FiiO X5 High-res Portable Music Player

Nebesa

New Head-Fier
Pros: sound, size, price, battery life
Cons: weit, charging time
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First part of the review. DESCRIPTION .

Yesterday, before I finally got the long-awaited by many, and me in particular, portable player Fiio X5, which began talks on the forum, long before its release. So , about a month later after its release, I have carried a red and yellow bag of DHL to home. Judging by the photos on the forum, I was expecting to see something " dull ." Inside the package courier service was red and black Cato box , packed in red " insulation " of Fiio. Inside it was a black box with imitation of snake skin , which caused speculation about copying this approach , the company IBASSO model DX50. Inside the box were : the player himself , dressed in a silicone case (it was included), usb cable , coaxial cable, usb-microsd - adapter , three plugs ( outputs player) , instruction manual, warranty booklet , two display protector, plus a third has already been glued to the screen.

Funny impression on me silicone case that does not look the player as a contraceptive in size XXXL pimply teenager.

The screen device made very high quality , good 2.4 inch IPS matrix (400 * 360 ) is much better than 50 . I will say even more, it's the best screen of all audiophiles players . There is certainly a fly in the ointment, because high-resolution fonts on the player , very small , and reading lists, it is necessary to hold the player under his nose . It is funny frame around the display , it is very broad, although in the process, it does not interfere with or even distracting, and when the display is off and does merges with the display in one unit .

I had some discomfort with controls after dh50 . So, on top of the player are all outputs: headphones- out, line out and coaxial , plus the power button and reset . Underneath USB and two compartments under microsd card. Left - the volume buttons. Right,- everything is clean . In front it is a control wheel , covered with softtach with the button in the middle and 4 buttons with a good response at the edges of the wheel -shaped X.

Dimensions player being 67.3 * 114 * 15.6 mm and weighs about 200 grams . Despite the large dimensions in hand, it does not feel much more than 50, but the weight is noticeable . The battery is 3700 mA at 3.7 . Player plays a long time , and fast charging. Manufacturer, as I mentioned earlier do not put in the charger kit , but the instructions recommend the use of the device is not less than 2A .

Case is made of anodized aluminum. On the body as I have not found the mounting screws.

Plugs microsd compartments made not qualitatively they are sitting tight and after frequent on / off . , Become loose , and will be allocated on the case ( it is will better IMHO make something like to AK100 shutter) .

The next section will describe the menus , controls, and playback formats .

In the third part , I will describe the sound.

 

 

 

SECOND CHAT . ON mode and playback mode .

Picking up Fiio X5 habit thumb stretched on the left face , but it was not there , a button on / lock on top of that .

So, a short press on the power button and appears WELCOME ( colored in NEXUS style) and animation Fiio logo, and 8 seconds ( timed ) , the player is ready to go. We met a very nice screen and " a string " menu " carousel " type , made in the style of black and red with a yellow- orange icons.

 

THIS PART IS TRASLATING MENU INTO RUSSIAN

 

When you select a track in the folder and it’s playing will meet you on the screen " background " in which the entire amount will show off the yellow sheet in the red spot black background ( as in bent ) or the album cover stretched to full screen. At the top of the screen there is a small service line , which displays icons from left to right : the dynamics of digital volume level , G = L / H ( type of reinforcement ) , displaying the current menu tab ( written) , displaying icons of memory cards , displaying the current activity playback , and battery level icon with five gradations . All this information is recorded continuously , regardless , from the " provisions" in the user menu.

Dale in the upper left corner ( just below the service line) is an additional context menu , which can cause upper left button . By default, it consists of two icons : " heart " ( colored in red ( active) or white ) - Display accessories Track favorites folder , and character list. When you activate this menu, you can access the following functions :

• Heart - track selection menu favorites . ,

• Select the playback style ( four icons ) . ,

• Deleting a track.

All functions are represented by the additional menu icons ( unsigned) .

Next in the top third of the screen in the middle of the yellow font displays information about the type of file playback (FLAC, for example) , the sampling rate and bit rate.

Next in the bottom third of the screen displays a white " scale " playing with an orange-colored , already reproduced interval track. Under it to the left to the right : the amount of time already playing the tracks , the track number relative to the folder / album , etc. , and the total time duration of the track. All of this is displayed in a small font in white.

Below is the title track (yellow) , the name of the artist and album name ( both white ) at the bottom of the screen.

Using the scroll during playback you will spread " carousel " menu playback folder . Long press the CC or volume rocker , the wheel will act as a volume control . As previously stated , the top left button opens a sub-menu , top right button - ago. The bottom two buttons are used to move between tracks and rewinding . Depending on the type of press ( long or short ) . During playback of the track , you can move freely on the menu and adjust the settings. It is also possible to adjust the playback volume is not dependent on the user's location in the device menu .

Strongly afflicted lack of " wind " track " wheel " and small fonts menu.

Switching between tracks depends strongly on the type of recording ( including Cue ) varies between 1 and 4 seconds . Gapless also works on all tracks without problem, it all depends on the type of files that works best with cut tracks in Flack 16/44 . It is also worth noting that the player can not read Cyrillic letters in track displayed in Chinese characters .

Mp3 player regains excellent , although I dare say that such a device a few will listen this format. According to the information on the device manufacturer's website is able to play the following formats : DSD, APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, WAV.

I checked it in the following formats:

1. WMA 16/44 256kbps single tracks, everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks 1 sec. , gapless works . ,

2 . WAW 16/44 975kbps single tracks, everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 2-3 sec. , gapless works . ,

3 . M4A 16/44 988kbps single tracks , everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 3-4 sec. , gapless works . ,

4 . FLAC 16/44 959kbps single tracks , everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 1-1.5 sec , gapless works . ,

5 . FLAC 16/44 916kbps file + CUE, everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 1.5-2 , gapless works . ,

6. FLAC 24/192 5536kbps file + CUE, everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 1.5-2 , gapless works, but the tracks themselves are not properly broken in time, cutting track file all decide (possibly curve cue ) . ,

7. APE 16/44 803kbps file + CUE, everything works fast without brakes , switching tracks with 1-1.5 , gapless works .

Scanning 8GB clogged stick ( Class 10) took 24 seconds , then open the folder with the tracks without brakes.

When you turn on you are hearing a click, so well known to the users of 50 .

It is also cool that when you remove the headphones from the jack or headphones- output linear , the player automatically gets paused.

 

PART THREE . SOUND .

I have to say that I will not specify a particular model of headphones from the sound , which I was doing my subjective review , because some headphones good on some styles , the other on the other , some of them do not and sounded irritated at any tapping . I will try to focus solely on the sound features that expand on certain models and genres. As my review have a lot of incomprehensible words with my subjective perception of sound , I'll try to do a little theoretical introduction to my review for easy understanding of certain words and phrases to describe the sound.

Let's start with what has sound characteristics ? Sound has the following characteristics:

• Volume - the subjective perception of sound power (absolute value of the auditory sensations) . Volume mainly depends on the sound pressure and frequency of sound vibrations . Also on volume affect its spectral composition , localization in space , timbre, duration of exposure to sound vibrations and other factors.

Sound level - relative value . It is expressed in the backgrounds and numerically equal to the sound pressure level ( in decibels - dB) generated by a sinusoidal 1 kHz tone of the same volume as the sound is measured ( ravnogromkim this sound) . (According to Wikipedia)

• Pitch - subjective quality of auditory sensations , along with volume and tone controls , allows you to have all the sounds on a scale from low to high . For a pure tone it depends mainly on the frequency (increasing the pitch frequency increases ), but also the subjective perception of the intensity - with increasing intensity of the pitch appears below . Pitch with a complex spectral composition depends on the distribution of energy along the frequency scale .

Units of pitch in music are tone , semitone cent.

Inside octave smallest musical interval - semitone ( musical interval between two nearest notes in an octave , approximately corresponding to the ratio of frequencies of two sounds equal. "Approximately" because the nature of the notes within the octave are not uniformly distributed (see Pythagorean comma ) .

• Timbre (Fr. timbre - « bell ", " label ", " distinctive sign ") - coloristic ( overtone ) coloration , and one of the specific characteristics of musical sound ( along with his height , volume idlitelnostyu ) .

By Voices distinguish sounds the same pitch and volume , but performed on different instruments , different voices , or on a single instrument , but in different ways , strokes , etc.

The timbre of a musical instrument is determined by the material , shape, design and conditions of its vibrations vibrator its various properties of the cavity , as well as the acoustics of the room in which the instrument sounds . In the formation of the tone of each particular sound are of key importance and its overtones ratio height and volume , noise overtones , attack parameters ( initial pulse of sound ) , formant , vibrato characteristics and other factors.

When perceiving sounds usually arise various associations : tonal sound specificity compared with organoleptic sensations from certain objects and phenomena, such as sounds termed as' bright , shiny, matte , warm, cold , deep , full , sharp , intense , juicy, metal , glass , apply and actually hearing the definition ( eg , voiced, voiceless , noisy ) .

In a strictly scientific sense, reasonable tone typology has not yet developed. Found that the ear has a band tonal nature.

Voice is used as an important means of musical expression : using voice, you can select one or the other component of the musical whole, strengthen or weaken contrast , change voices - one of the elements of musical drama.

• Duration .

As you probably already noticed that almost all the characteristics of human perception of sound , are not absolute values , but are the subjective quality of auditory perception in certain conditions.

To describe the features of sound , portable player , in conjunction with portable devices for personal listening audio information ( headphones ) , the focus of the review will be placed precisely on tone coloring compositions sound device , in order to compare the nature of the tone coloring with other devices at the same value of the original material.

In testing for the review participated following albums : Corner Stone Cues - Requiem For A Tower, ERA - Classics, Evanescence - Greatest Hits, Maksim Mrvica-The Piano Player, Nightwish 2000 Wishmaster, OkeanElzy-Zemla, Sarah Brightman - Amalfi, The Great Gatsby (Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film), Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Trilogy, DiDjuLja - Ornamental , Prime Test CD. Naturally all albums in high quality formats : WAV, APE, ALAC, FLAC, FLAC + CUE 16/44 b 24/192 . Just participated in the test , the following headset AT m50, AT W1000, DT990/250, Q701, w40, w3, XBA4, SM3v2, triple fi 10 (private sound description of the features of each model with the player will be in a separate article ) . As a direct opponent , played DX50 from iBasso, its sound compared with SC U7 and STU from ASUS ( because of their inconsistency devices with complex autonomous playing of sound material in the article is only an indication of some similar features in applying sound), so will also be compared with the 960 and MA8 memory ( so the article will not be given this a lot of place) , I also want to note that all headphones worked in the amplification mode of "high ." The average player has managed to survive more than 10 hours without topping up . Well here we go.

 

Yngwie J. Malmsteen - Trilogy. Let's start with the eponymous song. This is rather fast polyphonic rock composition . For its perception an important role plays attack speed and detail sounds. With these parameters, the X5 is handled much better than 50 , which is sometimes not very well cope with " difficult" moments. The sound of an electric guitar left mixed feelings , on the one hand, it is hard , dry and clear sound 50 times to cut the brain (such as early releases Ibanez , who will understand the subject ) , the other hand a softer sound and fused with a " long " (just what sustain direct then quietly used ) reverberation ( Les Paul Studio from Gibson ) . 50 focuses on the guitar, while the X5 , it does not emit strongly , making the composition more "whole " (I know that the artist plays a Fender ) . LF in 50 much worse than in X5 . X5 bass are good, but often put pressure on the midrange . X5 has to prolonged listening , while 50 give you " anger " normal guitars and vocals , but after listening to his long hard X5 constantly felt some shortage "poverty sound . 50 can compete with the X5 only in compositions where there is vocal in large numbers, as part of this album. Scene of 50 it is more distantly (4-5 series ) than in the X5 ( before the stage , sometimes the impression that playing guitar in the face ) , the design scene in both cases is good, but the X5 in width and depth , while the 50 slightly narrower due to positioning on the " imaginary " scene.

OkeanElzy-Zemla- In this album , many compositions emphasis on the low-frequency range , and it played into the hands of the X5 . So , thanks to slightly raised HF (IMHO) , the player makes the sound tracks more dynamic/fun. But OE primarily is their vocal soloist, and then fail Vakarchuka voice , moves into a higher tone , why is starting to sound somehow " woman " forgive me fans . On some track in some moments the sound of the lyrics goes to cry . 50 voice sounds more natural and smoother tonal on .

Evanescence - Greatest Hits. In this album there is a similar situation in the above album . Changes tone sounding voice Amy ( but not as much ) , which is seen on the track my immortal. 50 Again, the voice sounds more natural . But in the many others compositions from this album , you can hear a great dynamic range of X5. But it doesn’t mean that X5 can’t play vocal , it is plays great overtones and timbre , in this case, I try to describe it as :

DH50 - is how the expression and intonation to read , "***** you! " In the classroom with students quiet background noise .

X5 - shout it as the same person wronged you in a fit of rage at the bustling intersection. Not correct in terms of the tone relative to your " normal" voice , sometimes frustrated voice in the cry , but more emotionally sound and dd wider.

Sorry for such a crude comparison , but I think many will understand.

Nightwish-Wishmaster. Well, the voice of Tarja , I think it is not necessary to paint with a group of Nightwish , it was a gem . Here on the X5 can not listen to her . Lovely study tools , fast attack, powerful drums, clearly audible back vocal , bass guitar just fly away , and here comes into play " little girl ."

Sarah Brightman - Amalfi. Sarah takes the songs in the style Classical Crossover (popera). Listening to her albums began to notice that over time , her voice became more "adult" ( dropped or something, I do not know how to describe , just listen to her albums from 90 since 2005 , compare ), and so on X5 her voice was heard how early in his career , personally I like it , and here to add greater detail and wider range , generally obtained class . X5 in this comparison wiped his nose 50 . Yes, noticed that the X5 , practically does not change women's voices in opera performances.

ERA - Classics. X5 coped well , especially in the choruses , each distinguishable voice. For the first comparison with the 50 I got the impression that the sound is muted , slightly more dense, as opposed to 50 in which all sounded fine and easy , it seemed that it is better than X5 detail a hundred , and not the same . After wiretapping X5 for 30 minutes, I began to notice for themselves, not to hear that the veil on the sound that I heard in the beginning, all the instruments were heard in detail , the choir also fine vocal normal. But when I started listening to 50 first ran in his ears that the detail and brightness of supply , but listened , began to notice that the reverberation at 50 much less and distinguish individual voice in the chorus is much more difficult , and in some cases does not provide opportunities. There are comments to the fact that on the X5 violins sometimes annoying ( cut out the brain ), but it is eliminated properly selected headphones.

Maksim Mrvica-The Piano Player. Mrvica is a pianist. At first I thought that the X5 , in this comparison will undisputed winner , maybe no vocals , and no, there are nuances. First, it is hypertrophied LF, which climbs to all , and secondly , ringing in the " brain " of the notes to the second and higher octaves less pronounced emphasis on the piano in tune , as opposed to 50 . Very different sounding piano , it sounds like 50 is not easily enforced (Zimmermann), X5 and more " assertive / greasy » (Yamaha). 50 In the first place by a wide margin , etc tools nominated piano and violin at the X5 , it is less noticeable.

DiDjuLja - Ornamental . Light instrumental music , sounds great as 50 , and the X5 ( I do think there is such a source on which it did not sound ) . The only difference is in the nature of sound , X5 , softer sound , 50 more sonorous / hard guitar sounds . Scene I described earlier, the detail and dd almost at parity .

The Great Gatsby (Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film), soundtrack to the film " The Great Gatsby ." In this collection , a large number of tracks with a predominance of the bass , and this element of the X5 , it sounds very tight and energetic in M50 bass just nails , feel it all over. For baskhedov what the doctor ordered .

Corner Stone Cues - Requiem For A Tower. In the collection of a large number of tracks with lots of different instruments simultaneously sounding . We can say that all sounds great , if not for the fact that the LF strongly bulging , but if they touch up the equalizer , all ceases to their seats.

Prime Test CD_ well it is very hard , to listen to the end , this heroic feat . I will not dwell in detail , maybe a detailed analysis of 99 songs , it's overkill. I will focus on those moments that helps to identify the disc , such as:

• HF and sibilance - HF bullied and it is noticeable , Shiba skips more than 50 , but it all depends on your earphones. ,

• The width of the stage - quite wide and deep stage , with good study ( play instruments) , but is very close to the listener ( it is not even the first row ) . Good bugged stereo effect. ,

• Bass - well prorabony but hypertrophied a little . ,

• Vocal - not the strongest side of the device , thanks to an equalizer and headphones , it is possible to adjust it, but that's not it . On the men's vocals more prominently . ,

• El. Guitar - sound softly. ,

• Polyphony / Choir - excellent wins back , heard everyone in the choir. ,

• Classical musical instruments – is very well played. Soft and smooth sound.

In general, the device liked it stands level higher than 50 in stock , at 960 , but with some other accents in the sound. Despite the presence of identical MA8 DAC , X5 has less smooth sound , and worse towards MA8 exhaust, but this does not diminish its merits ( different price category). In comparison with U7 and STU ( on the same DAC ) , the player stands in the middle , however, differs significantly from serving STU where the middle worked much better. I assume that a good mod it can safely reach the level MA8 , and if you add more weight and autonomy , it will be a worthy competitor. In any case, everything will depend on the final price and convenience ( IMHO at MA8 convenient) . Features sound X5 easy to adjust " ears" knowing especially in extreme cases , you can resort to the equalizer . As for me, X5 , suitable neutral ears, or the prevalence of MF, bright ears like 990, will quickly tire also fit ears with a lack of bass , I think X5 will make their sound better.
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Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Features, Navaigation, Sound Signature
Cons: Sound Stage, Media Update
I would like to first send tanks to Fiio and Head Fi member Joe Blogs for giving me the opportunity to preview the Fiio X5, I am not affiliated with Fiio in any way.
 
For the purpose of this review I demo'd the X5 with my Balanced Modded Denon AH MD 2000 Headphones and my iBasso PB2 Balanced Amplifier, equipped with quad LME 49990 OP amps and dummy buffers. In addition also compared the X5 again'st my Hifiman HM801, using the same music and amplification.
 
Price for the X5 is said to be $350. 

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Here's the X5 sitting atop my PB2 in it's silicon case.​
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What's in the Box​

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The X5 comes with some brief paper work in addition to the charger cable, the player it self is encased in a semi hard foam shell within the box, underneath is the paperwork and accessories. It features a usb mirco SD Card reader and high quality usb to micro-usb charging/data cable, 3 push plugs for each 3.5mm port, coaxial cable adapter, USB OTG cable,

 

The Player​

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The Top of the player features 3 ports, the headphone out, line out and coaxial out ports, next to that is the power button. Volume is controlled by the two side buttons to the right of the headphone out going down the side face of the unit. ​
 
On the bottom are two ports for mirco SD Cards, the unit that I have did not feature any internal memory, so all music is loaded from the external Mirco SD cards. Seeing as there are two slots, the player has a very large external memory capacity! I usually prefer to use 64gb Cards for compatibility, but it's possible to have 128 or higher mirco SD Cards, non the less 128gbs of Flash Memory is an impressive feature. Unlike the iPod classic, the X5 does not use an internal hard drive, which means there's very minimal risk of data loss due to very few moving parts. 
 
 
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The player is controlled by the mechanical spinning wheel, and 5 buttons feature on the face of the player. There's a nice feel to the wheel, in addition volume is controlled by two side buttons. Controls are intuitive and menus are easy to maneuver through. ​
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The player is fairly dense, I enjoy the heavy in the hand feel that it has. I do not feel that it's overly heavy either, it is also smaller in size than the HM801. ​

User Interface​

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The main menu is composed of simple icons that are switched by scrolling on the wheel.​
 
The player does feature an EQ Utility as do most. ​
 
The gain is adjustable as well via the options menu, in addition to other options such as gap-less support and play mode. ​
 
 

The player does support 24/bit decoding and features album art during play back, in addition in the left hand corner of the screen you'll notice small icons. The X5 features an on the fly option adjustment as well, you can favorite songs in addition to adjusting the play back methods without leaving the now playing screen, If I'm really diggin a song, I can set the player to repeat that song without having to go into the main menu! ​
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In addition the player does lock it self, during play back. So if you shove it in your pocket there's no worry that you might accidentally change the song, a useful feature that my Hm801 does not have [and trust me pockets and the HM 801 don't get along.]​
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As far as hang ups go, I've only had an issue with the X5 automatically filling it's library via the media update feature. The unit I have is a demo so perfection is not expected. ​
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The Sound​

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures, I figured a shot of my ears wouldn't be too appealing. 

 

Again, I'm using the X5 line out into my iBasso PB2. The PB2 is a fully balanced amp, meaning it splits the SE input into 4 separate channels, each channel is then sent individually to my balanced D2k. In addition, my PB2 is out fitted with LME 49990 OP amps and Dummy buffers, my point in all this is the PB2 is a very powerful and neutral amp. It adds bit of small bit "oomph" or "kick" to the bass as well as enhancing the sound stage depth, width and presentation by a small margin. 

 

I'll say that in it's own right the X5 is a nice sounding player, it's fairly neutral I don't hear any major dips or peaks in the sound. It does a nice job of keeping my modded D2k slightly boosted bass in check. Paired with the Pb2 it is in it's own right a very nice sounding player. Fairly neutral and enjoyable. 

 

It's not what I would call a Sterile player, but a very clean and balanced DAP.  The bass, mids and treble are all in equal standing. Really there's little to no deficiency with the sound of the X5.
Ahh yes head fi, the place where I can be brutally honest in my... disappointment with how bland the X5 sounds in my taste. Not to mention it's disappointing sound stage. ​
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Long story short, the X5 lacks a natural timbre and an ​
engaging sound.  The sound stage also lacks the clarity and definition of the Hm 801, being shallower, narrower and not as focused. More on the sound though, is the almost sterile nature of the X5. Granted it's a smidge warmer than the my NFB 10ES2 [but what isn't] still the mids bass and treble all lack anything... wonderful!​
 
The HM 801 features a rather spacious sound stage, and very organic mids and bass, With a nice touch of treble sparkle. Everything about the Hm 801 [and my old Hm 601 for that matter] sounds right to me. While the Hm 601 lacked the sound stage and definition of the Hm 801 and even the X5, the tone or natural sound of the Hifiman HM 601 and my current 801 are what make them in my opinion better players all around. Granted I've not heard Hifimans new Line up of players, but for me the sound signiture of the X5 is kinda boring, and even worse the sound stage and details are equally as disappointing. For $350 it's still a great bargin, as the UI was enjoyable for me, and the myriad of playback options where cool. Not to mention it actually fits in my pocket and locks it self. BUT the sound is what turns me off from it.​
 
Granted I'm comparing a $350 DAP to a once Flag Ship Status DAP that cost me $500 new, but it was the HM 601 , the joyous sound of that player that pushed me to buy the HM 801 [on a whim mind you] and imo both of the old school fatty BRICK Hifimans have a more organic and enjoyable tone than Fiios X5. ​
 
And going to the NFB 10ES2, while the X5 is warmer, it lacks the sound stage, tactility or definition. My point being, I enjoy, or rather I can accept a sterile sound in exchange for improvements in sound stage, detail retention and imaging. But Sadly the X5 offers a disappointment across the board for me. Again, in it's own right it's a great player, the combination of sound, UI Navigation, Features and utility make it a nice DAP! But it doesn't compare to the magic of the Hifiman Players, and honestly for me as long as it sounds good I can live with it. ​
 
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Conclusion​

I would highly recommend the X5 for any one looking for a mid level DAP. The combination of it's size, sound and features make it very appealing.  It's certainly a grab an go friendly player! And I my self prefer the un sleeved case, as I'm a big fan of that lovely metal shell! But the silicon case does a nice job of protecting the player, and will certainly help it stay where ever you put it.

Shiikamaru

Head-Fier
Pros: Bang for buck
Cons: Not the cleanest design ever. UI not yet fully intuitive like a Ipod.
Packaging and bundled miscellaneous
 
* The X5 
* X5's silicone case
* The box the X5 came in and the card stand inside
* X5 quick start guide
* bundled USB cable
* bundled USB card reader
* 3.5mm to RCA coaxial digital adapter cable
* warranty card
* 3 3.5mm port cover plugs
* 2 extra LCD screen protector films
* X5 button layout cue sheet
* HDTracks coupon
 
Fiio is outdoing the rest of the competition in this aspect. I have never seen any other companies provide that much that there really isn’t any accessories you need to get for it. Earphone jack cover for all holes. 1 pre applied screen protector and 2 spares and rubber case for it. It has got you covered for years to come.
 
Build quality and design aspect
 
The casing is well made, nothing to complain about here. Hard buttons for all the important functions(Vol up/Vol down/Forward/Backward and Pause). Operating with 1 hand, I realise my thumb couldn't reach the bottom left button comfortably. Screen is not completely filled on the glass which doesn’t look nice. But they have done the right thing and not make the screen touch sensitive. Would have prefered if the screen is flush with the player. A little play on the wheel and middle button but not to point of being flimsy. Battery seems to be sealed though I remember James mentioning that users can replace the battery but not in the hot swappable way. MicroSD card flap could be designed in a better way. I feel that the flaps doesn’t sits well but it’s a minor nuance that is covered by the silicon case.
 
