Sound Impressions


When I discussed the previous X1 I described it as a warm to neutral DAP with a thick, bass-heavy presentation and struggling for air with a narrow center focused soundstage. Reading that back it is probably not the biggest level of praise but for $99 and compared to the competition it stood its ground admirably.

The second generation of the X1 has a much more likable and slightly more balanced tonal presentation. It is still has a little warm sheen to it, it is still a musical sounding DAP but this time, it sounds less thick, less bass-heavy, with a cleaner if slightly flatter signature.


It does sound to me that they have tightened up the bass with the new TI PCM5422 DAC combined with whatever magical implementation sauce they sprinkled over the new X1 amping stage design.

It still goes as deep as the old X1, the extension is excellent but it doesn’t come across as heavy-handed and dominating as the old X1’s bass. Maybe they just dropped the -dB a touch, just enough to give it a little bit more coherence.

The bass is still north of neutral but combined with the new DAC’s slightly superior clarity I felt the new X1’s bass response had a bit more flexibility and refinement than before with a wider range of genres.


Vocals in the new X1 are once again slightly ahead of instrumental staging pulling in the soundstage a little and keeping it on the intimate side but it doesn’t sound quite as congested as before.

There are decent instrumental separation and a slightly more natural sounding timbre. Certainly, it is the most mid-focused of the X series DAPs for me. Despite its lack of micro-detail and refinement compared to the higher X DAPS those who enjoy full-sounding vocals on a budget will find a very agreeable performance from the X1 2nd Gen.


That struggle for air in the old X1 has eased up a bit also. It is not X5ii or X7 levels of extension but it does have a touch more sparkle and headroom in its delivery at the top end than before. It does not get carried away though and matched with something like the IT03 which can go either way in terms of sibilance or control the match is actually very neutral and articulate.




Hybrids & BA

I actually conducted much of this review using the new iBasso IT03 hybrid IEM. This is a medium efficiency IEM, perhaps in the lower tier in terms of drivability with a 107dB sensitivity rating and an 8-ohm impedance.

Since there is no gain setting on the X1 Gen 2 I had to push the volume on the X1 G2 all the way up to around 70 digital steps (X1 has 100 in total) which is roughly only 12% lower than optimal volume settings on the ZTE Axon 7 smartphone. Granted the Axon 7 is probably the best smartphone out there in terms of audio performance (AK4490 DAC chip) but the amp is still not that powerful.

Other hybrid IEMs such as the 107dB 11-ohm Oriveti Primacy fared slightly better at 65 digital steps with the single BA Orion from Campfire Audio taking the mid-fi prize for drivability at literally half the volume of the IT03 at 35-40 steps.


Single dynamic driver mid-fi IEMs with low ratings fared much better than those two hybrid designs. The T20 from RHA, a 16-ohm 90dB IEM sitting quite happily at 43-46 on the X1 2nd Gen’s volume with its older brother, the T10 not that far behind at 45-48 digital steps. I also saw similar ratings for the legendary 32-ohm 108dB Sony EX1000 at 45-48 digital steps.

You will be pleased to hear all IEMs tested were hiss free on the X1 with really great low noise performance which is a testimony to FiiO’s new DAC choice selection. Tonally, my pick was the EX1000 or the RHA T20 pairing. The X1’s musical leanings seem to suit those big dynamics drivers slightly better than BA designs.




Just goes to show how inefficient the IT03 can be at times as the Hifiman HE400S drove perfectly fine on 70 – 75 digital steps, almost the exact same level as iBasso’s new hybrid IEM. That being said it doesn’t quite have the headroom and dynamics of a desktop amp or a higher-end DAP such as the X7/AM3 combo but it sounds coherent, relatively smooth sounding with very natural sounding vocals.


You have to go a little higher for the HE400i at 80 steps but that’s still fairly manageable. The X1/HE400i pairing didn’t have the meatiest low end and I have heard the HE400i driven with more authority on bigger setups but it didn’t sound tinny or too compressed either.


A very impressive pairing in terms of power handling. The PM-3 is actually more efficient than the IT03 with volume topping out at around 65 digital steps, a full 5 steps lower than the hybrid IEM.

The PM-3 does an adequate job with the X1, it never really hit the heights of the HE400s in terms of air and dynamics. I found the X1/HE400s better for rock genres with its more expansive midrange but for the likes of EDM such as Dash Berlin I actually enjoyed this slightly darker and thicker sounding combination.

Dynamic Headphones

Hifiman Edition S

The 18 ohm 113dB Edition S has no problems with the X1 2nd Gen pairing with optimal volume settings at 65 steps before things go uncomfortable. They also sounded fairly well driven in either closed or open mode.

