Review: Fiio X5 Second Generation Part 1

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

The tables below list most of the relevant specifications, and because Fiio’s players are likely to be compared (a lot), I’ve included the relevant information on the X3ii and X5 I have also.

Fiio X5ii Fiio X5 Original Fiio X3ii
Approx cost $349 $349 $199
Dimensions ~ 109 x 64 x 15mm ~ 114 x 68 x 16mm ~96 x 57 x 16mm
Weight 165g 195g 135g
Lossless file formats supported APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, DSF, DFF
Lossy file formats supported mp2, mp3, aac, ogg mp2, mp3, aac, ogg mp2, mp3, aac, ogg
Use as external DAC? Yes Yes Yes
Battery 3300 mAh 3700 mAh 2600 mAh
Play time 10 hours+ 10 hours+ 11 hours+
DAC chip used PCM1792A PCM1792A CS4398
Main amp chip OPA1612+BUF634 OPA1612+LMH6643 OPA1642+LMH6643
S/N (H/O) ≥117 dB (A-Weight) >115 dB (A-Weight) >113 dB (A-Weight)
THD+N (H/O) <0.001% (1 kHz) <0.003% (1 kHz) <0.001% (1 kHz)
Output into 16 ohm >436 mW >460 mW >224 mW
Output into 32 ohm >255 mW >255 mW >200 mW
Output into 300 ohm >27 mW >28 mW >24 mW
Highest resolution lossless 192 kHz, 24 bits 192 kHz, 24 bits 192 kHz, 24 bits
DSD/DSF/DFF support Yes – Native Yes – converted to PCM Yes – Native
Output impedance (H/O) <0.2 Ω 0.26 ohm 0.2 ohm
Adjustable Balance 10 db L, 10 dB R 5 db L, 5 dB R 5 db L, 5 dB R
Gain 3.6 dB L, 9.1 db H 3.7 dB L, 9.2 db H 2.6 dB L, 8.6 db H
Equaliser 10 band 10 band 10 band
MAX Output Voltage >8.2 Vp-p >8 Vp-p >7.2 Vp-p
MAX Output Current >250 mA >150 mA >75 mA
Line Out Yes / Separate (shared with digital out) Yes – separate port Yes / Separate (shared with digital out)
Digital Out Yes – 3.5mm to Coax (cable supplied) Yes – separate port, 3.5mm to Coax (cable supplied) Yes – 3.5mm to Coax (cable supplied)
External storage (current) 2 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb 2 x Micro sdxc up to 256Gb Micro sdxc up to 128Gb
Screen IPS 400×360 IPS 400 x 360 2in colour TFT, 320×240 px
Shell / Casing Aluminium (gun-metal) Plastic shell over aluminium body Aluminium (gun-metal)

 

CHANGES FROM ORIGINAL X5

Fiio lists the following as the main improvements of the X5 2nd gen over the X5 original.

  • All new exterior design, improved build, and metal finish changed from powdered to brush
  • Smaller and lighter
  • Reduced black borders around LCD
  • New independent amplification stage with analogue volume control – increasing audio resolution
  • New digital audio architecture utilising dual crystal oscillators dedicated to multiples of 44.1 and 48kHz respectively (to handle all major sample rates without resampling artifacts and minimal jitter)
  • Hardware DSD decoding
  • Supports CTIA standard in-line earphone remote control units
  • New power architecture design that utilises different system voltages for low and high gain – allowing maximum flexibility between endurance and power.
  • Standby mode – allowing player to remain in standby for weeks, ready to continue playing instantly when activated.
  • Coulomb meter for precise battery level readouts.

SPECIAL NOTES ON PREVIEW UNITS

When reading this review, and remembering this is a preview unit, it should be noted that the following changes are still to be made by Fiio before release.

  • Packaging will be changed to full retail ready packaging.
  • Side control buttons will be manufactured slightly differently to improve tactile performance
  • Scroll wheel will have a higher damping factor – similar to the X3ii – for more positive tactile feedback.
  • Firmware will be likely to change before final release – but this will be ongoing.

BUILD

Like all of Fiio’s recent releases, the build on the X5ii (IMO) is excellent for a DAP in this price range. The casing is a 2 piece high quality CNC aluminium alloy with a very nice gunmetal shade and brushed finish. I see no blemishes on this unit – everything fits extremely well together, the corners are smooth, but I did notice the front face beveling is angled rather than rounded (similar to the original X5). Both the X1 and X3ii are rounded, and I have to admit I actually like their appearance and feel a little more when held.