UI
 
UI on the X5 is better than what’s in the audiophile niche market at the moment but still a long way from the big players such as Apple and Sony. Booting time is fast. Interface is clean. Complaints I have is that the wheel accelerates in a linear way such that a long playlist takes a long time to wheel through(My own experience being 600 songs and wheeling it for 70+ full circles). Play by category needs work. All songs is sorted by file names which I think isn’t very user friendly. Would actually prefer if they replace the genre into playlist. There is no ways to create playlist. The closest it have is a favourite function which once you heart it, it appears under the favourites menu. I hope that they can implement the middle button hold as a favourite/add to playlist command at songs selection pages. So far from my usage, I have not encounter any bugs or hangs from the machine. Accuracy of the wheel is average. It seems to fail to register a few steps here and there but you use the forward and backward buttons to fine tune your selections. General UI design is very coherent and options/settings are very well thought out at this stage though it can still be improved further.
 
Sound
 
The X5 doesn’t  disappoint in this area though it scales with what you’re using it with. I had some sibilance issue with my Elpis2 whereas on the AKG K272HD, Klipsch X10 and Koss PortaPro,  it was a bliss listening it through the X5. Its able to handle what I’m listening to from Norah Jones to Avicii to Queen. There isn't any issue with playing any of my FLAC or MP3 files. Spacious and detailed/good separation would be what I would say about the sound from the X5. Bass isn’t overpowering in my opinion. Mid is neutral. Tested everything on low gain except for the AKG K272HD. Some tracks that I tested with.
 
Norah Jones - Don’t know why, Come away with me
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Swedish Mafia House - Calling
Audiomachine - Guardian at the gates, Akkadian empire
Fatboy Slim - Right here right now, Rockafeller Skank, Praise you,
ACDC - T.N.T, Shoot to thrill, Thunderstruck
Loch Lomond - Elephants and little girls, Wax and wire
Yoko Kanno - Gotta knock a little harder, No reply
 
Portability
 
Size is about the same as a Ipod Classic although a little thicker. There’s no problem putting it in my jeans pocket. Battery life is good. I managed to get 11 hours out of 1 single charge with constant use changing and searching of tracks.
 
Conclusion
 
At this price point, it’s really hard to complain about it. The X5 really hits all the right spot in terms of price/sound quality aspect. In the quality aspect especially, it's really a few notch above what the others are offering at the moment. Yes, there are things that can be improved upon and I’m very happy that Fiio is taking the right approach in developing their products. They do listen to what the niche market wants from their MP3 which is rare in this day and age.  Fiio proves that you don’t have to pay an absurd price to get decent sounding gears and from this demo, I will pick one up once it’s available in my country. I would lastly like to thank Joe and James for the opportunity to test out the X5 before its international release.
 
Disclaimer: Unit tested was a loaner and I’m not affiliated with Fiio in any ways.

TommyNavara

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Beautiful sound quality, built like a tank, professional look and polite UI
Cons: The UI needs improvements, little on the heavy side.
FiiO X5 Review
«Not only for Audiophiles»
 
 
 
 
 
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DISCLAMER: I am not affiliated with FiiO. This is a part of a world review tour and FiiO provided me the unit for review purposes. This review is as independent and objective as possible.
 
 
 
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As the very first Italian reviewer of the FiiO X5 i want to thank all the FiiO staff for this opportunity to grow as a reviewer and to put my hands on this beauty.
 
Box content:
FiiO X5
Documentation (Quick Start + Warranty, etc.)
USB charging / data cable
Silicone protective case
Digital out to coax cable
USB micro SD card reader
Screen protectors
The X5 is well packaged and basically includes almost everything you need to start using it.

 
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My review will follow a unusual route and i'll start with the
 
Build Quality:
 My unit is really well crafted, the chinese aluminium production standards this days are really high and this unit is not an exception. The design is sleek but a bit «rough», in my opinion lacks a bit of smoothness. The lines and texture of the material are original and the overall presentation is good but it lacks a bit of friendliness on the design. It looks industrial. It feels and looks like a tank; and speaking of tanks, i think the unit is well ruggedized. I'm not sure if it meets the requirements of some standards (not for the water i guess) but i think wih this build quality would be easy to achieve. As i've mentioned, water can be a real problem with this unit because it lacks basic isolation: think about the gap on the wheel or some other small parts. Central and lateral buttons are perfect, the wheel rattles a little bit on the side (microns), but it feels solid. All the other buttons are perfect on this unit.
The aluminum cutting is really good on this unit, there aren't debris or bad soldering points.
The screen top protection is well ruggedized, and so the parts around it.
Obviously i haven't done drop tests but i feel like the unit can handle concrete drops from hands, even more with the silicon cover provided.
It does sometimes get  warmer than most DAPs or smart phones when used for a while but nothing to be concerned here.
Thinking about a single word to describe the buildings and design on the unit i think the best for me is TANK.

 
3 reasons:
It's a little on the heavy side;
It's rock solid;
It looks and feels powerful;

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Software and UI design:
The software will change from the testing time to the final release.
My assumption are not based on the final software design of the unit.
Software side, my opinion is that there is a solid code base to work on but the work is not finish yet.
Solid code means that there is space to work on some bugs and improvements confortably wathever is the development environment.
Overall, the system seems really reactive and again, space for improvement is really, really high from now to release and with new firmwares.

 
Talking about the UI usability more deeply, i guess that everything is in the right place aside of some scrolling problems due to the firmware but they are working on it as i have the unit in my hands.
The graphics on the UI is clean and fluid.
 
 
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The Sound:

I'll go straighforward to a description of the key components of the sound:
 
    Signature: A very neutral signature, no questioning here, the player is neutral born and i love it. Neutral and sweety flat as beautiful mountain lake in a calm, sunny day.
 
    Bass: The X5 has a very big bass compart. It is big and punchy. The bass is neutral and not in the way of the detail coming from the other frequencies. Other than that, bass are on the warm side, but still very detailed.
 
    Midrange: Midrange are just right there, a little bit recessed maybe, but everything in the right place
 
    Treble: If the recording is bad, there might be some sibilance and discomfort with the treble, especially at high volumes.
 
    Sound Stage: The X5 sound stage is excellent: Imaging and instrument placement are really good for a portable player.
 
It is very close to the FiiO house sound, the kind of sound quality you get from products like the e07k or above, absolutely fantastic.
 
 
 
 
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Comparing the player i must say that is able to outperform most of my gear starting from the SansaClip+ up to the Rockboxed ipod even with the help of the FiiO e07k, sonically speaking and i'm glad it delivers all of that in a more compact package, even if it's still on the heavy side.
 
 
 
 
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Final Ratings and Conclusions:
The DAP market has really taken of this year, the quest for an all in one music solution has never sounded any better and now we have so many choices for where we go.
I think this player has a sweet spon on it's price range and to me everyone deserves a FiiO X5.
It's not just a Audiophile matters, i just think that this product can break off the lines of the audiophile elites and push himself on the bigger market, the game changing field.
This product can satisfy the casual listener looking for more and the demanding audiophile.
For my honest opionin, it's a Buy.

 
 
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peareye
peareye
yes....thanks please let us know which iems or headphones you used...
TommyNavara
TommyNavara
Thank you very much guys!!
Mshenay
Mshenay
Nice photos, I'm actually typing up my review of it now

KT66

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: See review
Cons: See review
View attachment View attachment
 
 
This review is based on the brief time I had the X5 as part of the UK tour.
 
I am not going in the facts, like spec, what's in the box etc, we all know that by now.
 
This is all my personal opinion and you should try to listen to anything yourself before buying.
All our ears are different.
 
Me
46 year old – amateur musician for 32 years, audiophile for 20 years. I think I know
two channel audio pretty well, I have worked in Hi-End audio retail,and I certainly know how an instrument, especially guitars and drums are meant to sound.
Loves Rickenbackers, Gretsch Drums, Vox amps, LP12s, Quad Electrostatics and BBC speakers.
 
 
Equipment Used with X5 and in comparison
 
Hisoundaudio 3rd Anniversary.
Hifiman - HM-801
Linn Ikemi CD player
 
Audio Technica ATH-ES10 (ESW9 pads)
Beyerdynamic DT1350
Denon AH-D2000
Sennheiser HD600
 
My 801 developed faults about a month before the X5 arrived, so I used my Studio 3rd
for that period until I received the X5. So both other DAPs were still quite fresh in my memory.
 
When I first received it, it was already charged, and very simple plug and play.
I plugged into my Dell Precision M4700 (Win7 64 bit) at work and there were no issues.
I find Fiio quite brilliant at this. You KNOW that when a lovely FIIO box arrives it will work.
I have E7, E07k, E17 and G01 guitar amp, and they've all been easy to use, and reliable.
If only the same could be said for others.
 
So I've the X5 in my hand, it's big, wider than my Iphone5, it feels good and weighty in my hand,
however I have very very big hands, so I am not too sure how others would feel, it could seem
a bit large.
 
I transfer some music with drag and drop, there is no internal memory so you have to use a mico SD card, I used a Samsung 32g class 4, that I had in my Studio 3rd. Of course the first thing I put on
is some 24/192 files. This is the first DAP I have had that plays over 24/96, and this was my main
reason for showing interest in the first place.
 
After ejecting safely I turn it on and am completely bemused!. I can't seem to move the cursor.
I show it to a younger MAC friendly colleague at work, and he instantly spots the wheel and shows me. I have never used an Ipod so this was not intuitive to me.
So panic over and I plug in my ES10s
UURGGGGGHH – horrible. BUT I know it's not the DAP. I have had the ES10s for 2 months
now and the X5 confirmed that I just don't like them.
Ridiculous bass and veiled treble. I often wonder if they are fakes, yet they are beautifully built and others who I lend them to like them.
View attachment View attachment
 
Back to the trusty DT1350. That's more like it.
Real world bass, beautiful midrange and treble.
 
Lots of treble.
On certain recordings there is no doubt I found the combo of X5/DT1350 a little
overly bright, like there is a spotlight on the treble. Sometimes I really like this as the detail
on the X5 is fabulous, the best I have heard on any DAP.
 
I am a detail freak, I think a lot of musicians are. I love hearing more, whether it was Beatles
24/44 flac, Rolling Stones 24/192 or WAVs of Jason Falkner and Michael Head I heard more detail
than ever. I was delighted as this.
Due to the short time I can't really say if part of the extra detail is due to the brightness or not. The match with D2000s was the best, I could have listened to that for a long long time without needing to upgrade a thing.
 
I have a Voyager and O2 but used the X5 only as a DAP, after all I was looking for a one box
replacement for my 801. I did find on better masterings, with high dynamic range like Mobile Fidelity and DCC that I had to have the volume at 85-90 with my DT1350s. I don't normally have to turn any amp up that hard, and I am no headbanger.
With other more modern compressed recordingsI had the volume at 65-75 – a bit more acceptable. Unlike others here I find the DX50 to have more power, but that of course is not what's important.
 
I found the battery life to be very good, I didn't measure it but definitely better than the 801, and its so easy to charge via USB, unlike other DAPs where you need a unique charger, this used to drive me mad about my HM-601 and HM-801
 
It's my birthday soon, it's fabulous value and I may ask for one.
I wish I had more time with it, and got to try it with the Voyager (that may have tamed the brightness a bit) I need to find out more about the X90, then the X7 might come out, or I might get my 801 repaired or exchange it for a 901 – choices, choices, this are very very exciting times in the world of personal audio, golden days. And the X5 adds to that perfectly
 
So to summarise
 
  1. Great Build
  2. Works Flawlessly
  3. Superb Value
  4. Plays Hi-Res beautifully
  5. Amazing details, you will hear things you haven't heard before
  6. Dual USB slots
  7. Proper Line Out
  8.  
    Firmware easy to change
 
My only criticisms (that don't seem to agree with anyone else's here!)
  1. Maybe a bit bright with certain headphones.
  2. I don't like the X controls on the front. Though I guess I would get used to it after time.
  3. Headphone amp could be a bit more powerful.
KT66
KT66
peareye- I don't use EQ at all, ever.
real old purist I am afraid.
I have a 901 now, that's game over, marvellous
Until it breaks or I break it!
peareye
peareye
hi kt66...by the way, i do have a great pair of kt66 monoblocks from the 1950's by Pilot!
 
the 901 does seem to break the bank...how different is it? i am selling off my other players to see what i can afford...also, how is the UI? i was so used to the sony players, it made it simple for me....I find both x3 & x5 very frustrating because if i leave the now playing screen - to say change the bass level, i cannot just return straight to it, i have to go back to the first page and try and find my way....not very good when i am walking!!!
KT66
KT66
The UI is not perfect but it works well, and is easy to use..
I have lots of Quad II mono blocks!
None of these new DAPs are good for walking with.
I still use my Studio 3rd when walking.
 
I think the 901 could be worth the extra money, but I have not heard the DX90 yet.

H20Fidelity

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great sound, build, features. high resolution, strong imaging, black background, dual card slots
Cons: Click wheel durability? Lock screen options need improvement. Still a little off neutral (for my preferences)
Firstly, I'd like to say special thanks to James from FiiO and Joe for offering us a wonderful tour on their new FiiO X5 unit.

It's not everyday we get to sample a new product before release, this has been a wonderful opportunity not only to give members a grasp on the player though also examine whether the unit might be for myself as a keeper or future purchase. I will try to write as even review as possible. The FiiO X5 unit I have with me is a loaner unit for 10 days to assess my likes and dislikes. I received the X5 unit on the 25th of February 2014. Firmware version: FW1.10

My past history with FiiO being I haven't been particular fond of their warmer house sound. In general I lean for more neutral sound signatures and as preference prefer bright to analytical presentations, (though I am flexible to a degree). What I've always been impressed with about FiiO is their excellent price to performance ratio for budget orientated audio enthusiasts which seems almost untouched by any other company out there. When I heard FiiO was designing a higher end DAP that leans more towards neutral from their previous house sound this intrigued me quite a lot, especially remembering the price to performance ratio I mentioned.





 



Packaging:
 

The FiiO X5 unit comes in a stand alone box with an outer sleeve, it reminds me very much of IBasso's DX50's packaging, simple, sweet and elegant, nothing to over the top though enough to get the job done nicely with a feeling of satisfaction. After all its what inside that counts right? To some yes, but FiiO have dressed up the boxing nicely to give that consumer feel. The inner box can also be used for long term (or short term storage) of your unit as you can see in the photos, the X5 sits nicely inside and you can place the lid back on.












 
 
 

Inside the packaging you're greeted with:


 

  1.  Pre molded Silicon case (high quality silicon)
  2.  High current USB charging / data cable (shielded)
  3.  Digital out to coax cable
  4.  3 x socket pin protector plugs (for the output ports)
  5.  FiiO branded USB micro SD card reader 
  6. x2 spare screen protectors for the X5 (plus one already fitted)
 
  1.  FiiO warranty card
  2.  HD tracks discount card (15%)
  3. Contact card
  4. FiiO X5 quick start guide




     






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As you can see the accessories are more than adequate FiiO seem to have provided everything you need to get started, there won't be any 'I need this" or "damn I forgot to get that". The only thing you will need is your own micro sd card as FiiO X5 does not support any internal storage for music, it relies on dual  micro sd cards slots.  I hear X5 can be bought bundled together with micro sd card to get you on your way although I think in our day and age especially amongst many of us here micro sd cards are found in most users house holds. If not they're rather cheap and only dropping in price due to the the new Sandisk 128GB cards now on the market. 




Build quality:

The finish is of high quality aluminum alloy which feels solid in the hand making the x5 unit feel a little more than it's asking price, on the sides the edges are smooth and well rounded over, the entire unit feels admirable in the hand, you get a real feeling of quality when holding X5 as it also holds little weight equaling 174 grams.

The scroll wheel does feel a little loose or plastic feel to it though once you learn how to use it adjusting to the sensitivity levels being more than suitable. At first I was having problems with the scroll wheel either pushing it to much or not enough which caused me to miss my destination, but as driving a car the unit becomes easier to control with some use especially after an hour or two, I also hear this will be improved in future firmware updates. I do have some concerns about it's long term durability after many months of hardcore spinning although considering the player is so early and fresh we cannot say for certain.

The input jacks feel sturdy and have a nice firm click to them as do the volume and power tactile buttons, there's a feeling of craftsmanship within the build of X5. Moving to the bottom of the player you're greeted with not one but two micro sd card slots, an excellent selling feature of X5. Each slot can take up to 128GB micro sd cards giving a whopping total storage of 256GB. I will probably opt for two 64GB cards until the price of these newer 128GB come down a touch. 















Format Support:

X5 takes almost every format you will ever need to use, rather than go through them all individually I'll simply display the formats. We also need to remember that FiiO X5 is not only a 16bit player it also does Hires 24 bit play back, this is another superior selling feature only seen in a few other players at this price point. This here having the 24bit support is a huge feature as now time is moving forward these files will be in demand so this feature assures FiiO's X5 long life span in the market.



Formats / Resolution  

 
Supported Formats
APE, WAV, FLAC, WMA, ALAC, MP2, MP3, AAC, OGG
Supported Resolution
Up to 192K/24bit – dependent on format
 


USB External sound card (using X5 as a DAC)

I must admit during my time with X5 I haven't had a chance to use it as a DAC, though the player does support this feature. To my understanding it can be connected to any laptop or PC then use the DAC section similar to FiiO E10, E17, for example. Only X5 does support 24bit playback as well in this area. For more information regarding using X5 as a DAC please check some other reviews as I'm sure it's just as functional as being a stand alone media player, it's just I don't listen to music while at a computer it's not something I can concentrate on.




 

UI (User Interface):



When first booing up the player you're greeted by the FiiO logo welcoming you to X5, the actual start up time between pressing the power button is about 6 seconds total from screen on to  main menu, I think that's a pretty decent amount of time to get up and running for my standards, especially considering the dual card support. Some players like Studio V or Rocco BA take more than 10 seconds to load and up to 15-20 seconds with Studio V as those players scan their cards before each boot up quickly. So for me the boot up times on X5 is closer to instant.. I think only a Rockboxed Clip+ would boot quicker. 

Once at the main menu you're created by a scrolling design where all your options for music selection, setting, music settings are located, it's a rather intuitive interface and something I've not seen before. You get a feeling of uniqueness but most importantly it matters how well this functions at speed. Happily I can say after a week with the unit you become quite at home rather quickly.

At first there's always that "what the hell am I doing" but without even reading the manual the player has become second nature to me in a matter of days, my only grunt is the scroll wheel sometimes misses your selection as it seems to click as you turn and sometimes doesn't land on the menu option/track selection you want, however I think in further firmware the unit will be improved in this area. By all means it's more than functional, you can move at speed though  I can see some people possibly kicking up a fuss about it.

In the system settings you can manually scan your card which can also be done automatically. I prefer having the auto scan function off as I don't think it's needed to scan every boot up unless when adding several albums to your cards. There is a key lock setting which gives you two options: option 1 disables the buttons on the DAP so you can't switch tracks or adjust the volume while the screen is off. Option 2 leaves access to the volume pause/play, track navigation buttons.

You can set the screen time out duration before the screen locks but currently you cannot disable the key-lock feature completely. As it is on the current firmware I found this a little frustrating when the player is just sitting on a table or bed because each time you pick the player up you must press the power button to unlock the unit first. I hear this will  be improved in future firmware updates. There''s also sleep mode, idle power off settings available.


You can view your music via folder view, album, artist, favorites (add favorites to your list first), genre & all music.  For me personally I only ever view my music by folder so I didn't run the player through tests of tag reading, I hear though on our boards it's fairly stable for most parts.

There is one little niggle with the current firmware, when selecting from folder view (when selecting your track) X5 unit takes about 3-4 seconds before your track starts which can be a little laggy, it does give you a feeling of halting for a second however we must remember the firmware I was on is still very early, I gather this time delay will be sped up in the future. Once an album is playing the transition between tracks is smooth. I did however detect a slight skip if gap-less was engaged between track transitions.


More examples of FiiO X5 User Interface.

(please click each photo to see close ups)



Main Menu:





System Settings:




Play Settings:



Custom 10 band EQ: (with presets):



Folder selection screen (albums):



Now Playing Screen:


 
 
 

 

Sound Quality:



Tonality:

Tonality of X5 is indeed more towards neutral than FiiO's previous products I've tried, I still personally hear a hint of warmth in the presentation, which makes the entire mid range rather smooth and non fatiguing, while I find it does lean very close on neutral I can still feel a hint in there, just a slight essence of FiiO still, but we must remember my preference with other DAP's is a little bright to begin with and everyone opinion on neutral varies wildly on head-fi and in general. When I first heard X5 I couldn't help feel it sounded a little veiled with some of my parings though that sensation clears up rather quickly, probably within 5 minutes of listening. I think most will agree the X5 unit is much closer to neutral than their previous products and this is a good thing for audiophiles.

Bass:

The bass on X5 is a tricky section for me, I find it rather powerful and a touch forward from the mid range, not by incredible amounts though it does lean a little on the emphasized side of things depending what headphone you're using. Some have suggested because of X5's driving power it's really just a tight well presented bass, but I do get a slight feeling of light bloat depending on my earphone / headphone used. For my preferences it can just hinder a little to much in the bottom stage and express a fraction of bleed, With that aside it has good texture and detail, the mid bass isn't to much for my standards (very slight amount). I think just a little less in the low end quantity would be my perfect preference although in a world that needs to please a majority of listeners I think FiiO made the right choice. 

Mids:

The mids on X5 to put in perspective are excellent, the refinement in that mid range is second to none from most DAP's I've heard  there's great coherency on both left/right channels and samples hold excellent posture all round the stage This refinement mixes in with high resolution on X5, so when they blend together they make a rather wonderful mid range experience, as I've said sometimes it feels a little to smooth or a touch lacking some aggression though the detailing levels combined with that excellent refinement really steal the show.

I think X5  (for my standards) would be better paired with a slightly brighter sounding IEM/Headphone, just a fraction to light up the mid range with some more edge and sparkle. The background on X5 is very dark, it forms a pitch black space around your instruments, with no hiss. The actual imaging is especially focused and accurate, your perception of each image well refined. 

I must double express though the mid range is simply wonderful for the price, the timbre is natural if not a fraction digital sounding. Detailing levels and clarity are right up there it makes a really professional sounding player. The micro detail is strong, I was hearing certain samples such a singers lips closing together, or a singer breathing in before the next verse my other DAP's don't express. The dark background just lets them push out from no-where. I think because of X5's high level of resolution there's new layers to find in your music, little pieces otherwise hidden and that resolution finds pushing out to you. 


Treble:

The treble to my ears has a slight emphasis in the lower regions, tends to push out most detail in this area, I cannot say it has incredible extension with pairings I've tried although never absent or lacking in anyway, rather well balanced with the mid range, you can always hear what's going on upstairs, I would however personally prefer a slight tilt here to try and increase the amount of air around the stage, this would also tilt the players overall tonality, though it doesn't seem to be lacking in anyway. Never harsh or strident, basically true to your headphone, probably a nice safe choice to again please a wide variety of consumers.

Separation:

Many people have asked me if X5's instrument separation can compete with Hisound Studio V 3rd Anv (the best instrument separation I have heard), well to be quite frank no, X5 does not match Studio V 3rd Anv's instrument separation, it is on similar levels but always lacking a touch behind in attack, it does however have better ability to present samples coherently in the mid range, there are samples I've been able to make out easier due to this bonus especially when many are playing at once though the Studio V player has like a metronome effect where instruments are so well separated they can tick in time with each other, kind of like a clock and all it's cogs working together (like clockwork). X5 does not have that unfortunately but as compensation no other player has that I've heard expect for Hisounds unit. So fear not because X5's instrument separation is far from lacking you really get a nice image of each instrument and the much darker background than Hisound players ices the cake.


Soundstage: 

X5's soundstage has excellent depth to all left/right/center channels for example, if you hear a saxophone playing on the left channel it images itself way out back much closer to what a real life presentation would sound like if it's in the recording, it does this on all 3 channels so when you add this with strong imaging characteristics  it makes a really well defined stage, the width with some of my hybrids is wider than most players I've heard, but it also has a big head-stage (the actual size of the image) so vocals sound larger than average, there's a fair amount of height and all your samples sound much bigger than for example on a Sansa Clip or even the Studio V for that matter to some extent. This is an area that works well while the mid range places those final pieces to the presentation we've talked about. I have not one bad word to say about the stage, besides a little more air would work well in the upper regions. You really get that feeling you're almost there live because of this area working strongly with the right headphone..




Conclusion:


I think what FiiO have done is a mighty achievement, they have answered the prayers of consumers bringing them basically what they asked for. As we know James is very active on Head-fi forums and listens to every piece of advice, what you see in X5 is partly exactly what you all asked for, an affordable mid tier high resolution DAP. The features like dual micro sd card slots, 24bit playback, along with the sound and build of X5 is what could possibly be a slight game changer for the future. I think some other DAP manufacturers may want to take a step back and look what FiiO are doing in the DAP market. I still think for me X5 needs to lean cooler in tonality, just a fraction and lessen the bass because of my stubborn preferences but overall taking into consideration the majority, X5 was made for them, and for them it will more than please.

I had a lot of fun on this tour and would like to thank once again the FiiO team.


