAP or two in the near future and would be very interested in demo-ing those as well. For now, though, I see reason to upgrade from the X3 to the X5. Even if there was no change in audio quality between the two, the additional storage capability of the X5 coupled with its more user-friendly layout (still not perfect) is reason enough for me to make the move. A $350 price tag for a device that serves both as a standalone portable DAP and as a DAC for my home setup that is DSD capable seems like a steal to me. Overall, I liked the X5 very much and hope to see some of the few cons worked out in the upcoming products.
chengsta
chengsta
great review.  Had my x5 for several months now, and I love it alot more than my x3.  The line out is just superb.
Pros: Sound quality
Cons: Some minor issues with the volume setting in relation to the lockscreen
I owned the X5 since 3 weeks when I wrote this mini-review, and there is absolutely not regret in relation to that purchase..
 
The design is not really my piece of cake, but this is not supposed to be a judgement, because I can imagine that others will especially like the X5 for it's looks.
 
The sound is as good as you could expect it from a portable unit in that Price range. The sound stage is stable, the background as dark as I could wish, and there is no recognizable coloration and distortion. Just make sure your headphone is on the rather higher-efficiency side. So in-ears as i.e. my Miles Davis Trumpet obviously go very well, but also full-size cans as my AH-D7100 sound really great.
 
More about my impressions, especially concerning the user interface in relation to the volume settings and lockscreen here.
GL1TCH3D
GL1TCH3D
Thanks for your review!
musikaladin
musikaladin
Welcome. I know, that was a rather short review, but that's pretty much all what is relevant to me...
Pros: Sound quality, black background, build quality, long list of features
Cons: *most of my gripes with the X5, I believe, have been taken care of with the newest firmware*
Introduction:

Fiio has become a well known brand in the last few years by people in this hobby due to their very affordable and well built products. Pretty much everything you need for your portable set up they've made available for a great  price and solid performance on top of that! 
From interconnects, line-out docks for idevices, iem cables, amplifiers and DAC/Amp combos, and most recently their very own Fiio X3 DAP. The follow up to the Fiio X3 is this little device I have here which I am about to review...
Before I go any further, I would like to give a big thank you to Fiio and special thanks to Head-fi member Joe Bloggs  for letting me get a sneak peak of their newest addition to their product  catalog, Ladies and Gents... the Fiio X5!
 
View attachment
 

For the record, I have no affiliation with Fiio and this review unit is and will remain the property of Fiio as it is only on loan to me for ten days for this review.
 
Packaging:
 
As I mentioned before, this is a preview sample of the X5 that is on loan to me from Fiio, which has not been released yet in North America, so packaging, accessories and/or even the X5 itself might slightly differ from the final release version that will be due out very soon...

The X5 comes in an attractive retail box which is overall black in color with some red overtones.
After opening the retail box you are greeted by a textured black cardboard box that contains the X5 and other  goodies, which include:
 1. Fiio X5 unit
 2. Black silicone case
 3. USB Cable
 4. Micro USB card reader
 5. 3.5mm to RCA digital coax adapter
 6. Two extra LCD screen protectors
 7. Three 3.5mm dust covers for your 3.5mm ports
 8. User manual, and other paperwork
 *MISSING - The OTG cable was not included in my review sample, but will be provided in the retail version*
 
 
Build Quality:
 
I must say I am impressed with this unit. It is very well built, nothing about it seems cheap and it has a very nice solid heft to it. The whole body seems to be made of machined aluminum. The power button, volume keys, the "select" button that is in the middle of the scroll wheel and the four buttons on the front of the unit are also made of metal. There are three 3.5mm jacks on the top side of the unit that are of excellent quality reminiscent of my Meier  Audio Corda Quickstep amp.

The scroll wheel reminds me of a sansa player I had some time ago, it has a rubber texture on it and quite frankly I don't see it being an issue, or at least not an issue for a good few years of heavy use, imo.
 
Operating the Unit:
 
Being the manly man that I am, I did not read the user manual and dug right into the X5.
I found the X5 to be just as intuitive as I have found any other unit that I've own in the present/past. Your basic operations are easy to figure out in no time, while other features will come out as you spend a bit more time with  the player.

As you all know, at this point in time there are many excellent and in depth reviews about the Fiio X5, so instead of  going on and on about every single detail when it comes to operating the unit I will refer you to the User Manual  which can be downloaded through Fiio here:   (http://fiio.com.cn/support/download.aspx ) and does an excellent job at  explaning how to operate the X5.
 
View attachment
 
 
Specification:
 
View attachment
 
 
Features:
The X5 is packed with features that make it extremely attractive if you are in the market for a Hi-res DAP, in my opinion. Not only is it able to play a large array of Lossless and lossy formats (DSD decoding will also be available at a later date through a firmware update), but it is also able to natively play Hi-Res content of up to 192k/24Bit!  The X5 can also be used as an Asynchronous USB DAC from your computer which is a great feature!
 
On the hardware side of things, you have two micro sd card slots at the bottom of the unit that can handle the newly released 128gb micro sd cards (must be formatted to Fat32) with no problems! That means you can use two 128gb cards  for a combined capacity of 256gb (approx) of storage! but wait! There's more!
... In the near future, Fiio will  release a firmware update that will enable otg capability for even more external storage capacity! *Please note that the X5 does not have any internal memory for storing music*
 
On the top side of the X5 you have three 3.5mm ports, these are a headphone out(duh), a dedicated line out and a digital coax out. For my particular uses, this works out great! My current desktop setup is an older headphone amp/dac made by Headroom. The dac protion of this unit only goes up to 16/44k via usb but can do 24/96 via optical or digital coax. My old pc which is connected to this setup does not have either optical/coax out, so in this case with the Fiio X5 using the provided 3.5mm to digital coax adapter I was able to play some music files I had in Hi-Res in their native resolution through the Headroom's DAC. 
Although I didn't get to try it out for myself, in theory, the X5 could be used as a USB to Digital Coax converter for situations like I stated above. I'm not sure if many people would use it in such a way, but good to know it's  there if you did need it.
 
How's it sound?
 
First of all here is the gear I used with the X5, please note that my main purpose for a DAP is to use it on the go  with iems, so most of my listening was done with the Audio-Technica CK10 and the AKG K3003i.

As far as headphones go, I tried it briefly with my Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs 3.2 and Grado Sr325 non "i" version. 
 
The Amps I used was mainly my Corda Quickstep, along with a brief audition on my Headroom Desktop Amp.
 
First of all the Fiio X5 has a very nice black backgroud with my gears. Please note that my iems are not terribly sensitive such as other multi-ba customs like my recently sold jh13 for example, so keep that in mind.
 
The mid bass is definitely a bit north of neutral, just enough to make it a slightly warm signature and was the very first thing that came across to me since my first listen and has remained my impression throughout my short stay with  the X5.
 
I find the midrange and treble quite neutral and a little flat to be honest. I tend to prefer a slightly brighter  signature which to me sounds more lively as opposed to laid back. 
It is important to note that even though I consider the X5 to have a slightly warm signature, there is no lack of details in the music. Even on busy passages of music, there is a spotlight highlighting every instrument. There was a  couple of times I was distracted by this which is not something I can say I enjoyed, as it wasn't natural and took the focus away from the main instrument or voice in a particular song. 

Other thoughts...
I love the X5 for many different reasons, here is a shortlist of pros and cons that I would like to point out:
 
Pros:
 
Having the two micro SD cards is fantastic, the line out is very good vs headphone out when using an amp, otg capability will be good to have, but not really something I see myself using. Digital Coax out to my desktop DAC,  Asynchronous USB DAC, good internal amp section, good overall UI. Manually updating the library, my 128gb sd card along with a 64gb sd card took around 2-3 minutes to scan then after that the X5 only takes about 10-12 seconds to  start playing music every time you power it up. Also worth mentioning, when it comes to updating firmware, Fiio did an excellent job at making this task super easy and it also updated very fast.

Cons: (including some present quirks that may be fixed later through firmware) 
 
Here are some of my gripes with the X5:

When skipping songs, it is a fraction of a second too slow which can get very irritating very fast. When the unit is in my pocket (which keep in mind that this is how I use my DAPs 90% of the time) the front buttons are too sensitive and I accidentally kept bumping things(very lightly, mind you), hitting forward, pause, and the previous buttons.  While on the lockscreen (again in my pocket) when adjusting volume, if I hold down the volume rocker up or down, it also doubles as a forward and previous button, which is totally unnecessary in my opinion, so instead you must keep depressing repeatedly to achieve the desired volume. The X5 has many steps on the volume control, so when on  lockscreen in your front pocket, it is a total pain in the ***** to have to keep pressing repeatedly for desired volume. Since there are two lockscreen modes, I think Fiio should keep lockscreen 1 mode as-is, but change lockscreen  2 to not skip forward or previous track on the volume rocker.
 
