Sound Impressions

Tonality & Presentation

For the last few years FiiO were steadily moving towards a more neutral tone to their DAPs but with the X5iii its almost a 180-degree u-turn to the days of old when a FiiO DAC or original X3 DAP were classified as warm, rich and pleasing to the ear. Whilst the old Wolfson chip is not as detailed or dynamic sounding as the AK4490EN the intent to return to pure enjoyment rather than analytical prowess is quite clear.


The X5iii is a smooth consumer type tonal presentation with an accent on delivering a full sounding low end, rich and natural sounding mids and a laid back treble response. I would not go as far as to say it is an overly warm or wooly presentation, far from it. The sound is entirely within keeping for an AK4490EN DAC source with an emphasis on musicality and a good level of resolution so whilst it is not ‘in your face’ it does not lack anything in terms of good detail.


Staging has excellent depth and very good width with far better levels of low-end presence than the old X5ii. Top-end extension is very good but just a touch laid back so it might not yield as much headroom or final octave articulation as some Sabre DAC infused DAPs.


Now it could well be a consequence of firmware upgrading from v1 to v1.1 or a burn in related activity but the tonal presentation I had at the start was not as convincing as the one I have now. Out of the box, I thought it a little compressed and flat sounding and lacking in dynamic range compared to even the single chip i5. But give it time and plenty of hours and the sound did indeed open up in terms of dynamics and clarity though I would still contend it still has a slightly laid back character to it and a certain soft but sweet sound to its timbre.


If the Cayin i5 bass response could be described as ‘bombastic’ then the X5iii stock bass response could be sloganed as “phat” sounding. The X5iii low-end signature has a meaty low-end presence with excellent texture and detail with just about every IEM and moderately powered headphone I could throw at it.

It has some elevation, granted, but it doesn’t sound bloated nor does it bleed into the mids. A neutral IEM pairing will lap this type of bass response up. Unlike the i5 though it is not as hard-hitting or as forward sounding. Instead, it has a slightly softer more lush sounding attack that I find more suitable for modern RnB and ambient chill than harder hitting EDM.

VIPER Dynamic System

If you want to increase the impact and sub-bass presence on the X5iii I heartily recommend the Dynamic System VIPER Effect (free). The increase in low-end power whilst retaining clarity using this preset is phenomenal.


The X5ii midrange timbre is smooth, slightly euphonic in character at times though natural sounding vocals and good instrumental separation though not quite on the level of the X7. Whilst I couldn’t say the precision and control “could turn on a dime” there is nothing smeared sounding in the X5iii midrange delivery. Spatial cues and transient responses are accurate and nuanced enough with good micro detail retrieval to paint a more vivid and involving presentation than the old X5ii was capable of.


Vocal performances are sibilant free and rich in texture with a slightly forward staging position though not so far forward as the i5 and in keeping with the general timbre of the DAP though do have a slightly softer leading edge. Upper mid-range percussion passages generally sound quite controlled actually, neither thinned out and too splashy but at the same time, they never come across as overly subdued or simply boring sounding. If you need a touch more bite I would opt for VIPER Clarity or a small amount of 3-5k EQ.


Treble on the X5iii is smooth, neutral to laid-back and inoffensive at times yet retains a healthy level of detail for good IEMs to work with. Compared to the X5ii it is less forward sounding so it might give the perception of being less detailed but in truth, the X5iii treble is more refined and less grainy a natural sounding coloration, particularly in higher pitched percussion attacks and synth sequences.

It does though lack a little in the final octave reach and articulation as the X7’s Sabre DAC with one of the better amp modules such as the AM5 is capable of offering. There is a greater level off roll-off so it won’t offer the same level of headroom and it is one of the primary areas out of the box that needed opening up a bit more in terms of dynamics.

Spectrum Extension

Again, I would encourage the use of VIPER Effects to tweak a little more in terms of perceivable treble presence and push forward the X5iii capabilities in terms of detail retrieval. One excellent, and a free setting is the Spectrum Extension option. It will encode the X5iii’s treble response a little bit differently to the low end to bring out a little more focus on articulation and presence in the final octave.




The X5ii amp is not a completely noise free amp with efficient BA IEMs lower than 20 ohms such as the Campfire Audio Andromeda and SE846 exhibiting a degree of background hiss during quieter passages of play and for a few seconds after playback has stopped before the amp circuit closed down the signal. Connection noise (The noise you hear when inserting a jack into an amp jack port and it makes full contact) is also a little louder than most other DAPs I have previously tested.

Ideal Pairings

This actually surprised me given most, if not all previous FiiO DAPs are excellent performers when it comes to noise control for efficient IEMs and certainly the X5ii doesn’t exhibit the same level of noise. If you are packing a medium to low-efficiency IEM, say 30 ohms and less than 110dB it is unlikely this will be an issue but it is something to be aware of.

For example, RHA’s 150 ohms 89dB CL1 up to around Noble’s Savanna at 30 ohms are otherwise very well controlled with zero noise or hiss. Of course pretty much all IEMs, apart from maybe the CL1, will have no need for any high gain setting.