~H20​

phuding90
phuding90
Hi H20Fidelity,
 
Can you help me decide.. Im planning to buy my first dedicated DAP, been using xperia ray since 2011 when i started audiiophile world. Already used sansa clip+ but i gave it right away to my brother because i dont like user exp. Well now i decide to uprade my player and im torn between the two option. First DX50 for $180 (2nd hand, my friend is selling his player me just only a month old, he decide to upgrade to ak120) and the newly release X5. My IEM collection is mh1c, vsd1, gr07, dunu1000 and planning to buy dunu2000 before june....
 
Please need advice what do you think worth to buy the nice price dx50 or just go straight to X5 (ill just close my eyes and my mind when paying for this dap), i listen all music, i like all around... What do you think best combo out of the two player?...
hogger129
hogger129
Why not the X3 phuding90?
lramirez1959
lramirez1959
Excellent review, thanks.
Does anyone knows if FiiO plans to include AIFF support with future firmware updates ? All my collection is AIFF and it is the only reason I haven't pulled the trigger on this one.

miceblue

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great instrument separation, simple GUI, dual microSD cards, fast music library update, library and file directory browsing
Cons: Fatiguing for me, hallway-like soundstage, coloured sound, cluncky UI, large size, protective relay, crashes, really slow battery charging
This review is based on a touring X5 unit and I do not personally own the X5. I need to give FiiO a big, big thank you for letting me be a part of this tour.

Since Head-Fi's detail section does not represent the scores of the reviewer, but rather the community average, here are my scores based on the 10 days that I actively used the unit (2014/02/10 - 2014/02/19):

Value: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3/5
Design: 3/5
Battery Life: 3.5/5
User Interface: 2.5/5
Overall Rating: 3.2/5

View attachment





Now let's get into the details of these details.




[rule]
Value

At $350 USD, this device offers a lot for the price. What's a lot?

Here's what's in the package:
  • Hard storage box
  • X5 unit with screen protector pre-installed
  • Soft silicone sleeve/case
  • MicroSD card USB reader
  • Male microUSB - male USB cable
  • Short male 3.5 mm - female RCA coaxial cable
  • Short male 3.5 mm - male 3.5 mm cable
  • 2 x extra screen protectors
  • 3 x 3.5 mm plugs
  • HD Tracks coupon card
  • Warranty card
  • Quick-start user manual
  • X5 button layout card (I did not see this in the touring unit package though)

That's a ton of stuff bundled with the device. Will people even use half of these? Probably not, but they're nice to have handy and it adds to the value of the package.


What else does the X5 offer?
  • Portable media player
  • USB external soundcard
  • MicroSD card reader




For what it's worth, the X5 offers a lot at $350 and the overall package is well- and competitively-priced.

4/5 (Great) for Value




[rule]
Audio Quality


MacBook Pro -> Audirvana Plus -> FiiO X5 -> AKG K 701 (8-bump headband), MrSpeakers Alpha Dog (touring unit), or V-MODA Crossfade M-100

FiiO X5 (with 64 GB SanDisk microSD Class 10 card) -> AKG K 701 (8-bump headband), Audeze LCD-X (touring unit), MEElectronics M9-BK, MrSpeakers Alpha Dog with Obedience Kit (touring unit), Sennheiser CX-300, or V-MODA Crossfade M-100

FiiO X5 (with 64 GB SanDisk microSD Class 10 card) -> FiiO L2 -> FiiO E12, JDS Labs C5, C5D, or Objective 2 -> AKG K 701 (8-bump headband), Audeze LCD-X (touring unit), MrSpeakers Alpha Dog with Obedience Kit (touring unit), or V-MODA Crossfade M-100

This is a quality of the X5 that seemed weird to me. Everyone else, or pretty much everyone else, seems to like the X5's sound and that it's "the greatest thing since sliced bread." My experience with the X5 is that it sounds okay, but nothing amazing.

In short, I heard:
  • a bumped-up mid-bass response that sounded a bit boomy
  • excellent warm lower-midrange
  • fatiguing upper-midrange/lower-treble
  • slight roll-off in the treble that makes it sound soft
  • deep soundstage that isn't very wide
  • great instrument separation
  • imaging seems off
  • good detail retrieval

In general, I listen for the overall sound signature before analyzing the technicalities and the X5 doesn't sound transparent to me. It has a warm sound overall that may be a bit thick, and there's something with the upper-midrange/lower-treble region that makes the X5 sound fatiguing to my ears and is a deal-killer for me in that regard. I'm not going to lie and say that the X5's audio quality is good if I have to take breaks from listening to the device due to fatigue, no matter what headphone or earphone I used. No other portable media player I've tried has this effect on me. The soundstage wasn't particularly wide, more so deep, so imaging seemed off to me and it was weird having the effect of listening to the music half-way into in a concert hall instead of the front-row, or on the stage as the conductor.

Using the line-out feature of the X5, it turns out that the amplifier portion of the X5 causes the fatigue issue for me since I no longer had those painful listening experiences. The DAC portion seems to add some warmth to the sound since I was hearing more mid-bass than I typically do. On the other hand, pairing the large X5 with an external amplifier seems impractical for being used as a portable media player.

What is this fatiguing sound I hear? It's hard to completely describe, but I was in a 2014 Subaru Forester the other day and I heard the same kind of sound from the speaker system. Female vocals, and really anything in the upper-midrange frequencies, sound really harsh, shouty, strident, or hard on my ears, almost as if dynamics of those instruments are being compressed and/or the system has a hard time reproducing those sounds accurately. They just really hurt my ears and I had to cover my ears or speaker to dampen the effect. It's one thing to have it happen to X speaker or Y headphone, but I had the experience with all headphones I used with the X5 (AKG K 701 (8-bump headband), Audeze LCD-X (touring unit), MEElectronics M9-BK, MrSpeakers Alpha Dog with Obedience Kit (touring unit), Sennheiser CX-300, or V-MODA Crossfade M-100). None of my other portable media players, amplifiers, nor DACs reproduce this effect.

Figure 1 - A depiction of me in anime form reacting to the X5's fatiguing sound
http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?s=40bbb0483f9447f0cffaf16268c5b7c1&p=2383606#post2383606
cd0bd4d0_coalguys-k-on-06-8ba42fb0-mkv_000283992.jpeg



As for headphone pairings, I think the X5's sound worked the best with the Audeze LCD-X (touring unit). It sounded okay with the Alpha Dog with Obedience Kit (touring unit), but it wasn't optimal and the narrow soundstage of the X5 made it sound weird and off. I use the Crossfade M-100 as my main portable headphone in my portable rig, and the fatiguing upper-midrange/lower-treble was definitely not a good pairing with it, especially if I plan to listen to louder volume levels due to ambient background noise. I'd like to keep my hearing intact thank you. My two earphones aren't a good pairing with the X5 either because the "kill switch" effect will activate (more in the "Design" section).




Overall sound quality is okay, but a non-transparent sound and especially the listening fatigue are a big no-no for me.
http://objection.mrdictionary.net/go.php?n=7208251

3/5 (Okay) for Audio Quality




[rule]
Design

Figure 2 - A beauty shot of the X5 (credit goes to lugia862)
View attachment


The main body of the X5 is absolutely superb. It's made of a single solid piece of metal and it reminds me of an aluminum unibody MacBook. When I first picked up the X5, I noticed how heavy it is. It's quite heavy and it feels like picking up a portable external hard drive (or at least a 500 GB OWC Mercury On-The-Go one). I have small hands and the weight and wide body of the X5 almost feel uncomfortable to me when handling it with one hand. It's like having a super heavy Samsung Galaxy SIII in your hand (actually the width dimensions are very similar: 67.6 mm for the X5, 70.6 mm for the SIII).

Figure 3 - Size comparison between the iPod 5G, JDS Labs C5D, and FiiO X5
View attachment


What's disappointing to me is that the body of the X5 feels rock-solid, but the buttons and mechanical wheel feel quite cheap. In the end, these moving parts are probably going to get the most use and thus wear-and-tear over time instead of the body. I'll expand on this more in the "User Interface" section, but the X5's front-panel buttons are raised from the main body instead of being flush and they're easy to push/activate. This is not very convenient to have in your pocket since accidental button presses will occur.

Figure 4 - Note the raised buttons
http://fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
20140118163031.png



I use portable media players in my left hand. Why my left hand? Headphones typically have the cable running down from the left earcup, and the portable media player consequently ends up in my left pocket (it's annoying to have the cable cross your body to go into a right pocket). That in combination with my small hands makes handling the X5 an awkward task. The skip track and previous track buttons are near the bottom of the unit (this is poor placement considering it's far from the center of mass) and the back button is on the top-right of the wheel (making it awkward to reach with your left hand).

Moving on to the X5's mechanical wheel, the wheel has steps (or clicks) when it rotates. Although having a stepped wheel is not a problem for me, the problem is that these steps seem very worn down; like when you have one of those long retractable erasers and the plastic steps wear down. This results in a very unresponsive and inaccurate user experience (more in the "User Interface" section). To add to that, the wheel is loose and for some reason, sticky if it hasn't been in use for some time (more on this in the "User Interface" section). To make matters worse, the wheel has very little grip with your fingers. The wheel's surface has a smooth, matte, soft-rubber/plastic feeling like the 2013 Nexus 7 tablet computer. This is problematic because you have to dig into the wheel to get a good grip on it, and upon spinning the wheel, you can feel it rubbing against whatever is right behind it. A patterned/texture surface like this early mock-up would have been much better in my opinion:

Figure 5 - Note the textured/patterned surface on the scroll wheel
http://www.head-fi.org/t/661411/fiio-x5-thread-info-updated-on-jan-17th-2014/2880#post_10121924
350x700px-LL-4c46c959_20131213175732.png



Now it looks like this:

Figure 6 - Note the smooth surface on the scroll wheel
http://www.fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771
20140118161849.png



On second thought, it looks like the textured/patterned wheel was actually in an earlier prototype. Sad face.

Figure 7 - A photo of the X5 before the current iteration of design
http://digi.163.com/13/1217/18/9GANDD7U00163HE1.html
F35EDC6D79C24541CF4450F16C666BD1.jpg



Though I didn't really mind too much, the center button is activated in the very middle of the circle. If you press the button along the outer portions of the circle, it feels unresponsive and more effort is needed to press it than if you had just pressed the button in the very center.

The microSD card rubber/plastic doors are hard to access and it took me a while to get them open the first time around. Counterintuitively, you should push the door parallel to the X5's bottom instead of trying to pry it open.

Figure 8 - Showing how you should, and should not, try to open the microSD card door
http://fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016 (modified by me)
View attachment



The screen of the X5 itself is just fine. Text is reasonably sharp and it's easy enough to read complex characters in Asian fonts such as traditional Chinese (無賴-許哲珮 for example: http://www.hifitrack.com/zh-hant/node/6359). The weird thing about the screen though is that it has a large black bezel surrounding it. Because of this, the screen appears smaller than what it looks like it can display under the glass, and it looks a bit disproportionate to me considering the wide body of the X5.

The X5 uses a protective relay to prevent damage to either the headphones or the unit itself. While this is probably a good thing to have, my experience with the X5's relay has been more of a miss than a hit. For instance, if the X5 is in my jacket pocket and nothing is touching it, nor the cable of the headphone/earphone, the headphone cable can rub against the jacket's fabric and create the well-known staticky sound. This has happened to both of the earphones I have at hand and every time I've done this, the X5 goes into an emergency "kill switch" mode and everything on the X5 shuts off. I need to use a pin to hit the reset button to get the X5 to even turn on again. When this happened to me for the first time, I thought the battery died. Upon using a friend's portable battery charger for about 20 minutes, the X5 still didn't turn on and I had to use a toothpick from a restaurant to reset it. Talk about having a heart attack with a touring review unit...

This is extremely inconvenient for any user, especially if you plan to use these while doing anything outside in a true portable situation. I often speed-walk to my next class at school and this portable media player would be utterly useless to me if it keeps hitting the "kill switch" every time my earphones get into contact with my jacket's fabric. I didn't have this problem with the Crossfade M-100 on the other hand, so I'm not sure what the problem is.




Design of the body is nice, but the main operating buttons feel cheap and are oddly placed. It doesn't look all that ugly in-person, but it does have that retro-look to it, which I like.

3/5 (Okay) for Design




[rule]
Battery Life

There's not much to explain here, but I did a battery drain/charging test on the X5 unit before handing it off to the next person in the tour.

For my battery drain test, I tried to emulate a worst-case (or just a bad) scenario for music playback:
  • High gain
  • Volume level 96/120
  • Replaying a 2:41 DR21 24/96 FLAC file (track 3: http://www.hdtracks.com/dr-chesky-s-sensational-fantastic-and-simply-amazing-binaural-sound-show-133068)
  • AKG K 701 (8-bump headband) connected to the headphone out port
  • Wrapped in a towel to simulate being in a poorly-ventilated coat pocket
  • Less than 30 seconds of the screen being turned on
  • Turned on/off the player twice (I had to do 2 sessions)

From this test, I got around 10.5 hours of battery life from the X5. It's not too bad, but it's not great either. I'd say it's about average for a portable media player.


The battery charging on the other hand took quite a long time to fully charge, which was shocking to me. I went to bed about 30 minutes after the battery depleted and left it charging via USB for about 4 hours. I woke up and the battery still wasn't fully charged, so I charged it periodically throughout the day at school. In the end, it took around 9 hours to fully charge (the LED indicator turned green). That's a ridiculous amount time if you only have a USB port at hand.

Draining: 1:35-8:35, 23:10-2:30
Charging: 2:40-7:10, 10:40-11:20, 12:20-14:20, 15:20-17:30




The X5 has an average battery life, but it takes nearly the same amount of time to fully charge it as it does to drain.

3.5/5 (Good) for Battery Life




[rule]
User Interface

The user interface (the interactions between the user, hardware, and software) is generally acceptable. The graphical user interface is navigational and things work reasonably well. Heck, they even have the full user manual in the settings, how cool is that? On the other hand, there are a bunch of problems I have with the X5 that all add up and prevent it from being a great or excellent user experience.

Right when you boot-up the X5, you're presented with a boot animation that lasts about 5 seconds total. This isn't problematic, but I would prefer a quicker boot time since I want to listen to my music as soon as possible.

After the boot animation, you're presented with the main menu of the X5. It looks nice and all, but when you rotate the wheel in one direction, the icons change in the opposite direction. This is a pretty well-documented issue and even after 10 days of active use, I couldn't get used to it. The center highlight remains static while the icons are dynamic/change. In other words, you control the direction the icons move.

Figure 9 - Home screen of the X5
http://fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
20131224172006.png



One would think that if you wanted to get to the heart icon (for a favourite playlist) in Figure 9, then you would rotate the wheel counter-clockwise (moving the dynamic icon up from the bottom into the static highlighted area). Upon doing that, you actually go to the folder icon above the music icon, the exact opposite direction you wanted the icons to go.

Still on the topic of the mechanical wheel, as described, it feels like it has worn down steps. This creates some problems with the user interface since you may scroll 2 or 3 worn down steps, and the graphical user interface only registers 1 step ([COLOR=FF0000]the "worn down scroll wheel" problem is, according to James, actually a firmware problem that will be fixed[/COLOR]). This makes navigation inaccurate, which is absolutely key for me when using a portable media player: I want an accurate mapping of my actions on the hardware side to the graphical user interface in the software. Additionally, when I left the X5 alone for some time and came back to move the wheel, the wheel stuck on me and it was stiff for the first few steps. I have no idea why this would happen, but it was annoying when using the X5 as an external USB soundcard and I used the wheel to adjust the volume.

Speaking of the X5 as a USB soundcard, you can't adjust the digital volume from your computer; all volume is controlled with the X5 ([COLOR=FF0000]the DAC volume should be adjustable from the computer if you're using a PC[/COLOR]). Also, the screen of the X5 stays on when you have it connected to your computer. I worry about this because I have a FiiO E7 and the screen is burned in (the E7's display never turns off either). One, this is annoying to have in the dark because you have a display that's always on and you don't even look at it most of the time. Two, sometimes when disconnecting the X5 from your computer, the screen stays on even after removal and a reboot is required to get it working again. This is inconvenient if I just want to unplug the X5 from my computer after charging and use it right away. Still talking about using the X5 as a USB soundcard, I wish the wheel would always be active for volume control. It gets irritating having to hit the volume buttons on the side of X5, or press and hold the center button, to activate the volume adjustment menu just to change the volume by a few units.

If you plan to use the X5 as a portable media player, the physical media buttons don't work nearly as well as I thought they would. In "Lock Mode 1," the media buttons are inactive when the X5's display is off and you have to hit the hold/power button every time you want to use the volume/playback buttons. In "Lock Mode 2," the media buttons are always active when the the X5's display is off. While "Lock Mode 2" may seem to be the logical choice to use when you have the X5 in your pocket, this is actually not very practical at all since the previous track/next track buttons protrude out from the X5's main body and are thus very easy to accidentally activate. This happened to me way too many times and I thought the X5 was just acting up. In addition, in this mode, the previous track button actually goes to the previous track, instead of restarting the song like in every other media player I have ever used.

It doesn't matter to me at all, but the speed at which the X5 updates your music library is actually pretty fast, which is a good thing. On the other hand, the media library itself has poor organisation. It basically only sorts music by song, album, artist, or music genre. Once you go into those categories and select an artist, album, or music genre of your choice, every song with that tag listed in alphabetical order by filename, not even the track name (e.g. 01 Fearless, 01 Mine, 01 State of Grace if sorting by the artist Taylor Swift). This again is a well-documented issue and this type of organisation is generally not useful for the user. Fortunately I don't have to deal with this since I browse all of my files by folder directory, which the X5 does support. However, all files are displayed in the X5's directory mode, including those pesky hidden files that Mac OS X creates on external drives. If you try to play one of these hidden files, the X5 displays a popup message saying that it can't play it and move on to the next file about 3 seconds later.

Regardless of whether or not these hidden files affect the X5's media playback, I had playback issues with the X5. Sometimes the X5 would randomly stop playing half-way through a song and would lock-up the entire device. A reboot is required to get it functioning again.

Figure 10 - Both the original media files and the hidden "._" files created by Mac OS X are displayed in the X5's file directory browsing mode (http://elyonbeats.bandcamp.com/album/museum)
View attachment



Video 1 - The X5 froze-up on me while playing a 16-bit/44.1 kHz Apple Lossless file during a bus ride (http://www.yesasia.com/us/jay-chou-2007-world-tour-concert-live-2cd/1010040628-0-0-0-en/info.html)

[VIDEO]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-k9Bn21tWo[/VIDEO]



Unfortunately I wasn't able to diagnose the problem in this case. When I re-formatted the microSD card, I did so in order to update the X5's firmware, so either one of those variables may have been the problem. In terms of upgrading the firmware from version 1.00 to 1.10, the differences were pretty minimal. The only differences I found were that the X5's display turns on if you press any button when the display is off (showing a message along the lines of "you must press the power button to use the X5"), and the track scrubber moved a lot faster, too fast for accurate track scrubbing.

Although my native language is English, FiiO did translate the X5 in 7 different languages (Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, Japanese, Korean, French, German, and Spanish), which is nice to have.

On another note, the battery indicator only has bars (e.g. 3 bars of battery). I would prefer to see a numerical value because I can get a quick and relatively accurate reading of the X5's battery life (e.g. 62% battery instead of 3 bars for a range of values).




The user interface as a whole is usable, which is acceptable, but the myriad of problems makes it a frustrating experience.

2.5/5 (Acceptable) for User Interface




[rule]
Conclusion

Evidently, my honest experiences and impressions of the X5 are pretty much the opposite of others'. Yes I'll probably be alienated because of this polarising review, and yes my review will just be a grain of salt in the larger pile, but I wanted to explain my experiences with the X5, and write an honest review. In short, I wasn't really impressed by the X5 at all and I thought it had more annoyances than enjoyable things. The X5 is okay for being an all-in-one solution of having a portable media player and a portable USB soundcard combo, and this is a great value in that regard, but I encountered waaaaaaay too many problems with it that ultimately prevent me from recommending this to anyone without trying it first. Even if the sound quality was beyond awesome, the user interface is definitely not something I would like to deal with again. On the other hand, there are people out there who don't care about the user interface at all and only care about the sound quality. Perhaps the X5 is right for you then.

Fortunately, FiiO has acknowledged some of these user interface issues and is working on some fixes for future firmware updates. However, until those are officially released, my experiences with firmwares 1.00 and 1.10 still stand. Unfortunately, the stock sound is pretty much locked in place via hardware unless changes are made in the firmware, so my sonic impressions of the X5 are more or less set in stone.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/707751/official-plans-for-firmware-updates-for-the-x5-after-version-1-10

You might say that my touring review unit was defective, or that I broke it somehow (this was actually suggested in the X5 tour thread...). While that could have been the case during the time I had with the X5, the users before and after me in the tour have written glowing reviews for it, so I don't think that was the case for me.




[rule]
Thanks

With that, I am still very thankful to FiiO for allowing me to try this, and I'm glad that I did get the opportunity to try it. I would also like to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read through this very lengthy review! I really do hope this review helps a person or two.

Thanks again!



Note: [COLOR=FF0000]Text in red are corrections made by Joe Bloggs of FiiO[/COLOR]
Music Alchemist
Music Alchemist
Funny thing is, I read this review long before I became personally acquainted with you, @miceblue
autoexec
autoexec
I thought it's just me. I also find the X5 fatiguing specially on metal genre. Woah..
DeeKay10
DeeKay10
A very accurate review in my opinion, especially regarding the sound quality (fatigue, unspectacular soundstage). Also, as @autoexec mentioned, metal appears to be a particular killing factor, with more "relaxed" genres being more pleasant (but still fatiguing).
I've started a thread regarding the issue on the FiiO sponsor forum, but hopes for a solution are nonexistent:

Barra

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Top grade sound, powerful quality internal amp, superb micro-detail, great value, ability to obtain full quality sound in a compact package
Cons: No removable battery for easy charging or continuous use, adequate only battery life, difficult to get back to now playing screen to regain fw/bk cont
View attachment
 
View attachment
 
Disclaimer:
 
  • This is not my personal DAP, as part of the X5 Preview tour, I only had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days to form my opinion.
  • As a preview model, there may be material differences compared to the commercial version - especially in the firmware.
  • The following review is based on my personal needs and tastes using equipment that I personally own unless otherwise noted.
 
Pros: Top grade sound, powerful quality internal amp, superb micro-detail, great value, ability to obtain full quality sound in a compact package without the inconvenience of an external amp.
Cons: No removable battery for easy charging or continuous use, adequate only battery life, difficult to get back to now playing screen to regain forward/back button functionality, scrolling long lists is difficult.
 
Summary
 ​
The X5 rocks! It is the best sounding mobile DAP I have heard to date. However, I have not heard the DX100, balanced 901, or the AK120 to know if they can do any better. What I can say is that at 2 to 4 times the cost including the required balanced cable for the 901,  and considering the form factor, they would need to be clearly twice as good to get any serious consideration from me vs. the X5. That’s not even considering the AK240 – could it really be 7 times better?
 
The X5 is the clear winner over my current DX50 – no contest. However, adding my BH2 amp pairing gets the stack sound quality much closer with the X5 still taking an easy win. The DX50’s internal amp really lets it down. I guess the big question is whether the X5 is good enough to justify replacing that stack which starting this review, I was still considering. If I didn't already have them, it would be a no brainer, but it is much harder to justify sidelining what I already have. So I still have to work on answering that question – maybe I can introduce the stack to my wife or make a gift to my father. We’ll see.
 
Introduction
 
Use Case:
Having a two year old and another child due in two months, cranking my speakers whenever I want is no longer an option so I need a high fidelity alternative to enjoy my music. I actually need three alternatives:
 
  • (NO) Listening station: My highest quality option is my desktop setup when I am willing to sit still at my desk or in my recliner.
    - iTunes/AIFF (.5TB) < Caiman DAC < Mjolnir < Black Dragon balanced < LCD2
  • (NO) Active mobile: This is for the gym, jogging, mowing the lawn, or hiking. The Clip Zip has been the perfect solution for this as it is light, sounds great, clips to my shirt making it very manageable and out of the way, and it pairs well with most headphones. The surrounding noise and distractions during these activities makes it impossible to appreciate a higher quality sound anyways so why be at risk for more than $30. I listen through my TF10s or my Monster Coppers for reasonably high quality sound.
  • (YES) High quality mobile: When wanting to listen comfortably around the house, when going to sleep, or when traveling, I like to be able to listen to higher quality sound. This is where the X5 would be used. I am currently using my DX50/BH2 combo for these purposes, so it would be my main comparison in the review. Traveling or around the house I use my NT6pros to pair, but for going to sleep I need a better low volume performer and more comfort so I use my HD595s.
 
Testing:
Since my main pairing for my high quality mobile setup will be with the NT6pros, this is the HP that I will be making the general comparisons with. However, the other headphones will have their own sections on pairing attributes. As my DX50/BH2 stack is by far the best I have to compare to the X5, I will be mainly discussing the DX50 stack when comparing except in the specific comparison sections.
 