One of the first noticeable physical changes between the original X5 and X5ii, apart from the colour, finish, and slightly smaller dimensions, is the very flat “sleek / modern” look of the X5ii. It still has the wheel and 5 front navigation buttons, but this time everything is on a single plane – and quite flat/flush – where on the original X5, the wheel, buttons and screen were all raised. Because of this, the buttons are less likely to be jogged or pressed accidentally. In fact on this unit, the front buttons are actually very flush – which I see as a good thing.

The front buttons themselves are smaller, round, but have roughly the same tactile response, and I have no problems with accidental pushes, or with locating them. The buttons are labeled with white etching in the metal work of the case – but of course this disappears if using the supplied cover. The button layout is very consistent with Fiios other DAPs, and if you’re familiar with the X1, X3ii, or even original X5 – it won’t take too long to know exactly where you are. I find the front buttons ideally located for easy one hand operation.

More after the click

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Paul is a Kiwi from Down Under (New Zealand) and spends his time selling Lamb by day, and playing round with audio gear by night. He's a self confessed music junkie, with wide musical tastes and a penchant for female vocalists. He is not a golden eared listener, prefers to review armed with an SPL meter and objective measurements, and does his best to balance objectivity and subjectivity. Mostly though, he can be found with headphones on his head, and a smile on his face - lost in the moment.

77 Comments

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Brooko

    I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Lieven for the opportunity to review the X5ii together. if there are any questions, I’ll try to answer them as best I can 🙂

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    V2760 .

    Is gain and volume have zero effect when using line out?

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Brooko

    Volume has no effect (as it shouldn’t – being a fixed line-out). I’ll get Lieven to answer on the gain as I honestly can’t remember, and the X5ii is currently on tour in NZ.

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Jeff

    Surprised to see you here Brooko but great review 🙂

    • Reply June 15, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Hoping/planning on seeing him a lot more on here 🙂

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Brooko

    It was a kind offer from Lieven I couldn’t refuse. You guys will enjoy his take on the X5ii when he posts it tomorrow (I’ve already had a sneak peak) 🙂

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    dalethorn

    I think I understand the UI from reading this, but just wanted to clarify the search. I have all my tracks on i-devices (w/o folders) named as “Artist – Songname”, and tagged the same way for sorting in the music player. So on the i-device, to go instantly from “Lecrae – Falling Down” to “Julia Holter – Boy in the Moon”, I press the “J” button** and do a 1 to 2 second scroll and there I am. So with the FiiO, would you have to first change folders and then scroll? I wonder how long it would take to do what I described?

    **Actually when I need Julia etc. on the i-device, I usually press “K” and scroll backwards, since it’s closer.

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Hi Dale. There is no search function as such – I simply use folder view, with a hierarchy system to make the scrolling a lot less. So I have things folder sorted alphabetically into groups of 3 (A-C, D-F, G-I etc) – so 8 first level folders. Underneath that is the artist folders. Under those are the album folders. I have around 400 full albums on the X5ii, and can get to an albun within a matter of seconds using this method.

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Anthony Kimball

    Great review, Brooko, thank you. I’ve enjoyed your postings in the past (I think our ears agree on many things)…I do hope you get the opportunity to review more here on Headphonia…a welcome addition IMHO.

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks Anthony. Hopefuly it will be the first of many opportunities to review alongside Lieven. We have mutual respect for each other’s opinions on audio, but have very different tastes. So hopefully readers will find the contrasts interesting.

      • Reply June 16, 2015

        Dave Ulrich

        I love a good contrast

      • Reply June 17, 2015

        Anthony Kimball

        I certainly do (appreciate contrast)…I look forward to it!

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    morecrassthanyou

    This is a really thorough review – thanks for taking the time to do it, Brooko, and thanks for sharing the nice hi-res pictures!

    I would like some advice. I’ve only used ipods as DAP’s and am ready to either amp it (as I’ve got HE-400’s that sound pretty weak with just the DAP) or buy a separate DAP that I would use for everything but gym listening.

    I’m looking for a portable solution that I’ll use primarily at home when I want a relaxing listening session. The only headphone amp/DAC I’ve had experience with is the Meridian Explorer, which provides plenty of power to the HE’s. I’d like to find a similar experience using a DAP as a source.

    Would you suggest a new DAP? Amping the iTouch? Thoughts?