Another thing to note is that while I had no trouble the first time I used the X5 as a USB DAC, I wasn't able to do it again. I tried a few times, but due to lack of time, I wasn't able to fully troubleshoot and get it going again. **Please note that there have been some hardware changes in the USB interface between the tour unit and retail units and so USB functions including DAC and OTG may have improved.

I wasn't able to do a battery test, although I found battery life acceptable, a longer battery life is always  welcomed.
 
Final thoughts:
 
The Fiio X5 is definitely a winner in my book and it would be very hard to beat at this price range. yes, it's a good  looking piece of gear. Yes, all the extra features are great. Yes, the UI (while not perfect) is very good, and nothing to complain about. What I really miss the most about it is it's very clean and detailed sound, and that my friends, is the most important thing of all, the sound!
 
Thanks for reading!
Pros: Very robust, Sound Seperartion
Cons: Highs can be a little harsh
Summary:

As part of the pre-release tour, these observations are based on a relatively short experience with the X5, but I think that I got a good impression of what it offers. The X5 is a solid DAP. If you like the Fiio house sound, the X5 will delight you. It has some great features like dual mSD slots and a good UI. The Texas Instruments DAC provides great instrument placement on the sound stage too. The onboard amp didn’t wow me. It is solid and certainly acceptable, but it seemed too warm for me, with some bass bleeding into the low mids. Overall, it’s a good DAP, but I prefer a different sound sig from me equipment.
My context: I use my DAP’s primarily at work, or while working around the house. I want a DAP that’s small enough to comfortably fit in my pocket, and is easy to use without looking at (mostly meaning change the song, pause, and adjust volume while its in my pocket). Up to this point I have been using the iBasso DX50 with a C&C BH2 into Vmoda M100’s.
My Music: I did the testing with about 60% FLAC, 30% 320 mp3’s and 10% 128-256 mp3’s. I included the low rez files because I have some legacy music that I cant/don’t want to pay to replace and was interested how it would do with low bitrate files, but these were not factored into how I think the X5 sounds. I only tested one 24/96 album and no 24/192, as I hear no improvement from super hi-rez music.
Ergonomics:
Looks: Personally, I think this thing is ugly. I heard someone compare it to a 90’s Aiwa CD player, and I totally agree. I guess they were going for a turn table appearance, but it doesn’t really work for me. This is fairly unimportant though. Also, for those of you that are going to rubber band an amp to it, there is very little room between the screen and the wheel for the rubber band, and it gets in the way a little bit. You may be better off cutting out a square from the back of the silicone case and Velcro-ing your amp to it.
The Wheel: Personally, I am not a big fan of the wheel for navigation. The wheel seems solid enough, but I have concerns that small particulates (sand/lint/grit) could possibly become wedged between the wheel and casing, or possibly get underneath it since the wheel physically spins, unlike an Ipod which is stationary. I work in a machine shop where micro sized metal chips are common. I could see one getting wedged in the wheel at some point, although this was not an issue at all on my unit. I’m just thinking if you’re taking this around to less clean environments, it may be an issue. Other than the wheel itself, I thought it took a long time to scroll through long lists. I only have around 50 albums on my SD card, but it took quite a while to get to the bottom, so those of you with large directory lists will get a good thumb workout.
UI: I’ve been spoiled by a touchscreen for a while now, and going back to the wheel took some getting used to. Navigating the UI will get easier with time I’m sure, but I was not a big fan of it. It is fairly slow to get back to the Now Playing screen to change the song when you’re in the menu. Using the EQ with the scroll wheel is also somewhat tedious, but once it’s set you don’t really adjust it much, so I don’t foresee this as a big issue. Besides the interface, I like all the options included in the UI. It had some handy ones that the DX50 does not, like “power on volume”, left/right balance, and an integrated instruction manual. These are all great features.
Another big plus for the X5 is a properly working random play, meaning; Next Track button plays a random song, Previous Track plays the last track that was played. On the DX50, the Last Track button goes to the song immediately behind the current file in the directory, not the last track played. This drives me nuts! Another feature I like more than the DX50 is the FF/RW function. It skips ahead at a good rate with minimal delay. The DX50 FF/RW is overly slow, and its much more useful just to poke at the progress bar until you get the time in the song you’re looking for.
Timeout: The X5 only has a 8 minute maximum time out/shutoff which I thought was too short. I commonly get interrupted at work for more than 8 minutes, but less than 15 or 20. I have my Dx50 set to timeout after 20 mins, and don’t have to turn it back on frequently. With the 8 minute limit on the X5, I was turning it back on frequently, which was kinda annoying.
Silicone case: If you change cards a lot you’ll want to note: the silicone case covers the card slots, so you’ll either be taking the case on and off a lot, or you’ll want to cut out slots for the cards. Also, if you’re going to use it Amped all the time, the silicone case has 2 little tabs that cover the LO and Coax out which kinda get in the way. I would cut them off and just buy the silicone 3.5mm plugs to cover the unused HO/LO/Coax ports.
Play: there is a couple second pause between pushing the play/pause button and the player responding. Its about the same as on the DX50. The power up is slightly faster than the DX50 though. I like the menu option that allows you to choose how/if it resumes play where you left off.
Weight/size: noticeably heaver than the DX50. Not massive by any means, but its substantial. Its boarder line of too big, but hasn’t quite crossed into that territory yet. Without an amp, its fine; with an amp, its pretty big and no longer portable IMO. It becomes closer to a portable desktop rig.
Volume/Power: I used my M100’s for most of the testing, but also used Phillips Stretch headphones for a small comparison. I used High gain at around 35-50 volume. 40-45 was loud but comfortable. The M100’s are exceptionally easy to drive, so I cant really comment about the X5’s ability to drive 250-300 ohm headphones. One thing I like a lot more on the DX50 is that the Volume + and – buttons are separated by a quarter inch. On the X5 they are each half of “1” long button. I like the DX50’s 2 distinct buttons because they are easier to feel through your pants and easier to adjust without looking at the player.
Now, on the the important part: The Sound.
Do not have a large palette of high end DAPs to compare this to, mostly just the DX50, but have used Ipods, Sansa Clip+, Creative Zen, Zune, and the X3. For my comparison, I did No EQing to best compare one to the other (I mean, EQ off).
First off, I think the Texas Instruments DAC does a good job of imaging and instrument separation. Most of the time I thought this was a plus, but in some recordings, it made the sound stage too wide or localized. I specifically thought that the guitar and drums on Dave Matthew’s Lie in our Graves were almost too localized.
To me, the general signature of this DAP seems to be strong lows and mids, laid back highs. By that I mean the bass and mids stand out, with the treble taking a back seat. Sub bass ( <40hz) wasn’t as strong either.
To my ears, the Lows on the X5 are boosted. They seem more present than on my DX50. This really comes through with things like a bass guitar, and the lower notes metal guitars with distortion. I think I heard the upper lows bleeding into the lower mids on a lot of rock songs like Godsmack’s Bad Religion, Weezer’s Pork and Beans, and Disturbed’s Voices.
The Mid’s also seem very prominent to me. The vocals come across very nicely in general with a good, natural sound. Once thing I noticed: there is a certain frequency in some rock songs, a medium-high guitar note, that really pierces and seems overly loud. I noticed this in some of the rock songs mentioned above, and specifically in Korn’s Reclaim My Place.
The Highs could use a little EQing up in my opinion, but I think this about most setups. I did about the same boost with my DX50 and got both players to sound about the same.
I did some testing with the C&C BH2 and the Fiio E12 via the LO too. I thought both the E12 and BH2 provided a better (to my ears) sound sig than the onboard amp. It seemed flatter/more neutral in general. The prominent lows and mids via the HO seemed to be more even via the LO to either amp. Comparing the LO of the DX50 to the X5, I highly doubt I would be able to tell one from the other in a blind test. 1 thing I do like about the DX50, is that the LO volume is variable. I know people go both ways on this, but I personally like it because I have sensitive headphones. With the X5, I could only use around ¼ to 1/3 of the volume knob before it became too loud, and when in a very quiet environment, I only needed 1/6 to 1/8 volume. On the DX50, I set my LO volume to 230/255 and then I can use ¾ of the volume knob. I know that technically you want the highest source voltage and lowest amp gain for the best THD ratio, but I still cant hear distortion using it like this. If you have higher impedance headphones, this wont be an issue, as you need more power to achieve the same volume. Overall the LO on the X5 is very good and clean. It will be a great source for any amp you strap on it.
Final thoughts: The X5 is a solid player. Personally, I like my DX50/BH2 combo better at the same price point. I think the X5 has the “Fiio house sound”, and the people who like that will love the X5. I chose the DX50 after my co worker had me listen to the X3 and DX50. I instantly liked the DX50 more and have been in the iBasso camp ever since. I know lots of people like the Fiio sound though, so if you have liked their players in the past, im sure you’ll love the X5, especially if you’re coming from an X3. All in all, Im glad that I got to hear the X5, but it didn’t sway my love for the DX50.
 