Music Collection:
My biggest music sound quality upgrade by far was to convert my entire library to a lossless format, period. To keep things simple, I use iTunes to rip, tag, and manage my entire 1 TB AIFF music collection. I use playlists to organize my favorite music collections. Outside of Apple products, I create folders named for my playlists, and drag and drop all songs directly from the iTunes interface into the folders on my MicroSDs. I divide the playlists between my 5 MicroSDs and rotate as I update. This allows me to choose folders and play them like playlists as the mood strikes. I bring this up because it defines my DAP usage style.
 
NOTE: Given the lack of music worth listening to in high res 24/196 formats and absolutely no reasonable choices in DSD, I am almost ignoring these capabilities with the exception of a few test files.
 
Perspective:
My Magnepan Mangneplaner speaker setup is my best sounding by far, period. IMO, the ergonomics of wearing a headphone automatically remove some of the “being there” illusion so I would be really surprised if a mobile setup even came close. So my perfect ten is my speaker system and I compare everything else to it. My speakers make the performers sound as if they are in the room with me, literally. No kidding, but I often respond to background voices in the music or during movies thinking it is my wife or child calling me. It may not be as good as some of the quarter to half a million dollar full sound room setups that I have heard, but it is not far off. I am guessing that most  of the difference is the dedicated room, speaker placement and tuning, and room treatments.
 
Most of the good Head-Fi gear I have heard are a step or two below “being there.” Continuing the analogy, a step below is like an old wild west Hollywood movie set with 2D building fronts held up by posts. You can get lost in the sound only if you ignore all the 2D clues and stay focused on the action. A step below that is the stylized stage show where no one is attempting to imitate reality, but to make colorful and fun. The final step below that is a children’s kindergarten play with miss-scaled props made from cardboard and crayons. The table below shows my perspective of how the gear I tested lines up.
 
Equipment
Rating
Notes
  1. $500K Dedicated Sound Room
12​
Cost no concern, dedicated sound room with treatments, sophisticated tuning
  1. My Speaker Setup
10​
Marantz SR7005 > Rotel RB 1090 150lb Amp (700 watts into 4 ohms) > Magnepan 1.6 plus a pair of MK 12” high current dual sealed active/passive subwoofers
  1. X5/Mjolnir
8.5​
Life sized performers and intimate soundstage
  1. X5
8​
Closest DAP to being there
  1. X5/BH2
7.5​
BH2 more colored than X5 HO
  1. DX50/BH2
7​
DX50 holding BH2 back with lesser DAC than X5
  1. C3/BH2
6.5​
C3 less detailed and more blaring than DX50/BH2
  1. DX50
6​
Better details and power than C3 with FW1.2.8
  1. C3
5.7​
Nice details, but lacks power
  1. Clip Zip
5.5​
Very musical and engaging but a clear step down from DX50
  1. iPhone 5
4.0​
Has talent, but very 2D and overly blaring at volume sweet spot.
  1. iPhone Classic G6
4.0​
Has talent, but very 2D and overly blaring at volume sweet spot.
 
Findings
 
Ergonomics:
The interface takes a little getting used to, but quickly it becomes second nature. Here are some of the things that I have noticed while using it. Please remember that this is a pre-release tour unit on an early firmware so any of these UI dependent notes are likely to change with firmware updates.
  1. Looks: It is not ugly like I thought it would be from the pictures - it looks and feels like a quality product that you would be proud to show off. Holding the DX50 and the X5 in either hand, IMO you would guess the X5 costs more which held up when I was showing to friends and family.
  2. Resume: It requires a startup period rather than instant on resume like an iPod. However, the startup isn’t bad and is faster than most players I have used including the irritatingly slow DX50 startup. Like an iPod, after starting it does resume playing where you left off. It even has resume options in the setup options to customize how it resumes.
  3. Off: It is relatively easy and quick to turn off – much easier than the DX50 that requires an additional confirmation.
  4. Wheel: The wheel spin is opposite of the expected screen movement which is a little weird, but given the short graphical list, easy to adjust for. However, this should probably be fixed.
  5. Navigation: It is easy to navigate the UI and find the option you are looking for. The UI is fast and responsive with no lags.
  6. Buttons: The front buttons do get pressed in the pocket easily unless disabled, but then you cannot forward between songs easily.
  7. Now Playing: You lose the ability to use the forward/back buttons to control the music when you leave the “Now Playing” screen which is unfortunate. Worse, there is no easy way back to the “Now Playing” screen once you leave it requiring too many clicks and too much navigation to return. This is one of the bigger issues with the player. (Joe Bloggs says that a coming firmware update will provide a shortcut key option for the “Now Playing” screen.)
  8. Search: There is no search function that I can find. I would love to see an indexed search function that creates a selectable smart options list below as I type letters like any smart phone uses. The iPhone IOS7 smart search is a good example.
  9. Scrolling: There is no scroll management to get through long lists quickly so it takes forever to go to the end of a large library list. I would like to see the scroll speed up after a few seconds switching to the alphabet scroll like the iPod.
  10. Weight: It is heavy compared to other DAPs and is built like a tank so it needs to be well secured when mobile. However, I would be more worried about chipping my granite counters than damaging the X5 as it is that solid.
  11. Heat: It does sometimes get noticeably warmer than most DAPs or smart phones when used for a while, but not uncomfortably.
  12. Indexing: The player took my DX50 MicroSD cards without issue and indexed them rather quickly – both of them – while showing progress.
  13. Charging: This seems to take a very long time compared to my DX50 S3 batteries given the larger battery size. This was never a problem with the DX50 with their removable batteries that could simply be swapped out and charged independently. However, charging requires planning with the X5 that I will have to get used to.
  14. Battery: I have yet to run the battery out as I am constantly charging it afraid it will not be charged when I need it. This constant topping off could shorten the battery life if the battery has a maximum number of charge cycles which could be an issue as the battery is not user replaceable. However, there is also conflicting advice that this could be better for a battery than letting it run dry at this site:
    http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries.
  15. Battery Indicator: The only battery status I could find is the small typical graphical indicator at the top of the screen. It is difficult to tell where the battery charge is at as it is small and there is no numeric percentage next to it.
  16. Volume: While the X5 has a very large sweet spot throughout the volume that is appreciated, controlling it could be improved through some interface tweaks. For better control, it would be nice if the screen would turn on –for a second or two - when adjusting to show the volume as a number. This is the one time that I think at least most of us can agree that it would be nice for the screen to briefly engage. Otherwise, it is hard to tell if the press did anything at all. I typically find volume numbers that work for me for different uses and adjust to them.
  17. HP Out: Music pauses when the headphone is unplugged.
  18. Line Out: Music pauses when the line out is unplugged. The volume control has no effect on the line out.
 
Ergonomic Conclusion: My main use cycle is to turn on my DAP, and resume where I left off playing a folder or a playlist randomly. I tend to forward through the songs a lot as I get bored of the current song. I occasionally go into the interface and change folders. So really, I mainly need a DAP to turn on quickly and resume while allowing me to easily forward through the songs. The X5 did very well with this. The only real issue was the buttons being easily pushed when in my pocket and unexpectedly forwarding songs. Otherwise, I find the X5 very usable assuming the battery is not an issue. Having gotten used the convenience of the DX50’s easily swappable batteries I am very concerned about battery management which is the only downside I can see in moving to the X5.
 
Sound Overview:
Sound reproduction to me is all about producing that “being there” feeling. This is something that the X5 does better than any other DAP I have heard. While it is difficult to forget that you are wearing headphones and are attached to a device, what the X5 does right is to effortlessly produce realistic full speaker sized sounds that feel like they are coming from a full sized humans and instruments in the same room. This is in part due to the very detailed and realistic sounding DAC that is very surprisingly analog sounding and a powerful amplifier that is able to project these sounds to full size with realistic texture and impact. I almost said slam, but there is nothing artificial here which slam almost implies. While the X5 does not project the full speaker setup realism, there are times with the correct recordings that I do feel like I am there.
 
When I say analog, what I am referring to is a lack of metallic, artificial, or digital sounding artifacts that destroy the illusion of “being there.” The X5 also has an extraordinarily black background that allows the details to flow and the textures to layer 3 dimensionally. However, what is most impressive is how the player creates this sound so effortlessly allowing a very large sweat spot on the volume dial to play with. The sound stage and full spectrum realism flows to very low volume and high volumes can be reached without the X5 sounding shouty or strained. In the end, as good and realistic as it sounds, it is the headphone sized sound stage coming from the headphones holding the X5 back, not the X5 itself. I will be very impressed when I hear another DAP that is significantly better and not just a different sound signature.
 
Sound Breakdown:
For those that prefer a traditional Head-Fi sound description:
  1. Signature: A very neutral signature with reasonable extension at both ends with a touch of warmth.
  2. Bass: The X5 has a very honest bass. It is big and punchy if that is how it is recorded. However, poorly recorded or poor digital reproductions and sound thin, deflated, or clicky. What is most important is that the bass is neutral and not in the way of the detail coming from the other frequencies. In fact, it borrows from the other frequencies to better define the bass sound for better realism. Having said this, there is a touch of warmth in that the bass is very capable with a powerful amp that is not afraid to rise to the occasion.
  3. Midrange: As a neutral signature with above average extension in both directions, the mids can seem neglected sometimes, but are usually just right. To get it right, it is better to listen to the X5 in a quiet room without distraction. In noisier rooms the tendency is to turn up the volume to compensate which may make the treble and bass too much for some. However, in the right environment paired with the right music and headphones, the midrange can be heavenly.
  4. Treble: The treble is surprisingly analog, smooth, and effortless  until the volume goes too high. The treble is the first thing to get shouty at too high of volumes or with bad recordings. However, what is special about the treble is how it typically gets out of the way of the music by integrating with the other frequencies to add to the realism and 3D effect.
  5. Sound Stage: The X5 sound stage is excellent for a DAP with a nice sized airy sound stage with reasonably 3D instrument placement. What is special about the sound stage is really the very black background to help with placement and the space between instruments. Unfortunately, being made to power headphones is the X5’s “Achilles heel” only allowing it to produce the head stage that the headphones are able to produce.
 
Volume Performance:
I set my volume by focusing on the mids and increasing volume until the singer sounds full sized. Then I make small adjustments to blend the bass and treble to produce the most pleasing sound resulting in a full sized sound stage with a properly sized singer and instruments. If the performers cannot be sized correctly, the frequency range doesn’t blend correctly, or if the sound becomes shouty or incoherent, the “being there” feeling is lost. What is wonderful about the X5 is that it has a wide sweet spot on the volume dial where the sound is realistic to low volumes scaling correctly to rather high volumes. Turning down the volume feels like moving further back away from the stage where lesser DAPs lose their coherency. The X5 sound stage only loses cohesion at extremely low volumes and sound quality only becomes shouty at overly high volumes. This is unique among my DAPs that typically have very small ranges or require an amp to perform at low volumes.
 
This awesome low volume performance is very important to me as a large percentage of my X5 listening mileage will come at night while going to sleep. Now if only the screen would engage momentarily – a second or two - when adjusting volumes with a volume number to allow easy and accurate volume adjustment.
 
Line Out:
To test the line out capabilities, I tested the X5 with my BH2, miceblue’s O2, and my Mjolnir:
  1. X5/BH2:
    Compared to the headphone out, the line out paired with my BH2 is a lot boomier with the HO being tighter and more realistic. The BH2 adds an unrealistic bass boost that creates a fun and euphoric sound that I enjoy greatly, but the HO also has a weighty presentation with impact that is much more realistic getting closer to my “being there” goal. What was surprising was that my DX50 was holding back my BH2 sound wise. I already mentioned that the X5 wipes the floor with the DX50 one on one. In addition, pairing the BH2 with the X5, the woofer/sub-woofer sound went from a cheap $300 DJ setup to an audiophile $2000 subwoofer with $2000 high end speaker sound with much tighter, more realistic quality. That I wasn’t expecting. One more point, the BH2 is much more forgiving of poor bass recordings than the X5 HO where the X5 HO is much more realistic. The difference is reduced considerably when the BH2 is powered through the X5 vs. the DX50. For those that know that BH2, I always have all switches on as I feel it sounds best that way.
  2. X5/O2 (Borrowed from miceblue):
    Paired with my NT6pro, the O2 brings the entire presentation forward for a nice intimate sound stage. It also brings a tad brighter sound losing some of the richness of the X5 presentation. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other but are two different very capable presentations. So the convenience of the X5 as a single solution vs. a transportable but not portable stack is a no brainer. However, when using the LCD2 or the LCD-X, the extra power is appreciated allowing the Audeze signature to scale closer to the Mjolnir sound. This comes at the cost of a portable solution, so I would personally opt to go direct from the X5 deferring to my desktop solution when I want to hear the ultimate in sound quality.
  3. X5/Mjolnir:
    There is nothing unexpected here. As a balanced setup, the only headphones that I can use with my Mjolnir are my LCD2s and the tour LCD-X. Both appreciate the additional power and make full use of it. As expected, the Mjolnir spanks the X5 amp badly, but it is not in any way portable so is likely irrelevant. More interesting is the comparison to my desktop DAC. While the Caiman is not a very expensive DAC/AMP unit, when used as a DAC it  excels and has tempered my motivation to get the Da8 DAC that I have been eye balling. However, when compared to the X5 as a DAC, the X5 loses.  Even though the X5 sounds very good, when compared it is more aggressive, bright, and has a smaller sound stage. The Caiman as desktop unit is sweeter, more musical, and more effortless with a better sound stage. But hey, it’s a desktop unit.
 
Line Out Conclusion: Following these tests, I came to the conclusion that I would never personally use an amp with the X5 as there is no need and often a step backwards.
 
DAP Comparisons:
For those looking to move up from lesser devices, here is a comparison to the ones that I own.
 
  1. DX50:
    My main comparable rig is with my DX50. The DX50 is dialed in with FW1.2.8, paired with my BH2 as a two piece stack. Without the BH2, the X5 wipes the floor with the DX50 with great authority and a much superior DAC providing a much richer/blacker/punchier/3d sound. The problem that I have with the DX50 now that I have the X5 to contrast is that the DX50 often sounds strained or thin or both. Think of it like with American Football and the recent 2014 Super Bowl. While the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos both obviously had skills making it to the top game in professional football, the Seahawks obviously had some extra magic that allowed them to make the Broncos look like a high school football team easily taking the 43 to 8 win. Yes, I am from Seattle.
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  2. DX50/BH2:
    Adding the BH2 amp, the DX50 sound is closer adding the punch and richness of the X5. However, the BH2 has warmer more euphoric sound that is aggressive and sometimes fatiguing in its slam with the NT6pro. The X5 is a little more laid back allowing the details to flow through widening the sound stage a bit. The other notable difference is that the BH2 focuses a bit more on mid-bass while the X5 bass response is flatter going really deep into the sub-bass allowing the sub-bass to shine through without covering it up. This plays well with the NT6 Pro signature promoting its unique frequency extension both directions.
  3. C3/BH2:
    The C3 is a nice sounding detailed DAP that works well with highly efficient IEMs. However, the magic happens when it is paired with the BH2 that allows the sound to become full sized and powerful. As a stack, the C3/BH2 is very different from the “being there” signature of the X5, unless by being there you mean a large Rave party with oversized subwoofers and a large pounding, euphoric, in your face sound. This is a very fun combination that sounds extremely good with my LCD2s and everything else. But like being in a loud night club, it can become overwhelming after a while unless this is the sound you are after.
  4. Clip Zip/+:
    As a value DAP, at $30 to $40, nothing beats the Clip. I use this smooth, musical, and open sounding DAP more than anything else as my main mobile use is when working out. However, it is not in the same league as the X5 so there is no way to compare the two. However, when working out, the distractions and the noise eliminate the ability to hear the additional sound quality anyways so it is good enough in these situations. The Clip replaced my Apple devices that sounded a bit shouty and congested in comparison. While it was nice having my phone with me when I was working out, it is more convenient to simply clip the light Clip Zip to my shirt and not have to deal with an arm band case or the weight of the iPhone.
  5. iPod Classic (Gen5):
    iPhone 5:
    Although the iPod and iPhone signatures are somewhat different, at this lower level, the Apple products are more alike than different so I am grouping them. While I was surprised listening to them again after a while to see how much talent they really had - compared to the X5, they are irrelevant in terms of sound quality. My like for these devices is more for the ecosystem that allows me to store, manage, and sync music easily. On top of that, it is very convenient to have my phone, email, applications, and the Internet available at all times. But when listening to music, they sound too flat and 2D and way too shouty. In addition, the realism is just off with both performers and instruments sized incoherently and often metallic sounding.
 
X5 Headphone Pairings:
For those looking to pair their headphones correctly, below is a description of how my collection pairs.
 
  1. LCD2.2:
    The LCD2s sound very good with the X5. However, that is not saying much because the LCD2s are fairly easy to drive and make most everything sound good. The LCD2s even sounds ok with my Clip Zip so I think it requires a little more explanation.

    IMO, what is unique about the LCD2 is its ability to scale down extremely well. The LCD's signature changes significantly when scaling from warm and euphoric with a small congested sound stage with low end low power sources to crystal clear, punchy, black background, and a much more realistic sound stage with higher end, higher powered sources. Throughout the scale, the LCD2 has a very realistic "being there" sound. At the higher end of the scale, the signature ranges from laid back and rich with something like a Bryston BHA-1 to aggressive/engaging with my Mjolnir. The difference is being able to take a pleasant nap while listening to spending half your listening time up on top of your chair involuntarily playing air guitar. You know what I’m saying.
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    My impressions of the LCD2s with the X5 are this:
    1. Power: The X5 has enough power that the LCD2 sound stage opens up a bit and the warmness clears up a lot, but not as much as a Mjolnir or Bryston that boast between 5 and 8 watts.
    2. Laid Back: The signature leans more toward the Bryston laid back signature than my Mjolnir's more aggressive signature.
    3. Stackless: The most important point is that I don't feel the need to amp the X5 as the sound is very pleasing as is.
    4. Realistic: It is a very full size and realistic sounding experience.
    5. Mobile Option: It is not as good as through my Mjolnir, but that was never expected.
  2. LCD-X (Tour Unit):
    While I don’t own the LCD-X myself, I happen to have the tour unit to test with the X5. Compared to my LCD2, the LCD-X feels shifted up in the frequency range and a little faster providing even greater clarity than my LCD2.2/Mjolnir pairing which is saying a lot. It’s not that the LCD-X is lacking in the bass department, but the bass seems to be turned down a notch keeping it from getting in the way of the rest of the frequency range. The result is a very realistic sounding sound stage that is even wider and closer to being there than the LCD2.2.

    Now, paired with the X5, I was surprised by how good the LCD-X sounded directly from the X5 headphone out. The X5 coupled with the O2 amp (borrowed from miceblue) is even better giving the LCD-X enormous sound on the go. What is really noticeable is the clarity and wide sound stage of the LCD-X scaled down to the level of a DAP where the LCD2 is more euphoric, warm, and congested. Both are enjoyable, but the LCD-X obviously scales down better than the LCD2.2.
  3. Fostex TH900 (Borrowed from m2man):
    While I thought that the Fostex TH900 sounded awesome through the X5, m2man thought it sounded a little boomy. To prove his point, we plugged into his Laptop > Off-Ramp 5 > PWDmkII > Schiit Mjolnir home setup and indeed, it did sound bigger, clearer, and more neutral - but you would expect that from $8000 setup vs. a $350 one. So that doesn’t take away from how good the TH900 sounded with the X5. However, a better comparison was to compare the LCD-X to the TH900 where we both agreed that the LCD-X sounded better. The reason was that the LCD-X sounded closer to the $8000 home setup sound on the $350 X5 than the TH900 did. The LCD-X just simply scales down better.
  4. HD595:
    The HD595s were the second best pairing that I heard. As very neutral sounding, open eared headphones, they have the largest sound stage of all my headphones in a mobile context. Matching the X5’s neutral signature, they project that black background very effectively enhancing the already very large sound stage. With nothing to get in the way of the details that X5 is capable of, the HD595 matches the NT6pro’s bell like clarity with a larger sound stage. The only thing holding the HD595 back is it’s neutral bass response. With no warmth, it may be considered to be bass light by some which the X5 helps to supplement with its touch of warmth. This only effects the HD595 pairing at excessive higher volumes where the bass falls off. However, the HD595 is my low volume top performer with the ability to reach deep with realistic sub-bass performance down to extreme lower volumes. Being my most comfortable and best low volume performers, they are what I like to listen to at night to fall asleep.
  5. Hidition NT6 Pro:
    The NT6 Pros are outstanding with the X5 and the best pairing that I heard. The things I appreciate with the X5 paired with the NT6pro:
    1. Stackless: it has all the punch and authority that I need with the NT6Pro so no stack required.
    2. Effortlessness: the sound is full sized with rich texturing and without any clipping or thinness. The sounds from each singer/instrument sound like they are on the same stage and are scaled correctly. Drums sound like drums rather than like weird clicks.
    3. Neutral Signature: as discussed so far in the X5 threads, the X5 is neutral across the frequency range with a slight warmness that pairs very well with the NT6pro enhancing its signature and supporting its extension both directions.
    4. Sub-bass Authority: The X5 has the power and signature to support an authoritative sub-bass down to the bottom of the range showing off what the NT6pro can really do.
    5. Low Volume Performer: The X5 has authoritative power, full sized sound, and a realistic sound stage down to very low volumes. This is particularly important to me as I am a low level listener usually needing an amp to keep the sound from falling apart at lower volumes. The X5 has a very wide sweet spot in its volume range that is much greater than most DAPs.
    6. Realistic Details: The detail is all there, but in a much more natural sense than the DX50 with a much blacker background to support the 3d sound stage. For example, a singers breath between passages sounds like you were standing next to them vs. an unnatural metallic sizzle that is pushed forward.
  6. TF10:
    The TF10 pair very well with the X5 and sound better than I have heard them sound before. What is interesting with the TF10/X5 pairing is that the mids are pushed way forward to take center stage where they are normally somewhat recessed with a V shaped signature. The mids are really outstanding with this combo. I never felt the need to amp the TF10 with my prior setups as the TF10s don’t really require it, but the power of the X5 is giving them real authority that they don’t typically have. The sound stage isn’t enlarged that much with the X5 showing a weakness in the TF10s, but it is much more believable with the X5 with larger sized performers and much more realistic sounding instruments. The other place the TF10 is showing its limitations is with clarity and the associated detail. While they have never sounded so clear before, the TF10 is not a NT6pro nor a LCD2 or an LCDX. So while the X5 is holding the TF10 to new heights, the TF10 is holding down the X5. Regardless, I would still chose to pair the TF10s just to enjoy those great mids, wow.
  7. Monster Coppers:
    My Coppers are my most comfortable IEM that seal almost as well as my CIEM. This is quite an accomplishment as I tend to find IEMs as uncomfortable – although convenient – and typically have difficulty getting a seal at all. While it is nice that the Copper is very efficient, it is not a plus with the X5 that boasts a very powerful amp. The Coppers are also quite warm in signature with the most bass boost of any of my headphones giving it a very smooth signature. However, I find that this hides some of the X5 detail and congests the sound stage. While the Copper sounds great with the X5, I find that the Copper holds the X5 back from its full potential. The Copper is probably my worse pairing with the X5. I do use them though to pair at night as a comfortable low volume listening option when the open ended HD595s disturb my wife.
 
Conclusion
 
I think it is pretty obvious to anyone reading this review that there is a X5 in my future. Although it is possible that the uber expensive DAPs may meet or exceed the sound quality of the X5, I cannot imagine it being by much and certainly not by enough to justify the additional cost. As a portable music player I would rather carry something that I can afford to lose or damage without crying. Otherwise bringing it along stops being fun and it ends up being left at home. I would rather put my significant investments into my speaker or desktop system that stays home - safe and sound. The X5 is good enough that I don’t care what the other DAPs sound like any more……….. well, not as much.
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Preludio
Preludio
Hi!, i own the Fiio X3 DAP, i use it with Shure SE215 IEM's and with the NAD Viso HP50 over-ears. I wonder if the X5 is much better in sound, and what would be those differences? I'm happy with the X3 sound (and don´t have much problems with interface and other features) but i´m really curious if the improvements in sound are important enough to do an upgrade. Maybe there´s someone that own both...
 
Thanks for the support!
Barra
Barra
Hey Preludio, I don't have the X3 or your particular headphones to compare so i would only be guessing based on what I have read in the main X5 thread. But I can tell you that my TF10s and my Monster Coppers were a bottleneck to the capabilities of the X5 based on the achieved SQ of my CIEMs and the Audeze. But it would be a plus to know that your SQ will scale with upgrades in headphones. My guess is that the HP50s would be spectacular given their full size and reviews and show the most improvement. My HD595s sounded awesome.
 
Another thing to consider, from what i read, the X3 is considered warm compared to the X5 neutral signature so it will sound different regardless of SQ improvement. I don't know what your preferred signature is, but if you are used to the X3's warmer signature, it would likely require an extended listening period to appreciate the X5's different signature.
 
You will probably get a better answer on the main X5 thread.
soundbear
soundbear
Super review!!  Very detailed and nice comparisons!  Like you, I've got my combo(StudioV3rd/T1) but sounds like the X5 can equal and perhaps top both???  we'll see.