    • Reply June 15, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I would suggest CLAS SOLO and Duet amp if you like using the ipod/pad
      I resized brooko’s pics and did some retouching 😀

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks. I know there are plenty of Apple nay-sayers out there, but I’ve always rated the later i-Devices pretty highly as far as sonics go. They’re just limited on expandable storage space and power – which is where the Fiios excel. Hard to go past the Apple UI though.

      I guess it depends on what you’re looking for, and what features you value. I personally haven’t heard a lot of the “increased dynamics / bigger sound stage etc” that a lot of reviewers talk about when adding amplification. To me – an amp changes 3 main (useful) things : impedance (useful if you have a higher impedance source and sensitive earphones), hardware EQ controls (eg bass boost), and most importantly and increase in clean and constant power (voltage & current). If your headphones need more current or voltage than your DAP can supply – which I’m guessing you need with the HE-400s, then that is where the amp will be necessary.

      For a nice portable solution – I always really liked the Headstage Arrow series, but if you’re going to be spending $300 on an amp, then it may be better to just look at something like the X5ii (and no amp) because you will get argaubly better SQ and features. For a cheaper solution – even the Fiio E11K supplies very good clean power.

      I’m not sure if Lieven has the HE400, or access to one? If he does, maybe he can try it with the X5ii, and tell you what he thinks.

      • Reply June 16, 2015

        dalethorn

        My iPhone 6-plus sounds better than my iPhone 5 and iPod Touches. But adding the Oppo HA-2 gains me very little over the phone alone, and my older Verza isn’t as good as the HA-2. If someone asked me, I’d say get a much better amp, or skip that and get the DAP.

        • Reply June 16, 2015

          independentskeptic

          …. by much better amp, can you give a few suggestions? Looks like Lieven (or the person who might be Lieven below) recommends Cypher labs’ stuff.

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Ilias K

    thanks for the thorough review, it looks like a very complete dap. soo any comparison with ibasso and other daps would be out of place?..also i’m curious how the amp section compares to E12/E12A.. and..would a X3II paired with a E12A give better sound? many questions, i know XD

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Hi llias – thanks. If you wait for Lieven’s follow up tomorrow, he has a section on his comparison with the iBasso DAPs. I’m yet to hear an iBasso – but will try at some stage to get hold of one for future reference.

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    Chris

    Well, at least now I think it looks much better

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Definitely a sleeker and more modern look.

    • Reply June 19, 2015

      ohm image

      You finally made it here. Great to have you here.

  • Reply June 15, 2015

    johthor

    A very nice review and much appreciated. I am looking forward to Lieven’s review and any differences with Brooko’s. Nice to see you here at Headfonia Brooko as I have often enjoyed your reviews and posts on Headfi. Great idea Lieven to have Brooko as a guest reviewer.

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks. Hopefully there will be more collaboration in the future if Headfonias readers enjoy the contrasts.

  • Reply June 16, 2015

    Tronco

    G’day Brooko,
    Nice (and long) review and I admit that for a second I thought about skipping it and jumping to the conclusion. I liked the review. Well written, structured, interesting and easy to read. It would be nice to see more of your reviews here in the future!

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks. I’m sure Lieven and I will be collaborating again in future. We just need to find some gear we have in common 🙂

  • Reply June 17, 2015

    Jeroen Wijnands

    Nice work, good writing. Surprised to see someone write that Fiio’s latest doesn’t bring all that much more. Not something you read often

    • Reply June 18, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks. It’s a step-up from X5 original, but its incremental rather than exponential, or evolution rather than revolution. The X5ii (IMO) still represents extremely good value for money – especially compared to some of the other boutique offerings.

      • Reply August 18, 2015

        Observer

        I think unless you absolutely need to have the X52G or you never owned the 1G, then perhaps you could give it a miss. Unless $350 is no skin off your nose.

        • Reply August 18, 2015

          Brooko

          What other DAPs are you comparing with, what headphones have you had experience with (with X5 and X5ii), and what is your rationale behind this comment? Genuinely curious 🙂

          • Reply August 18, 2015

            Observer

            OK.
            I have owned several DACs in the FiiO range and have absolutely no issues with any of them. Except perhaps earlier models had a bit of background hiss.
            My reference headphones are the Shure SE846CLs. Even my Oppo PM-3s don’t come close. But different strokes…

            I also purchased the Oppo HA-2, but to me, the FiiO E12A sounds better when paired with the FiiO X5. But all I am commenting on are my own personal preferences and opinions.