Catch All Amplification

This sort of reminds me of the original teething issues of the Cayin i5 and the balanced output of the N5 when it came to noise and amplification. Subsequent firmware updates seem to have dealt with that aspect and Cayin was quick to mention that the original concept was to have an amplification stage that was a sensible balance between IEM efficiency and enough power to drive decent headphones.

I can only suspect when FiiO mentioned customizing the amplification stage that they had the same principle in mind, a sort of ‘catch-all’ amplification stage. Will subsequent firmware updates tackle the noise levels? One can only hope so.


For portable headphones and modern efficient planars, the X5iii is excellent. The only consideration really is tonal pairing because otherwise, power and ability to properly drive headphones such as these is not an issue. Dynamic headphones such as the 24 ohms Sony MDR-Z1000 sound punchy and clean, efficient planar standards such as the Hifiman Edition X V2 and the HE400s likewise sound smooth and full sounding with good dynamics.

Output power does drop down considerably to ≥28 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) in unbalanced mode for headphones around 300 ohms so I whilst you will get good voltage output into the HD800 and decent volume in high gain mode it doesn’t drive it optimally for me, particularly with the 5-7k response sounding a bit too tizzy for me and a reduced level of dynamics. Once you drop down the impedance scale you will get a fuller more confident sound so within range are cans like the HD700 (high gain unbalanced) and the excellent AKG K872 at just 32 ohms.

Balanced Output

I am sort of scratching my head a little on the ratings for FiiO’s all new balanced output on the X5iii. Going single ended it is the usual <1Ω (32Ω loaded) which is where you want to be for most IEMs and decent headphones also. Balanced 2.5mm TRRS on the X5iii is rated at <3Ω (32Ω loaded) which I consider to be a bit on the high side compared to say the Opus#1 at 1Ω and also the other dual AK4990 creation, the premium AK380 also at 1Ω. Even more curiously the balanced output power ratings actually measure less than the single ended output at 16Ω 400 mW max output compared to 16Ω  480 mW.

On more efficient IEMs you also get more noise, more so on the single ended amp so I would hesitate to use an Andromeda, Jupiter or SE846 on the balanced output. Truth be told, at least on medium efficiency balanced IEMs such as the Fidue A91, there is not a huge amount of difference on the tonal presentation and dynamics moving from single ended to balanced and back again.

Ultimately this feels like a missed opportunity. Unlike the AM3 on the X7, I do not feel there is a big enough qualitative difference between single and balanced output and in some cases, with that 3-ohm output impedance, it might just be preferable to go SE.

Wireless Performance

Whilst it is not the be all and end all in terms of qualitative Bluetooth performance it is such a welcome sight to see a FiiO DAP rocking an aptX specification in their armory of capabilities. It can make a huge difference if your receiving module, be it headphone or speak can receive the additional bandwidth aptX can deliver. Even the X7 does not rock out with aptX at the time of writing.


Hooking up to a set of aptX capable active speakers, the Celsus SP One’s was a breeze with an almost instant connection during pairing mode. Distance for the signal was competitive and on par with other BT 4 devices with around 10 meters before the signal died with one artificial wall reducing it by 1-2 meters. The quality of the signal was good also though by no means as uncompressed sounding as wired and you do need a bit more volume but much more open sounding than the X1 v2 and my ZTE Axon 7 BT 4 (non-aptX) capabilities.


I also had the same ease of connection with our car BT though quality wise it was a slight drop as the BT receiver in our dodgy receiver is not aptX capable but it does work and I do have the same level of control from the dashboard or RM1 that I am used to getting.



The X5iii does require a new set of USB DAC drivers to function with Windows PC’s but installation is painless and you will be up and running in a matter of minutes with the X5iii as an external DAC/Amp. For MAC users no drivers are required. X5iii drivers are WASAPI based so check out your WASAPI driver list and simply select is using Foobar or JRiver Media Player.

From there you can line out to your amp of choice which was, in my case, the Lear FSM-02 V2 Class A output which sounded wonderfully rich and smooth. There were also no issues in handling everything from 44.1K/16BIT up to 192KHz/24BIT in terms of decoding to line out.

OTG Issues

This could be entirely anecdotal but for me, OTG through the Pure Music app or the 3rd party Onkyo HF player simply didn’t work with either the Chord Mojo or the RHA Dacamp L1. Switching to HibyMusic did give me OTG on both devices (forced audio via USB) but sadly it was not a clean audio signal with interference and distortion on the Mojo and to a slightly lesser extent on the RHA but still audible.

Audible interference increased dramatically then fell away when WiFi was also activated using HibyMusic. Also, any sort of app activation and usage during OTG slurred the music to an almost grinding halt. Clearly multitasking and audio via OTG at this stage are not optimal or stable for 3rd party app use and perhaps this is why OTG is not a major feature on the X5iii home page at this point.

Select Comparisons

2nd Gen FiiO DAPs

Rather than one specific DAP, you could actually lump most of the 2nd gen FiiO DAPs, and I include the X1 v2, into a similar group in terms of vision and sound. The X5iii is as far removed as you can possibly think of from the previous generation in terms of aesthetics, software execution and yes, sound. You really have to look up to the X7 to see where a lot of the thinking is rather than looking down.

