Last year I reviewed the X3 and thought it a very good release from FiiO but with a UI that had some growing pains and a design that was not that appealing in aesthetics but certainly functional and well built. I also remarked on the viability of the X3 in today’s hi-tech DAP market given its slightly aged looking design and hardware controls that were slightly behind more modern DAP’s but overall the tonality and the codec coverage where excellent and represented a decent start into the DAP market.

Since then the X3 has had a ton of feedback both positive and negative and further than that FiiO have been true to their word in reflecting that feedback with regular updates in the firmware to combat the UI and media library issues and also releasing new features such as DAC functionality. As a result the X3 is a popular underdog with plenty of audiophiles and at the sub $200 price point its seems to have performed pretty well.

FiiO though are never one to rest on their laurels and with the launch of the new X5 FiiO have well and truly stepped out of the budget audiophile market with a DAP that is aimed squarely at the mid-fi audiophile who values a high end DAP but maybe can’t quite reach the heights of the AK100 or the HM901. At $350 SRP the X5 is a bit of a bargain, packs most of the modern features you could want into a modern DAP, a big step up from the resolution and tonality of the x3 and importantly, oh so importantly, it works right out of the box without freezing or huge bugs. The value of the learning curve with the X3 now seems very much present in the x5.

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About The Author

I think I am old, some would agree, some would disagree....

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  • Marc

    comparison with the AKs? Big fan by the way!! Oh and would you be interested in reviewing the Philips Fidelio L2? (I live in Manila!!)

    • headfonics

      Do you have an L2 to review? Most interested.

      Competes well with the AK100 at half the price for me but on form factor the Ak is of course much smaller and the UI is a bit simpler and better structured.

      • Marc

        Yeah I do!! I’m willing to part with it for a couple of weeks, I guess. My only concern is my schedule which is becoming hectic as exams are coming closer

        • headfonics

          No rush – take your time and when ready we can do it :)

      • Marc

        Replying a little late but what would you say one DAP has over the other and vice-versa?? My exams are almost over haha and my L2 is looking for a portable DAP. Lastly, how does the X5’s line out/DAC compare with something like the CLAS -dB? Thanks Marcus

        • headfonics

          Hi Marc, I am actually due to do a part 2 for the X5 for the line out and other system setups later this month so stayed tuned for that. The L2 Philips? If the top end is as smooth as the L1 then the X5 should be fine with that more than the warmer X3.

          Apple<X3<X5<AK100<HM901 for me.

          • Steve

            Are you still planning on doing a part 2 reviewing the X5 as a USB DAC for a stereo system? Thanks!

          • headfonics

            I sure am, just waiting on some stuff to arrive via FiiO and then will schedule it for early next month.

      • Nukeshock

        I had the Ak100 the first iteration, for about 10 months sold it and got the X5 mainly cuz the internal amps of the ak100 didn’t fit my IEMs ASG-2/Tg334/Jh-13 and the X5 sounds alot better too me then my AK100.
        I gave my Ak100 to my dad and now my daily driver is the X5

      • Nukeshock

        And thing is on headfi many users feel the same VS the Ak120 even and most of those who disagreed owned the Ak120.

  • dalethorn

    The main questions I have are:
    1) If I’m viewing the song list (in alphabetical order I assume), then if my songs are organized as “Beethoven (Reiner-Boston) – Symphony No. 9 Part 1″, then part 2 , 3 …. — would I be able to see enough width on the text line to tell part 1 from part 2?

    2) Can I immediately jump from the ‘B’s to the ‘T’s? i.e. from Beethoven to Thompson Twins?

    3) Are the EQ bands fixed? What intervals? Octave, half-octave etc.

  • David

    How is the SQ + Soundstage of the X5 compared to AK100MK2?

    • headfonics

      Unfortunately I don’t have the Mk2 yet to test and compare.

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  • sandman

    Just curious what accessories come in the box, I heard rumors of a coax cable, is it optical or wired and what kind of terminations

    • headfonics

      You get a usb cable for charging, a coax short cable with 3.5mm termination, a usb otg cable and a mini card reader for the OTG, rubber bands, and jack protectors.

  • Kristian

    I’m thinking of pairing some Beyerdynamic DT 1350’s (80 Ohms) with the X5, do you think the X5 will drive them adequately without the need for an external amp?

    • headfonics

      I think its a safe bet it should be ok with the X5 since the amp is pretty powerful but the question is tonality matching and for that I suggest you demo it before buying.

      • Kristian

        Thanks

  • bladerunner6978

    “…It is not quite the svelte modern gadget form factor triumph of the Ipod Classic…”

    Agreed,
    when it comes to the User-friendly(UI),
    Apple is still “KING”, even from as far back as 2009.

    If FiiO can miraculously pull off firmware/UI improvements, that make the experience closer to the ease of an Apple 160-Gig Classic, then sure I’m onbooard.
    And yes, we ALL will need 512-Gig memory cards just to play a few 192kHz albums ;)
    Hey FiiO, make a 1-Terabyte HDD (59 bucks-get it?) version of an X5, PLEEEEZ !,

    and yes, they can do it, with proper engineering, and at an imperceptible quality loss.
    So there, comon’, why do we have to be “lobbyists” for the overly-ex$pensive mem-chip manufactureres’ -that is so ridiculous.

  • bladerunner6978

    wow, thanks a lot for moding me out you MF’ers

    • headfonics

      No one modded you out – disqus does it automatically then we approve. :)

  • bladerunner6978

    You do NOT need ex$pesive mem cards, FiiO could easily include a 1-Terabyte cheapo tiny HDD, and save us ALL the storage woes.

  • Shay

    someone knows how the X5 sounds on the B&W P7 ?

    • headfonics

      Testing it right now –

      Volume on EDM sits nicely at around 85-90 so no need for separate amping. Same smooth tonality combined with the P7’s well extended bottom end and clean upper mids. Used DeadMau5 “The Veldt” as test track. Nothing sharp or sibilant. Nice match for EDM (dance),

      Switching to jazz, Caro Emerald “That Man” – decent tonal balance, mid-emphasis and punchy bass of the P7 plays well with the smooth character of the X5.

      I say go for it! :)

      • Shay

        Thank u
        how is the soundstage ?

        • headfonics

          That will be more in keeping with the P7 character as a closed headphone – precise and above average. The x5 wont really change that.

          • Shay

            I am using the Fiio e11 with my Sony xperia z 311 tablet and my S4 Samsung cell phone do you think the X5 is an upgrade over that ?

          • headfonics

            I would say it probably is by a wide margin.