The X1 2nd Gen DAP By FiiO
Tonality8
Build & Functionality7.8
UI6.8
Matchability8.2
Value For Money9
8Our Score

It has been just over 2 years now since FiiO originally launched their entry level DAP, the X1. The X1 took on the form factor and looks of the X3 Gen2 but stripped of a DAC and aimed primarily as a low-cost solution to getting on the FiiO DAP wagon and enjoying hi-res sound on the go. At the time we gave it a 7.9 simply because the sub-$99 DAP market was moribund in excitement with a plethora of legacy devices and cheap clones knocking around that represented the only real competition. The 7.9 also gave a meritorious nod to the solid build quality and stable OS that saw maturity on the X3 and X5 previously.

What Is The Pitch?

Two years is now a very long time in the DAP business and since then the DAP world has propagated at an alarming rate, FiiO has grown a few years older and the budget DAP range has expanded somewhat with the new Shanling M1, Hidizs AP60 and the latest excellent Alien Edition Gold from Shozy. No one is talking Clip anymore, people want more for less and the new X1 2nd Gen is FiiO’s answer to that as well as fitting in with their excitable product roadmap roll out.

 

Pricing

It is still around $100, so that’s a good start. It is still their entry level DAP, so that’s reassuring. It still has everything the original X1 did, so that’s familiar. This time, though, there are some huge changes that address some long-standing issues as well as lay the foundation for FiiO’s product cycle in the budget to mid-fi DAP roadmap for the next 12 months.

What is In, What is Out

Gone is the mechanical scroll wheel and in comes a touch-based version that should be firmware upgradeable in terms of performance. In comes Bluetooth that was not seen before on the old X1 and also it marks the advent of a new design ethos for the X series that is slicker and more rounded looking than the previous X1. The DAC chip has been upgraded as well as the raw materials. The OS has also changed from the older more limited UCOS OS to a more expansive Linux platform.

You can call it a reinterpretation, call it the never ending cycle of gains from increasing engineering capability and external competition but the pitch is clear here; you are supposed to be getting more in real terms for less than what you paid for the last time round.

Build

Nothing attracts interest than showing something new in visual form and the x1 2G is just that. Yet remarkably much of what made the X1 successful it still intact. It is still a hardware based DAP and it still has the 4 corner button and touch wheel design on the front with similar screen dimensions. Yet now it is so much more refined looking.

‘Arc Waist’ Design

The X1 2G body is rounded instead of angular. The original X1 is still relatively well finished but the new version takes it to a whole new level with a smooth rounded aluminum alloy back and side panels that are much more comfortable in the hand. Side by side the X1 form factor lines look remarkably dated already.

Form Factor

Measurements have changed slightly also with the X1 2G. The new version measures 97mm×55.5 mm×12 mm and weighs in at 102g. That’s a reduction of 4g in overall weight from the first version and roughly 1-2mm in depth and width over the first gen which measure in at 96.7mm x 56.7mm x 14.1mm. It is though a touch longer a tiny amount. Those numbers might not seem much on paper but there is a palatable difference in the handling of the two in real life with the X1 Gen 2 feeling the more comfortable in the hand.

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Button Changes

Gone now are the distinct buttons for volume control and instead you have a rocker single long button on the left panel for volume control. The power/LCD/Sleep multifunction button is still separate though and just above the volume rocker.

The power button does seem to be a touch closer than previously which worried a few that they might hit it by accident during one-handed control. However, slide on that silicone jack and the firm edges of the protective shield make it a no brainer in terms of where your hand is positioned and what button you are using. That, combined with the longer rocker button for volume make this a much more distinct hardware usability experience.

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Inputs & Outputs

All inputs and outputs on the X1 2nd Gen are now down at the bottom panel. The top panel is flush with zero ports. This harmonizes somewhat with the budget M3, the last DAP release from FiiO and something I expect will be the norm for future DAP revisions of the X3 and X5 should they come out next year.