Tonally, Edition S in open mode with the X1 2nd Gensounded the more natural and authoritative of the two possible tonal settings with the closed mode sounding a touch too bright for my taste. Sibilance if fairly well controlled on open mode also with the X1 2nd Gen and that heavier low end the open mode paired well with the X1 2G’s more refined yet musical presentation.

Philips A5-Pro

This 16-ohm 105dB headphone is an excellent pairing for trance fans and in fact, anyone who wants something with a solid low-end performance yet with a quick enough tempo for high energy BPM. No issues at all for driving, in fact, it was the easiest of all the headphone pairings to drive at just 50 steps on the X1 2nd Gen’s volume setting. Nothing sounded tinny, lacking in dynamics or horribly grainy. Overall this is a dark to neutral presentation and heavy-hitting musical pairing overall.

Bluetooth Performance

Boot up

This is something FiiO needs to focus on. Turning on BT during playback is very slow indeed, sometimes taking up to 20 seconds to become operational. It is a touch faster if no music is playing though but not by much.


Functional connections with FiiO’s own BT products went very smoothly though with the RM1 showing up right away and fairly easy to operate though it does not seem to be able to navigate menus like Android or iOS type BT remote controls.

Other Smartphones

Connecting to my smartphone BT was a bit more problematic. The X1 2nd Gen could not see the smartphone but the smartphone could see and connect to the X1 though only the “contacts” service was offered and not audio services.

BT Headphones

Stance S1+ & Creative E5

Using the Stance S1+ BT headphone pairing was relatively quick and easy to do with the X1 2nd Gen so no issues there. Despite not utilizing aptX technology the sound at 1m or less was actually pretty smooth and musical sounding. The Stance S1+ is probably the best Bt headset out there for the money right now and whilst it is not the heaviest hitting can its got an excellent midrange.

The X1 2G performed quite well in that respect and not once did the Stance S1+ sound unduly muffled or compressed which can often be the case on non-aptX connections (AK100 mk1 as an example).

The distance achieved was approximately 5-7m with a single wall barrier and roughly 2-3m with two wall barriers which is better than the AK100 Mk1 AD2P performance but slightly shorter in range than the Creative E5 aptX BT 4.0 signal


Distance and quality of the signal are also on par with my ZTE Axon 7 smartphone which also uses BT 4.0 but without aptX capability. Tonally the X1 Gen 2 had a bit more bite in the low end than the smoother and politer Axon 7 using the Stance S1+. I could happily use either as the detail and resolution of the ZTE is very competitive (AKM AK4490 DAC chip).


Should I Upgrade?

X1 Gen 1

The answer depends on what you see as most important to you. If it is based on audio performance and feature sets then it is a firm yes. The X1 Gen 2 is more resolving, more balanced, and more interesting to listen to than the rather heavier and thicker sounding X1 Gen 1. It has more air, more headroom, and better-behaved bass performance and much easier to work with over a broader range of IEMs and headphones.

The new touch-sensitive touch wheel is so much slicker, the form factor is more comfortable and the physical looks suitably enhanced over the X1 Gen 1. The deep sleep standby and improved battery performance are also a logical enhancement bringing it up to par with the X3 Gen 2 in that respect.

If UI and speed are more important then the X1 Gen 1 does have a slight edge at the time of writing. It will be interesting to see if there will be improvements in the UI speed, particularly with the use of Bluetooth which is a double-edged sword with fw1.2.

Audio-wise it does not have aptX 4.0 but it is still quite a capable performer within short ranges but it slows everything down considerably on the UI. You get the feeling the processor is being pushed to the limit.

X3 Gen 2

The question now is should you buy into the new X1 Gen 2 or get the X3 Gen 2. To be honest, the X3 Gen 2 is still the more resolving of the two. It has a more balanced signature, as well as having the ability to decode DSD and possessing a DAC-out feature that the X1 does not have. It also has a speedier processor than the newer X1 2nd Gen and in general, it is faster to use.

The new X1 does have BT which the older X3 does not and the new form factor is likely to be the way of future DAP revisions from FiiO so it does have that in its favor. Also, the DAC in the X1 is superior to my ears than the older X1. The new X1, despite being a budget entry-level DAP is more competitive compared to the X3ii but it is not yet as resolving.

The price gap between the two is a lot closer than when the X1 Gen 1 originally came out with street prices of the almost 18 months old X3ii a lot softer than its $199 MSRP and there is always the raging certainty that the X3ii will be upgraded by next year to something even better.


Our Verdict

The FiiO X1 2nd Gen is a distinct improvement over the first X1 in terms of sound. The original X1 was just ok for me in the scheme of things and I always gravitated to the X3 gen 2 if I wanted a small portable player. However, the X1 Gen 2 sounds a lot more balanced now, the touch-sensitive wheel a lot slicker to use and BT does add some real value to the package.