HK_sends

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound quality, versatility, 2 microSD slots, manual
Cons: Flaky gapless, twitchy scroll wheel, menu navigation issues, must study manual
Pros: (expanded) Sound quality, versatility, (mostly) easy to use UI, data storage options, charging indicator, user’s manual, most “issues” can be addressed via firmware update
Cons: (expanded) Gapless needs work, lack of markings on control buttons, silicon cover needs larger holes for plugs, twitchy scroll wheel, no playlist support, no easy way to return to “Now Playing” screen, “Next Track” and “Previous Track” functionality needs work, need to read user’s manual just to operate the player
 
Disclaimer:  
I would like to thank James FiiO and Joe Bloggs for giving me the opportunity to evaluate the X5.  It was provided at no charge and with no obligation other than to post my thoughts and impressions to the Head-Fi community.  The X5 was reviewed using Firmware 1.00.  Some of the issues noted below may be addressed in future updates but the player was reviewed and rated “as is”.
 
An Introduction:
 
This review is going to be somewhat different since I won’t be focusing on the sound quality so much as the usability and versatility of the unit.  My needs are fairly specific: I want a dedicated digital transport to replace an old laptop I've been using for a digital music source.  I also want a portable player to carry with me when traveling, something to handle headphones and IEMs.  I also may end pairing the DAP with an external DAC or Amp depending on my sonic preferences at the time.  The beauty of the X5 is that I was able to try all those options.
 
I have owned a number of DAPs in the past to include a Second Generation iPod Nano, Cowon D2, S9, J3, a Little Dot DP-1, and iHiFi 960.  I am currently using an iBasso DX50 as a digital transport for my home rig (along with a Schiit “uber” Bifrost, Lyr, and LCD-2s) and as a portable player for use with IEMs.  My music preferences include 60’s-70’s Classic Rock, 80’s “New Wave”, Classical, Folk and some “New Age” stuff.  While I totally understand and appreciate the advantages of analog sound, I grew up at the dawn of the digital age and recognize the convenience of digital music while being able to accept its limitations.  What does that mean to you?  It means I’m an old fart that doesn’t mind listening to digital music and trying out new toys.
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Since the tour started, there have been a number of reviews with unboxing pictures so I will just say that the contents of the X5 box were all there and well packed.  The player was already in its protective silicon sleeve and had a screen protector mounted (with a couple of spares included).  A thoughtful inclusion was the USB-to-microSD card reader/writer.  After admiring the contents, I hooked a charger to the X5 to top off the battery.  I noticed the little charging light below the scroll wheel.  It glows red while charging and turns green when the battery is full.  It’s a very useful indicator since the menu screen only stays on briefly during charging.
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The X5’s rival in my Man Cave is the iBasso DX50.  I got it a short time ago and have found it to be rather nice for my needs.  The X5 would have to equal or better the DX50 if it was going to pass muster.  I also use a Schiit (uber’d) Bifrost DAC and Lyr Amp with Amperex USN-CEP 7308 tubes.  For headphones I have the Audeze LCD-2…and on the last day of the evaluation I received a pair of Dunu DN1000 IEMs.
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The Build:
 
I found the X5 to be well built and comfortable to hold in my hand.  It is taller than the DX50 but a little thinner front-to-back.  There are four elongated buttons at the 2:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 10:00 positions outside the prominent scroll wheel and center button.  The screen is not a touch screen.  I like the fact all the jacks for the Headphone-Out, Line-Out, and Coax-Out (SPDIF) are all on the top.  I did have some problems with the position of the power switch since I am used to it being on the side of my phone and the DX50.  The position of the power switch makes it a little difficult when you have a cable plugged into the Coax Out and need to reactivate the screen.  The volume controls are located on the side while the USB port for charging, file transfers, or DAC functionality is on the bottom nestled between two microSD card slot covers.  I actually like the covers since they help keep the cruft out of the sockets…and since I ended up loading the X5 up with two 64GB microSD cards I probably wouldn’t have to open the slot covers for a long time (of course, YMMV).
 
The scroll wheel is rather twitchy.  It is the main control for navigating through the menus but it is extremely sensitive to small movements, sometimes jumping several options in the menu when I was only trying to move to the next option.  It's made worse by the scroll wheel being a bit loose, having some play before connecting with the next underlying contact.  It made for a pretty frustrating experience…and to top it off, when spinning the scroll wheel it kept squeaking in one spot.  I hope it is just a fluke confined to this one example and not indicative of all players.  I think if FiiO reduced the sensitivity of the scroll wheel (perhaps adding a slight delay before switching to the next option), it would be a lot less frustrating.  The frustration can be reduced somewhat by being able to use the four front buttons to navigate the menus.  However, this brings up a couple of points…
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The User Interface (UI):
 
When I think of a UI, I don’t just consider the menus on a screen but physical buttons and controls on the player.  A UI should be fairly intuitive and should not require studying a manual to memorize what a button does.  It can make for a very frustrating out-of-box experience for a new user having to operate the controls by trial-and-error.  In my opinion, one of the biggest shortcoming of the X5 UI is the lack of control symbols on the front buttons.  I really think this can be a major decision factor for people looking to buy based on the appearance of “ease of use”.  Not everyone wants to have to “RTFM” (Read…The…F*...err… Manual), instead preferring to just pop in a microSD card and hit play.  I deliberately approached this evaluation without consulting the manual unless I got really stuck on navigating the UI (...and yes, I ended up having to cheat and RTFM to learn what the physical buttons did).
tongue.gif

 
I really like the screen main menu...It works well with the scroll wheel (at least when the scroll wheel isn’t being twitchy).  I also noticed the menu selection rotates opposite the direction of scroll wheel spin which makes scrolling through the menus counter-intuitive.  Perhaps if the menu scrolled in the same direction as the scroll wheel, it would significantly reduce some of the perceived “twitchiness” or at least make it easier to adjust to the UI.  I found the four physical buttons do allow some menu navigation as well (except scrolling up and down in a sub-menu), but I had to RTFM to discover it.  The on-screen menu symbols are pretty intuitive and the sub-menus present all the necessary information (I liked the separate music and player settings menus).  I just have a question…how does one go straight back to “Now Playing” after changing a menu setting without having to navigate backwards a step at a time to the main menu?  Perhaps having an option that returns you to the “Now Playing” screen after a certain amount of time is in order?
 
Using the player:
 
Disclaimer:  Remember, I reviewed the X5 with Firmware 1.00.  Some of the issues noted will probably be addressed in future updates but the player was reviewed and rated “as is”.
 
I used two 64GB microSD cards with mix of Flac and MP3 music files.  I had some initial trouble getting the X5 to recognize the cards after formatting them with my PC.  It was easier to format the cards in the X5 and load them with music via the USB-to-microSD card reader.  I’m sure it was due more to my ignorance than to any issue with the X5 but it seemed to be the easiest way to load music on the cards.  After that, the X5 easily recognized all my folders and tracks.
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Selecting and playing music was easy using the directory (folder) menu.  I do like the option to choose which microSD card to access but I would also like to see an option where the player indexes both cards and presents all the music folders in a single directory.  I would also like to see multiple playlist support and the ability to add music to favorites by folder as well (playlist support is rumored to be coming in a firmware update).  Gapless playback is a necessity for me so I enabled it.  In Firmware 1.00, the music transition was not smooth with an abrupt transition as if the end of one song and the beginning of the next were clipped and jammed together.  I hope this can be addressed in a future firmware revision since it can be a major factor in choosing a DAP.
frown.gif

 
A note about the sound:
 
This area will actually be rather short since I find offering impressions of sound quality to be subjective and a matter of great debate in some circles.  The only apples-to-apples comparison of the sound quality that I can make is with my iBasso DX50.  I received the DX50 with a firmware that left it sounding rather bland and cold.  Recently, iBasso released a firmware version that brought the DX50 to life musically...it sounded really good to my ears…until I listened to the X5.  I found the X5’s sound to be more full-bodied and musical with good extension in the bass and treble and well-rounded mids.  I also noticed the background of the X5 was completely silent compared to the DX50 which sounds “airier”, almost as if you can hear the noise floor along with the music.  The difference between the two sound signatures is very noticeable with the X5 having the better sound quality.  Again, this is all subjective but are my impressions comparing the two.  I favor the X5 on sound quality if nothing else…
As an aside, I was asked to try the player with my LCD-2 headphones.  The X5 drove them surprisingly well, managing to play them louder than my comfort level...it won’t replace a high-powered amp, but at least it doesn’t suck when the X5 is all you have.  I found the X5 paired excellently with the Dunu DN1000 IEMs!  I would be perfectly happy having the X5 and DN1000 with me if I ever got stranded on a deserted island (with power 
wink_face.gif
).
 
Other functions:
 
I tried out the X5 four different ways…as a player with headphones, as a digital source feeding my Schiit Bifrost DAC and Lyr Amp, as a source/DAC driving my Schiit Lyr Amp, and finally as a standalone USB DAC feeding my Schiit Lyr.  The X5 acquitted itself admirably, performing all the functions I required.
 
View attachment View attachment
Hey, it works!                                                                     The holes in the silicon cover are too small for large plugs...
 
View attachment View attachment
As a Digital Source feeding an external DAC/Amp...             And as a USB DAC feeding an external Amp...
 
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The display while operating as a DAC...                               And feeding the LCD-2's...
 
View attachment View attachment
As a Digital player feeding an external Amp via Line-Out...    The X5 and Dunu DN1000...an Excellent Pairing!!
 
Bottom Line:
 
The X5 is a diamond in the rough.  With Firmware 1.0 there are User Interface issues that make operating the player less than intuitive and somewhat frustrating.  Gapless isn’t correctly implemented (yet), and the menus and shortcuts need some refinement.  These, I truly believe, will be addressed in future firmware updates (as I’ve already heard rumor of).  Hardware wise, the scroll wheel is a bit loose and there are no control icons on the buttons.  These could be fixed in future revisions but might frustrate current users not accustom to “feeling their way around” the controls.  While the User's Manual wasn’t completely finished it was excellent in pointing out features and operations but the question is, how many new users want to have to “RTFM” before they can even use a player?
Despite my critiques above, I am looking forward to getting the X5 after it is released in the USA.  While I may have to wait for a few firmware revisions as well as “RTFM'ing" before owning an X5, I think in the end it will definitely be worth the investment when I need a DAP or a DAC or a Digital Source or a…  I think you get the picture.
popcorn.gif

 
My thanks again to James FiiO and Joe Bloggs for the opportunity to evaluate the X5 and offer my impressions.
peareye
peareye
Thanks. I agree:there should be an easy one step process to get back to the "now
 
playing" page...it gets tiring very quickly otherwise!

hilosxdd

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Excellent sounding , build quality , user interface , dual micro sd card slots , USB Dac function ,
Cons: Front buttons looks breakable , some bugs and functions yet to be implemented in the current firmware (1.00) , unable to swap batteries .
Disclaimer: I am not related to FiiO, nor am I paid to do this review, they have kindly organized a tour to let the previewers have a 'taste' of how it actually sounds like.
 
Intro: I first came across FiiO's dap in Early December , which is their first and only dap in 2013 , I was particularly impressed on how it actually sounds , especially for it's price . In late December there was the FiiO X5 world tour application, decided to try my luck , and unfortunately I wasn't that lucky , but a few weeks after the shortlisted names were announced , I received a PM from my fellow group of local-Head-Fiers, enclosing a message sent by Joe that there'd be an extra set, so there it is, I'm in the X5 world tour ! :D
This is a simple review of mine:
 
[Sorry for the low quality pictures , I do not have a proper camera so I took these using my phone]

The packinging: 9/10
 
View attachment
 
 
It's a simple yet elegant box
 
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Open up the box and you'll find a black box, it has the leather-texture, though it's made out of paper.
 
Accessories: 9.5/10
View attachment
 
 
Inside the box, you'll get a silicon protective case for the X5, a micro USB charging/data transfer cable, 2 instruction manual, 2 screen protector, a warranty card, a coaxial cable, 3 anti-dust plug, a micro sd card reader, a USB OTG cable (for future firmware use) and a HDtracks discount code.

Build/design: 8.5/10
 
View attachment
 
 
It is heavy(200g as stated), build quality like a tank, though I have not (and will not :p) try to drop it to see whether it'd survive after a drop :D
There're a total of 5 clickable buttons at the front side, they're have a tactile feeling when you try to press it.
The scroll-wheel has a rubbery texture and it is turnable , unlike the iPod , where you'd only touch and go round the circle.
 
View attachment
 
 
There're two volume buttons at the side, it has also the tactile feeling when you press it.

 
View attachment
 
 
At the top of the X5, you'll see 3 output holes, the first hole to the left is Headphone Out, second hole is the Line Out and lastly to the right is the Coaxial Out.
[Picture (bottom)]
On the bottom of the X5 you'll find 2 micro sd cards slot, with a rubber flapper attach to it, not the biggest fan of it , as I had problems opening up the rubber flap , takes awhile to open it up .

Battery: 9/10
It is a built-in 3700mAH Li-polymer battery, it is said that it'd last 12-15 hours of playback which is quite impressive it has to be said.

UI: 9/10
Not the fanciest UI , but it's simple , good , and best of all , fast .
 
View attachment
 
 
This UI reminds me of a Sony Walkman-style (phone) kind of theme , scrolling speed is great , no lag or whatsoever .

General specifications (Thanks Brooko!)
 
Dimensions:64.6 x 114 x 15.6 mm (W/L/H)
 
Weight:122 g
 
Display:2.4” 260K HD IPS (400x360)
 
CPU:Ingenics 4760B 600MHz dual core
 
DAC:pCM1792A (supports up to 192/24 res)
 
Outputs:3.5mm headphone out, 3.5mm line out, 3.5mm digital coax out
 
Storage:2 x microSD (max support 64Gb x 2 at time of review)
 
Battery:3700mAh Li-Polymer, up to 15 hours playback (~12 hours currently)
 
Gain options:0 / 6 dB
 
Supported Formats:APE, WAV, FLAC, WMA, ALAC, MP2, MP3, AAC, OGG
 
Supported Resolution:Up to 192K/24bit – dependent on format
 
Headphone Out:
 
Output Impedance<0.26 Ω
 
Crosstalk:>75 dB @ 1KHz 
 
THD+N< 0.003% @ 1KHz
 
MAX output voltage:> 8 Vp-p
 
MAX output current:> 150 mA 
 
SNR > 115 dB
 
Output Power:460 mW @ 16Ω, 255 mW @ 32Ω, 28 mW @ 300Ω
 
Line Out:
 
Crosstalk> 100 dB @ 10KΩ @ 1KHz
 
THD+N< 0.0025% @ 1KHz
 
SNR> 115 dB
 
Line output> 1.5 Vrms
 
Here's the main part of the review , it's a little short and simple section . 
 
Sound: 9.5/10

Treble: It's extends very well , yet smooth and natural . Consiered 'netural' in FiiO's product, it is a little warm if compared to other daps , excellent for bright sounding headphones or in-ear monitors.

Bass: It's punchy yet controlled , it produces the right amount of bass when needed .

Sound-stage: It has more depth than width , I'd give a score of 3/5 for depth and 3.5/5 for it's width .

Mids: If you have a 'mids-laid back' headphones or IEMs and you want a dap with forward mids, this is for you, presentation of the mids is just stunning, one of the excellent aspects of the player .

Micro-detailling: W-O-W . By far , the best I have ever heard , every strumming of the guitar , beat of the drums , this player will never fail to capture every micro detail of the music . Just wow . 

Final thoughts: 350 USD ? You don't get what you pay for this player , you have gotten a steal of the century , it has to be the best player for it's price tag , and with a great customer service , you'll not regret buying this player . Judging from it's build , it can last for at least a good 5 years . If you're looking to buy a player that sounds excellent and can last for long time , FiiO's X5 is for you .
 
I'd like to thank FiiO , James and Joe for organizing this tour and giving me a chance to preview the X5 , it has been a amazing and wonderful experience . :) 
 
Thank you for reading :)
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musicheaven
musicheaven
Short and to the point review. Like @2jono I was surprised by your low soundstage ratings when the balance of your review seems to praise it's sq but otherwise we all have been to a certain degree impressed by it's performance even more when comparing its price point.
hilosxdd
hilosxdd
@peareye I used a Hidition NT6 Pro for it .

@2jono oops , I meant by 4/5 and 3/5 , sorry for the error , but perhaps I would give it 6/10 (3/5 each) instead of 7/10 .

@musicheaven thank you I hope its enough
hilosxdd
hilosxdd
Just realized there're 2 same photos , will edit when I have access to my computer

cattlethief

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Great sound,very well built,fantastic value.
Cons: sd card slots are too deep,few database bugs.
FiiO X5 Review:
 
Hi first ever review,so probably not the most in-depth you will ever read,a bit about my self I am a Network engineer for Ericsson maintaining all of the Telecoms networks and as well as having a love for music,I have a passion for racing bikes and compete in the odd triathlon.
 
Thanks to the Fiio team for for giving me the chance to be one of the first few to listen to this player.
Ive only started listening to high quality sounding music,in fact it was Fiio who started me on this journey a few years back when I purchased the E7(Dac/amp)to improve the sound of my iPod and laptop.
I have been a fan ever since and jumped on the X3 when it came out,not without its bugs early on,because of a great team these have mostly been ironed out and in a whole I think the X3 is a fantastic player.
I will be comparing the X5 with the X3 and the new Sony F886 using Grado GR8,T-PEOS H-100j and HiFiMAN HE-400.
Most of my listening was either driving in the car or when training on the bike, and the X5 was a constant companion on the indoor trainer drowning out the constant drone of the flywheel!
 
Build
 
The X5 is a solid piece of kit with a good weight,I love the scroll wheel although a bit sensitive and responsive at first,I did get used to it,screen is good with better resolution than the X3,although the Sony has by far the better screen,the buttons are ok and do the job once you get used to there purpose,the only real gripe are the sd card slots, they are too deep and you have to use something to press to insert/eject,the X3 was a lot easier to insert/eject.
View attachment
 
 
User Interface
 
FiiO have done a great job here,very neat menu layout,fast scrolling through menus,a vast improvement over the X3.Despite the Sony having a fantastic UI, I see no need for android on a dap,a good touch screen with wifi so that you can stream to spotify and Qobuz would be nice though!!.Ive had a few screen freezes and sd card problems but i am certain these will be ironed out before the International launch.
 
Sound
 
As I’ve said most of my listening was done on the move,no sitting down with the audio club dissecting every piece of the frequency range.For my ears the X5 produced the best SQ of any dap I’ve heard,lovely detail,excellent separation and good soundstage more revealing than the warmer Sony and X3,a good match for my Grados,I could listen to this combination all day
 I used the DAC connected to a mac with Audirvana running and comparing the H/O with a Little Dot mkIII,the Little Dots warm tubes are a better match but not by much,the X5 drives the HE-400 very well and I think tames the treble a touch.To compare the bass I used my T-Peos H-100j which have tremendous sub bass,the X5 sounded crisper and cleaner to the heavier X3,the sony is unfortunately euro capped,so to make it a fairer fight I hooked the sony up to the C&C BH amp which opened the sony up a bit especially with my Grados which needed that bit more juice,although I love the tone of the warmer Sony,I still think the X5 was one step ahead in detail.
Overall I think Fiio have done a great job improving on the stellar X3 and with future DSD upgrade,its a tremendous bargain,half the price of the Sony ZX1 which I believe sounds similar to the F886,with HI-RES streaming just around the corner,hopefully the future X7 will have an OLED touchscreen(wishing) and wifi.(But please no Android!!)
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To sum up the X5 is a true robust urban road warrior of a player,true Hi-Fi on the move and I for one would buy it in a second.
musicheaven
musicheaven
nice review. I like to echo @cattlethief  remarks by saying the Fiio has entered the path of sq at an affordable price. At this stage, for the other competitors, it will be hard to release anything unless they match or exceed FiiO market propositions. I predict the X7 will be anchoring their presence in reference level players going forward and might elevate it as the player to beat.
Maxlight
Maxlight
Good reviews from the view of customer. Even though I reserved Calyx M player (supposed to get in April), still wondered how the X5 represents the SQ because of their reliabilities of materials used in X5 and their prices. Changing DAC chips from X3, Is there any significant chnages of X5 from X3 on the textures the sound layers and so on?

reihead

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Phenomenal sound, very stable (zero hangs), usability, superb micro-detail, good build quality, packing and accessories. Great value.
Cons: Library database hierarchical problems, scroll wheel sensitivity not adjustable, UI needs work.
Disclaimer
 
1. I’m part of the X5 Preview tour. I had the chance to evaluate the unit for 10 days thanks to FiiO.
2. I have no affiliation with FiiO in any way.
3. The following words are my personal opinion, I wasn’t forced to give a favourable review or leaded in any way.
 
Big thanks to Joe, James and everybody at FiiO for this tour and for allowing me to preview the player. I hope this tour is a total success and that many more will come in the future.
 
 
About me
 
I'm an avid music lover. I'm all about listening music on the go, I have tried several Apple product but never own one. To carry a brick has never been an option for me. Used many Creative players for years. The X3 is my first hi-definition portable player.
 
I don’t consider myself an audiophile, but certainly can appreciate quality and I drive myself to find it with the better value possible. My music taste goes from Jazz, to Industrial, to Rap. Most of my digital library are mp3 files (224 kbps or more), 30% flac and less than 10% 24bit flac files.
 
I’m a web developer and app developer for smartphones, technology is part of my life. I have many phones for testing and even when I work with touch interfaces, I firmly believe that not every device needs to follow the touch UI fever and certainly a music only player doesn’t need to be touch based.
 
 
About this review
 
This will be a short review (somewhat), for details about the specifications and content of the box check other reviews or Fiio’s website.
 
I own a X3, a lot of comparing between the two will be done, if you are wondering how these two compare, read on. This is also my first review on any music equipment.
 
Here we go…
 

 
 
Specifications
 
Go here: http://www.fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771&MenuID=105026016
 
 
Built
 
The X5 has a great built quality. The aluminium body feels very good in the hand, as for the weight, a bit on the heavy side. The rubber of the wheel is good, but some might find it slow some might find it ok. I found it a little bit slow. 
 
The micro SDCard slots are covered with rubber caps, these are not easy to pop out. I found (after a few tries) that pushing the cover to the inner side of the player was the easier way to pop them out (maybe this is the proper/designed way to do it), but certainly I question the durability of them, I’m the type of user which will take the cards out and use a reader in my computer to add new files.
 
 
Screen
 
At the very first use I was somewhat disappointed by the screen, mostly because it gives the impression it will use all the area, but the screen really is 4:3 and not the 16:9 aspect area in which is located, nevertheless, the screen is good enough for a music only player.
 
 
UI
 
Speed wise, about the same as the X3. Actually, I find the X3 to open the files a bit faster. The wheel is definitely an improvement, is easier to navigate through the library, select files and options. However, there is no option to change the speed/sensibility of it.
 
General options are pretty much the same as the ones on the X3. Even in the same menu order.
 
Library sorting is the same as the X3 at the time of writing this review, which, is not the best. The organization of it is not optimal. If your files are organized, using the browse files option is the best (more on this later).
 
While using the wheel, sometimes I ended slightly clicking the central button, this caused to select an album and I found myself scrolling the songs of it. I don’t think is because the wheel size or surface, but more because the central button is very sensible, maybe this is a particular characteristic of the unit I was evaluating.
 
 
Sound
 
To put it simple, it sounds amazing. The sound is natural, full-bodied with a warm feel to it.
 
Sounds better than the X3? Yes, a lot better. The X5 uses a different chip, the result is nothing short of mind blowing. Micro-detail is superb, all around detail and clarity are very enjoyable. The X5 shines compared to the X3, especially with hi-def music (24 bit flac are an absolute pleasure to listen).
 
The gapless playback is good, but not perfect. I could notice at small gap between songs in certain albums.
 
No playlist support in any shape or form.
 
Sound with…
 
FLAC files: Comparing to the X3, the sound difference from 16 bit to 24 bit FLAC's is way easier to notice. Amazing sound, details shine and catch your attention.
 
MP3 files: Background/decoding noise is still there but less noticeable than on the X3.
 

 
 
 
Storage
 
Two Micro SDCard slots are available. No need to select a card if you use the library/catalogue option, all files are available and ready to be played. Not the case if the browse files option is used. You will need to select one of the cards and navigate, if you want to access a file in the other card, you will need to go back to the root, select that card and navigate. Here the importance of an optimal library with a proper sorting under Artist and Genre.
 
Tried two 64GB cards formated as FAT32 and had zero issues. At the moment 64GB cards is the maximum supported, but FiiO has stated that bigger cards (128GB) will be supported in the future.
It took 4 minutes and 36 seconds to index a full 64GB card with 2269 files to the library (mp3 and flac files). This index process can be set to manual or automatic in the options, but should only happen when you modify the content of the card. The process is incremental, meaning if you add a new 10 song album to a card with 2269 files already on it, it won’t take the plus 4 minutes, but just a few seconds to index the new songs that were added.
 
There is no internal storage on the X5.
 
 
Use as a DAC
 
It sounds as good connected to the PC. A driver needs to be installed in Windows, actually I plugged both the X5 and the X3, installed the driver and both worked flawless.
 
View attachment
 
 
Other considerations
 
The unit never hang/froze in heavy 10 days of use.
 
