Disclaimer : Fiio is a site advertiser. I received a free sample of the X5SG for the purpose of this review. Please read part 1 first.
For a while now I have been wanting to work together with Paul, aka Brooko on Headfi, and we finally found a unit to review together. When Paul sent me his review of the new Fiio X5, I expected it to be around 1000 words but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The review you have read yesterday was incredibly good and detailed. The advantage is I don’t have to go into all the X5SG details as Paul has already covered them. The down side is my part now has to be just as good as his, and that’s a challenge 😉
The last few weeks and months I have been spending a lot of time listening to and reviewing portable gear. I have been using a lot of different DAPs and the ones that up to now always were my favorites are the Astel & Kern AK120ii with the HUGO when on the go, the AK240 at home and the DX90 when I wanted to carry around just a player and no amp. To be honest I as good as never use any of the Fiio DAPs when I’m not reviewing. (I own the X1, X3, X3SG and now the X5SG). I didn’t expect the new Fiio X5 Second Generation to change this but after spending several weeks with it, the X5ii has worked his way up my preference chain.
My first Fiio player was the original X3 and I never really liked it. Sound wise it was ok but it to me was a bit boring sounding and what I didn’t like most was its form factor, tiny screen and the awful user interface. Sure they updated that later on but it never was that great to use. The original X5 had a different design and I quite liked that. When Fiio released the X1 it was clear in which direction the company wanted to go and the X3SG and now the X5SG all follow the X1’s look at User Interface.
If you’re used to working with the X1 or the X3SG you won’t have any issues using the X5SG. The only thing that really bothered me is how slow the UI sometimes is when it needs to load a new track and its cover art. Sometimes you can hear the song playing already and then only 1 second later (which is really long) it shows up on the screen. While Fiios “new” user interface is quite good –some think it’s great- I still can’t get over the fact of not having a touch screen. The iBasso DX90 and AK player combine a really good user interface with a touch screen and I got so used to it that I find myself trying to control the X5SG by tapping on its screen. Yes the Fiio firmware/user interface is and works quite well (except that it’s kind of slow) but it would have even been better if it had a touch screen. Who knows, the upcoming X7 might have just that but for now the Fiio X5SG, to me, still isn’t equal to the iBasso or AK players for what usability is concerned. The first thing I’d add obviously is a touchscreen and I wouldn’t mind having some better, or should I say easier, working next/previous buttons when the player is locked. I simply don’t find the long push on the volume buttons easy to use.
The scroll wheel on the X3SG was almost perfect and it’s too bad our review samples had the older scroll wheel and not the new one. It sometimes is a real PITA to use and sometimes the position on the screen hardly even moves when you’ve passed 3 clicks. Again, having a touchscreen might just solve that. Anyway, it’s good to know the production units will have the latest version of the wheel so let’s not talk about it too much. Size and weight wise (165g) the X5 isn’t the smallest but it fits in your pocket and when you’re used to walking around with the AKs with an external amp, its size is no object at all.
I love what Fiio is doing with the design and I personally think the X5SG looks great, it’s their best looking player up to date and with its 2 micro SD slots it allows you to carry around a whole lot of music. (2x128GB) When you compare the X5SG to the X3SG you will notice the top buttons of the new X5 are lower down in the player while they stuck out a little on the X3SG. After a few weeks of use the right (next) button has sunk even deeper in to the frame and you constantly feel the edges of the frame. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to happen but the top right menu button is starting to show the same thing. I wish Fiio had opted for the X3SG buttons which seem sturdier. Another thing I wish Fiio would do, is supply silicone covers that don’t attract dust that much, after a few weeks the cover looks horrible, but ok.
While the X5SG’s battery life certainly isn’t bad I’m not overly happy with it. I should rephrase that. For some reason I keep on accidentally pushing the power button when the player is in my bag and that several times left me with an empty battery on the train ride home. While that maybe is my own stupid fault I at the same time feel the X3SG’s battery drowned less quick. After a few hours the X5SG gets warm but it never becomes too warm to touch. All this time I was using the X5SG, it only froze up on me once but that’s nothing uncommon for any DAP.
Sound, right after the click