Hints of Old

There are some cues though for avid fans. Playback settings so actually bring a lot of the old setup options through from the previous generation as well as the standard EQ options that have a ring of familiarity. This, however, is largely confined to Pure Music mode or the Pure Music app. For everything else, from the touchscreen, to Android, balanced output, upgrading of DAC capability, this is nothing less than a massive step forward.

X5 2nd Gen


Tonally the X5iii is smoother and more refined sounding than the X5ii. The 3rd gen has superior bass both in terms of texture/detail and weight and as such delivers more power and depth to its staging than the old X5ii. Mids are more euphonic sounding than the neutral and flatter X5ii and for some that might be a preference thing but for me, vocals do sound just that bit more natural on the X5iii.

Treble comparison though could be a topic of debate. It is perceivable that some will prefer the X5ii treble performance since it is more forward and slightly more boosted. Compared to the X5 first gen the 2nd gen got rid of that metallic leading note and replaced it with a lot more refinement. The X5iii, on the other hand, exhibits much less grain and sounds as detailed if not more detailed than the X5iii but because of that laid back top end response it’s not as dominant making the X5ii the brighter sounding of the two.

X3 2nd Gen


For all of the massive leaps in technological capability that ground the 2nd gen into dust then so must we also consider the X3 2nd gen as a constant apparition in the same rear view mirror. It is that far behind it is not even worth considering unless you simply have $150 and nothing more.

Tonally is also a neutral sounding DAP in the same vein as the X5ii and is much less resolving than the X5iii’s more detailed musical sounding signature. Imaging and dynamics are more accurate, more noticeable and staging has much better depth on the X5iii. By contrast, the X3ii sounds a little flatter, more closed in and more one dimensional. It still sounds competitive, for the price there are not much better but it is already showing signs of technological aging and with the likely X3 3rd gen coming out this year(?) this will push it even further back.

Cayin i5



This is the stiffest competitor to the X5iii both in terms of tonal similarities and technological capability but it is $100 more expensive than the X5iii. In terms of similarities both use the AK4990EN DAC chip implementation, both have quad-core processors, both have 4″ IPS TFT touchscreen displays with similar resolutions and whilst the i5 has a bigger battery both have similar lifecycles of around 10 hours.


Where the X5iii steps ahead is in terms of dual AK4490EN chips as opposed to just one in the i5, an OS which is Android 5.1 over the i5’s older 4.4 HibyMusic skinned version, a balanced 2.5mm TRRS output whereas the i5 has none, aptX over standard BT and of course the integration of VIPER Effect into its own dedicated app module whereas the i5 has a standard EQ module. That is not to say you can’t download VIPER onto the i5 but it would be standalone.

The i5 still has better media management through its HibyMusic skinned Android flavor. Though it can accept 3rd party apps it’s 4.4 origins are tucked into the background more behind the HibyMusic platform than the X5iii’s vanilla appearance in Android mode. You do not get an ‘Android mode’ with the i5 but do get the same healthy levels of connectivity as the X5iii with streaming, DropBox and networked server options all available.


Tonally the i5 is also a musical sounding DAP in the same vein as the X5iii with a weighted low end, smooth sounding mids and a natural sounding treble that is not too forced or strident. In the initial burn in period my initial thinking was the i5 just had the edge with a slightly cleaner more precise sound, more sparkle up top and a more dynamic and impactful low end as well as a lower noise floor.

However, with time and subsequent updating of firmware, the X5iii has caught up a lot with improved dynamics across the board. Do note at the time of writing the i5 still has the lower noise floor of the two for sensitive IEMs.

The X5iii still has a tiny bit more of a laid back smooth sound compared to the i5 but dig in a bit, particularly around the midrange and I actually think the X5iii delivers more detail and texture particularly on vocals and now might have the edge in terms of a resolving and spacious mid-range signature. Treble on the i5 is just a tiny bit brighter and more forward sounding than the X5iii though the X5iii has a bit more body and slightly more natural sounding, particularly on percussion.

Shanling M5



This is another single AKM AK4490 DAC chip DAP, priced $100 higher than the X5iii but really it is a touch dated looking in comparison with its non-touch based interface and using a skinned version of FiiO’s last-gen OS. The M5 does not have Wifi or BT, it cannot load apps or stream wirelessly in or out and by all accounts is fairly isolated from the connected world.

In its favor, it can decode to the same levels (384k/32BIT) as the X5iii given it has the same type of chip though not in dual channel configuration. It also has more power in unbalanced mode than the X5iii with 300mW @ 32 ohms compared to the X5iii’s 250 mW on the same load levels.


Both have a very similar musical style with a full sounding low end, natural mids, and smooth top end. The M5 is now quite as hard hitting as the i5 and falls into that slightly more relaxed character of the X5iii. The M5 does have a low noise floor for sensitive IEMs than the X5iii so those sporting Andromeda’s this might be a key factor in their decision making.

For everyone else, the X5iii though is the more open and dynamic sounding of the two with a better level of resolution, a richer note and in particular offering vocal performances that sound more lifelike. Now that is saying something because I love the M5 for its vocal performance, perhaps more so than the i5 so for the X5iii to edge it could well mean a lot less playing time for the M5.