 
I will be adding some pictures soon, my camera needs some updating so they are not the greatest but there are plenty on Head-fi for you to view.
Thanks for reading,Andy (Aka Howdy)


Edit:
After all that was said above I ended up selling all of my ibasso products bought the X5 and became a FiiO fan boy. The sound of the X5 is by far superior to the DX50, I think there have been something wrong with my tour unit but the new one I have now is great, no issues what so ever. I'm excited for the upcoming X7!

Just figured I would update this review and tell my new thoughts for the X5.
Flomet
Flomet
Many thanks for your review, it's made good reading.
Pros: Natural presentation, superb detail reproduction, ample amounts of performance, competitive price.
Cons: The navigation wheel feels a bit fragile, non replaceable battery.
I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with FiiO or their partners.
 
First of all i would like to thank FiiO and those involved for making the world tour possible.
This write-up is based upon the ten day period of time in the middle of march when i had a preview unit in my possession.
 
1.   The first time
 
I picked up the unit on the fourteenth of march, and quickly hauled a*se home to try this new thing that came to change my view on portable audio.
When i got it out of the packaging i quickly realized that i was a beta tester, the player crashed when trying to index my library of seven hundred or so FLAC files. 
After a quick search i found that this was a common bug with version 1.10 of the X5's firmware and that it had been fixed in a later update. With the new update installed the listening began.
 
1.1 Listening and hearing
 
I plugged my InEar StageDiver SD-2's into the X5 and heard... well i heard music, nothing spectacular just music. I thought "This can't be right, is there something I'm missing?", it turned out that i was. Later that evening when i grabbed my InEar's again for another listening session it struck me, the X5 is not doing anything in special, it's just doing what it's supposed to. It does not colour the music in any mayor way, nor does it improve it. The X5 is strikingly natural. The music just sounds right, and that is the best way I can describe it. 
 

The X5 and the StageDivers.
 
1.2 Contemplation
 
Natural, is that it? Sonically, yes that is the best way i can describe it, natural. And with me being a naturalist i feel that this is the way that I want to enjoy my music, "as it is" and with as few disturbances as possible detracting from the music.
 
2.   The physical
 
The X5 is one solid feeling player. Built out of solid aluminum with very little plastic in the actual chassis. The one thing i wish that FiiO took a good hard look at is the mechanical navigation wheel. The unit i received had a very poorly implemented wheel, the thing jiggled like there was no tomorrow and felt like it was about to pop of the unit, which could probably be fixed with some inlays but since I didn't own the unit I decided against putting the X5 under the screwdriver and fixing it myself. That wheel was a real turnoff. When everything about the unit screamed quality there it was, jiggling away.
 
2.1 Holding its own
 
The Swedish weather can get a bit crazy around the month of march. One minute it can be sunny and lovely, the next it can be poring down rain and the next it can be snowing. Despite this i never had the X5 crap out on me because of the weather, it handled sub zero degrees centigrade like a champ when other digital devices like my phone didn't.  
 
3.   The big picture
 
Even though the X5 has some flaws I still feel like it's a welcomed addition to the ever growing market of Digital Audio Players. It's solid enough to withstand some fairly heavy abuse, it handles weather like a champ and it plays music without to many diversions. It gives ample amounts of performance for not to much money. Is it the best player on the market? No, it isn't. Is it for everyone? I believe not, but for someone that likes things to be a bit bigger (yes, some puns intended), does not like to have things spoiled and enjoys naturality. Then i think it is something to consider and keep in mind when the time for an upgrade comes.
 

The X5 does also work well with FiiO's E12 amplifier if you need some extra power.
 
3.1 Closing words
 
I would once again like to thank FiiO for this opportunity and for pushing to meet the demands of us Head-fi'ers that keep knocking on your noggins with an everlasting thirst for you and your products.
 
Thank you.
Markus Petersson a.k.a. Skalkman.
Pros: good UI, sound swings above its price point, well made, Good battery life,
Cons: not crazy about the SD card covers, when navigating song titles wish fonts were bigger
Full review below
 
 
Pros: Fantastic sound signature; outstanding build quality
Cons: New UI to learn.
Firmware: 1.20; 1.22 Beta; 1.23 Beta
Gapless Playback: On
Files Used: FLAC (16/44.1)
MicroSD Card: Sandisk 32GB, formatted to FAT32
 
Music used during review:
The Beta Band – the Three EPs
Devandra Banhart – Cripple Crow
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Miles Davis – Musings of Miles
John Wizards – John Wizards
Amampondo – Raw and Undiluted
McCoy Tyner – Extensions
F. Gulda, K. Abbado, Wiener Philharmoniker – Mozart, Great Piano Concertos 20, 21, 25 & 27
 
Headphones used during review:
Magnum X drivers in Cabillas Mahogany Cups
Blox M2C (2013/2014 edition)
Vintage Grado SR80 Pink Drivers in African Blackwood Cups
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80
Fostex T50rp (unmodded)
 
Sadly, this is not virgin territory. There have been a slew of X5 reviews prior to this one, and at this point not much new can be said for this product. Like a man who meets a delightful young lady on a weekend trip to Las Vegas, the best I can do is perhaps add my voice to the cat’s chorus of people who have also met said young lady, and alongside them, sincerely voice my appreciation of her company. The unit I reviewed is my own, purchased at full price, from B&H Photo and Video in New York.
 
I applaud FiiO for what they have done. I am a firm believer that quality audio (in fact, quality anything…) can be had for a reasonable price. Money does not equal superiority, class cannot be bought, etc, etc… (insert anti-elitist, pseudo-libertarian, wannabe-anarchist cliché here). Anyone interested in this concept should read Robert M. Pirsig’s classic, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.  With regards to the X5, read on for a subjectivist’s impressions…
 
The unit comes very well packaged, and has a plethora of accessories. Some of them will never see the light of day for me…they are nice to have nonetheless. A side note of little relevance: the X5 does not include earbuds, but this is not a con in my book. I am waiting for the day FiiO ventures into headphone and earbud territory. They will more than likely be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, if you are buying an X5, the odds are that you already have a headphone/earbud/iem of preference.
 
The X5 is solidly built, and in its complimentary silicon case feels rather comforting to hold (like a lead-filled baseball bat or perhaps a nice police baton…or just a nicely engineered piece of consumer electronics).  All of the entry points are secure and solid (I am going to refrain from making an improper joke here). The SD card slots are a touch awkward to get to, but once the cards are in, they are safe (again…refraining from inserting yet another improper joke). I added and removed music without using the micro-SD card reader so thoughtfully provided and encountered no problems at all.
The user interface was built by FiiO from the ground up apparently. As such it is a completely new animal for all of us. I am not completely used to it, but I will be soon enough I am sure. It’s hard to override all that muscle memory built up from years of using iPods…Like a man confined to a hospital bed for 3 months while his broken leg heals, I now find myself having to walk down the hall to take a leak again…It’s going to be a little wobbly at first, and there will be accidents, but I am pretty sure after a little while I will be whizzing (see what I did there?) through the system effortlessly.
 
The sound the X5 puts out as both a portable device and a USB DAC is absolutely perfect for my tastes. It is neutral, but not completely so (if it were, it would be a dreadful bore to listen to). Not only does it sound good, it is (as noted by others) very detailed. I haven’t used this old chestnut for a while: I heard things on old favorite albums I have never heard before. Gapless playback worked flawlessly for me. There was no noticeable pause, not even a miniscule little hiccup, between tracks for me. I do not use playlists or replaygain, so I shall refrain from commenting on these. I was impressed with its ability to drive even the dreadful stock T50rp (See? I had good reason to include the wretched old studio mules in my headphone list at the beginning…) and Beyerdynamic DT770 80 to acceptably enjoyable levels.
 