The panel consists of a dual 3.5mm headphone and line out jack, a micro-USB port for charging and mounting the memory card when connected to the PC and a microSD card slot. The port alignment is a bit up and down, perhaps a space issue but aesthetically it is a bit of mishmash. Labelling icons are on the discreet side but the slot sizes are fairly logical as to stick what card or cable into what slot.

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Front Panel Controls

Touch Sensitive wheel

This is a fairly familiar area of control for anyone used to using one of FiiO’s mechanical DAPs. Central to the panel is the all new touch-sensitive wheel with a pressure sensitive and discreet central confirm button. I can tell you right now it is much superior in ambition and integration to the older mechanical wheel. Users of the old iPod Classic should feel right at home with this version of FiiO’s touch wheel. It even feels a touch more responsive than the old iPod Classic wheel utilizing a more modern and complex wheel touch design than the older 12 key click design of Apple’s version. It does have a little audible click for every step you rotate past but you can turn that off in the systems setting menu if you wish.

Physical Buttons

On the outside to the four corners, you have the multi-function buttons for playback, navigation and menu call up. The labels now are much cleaner and clearer above and below each button, unlike the original X1 whose more discreet button icons tended to be harder to see and next to impossible with the silicone gel sleeve on top. The new X1’s sleep combined with a front panel screen protector leave the front panel controls much clear and easier to read and use.

LED Indicator

Right at the bottom of the front panel is a small LED indicator much like the older X1 1G which changes color depending on the usage scenario and battery life left. A blue LED means it’s active or in use, red is charging, and green means fully charged.

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Screen

The X1 2G still uses the same 2 inch TFT 320 x 240 LCD screen as the original X1 and if you are lucky enough to have the original X3 still it is the same quality of screen they originally used on its first ever DAP though with slightly different dimensions.

Pros

It is a well-lit screen with bright clean colors, decent viewing angle also and in contrast to the original X1 has a bit more pop and contrast to it in comparison to the more muted X1 1G colors. There is a smaller gap between the glass protector and the actual LCD screen of the gen 2 X1 which may well be the factor behind the brighter display of the new version.

Cons

In other ways, the art graphics and font seem somewhat more pixelated than before with less smoothing being applied than the X1 1G. I daresay this is more to do with the font selection in the new Linux OS than the screen itself which by all accounts seems more pleasing in visuals. Certainly, I hope new firmware updates can address this issue with some better anti-aliasing in the coming months.

Battery

The X1 2G comes packed with an 1800mAh 3.7v Li-Polymer Lithium battery which is slightly bigger than the older X1’s 1700mAh battery. The slight increase in size gives a marginal increase in performance also with a rated 12 hours playback for the 2nd gen compared to 11 for the first gen for playback time.

Real World Numbers

Interestingly FiiO is claiming 15 hours if using Bluetooth only which is something I have been unable to verify with any degree of confidence. Sorry but monitoring battery length these days is just akin to watching your fridge defrost but during various test runs of different codecs and functionalities my first cycle crapped out around 10-11 hours. Now to be fair there was plenty of button mashing, media updating and playing around with the various features which are highly unlikely to be happening in a more settled run but I would be fairly confident of FiiO’s numbers based on my own experience to date.

Is it long enough? Compared to the older Clips and Fuze players and some mid-fi DAPS, not really. It is enough for a day of solid play though but you will have to charge it overnight. I would say average by today’s standards with the likes of Sony’s DAPs being able to achieve double that rating in a slimmer design.

Deep Sleep Standby

One of the biggest improvements though in the new 2G battery life has been the addition of the deep sleep standby feature that was introduced in the X3 Gen 2 a while back and subsequently the X5 Gen 2 but was missing on the first gen of the X1. Standby on the X1 2G will give you up to 15 days of instant-on capability in standby mode which is pretty darn good.

Now that’s 15 days of not touching it so using the standby mode off and on during some playback sessions will shorten that spec in real world usage but it should give you a few days at least from my experience using the X3 Gen 2 feature. One thing to note though is to make sure it is turned off fully if that is your intention (look for the goodbye logo when powering off) or else the DAP will drain dry if you do not come back to it in a few days (or perhaps even 15).