At the heart of the Opus#1 is a Cirrus Logic CS4398 x 2EA Dual DAC setup with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.4GHz processor and 1GB of RAM to power it. It also has been recently upgraded to Android 5.1 much like the X5iii but unlike the X5iii it is so heavily gimped and walled in that you can only really use the Opus#1 as a pure DAP much like the X5iii when it is in its Pure Music mode.

It also means you do not get any wider connectivity features such as BT and WiFi with the Opus#1 so streaming, DLNA, and aptX features are missing. What it does have are analog balanced, unbalanced and line-out connectivity and USB DAC capability.


Tonally the Opus#1 is more balanced and neutral sounding than the X5iii. It has less low-end coloration preferring instead to deliver a more linear and coherent bass response, a spacious but flat sounding midrange with vocals slightly forward but not overly so and a nice extended and articulate sounding top end. This is not a brash or peaky signature, perhaps a little laid back but in no way lacking in detail or sounding syrupy.

By way of comparison, the X5iii sounds more lifelike in the mids with a heavier more weighted low end and a treble signature that whilst maybe not quite as airy sounding does not lack or fall behind the Opus#1 in terms of detail. If anything the X5iii might just have a slightly cleaner attack on its treble than the very ethereal and dreamy sounding Opus#1 treble signature.

Our Verdict

The X5 3rd gen from FiiO should be considered an important benchmark for DAPs in this price range for 2017. There is no DAP out there right now at this price point that offers more in terms of technological talking points, features, aesthetics and generally an all round pleasing musical tonal quality. It really is the sum of the parts with the X5iii. Alongside the Cayin i5 (which is $499), the X5iii is really attacking this sub $500 DAP category in terms of trying to cram in a ton of features without sacrificing the sound quality.


Speaking of sound, the X5iii is very much in keeping with its dual AK4490 DAC musical qualities. It’s smooth sounding, detailed, with excellent bass weight and fullness, a euphoric timbre, strong vocals and a relaxed yet detailed top end. It is not as resolving or detailed as the X7 but then again I think that is exactly how it should be given the X5iii is cheaper in price than the X7. It has got power, perhaps a little too high of a noise floor for super sensitive IEMs, but more than enough for medium efficiency IEMs and up to around 150-ohm cans still sound pretty good.

Focus Points

There is still some areas that do need a bit of focus such as the noise floor and the missed opportunity to put in a killer balanced output. I would also like to see a more stable or functioning OTG experience with the next OS update where multitasking apps and OTG out is not compromised.

There are also some meh points on the OS itself. These include some lag areas particularly on the audio delay on pause and play once the screen is woken up meaning you miss some audio as well as the incorrect default setting on the drill down media management in Pure Music mode. I do hope future firmware can cancel these out and improve performance. Also, do give it a bit of time out of the box to open up. The first few hours with it might not thrill you to bits.


Overall the X5iii is a showcase example of how a good mid-fi DAP (2nd gen) can be reengineered into an ambitious media savvy well built and thoroughly modern DAP and yet still keep the price point at a very attractive level indeed. It is still a work in progress but I like where this progress is going.