For someone looking for a step up from the iPod, or a reliable on-the-go player with superior sound, I highly recommend the X5. For those who feel that being asked to pay upwards of $500 to enjoy decent sound in a portable player is asking you to perhaps invest too much of your hard-earned income into something that should feel like a pleasurable pursuit as opposed to a spending habit that rivals a nice combination of a crack habit and a gambling problem, I say pursue the X5, pursue it with a gleeful heart and enjoy it when you have it.
 
 
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fleasbaby
fleasbaby
Thank you .

Stuffed animals are cool too...it's fine.
albaman
albaman
A very helpful review - thanks. I've been researching high res DAP options for several weeks and had narrowed my shortlist to the iBasso DX 50 and the FiiO X3. The X5 - and attendant reviews - have destroyed this shortlist.
 
The unrelenting commentary on UI issues (more accurately, the product's operating system) from all googlable sources with the DX50 has ruled it out for me, regardless of sound quality. (I can think of no other product category where 'unfit for use' experiences are actually EXCUSED by the customer. Can you imagine buying a new car, loving its looks, only to discover it either doesn't start or continually breaks down? "They're working on a fix" would never cut it. Customers are being used to FUND product development post purchase of the product. Truly gobsmacking. And even though the DX50 doesn't work for far too many customers, iBasso has just launched the DX90. This is what magicians call distraction. Not for me, thanks.
 
The X3 has enjoyed a much safer public image post launch and I was very tempted. Relatively minor launch bugs appeared to have been largely eradicated and, despite some product limitations, and given competitor implodes, I was just about ready to purchase...being a researcher by occupation, I'm slow but thorough! Then FiiO announced the X5; an X3 for grown-ups. With better sound quality, spec and UI it seems a no-brainer. And, as of today, I can buy one for only $60 more than an X3. 
 
There are alternatives. A&K appear to be the real deal but there comparable product price is the same as an X3 / X5 plus a free home stereo. And other competitors are 'only' double the price of a FiiO X option. Cheap non-branded products are other possibles but they invariably suffer at least one major fail on my selection criteria, such as battery option / battery life, capacity or high res capability. And buying high quality amp-dac combinations to amplify (to headphones) the signal quality of a smartphone just seems self-defeating to me.
 
Of course there is no such thing as a perfect product so getting most things right most of the time is the very best I can expect from my impending DAP purchase. And largely collective agreement, via available comments and reviews, suggests this is the case with the X5.
 
It seems to me that, for anything close to X5 money, there isn't anything close to it.
weissshay
weissshay
Hello
I wish to ask if someone can tell me what gives Fiio X5 combo with E12 it seems that lots of users use that combo..
Pros: Capacity, power, battery life and sound quality.
Cons: Could use a better wheel. Interface needs a bit more tuning.
Hello everyone, My late review of the X5 due to PC issues.
 
 
Headphones used: AD900X, MDR-F1, HD25-ii, JVC SZ2000, Fischer FA-011, JH16 and FXZ200.
 
 
To start with, no pictures since they were all lost along with the review so I will keep it short and sweet.
 
 
To begin with, the player feels sold and well built compared to the X3 and should be able to hold its own against the rest of the DAP bunch.
 
The buttons feel well built and nice to the touch although the wheel could use a more rigid gearing compared to the one it has now as it feels too loose at times.
 
 
Moving on to the display, the display seems nice and clear and sufficiently lit to see in the sunlight too very important due to the fact that it will be used outside.
 
Could use a bit more brightness or maybe its just me going blind.
 
 
The layout of the X5 with all its ports and buttons is very easy to use after fiddling with it for 15 minutes and as with most things you can just feel the buttons and do your thing.
 
So a big benefit for future X5 users as the wont have to deal with esoteric buttons and myriad menus.
 
 
Now coming to the most important part, the sound. The Fiio X5 seems fairly well balanced overall with no nasty spikes or unnatural boom.
 
Just clean and clear audio with no surprises.
 
The treble is well defined and articulated for a very pleasant presentation, midrange just needs a bit more body but that could possibly be changed by using different headphones.
 
The bass is just about right with no bloom or looseness. You get tight punchy bass and very good speed/impact for most tracks.
 
The soundstage is very precise and large though not huge.
 
 
I also tested it with my E12DIY and that only helped it to get even better. The E12 adds some more bass impact and punch to the whole sound while helping out with harder to power cans.
 
 
The X5 surprised me most however when it came to plugging it in my car and boy oh boy, it was amazing how good it was.
 
I have a comprehensive triple amp car setup with a HX-D2 headunit,Focal Kevlars, JL Audio sub and sound proofing all around.
 
The X5 literally was the cheapest piece of kit in the whole setup and it also had the biggest impact.
 
The whole system seemed to have cleared its throat and the sound was simply mesmerising.
 
It was crystal clear, sharp and very very enjoyable and seemed to unlock hidden potential in the whole setup.
 
I still haven't gotten over the fact and will get an X5 just to keep in my car.
 
 
 
To conclude, the X5 is something that is well worth the price and even more importantly for Fiio, a shot across the whole DAP field.
 
Having owned the X3 and currently running the E12DIY, the X5 pushes Fiio in a newer and bigger direction as I always liked Fiio products (E7,E12 and E18)
 
but had that nagging feeling that something was missing or not right but not anymore.
 
The E12DIY and the X5 have progressed Fiio to a higher playing field and everyone else, watch out.
Loquah
Loquah
Camelogue I think you'll find a noticeable upgrade with the X5. I spent some time with it today and was extremely impressed after coming from an AK100 which outperforms the iPhone sound so the X5 is easily a couple of steps better and may allow you to let go of your E12 for a single device experience.
P.S. Nice review Gill.
Camelogue
Camelogue
Thanks Loquah. It´s exactly what I needed to know.
Regards
Mike46
Mike46
Good review, looking forward receiving mine.Just found out that I'm going to have to wait another week...
Pros: Sound quality, great price, bullet proof build, functional (take 5 minutes to learn the UI and everything just works – no fuss)
Cons: More power on the headphone amp please
Disclaimer 
I am part of the X5 Preview tour for Europe (UK). I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days.  I have no affiliation with FiiO and this review is based solely on my 10 days with the X5.
I would like to take this opportunity Joe, James and the whole FiiO team for making this preview possible.  Any company that makes an effort to know who their customers are and engage with them is on to a winner.  
Well done FiiO.
 
A little context
I am not an audiophile - at least I don't think I am.  Unless of course what I deem to be excetional sound quality makes me an audiophile then so be it.
First I had an iPod playing 128, 160 and 192 kbit/s MP3's using the standard packaged earphones - I was super impressed.
After a while I wanted more so sourced 320 kbit/s MP3's and bought some 'upgrade' earphones (Sennheiser CX 300-II) - I was super impressed.
After a while I wanted more and discovered FLAC & ALAC and bought some 'upgrade' earphones (Sony XBA2 In-Ear Headphones) - I was super impressed.
Then I got a gift of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro-80 Closed Studio Headphones which led me to discover headphone amps. Some research pointed me in the direction of the Fiio E07K Andes USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier - I was completely blown away.  This was now on a par with the McIntosh MX406 and MCD4000-6-Disc-CD-Changer system I have in my car.  I never thought I could have that quality of sound in a portable package.
After a while I wanted to take this sound with me when I travelled so I purchased a pair of Beyerdynamic DTX501P to complete the package.
After a while I wondered how much nicer it would be to have exactly what i have in a more compact package which is when I discovered the FiiO X3.  It was while researching the X3 that I discovered the X5 which led me to an invitation to join the X5 tour.
 
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The question that I needed the X5 to answer for me was is it a suitable replacement for my current bundle and are the improvements significant enough for my definition of 'sound quality' (I think sound quality is something that is totally subjective although I understand the need to try and describe or define it)
I firmly believe (my personal opinion) that the main function of a high quality music player is to listen to music.  Things like being able to easily adjust the volume, the bass & treble or whether a track can be tagged as a favourite are very much secondary functions.  Fortunately, most of these secondary functions are software based so they can be improved or tweaked.  
Here are my findings.
 
View attachment
 
Build 
The build quality of the unit is hard to fault.  The solid metal casing is a joy and feels great in the hand. Unlike some, I actually like the weight of the X5 - it gives it a premium feel.
 
