on 27 January 2015
I've read the critical reviews of the the X5 on this and other sites, and from some of the more extravagant criticisms, you'd think you were getting something the size of a house brick that is impossible to use, buggy, and falls apart if breathed on. Unless you really absolutely MUST have something the size of an iPod, then this is still a small item that you can easily carry around. The unit is very well built, it is robust, and works perfectly well. A lot of the early criticisms about the operating system have been dealt with by firmware upgrades (which are very easy to download). As for the operating system, the hallmark of good design is that you can work out function without opening the operating manual. Unless you are seriously hard of thinking, you can work out what everything does with no more than five minutes of exploration. And if you do find anything difficult, there are instructions in the packaging that should tell you all you need to know.
The X5 has slots for two micro SD cards with a max of 128 GB each, meaning that at the moment you can store 256 GB of music, which should keep most people entertained for a while. When larger cards become readily available, Fiio have promised firmware upgrades to accommodate these. Formatting the cards takes about thirty seconds. Inserting and withdrawing the cards is fiddly but not difficult and even my large hands (I take an XXL in gloves) managed it without any swearing. As to storing music on the cards, I advise putting them in a card adapter and putting them in a card reader slot in your computer if you have the facilities to do this. Loading a full 128 GB of music onto a card takes several hours on most systems. This is not a fault of Fiio, however, and applies to all manufacturers. But on the plus side you are not likely to be doing this task all that often.
Regarding the sound quality of the Fiio, it is excellent. I started into hi def portable music with the Sony Walkman, which is competent, but the Fiio blows it out of the water. The sound is controlled, erring slightly towards the bass, but you can easily adjust the frequency balance using the easy to use sound equaliser that is integral to the X5. The exact impression of the sound of course depends on the headphones used. I use Atomic Floyd Super Darts, which are pretty bass heavy. The X5 gives a good controlled bass that on the Sony and my iPhone and iPad tended to run amok, even on ALAC files. Generally speaking, the quality of sound from the X5 demonstrably improves the higher the sampling rate. I am well aware that nobody supposedly can reliably hear any improvement past CD quality, but this ignores the fact that some hi def albums are specially mixed to take account of the audiophile market. The X5 definitely can cope with good quality high def recordings and show them off well, remaining controlled and not getting swamped with distortion and blurred sound images when the volume goes up.
Whilst the Fiio is excellent by itself, if you combine it with the Fiio E12 amplifier, the sound quality goes up yet another notch. Basically, you use the line out option on the X5 and feed the raw sound into the E12 to amplify. There is a definite improvement in control and sound stage. You can also get a special kit (about £10) to connect the E12 and X5 together, and it is well worth the money.
Very strongly recommended.
on 1 May 2014
Having had and loved two Sansa Fuze’s over the last six years, I wanted something that would put some meat into the playback and allow for expansion as my music collection grows, including my FLAC collection.
I did briefly have the Cowon Z2 and while this gave lovely quality playback, I had issues with the firmware and battery life / re-charging hiccups. I sat on my refund and quietly bided my time until something ‘better’ came along.
The unit is very nicely packaged and immediately installs a sense of quality about the unit. The unit in black metal is nice and the silicone skin provided does the job, so no need to make any additional purchase there. After four hours of charging, we we’re good to go. Simply removed the mic roSD from the Sansa, popped it in the X5 and music was instantly available. No waiting at all.
The unit was delivered with firmware 1.2 so very easily updated it to 2.0. The support on Fiio’s website for the unit is very good (unlike Cowon).
All I wanted was a quality DAP. This has no wifi, games, apps etc. That’s what my tablet is for. The menus are basic but do the job. The X5 is very reminiscent of the Fuse, so was naturally at ease with it. I have seen comments regarding the scroll wheel. My Fuses’s never gave me a problem with their scroll wheels so I’d be surprised if the X5 did. No problems at all navigating. As there’s not much to get lost with, you seen get to grips. The music folder only lists the albums, no album covers are seen but you do see them once you are playing the tracks. There’s no playlists, but then I’ve never bothered with those.
