Review: Luxury & Precision L5PRO – Sound First

Comparisons

A lot of people have been asking me to compare the L5pro to Fiio’s brand new X7, which I’ve been listening to for a few weeks already. The X7 will cost you $650USD (L5Pro: $809) so they are more or less both in the same “category”. The main differences are that the X7 is Android based (you can do a whole lot more than just listen to music) and that the X7 works with specific amplification modules. The new X7 comes supplied with an IEM module and it doesn’t work that good with harder to drive full sized headphones. And that’s exactly where the L5Pro shines: it can do it all.

Looking at the FW and UI, the L5pro is no match for the superb X7. While L&P still has some work on the L5Pro, Fiio’s X7 is way more advanced. I’m not saying it’s flawless but at least it has all the basics working perfectly. Sound wise, taking into account IEMs only, there’s quite a difference between both players as well. The L5Pro is analog sounding and the X7, well it isn’t. The X7 is more airy and more layered and if the L5Pro reminds me of the Picollo, the X7 reminds me of the Alo RX amp. They compare just the same. We’ll have to keep testing all Fiio’s amp modules to really compare both these DAPs, but that for the moment isn’t possible yet.

To me the AK120II and AK240’s sound signature is comparable but different at the same time. On a very quick listen and a bad recording the differences might not show up immediately but when you take your time and play a higher bitrate album, you clearly notice the differences. The AKs still have more extension, sound more airy, go deeper and present more layering throughout. Detail wise the AKs have better microdetail which is especially noticeable in the vocals. The L5Pro is a lot more powerful and it has more body in bass and mids. The user interface of both the AKs is sublime and they even have OTA updates while L&P still have a lot of work to do. Of all the DAPs in my collection though, the L5Pro is the one coming closest to the AK’s for now. We’ll see how the X7 does with the different amplification models.

Fiio’s X5II for the moment is selling for only $348USD on Amazon and that is a superb price for this player. Compared to the X5, the L5pro has the more advanced and user friendlier interface but it’s also double the X5SG’s price. The X5SG doesn’t even have a touch screen however and that for a lot of people is deal breaker. Sound wise the X5SG is really sublime, especially for its price. Like the Fiio X7, the latest X5II sounds more airy and has better layering. The L5Pro sounds more analog and it has a blacker background and a wider soundstage. The X5SG’s bass has more impact (and goes deeper) while the treble isn’t as extended, precise and clear as on the L5Pro. The X5SG is great value for money but the X7 has it beat on all fronts.

I’m still waiting for the new iBasso DX80 to arrive and I’ll update this part when it finally arrives. I however don’t expect it to be close in sound quality; the DX90 on the latest firmware (or on the Lurker one) certainly doesn’t come close.

Conclusion

The Luxury & Precision L5Pro looks beautiful and sounds superb. It has a full bodied analog sound with good detail, gorgeous clarity and a whole lot of power to even drive those full sized headphones in your collection. If it wasn’t for the FW/UI still being a work in progress, this DAP would score big, certainly with the $800USD price tag. For now however it is an awesome sounding DAP that one day, once everything has been sorted out, will play with the big boys. On the other hand, if you don’t care about the things that are still missing and just care about good sound, you really don’t have to look further. This is the one you want.

I have used the L5Pro a lot and I still continue to do so, even with the X7 and the AKs in my collection. The X7 clearly is a competitor of the L5Pro but its sound signature is very different. I love how both the X7 and the L5Pro sound but when I am using easy to drive in ear monitors, I for now keep going back to my favorite AK120II. The L5Pro gets all the airtime when I use full sized headphones without an extra amplifier. I really hope L&P gets everything on their to-do list checked off quickly as it will make the L5pro a very versatile and top quality player. The potential is there, now it’s up to L&P.

The L5pro can be bought via and goes for $809USD. Even without the perfect UI, the L5pro offers superb sound for “little” money. If L&P can keep this price and sort everything out, they have a winner in their hand. They’re almost there.

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

12 Comments

  • Reply December 10, 2015

    Brooko

    Nice review Lieven – and I share your sentiments. L&P have an absolute winner if they can just unlock the missing features and polish the UI. A truly great sounding DAP.

    • Reply December 10, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you Paul. I just don’t get why they want to get the USB DAC functionality before the basic stuff. But yes, a great sounding player

  • Reply December 10, 2015

    digitldlnkwnt

    Nice review L! I think overall most of these Chinese companies are learning the early lessons of Apple – hardware is nice but software makes it run. I don’t care if this thing pours honey mixed with nectar covered in ambrosia into my ears if the software sucks it’s not worth it. I think we are at the point now where companies need to pay closer attention to their UI prior to release. Five years ago i would be more understanding given that the hardware alone justified the purchase even if the software UI was a bit flaky. Now, I buy DUAL ESS chips or equivalent in a 450.00 player WITH a good UI. No gapless playback in 800.00 DAP in 2015? Really? Or a shuffle that can’t really shuffle? Hell even my iPod shuffle shuffles better than that and it’s 10 years old! Sorry L&P but if you want my 800.00 dollars you have to better than that.

    • Reply December 11, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Thanks. I do hope they keep improving the FW/UI cause it really does sound good

  • Reply December 13, 2015

    Rich

    Great write up Lieven! You mentioned the L5PRO is analog sounding. How does it compare to the Calyx M which to my ears is more analog sounding? The M really pairs nicely with higher end IEMs like the Sennheiser ie800 so I’m assuming the L5PRO would too.

    • Reply December 13, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you. The Calyx M is kind of in between the L5Pro and the X7. Try before you buy is always the smartest option 🙂

  • Reply January 17, 2016

    Splutje

    “I’m still waiting for the new iBasso DX80 to arrive and I’ll update this part when it finally arrives.

    Did you receive the DX80 already and made any comparisons to the L&P?

    • Reply January 17, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      My first DX80 was faulty and the second one hasn’t arrived yet. But it’s clear the L5pro is a level up form the DX80

  • Reply January 20, 2016

    Pascual Villaseca

    Little question.
    If we only take sound quality as a parameter.
    Which would you think is the winner between the Fiio X7 and the L&P L5Pro?

    • Reply January 20, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      It depends on what you’ll be using it with. The X7 for now with AM1 is only really good for IEMs. The L5PRo does everything really well.

      that being said the X7 has a wider sound stage and more layering

  • Reply February 9, 2016

    Coll. IEm

    anyone have both hm901 and L5pro ..

    compare to each other ,which one has bigger and meaty sound

  • Reply March 14, 2016

    Alex Ignatiev

    Hi! Could You help me a little? Going to change my sony nwz-a15 for something better(around 1000$). At the same time I have VorzAMP Pure II +. Thinking of L&P L5Pro( but someone said VorzAMP Pure II +doesn’t imrove L&P L5Pro much) So maybe I should take Fiio X7 or something else to my VorzAMP Pure II +? Thanks in advance.(also going to buy DUNU DN-2000J )

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