Memory

As before the X1 2G comes without onboard storable memory and instead providing you with a single microSD slot on the bottom panel that can take up to 256GB of memory. I would still love to see it come with 8Gb onboard just to get you up and running.

The price of cheap cards varies but roughly $20 for a 32-64GB does represent 20% of the asking price of the X1 itself raising the total cost of ownership of the X1 2nd Gen. At budget levels people tend to notice an extra $20 rather quickly. There are no issues anymore on card formats. That hurdle has long since been jumped so exFAT32 and FAT32 work equally well.

Accessories & Packaging

A few changes here since the last rollout of the X1. The retail packaging is now white with a dash of red rather than predominantly red with some black. It is a little lighter and leaner looking and that white theme continues on the inside with the X1 2G in its pocket on the top of a pullout tray and underneath are the accessories.

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It is a mix of the old and the new accessory wise. You get the usual micro USB cable for charging and mounting your memory card, the quick guide and warranty card as well as all new carbon fiber stickers for the X1 body and two front panel screen protectors. 

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You also get the already stuck on LCD screen protector out of the box which you just peel off the label and you are good to go. However, if you want to fully protect the entire front panel of the X1 2G you can now opt for one of two supplied protectors to cover it. It’s cut to shape so the button and wheel functions are uninhibited. I personally prefer this solution to the clunky silicone case from previous X series generations which hid the labels and added unnecessary girth to its form factor. When you add the final accessory, a svelte slide on silicon hard shell it does look rather tidier than the older Gen.

 

Page 2: The Software & Functionality

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About The Author

Editor

Founder & Owner of headfonics.com. I first started reviewing in the late 80s (ouch!). Back then it was albums, rock concerts and interviews with a typewriter for the local rag. Now its desktop/portable and digital 2.1 audio on a rather nice laptop. How time flies.

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  • Adam Pennington

    I’ve read impressions on head-fi and they don’t instill much confidence in the X1II. Mainly the UI lag being awful and shotty bluetooth connectivity. Can you elaborate on these two things? Thanks

    • headfonics

      Thanks for stopping by Adam, I actually wrote a few paragraphs on BT performance on page 3 and the entire page 2 is on UI and its performance thanks

  • Juan Luis Quiroz Guevara

    As its line out compared to the previous generation?

    • headfonics

      Better

  • Swaraj Kumar

    I have ATH-M50x and Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro 80 ohm. Wanted to buy an amp and a hi res music player. My budget is around $300. Should I go for Fiio E12 + X3 2nd gen or E17K amp dac or creative sound blaster E5? Please suggest any other combination in my price range. Thanks!

    • headfonics

      Well if you want an amp and a hi res player for that budget then the new FiiO A5 and/or X3ii or X1 would fit inside the budget. The E5 has more features but it has a slightly metallic peaky treble performance and the E17k is just an amp/DAC and you would still need a hires player.

      • Swaraj Kumar

        What about X5 2nd gen? It can be used as both hi res player and a USB DAC, right? Is it value for money? Can you suggest few other hi res players under $200?

        • headfonics

          X5 2nd gen is not under $200 unless you buy it used and abused. X3ii is under $200. Check out the Plenue D also from Cowon.

          • Swaraj Kumar

            Okay, which one would you recommend between X3 2nd gen and Plenue D?

          • headfonics

            Plenue D for me simply because the x3 2g will be replaced next year

          • Swaraj Kumar

            Next year when? Do you have any idea? Can you recommend some good hi res player for $300? How was your experience with X5? Is it a good buy for its price range?

  • Feldman-Haim Blues Explosion

    Are those battery life figures based on lossless or mp3 playback?

    • headfonics

      Ratings on paper are usually based on optimal conditions such as low bitrate files and LCD off without much button mashing so the more you do of that the lower the battery life becomes but with the X1 the drop isn’t huge, maybe like an hour or two from the headline figure. Mind you it is early days with the firmware and FiiO usually optimize battery life in future updates of their daps.