Operation (User Interface)
I found the operation of the X5 via the User Interface to be fresh and different, in a good way.  It took a little getting used to and I can see that a little more work is required in the software to address issues of workflow and making a few functions configurable.
The good news is that most of this can be done via the Firmware upgrades with relative ease.  FiiO will have to manage their development roadmap carefully to release Firmware upgrades that address logical feature sets.
I would like to be able to adjust the speed of the scroll wheel or what each 'click' represents.
 
Operation & Ergonomics (Control)
I found operating the X5 in terms of volume controls, shortcut 'X' buttons for next track, previous track etc., was perfectly adequate.  It took a very short time to get used to how things operated and then it was a breeze.
In terms of Ergonomics, the only thing I would change would be to duplicate the volume buttons on the left of the unit, on the right.  Then I would allow the user to select the right or left for the volume controls and the right or left for the next track/previous track. This way the ease of use of the X5 does not depend on which hand it is held in – just a thought 

 
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Sound Quality
For me this should be the only reason to buy a portable player. The UI, the controls and even the capacity are all secondary in my opinion- after all there isn’t much point in listening to several songs at the same time ?.  I was truly amazed at the sound quality produced for such a reasonable price.
As I mentioned before I am not an audiophile.  All I know is that I found the X5 to have just the right amount of bass, treble and mid range for almost any type of music I cared to put through it.  I was particularly impressed by the way I could get the perfect sound by using the EQ when listening to high quality recordings of Kora music.  But it doesn’t stop there – I pulled out some music that I only have on as MP3’s and somehow the X5 treated them with so much respect that they decided to behave like high quality FLAC’s - miraculous!
The only ‘core’ part of the X5 I would want to see improved if possible would be the power of the headphone amp – more power please.
 
Conclusion
The X5 really is a hidden gem.  I will be getting one just as soon as I can.  I am already looking forward to long haul flights with the X5.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to evolve their enjoyment of recorded music – by the time they become a fully fledged audiophile they will already have the right player!
Next challenge FiiO – make a player that is twice as good for only twice the money, I dare you!
For me the X5 is a better package than the iPod/E07K bundle and that X5's wining margin grows with each firmware update.
 
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whiskybolt
whiskybolt
It did not get stuck for me but there was slight lag here and there.  However, I am looking at it from a different viewpoint - things like lag etc can be fixed in the software so I really don't worry about them.  For me it is all about sound quality.
Let FiiO know about your issues - they are very responsive.  
reddog
reddog
Hi I was wondering if the x5 has enough power to run beyerdynamic t1's .A neighbor passed away and his widow gave me his t1.
alejandro7
alejandro7
Good on ya for starting this up. Now...I have HD650s and to my ears an iPod can NEVER provide enough juice, power, headroom for those hps! Nor would the amp in my computer.So I bought myself a NECO V4. Problem solved. The Sennies sing! I imagine from your review, that the X5 has an amp out plug which would allow me to connect my V4. Does it? You didn't mention this. Also does the X5 have an amp out plug for the Fiio 18 pin to 3.5mm which allows me to bypass the crummy amp in my 20gig iPhone? Also prior reviews I read have given poor quality to the wheel...like it's either sloppy or jumpy. What was your experience of this in UI? Thanks for your continued comments.   alejandro
tl;dr: 3.9/5.0 => 4.5/5.0. The X5 is a good DAP and USB DAC combo that will shine even more after more polishing (right now it’s 1.20 and will get 1.21 soon. Things are looking really great from what I have seen in the changelog so far! :D )
 
For…
People who want the same sound for their portable and desktop setup
People who prefer a very well-detailed and well-presented soundscape
People who want something simple to play their loseless files (i.e. those who just throw everything into one card and play from there)
People who are ok with frequent firmware upgrades
 
Not For…
People who want something a little smaller and/or lighter
People who prefer a touchscreen
People who need ReplayGain support
People who want something more intuitive at one look
People who want something that works really well off-the-shelf
 
Note: In italics are the required disclaimers as per stipulated in the Preview Tour thread.
 
One day in December 2013, as I was looking around in Head-Fi (being more interested in audio ever since Fiio decided to add USB DAC capability to the X3), I came across a thread by Fiio asking people to test out the X5 as part of its “Preview Tour” (i.e. test it for 10 days for free and then pass it to the next reviewer/Fiio depending on schedule set by Fiio). I thought to myself, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained, YOLO” and signed up for it despite not writing having written a proper review before, not having high-level audio products and most probably being unable to afford to get the X5 in the immediate future being just a college student only. So, by some stroke of luck, here I am, reviewing the Fiio X5 (albeit an engineering sample and mostly on Firmware 1.00; the ones that you will be buying will be better than this review set :wink: ), and here’s my experiences with it.
 
Initial Opening
When I got the set from the previous reviewer, it was in a normal-looking box that you will expect for any electronic product. But, when I opened it, I was a little impressed by that sleek looking black box that held the X5; its leathery surface seems to show that this product is clearly for the (slightly more) upmarket consumer. The other stuff you get is on par with the rest in this market (e.g. USB cable, 3.5mm to coaxial cable and maybe that silicon case), except for the screen protectors (the X5 already has one, and some spare ones), the MicroSD card reader and even an USB OTG cable (as the X5 will be able to play media files from other USB storage devices in future firmware patches), which I thought are a nice touch from Fiio. The silicon case is a little thick though, which means that if you are planning to use the X5 with bigger 3.5mm plugs, you cannot use the silicon case (that’s why you will see that I am not using it in the pictures).
 
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The X5 itself
The first impression you might have is that “Hey, it looks like and iPod!” thanks to its mechanical wheel. But beyond that, it is a completely different beast from the iPod and many other digital audio players in the market. Around the wheel are 4 buttons, with a fifth one in the middle of the wheel. Below the wheel, you will see 4 dots, which are lit by a green/red LED to indicate USB activity. Above these is a large screen, which is quite clear and sharp. I am happy with the screen considering that it is the biggest I ever had for a DAP. On the top side of the X5, you will see the 3.5mm ports for Line-Out, Headphones Out and Coaxial Out, the Reset button and Power On/Off button (which acts as a Lock button too), which is as expected. The left side of the X5 has two buttons for controlling volume like the Sansa Clip Zip. What may be more interesting is the bottom of the X5, which has two MicroSD card slots and a MicroUSB port; not many digital audio players allow you to use two MicroSD cards and also another USB storage device at one go and not many digital audio players have thick and strong rubber covers to protect your MicroSD cards, which I think are important since they are small and somewhat fragile.
 
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Within the X5
The X5 starts up pretty fast and switches off pretty fast too (with a friendly “See You” message). Once the X5 is started, you will be in the main menu and you can use the wheel (or the bottom two buttons) to select where you want to go and the middle button to confirm your selection. You can choose to play your music files via selecting one of them among them within a storage device (this is what I used almost exclusively throughout this review), or go by artists or genres. There is also a “Favourites” playlist that you can use after setting some songs as your Favourites. Finally, you can adjust your X5 according to its “Equalizer”, its “Playback Settings” (e.g. gain control) and “System Settings” (e.g. language settings and USB port settings). A firmware upgrade can be done quickly and easily by getting the firmware file from the official Fiio website and placing it in a MicroSD card and then starting the X5 with it.
 
 
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Sound Signature
Coming from entry-level digital audio players like the Sansa Clip Zip that I am using now, the X5 is unsurprisingly a huge improvement. When paired with my (modded) Beyerdynamics Custom ONE Pro, I was happy at how the X5 was near-neutral as compared to the Clip Zip; I noticed slightly more treble (and even more so if FW1.15 is used). More importantly, I was pleased with how the X5 presented the details of the music; the level of detailing may be the same for the X5 and the Clip Zip but the X5 somehow managed to make me notice all these details much more than the Clip Zip. I support the popular notion that the X5 is good at showing the “micro-details” of the music. Also, it was only on the X5 that I can notice the weakness of my COPs: weak mids, which goes to show that the X5 is good enough at telling the weakness and strengths of some headphones. One of my friends also noted that the X5 is on par with the Cowon Z2 in terms of sound signature, but another friend using an iBasso DX50 noted that it was too bassy to his liking.
 