Technical Specifications

Main Unit
Name / Model No. X5 3rd gen(FX5321) Operating System Deeply customized Android 5.1.1
CPU Model RK3188 No. of cores 4
CPU operating frequency 1.4GHz DAC AK4490
Keyboard Virtual QWERTY keyboard Input method Touchscreen
Special features Dual Android / Pure Music operating modes, symmetrical remappable keys,  USB DAC, docking connector, etc. User Interface Android 5.1.1 / FiiO Music
Chips used SoC: RK3188, DAC: AK4490x2,  LPF: OPA1642x2,  OP: Customized OPA426x2
WIFI 2.4GHz IEEE802.11 b/g/n standards supported Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.0,aptX supported
USB Micro USB2.0
Display screen
Display size 3.97 inches Number of colours 16.7 million colors
Display type IPS TFT Viewable angle 178°
Resolution 480×800 Pixel density 233 ppi
Touchscreen Yes
RAM  1GB Total ROM 32GB
Storage expansion type Micro SD ROM available to user About 26G
Maximum storage expansion 512GB (256GB x 2)
Buttons and ports
Buttons Side buttons + side volume wheel+ touchscreen Custom key mapping N/A
Headphone out 3.5mm standard headphone output jack Balanced output Supported (2.5mm balanced headphone jack)
Line out Standard 3.5mm port(shared LO/Coaxial out) USB connection Micro USB2.0 (charging / data transfer / docking function / USB DAC)
Digital Coaxial out Standard 3.5mm port(shared LO/Coaxial out)
Color Titanium/Black Dimensions 114.2 mm× 66.2 mm× 14.8 mm
Weight 186g Volume control 120 steps +/- button control (via analog-domain controller
Recommended headphone impedance 16~150 Ω Equalizer 10-band EQ (±6dB), 9 presets+custom preset, freestyle EQ curve drawing (to be added in the future), ViPER4 equalizer
Bass boost N/A Treble boost N/A
Balance control 10 dB Gain control Low/High
USB DAC Up to 192kHz/24bit supported
Power specifications
USB power adapter DC 12/1.5A, 9V/2A, 5V/2A recommended Battery  Internal 3400 mAh High-voltage quick charging Li-polymer battery
Charging indication via LCD display and pulse LED Charging time <2 h (DC 12V/1.5A)
<3 h (DC 5V/2A)
Battery indication Yes (accurate battery % readings)
Battery Life & Test Conditions
3.5mm headphone output:>10 h
Volume 46 Gain High
Load M3 open earbuds (27 Ω) Screen OFF
Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit EQ OFF
2.5mm TRRS balanced headphone output:≥8 h
Volume 48 Gain High
Load 32Ω Screen OFF
Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit EQ OFF
Battery life test file download link
Firmware Upgrade supported both via zip file and OTA Font size Changeable
Third-party apps support No limit (recommended to install the apps listed on FiiO Marketplace)
Line output specifications
THD+N <0.0009% (1 kHz/10kΩ) SNR ≥120 dB (A-weighted)
Frequency response 5 Hz~55 kHz(-3dB) Dynamic range >117 dB
Channel separation >98 dB (1 kHz) Line level >1.8Vrms
Headphone out specifications (3.5mm headphone out jack)
Output power 1 ≥480 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <1Ω (32Ω loaded)
Output power 2 ≥250 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation >73 dB (1 kHz)
Output power 3 ≥28 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
Frequency response 5 Hz~55 kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >8 Vp-p
SNR ≥115 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current 250mA (For reference)
Balanced headphone out specifications (2.5mm TRRS headphone out jack)
Output power 1 ≥400 mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%) Output impedance <3Ω (32Ω loaded)
Output power 2 ≥240 mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%) Channel separation ≥98 dB (1 kHz)
Output power 3 ≥26 mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%) THD+N <0.003% (1 kHz)
Frequency response 5 Hz~55kHz(-3dB) Peak output voltage >7.5 Vp-p
SNR ≥111 dB (A-weighted) Max. output current >250 mA (For reference)
File format support
Lossless: DSD:DSD64/128(”.iso”, “.dsf”, “.dff”)
APE FAST/High/Normal:384kHz/24bit(MAX)
APE Extra High:192kHz/24bit(MAX)
APE Insane:48kHz/24bit(MAX)
Apple Lossless:384kHz/24bit(MAX)
Lossy compression: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG…
The X5 3rd Gen By FiiO
3.3 (66.25%) 16 vote[s]

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84 Responses

  1. Bryan Beasleigh

    Has anyone explored the X5’s ability to compensate for hearing impairment. My left ear is pretty much flat yet I can still enjoy good music. Highly compressed crap gives me a headache. From what I’ve seen the hearing aid people don’t understand much except profits and have a different idea of decent in ear modules. They insist on calling a driver a receiver.

  2. Daniel Bykhovsky

    Will the Hifiman 400i’s be full-sounding with the these? The impedance on them is 35 ohms at 93 db sensitivity.

  3. RS

    How will the Beyer dt990 pro 250 ohm will perform with the x5iii? Will it need a portable amp? Suggest a good portable amp for it mate.

  4. headfonics

    Mark, I think you will be ok. I was reviewing the W80 recently and it seemed fairly quiet. I do have to note the noise level on the X5iii is really at a level of “oh i can hear it” right away with the likes of the Andromeda. SE846, VE6 etc. Very sensitive stuff. I didn’t find that with the W80.

  5. Mark Reed

    Hi Marcus.
    I have Westone W40 which are rated at 30-32 ohm, how would they fair noise wise? is it only 20 and below or over 20ish is fine?


  6. Chris Maddox

    Thanks for your review Marcus. If I respectfully may please, I really need help with my following inquiry…..

    I realize that you can’t extract various components that are non-existent from a song in a compressed mp3 file/format, since it’s not a ‘lossless’ file. And even though I see this X5 III as more suited for lossless files to truly get the fully enhanced effect, but….., can it at least improve the trebles and mid-ranges of a compressed mp3 file to a certain degree?

    A lot of my 256kbps iTunes songs are quite dull and muffled, thus wanting an equalizer that his X5 III has (which my iPod Classic does not have) to enhance the trebles and mid-ranges.

    Or, is it the equivalent of trying to suck blood from a stone and not worth the investment, since the compressed mp3 songs will have lost a lot of the original components of a lossless file? Therefore this device cannot improve upon something that is no longer there in the song. ???

    I would really appreciate an honest answer where I don’t feel like I’m being persuaded to buy it through an Amazon affiliate link. I’m not at all implying you would be ‘dishonest’, as that’s what I’m saying whatsoever.
    But other reviewers I could tell, were hyping up the device in order to get a sale, that’s all.

    Therefore, thank you for your kind understanding. :)

    I would be extremely grateful for your kind thoughts Sir.

    Thank you for your time. :)

    • headfonics

      OK so first off we have no Amazon affiliation program so we do not make a dime from our recommendations :)

      Second, the X5iii has the awesome Viper Audio Effects. Now some of that program is free, some of it is not. The dynamic range enhancement module though is free and it’s a game changer for crappy files. Note it will not increase resolution or detail, just give it more pop and make it sound less dull.