Battery life around 10 hours, but I browsed the library a lot.
 
Firmware used: 1.00
 
Earphones used: V-Sonic's GR07 BE and Klipsch Custom 3, both in High Gain, Volume 55-68.
 
Did not use the equalizer.
 
 
Conclusion
 
With other players close to the USD 1000 and sometimes even more, is this player so good and such a great value that is hard to believe? Yes, it is.
 
Personally I haven't tried other hi-end players, but based on the impressions and reviews, the difference (if any) certainly won't worth such a big difference in price. I expect the X5 to fight closely with the top guys while its cost is just a fraction. It has the potential to be a game changer in the portable hi-fi field.
 
I was expecting a small upgrade to the X3, the X5 gives you that and then some, the expected is there, bigger and better screen, better UI, more storage capacity, then you also get better usability and awesome sound.
 
The X5 is not perfect thought, the UI needs work, I expected (and still expect) to be faster, mp3 decoding could be better, library sorting is not optimal, no playlist support. But all of these are small issues that can be solved/enhanced via firmware updates.
 
Will I be getting one for myself? Totally, the evolution from the X3 is huge and at USD 350 is a simple choice for me because the great value and because I can only see this player getting better and better as FiiO is listening to the community.
 
Paired with good (not so expensive) earphones, it is safe to say that with around USD 550 you can get an excellent portable rig, (X5, earphones and SDCard). Great sound at great value.
 
Again, thanks to Joe and James for the opportunity.  While I still enjoy my X3, can’t wait for my X5.
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musicheaven
musicheaven
Good review, short and to the point. I have always wondered about the X3 and never gave it a second thought when I saw the interface, somehow I was not attracted to it. The X5 on the other end, it's like memorabilia, transports you back to a certain old iPod video time but with a better interface and amazing sound stage. @Ripvanlink it seems that the title/album/artist/genre are the dap standard, in Fiio's case they need to expand the hierarchy to make it behaved more like other daps however I would be very surprised if they would break this convention any time soon.
Ripvanlink
Ripvanlink
Maybe Fiio will surprise us. They seem to have been doing that lately, haven't they. Meanwhile, as long as I have the option of using folder view, I'll be quite happy with that. the Fuze+ does not provide that option, btw.
reihead
reihead
Thank you all, glad to see good feedback for my first review. My goal was to keep it short and give those "never pulled the trigger" and owners of the X3 a good idea of the X5 and its value as an upgrade.

twister6

twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Original design, solid build, excellent sound quality, expandable storage
Cons: Micro-sd cover hard to open, a bit of learning curve to get used to scrolling wheel, a little on heavy side
*** UPDATE *** Now available directly from Miccastore: http://www.miccastore.com/fiio-portable-high-resolution-loseless-music-player-special-bundles-available-p-118.html
 
I have to start with a disclaimer that I'm not an audiophile, and this review is written from a perspective of someone who typically reviews Android gadgets and accessories (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2192333) :)  I hope my write up will help others who are just discovering the audiophile world and trying to decide if they need a dedicated DAP or can live with just using their smartphone and a portable DAC/amp.  I would like to give a big Thanks! to FiiO team for the opportunity to test and to review their new flagship product.  Last, but not least, I follow my own review format, and unfortunately it's not as neat as Brooko (you rock!), so hopefully you can follow along.
 
I consider headphones to be very important part of our lives. Many people's entertainment world evolves around their smartphone that we use to listen to music, to watch movies, to stream videos, to play video games, or to communicate with others. We have consolidated a lot of the other gadgets into this one universal device with headphones being a gateway to our entertainment world. That is why I put a high value on quality of the sound. Typically with high quality headphones you end up rediscovering sounds all over again and hearing new details for the very first time. To my very pleasant surprise, when I received FiiO X5 DAP - I actually ended up rediscovering my headphones, all over again!!! :)
 
It's great to have a portable entertainment system where you can do everything, but often NOT everything could be done at it's best because we are limited by the hardware. Sure, you can build a library with only lossless format files and you can get the best pair of audiophile grade headphones, but you are still limited by a path of digital files converted into analog sound to drive your headphones. You can get a quality audio app and even external amp, but the source of your audio will still come from a smartphone with every electronic component cramped in there, without any proper power filtering, and with low bit resolution and low sampling rate to deliver that sound. Yes, it's very convenient and you can significantly improve your sound quality by using, for example, Neutron MP app, external usb OTG DAC/amp like E18, and quality headphone cables and headphones (RC-SE1 cables with W40 IEMs in my current setup). This is a very adequate setup even for an audiophile, but there is still room for improvement. Nothing will match a dedicated Digital Audio Player (DAP) where from step one you will be processing your music source at the highest sampling rate with a highest bit depth resolution!!! There is a number of such DAP players available on the market, but often they cost north of $700 with a higher quality ones starting at $1000. That is why FiiO shook audiophile world when they introduced their next flagship X5 DAP priced at $350. This is my first experience using DAP, since I don't count my previous iPods or Sansa players as quality audio sources; and I can tell you with certainty that listening to X5 and Sansa Clip+ is like night and day. Let's take a closer look to find out more about X5.
 
There is no question you are dealing with a premium product the second you see their package box. You are greeted by a high res 1:1 scale picture of X5 on the front cover, and the back of the box has all the main function highlights. My review sample also had a sticker on the back mentioning that DSD playback and USB OTG support will be added in future firmware updates. Out of the package box, the actual X5 is stored inside of another "gift" box which is built out of sturdy carton with a nice foam padding inside to hold accessories as well. It's not exactly intended for traveling, but it definitely comes very handy to store X5 when not in use (the same with E18 and its storage box). Once you get a chance to hold X5 in your hand, you do realize it's not exactly lightweight at 210g (that's including 2 loaded micro-SD cards and silicone protection skin), although it's on par with typical smartphone weight. It was very clever for FiiO to include a high quality silicone protection form fitting sleeve. It enhances the grip, covers up aluminum CNC unibody to protect from scratches (although some might argue you would rather show it off!), and covers up volume and power buttons, as well as covering up Line out and Coax out ports leaving only headphone port exposed so there is no confusion which 3.5mm port to use. Furthermore, it comes already with pre-installed screen protector covering its gorgeous 400x360 res 2.4" IPS screen, and 2 more screen protectors for spare. Other accessories that come with X5 are high quality usb to micro-usb charging/data cable, 3 push plugs for each 3.5mm port, coaxial cable adapter, USB OTG cable, micro-SD card reader, and detailed easy to read manuals. I'm sure some will prefer to take X5 out of silicone protection sleeve to show off it's sexy aluminum brushed body, the same finish used in E18, but for others - you have an option to cover it.
 
Unboxing
 
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Accessories
 
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Inside of silicone skin
 
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Out of the skin
 
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Of course, the biggest eye candy of this design is the mechanical control wheel. What looks like a miniature DJ spinning record is one cleverly designed control to scroll through the available menu options, song selection, and other controls. Some people mind find it resembles a classic iPod from a distance, but only by geometry of the circle. This is an actual mechanical wheel you can spin with your thumb and which provides a very tactile response and control of your selection. In the middle of the wheel you have a multifunction Ok/Play/Pause button, and at the corners of the wheel there are 4 other multifunction buttons to enable various controls and selections. In theory, you can use these 5 buttons without even a need for a wheel, but being able to scroll through selection or menu items or to adjust the volume with a wheel is just super cool! It gives an analog touch to the control and makes it feel more premium. At the same time, it's nice to know that function of analog wheel is duplicated with extra buttons which comes especially handy when you want to control your X5 without looking at the screen (skip, fast forward, pause, etc.).
 
X5 is not just an eye candy from outside, its a power house inside. In order to handle every available lossless format (DSD, APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, WAV) and all MP3s without skipping a beat, X5 is equipped with a dual core 600MHz Ingenics CPU which supports 192k sampling rate with 24B resolution. It also has asynchronous USB DAC functionality where you can use it as an external DAC for your laptop or computer. The internal power distribution uses quad-balanced power supply architecture to avoid any coupling noise from capacitors. Remember, power supply reference is very important in order to process a clean signal without any distortion. Also, it uses a very advance DAC/pre-amp/amp audiophile grade path (from reading digital audio to analog headphone output) with some of the top electronic components available on the market. And this is not just a statement. FiiO actually provided a detailed diagram of that path with part number of every component used in their circuit to support their claim. They even have a detailed screen shot with a layout of their PCB. These guys are definitely proud of their achievement and have nothing to hide!
 
The storage for your music media is provided on two removable micro-SD cards. With a current firmware support, you can use 2x 64GB cards for a total of 128GB storage, and future fw upgrades promise a support of 256GB and 512GB. If you think about it, this is solid state storage, not a mechanical hard drive or internal memory that can never be upgraded or replaced. Here you have a total control of your storage with a smallest footprint media. You can either copy files using provided micro-SD adapter or connect X5 to your computer (select Storage instead of DAC mode), and copy files directly to your DAP. Once USB OTG connection will be available, most likely you will be able to connect an external usb storage, such as HDD or usb flash drive. Btw, when you are using X5 as external usb DAC or connected to copy files, it charges the device automatically. With a 3700 mAh internal battery, you get up to 15hr of interrupted play (which is going to be available with future fw update), while currently it works for approximately 11-12hr. Although charging from PC usb port is possible, I would recommend using external 2A wall charger for a faster speed.
 
Once the battery is fully charged and you are ready to go, turn the power on and enjoy what comes up next! The crisp high resolution IPS screen has fantastic colors and highly visible from wide angles. It bring up a great visual since X5 is capable of displaying the song artwork or using a default background when playing your tunes. Also, there is an extensive amount of customization with a lot of options of how you want your DAP to function, under System Settings, to how you want it to play your songs, under Play Settings. It felt almost like I'm using my smartphone, the level of customization was that detailed. It even included a full readable manual of how to use X5. There are a lot of ways how you can play the songs, browse by favorites, play by category, browse folders, by artist, by album, etc. There is also a fantastic 10-band graphic EQ to fine tune your sound with included presets or by customizing it on your own, but in my opinion leaving it at Normal is the beauty to enjoy it's pure sound. I was very pleased to hear neutral signature of this DAP without any coloring of enhanced bass or treble, at least to my ears. This becomes especially apparent when you start switching your favorite set of headphones between different audio sources. The sound really comes alive!!! I can even tell you that listening from my Note 2 w/E18 and comparing it to X5, I found X5 to have a bit wider sound, more sparkle in high, better extension and control of lows, and overall a little bit more details across the whole frequency spectrum. Without a doubt, headphones play a significant role in sound quality, but if you are not driving it with a clean source - you can't polish a turd lol!!! If you look at the spec of X5, it has some very serious power of 460mW@16ohm and 28mW even at 300ohm driving the most demanding high impedance audiophile headphones. It also has low/high gain setting to boost output by additional 6dB, and with Line out you can even drive an external amp, if you desire.
 
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Overall, to say that I was impressed with FiiO X5 would be an understatement. Since the day I got it, I have been trying to find every possible excuse to use it. This brings me to one very important question, why would I want to set aside my current setup of Galaxy Note 2 and E18? What I discovered, my current smartphone total integration has its positive and negative sides. It's convenient, no doubt about it. But in order to enjoy your music to a full potential, you need to tune out the outside world. Doesn't matter if you are listening to EDM, Pop, Rock, Rap, R'n'B, or Jazz or Classical. If you are relaxing and want to enjoy listening to the sound, you don't want to be interrupted by another email or text message or social media update or reminder to update an app. Smartphone is a jack of all trades, while X5 is a master of one - the PURE SOUND QUALITY. Based on what I have seen and heard while using one, and read from other audiophiles on head-fi.org, FiiO X5 achieved and mastered that goal quite well at the price which is a fraction of competition. In my opinion, if you decided to invest into high quality audiophile equipment and spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to achieve your goal - this little DAP will be an excellent investment. Or, if you are saving money for $700-$1000 DAP, don't be cautious by $350 price tag of X5 and give it a serious consideration!
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musicheaven
musicheaven
Nice review @twister6, your pictures are fantastic and you certainly brought the idea of using one dedicated machine to be its best to play and enjoy music as it was meant to be at the forefront. I bet getting rid of the X5 is going to be the most painful thing you have to do as part of your review. :wink:
mountainrage
mountainrage
Pretty convinced I will be buying the X5 eventually over the X3, this just solidifies my decision. 
5
514077
You've reaffirmed my enjoyment of this player.  It'll be a while before I want to upgrade.  Hope you get to review the X5.II.

zenki14

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Price to performance ratio. Hi-res playback. Highly versatile with line out, coax out, USB DAC function. High build quality.
Cons: No m3u playlists support yet. Gapless has slight issues.
Disclaimer: I am taking part in the Fiio X5 preview world tour.  I have not bought the actual unit, and I’m not affiliated with Fiio.  Impressions are just on the 6th day of the 10 days allowed for me, so my words (especially about sound) need to be taken with a grain of salt.  Firmware version is 1.10, functional improvements are expected later on, and sound quality of the product may be subject to change in future updates.
 
About myself: I’m an audiophile, but to be exact I would call myself an “Audio Otaku”.  The word Otaku is a term used to describe Japanese geeks for basically any hobby, and can also mean fans of Japanese sub culture (Anime, Manga etc).
 
My Japanese ears tend to be so fussy about the sound I like.  Over the past decade, as a typical Audio Otaku I’ve used several universal IEMs, and then a few mid-range headphones, but now only own JH13 custom IEMs and the Beyerdynamic T1 headphones – both which are highly regarded and quite popular among the Otakus in Japan.
 
Back in 2005 I started to carry around MP3, WMA, FLAC and WAV with old Cowon DAPs (previous brand name iAudio).  Then I bought a Sansa Fuze V2.  Next I done the “diymod” on the iPod Video 5G (bypassing DAC output of the mainboard achieving a clean line out signal) which was then also Rockbox’d.  Now I use a Galaxy S3, USB output to an Apex Glacier, which I will compare with the X5 later on.
 
The X5 review:
 
1. Box and contents:
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The X5 is well packaged and basically includes almost everything you need to start using it, from the day arrived.  I say almost, because you also need a microSD.  It’s not really a problem since with this type of DAP, the user should select his/her own microSD brand and size.  There are two slots, which mean a maximum expansion to 128gb (two 64gb cards).  With my review I’m just using one Kingston 32gb class 10 card.  Letting it scan and building a library first only took 2 minutes or so, which was much faster than I thought, considering there’s over 2000 songs in my card.
 
It’s nice that the X5 comes with a screen protector already applied, together with two extra protectors.  Inside the bottom half paper box there’s the USB charge/data transfer cable, coaxial output adapter, a small USB microSD reader and warranty card.  The X5 comes with a grey silicon skin, and the quality of this skin is again much better than I expected.  The geometry and fit is perfect – no wavy surface, no extra air space or floppiness, which you may experience with other items like cheap smartphone cases.
 
2. Build quality:
Simply, I felt the X5 chassis is built and finished with high quality.  The aluminium, solid body certainly gives that “high class” feeling.  The smooth rubber of the wheel is good, but it has a very slight play.  It may be just this particular review unit or it’s just something that needs improvement in future.  One thing I personally felt cheap was the rubber covers of the microSD slots, which require a bit of force with your finger nail to pop them out.  This is probably not a big issue once you have your microSDs inside and start playing.
 
3. UI and experience:
The graphical UI of the X5 is fast, responsive to the wheel and buttons, and is user-friendly.  Personally I didn’t need to read the manual to figure out the general way to use.  I felt the UI experience is like a hybrid of Sansa Fuze wheel navigation and menu options of Cowon (minus the extra effects).
 
The X5 supports most of the popular file formats, so I would imagine there’s mostly no trouble making a move from another DAP.  It may not be a breeze if you have all music only on iTunes, but I actually never used iTunes to manage music so I cannot advise or comment on that type of situation.  The main reason I started off from old Cowon DAPs, then moved on to a Rockbox’d Sansa Fuze and diymod 5G, is that they all allowed file management by drag and drop, directly from the PC.  For the X5, it’s great that you can transfer files this way too.
 
I tested the gapless playback (you can enable/disable in the playback settings), and it works good, both for gapless mp3 and flac, but at this stage not perfect.  There’s either a tiny gap or the transition is not totally smooth, but still, acceptable.
 
One thing, that breaks my heart and puts me into tears, is that the X5 doesn’t support m3u playlists.  This is actually a very important feature to me, so hopefully it will be supported later.  Since you can drag and drop files to the X5 (or the microSD inside), making m3u lists is easy with the PC using Foobar2000, Winamp, WMP etc.
 
Currently with the X5, playing by genre or artist just sorts the files by file name (tagged with same artist or genre).  To get those files or albums in the order you want, you will need to rename all of them so that the X5 sorts them in the desirable order.  I’m sure m3u support will improve user experience, as you will not need to go through that process.  It will also definitely make it easier for current Cowon or Rockbox’d DAP users to migrate to the X5. 
 
4. Sound
This is where the X5 truly shines, and I suppose it’s where Head-Fiers have the most interest in.  I believe people already read many impressions from others by now so I’ll try to keep it simple.  I feel the X5 headphone output is "very powerful, neutral, with a touch of warmth". …Ok you expected that so I’ll expand things by comparing to other gear.
 
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When I first heard the X5, the sound was reminiscent of desktop Audio-gd gear I used to have, particularly the units with the Wolfson WM8741 DAC chip (the NFB-12 and bigger NFB-10.2).  I know it's different from the PCM1792 that the X5 utilizes, and, I normally don’t compare portable gear to desktop, as power advantages are obvious for desktop gear, but in this case I think I should.  The sound signature, tonal balance is that similar, and the X5 feels similarly powerful.  With high gain, it can even drive my Beyer T1 well too – just not up to the power and refinement of a dedicated balanced amp like my Violectric V181, but the X5 certainly takes total control of JH13.  Simply, I never experienced a DAP powerful as the X5 up to now.  With IEMs you’re expected to get all the body, slam and impact you will need.
 
The X5 is the first DAP that makes me think it doesn’t need an external portable amp (unless you're going to drive full sized orthos).  The line out and coaxial out sound and work very well, but if I were to own an X5, probably those outputs will be used only for car audio or speaker systems.
 
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Then for the past few days, I’ve done A/B tests (volume matched, and playing the same flac albums, by Hikaru Utada) to compare the X5 with my current portable rig, the Galaxy S3 USB to Apex Glacier.  For this rig the GS3 digitally outputs audio via USB to the Glacier’s DAC input, so technically the X5 DAC/amp sound is compared to the Glacier’s DAC/amp section.
 
I was quite shocked, as the overall sound of both is similar.  Only very few advantages are heard with the Glacier, such as slightly better control in bass and mid-bass.  It seems the Glacier also has slightly more smoothness between notes.  However I must point out that, the differences are minor and only noticed in this critical A/B test conditions, with JH13 customs that can be very analytical about the gear.  I wouldn’t notice them outside, on the go.
 
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On a side note, here’s just comparing the thickness of the X5 and my current rig.  Only a few mms difference, but the X5 feels more compact in the pocket (though, I don’t consider my rig as a brick.  It’s just a slim phone and slim DAC/amp).
 
5. Conclusion and decisions
The X5 has an outstanding price/performance ratio.  It covers many of the basic features expected from a good working DAP and takes it further, with two microSD slots, Hi-res support, great line out and coaxial outputs, and you can also use it as a USB DAC to carry around.  The sound quality comes very close to an Apex Glacier that alone retails at $499 (you will also need a DAP with line out or Android phone with USB out), while the X5 is $350 and can work on it’s own.
 
Now the question is, will I buy an X5?  I’m actually very tempted to.  The X5, in my opinion, sets a new standard of portable hi-fi.  Probably Fiio is the first one that managed this level of sound for a reasonable price.  I only have a few things that I still prefer with my current portable rig – the GS3 touchscreen control (I only prefer touchscreen if it’s fast enough), the GS3 supporting m3u playlists, and slight sonic advantages of the Glacier, although it’s difficult to justify the price difference.  The battery life of the GS3 and X5 is similar, or slightly longer with the GS3 (that can go over 16 hours).
 
As I post this, the X5 has already been sent out to the next person in the tour.  It was sad to see it go as the X5 sound and experience gave me a big smile.  The pairing with JH13 was quite addictive.  It’s a great creation by Fiio considering the X5 is still their second DAP.  Thumbs up from an Audio Otaku.
 
6. Thanks
To Fiio and Joe for organizing this tour, and giving us this wonderful opportunity.
peareye
peareye
Thanks for an excellent review. I now get a clear picture of the performance/cost ratio.
Sounds like a super value. Oh and I learned a new term today: otaku
musicheaven
musicheaven
Nice review @zenki14, may your path to sound quality brings you closer to music nirvana Audio Otaku. 

doki81

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: -solid build, support 2 microsd card, good music detailing (lossless format) and overall neutral sounding
Cons: - cant change battery, non touch screen
First of all, would like to thanks Fiio for allowing me to review the X5 even it havent hit our shore yet. This review stay neutral and i didnt biased toward any of the company.
 

a picture line up of all the DAP i have use for this review. i try not to make much SQ comparison between each of them as they are all unique to me :)
 
Unit info:
Product name: Fiio X5
FW: X5FW1.00 (I have upgraded to FW1.10 and didn’t notice and noticeable change on the SQ)
 
Physical Appearance
  1. The picture does not do justice to the actual product as the physical product looks more solid. Fiio has also finally got it right for the metal polish finishing. If Fiio uses the same finishing on their other products such as X3 and E12 series, it will be a good selling point in terms of appearance.
  2. The scroll wheel takes some time to get used to it. Fortunately Fiio has included the 4 navigation button whereby most of the navigation can be performed by the 4 buttons.
 
UI
  1. Nice UI, snappy and responsive
  2. Navigation of system is quite easy even without reading the instruction manual
 
Phone static test
  1. None detected. I didn’t notice any interference even though I put my mobile phone (which is ringing) on top of the X5.
 
Function test
  1. Gapless play is working fine for me.  I don’t play classical music that much but I do play live concert music genre.
  2. The X5 can detect earphone jack unplug, this is one of the features which I appreciate that Fiio has built in.
  3. The bookmarked function is also nicely done but the only downside is that I can’t create a playlist on my computer and throw it into the X5. Hopefully Fiio can come up with something for this function in the near future. I’m sure other users will be pleased with this too.
 
SQ
  1. There’s no issue for X5 to portray the dynamic range of the music. Lossless file like APE and FLAC gave this player some extra edge compared to mp3 format, especially on the music details. In my opinion, Fiio has managed to build a better music decoder for X5 as there are more music details in the X5 compared to X3 and DX50.
  2. Throughout the whole review period, I have constantly tested different genre of music on the X5, and it passed all the test with no complaints J
  3. Sound stage – balance / neutral sound stage which doesn’t make the whole music taste like artificial but yet it have plenty of room on it J
  4. Treble – soothing and extensive
  5. Mid –I would say neutral mid, by comparing it to X3+E12DIY (BUF634+MUSES01), X5 mid is lesser than my X3+E12DIY but I will gladly present this as a positive point for X5.
  6. Bass – it’s quite neutral, not too overwhelming. X5 can handle it well enough for all the trance/jazz/rock track that I have played.
 
IEM used:
The Max volume is 120 for X5
 
Westone W4r – Low Gain, Vol 66-70
Phonak Audeo PFE232 – Low Gain, Vol 70-78
Westone UM3X RC –Low Gain, Vol 66-70
ATH M50 – High Gain, Vol 60-65
 
EQ setting: Normal/ None
  • Green Day – Jesus of Surburbia (Flac). Genre - Rock
  • Jane Monheit – over the rainbow (audiophile voices collection) (flac). Genre – Jazz
  • Colbie Caillat – Begin again. Genre – Pop
  • David Tao - Airport in 10:30 (APE). Genre – Pop/R&B
  • Kacey Musgraves - My House (flac). Genre – Country
  • MayDay – Second life album (Flac). Genre – Pop/Rock
  • Jacky Cheung – Live The Life (Flac). Genre – Pop/Concert
autumnholy
autumnholy
@Oldandcurious Nah, don't say you're old. It's never too old to be curious. LOL. Anyway, yeah. I'm also looking for a DAP with superior file management UI. Sometimes having tons of storage let me dump all the FLAC and WAV into the player, but without a smart sorting and search function, it's quite troublesome to comb through the forest to find the right song for the right mood. Often, I just succumb to listening to whatever comes into play.
 
Enjoy the music while we still like it! I'm playing mine through Sansa Clip Zip since DX50 broke down T.T
musicheaven
musicheaven
@olandCurious touché couldn't agree more. The problem with most of us is that we always see a new toy coming and wondering if it could beat the sound quality of the older one. Curiosity and sometimes hype drives us to want to buy it. Kind a vicious cycle.
Praguepolo
Praguepolo
Does anyone have experience pairing the X-5 in a stack with CLAS/ALO or Centrance M-8? I want to replace one of my older 160 GB iPods and from what I can see the X-5 seems to be the best DAP in the under 500 USD price range,

musicheaven

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Outstanding build (body/case), easily navigable interface, loads of extra goodies and last but not least fantastic sound reproduction
Cons: UI - Weak library scanning and narrow tagging hierarchy, flimsy rubber TF covers and thin easily scratchable rubber painted wheel
[size=16pt]X5 Review by musicheaven[/size]
 
Before I start, I would like to make a few points clear so no one will be misled about if I own one or got one as a review sample:
1. The X5 was loaned to me for 10 days by FiiO which was to be returned once the evaluation is done or 10 days have elapsed whichever came first.
2. I'm in no way affiliated with FiiO in any shape or form.
3. I can’t thank Joe and James enough for what they have done, if a vendor knows what personal touch means those two guys truly know. If there is a model other vendors should copy, I suggest they look at FiiO’s.
 