            Your taste in music may vary vastly from mine.

            I am a Jean-Michel Jarre, Andreas Vollenweider, Darshan Ambient, Tangerine Dream, Art of Noise, Jimmy Smith, Eric Gale, Herb Alpert, Barry White, Herbert von Karajan (with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), Beethoven kind of person.

            The review is well written and if I can get a buyer for my X51G, I will go for the 2G, but for now, I can play DSD256 with an iPhone 6 and HA-2 quite happily paired with my Shures.

            Just my opinion sir.

            • Reply August 18, 2015

              Observer

              I would recommend the following if you can get your hands on them. Just for reference purposes: ALL LOSSLESS PLEASE.

              1. Watch Your Step – Darshan Ambient (24-bit 96Khz)
              2. Tubular Bells, Introduction – Mike Oldfield
              3. Allegretto Movt. Beethoven’s 7th Conducted by Herbert von Karajan (DG label)
              4. Moments in Love – Art of Noise
              5. Your Love, So Good I Can Taste It – Barry White
              6. Hobo Flats – Jimmy Smith
              7. Mako D’amour – Eric Gale

              I could go on, but start here.

              • Reply August 18, 2015

                Brooko

                Thanks – I’ll be sure to look into them. Always on the lookout for new music. I have HvK’s entire set of Beethoven’s 9 Symphonies (DG), so totally no where you’re coming from with that recording 🙂

  • Reply June 28, 2015

    Freckle

    Great review! I’d love to see a comparison of the X5ii and the Astell & Kern Jr. I’m new to the DAP world – which would be the best to start with?

    • Reply June 30, 2015

      Brooko

      Thanks Freckle. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to listen to the AKJr – but I understand Lieven may be getting a sample unit – so hopefully he’ll eb able to make the comparison and recommendation for you. What headphones will you be driving?

      • Reply June 30, 2015

        Freckle

        I have a choice (both new to me) of the Blue Mofi with the built in amp or the B&O H6. I’ve read up on both so hoping at least one of these matches well with a new DAP (leaning towards an X5II purchase).

        • Reply June 30, 2015

          Brooko

          Haven’t heard either – sorry. Love the looks of the H6 though. If you do get one – please post back and tell me what you think of them. I’d really like to know your thoughts – especially if you end up getting the X5ii.

          • Reply June 30, 2015

            Freckle

            Will do. I’ve heard that both headphones are not bass-centric and have a balanced sound across the spectrum with a fairly wide soundstage. I’ll send some feedback once I have some time to break these all in.

            • Reply June 30, 2015

              Brooko

              Sounds like my kind of signature 🙂 If you’re ever looking for an open headphone with the same traits for home use – start with the HD600 🙂

              • Reply July 1, 2015

                Freckle

                I bought a pair of Grado 225s awhile back and they left many other headphones behind in terms of quality open headphones, but the Senns seem to be a good choice to 🙂 definitely highly rated on amazon, etc.

                • Reply July 1, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  I haven’t heard the 225, but I have the 325 and it really is good – minor peak around 2 khz, but that’s the Grado sound.

                  • Reply August 18, 2015

                    Brooko

                    Loved the 325 when I had one. Always regretted selling it. Mine was modded quite a bit though – full wooden jacket, leather headband, mogami recable. I actually liked them more than the RS1 I had.

                    • August 18, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I got the Brooklyn Tree (GH1) woodie recently. A little darker, more mellow than the 325e, but more uneven in the treble. Unless it flattens out some after the 150 hours already played.

                    • August 19, 2015

                      Brooko

                      I thought about trying the RS2 and seeing if that was closer to the 325 than the RS1 was. I think if I ever end up getting another Grado, it’ll be RS2 or 325 again.

            • Reply July 1, 2015

              dalethorn

              The H6 has some definite bass emphasis compared to the Senn HD600, but it’s a very solid bass with no bloat or mud.

              • Reply July 1, 2015

                Freckle

                I may have to tweak my EQ for the H6s. The Senn HD600s might have been a better choice for less bass emphasis.

                • Reply July 1, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  Not a huge difference on a lot of music, but for some genres it really stands out.

    • Reply June 30, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I’m not getting the Jr, Nathan is getting it though. But he doesn’t have the X5SG

      • Reply July 10, 2015

        snip3r77

        It would be great if the same reviewer has the X5SG and the AKJR.