Listing to the X5 is pure enjoyment. You just hear so much more from even mp3 or wma files. Just when you thought you knew an album, I’m discovering more. Sounds terrific when playing through the home sound system.
Gave 5 stars. Not deducting points for features not present that I didn’t want. All in all, very happy.
on 2 February 2015
First I should say that I have had this product for nearly six months before reviewing it, to allow for the test of time and experience. Music is always going to be subject to differing tastes, both in terms of genre and sound quality, so even reviews of equipment are bound to be subjective to a certain extent. With that in mind, I should say that I listen to music of many different genres, and I have not found my set-up to fall short with any of them yet. However to appreciate the full potential of the X5 it is important that you match it up it with good quality headphones and use decent quality sound files. The genre I listen to most frequently is classical, and for this, my pairing of the X5 with Bowers & Wilkins P7’s, especially from high definition FLAC files, produces a superb sound signature. All the frequencies are reproduced perfectly for my ear – without having to adjust the built in graphic equalizer – and the clarity and transparency of the sound stage is a revelation after having become used to MP3s. I found myself listening to the first piece I played with this set-up with my jaw hanging open, and had great difficulty turning it off. Not physical difficulty, you understand, I just found it utterly absorbing. This experience also drove home to me the insidious nature of MP3s, and how their ubiquity and ease of use can lull you into feeling that you are enjoying decent quality music when in fact you are not.
I purchased a cover with a belt clip for my X5, which is extremely convenient, and if you set it to play from where it left off, one can still enjoy even classical music on the move. Classical generally comprises much longer tracks, but even if one has to pause the device so long that it goes to sleep (you can alter this setting, too), restarting it will play the track from where you left off. Some people have complained that the controls are easy to catch accidentally, but I have not found this to be a problem. Some of the controls are protected by the cover, although those one needs frequently are accessible with a simple touch. Others have complained that it is heavy – maybe, compared with an iPod Nano, but it is ridiculous to say that this device is heavy. Someone also complained that it takes hours to re-charge the battery. There is some truth to this – it takes around four hours from empty, but on the other hand, once fully charged, it is capable of playing high definition music at a good volume for up to twelve hours. I listened to it for eight hours straight one day, and still had usable power remaining. Power is not a problem if one adopts a sensible charging schedule. There were a few minor problems when I first had it, but since the v2 firmware update I have not had any further problems. Finally, with its ability to take two 128GB micro SD cards (with the manufacturer’s promise of future firmware updates allowing compatibility with even larger capacities) this should provide enough storage for even the most demanding listener – far greater than most other mobile music players.
To sum up, this little device has transformed my listening pleasure and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
on 5 May 2014
I could write a million word review about this DAP, and still not really convey enough how good it is for the money... One of the biggest assets it has is that it sounds great, and - will allow you to have up to 256GB of music on board (128GB micro SD x 2), which is more than enough space to allow you to use your mobile phone as a phone - saving lots of battery loife, so - no more worrying about being at 5% batter left on your phone, and if you should listen to music, or call the cab - with this player in your pocket, you can have assurity that you can do both (not to mention that this sounds substantially better than any phone I've heard to date)!
It can play virtually any format of audio you want to throw at it (as far as I am aware, this is the very cheapest player that can natively play DSD64 files!), and does so with real authority, power, and grace.
Great player through the headphone output, sounding accurate, and - can drive headphones loudly should that be your thing, however- when you get the upgrade bug (which anyone who buys electronics often will), this player gives you a good upgrade path by using the line out to an external amplifier (you can make an incredibly good sounding mini portable stack system using FiiO X5 DAP, HS6 'frame' and E12 amplifier - which could easily rival even very good home based systems), however - if your top budget is £300.00 and you want the best that you can buy for this money, you could definitely do worse than picking up this player (or looking at the more cost effective X3)...