      • Feldman-Haim Blues Explosion

        I’m still on the fence. Do I get this now in the hope that any issues are eventually fixed or do I get an already established player? I’m split between either this, the x3ii or a cowon plenue D.

        • headfonics

          The X1 does not have a built-in DAC out function nor can it decode DSD native like the X3ii. The X1 is still an entry level DAP with line out only.

          • Feldman-Haim Blues Explosion

            My needs are basic. I literally just want to listen to lossless music on go the via a dedicated player that has good playback and UI. What attracts me to the cowon. Plenue D is the UI and huge battery life. What attracts me to fiio products is the relatively cheap cost.

          • headfonics

            The D is $199 though and not much more than the X3ii , personally I like the looks of the D over the X3ii but I believe next year they will bring out a new x3 so that might have a bearing.

  • Cristian Micu

    how many years would you think you’ll use one of these players until it gets useless because of something not working (most probably the contacts on the headphones plug or the not replaceble battery), and obviously you cant do or cant afford repair but buy another

    in the 80’s you could go old with a stereo, and those cost as much or less than these

    • headfonics

      I still have my Nakamichi DR-3 cassette deck 🙂 Excellent machine but it does need servicing and maintenance as does most things and cost a ton more than $99 when it came out. Hard to say with FiiO DAPs, depends on usage conditions I guess. Their first DAP the X3 has only been out for 3-4 years but still going strong here.

  • Halldór Freyr Sturluson

    very good review. i have been looking at these players for little more then a week now like crazy and i think x7is the one i want, but still im thinkin about buying this one now because its cheaper and has the both way bluetooth so it will be great in the car also and maybe it will get aptx. And if it will work well then i will buy the newer model of x7 when that will be out or whatever comes then, because i see on the internet that next year or years will be very big in the bluetooth department, so maybe its to early and expensive to buy x7 now if there will be a new one next summer. but i have been looking at the new sony nw-35 too and it looks great and has great battery and all but im thinking about x1 ii with A5 and then the remote and dock with it. do you think its a smart move to go this way right now? go cheaper and wait a little bit more for the expensive ones to get even better? then x1 ii would be great to have in the car. thank you for the review.

    • headfonics

      Thanks Halldor for the feedback. Yes, the Sony nw-35 caught my attention also and its a nice price though not as cheap as the X1 2gen. Your question is an eternal question and almost always it will result in an upgrade at some point. Now I do not honestly see FiiO releasing any improved version of the X7 for now or 2017, perhaps instead a module or two with certain characteristics. You can of course use the dock with the X7 as well as the X1 which is the beauty of the FiiO system. Should you have both the X1 and X7? I say if you can afford the X7 get that instead and spend the $99 from the X1 on a nice AM3 module for the X7 and stick in the multifunction dock and RM1 for another $50. You will not need to upgrade any further if you stay within the FiiO ecosystem. Cheers.

      • Halldór Freyr Sturluson

        i know, its the same with most gadgets, you can always wait for something better or always go little bit more expensive to get better equipment. but i think right now this would be good choice, but still i want the x7 hehe. but i think there will be better bluetooth sound soon and probably better batteries like in the sony phones too. but thanks for the answer and i will think about this for few more days.

  • pyktures

    Hi Headfonics,

    I’m currently using an HTC One M8 + Shure se215 special editions.

    I’ve just stumbled upon this review while looking for the X3ii and the X1ii. Now I can find the X3ii for about 170US which puts it quite close to X1ii. I’m wondering what’s around for the same budget as the x3ii if any. My uses would be for quality music listening at work without much else functionality that improves on the HTC One M8.

    • headfonics

      Off the top of my head, the Cowon Plenue D, Hidizs AP100, Shozy Alien for DAPS but if you want OTG for your HTC you can also look at the iBasso D Zero MK2 which is even cheaper.

      • pyktures

        Just ordered a Cowon Plenue D, will get it monday and update it to firmware 1.14 🙂 Looking forward in hearing it.

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