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USB DAC
One of the reasons why I am interested in Fiio’s X3 and X5 is that they can be USB DACs too and thus be part of your desk setup aside from being your portable setup (i.e. I prefer an all-in-one solution). Here, the X5 proved to be quite good. In order to use the X5 as an USB DAC, you must set it to be a DAC in the USB settings under the System Settings and then install the USB DAC drivers for your computer. When I was using the X5 as an USB DAC and paired it with a 12AU7 tube amp from Fred’s Amps using a RCA 1960’s grey plate tube, the sound signature is obviously the same as before except for the slightly tubey sound due to the tube amp. It is surprisingly on par with the much cheaper Fiio D03K/Taishan, but I must note that the Fiio D03K needs a SPDIF or Coaxial input while the X5 needs an USB input. (Sidenote: I connected the X5 to the D03K via its Coaxial output and then connected the D03K to the tube amp. The results are almost the same aurally, but it looks kind of funny :p) The X5 however outdid Stoner Acoustics’ UD100 as it is much heavier on the vocals and bass, which then underemphasized other details, making it less neutral than the X5. Notably, the X5 hung and had forced shutdowns a few times during this testing phase; I suspect it has something to do with the line out port since they happened when the jack is inserted or removed from the port. Normal usage does not require you to do this many times in a short period of time though so this should be a not-so-urgent issue lest this is related to other forced shutdown issues.
 
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USB Charging
The X5, being an USB device, needs to be charged via the USB port. While it can reach 100% if charged from a wall socket (of which I need to separately get a wall socket to USB plug), I was disappointed in seeing that it cannot be charged that quickly when plugged onto my laptop as an USB DAC (even after 12 hours!). I thought that I can use the time it is acting as an USB DAC to sufficiently charge it for the next day. Strangely, when I tried using a portable charger to charge (whether using the X5 or not), it was not charging as fast as on a wall socket too. On FW1.10 and above, I also noticed how hot the X5 can get while charging and how slower the charging process can get.
 
Other Issues
Other than this issue, I also noted that the buttons could have been labelled a la the X3; some of my friends and I noted that at first glance we do not understand what buttons do what until we either read the Quick Guide (in the System Settings or the one supplied with the X5) or we just play around with the X5. We also noted that the physical wheel feels flimsy and can be clumsy in terms of usage (especially when setting the Equalizer). While the wheel makes it faster to go through many songs as compared to the normal buttons as seen on the X3 and the Clip Zip, it is still slower than a touchscreen. I also noticed how imprecise the wheel can be at times, for some reason I tend to select the option/file that is just below my intended target.

Album art proved to be another issue I had with the X5; while the X5 is able to support them as stated on the official website, I am forced to experiment to find out what naming convention works and what doesn’t. Also, album art is cut off at the bottom and anyway, I feel it could have been better placed in the screen (i.e. the text should not block it at all).
 
The X5 is also quite huge and heavy compared to my Clip Zip, I had a hard time operating the X5 with one hand given that it is almost as wide as my palm. I also note that at certain circumstances (e.g. chasing a bus), its weight can be a hindrance.
 
Finally, song switching is much slower on the X5 than on the Clip Zip. This is slightly rectified on FW1.15 but the new Artist>Album behaviour (and that much loathed lockscreen being switched on when wrong button is pressed issue) is not something I want at all times.
 
Verdict
The X5 does well to market itself to the audiophile market (which have its own expectations of prioritising SQ over UI/physical size and not minding to read the manual first) given its excellent near-neutral detailed SQ (+2.5 stars) and the USB DAC functionality (+1.0 stars) at a good price point (+1.0 stars) (compared to iriver/Astell&Kern’s AK series of DAPs, which seems to be its main competitor given the similarity in terms of functionality). That said, the slight problem of it is getting “mainstream” customers due to the UI (particularly the five unlabelled buttons) and the slowness of the hardware wheel vis-a-vis touchscreens that most of us are used to today (-0.5 stars). I am also not impressed by the album art issue; the lack of documentation can give a bad impression to consumers (-0.5 stars). I however acknowledge that I might be nitpicky over these points since they will not cause much problem operational-wise (+0.5 stars). If then, the main problem I have would be the charging issues (-1.0 stars) as I feel that no matter how good the X5 is in terms of sound quality, that will be pointless if I cannot use it often thanks to this issue. Thankfully, all these issues I have mentioned can largely be mitigated via the firmware patches that Fiio gives often (as seen in the X3) and I believe that Fiio can and will be able to fix these issues in due time and even throw in new features as per users’ suggestions/feedback (e.g. the USB DAC feature in the X3) given their excellent track-record in Head-Fi. (+0.9 => +1.5 stars)
 
Will I Get It: Maybe. Its price (SGD 479) is a little too high to my liking though but that’s really just me. The lack of ReplayGain functionality is another personal bugbear too (having to reconvert my collection takes up a lot of my time that could have been better to enjoy the X5, but thankfully, it is just an one-off…)
 
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And sighs, it is too big for this pouch... :X
Pros: Great for flat sound lovers, durable, multi-functional
Cons: Might sound boring to some, lacks driving power
 

Conclusion


All I can say is the X5 are for listeners who are purists to their music taste. They will demand everything is flat, so they can hear the characteristics of a mastering, but for average users, this might not be a great choice, and psychologically will make you feel that you have just wasted your money on something that dull. So, better be damm sure that flat music is what you are after, or not regrets might influence you.
 
At the meantime, I will stick to my Clip+ until the next big thing comes along.
detailed review : http://earfisensation.blogspot.com/2014/04/fiio-x5-review-flat-head.html
doublea71
doublea71
Linking to your own personal blog instead of posting a full review on head-fi (which afforded you the opportunity to try the X5 in the first place)? I don't know if that is what Fiio had in mind......
AManAnd88Keys
AManAnd88Keys
What about equalizing?
noobandroid
noobandroid
@AManAnd88Keys I personally dont like to do EQ of any sorts, to know what are the acutal sounds of the hardware, not my PC, not my portable.
Pros: Made for great recordings, built like a tank, easy to use
Cons: May be a bit heavy for some users, scroll wheel not as durable as rest of player
The Fiio X5 Pays A Visit To Saigon
 
I first want to thank James at Fiio and everyone else involved in setting this tour up (especially Joe Bloggs) – it was way cool of you guys to let us have a crack at the X5 before its release and much more satisfying to be a participant as opposed to a spectator, which was always the case in the past for this guy….
 
 
Where I’m Coming From
 
So I’ve been into this hobby for a couple of years now and started out buying a used Cowon J3 in the for sale threads after having an ipod 5.5 and and 4th generation ipod touch. I like the J3 quite a bit because of its battery life, decent though unspectacular sound quality, and stable/more than adequate UI. It’s light as a feather, too, which matters a lot to me since I listen to music nearly daily while driving a moped on my way to work (half hour each way) and elsewhere (Saigon is a veritable sea of mopeds – the streets are teeming with literally millions of them). There simply is no other way for me to keep my sanity intact when driving to work. Exhibit A:  (I drive through this intersection nearly every day
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Anyways, I’m not yet a super-discerning know-it-all sommelier of daps (not a conscious goal of mine), but I’m getting that itch to upgrade. I guess I’m your typical newish head-fier with a mild case of upgradeitus who is on somewhat of a budget ( the X5 should retail for $350, depending on your region). Fortunately for me, I was allowed to participate in the SE Asian tour and had the X5 for about a week. Here’s my experience with the X5…
 
 
 
Old-school Build Quality
 
It is built like a tank and really feels like a substantial piece of kit in my hand, unlike most consumer electronics nowadays. It seems like something designed for field use – its build is that robust. For my own purposes and general use, it is on the heavy side and not ideally-sized for a shirt pocket during my commute (that is where I keep my J3 when on the road). I kept it in my backpack instead, which wasn’t quite annoying, but a bit cumbersome when getting off my bike since my backpack is strapped to my handlebars, facing me.  Clearly, this will not be an issue for 99.9% of users. After a couple of commutes, I decided the J3 is better suited for this generally dangerous task since this was, after all, a review unit and not mine (imagine the horror of having to inform Fiio of the demise of a review unit!). Saigon is quite hot, so there never really is a time when one has use for a coat with pockets – I wish I had an occasion to drop it in the inside pocket of a peacoat or something like that…hence, I’m really jealous of people who get to experience 4 seasons. For me, the X5 is more of a coffee shop/office sitting-on-your-tookus dap, which is quite alright since I spend a lot of time planning lessons or reading.
 