      Third, I would opt for a clean or neutral sounding IEM or something with a bit of clarity at least to maximize what you are listening to.

      • Chris Maddox

        Thank you kindly indeed for taking the time to reply Marcus – I’m most grateful! I fully understand what you’re stating, and I have noted it and will proceed accordingly. Thank you also for the Amazon clarification, and please know that I was never intending to imply you guys do reviews for profit. It’s just that i have come across some people who will try to push the sale so to speak, regardless of what they say is true or not.
        I believe your statements wholeheartedly. Thank you again for your consideration. :)

  7. Richard Arulpooranam

    I have installed the Yamaha AV Controller App onto my X5iii however for some reason I am not able to access the music library saved to hard drive of the device. The app recognizes that the Fiio is connected but the music library is not accessible. Solution?

    • headfonics

      Is your Yamaha connected to your wifi network and working under any sort of DLNA protocol?/ If so I would use a DLNA software and try an alternative. Not being in front of your system or familiar with Yamaha’s app would mean I am purely guessing.

      • Richard Arulpooranam

        Thank you, your solution worked. BubbleUPnp did the trick. Now I just gotta figure out why the Fiio won’t play m4a through BubbleUPnp but it plays it on its own and the Yamaha receiver plays the format on its own as well. Very strange.

  8. mark

    how dose the x5iii stack up against the lg v20 far as sound wise?

  9. Michael092468

    Has anyone connected the Fiio to Android Auto? Curious if it would work with it.

  10. Pritch

    I will probably be purchasing the X5iii this week, and am looking for headphone suggestions. Can you suggest some reasonably-priced in-ear headphones that pair well with the X5iii? And great review also. Thanks.

    • headfonics

      Well difficult to answer as we all have our own listening preferences but nothing overly sensitive to show up the higher than normal noise floor on the X5iii. Personally, I would go with the Noble Audio Savanna as an all-rounder and it’s under $500 or the Earsonics ES3 for less than $500 also.

  11. Tomas Cornaglia

    wht would you recommend me for buying: the chord mojo or the fiio x5 3rd gen?. Its the first high ress product i would own.. Thank you very much!!

    • headfonics

      They are different types of products. One is a DAP and the other is a DAC/Amp, if anything they could be used together. the X5iii as a transport and the Mojo as the DAC/Amp.

      Now without knowing your usage requirement or current setup, my recommendation is the Mojo for DAC and amp duties if you are connecting to a PC or smartphone. If you want an all in one player that holds and plays music file with wifi etc then the X5iii.

      • Tomas Cornaglia

        thanks! im using my smartphone, and i want to get better sound quality, thats why i dont know what to get. I mean, a dac/amp (mojo) for the smartphone or the DAP (fiio).
        its better the sound output of a smartphone (s7 edge) with the mojo or a fiio x5 3rd gen?
        i wish i could buy both things instead of one, but its a lot of money haha.

      • headfonics

        I think it has to be Mojo then if you are happy to continue using your phone as a transport for your media files. I love the X5iii but the Mojo is a step up in audible quality.

  12. Michael Britton

    I’ve ordered a pair of Jupiter’s and I’m tending towards the purchase of this DAP, however the efficiency of the Jupiter’s is concerning me in regards to the hiss I might encounter. Should I not be concerned? I’m really hoping it will be a good pairing. Could you please give me advice on what I can do to reduce hiss with these headphones and the X5iii? -Would much much appreciate that.

    • headfonics

      I don’t think you should be overly concerned, it’s not high enough to be distracting it’s just not a completely black background. Best way to reduce hiss is to play some music :) You will not hear it then unless you are playing chamber music.

  13. thumperBF

    Viper4android, or Viper effects as it’s implemented in this DAP, is probably the single best thing everyone should have if using an Android based device. The audio tweaks are endless, almost making an EQ irrelevant. Although I prefer a dedicated DAP to using my Android (7.1.1) phone, I’m still amazed at the capabilities of Viper with my phone and no amp or DAC. The software itself has been taken and added upon by various developers, but the ARISE sound system is probably the best and latest iteration. Glad to see Fiio implementing it from the getgo! Might have just tipped the scales in favor of the X5 III instead of others I have been eyeing…

    • headfonics

      I think it’s vastly more impressive than the generic EQ app, one of the first times I am tempted to pay for DSP.

  14. Exh1l3d_0n3

    I’ve been following this DAP on Head-Fi, there are so many issues with the firmware that it seems the consumers are Beta testers at the moment. How does this compare to the Onkyo DP-X1 or AK70?

    • anc69

      Hi, I’m an happy Fiio X5 III owner since last month, and I’m a Head-Fi follower too. It’s true, there’re some issue in firmware as usual for all daps, but it seems to me that many ‘audiophile’ critics are really overstated … I had no crash, data loss or other big issue on the Fiio X5 III. Obviously I’d like that everything would be perfect, but if an album cover is missing on an ape file I can surely survive.I feel more a musicphile me than an audiophile, and Fiio sound is wonderfull for me. I don’t kwow AK70, but I’ve tried the Onkyo DP-X1 near X5, Iand I choosed the second one. Onkyo is a very good player, but Fiio value for price and build quality are higher; and mostly the sound: for my hears Fiio musicality wins, each sound plan is perfectly detailed but in a very balanced syntesis. In other words the Fiio does not exhibit frozen details, but plays music. This is my opinion and my taste, of course; nevertheless someone seems interested in asserting himself as a technical guru more than in music. Finally, Fiio customer care is very good: I have answers from support in a day, and firmware upadates are frequent.