I have only had mine for four days, and already fallen in love with it (as a moderator at Head-Fi, I have had more than my fair share of equipment, and these days it takes a lot to impress me, which FiiO have done with this item), so at this time am not prepared to do a full review, however - if you do have any queries / questions / concerns feel free to leave a comment, and I will reply accordingly...
If you have no questions, but - want something better than your smartphone to listen to music on the go... buy this - NOW!
[Edit] - Confirmed that this [Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] Inateck 2.5 Inch USB 3.0 Hard Drive Disk HDD External Enclosure Case with usb 3.0 Cable for 9.5mm 7mm 2.5" SATA HDD and SSD, Tool-free HDD Installation, Compatible With Windows 2000/ XP /Vista/ 7/ 8, Mac OS 9.1... drive enclosure works with OTG (on fw2.0) on the X5, so, whilst we're waiting for 128GB micro SD cards to be available and cost effective - if you have an SSD knocking around, you could definitely do worse than picking up one of those enclosures to max out your music library on the go :)
(I have 2 x 64GB cards in the player, and a 128GB SSD in that enclosure, so - with overheads factored in, I have about 230GB of space to fill!!)
When Apple killed the iPod, one of my fears was real. The world where you could hold all the music ever, in a box the size of a chocolate, in your pocket, was suddenly eliminated by Apple's fetish for making everything streaming and inside their controlled, walled garden.
The Fiio X5 is the nearest thing to the iPod replacement there is. It's compact yet powerful with faithful audio reproduction, a good Digital Output as DAC, and hefty battery life, with none of the major drawbacks of Apple. Goodbye forever to clunky bloatware and torturous endless updates, limited cable options, nonsensical metadata (where, for example, including Album Artist and Song Artist created another identical Artist folder). Itunes is history. All you need is a file navigation system, and Windows Explorer is more than up to the job.
For the uninitated, there are a number of major – glaring – differences.The battery life is longer. The visual display is nowhere near as smooth, and the default -and unchangeable – colours of orange-on-black are difficult to see in high brightness environments such as a rare sunny day. Display and controls are analog, and thus you have to rethink (it's as if someone moved the steering wheel or gearstick). All the major iPod functions are there but you have to rethink how you engage the controls. After a few days, these do become second nature. But there will be confusion.
Storage takes a big leap up from the iPod 160GB. There's not a 12GB Operating System, either. First, there's 2 x microSD card mounts with a max supported file size of 128GB. You can mount larger microSD cards, but your mileage may vary and they may not work. Certainly here, they're fine, with the added – and minor – inconvenience of having to remember that you have two storage points, and you have to remember which of the two the chosen song is on. (Me, I just load up A-M on drive #1 and N-Z on drive #2). In effect I have gone from 148GB on the iPod to 256GB on the Fiio. A luxury.
Navigating files and choosing songs can first seem like a pain. Once you grasp that it is no limit : you simply browse files by folder (you can use artist, but then “ACDC”, “AC DC”, “AC-DC”, “AC/DC” and “AC_DC” become a pain quickly). It's all straightforward.
MicroSD cards a minor pain – to be compatable with the X5 and the 128GB SD card size they have to be formatted to FAT32. Windows 8+ above doesn't do this 'out of the box' so you have to find a suitable online application to do so. Once sorted, there is the formatting, and loading of your library onto the microSD cards.
Mass loading of the SD cards is a time consuming effort. Whilst you merely drag and drop in Explorer to load up the card, the only USB option is USB 2.0, and thus, it took me four days of constant copying to fill the newly-formatted microSD's. Baffling there is no USB3.0 option (which is much faster and more efficient).
Finally, the X5 also comes with a rubberised protective case as standard, alongside plenty of dongles and wire and cables. No need for expensive addons, extra cases, or anything like that, just the X5 as is, alongside 2 x microSD cards.
Sonically, reproduction seems warm. Metal and Rock is slightly tinny but thats probably more of a reflection of modern headphones. Electronic music is warm, bassy and expansive.