However, as with most things these days, there does need to be some attention paid to the speed of the X1 in terms of media scanning and operations in general when BT is turned on. The standby mode is a wonderful feature now to have in the X1 but combined with BT turned on it really becomes very slow to turn itself back on. You do get the sense subsequent firmware are not far behind and issues like this will be remedied in the near future.

Overall though I think the X1 2nd Gen offers more for $99 than its predecessor without encroaching too much on the product position of the X3ii. I think FiiO has been very careful in that respect and kudos to them for keeping costs down for the new additional features and offering a more evolved budget level DAP than before.

X1 2nd Gen Technical Specifications

General Specifications
Model/Number All new X1 / FX1221 Headphone out (PO) 3.5mm headphone output jack
Color Available Silver/Black/Rose gold Headphone Impedance Range 16~100 Ω
Dimensions 97mm×55.5 mm×12 mm Volume control type 100 steps digital potentiometer
Weight 102 g Bass Boost N/A
Display Screen TFT 320×240 Treble N/A
Analog Audio Output Jack(LO) 3.5 mm headphone output jack Balance 5 dB
Digital Audio Output Jack N/A Gain Selection N/A
USB DAC N/A Equalizer 7-band equalizer (±6dB)
Chips used SoC: JZ4760B ,   DAC: PCM5242,    LPF: OPA2322,    OP: ISL28291
Partial Performance Parameters for Line Output
THD+N ≤ 0.003% (1 kHz) SNR ≥115 dB  (A-weighted)
Frequency Response 5 Hz~60 kHz (-3dB) Dynamic range ≥107 dB
Crosstalk ≥ 101 dB (10 KΩ/1 kHz) Line output Level 1.7 Vrms (10 KΩ/1 kHz)
Partial Performance Parameters for Headphone Output
Output Power 1 ≥ 90mW (16 Ω/THD+N<1%) Output Impedance <1Ω(32Ω loaded)
Output Power 2 ≥ 70 mW (32 Ω/THD+N<1%) Crosstalk ≥72 dB (1 kHz)
Output Power 3 ≥ 8 mW (300 Ω/THD+N<1%) THD+N ≤ 0.003% (1 kHz)
Frequency Response 5 Hz~60 kHz (-3dB) MAX output voltage >4.0 Vp-p
SNR ≥113 dB (A-weighted) MAX output current >130 mA(For reference)
Power and Battery
Power Recommend DC5V 2A Battery Capacity 1800 mAh
Charge Display Red light charging, green light fully charged Battery Display Yes
Battery Life >12 h Charging Time <3 h (DC5V 2A)
Battery Life Test Conditions
Screen OFF Load M3 open earbuds (27 Ω)
Volume 39 EQ OFF
Test File MP3 44.1kHz/16bit (Download link)
Audio Format Supported


APE(Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit;
APE(Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit;
APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit;
FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit;
WAV: 192 kHz/32 bit;
Aiff:192 kHz/32 bit;
Aif:192 kHz/24 bit;
WMA Lossless: 48 kHz/24 bit (to be supported by a future update);
Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit;

Lossy compression


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59 Responses

  1. Laurie

    I love my Fiio X1 first generation, but the 128 character limit on filepaths in playlists drives me a bit mad as it skips tracks on playlists where the path is longer than 128 characters. Do you know if this has been changed in the Fiio X1 2nd generation?

    • Marcus

      I would skip to the M3 Pro now if you want an improved screen and useability. The X1 2nd Gen is dog slow.

  2. Cristian Bonnin

    Buenas cómo les va? Acabo de comprar un X1 2 generación, q auriculares alambricos me recomiendan?

  3. Trygve

    based on this review I decided to buy one (Gen 2) to replace my iPhone SE {playing AAC files (VB)] as a music player.
    Loaded in a few Hires (24-96 flac + 24-48 flac) of Pink Floyd. Same files I have on my iPhone, but there “downgraded” to AAC (lossy).
    But what a dissapontment.
    Music sounds flat and lifless. No punch in the bass. No dyamics.
    I used my well trusted Klipsch X-10 for the test. Also tested my Sennheiser, but same result.
    The music sounds better and more dynamic on my iPhone ES (128Gb) than this player.
    Bummer. 125 euros out of the window.

  4. Drew

    Hey OP I have been reading up about DAPS this past week. Seeing my beloved and trusty iPod Classic died after so many years of service. Now I am looking for its replacement and I was so surprised that this business has gone to Hi-Res Audio.
    To make the long story short… the only available brand in my country is FiiO.
    Is this DAP better than the entry level Cowon & OPUS DAPS which I can purchase in Korea (Free Delivery)?

