Like with the X7, Fiio has created another versatile portable player. Besides the obvious fact that it is a portable high resolution audio player, you can also use the X5iii as a USB-DAC (24/192 driver to install Windows). You either have the choice of using the X5’s headphone out or the 3.5mm Line Out function. The X5iii also supports USB OTG, meaning you can pass the digital signal over USB to another DAC (see tests results below). The same USB-port also allows you to dock the player in the Fiio K5 Docking station. And if that still isn’t enough, you can also use the 3.5mm coax out. The only downside the X5iii has is that it doesn’t have a balanced 2.5mm Line Out function, like the AK’s.
As the Fiio X5iii is only going for $399/€449, we can forgive this shortcoming but it would have given the X5III even more value.
Memory & Battery
The Fiio X5iii comes heavily loaded with memory. The DAP has 1GB RAM and you get 32GB of internal memory to work with (26GB to the user). The X5iii accepts dual MicroSD cards of 256GB giving you well over 500GB of total storage. That means there’s more than enough room on the DAP for all your high resolution music. And if that isn’t enough there’s always Spotify or Tidal you can work with. And Last.fm scrobbling, not an issue.
The X5iii is equipped with a 3.8V / 3400mAh battery. In theory this battery should deliver over 10h of play time but in reality I haven’t gotten close to the 10h mark. With the screen turned for the VU meter, or lyrics and using high res files, I out of experience get closer to 7 – 8h of playtime. You do get double charging options however (USB or 9-12V) and recharging the battery goes quite fast.
Memory wise we couldn’t ask for more but I would have loved to get 10h out of one charge without worrying.
UI & User friendliness
The X5iii comes with an excellent touch screen and as I said the button layout is excellent. Usability of the X5 is very good and you don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to understand, it’s very straightforward and it’s as good as the same as the X7’s UI. You can either use Fiio’s native music app for playing your music or you can install a 3rd party app like Hiby in example. It all works.
Some positive points:
- The main menu of the X5iii can be customized to your liking
- You get a 10 band EQ with 9 prefixed settings
- There’s built in Viper Effect software (partly free)
- You can play back music from the Cloud directly or from a network server using DLNA
- An excellent choice of filter modes
- Two gain setting
- Gorgeous new lock screen with album art (fw 1.1.1)
- Playback pauses when the headphone is disconnected
- The volume control has 120 steps
- Installing and using Spotify, Youtube and Tidal in Android mode is a piece of cake. Streaming goes without any issue.
- Lyrics can be displayed or you can choose the hypnotizing blue VU meters.
- On the latest FW, the player – when connected to the web – searches and downloads the correct Album Art and lyrics of your music. The result of this search does depend on your file’s tag quality but I am very pleased with this. The idea behind this is great, just don’t expect all your local music to be found.
Some points for improvement
- Updating the media library from a new 200GB memory card isn’t the fastest with the Fiio music player. The Hiby player updates it a lot faster.
- Like with each player there still is room for gapless play improvement
- It’s impossible to fast forward music when the screen is locked
- The USB OTG function isn’t fully available yet but it will be in the next FW update according to Fiio. I did get the Mojo working with both the Fiio and Hiby music app but some occasional cracks were audible. I couldn’t get it to work with the Hugo or C5D yet and only partly with the RHA DacAmp L1. I’m sure this will be improved with further updates.
- It sometimes takes two seconds to switch to the next song after you clicked the button. Sometimes it works perfectly fast, and sometimes it doesn’t. I still haven’t fully figured it out but the last FW update did improve the switch speed already. I’m sure Fiio can get this sorted out with a next update. (confirmed by fellow reviewers)
- When FLAC or DSD is playing and you have paused your music, the screen goes black after a while. When clicking the side play-button to restart the music, it takes about 4 seconds before you hear any music (when the screen is still active, this doesn’t happen). There are a few more of these “lag” cases like this, in example when you’re using the search function on a fully loaded 200gb card. The X5iii just isn’t the most reactive/responsive DAP, let’s hope FW upgrades improve it. (confirmed by fellow reviewers)
- The leather case is covering up some buttons and that’s not nice to use
Using the X5iii is easy, straightforward and now faster thanks to the last update. While the FW still isn’t perfect with things like music sorting and lag, the player is still is an absolute joy to use. The X5iii together with the AK70 and AK380 are my favorite players for daily use. The Cayin i5 also is a very good player with a very good UI but it doesn’t work as easy size-wise and button-layout wise as these three players do. Great job, Fiio.
Accessory wise Fiio pretty much always delivers. With the X5iii you get one USB cable, one typical Fiio Coax Digital adaptor, one tempered glass screen protector (pre-applied in the factory) and a leather case. While the Fiio leather case is OK’ish (it’s not the best) I mostly end up using the player without case.
When I did use a leather case I want the buttons to be freely accessible. I don’t like it when they’re covered under the leather. With cases like the Cayin i5’s I don’t have a problem and my favorite cases are those of Miter. I’m actually using those for my AK70, AK380, this Fiio X5iii and my Mojo.
You can find all about how it sounds on the next page, after the CLICK: https://headfonia.com/review-fiio-x5iii-3rd-generation-the-one-that-could/3/