As far as battery life is concerned, I got about 10 hours or so out of it, using a mix of 16/44 and 24/96 files. I thought that I’d be really annoyed by this because of the J3 and its 30+ hours, but it didn’t cause me any problems at all. I knew what to expect, so how could I feel let down? I will say that it does take awhile to fully charge, so you need to be patient. A green indicator light  beneath the scroll wheel will show you when it is topped off. Otherwise, the light will be red and blinking. Everybody is in agreement about its storage capability: 2 microSD (256GB maximum capacity) slots is a beautiful thing. There is no on-board memory, but this can be forgiven since they were forward-thinking enough to consider the size of high-res files (typically over 1 GB per album) when deciding on this aspect. Well done, Fiio! Here's a couple of pictures I took of the X5: Camera: Canon S110
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In The Box (16.6 X 13 X 4.3cm)
 
  1. Micro USB cable: 1 meter, large current Micro USB cable (for charging/data transfer)
  2. Silicone case: 1 dark gray semi-transparent silicone case (with built-in port covers)
  3. Coaxial cable
  4. OTG cable
  5. Protective film: 2 pieces (plus one already applied to the X5's screen)
  6. 3.5mm port covers: 3 pieces (very handy to avoid plugging into the wrong port when not using the case)
  7. User manual
  8. Warranty card
  9. Promotion code for HDTracks
 
The UI
 
Much has been said about the UI and its unintuitiveness relative to other daps, but I didn’t find it particularly challenging to use. After a couple of minutes navigating through the UI, it struck me as a fairly straight forward affair, even before being improved with an update by the good chaps at Fiio (after I sent it to the next tour participant). There are similarities between the UI of the X5 and that of an ipod, but the X5 isn't quite as good. I'm not very picky about this kind of stuff, so I felt that it did its job admirably.
 
As far as the scroll wheel is concerned, I can’t say that I loved it, but it wasn’t bad. I wish it was more solidly affixed as it had just a wee bit of play and seemed to be slightly flexible (in contrast to the rest of the player, which is as solid as the hammer of Thor). I got used to it fairly quickly and didn’t really give it much thought after that. My experience was that the UI is very stable overall, though it did go a bit screwy on me a couple of times. At one point, the text was completely reversed, an exact mirror image of itself. Turning it off and back on again fixed the glitches each time (I think it happened 3 times over the span of a week), so it didn’t bother me so much as it put a sliver of doubt in my mind about its long term usage. I’m confident that Fiio will make the UI rock solid by the time it is released into the wild (if it isn’t already).
 
Update: Fiio has released a new version of the firmware with the following improvements:
  1. DSD support
  2. USB on-the-go support
  3. Improved decoding of lossy formats (mp3 / ogg vorbis)
  4. New UI for file browsing and selection of songs by category
  5. Other bug fixes related to lock screen and recognition via usb by some computers
 
Update #2: Fiio has released firmware version 1.2.2 and gapless playback has been successfully implemented.
 
The brightness of the screen isn’t really sufficient for direct sunlight, but that’s one of the sacrifices that had to be made to keep this thing within reach of more budget-minded audiophiles like myself. In its defense, few if any audio-only devices can adequately cope with the sun in SE Asia (especially in its price range). My J3 has the same issue, but I’ve managed to live with this minor inconvenience for over 2 years now without having a mental breakdown over it.  
 
 
 
Naked Sound
 
This thing is way more revealing than the J3.  (For the record, I used Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs 3.2, VSonic GR07 MK1s, and UM Miracles CIEMs).  There were some albums on my J3 which sound just fine to me that were shown to be less than stellar recordings by the X5, and this is a good thing. Yes, it means you may have to dig around and perhaps pay again to find another version of an album you already love and have to really enjoy it on the X5, but it will be worth the trouble. High-quality recordings were made for the X5 and one that really stood out for me was Paper Airplanes by Alison Krauss & Union Station from HDTracks. With my Mad Dogs plugged directly into the HO of the X5, this album sounded sublime, just crystal clear, non-fatiguing, and full of body. I was near max volume, but I must have mistakenly been on low gain. It didn’t bother me at the time, but I was a bit surprised. I thought I had it on high gain and I’m now 99.9% sure that I was in err.  The MDs are a fairly power-hungry set of cans, so rest assured that the amp section of the X5 has enough power to respectably drive a plethora of full-size headphones. Another peach of an album was Whites Off Earth Now! by The Cowboy Junkies (MFSL), which is a collection of old blues songs masterfully reinterpreted, featuring gobs of sub-bass goodness (at least I think it's sub-bass). 
 
Other recordings didn’t sound so great to me; Morning Phase by Beck (24-96 flac from HDTracks) sounded harsh in the highs – not exactly sibilant, but grating (with flat eq setting). On the J3, the same file sounds better though less detailed: The X5 really put a spotlight on a recording's flaws. I used the X5's eq to reduce this and it did do the trick, but I was left hoping and praying that the folks over at MoFi get their well-manicured hands on Morning Phase and give it the same treatment they gave to Sea Change (a much better record imo). Much has been made about the sound quality of Beck’s latest, so I’ll just reemphasize my point about the revealing nature of the X5: garbage in, garbage out (sorry, Mr. Ludwig, but I think you laid an egg). Feed it properly and you’ll be very pleased with the results.
 
At any rate, the Mad Dogs did sound gorgeous with the X5, and is clearly a better mate than the E17, which is substantially warmer and less revealing. I didn’t bother to stack the X5 and E17 – for better or worse, I just can’t be troubled to lug around a brick during my commute, so I didn’t see the point. I’m probably in the minority, but I just want a dap that can stand on its own two feet (I usually use iems, so this stands to reason in my mind). Those who do prefer to use a separate amp or dac are in luck; the X5 has both a line out and coaxial out, and can also be used in amp/dac mode when hooked up to your computer via usb, which just shows its versatility. Though I would probably only utilize the amp/dac on occasion, it is a player that you can sort of grow into, should you decide to delve into the world of portable amps/dacs. That flexibility right there really makes this a good value relative to other products in its price range.
 
Regarding how my personal gear paired with the X5, my Miracles and GR07s both sounded very good, but not as good as the full-size Mr. Speakers cans. They needed a bit of eq adjustment to tame the highs with some recordings, as I've mentioned, especially if I wanted to listen at louder volumes (I usually do), which only surprised me in the case of the Miracles. For this reason, I will go out on a limb and recommend iems or full-size cans that are mildly warm-sounding – some have called the X5 neutral to slightly warmish, but my impression is that it’s a bit of a detail monster (in a very good way with the right headphones). As always, YMMV…anybody who has been following the threads will know that most people have had a notably different experience from mine, so I may be the exception here.
 
 
Final Deep Thoughts
 
For those of you with a dap that sits in the entry-level to lower-mid tier, and also have your first confirmed case of upgradeitus, I think you need to give the X5 a long look. Yes, it’s heavier than average, but it is built to withstand Armageddon, has a fairly powerful amp section, is easy to use, and can hold up to 256gb of music (128gb MicroSD cards are now available if you hadn’t noticed). It will play nearly every file type under the sun and you can go high-res if you like, all the way up to 24/192. It doesn’t look very sexy, but like me, you just want something that is dependable and sounds great. Just ponder for a moment what you're after, how you’ll be using it on a day-to-day basis and consider your options. Fiio has made an excellent player here and it should be on your shortlist. Also, they deserve heaps of credit for really listening to their customer base to find out what people want; they do a remarkable job of delivering features that there is demand for and the X5 is evidence of this. If you want to hear it for yourself, they've reopened the tour (http://www.head-fi.org/t/696004/fiio-x5-preview-world-tour-re-opened-for-application-p-114/1725#post_10392960), so depending on where you live, you may be able to audition this fine piece of ear candy.
 
If you want to read up on all of the vital stats, like size, weight, output impedance, etc., here's a link to Fiio that has everything you need to know in one place:              http://fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
 
A couple of parting shots...
 
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JACONE
JACONE
Nice writeup! I'm waiting for the Fiio x5 to arrive in the US. 
BTW - I know what you mean about Saigon. I'll be going there in the summer for a wedding.
A sea of motorbikes for sure.
doublea71
doublea71
I should have gone into the UI more than I did...I purposely neglected it since I didn't have any real issues with it, but I should have been more informative about it. It's a learning process - my next review will hopefully be better than this one.
Antilochos
Antilochos
And one more compliment for delivering us a good review. Keep it up.
Pros: Build quality, features
Cons: Weight, storage
Fiio X5 Review
 
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Disclaimer
    -I am a beta tester for Fiio products so the item is loaned to me for a set period, and I am in no way affiliated to Fiio
    -This is my first time reviewing a DAP, keep that in mind
    
Introduction

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    I am Lespectraal, just your average person inclined towards everything tech, and in this case I have been delving a bit into the world of DAP, starting with my own purchase of Fiio's own X3. The X3 was a mixed bag, despite the sound quality itself being exceptional the device as a whole suffered in other areas. So now we will see how the X5 holds up. I will be comparing the X5 to the X3 because those are the only two devices which are of the same category that I have owned and/or used.
    