There is something else that I want to express: my gratitude to Jude and the site admins for their diligent work in creating and managing such an exciting and excellent site with people from all walks of lives and with so much human and user experiences. This site might be addictive, which I am sure lots would concur but wouldn’t be as exciting without the participations of countless members who have given me and many others the key to music nirvana but also wallet sliming. I extend my heartfelt thank you to all of you out there! One more thing; this is my first time so please be gentle but also join the club if you like or dislike anything, this is a democracy and everyone is welcome to comment, constructively
wink.gif
.
 
[size=14pt]Let’s go with the task at hand, the review:[/size]
 
[size=14pt]First let me describe what it does not have[/size]:
With my SE535, I did not get any hiss whatsoever. This has to be the cleanest player I have heard so far. I am usually pretty quick to attach an amp to the player, but this has not been the case with the X5, it is clear from the headphone out and did not feel any major boost in sound quality or changes from the line out. I would say the amp section has to have been extremely well designed. I used my SE535, Sennheiser Momentum and HD600 headphones without ever moving into high gain.
 
[size=14pt]Build quality[/size]:
The X5 is without a doubt a solidly built player. It is heavy and feels it’s built like a tank. The first thought you have when holding the player is holly crew, the dap feels heavy/solid. The body is bi-leveled aluminum construction all around, the display is raised a few millimeters above the base. To be honest I would be hard pressed opening the case, I still can’t find how they put it together so the silicon cover would definitively stay there to avoid any collisions.  The size is about just right, slightly larger than the iPod Classic, it still stands nicely in your hands. The buttons on the side and tops are properly positioned, no chance of accidently pushing one by pressing on the others. The wheel action is very smooth and you can also feel the slight mechanical click as you move the wheel. The rubber mat covering the wheel definitively helps in having a good grip. I am a tad worried about the durability of the rubber mat as you could easily scratch it with your nails. The buttons are well placed and also slightly raised with a solid feel, akin to the iPod construction. The headphone, line out and coax out plugs are quite solid and seem to be made of copper allow with possibly gold platting but I can’t say for sure ([size=10pt]James and Joe stated that in fact they are gold plated[/size]). The TF card readers sit at the bottom of the dap cover by rubber plugs. Not sure about the durability of those covers however the dap I own does not even have a plug.
 
The wheel middle button is quite sensitive, I have stopped and started the player a few times just lying in my coat pocket. If you want to avoid having any actions while transporting the player, you should definitively pick the lockscreen mode 1 but keep in mind that the only button you will have operating is the power on/off button. I think I can see FiiO adding additional lock screen modes, say just the power on/off, volume +/- and maybe just the play/pause button, best would be to allow customizations for the lock mode, have it a tad granular so we can pick our own settings without rendering the player useless.
 
The screen resolution is really outstanding, I have not tried it outside when the sun is out, my feeling is it will be hard to read. I believe the best for that (I did not have a single player that was easy to read under those conditions) would be a screen shield that can block the sun rays.
[size=14pt] [/size]
[size=14pt]Functions and features[/size]:
Main features:
• Supports up to 24Bit/192kHz - TI PCM 1792 24Bit DAC Chip
• 4 OPA1612 used for current / voltage conversion and amplification
• 2 LMH6643 used for headphone output
• 2.4” IPS color LCD (320*240)
• Up to 24 Bit/192Khz 3.5mm Coaxial Output
• 3.5mm Headphone Output, and Line Out
• 10 bands graphic EQ
• Dual TF card slots for a total of 128 Gb storage space (with support for 256GB, 512GB, etc. with future firmware upgrades).
• All-new mechanical scroll wheel (using Alps rotary switch components from Japan)
• All-new custom UI forged from years of experience and feedback
• Volume +/-, Power on/off button
• 2-setting gain software enabled switch
• Audio Formats Supported: DSD, APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, OGG, MP2, MP3 
• 3700mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery
• Support auto-turn off when sleeping, time can be decided.
• Auto track, support CUE playing by selection and fast forward/ fast backward of playing song
 
[size=14pt]The functions and features I have tested: Playback low and hi-res up to 192khz/24 bit files including all supported file formats. I also tested the Equalizer unit and the USB-DAC function on both Windows 8.1 and Mac OS Maverick, also tested the HO and LO ports (with amps). The only feature I have not tried are DSD playback (not available yet) and the coax output.[/size]
[size=14pt]I would strongly recommend for anyone who either evaluates the player or own one to consult the detailed user manual as indicated by the link below, it is filled with useful information and instructions on how to operate the player. I also added the X5 quick start guide link. I won’t repeat anything that pertains to the manual other than emphasizing the features and functions. [/size]
 
[size=14pt]Joe's user manual translation from Chinese to English - Click Here[/size]
[size=14pt]https://www.dropbox.com/s/yt0cjq3dptq14mj/X5%20Quick%20start%20guide.pdf[/size]
 
[size=14pt]Photos[/size]:
 
Packaged box
View attachment
 
What’s provided
View attachment
 
Top port view
View attachment
 
Bottom TF card readers and USB input/output
View attachment
 
Volume Buttons (+/-)
View attachment
 
Internal
View attachment
 
Frontal View (Rotary main menu)
View attachment
 
System Settings
View attachment
 
Play Settings
View attachment
 
Now Playing
View attachment
 
Size comparison (from left to right X5 – iPod Classic 5th gen – DX50)
View attachment
 
·         Missing on the photos the HDTracks.com and quick control cards.
  [size=14pt]User Interface[/size]:
The user interface is centered around the scroll wheel motion. That is the theme used. It is well laid out and is very intuitive (even more so for the ex or current iPod classic user). It will take you few minutes to get used to it. I have noticed a bit of lag when selecting songs and moving from song to song however [size=10pt]I am hopeful[/size] it will be fixed in a future release. It has all of the main functions available from the main menu. You go to detail selections by selecting the top level and then using the scroll wheel to position yourself on different selected items. To confirm you selection, you use the center button. Notice that you cannot work on the current displayed song if you are navigating the menu selection. You will have to select Now Playing in order to go back to the Now Playing screen. If you are on the now playing screen and you activate the scroll wheel, you will browse your song selection using the scroll wheel theme with all of the songs being displayed depending on how you got there (directory of album listing).
 
File format art work is recognized:
File Format
Art work loaded in Playing Screen
AAC
Yes
AIFF
Yes
ALAC
Yes
APE
Yes
FLAC
Yes
MP2
Yes
MP3
Yes
OGG
No
WAV
No
WMA
Yes
 
[size=12pt]Pros[/size]:
Easy navigable user interface, once you get the hang of it, you can operate it with one hand.
Sound reproduction is fantastic.
Option based feature selections instead of hardware (e.g. gain).
 
[size=12pt]Cons[/size]:
A one second lag going from song to song although I am hoping that they will fix this issue.
The fast forward and reverse do not provide acceleration when keeping the button depressed, it is constant. It would be amazing if they could increase the speed trough acceleration.
It only recognize embedded art work instead of allowing a generic picture file to be picked up if one is missing.
I was not able to fully take advantage of the library using my current song library due to possible file and/or tag conflicts, it is always hoped that the player can deal with those issues like some well known manufactures I won’t mention. [size=10pt](James and Joe have stated that the library scan issues will indeed be addressed in a firmware update before the player launches worldwide in late March).[/size]
 
[size=14pt]Usage as a DAC:[/size]
The DAC implementation is flawless, it sounds as good on the PC as it sounds on the Mac. The driver needs to be installed in Windows in order to get it recognized by the operating system. But once you do, it works without a hitch. It will play any music with up to the player top resolution. I have played my hi-res sample files with the same results than playing them directly on the player. The DAC does use the amp as I connected my headphones on the HO port. I also connected the LO port to one of my amps and worked beautifully. So your choice is yours, you can go and enjoy the DAC with your favorite headphones/iems or just plug it to your nearby stereo through the LO out and enjoy a room full of music. Goes without saying that if you have coax in from your favorite stereo system, the better. I did not attempt to connect the coax out as my sound system did not have the coax in and I do not own an amp with coax in.
 
[size=14pt]Using the Equalizer: [/size]
View attachment
 
I did not spend a lot of time with the EQ other than trying the different settings and the custom one. I can only say it just works and it does change the sound frequency/amplitude response according to your selection. I am not much of an EQ proponent, I have always enjoyed the player as is with its pros and cons. If the vendor is serious enough to make a great sounding player, they will make it nice untouched (flat as much as possible), that is what FiiO has confidently done with the X5.
 
[size=14pt]Sound quality[/size]:
It is airy, light, delicate, open, and seemingly unrestricted in the mid and upper extension. Instruments are playing in what I can perceive as ample surrounding space. Vocals are articulate, voices come clearly and sound well-spoken. Aliveness is one quality that comes to mind, I feel the performers to be located close to me.
 
As far as imaging is concerned, it would classify it as in the semi-wide (in the middle), you can get the feel of space between the instruments and the singers but not to a point where you could place the different singers (back and front) on a stage, at that level they blend in and tend to be gathered right in front of you. The musical instruments feel somewhat closer but you do feel some separation. Spanning and field depth is truly felt on the X5, this is what gives it a feeling of depth and perception of a wider  soundstage.
 
The sound is truly transparent, pretty much even across the frequency range however I do sense that the mids and highs are slightly prominent but in good way more towards being clear/transparent, I truly enjoyed the vocals from the player, to me so far that is the best player for vocals.
 
I would classify it as analytical but not excessively, quite detailed sounding, playing with different music file res makes me say “ah I never heard that sound before”.
 
[size=12pt]The bass[/size]
In general, the player tilts towards being a neutral clean player. The bass is there but it isn’t prominent nor recessed but with enough confident energy. For an audiophile, I believe it to be just right, that is if you do not like this section of the audio frequency being boosted. With high sampling rate (hi-res) music, this part truly shines, you can easily feel every stick hit on the drums as if you are only few feet away. The sound is truly clear and crisp and quick. There is no heft or heaviness to it.
 
[size=12pt]The mid-range and highs[/size]
This is where the player truly shines, the vocals on this player is a joy to listen to. I haven’t had so much fun listening to such a clear, crisp and non-fatiguing sound, you can literarily spend hours listening to the music and not get tired.
 
By the way I have already been through one firmware update and no sound changes, so that makes me happy as I don’t have to change the review according to how the dap sounds after each update.
What is nice and great about the player is it is really easy on the headphones, IEMS you are throwing at it. I used my cheaper SE215 IEMS and the more expensive SE535 and they all sounded very good with it. My SE535 have never sounded so good with the player as I had difficulty using them with prior players to a point of satisfaction. My HD600 really came to life using the dap, to me it’s so far the best pairing I can dream to achieve not going beyond a certain price point. For portability, A+ as I never had to carry an amp, the HO out is crystal clear and the output power is more than enough to power my HD600 headphones, I also used it with my SennHeiser Momentums at work and it was a delight.
[size=14pt] [/size]
[size=14pt]In Conclusion[/size]:
Pros:
Outstanding build, easily navigable interface, loads of extra goodies.
Sound reproduction is fantastic; exceptional sound quality, clear, airy neutral and non-fatiguing.
No need for an amp, truly portable and friendly with headphones and iems. The hi-res on this player is a joy if you love details you are in for a treat.
Easy navigable user interface, can be operated with one hand (did it and did not drop it).
Option based feature selections instead of hardware (e.g. gain).
 
Cons:
I don’t see that many cons but if I have to pick a few the user interface do need some tuning to allow for a smoother scrolling using the album/artist/genre Library features and the next levels that the interface should tackle, for example once artist is selected, album would be displayed then one can pick an album to play instead of all songs from the artist (that is my preference, may vary with other members). A last one would be to get a flawless scan and somewhat more tolerant of file naming and tag info. I truly find that a player which can handle directory and library browsing is more useful than one that does not. I also found myself turning the player on/off with just the friction of it on my inner wall pocket, not a desirable thing that explains most likely why the lock screen option 1 is available.
 
In Summary I would definitively classify the player as one of near reference. I don’t want to over emphasize the player but I have to say its implementation is impeccable. You will certainly gain from playing hi-res music playback but yet will provide a great performance for better recorded lower res files. I can say with confidence that you will not regret purchasing this player.

musicheaven
musicheaven
@howdy Thanks my friend, very kind of you and please don't tempt me. My first original choice was to potentially wait for the X7 but after hearing the X5 I might pick one up. I miss this guy so much, it was a very intimate music relationship I am not about to forget anytime soon, maybe when the X7 is out lol
H
hibii
It will be native DSD? or like DX50.
musicheaven
musicheaven
Not native: DSD to PCM like the DX50.

gelocks

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent sound reproduction, great build, very capable UI, a host of features!
Cons: Battery Life, Problems with Library Database, scroll wheel sensitivity and durability questionable.
DISCLAIMER
This X5 is a pre-production unit that is part of a FiiO organized US tour. We are not being paid for this nor are we being “forced” to sing praises. The following review are my views and opinions on this DAP compared to my current stable.
 
 
Introduction:
 
In my head-fi journey there is something that has always been constant and that is a whole lot of music being bought, ripped and enjoyed. A few years ago, the company I work for decided that they were not going to let us use “tablets” as our personal MP3 players due to security issues. I had a crappy Archos 7 Internet Media player with 160GB of disc space where I put all my songs and movies and although quality was NOT that great, I valued disc space and something more important to ME, battery life. From that moment on I started looking into different options, from the traditional iPod Classics, to the Touch, to the Sansa’s, etc. Most of them failed in one area, memory, with the exception of the Classic but I didn’t liked iTunes, have never bought a single song through their store and in fact I haven’t liked Apple a lot either so that left me with few options. Decided then on a simple Cowon C2 because battery life was excellent, I could use 64gb microSD cards and I had used their players before (plus I was already Ok with crappy UIs using Archos players such a long time – owned a 604, 605, etc.) Soon I noticed that my HD tracks were growing in numbers and I needed even more space but not only that, my headphone collection was growing bigger, better and I needed a bump in sound quality. So last year I began the search, the search for the “perfect” DAP… now, what do I think it’s a perfect DAP? Easy, one that:
 
1)Offers great battery life
2)Has enough space for my songs (or supports 64gb microSD cards)
3)Can play my WHOLE collection via Shuffle mode without problems
4)Easy to use UI
5)Offers a sound upgrade on previously owned DAPs.
 
 Is the X5 MY perfect DAP? Let’s find out:
 
View attachment     View attachment
 
Specs:
 
Too much info to fill this review so, just go here:
 
http://www.fiio.com.cn/products/index.aspx?ID=100000055517771
 
:wink:
 
 
Package Contents:
 
Just like the X3 before it, the new X5 brings us in its compact case:
 
  1. FiiO X5 (of course)
  2. Documentation (Quick Start + Warranty, etc.)
  3. USB charging / data cable
  4. Rubber/silicone protective case
  5. Protector plugs for inputs/outputs
  6. Digital out to coax cable
  7. USB micro SD card reader
  8. Screen protectors
 
View attachment   View attachment
 
Not sure if this is the “Final” content that will arrive to us on March, but seems pretty complete to me!
 
 
Design and build:
 
Now, this is something that I was afraid of. The X3, even though is a very capable player, had such a horrible design. Not from a “looks” standpoint but from a usability standpoint. The button layout was just too confusing. Of course, you get used to it after a while, but it was definitely flawed. I’m happy to say “not so” with the X5. Not only does it sport kind of like an “old-school” design, but this thing is built like a tank! Button placement is definitely an improvement and the inclusion of the scroll wheel was an excellent choice. Navigating through folders with the X3 is a nightmare, really, especially if you have LOTS and LOTS of files but with the X5 not only is it faster, it feels natural.
 
Didn’t see anything out of place, nor badly constructed in this “pre-production” unit, my only critiques: possible issues with the scroll wheel and SD card rubber protectors. These are PROBABLY the only Achilles-heel I think regarding longevity but of course, that’s just an assumption. I also found the “Volume” buttons to be a bit difficult to press, not sure if this was on purpose or not but thank God for the capability of the middle button and scroll-wheel combo as another option to increase volume. (Edit: Joe stated that the volume buttons are stiffer on your preview units than the production units.) Love the feel of the device, the color and matte finish, the all “metal” enclosure it looks and feels like a high-end device.
 
View attachment
 
UI:
 
This is always something that I’ve been concerned with on all of these new DAPs. We (the community) have discussed this on the forums a whole lot. Why are we paying for players with incomplete software implementation and horrible UIs? (Studio V, I’m looking at you!) The X3 actually does a good job regarding UI, the AK100 MK2 has a simple (read: “Ok”) software implementation but I have to say, the X5 takes the cake!
 
Configuration menus are clean, well-organized, easy to navigate and straight-forward. System Settings include options for: Language, Media Library updating, Key-lock setting (important, once you press “Power” to “lock” the device, NONE OF THE BUTTONS work (this is the default "lockscreen 1" option)! But a second key-lock setting actually lets you forward a track, change volume… Nice!), Screen timeout, brightness, etc. You also have Play Settings where you select your Play Mode (long live Shuffle!), turn On/Off Gapless playback, select between Low and High gain, etc. Again a bevy of options at hand, all working as they should. Also, did I mention that there’s a 10 band equalizer as well? Well, there is (with presets and optional “Custom” entry. :wink:)
 
Navigating through the menus with the scroll wheel, although it feels natural and easy, is a bit confusing at first (i.e. the animations are a bit jerky and I got confused if I was actually going up or down when scrolling) but you get used to it. You can go to a “Browse Folders” menu which lets you select the microSD card you want to navigate through or you can browse by Categories which includes: Artist, Albums, Genre or my favorite the “All Songs” one.
 
Of course, browsing by Categories (tags) is good and all if it works… One of the roadblocks for me was that every time I tried updating the Media Library with my 2 64GB microSD cards, it hung… It seems the player either has problems reading OTHER files (i.e. not music files), or problems with specific characters in tags, long filenames, etc. because it always failed for me at a specific number. FiiO mentioned that they are aware of the problem and a future firmware issue will/might fix this. (Edit: Joe stated that the library scan problem will/might be fixed before international launch in late March.)
 
As mentioned in the “design” section, button layout and usability is very good so the UI seems “in-sync” with the hardware, we are talking Apple-like good here (and yes, that’s a compliment!).
 
 
Extra Features:
 
The X5 not only provides headphone-out (duh, right!?) but also has Coaxial out and Line-out. Only tested Line-out to my Schiit Magni and my Lehman BCL and have to say that output is clean, powerful, I don’t feel I missed anything at all. This DAP also has a DAC option and again, same results, excellent implementation and if it wasn’t that I already “know” how my Nuforce Icon HDP sound, it would have been a bit difficult to select which I liked best.
 
 
Sound:
 
And here it comes, what I was waiting for. Now, I have to say that I expected a slightly better version of the X3 but no, I was wrong. The X5 crushes the X3 regarding resolution/detail/clarity. It provides a slight warm signature in the bass through mids without obscuring nor hiding any details. It feels it has less lower-end quantity than the X3 (I felt it had lower impact in the sub-bass region) and it feels a bit less “airy” than the AK100 MK2 but somehow every one of my test tracks sounded better through it!
 
View attachment   View attachment
 
Directly comparing the AK100 MK2 to it, I just found it … “soft” as if lacking energy. Meanwhile the X3 even sounded a bit “muffled” and closed in sometimes compared to both. For testing I used: Beyerdynamic T5p, Perfect Sound Dido D901, Ultrasone Signature DJs and MrSpeakers Alpha Dogs. And yes, the X5 did not have any problems driving all of these cans, even the Alpha Dogs in High gain… it lacked a bit Oomph but it did better than both the X3 and the AK100.
 
My usual test tracks were used:
 
Thrice - Under a Killing Moon
Miguel Bose - Este Mundo Va
Kaskade - One Heart
Blink 182 - Kaleidoscope
Jon Cleary - So Damn Good
Mima - Oigo Voces
Esperanza Spalding - What a Friend
Sara Bareilles - King of Anything
Killswitch Engage - Fixation on the Darkness
Juancho - Amor en la Mesa
Boston - More than a Feeling
J-King y Maximan - Ella me Pide Something
Calvin Harris - Feel so Close
Three Six Mafia - Late Night Tip
Orquesta Macabeo - Me Repito
Amber Rubarth – Tundra and Washing Day
 
Loved how the X5 sounded “wider” (sound stage) in tracks such as “Me Repito” and Jon Cleary’s “So Damn Good”. Metal-core tracks sounded energetic/fast even with that hint of warmth (I thought it was going to be a problem especially for guitar driven tracks but nope.) Could not really find faults with sound reproduction as it was effective with my current gear and that’s what’s important here. As a whole I would rank X5 > AK100 MK2 > X3.
 
Good synergy, good sound, can’t ask for more. (ok ok, I can… Keep reading :p)
 
View attachment   View attachment
 
 
Extra Notes:
 
Battery life test, it took me 10.5 hours to drain the battery from full charge until the player turned off by itself. For most people, 10.5 hours is good, but not enough for me (the X3 can provide almost 16 hours, the same with the AK100 MK2 using the same 2 microSD cards). But I have to reiterate that this is a pre-production/not final unit. So... battery life MIGHT change via Firmware updates, or not…
 
Also, THIS HAS BEEN THE ONLY DAP THAT HASN’T FROZEN on me while playing tracks. Yes, from the Archos to the AK100, ALL of them have frozen on me at one time or another. After almost 40hours+ of play time, the X5 only froze when updating the library (as mentioned before) but other than that, very stable (and I’m VERY impressed with that!)
 
 
Summary/Conclusion:
 
So, to answer the question posed, is the X5 my perfect DAP?
ALMOST!
It is robust, easy to use, sports one of the best UIs and functionality out there, gives me the ability of Shuffling all of my songs but, until the media library thing is fixed and maybe battery life improved, it is NOT my perfect DAP. SO I might say, not yet… but close.
 
Will it be the “perfect” DAP for others? Probably. Not everyone has the same needs and although I might see battery life as short, others will see it as sufficient, while I might see library issues as unacceptable, others might live by the “Browse by Folder” capability, etc.
 
I do have to say that FiiO is looking mighty serious in the DAP landscape. Not only is the X5 the better sounding DAP I have heard yet, but they are not charging an arm and a leg for them. 2014 will definitely be a good year for us enthusiasts. I’m just hoping that future firmware updates provide fixes to my “nitpicks” and if they do, I’ll be selling my other DAPs and just get an X5. :wink:
 
View attachment
 
Finally just want to give a big THANK YOU to James and Joe for preparing this tour, and providing us the opportunity to “test the waters”.
 
 
Thanks!
 
 
 
Wishlist:
 
It might sound selfish but I would like in future updates:
 
1)Better battery life
2)FiiO to provide Internal memory (at least 32GBs?) I mean, I’m already using my 2 microSD cards plus like 7GBs of the AK100 MK2 internal memory.
 
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Achmedisdead
Achmedisdead
Nice review! Between yours and Brooko's, it looks like this player will be a success. 
turokrocks
turokrocks
I read the reviews, but no one mentioned or talked about OTG! (please someone correct me if I am wrong)
Thanks by the way for the great review.
musicheaven
musicheaven
No one mentioned OTG because it is not yet implemented. Joe reported it in his tour thread.
Pros: Sound quality, build, usability, interface, output power, versatility, boot speed
Cons: UI features not yet complete (gapless, hierarchical menus artist/album/track), scroll wheel a little loose, SD slot caps difficult to remove. -FW 1.00
X5 - Strength and Beauty
The Fiio X5
 
INTRODUCTION
My audio chain has actually been pretty stable of late, my last addition being the Studio V3 Anniversary (DAP) and Dunu DN-1000s.  With the addition of the Studio V3, I had pretty much solved the one missing component – a decent DAP for my requirements.  I watched the progress with other “audiophile” high-res players being released (DX100, DX50, AK100 & 120, X3 and others), but beyond mild curiosity, I wasn’t overly tempted to go beyond what I currently have.  Then Fiio advertised that they were looking for reviewers for a World tour for the X5 – and with the hype building I put my hand up and was fortunate to be included.
 
My main reasons for wanting the opportunity were to further my experience with reviewing and to make a comparison with the Studio V3
 
So how does the X5 perform in my eyes?  Is the current hype justified?
 
DISCLAIMER
I was provided the Fiio X5 as a tour sample.  It now goes on to the next reviewer once I have finished reviewing it.  There is no financial incentive from Fiio in writing this review.  I am in no way affiliated with Fiio - and this review is my honest opinion of the X5.  I would like to thank Joe & James for making this opportunity available.
NOTE - I later paid for the review sample from Fiio at a price I am not at liberty to disclose.