Overall, since moving to this when my ancient iPod 160GB died a few weeks ago, I have no regrets about my decision – excepting the boring and timeconsuming setp process which you will need to also do for any new bit of kit. The iPod is dead, Long Live the Fiio X5.
on 28 April 2014
Fiio X5 is for sure one of the best quality-price devices you can get.
With a decent headphones you will spend a good time rediscovering your music collection. Yes, those little details that you never heard before.
The interface is modern and fluid.
The dual SD slot will make this device last even longer in time. It supports 256GB each card now, but Fiio will support 512GB, 1TB later and maybe more later.
The device is well built and is made with great quality materials, you will get a free silicone protection out of the box.
Fiio has "always on" channel between their staff and his costumers on Head-Fi(dot com) forum. They even had a Bugzilla, for costumers reporting bugs or suggestion new features for new firmware updates.
on 13 August 2014
Used to have the iPod classic but this is a noticeable upgrade. The user interface is similar to the iPod and very easy to navigate and the sound is a lot better even with the same source (standard Mp3s and Apple m4a lossy formats). The EQ is a nice touch and you can change it unlike the iPod to match what you want. The fact it uses two Micro SD cards over the iPods ZIF internal hard drive is really handy too - nice and easy to change out and replace them.
Software wise the guys at Fiio are still working on the player so upgrades are still coming out and nice features being added all the time - I haven't seen an update to my iPod in years.
I've coupled mine with the Fiio E12 amp for a bit of extra power and bass.
on 17 August 2014
I've only had my fiio x5 for a couple of days now, but I have been blown away by it. Coming from a Cowon S9, I thought that the only noticeable improvement would be that I could now store my entire music library on my device.
However I am hearing a marked improvement in sound quality when listening through my Shure 535s. There is absolutely no hissing in the background from the device, which immerses you in the music even more, and the clarity of the instruments and their separation is wonderful.
Hopefully this isn't just "new toy syndrome", but it's not often that an electronic device completely overwhelms your expectations.
Great job Fiio.
on 6 March 2015
I've decided to upgrade from my Zen X-Fi mainly because the X5 offers more than enough space to locate my current and future music requirements for years to come. Many of the reviews have said the sound is excellent. I agree, however it's not significantly better than my old Zen. If you're upgrading from a phone or ipad then you're likely to really notice the difference. I was excited about the codecs in the X5 and the chance to be able to listen to 24 bit 192 kHz (24/192) audio; however I've just read an authoritative article which shows that this format is likely to sound inferior to the commercially available 16/44.1 or 16/48 formats and offers no conceivable benefit. I was sceptical but read for yourself and I think you'll agree - http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
I'll not comment too much on the other aspects of the X5 as the reviews on Amazon cover its classy, solid feel. Despite the useful skin that comes with it, I've purchased the £10 leather-look case as it offers better protection when not using the annoying plastic screen protector.
on 23 April 2014
For a similar price to an Apple Ipod 64GB the Fiio X5 offers up to 128GB of memory with 2x 64GB micro SD cards (approx extra cost £75) with memory later expandable up to 256GB and 512GB with future firmware updates
The X5 offers hassle free playing of my wma, mp3 and FLAC music and no need to be tied into Itunes and the usual Apple nonsense.
Just USB connect your X5 to your PC etc and drag & drop your music tracks onto the X5 which your PC will see as a separate drive.
On the move, listening to FLAC tracks on Fiio’s X5 with Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones is a revelation – amazing clarity and separation, well controlled but non-boomy bass, highly detailed mid-range and ultra clear treble. The X5 comes with a graphic equalizer but recommend not using this as all the options tend to sound artificial. You will also be surprised at just how good your wma and mp3 tracks will sound on this player.
The Fiio X5 doesn’t have Bluetooth or apps or games or camera or wi-fi or microphone or speaker or browser like so many of the overpriced toys on the market.
If for you (like me) it’s all about the music, treat yourself to the Fiio X5 – worth every penny.