    • headfonics

      No it is not better. The entry level Cowon and Opus are mid-fi level hence the big price difference. If you are prepared to spend more for an Opus#1 then you should be looking at the FiiO X5iii. The X1 is budget level.

      • Drew

        Thanks HF!
        Ok so… which is futureproof between the FiiO X5iii vs Cowon Plenue D if I am going to go for these mid-fi level hardware? The X5 is around $300.00+ here and the Plenue D is currently on sale for about $200.00. I hope it can outlast the one its gonna be replacing.

  5. Charlie1


    • headfonics

      Perhaps you missed the part were we mentioned the sync issues?

      “Media Management

      Category Scanning

      Scanning on the new X1 was pretty slow by mid-fi DAP standards taking an almost glacial 10 minutes to find and categorize 2250 FLAC tracks from the SD card. Compare that to Cayin’s $499 i5 which takes about 20 seconds you can pretty much forget about rapid file transfer, update and go. Instead, make a cup of tea and come back later. That being said once it is completed I found it pretty accurate in tag reading and most, if not all, tracks were correctly classified.”

      Note sure where we hyped that aspect.

      • Charlie1


      • headfonics

        Well I can only report the actual physical time it took for those tracks to sync, anything else wouldn’t be the truth :)

        I suspect there maybe other factors such as power of PC, usb transfer speed, file size, codec etc that can influence the final outcome. But we were clear that this is a very slow process.

        May I suggest you go with the N3 instead? its fast and easy to work with at that price range and we did rank it higher.

      • Charlie1

        My criticism of your website has to do with the fact that the syncing issue is actually much worse than you found. Do you have the courage to repost this thread. What I’m saying about the Fiio, and websites failure to document how bad it really is are both true. It’s all over the web.

      • headfonics

        I am not entirely sure what you mean by that, your post is right there on the page and we posted our honest results and found them to be accurate, it’s really slow. I don’t see how that contradicts or disavows your findings in any manner.

      • Charlie1

        Oh, if I’m mistaken I apologize: I got an email that my comment had been removed.

      • headfonics

        Nope, all your posts are here and can be seen, we always encourage users to post their impressions as things can vary from one user to another. I consider myself a user first, reviewer second so it all goes into the pot for people to be able to make an informed decision. Cheers!

      • Charlie1

        Thanks, but I think I’ll stick to ipods, and just make sure I have enough of them in case any poop out. I’m happy with my Fiio headphone amp, and very surprised by the X1.

      • headfonics

        I use an iTouch from time to time, its ok but the lack of native FLAC playback holds it back. Have a look at the new FiiO X3 3d gen, might be just what you are after.

      • John

        I’ve noticed slow performance immed while trying to copy files via USB.
        So what, take out SD card and dump your files directly to SD card, no sweat.

  6. jaxager

    I was thinking about getting one until I read that it doesn’t have Apt-X. What? This is a high resolution player and it doesn’t have Apt-X? This makes a tremendous amount of difference in wireless sound quality. Bummer. Guess I’m sticking with my 1st generation X1.

    • headfonics

      Yes apparently it’s a licensing thing combined with complexities of integrating it with their new Linux OS for the X1ii so it won’t happen sadly. Right now the best bet is the Hidizs AP60 or Cayin N3.

  7. Halldór Freyr Sturluson

    got them for christmas from my wife and i decided to get these rather then x7 because of the price and also because i think in the next year or 2 bluetooth will come even better (24) and and i got them with the A5 amp, and i have to say its the best sound i have ever heard, using my Koss bt540 with lineout and its sounds great, listening now to Awake from Dream Theater and hearing new stuff i never heard before. and i cant even turn them all the way up with the gain on high, so maybe next thing is buying even better headphones, still the Koss are very good and comfortable. So i think im getting more hooked on audiophile stuff, its worth it thats for sure.

  8. John

    Just received one of these units from Amazon this week, and this review is right in line with my brief experiences thus far. Charged it up last night, and it did take quite some time to load a 128gb card that was just about full. Well worth it though, listening to some Fleetwood Mac FLAC files on my lunch break with Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 via bluetooth. Very pleased with the sound quality, and looking forward to wired listening next. Great way to get the feet wet in the lossless media player pool without breaking the bank.

    • headfonics

      Good job John and glad your thoughts matched mine. I was not so fussed on the Gen 1 but the 2nd gen is a good leap up in audible quality, or perhaps simply more to my taste. Just don’t go changing cards too much :)

      • John

        I have a Fiio a3 amp as well, I’ll try playing through that this weekend as well and see how it sounds :)
        I missed the part about changing cards in the article, I’ll have to go back and look at that.

      • headfonics

        oh for the card changing that just means building a new database and that is kind of slow.

    • Philippe Kervran

      It s a good news for me to read that is possible to connect a momemtum headset via bluetooth. I hope to find the solution.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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


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