  15. econaut

    “Will subsequent firmware updates tackle the noise levels? One can only hope so.”

    Is it even possible to fix this by software? Unfortunately, the X5iii and the Andromeda are on my shortlist…

    • headfonics

      If it is gain related it may be possible by lowering the gain levels through software but I am not 100% sure it is pure gain. I believe Cayin has gone some way to reducing the background noise on their i5 through software. Mind you the Andromeda hiss is not overwhelming, only when it’s quiet, I actually use this pairing a lot.

      • econaut

        I will demo the X5iii in a few days with my Dunu DN-1000 (10 Ohm / 98 dB). Andromeda is 12.8 Ohms / 115 dB. I hope I will get an impression of the hiss then.

        Alternatively, the Sony NW-WM1A looks promising. A review would be highly appreciated ;)

      • headfonics

        I would love to review the WM1A but sadly Sony do not give out review units. Maybe I will get lucky later in the year.

  16. Pritch

    Is the X5 3rd Gen compatible with a Mac? Do you just drag and drop to add music to the player?

  17. Michael Welshy Lloyd

    Just ordered one. Had the x1, x3ii, x5ii, and x7 (and an AK jr). All of them had pretty significant shortcomings. Ultimately I want something I can use with tidal, which is why the x7 was the one that lasted the longest. But it wasn’t very pocket friendly and I ended up back on my phone.

    this looks like it could be the one. Not exactly svelte, but probably one that can actually fit in your pocket while walking around.

    I’ve used it as an excuse to upgrade my cans. Have some Oppo PM-3s on the way. I hope they pair well.

    • headfonics

      Awesome, let us know how you got on when your X5 3rd gen arrives :)

  18. emil

    So would you recommend this for a guy who only wants to use it for music? MY ipod finally died and I have been thinking about pulling the trigger on the 2nd gen x5 solely for the space capabilities of the sd cards and the similarities with the ipod. I have TONS of music but I don’t want to shell out the money for something that cannot last. My ipod served me well and took some bumps and bruises. I want something that is going to last and sound great that isnt super complicated to use on the fly wither

  19. antonio

    Thanks for your review, it’s very clear and useful: now I’m waiting my new Fiio x5 iii shipping!…
    But I’ve a trouble about headphone pairing. I used for year my old Fiio x3 with Beyerdynamic DT 880 (250 ohm), and I was happy. Now I read somewhere that X5 iii + Beyer DT 880 250 is not a good choice. Does anybody have some experience about? I’d like to avoid an external amp… Which headphone is good for this beautiful product for you? Thanks!

    • headfonics

      The X5 3rd Gen has an edge in terms of functionality and resolution

  20. Raul

    How good is this for rock, classic rock and 80s metal. Does it have the punch to sound amazing paired with good earbuds for the style?

    • headfonics

      I think pure aggression is the Cayin I5 but I like my LA guns and love hate with the x5iii :)

  21. scottmdj

    The Cayin i5 also plays DSD DST files, unlike the Fiio at the moment. So now does the brand new iBasso–can you get your hands on a review of that unit?

    • headfonics

      We will indeed have a review of the DX200 out next month and its a great DAP but bear in mind it is over twice the price of the X5iii.

  22. Punit Shetty

    Great Review. Really well written, especially the comparison with other DAP’s.

    • headfonics

      Thanks Punit, it’s a very involving DAP, quite a lot of features. Glad you are enjoying your FiiO DAPs

  23. pyktures

    Great review including a comparison with two of the hottest dap (cayin i5 and opus 1). I’ve been looking to find a chunkier dap than the plenue D for a more passionate listening on the go and this one seems to tick a lot of boxes.

    What I’m mostly worried about is the 1gb of ram. Being a long time android user, I know having too little ram can hang the system in the long run. Would you think it happens on DAPs?

    I also don’t know if it’s in the same price bracket as the ibasso dx200 as this one comes with 2gb of ram and dual dacs.

    I’d probably make my decision by the holidays as I still very much enjoy the cowon, but knowing where the x5iii sits withing the gearscape of 2017 would be useful.


    • headfonics

      Well first up the X5iii is $399 to the DX200 $900 so I wouldn’t put either of them in the same bracket. Mind you the Dx200 has 4k video which is interesting.

      As for 1Gb yes its slim and I have no clue what people will shove on their android platforms by way of apps and games etc so 1GB, if treated like a smartphone will be slim, 1GB if used as a DAP should be just fine.

      • scottmdj

        One of the reasons the iBasso is much more is the large 720p screen vs 800×400 one on the Fiio (akin to the pricing on the similarly configured Calyx M) and the more powerful amp. Looking forward to that review—but really not til April? :).

      • headfonics

        Vacation time, plus about 10 others ahead in the queue.

  24. Paulo Abreu

    Great review as always!