        • Reply July 10, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Nathan will do the AK Jr. I could only keep it for one month and I don’t have the time for it.

        • Reply July 10, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Well I already said he doesn’t… 😀

          • Reply July 10, 2015

            snip3r77

            Maybe send X5SG else there’s no benchmark/yardstick.

            The review is just it is so good, soundstage so great, it’s so pretty. Pls buy one LOL

            • Reply July 10, 2015

              Headfonia_L.

              I have no idea what you mean

            • Reply August 18, 2015

              Brooko

              Actually – the reviewer (me) points out good points and bad, doesn’t mention prettiness or sound stage (IMO with DAPS, the headphone has more influence on the soundstage than the DAP does), and actually says that its an incremental rather than exponential upgrade. I’d love to be able to review the AK Junior against it – but unfortunately I don’t have one, and at this stage no interested in buying one just for a single review/comparison.

  • Reply July 15, 2015

    Alfiero Ventura

    To be or not to be!
    X1 or X5
    this is the (my) problem

    The X5, or X5 II, worth the difference in money than in X1 or X3 ?

  • Reply July 16, 2015

    Alfiero Ventura

    Headphones is Sennehiser Momentum Over-ear.I would like to change my iPod 2ND 80gb
    the budget for €210 or €345 isn’t a problem, I like only listen a good music
    thank

    • Reply August 18, 2015

      Brooko

      The Momentums aren’t difficult to drive, and if you’re mainly using them on-the-go, I’d probably recommend staying with the X3ii. It’s cheaper, smaller form factor, and you’d be unlikely to kiss the lift in fidelity (particularly if most of your listening is portable). If on the other hand you plan to use the DAP also as a DAC, and as part of an integrated system, and if space (dual slots) is needed, then the X5ii has the upper hand. At the end of the day – I’d pick first on the feature set you need.

  • Reply September 3, 2015

    Ajay Marrott

    How is the X5ii compared to the DX90?

  • Reply September 23, 2015

    Roscoe Trey Nicholson

    Reading on the train, so may have missed it but how does the sound compare to your Micro iDSD?

  • Reply November 3, 2015

    Rajesh Madan

    Rm ….Has any one experienced X5ii stuttering on Hirez files 24b 96k and above.

  • Reply January 16, 2016

    Sergey Green

    Does it need to burn in to sound better? What is your take on it?

  • Reply January 27, 2016

    Nick Woolley

    Is it known if you can do more than the 128GB for each slot?

    • Reply January 27, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I haven’t tested it myself but it should be ok. The guys on Headfi also know more about it

  • Reply February 18, 2016

    John Hogendoorn

    Would love to hear yr comment on the x7 compacter to the x5ii, and is there an x7 ii coming up too?

  • Reply March 19, 2016

    Noel

    I have X3 2nd gen. Is it a wise idea to upgrade to X5 2nd gen or is it worth the upgrade. If the difference is too little I would like to be satisfied with my X3. Kindly suggest

    • Reply November 15, 2016

      johann

      wanna ask the same thing. planning to get an x3ii if the x5ii is not really a big step up for IEMs which aren’t power hungry.

  • Reply November 17, 2016

    pablo rey

    sorry, but it would be nice if you can answer just a question, i have a X1 1st generation on may way and I have a Senheiser Amperior, Now i have the chance of getting a cheap (in my country these gadgests cost more than twice) X5 2d generation.

    So my cuestion is : Do you think i would get a noticeable difference between the X1 and the X5II?

    • Reply November 18, 2016

      Lieven

      Of course there’s a huge difference. That’s logic.

  • Reply March 9, 2017

    Eric

    I am very new to the DAP world so please forgive my ignorance. I’ve been doing a lot of reading but still can’t seem to get the answer to my question, and you folks combine the technical skill with the real-world knowledge I look for in a reviewer.
    So, here’s my question: I recently ripped my modest collection of CD’s to FLAC using DBPoweramp (great tool by the way) and I have a little over 115GB of content I’d like to play on my tried & true (read ‘old’) receiver/amp and tower speakers. Are the Fiio DAP’s (X5iii and X3ii) a good answer for this, or should I be looking at a different solution? Portability is not that important to me, but getting good sound quality out of my music is.

    • Reply March 9, 2017

      dale thorn

      You can always find something that’s better, but try to maximize what you have first. Impedance matching, amount of gain, fine tuning for the gear and the room are all factors you should address.

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