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
(This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
 
I'm a 46 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile - just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current mid-fi set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (iDevices and Studio V3) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  My main headphones at the time of writing are the Senn HD600, Grado RS1, Beyer DT880, Dunu DN1000 & Shure SE535 Ltd Ed. IEMs.
 
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz to grunge and hard-rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, indie, classic rock, and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend to like audio chains that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range.  I am neither a bass or treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though).  Current amps = NFB12 and LD MKIV.  I also formerly owned several portable amps - the most notable being an Arrow 4G and GoVibe PortaTube.  I have also in the past owned Fiio’s E7, E9 and E11.
 
My experience with DAPs in the past have been initially with very cheap Sony offerings, then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, my iPhone4 and iPod Touch G4 – which are both very good sounding and have excellent interfaces, and finally to my HSA Studio V3.  I've also listened to various other devices along the way - including Cowon's J3.
 
I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher completely transparent.  For my portable listening – it has been my preferred format (space vs quality).  All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).
 
 I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences.  I am not a ‘golden eared listener’
 
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A DAP
I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I really look for in a new DAP.
  1. Great (neutral) sounding – but with body (not thin)
  2. Good build quality
  3. Reasonable battery life
  4. Easy to use interface
  5. Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.
 
Did I get all of this with the X5?  Mostly – yes, and I’m sure what is missing will come with firmware updates.  Will I be buying an X5 – likely based on my very short time with it, but this would be dependent on FW upgrades which I will be watching closely.  So please pull up a chair, sit for a while, and let me relay my experiences with Fiio’s new flagship.
 
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
 
THE REVIEW
 
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
 
Retail Carton Front
Retail Carton Rear

First up – the review sample I was sent was really well packaged with exterior foam – so Kudos to Fiio for that.  The retail box is red and black, actually reasonably compact considering the contents, and very smart looking IMO.  There is a great photo of the X5 on the front, whilst the rear has information on the build, specifications, and other features of the DAP.
 
Retail Carton Side
Outer and Inner Box

On opening the retail outer box, you are presented with an inner black textured box and lid which houses the X5, silicone case, documentation, and in a compartment underneath, the accessory package.  This includes:
  1. A USB charging / data cable (very well constructed and shielded)
  2. A digital out to coax cable
  3. 3 x socket pin protector plugs (for the output ports)
  4. A Fiio branded USB micro SD card reader (this is very handy!)
  5. 2 spare screen protectors for the X5 (plus one already fitted)
 
Documentation and Fiio X5
Accessory Package
 ​

Documentation includes:

  1. A Fiio warranty card
  2. An HD tracks discount card (15%)
  3. A contact card
  4. The Fiio X5 quick start guide
 
X5 In Its Silicone Case
The Silicone Protector Case
 
The entire package is IMO very good, covering everything you initially need for the player.  Materials are all good quality.  Cables are particularly sturdy.
 
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
The tables below list most of the relevant specifications.  I’ve collated these from information on the box, information found on line, my own personal experience with the X5, and also information from Joe.
 
General
Dimensions
64.6 x 114 x 15.6 mm (W/L/H)
Weight
122 g
Display
2.4” 260K HD IPS (400x360)
CPU
Ingenics 4760B 600MHz dual core
DAC
PCM1792A (supports up to 192/24 res)
Outputs
3.5mm headphone out, 3.5mm line out, 3.5mm digital coax out
Storage
2 x microSD (max support 64Gb x 2 at time of review)
Battery
3700mAh Li-Polymer, up to 15 hours playback (~12 hours currently)
Gain options
0 / 6 dB
Supported Formats
APE, WAV, FLAC, WMA, ALAC, MP2, MP3, AAC, OGG
Supported Resolution
Up to 192K/24bit – dependent on format
 
Headphone Out
Output Impedance
<0.26 Ω
Crosstalk
>75 dB @ 1KHz
THD+N
< 0.003% @ 1KHz
MAX output voltage
> 8 Vp-p
MAX output current
> 150 mA
SNR
> 115 dB
Output Power
460 mW @ 16Ω, 255 mW @ 32Ω, 28 mW @ 300Ω
 
Line Out
Crosstalk
> 100 dB @ 10KΩ @ 1KHz
THD+N
< 0.0025% @ 1KHz
SNR
> 115 dB
Line output
> 1.5 Vrms
 
BUILD
The build on the X5 (IMO) is what I would expect (mostly) in a top of the line DAP.  The casing looks to be a 2 piece high quality CNC aluminium alloy with a very nice matte finish.  I see no blemishes on this unit – everything seems to fit extremely well together, and the corners are smooth, and bevelling gives a nice touch of class.  The X5 feels more expensive than its RRP.  The screen has a really nice resolution, and is very clear and easy to read.  It does suffer a little in direct sunlight, but just shading the screen with your hand helps.
 
Fiio X5
Fiio X5 Side View
 
The scroll wheel flows nicely, and is easy to spin.  My only critique is that there is some side-to-side play with this unit – not much but it is there.  Probably the only part of the unit that feels a little flimsy.  The wheel itself is fairly sensitive, and takes a little getting used to – but practise makes perfect, and the buttons are also very easy for advancing and reversing through menu choices.
 
Scroll Wheel and Buttons
Rear Plate
 
The buttons themselves are nicely placed, and feel good to the touch.  They are easy to locate on the unit, and equally easy to use unsighted (or with the screen off).
 
X5 Top / Ports
X5 Bottom / Micro SD Slots
 
Moving to the ports – once again, an excellent fit – nice and snug for plugs.   All connections feel very solid. The best I have seen from Fiio in this regard.  There are three ports in the top of the unit – the headphone out, a dedicated 3.5mm line out, and also a digital plug (works with a 3.5mm to coax adaptor – which Fiio supply).
 
Finally the micro SD ports – functional, and positioned well.  My only criticism is the covers for these.  I appreciate them being there, and I’m probably a user who wouldn’t be removing the cards a lot.  But the covers themselves are extremely difficult to remove.  Maybe something that loosens over time, and therefore fixes itself.

Overall – the build for me is a solid 4.5/5.  TheX5 feels reassuringly solid in your hand at 122g.
 
UI (USER INTERFACE) / USABILITY
Please note that this is with the released firmware 1.00.
 
Let me preface by saying that for me the overall usability sits above my experience with my Studio V3, but still falls short of the benchmark (Apple).  However – the surprising thing for me is how good the interface is considering it is just the initially released firmware.
 
Fiio Welcome Screen
Fiio Boot Animation
 
On starting the X5, you are greeted with a very nice “welcome” and Fiio animation – before moving to the menu.  The menu can be navigated using either the scroll wheel or buttons.  At the top of the menu is a status bar which shows (left to right) : volume, gain, current screen, sleep timer – if set, SD card in use, play status, and battery level indicator.
 
Menu Screen
10 Band Equaliser
 
The menu choices include: now playing, equaliser (10 band), audio settings, general settings, folder mode, library access (via tags), and favourites.
 
General Settings
Music Settings
 
The general setting and audio settings screens are straight forward, and pretty much include everything you’re likely to need.  General settings include language, media library updating, lock screen settings (2nd option allows manual button access while locked), timer, brightness and power settings, access to different USB modes, information about the player, and ability to format.  Audio settings give access to the play
modes, gapless on/off, volume default settings, gain and balance modes.
 
The equaliser is 10 band, and comes with 10 presets including ‘flat’ and a custom one you can save.  The presets are OK – I probably wouldn’t use them – but the custom one is handy, especially if you have a headphone that needs a tweak.  My only wish would be that there was an option to add more custom EQs, or simply ditch / override the presets, and replace them with your own.  I would rather have 3 or 4 EQs for different headphones rather than different music types.  It would have been nice to have a parametric EQ setting – but the 10 band is functional and works well.
 
Accessing Library Via Tags - Genre
Accessing Library Via Tags - Artist
 
Folder mode works very well, and is far easier to use with this firmware release than browsing by tags.  In tag mode you can select one major level of operation, and then one minor level – e.g. choosing artist brings up the artist list – but then all material from that artist is listed in file name order (i.e. there is no sorting by album etc).  So if you have multiple albums under an artist, and your filenames list by 01 name, 02 name, 03 name – then all the 01’s are listed first (i.e. albums are scattered).  Similarly – browsing by album brings up individual albums – but if you have multiple CDs within an album, and they aren’t noted in the album name (e.g. “The Wall CD1”) then you have the same problems.  Fiio will be apparently fixing this – and they need to.  Browsing by tags at the moment for me is pretty much not going to work.
 
Issue (Tags) - Songs Lumped Together
Solution (for now) = Folder Mode 
 
Going to folder mode is better – as you have the ability to then organise a folder hierarchy to suit (much easier to navigate).  Mine are always stored artist > album.  The only issue I have again is that (being used to Apple and also any reasonable PC software) I sometimes store multiple-disc albums together (again The Wall) – but have differentiated the 2 discs in the tags rather than in separate folders.  This is a relatively easy fix (I have to manually do it).  The best answer is having tagging working.
 
Artist / Album - Folder Mode
Tracks In Folder Mode
 
The upper left button brings up a context menu that is dependent on the menu you are in.  Amongst this is a favourite’s button so that you can save a song to a favourite’s playlist.  This works really well, and it is quite easy to add and remove songs from favourites using the context button.  Unfortunately there is only one favourites list – so no using multiple playlists at this stage.
 
The upper right button is a back button, and this is literally what it does – puts you back exactly to your last menu choice.  It has a memory too – so you can go back 4 or 5 choices.  This is something I would personally change.  IMO it would be far more practical to have this as an “up one level” button instead.  When navigating simply as a back button, it is quiet easy to get lost if you’ve been in a number of screens.  Holding this button down (no matter where you are) will take you back to the main menu.
 
The bottom two buttons are forward, back / up, down / fast forward, rewind – depending on your application.
 
The middle button is simply to select (i.e. action button).  One thing I have found – if you want to change volume – hold this button in (when screen is active) and the wheel volume control is activated.  Nice little touch.
Overall the UI is reasonably responsive – but can sometimes have some small lags between button press and actual action (this includes the wheel).  Hopefully this gets better with later firmware releases.
 
A couple of final notes on the UI – the gapless play is not entirely seamless (still a noticeable micro-pause between songs.  I can live with this – many wont.  This needs fixing.  Also the gain is 6 dB and is much appreciated especially for driving my DT880 and HD600.
 
Now Playing Screen
A natural match - DN-1000 and X5

Overall – if the Apple (think iPod Touch 4 / iPhone4) UI is a 10 (and that’s what I’d give it) – this initial release would come in about a solid 6.  It’s usable, has plenty of features, and I believe will get better with more firmware releases.  But it needs work.
 
SOUND
Probably best if I preface this section with a small note so that you are aware of my thoughts on audiophile type DAPs.  I like my iPhone4.  It is linear, user friendly, sounds pretty good actually – and I can tailor the sound via apps.  When I got my Studio V3, I was very surprised in the increase (to me) of perceived SQ.  Sonically the Studio seemed to have a more holographic/spacious sound to it.  Now I’m not sure if this is crossfeed, a dsp they’re using, or simply in the frequency response (I know the Studio is slightly on the bright side).  All I know is that I like it.
 
X5 vs iP4 vs Studio V3
X5 vs iP4 vs Studio V3
 
Also – when doing comparisons – to make sure I’m comparing correctly – I equalised the volume on all 3 devices with an SPL meter, and used the same files for all 3 devices.
So without further ado ….
 
The X5 (IMO) sounds phenomenal.  My initial impressions, and this is also comparing to my desktop (NFB-12) is that the X5 essentially has a very black background, is essentially flat/neutral – but with a slightly warmish tint to it.  It sounds very similar to my NFB-12 when level matched.  So the sound is quite full bodied (yet not dark).  I’ve noticed no hiss at all, and even with sensitive IEMs (SE 535), no issues with any channel imbalance.
 
I won’t go into highs, mids, lows etc. – as that is more to do with the frequency range of the headphones being used.  But I will say that I am very happy with the detail presentation, and also with the overall sense of space when listening via both my HD600 and DT880.  There is nothing lacking.
 
After level matching, I tested the following tracks with the Studio V3, Fiio X5 and iPhone4.  I used the DT880 250 ohm as it’s the most neutral can I currently have (and it was easier level match than the IEMs).
  1. Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen
  2. Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
  3. Amber Rubarth – Tundra (ideal for soundstage and imaging tests)
  4. Anna Netrebko & Elina Garanca – Lakme, The Flower Duet
  5. Porcupine Tree – Trains
 
I had two main revelations when doing this:
  • How close the V3 and X5 sounded in terms of detail and sense of space
  • How good the iPhone sounded comparatively
 
In terms of absolutes (and please remember this is very subjective - my ‘old and imperfect ears’) in all of the tracks tested …..
  1. V3 is definitely slightly brighter than both the iP4 and X5
  2. I’d actually call the iP4 the most neutral – sitting between the V3 and X5
  3. V3 and X5 have similar detail retrieval – withiP4 comparatively just a little behind, but still performing well.
  4. Whilst the X5 is still very flat/neutral – it does have a slight hint of warmth to it – and this does it give a slightly fuller sound than both the iP4 and V3.  The X5 does this without losing its sense of detail.
  5. Both V3 and X5 have a bigger impression of spaciousness (than the iP4)
 
HD600, DT880, RS1 + iP4, X5 and V3
X5 and RS1
 
For my personal preference and rankings – skip forward to the end.
 
OTHER FEATURES
The review wouldn’t be complete without a quick word regarding the other features the X5 offers, and this is where it truly sits apart from my other devices (as they do not have some of these features).
 
As a digital transport – using the 3.5mm to coax out – it works extremely well.  This is ideal for anyone who is away from home (e.g. at a Meet) and wants to test an audio chain – but with their own music.  I actually tried this feature going straight to my NFB-12, and then alternately using the NFB-12’s SS amp and also my LD MKIV.
 
With line-out to an external amp.  The line-out (to my ears) is essentially very clean, with no discernable noise or degradation of SQ.  I used this feature going straight to the LD MKIV – and the X5 in combination with my HD600s was simply sublime.  I actually ended up getting lost in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Anne-Sophie Mutter) for about half an hour while I was supposed to be evaluating.  To me, getting lost in the music is always a great sign of an audio chain done right.
 
As a DAC.  It did take a while to get the drivers loaded for Windows 8.1 (if you’re having trouble try this link [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM1MN8QZhnk] – thanks to John aka musicheaven for the help with that).  Once the drivers were installed, the X5 performed flawlessly with no recognisable dropouts or glitches.  The interesting thing was that I did a volume matched (using an spl meter) comparison with my NFB-12 and DT880s, and they sounded pretty much identical.  Blind, I don’t think I could have picked one from the other.  From my point of view – this is a great endorsement, as it means I can essentially have desktop quality whilst on-the-go.  Fantastic!
 
POWER
The X5’s amp section is a good one.  The power output is listed in the specs earlier in the review.  Basically I tested these with: HD600 @ 300 ohm, DT880 @ 250 ohm, RS1 @ 32 ohm, SE535 @ 36 ohm and DN-1000 @ 10 ohms.  At no stage did I feel any of the headphones were under driven, or in any way lacking.  With the X5 – for my tastes, there is simply no point in having an add-on amp.
 
BATTERY PERFORMANCE
Fiio rates the battery life under current firmware at around 10-12 hours, and thinks they can get up to 15 hours once the firmware matures.  I ran a ‘real world’ test from fully charged, and playing overnight with screen off.  I managed 11.5 hours before the X5 quit (playing red-book FLAC files) – so consistent with the information released.  From fully depleted using a 1a wall-wart, full charging took ~ 4 hours (again consistent with Fiio’s released information).
 
SD MICRO CARDS (PERFORMANCE/SCANNING)
With my Studio V3 – one of the ‘issues’ that I have is that every time it’s switched on, it scans the card for changes.  With approx. 2200 lossless tracks – this takes around 1m15s (64Gb card).  After that it’s pretty good – with very little lag.
 
With the X5 – the nice thing is that you only have to scan once – and then no scanning again unless you update / add to your library.
 
Scanning the same micro SD card on the X5 took approximately 3 minutes, - dual cards roughly double that.  Scanning a single 64Gb card filled with a mix of FLAC, aac and MP3 files (approximately 5500 files total) took considerably longer – but once again, after the initial scan – access has been very snappy.
 
MY PREFERENCES
Ok – time for me to state my personal rankings – and remember these are mine – your own thoughts may be different.
  1. Packaging / accessories – 5/5 – nothing missing IMO.  Packaging is smart and accessories are well thought out.
  2. Build/form factor – 4.5/5 – excellent build, and size is good considering it’s feature set (audio only), and power capabilities
    X5 > V3 > iP4
  3. UI – 3.5/5 – still some work to do, but promising feature set.  Slight responsiveness lag at times and the hierarchy within the audio structure needs to be multilevel and fixed.  This is essential to the X5’s success.  Other features need tweaks, and there is room for added functionality.
    iP4 >>> X5 >= V3
  4. Sound – 5/5 – I can’t fault it.  The X5 sounds fantastic.  I wouldn’t change anything.
    X5 = V3 > iP4
  5. Other features – 5/5 – the versatility of this DAP is going to be one of its greatest strengths
    X5 >>> iP4 > V3
  6. Power – 4.5/5 – it’s not going to drive power hungry orthos, or extremely high impedance cans – but it’ll drive practically anything else.  Based on my tests – I’d guess an effective target impedance range might be between 10-300 ohms (depending on sensitivity).
    X5 >= V3 >>> iP4
  7. Battery – 4/5 – average-to-good for its class, and if Fiio can get it to 15 hours, it would be ideal.  The V3 can’t be beat here though.
    V3 >> X5 = iP4
  8. Overall – given its feature set and current FW, I’d put the X5 ahead of the Studio V3 for my preferences.  The main points (given SQ is similar) is the potential for better UI, plus the far quicker boot time and access to both SD cards simultaneously.
    X5 > V3 > iP4
 
So will I be getting one?  That will very much depend on the development of the firmware,  If Fiio gets it right – then the purchase of the X5 is a given.  The value proposition is simply too good at USD 350.00 to turn down.
 
FINAL THANKS
Firstly – my apologies for the length of the review.  I really couldn’t do it any other way without glossing over essential information.  My thanks to Joe and James for the opportunity to be part of the tour.  I will genuinely miss having this unit when I have to send it on to the next recipient next week!
Brooko
Brooko
Try asking Fiio?  You realise I'm not a Fiio rep, and I live in NZ right?
62ohm
62ohm
Great review mate! Have you tried the DX50/DX90 by any chance? The UI of the X5 is a bit worrying to me.
Brooko
Brooko
Thanks.  Sorry - haven't tried any of the Ibassos.  For me personally, the UI is a non-issue.  I don't use playlists or favourites.  I tend to listen to an album at a time.  So folder mode works perfectly.  Fiio are working hard on their tagged library though - so I can  only see things getting better over time.  I haven't picked up an X5 yet - as my Studio V3 still does everything I want.  I do imagine I'll get an X5 at some stage though.

lee730

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sublime micro-detailing, smooth sound without being rolled off or overly smooth, wonderful mid-range. Natural, organic sound, good build quality.
Cons: Scroll button can be jittery causing you to select the wrong options or songs, the covers for the micro SD slots are cumbersome and look frail.
Intro:
 
To start off, I'd like to thank Joe for giving me an opportunity to demo this unit. I'd also like to thank James for being so active in the community and really taking our fellow headfier's feedback into consideration. This is a first to my knowledge, and really goes to show how much they care :).
 
I received the X5 on the 17th and of course was skeptical regarding the design and sound quality. To be honest I wasn't really expecting much. Not that I was going into the demo biased. Just wasn't expecting it to be so good :). I first used the unit with the Flat 4 Suis and that was "the pairing" for me. These two are just made to go together IMO. Extremely musical, detailed and effortless. Before I go into more detail on the sound I'll talk about the packaging and the build quality.
 
 
 
 
Packaging:
 
The X5 is well packaged and comes with some novel items such as 3.5 plugs which will help prevent the plugs from getting contaminated with dust. There is also extra screen protectors and a silicone case to help protect your investment. Other than that the X5 comes with a USB plug, some sort of coaxial plug, a USB memory stick (not exactly sure is on that, maybe music or directions?), and book-manuals.
 
 


 
 
Build Quality:
 
The X5 has rather good build quality. It feels solid in hand and is made mostly of metal. As I mentioned earlier though the scroll wheel is a bit of a sore point for me. It does seem a bit jittery and due to this I end up selecting wrong settings or tracks at times (keep in minda Fiio did mention fixing this issue with a firmware update in the future?). Also the micro SD slot covers are cumbersome and feel a bit frail. Personally I think they should have gone with a design like the AK units do where it slides open and closed (hint, hint!). I don't think the current covers will last a long time. Other than that I think the build quality is quite good overall.
 



 
 
UI:
 
It's quite well known that audiophile DAPs have & still lack quite a bit in this department. Only recently have things started changing and thank goodness for that. The X5 is definitely going in the right direction with the UI. I had minimal issues with the UI and found it rather easy to use. I don't have much to complain about in this regards. The unit boots up pretty quickly and shuts down as it should. There are multiple features within the UI that makes this player nifty and versatile. Although it doesn't look like they have playlist support :frowning2:. I hope Fiio can add this as it would make this player perfect for me. I'm a control freak and like to have all my music organized how I want it :).
 
Anyways, you can view your music via folder view, album, artist, favorites (add favorites to your list first), genre & all music. Even with WAV it recognizes the tags and allows for this. They all work. This is excellent. 
 
In System Settings you can manually update the library (scan). You can switch this feature to manual or auto by pressing the bottom left or right buttons on the player. I prefer to manually do it anyways opposed to having the unit scan every time :frowning2:. There is a key lock setting which gives you two options Option 1 disables the buttons on the DAP so you can't switch tracks or adjust volume while the screen is off. With option 2 it gives you that ability. Sweet! You can also adjust the screen time out, idle power and sleep mode. You also have a USB mode feature which can be switched from either storage or DAC. Under this menu you also have info about the X5, the ability to format either SD slot, and you can do a factory restore.
 
Under Play Settings you have Play Mode which allows you to play songs @ random, repeat, Play all, and there is one more function but I'm not sure what that play mode is... You also have gapless playback under this menu which can be enabled or disabled. You can also adjust the max volume, and a fixed volume setting. There is also a Power on Volume settings (will start the unit at a specific volume @ your choice). Lastly there is a Low and High gain setting and balance :). With balance you can adjust how loud the left channel or right channels are if you have hearing loss. Very sweet. Lots of customizations available on this UI. :).
 
 
Sound Quality:
 
This is probably the most important part for a good amount of you folks (it sure is for me) and the X5 doesn't disappoint for me in this area. I've been extensively listening to the X5 through my Flat 4 Suis for the past week.... I love this player. Sounds very good. Fiio surpassed my expectations. Silky smooth sound. Spacious, detailed, slightly warm but on the neutral side to my ears. Just love the contrast and texture of the sound. Separation is good. Vocals really stand out for me. Very natural, easy on the ears yet not rolled off or overly smooth. Very well done Fiio.
 
Treble:
 
The treble has great extension while sounding rather smooth and natural. Its generally non-offensive unless the track is poorly mastered. The contrast throughout the frequencies is very impressive and still being able to strike a balance between detail, neutrality & natural sound is amazing. The overall sound has a nice thickness to the sound which is what I relate to a natural sound.
 
Mids:
 
The mids is one of my favorite aspects of this player. Really stands out in a good way for me. I guess you could say the player is a bit mid-centric. Although I feel the overall signature of the player is on the neutral side. Just the mids really stand out in a way where I could see where people are coming from stating it is mid-centric.
 
Bass:
 
The bass is tight and punchy. It is just ever so slightly emphasized which gives the player a nice amount of warmth to it, without deviating too much from a neutral signature.
 
Sound-staging:
 
The Sound-staging for some reason reminds me a bit of how my SE5s portray its Sound staging. It has a decent amount of width to the presentation with a bit more depth than width to it.
 
Micro-detailing:
 
This is by far my favorite aspect of this player. Micro-details just stand out so much more than I'm use to and in a good way. Normally I give Hisound players the nod in this area but the X5 manages to do it and I think even better. As mentioned earlier the player has great contrast and this goes hand in hand with the micro-detailing this player outputs. Everything just stands out and is easy to differentiate. Yet the player still has a natural sound to it without sounding overly thin.
 
 
Final thoughts:
 
It has been a pleasure to demo this unit and sadly I had to send it back earlier today ;(.... I'll have to wait in line like everyone else, but I plan on buying a unit for myself. I had no intentions on buying another player (owning an AK120 S-mod & Rocoo BA) but I'm sold. The X5 has many more pluses than it has minuses. With the minuses being the scroll wheel and the micro SD slot coverings. If you can look past that and want a player that sounds excellent and has a UI that is easy to use and just works, well you found the right player :wink:. I'd like to once again thanks Joe and James for the opportunity to demo this unit and I think they have a winner on their hands.
 
Aloha!
HK_sends
HK_sends
Great review!
majedelamine
majedelamine
X5 goes well with Dynamic drivers while AK120 goes well with BAs. I use X5 + IE800 and A120 with UM Pro 50. Both set up are a bliss
engddsinc
engddsinc
Hi Lee730,
How is the sound quality compared to the Hisoundaudio Studio V Anniversary Edition?
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