    X5 III looks great for the money but now its more clear for me its not an “upgrade” to my X7/AM3 using balanced output to my A&K Angie II IEM – a killer combo to my ears. Btw, I think you meant “… all sport a balanced connection…” under Balanced topic page 1


  25. Moleman_X

    The EQ limitation on the X3ii did not allow it to work with hi res or DSD files. Can you verify that EQ works on all file types in the native app? Thanks!

    • CENTER

      This really pisses me off too. I couldn’t find any info on any website that says that the x5 gen ii can’t use the EQ for hi res files above 48khz, beside a forum post by a moderator. This is unacceptable. Did you find any new info on this yet?

      • Moleman_X

        Oh, that’s what I was asking! Very much thinking of getting X5 iii but want to be able to EQ even DSD files. Thanks!

      • CENTER

        I don’t know about DSD files though. That’s streaming. Possibly ask YouTubers.

  26. don t

    This looks good, but I only paid $150.00 more for my onkyo dp x1 that has so much more.

    • headfonics

      Well for an extra $150 I would be wanting more :) I hear the Granbeat Onkyo project is looking very promising also.

      • don t

        Yes. I started out either the AKjr. It sounded great, but the interface was horrible, and the Bluetooth didn’t work. So I read & read. Every article pointed to the dp x1 as the player to get. It’s still the only player that will play mqa although I’m sure more will catch on soon.

        Dons galaxy S7 EDGE

      • headfonics

        Not a fan of the MQA business model but it’s a feature and maybe that’s where the $150 will come in. Mind you, the X7ii is around the corner also.

  27. Jeff Rogers

    Is there a “play queue” in the FIIO player app ? i.e. Add album to play queue, display the current contents of the play queue, etc…

    • headfonics

      You can create playlists on the go so simply load up the playlist and acts as a queue.

      • abu_jhd

        no you cant. please dont wrongly inform users!
        each song that u add to a playlist on the X5 requires that re-choose the playlist to pickup the newly added songs.
        for example:
        im playing specific album by Metallica.
        if i want to add another song – Sia – to my current “queue” i’ll add it to a playlist (self created) called queue1. in order for the player to include Sia in the playing session i’ll have to go again to playlist menu and re-choose queue1. then and only then the Sia song will be played along with Metallica.
        @Fiio , if you read this add “play next” and “add to queue” functionality ASAP.
        free players on Play like Pulsar has this feature. pick up ur game FIIO

      • headfonics

        Try the Hiby Music app, you can add songs on the go to a playlist then add the playlist to the category section and browse the playlist whilst still listening to the original song.

        Also with regard to the FiiO, I do not see how my statement contradicts your statement. You can create on the go playlists using the favorites option for both song and album and yes you have to navigate to the favorites section in order for the list to be activated but if you note in my comment I did state “load up the playlist”.

  28. Jeff Rogers

    Thanks for the review. But, I am floored by the following “browse” library limitation (Lack of Drill Down)

    ” If you happen to have 10 albums of the same artist there is no album organization in the artist category. You are simply hit with a wall of songs in numerical or alphabetical order.”

    This would need to be fixed before I would purchase this device.

    • Hoàng Bửu

      Agreed. Things will get troublesome if Fiio did not improve the artist category.

    • headfonics

      Yeah I saw on head-fi Relic says he gets albums under artist. All I can say is that all other apps and DAPs such as AK240, AK380, DX200 etc etc all show artist>album>song. I also have complete drill down on all pc software that reads my tags. I use MP3Tag and I tag for both artists and album artists the same as well as Genre, year, track number and song title. I am pretty anal about tagging. The files I am loading are FLAC.

      • anc69

        Hi, I’ve a question about Fiio X5 iii search feature. In the search result, if you click on an album or an artist the player start suddenly with first track of album (or artist). Is there a way to avoid this immediate start? I’d like to have something like a ‘drill-down’ option: in other words I’d like to see the track list of the selected album or artist, and then choose which track to play. Is it possible? Thanks

    • headfonics

      Hi Jeff

      We spoke with FiiO and there is a little icon in the top right that will organize the songs into albums though it is by no means immediately obvious that this button does that. We have updated the review to reflect that option and requested to FiiO that perhaps this option should be on by default as not everyone understands an icon without a label.

  29. Jesper Møller Rimestad

    Great review! For someone about to buy their first DAP would you recommend this over the Cayin I5, when the price differences here is only about 10$.

    • headfonics

      Is it really just $10 now? Last I checked it was $399 and $499 or $100 difference. If just $10 its a toss of a coin to be honest.

      • Fareeha Ateeq

        Hi I had the cayin i5 but I returned it ,the sound was a
        In your face no space at all .
        Regards Ateeq

      • scottmdj

        Cayin can do DST DSD ISO (mulitchannel encoding when both are on disc) which means it has a more powerful CPU (or better implemented)–as of now the X5 cannot. You can download legit files from sites such as–or in the case of myself, ALL my SACDs were converted to this format by a friend.

  30. 24bit

    You covered everything but the credit history and what toppings it prefers on pizza. Excellent review, mate!

    • headfonics

      Credit rating is fair to good and as far as I can tell no olives.


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