Gear used
    
    Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 250Ohm
    Hippo ProOne
    JDS Labs C5
    Taishan D03K
    
Build quality
 
 
 
    The Fiio X5 oozes of great build quality and even the looks alone tells you that Fiio has not skimped on this department. The device just feels great in the hand, albeit it is heavy compared to the X3. The casing to the buttons and the jacks are appropriately made to deliver the best operation possible.
    
    X5's scroll wheel does feel a bit loose during my operation, it feels as if the sensors were going to come off and it even shows during usage as the items does not move with accuracy. As it turns out it is more of a software issue than anything, but even with that said it still does feel a bit loose. With that said though the scroll wheel does help considerably when scrolling through large files, which does make sense since such a device that has large file capacity allows many files at once. Button scrolling as in the X3 will be more of a nuisance since you are expected to continually depress a button to scroll through all items and this does not feel as natural as the circular motion which the scroll wheel allow for.
    
    For the four corner buttons feel appropriate, their actuation force(the force it takes to press them down) feels just right. Daily usage of pressing the buttons to change folders or settings proved to be comfortable and I did not make accidental presses at all. Compared to the X3, the buttons are about the same to me. They both are accurate and able to register button presses when I demand them without a miss. They also feel durable as the presses feel "authoritative" and firm. The power button and volume rockers also share similar experiences.
    
    For the jacks, I feel they are made quite durable. Each input/output jack has this circular ring around it, which is the same for the X3. This ring serves as to protect the jacks from wear and tear, and allows for firm attachment of jacks. It also looks aesthetically pleasing. Once connected, a headphone jack feels firm in place, without no looseness felt at all. I had no problem with the headphone jack as I would usually place the X5 in my pocket. No disconnections or anything at all. Really built like a tank. The same applies for the X3. Both devices have equally firm and durable jacks and I would not worry about placing the devices in my pocket.
    Overall, the device feels absolutely stunning functioning to be durable, to allow it to be used daily and last for a long time. The quality is of the same league as the AK series of DAPs.
    
User Interface
 
    The UI is one of the most competent ones I have used in my life. It feels snappy and reliable without any hiccups. I could easily navigate the entirety of the devices UI with ease. I can easily get to where I want to, say to play a song from my library and get to it with such accuracy that shows how great the UI is. It never feels like a chore to move about the interface and for that reason alone makes the device worth the price.
    
    Now the ease of navigation is largely due to the fact that it incorporates a large scroll wheel right in the middle of the four corner buttons with another larger button in the middle of the wheel which acts as the accept/volume/play/pause button. All of the buttons form together to make that UI such a breeze to use with. The layout of the X3 with the oddly placed buttons for volume and up/down it does not feel as natural to me compared to the X3.
    
    The visuals on the X5 also deserves some praise. It just looks stunning. The vibrant colours and the sharpness of the screen just gives a great experience to the device. The low resolution screen and the lack of colours on the X3 is just eclipsed by the level of performance the screen the X5 has. Now that I have return to the X3 after using the X5 for the duration of the beta test, I just feel disappointed that I have to suffer with the X3's lesser screen quality.
    
    The X5 can also be used as a USB DAC which to me is one of the major reasons why I bought the X3. I spend a lot of my time in front of the computer so I needed a way to play music on my computer while having great sound quality. The X3 came along and from there I decided to buy it because it solves this very problem. The X5 is similar here. I can plug it into my computer and even play games on it and provide me great sound quality to replace the built-in systems.
 
Sound quality
    
    Here is a small disclaimer, I am not accustomed to the various Hi-Fi terminologies to describe sound as professional or as informative as possible, so bear this in mind. Think of it as a very subjective impression of the sound rather than a reliable understanding of how the device produces the analogue waveforms. But all reviews are subjective anyway, or at least to some degree, but I digress.
    
    I love all songs from classical to rock, and with this large scope of taste, I have found the sound section of the device as Hi-Fi as it can be at this price range. It sounds more cleaner and natural compared to the X3, which is more warmly tilted. I was able to hear more details on the X5 than the X3, and the soundstage became wider and the instrument separation is also boosted up a notch. As for the instrument separation, I think it is more subtle than an apparent change but it is there.
    
    I will break down the sound to its components:
    
    Bass
        
        To my ears the bass is quite well defined, it is the type of analytical bass I love in my music. Through the DT880s with its ability to go very low, shines in this regard. I was able to hear the low range rumble from songs like "Angel" by "Massive Attack". That song contains so much low frequencies it somewhat massages your brain as the song progresses. The X5 helps with that a great deal, it delivers the low frequencies through being punchy and defined.
        
    Midrange
    
        It comes to me as being very honest somewhat. Any vocal song you throw at it the midrange will be present and brings it forth so beautifully it leaves you wanting more. You will keep on playing your vocal-centric pieces for many times because of this quality. Instruments that fall in this range are also treated similarly, as in the flute in the song "With You There to Help Me" by "Jethro Tull". The flute sounds so fluid and engaging as if you could just lay down and let the flute just carry you away into audio nirvana.
        
    Treble
    
        The treble is very well defined and integrated into the rest of the sound spectrum. It displays this range with no fatigue, it lays them down to you instead of throwing it to you giving you ear fatigue. Cymbals sound just right for my ears, the sizzle sounds as realistic as it could be without sounding too harsh on you. The snare drums hit with such a snap and authority. "Wish You Were Here" by "Pink Floyd" delighted me with its wonderful synthesizers and guitar.
        
    Soundstaging
        
        Compared to the X3, the X5 sounds more spacious. The X5 delivers more depth, as in the front and back space. Other than that it is not so different than the X3. In this regard, the X3 and X5's soundstaging is already as good as DAPs can get.
        
    Imaging
    
        The imaging on the X5 is done better than the X3, for it sounds more 3D like compared to the flat 2D of the X3. I feel that I am more into the song on the X5 than I do with the X3 for that reason alone. The instruments and vocals are placed to give a better impression of the music being played. This is one of my favourite things about the sound of this device, with the other being the neutrality.
        
    Overall
    
        The sound as a whole is delivered with neutrality in mind. And by neutrality I mean that all frequencies are adequately expressed to the best of its capabilities. All the songs I have listened to are portrayed nicely through the device. Now this all does depend on the headphone/IEM you are pairing, but from my gear this is what I have experienced.
        
Conclusion
 
    The Fiio X5 deserves to be one of the top DAPs out there for giving it a nice feature packed experience with such a price, that it surely cannot be topped in that sense. For someone who wants pure Hi-Fi sound on the go, and also to be used as a USB DAC with a PC as a desktop device.
    
    However, if you are on a budget, I think the X3 will suffice, as both devices are similarly packed with features, and the sound quality difference is not that big of a deal if you are going to look for a device with less of a damage on your wallet. The X3 will do just right for that situation.
    
    The X5 will delight its owners for sure. From the build quality to the UI to the sound quality, all is done with a level of competence that just shows.
   
sinky
sinky
Hi Lespectraal.  Was wondering how your dt880,s sounded with the x5.
I use a fiio e17 and ipod classic with  my dt880 and dt990 both 250Ohms but have to crank the sound  up to 90% to get a decent volume .Did you find your dt880,s were powered sufficiently through the x5?.
Lespectraal
Lespectraal
sinky, the Fiio X5's power output is quite capable of loads greater than the 250Ohm DT880s. In my experience going above 40 out of the 120 digital volume steps will cause hearing damage already at long exposures. I used the JDS Labs C5(which delivers more than enough power for the DT880s at 250Ohm) with the line out of the X5, to test the amp section of the device to see if the power of the amp of the device lacks in any way. It doesn't, the power delivered through the X5 is good enough to drive the headphone. You should not worry about powering the DT880s with the X5.

The same can be said for the X3.
sinky
sinky
Thanks   Lespectraal  ,thats good to know.I have placed my order for x5 so I,ll find out  for myself next month sometime.I already got  a 64gig  sd  card loaded with tunes so I,ll just have to wait patiently Grrrr.
mmmmm guess I could surf the forums for new  iem in the mean time and then save up for a 128gig sd card.Sometimes I think I,d be alot better off if I never discovered this site.not musically of coarse just finacialy 
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