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I've read the critical reviews of the the X5 on this and other sites, and from some of the more extravagant criticisms, you'd think you were getting something the size of a house brick that is impossible to use, buggy, and falls apart if breathed on. Unless you really absolutely MUST have something the size of an iPod, then this is still a small item that you can easily carry around. The unit is very well built, it is robust, and works perfectly well. A lot of the early criticisms about the operating system have been dealt with by firmware upgrades (which are very easy to download). As for the operating system, the hallmark of good design is that you can work out function without opening the operating manual. Unless you are seriously hard of thinking, you can work out what everything does with no more than five minutes of exploration. And if you do find anything difficult, there are instructions in the packaging that should tell you all you need to know.
The X5 has slots for two micro SD cards with a max of 128 GB each, meaning that at the moment you can store 256 GB of music, which should keep most people entertained for a while. When larger cards become readily available, Fiio have promised firmware upgrades to accommodate these. Formatting the cards takes about thirty seconds. Inserting and withdrawing the cards is fiddly but not difficult and even my large hands (I take an XXL in gloves) managed it without any swearing. As to storing music on the cards, I advise putting them in a card adapter and putting them in a card reader slot in your computer if you have the facilities to do this. Loading a full 128 GB of music onto a card takes several hours on most systems. This is not a fault of Fiio, however, and applies to all manufacturers. But on the plus side you are not likely to be doing this task all that often.
Regarding the sound quality of the Fiio, it is excellent. I started into hi def portable music with the Sony Walkman, which is competent, but the Fiio blows it out of the water. The sound is controlled, erring slightly towards the bass, but you can easily adjust the frequency balance using the easy to use sound equaliser that is integral to the X5. The exact impression of the sound of course depends on the headphones used. I use Atomic Floyd Super Darts, which are pretty bass heavy. The X5 gives a good controlled bass that on the Sony and my iPhone and iPad tended to run amok, even on ALAC files. Generally speaking, the quality of sound from the X5 demonstrably improves the higher the sampling rate. I am well aware that nobody supposedly can reliably hear any improvement past CD quality, but this ignores the fact that some hi def albums are specially mixed to take account of the audiophile market. The X5 definitely can cope with good quality high def recordings and show them off well, remaining controlled and not getting swamped with distortion and blurred sound images when the volume goes up.
Whilst the Fiio is excellent by itself, if you combine it with the Fiio E12 amplifier, the sound quality goes up yet another notch. Basically, you use the line out option on the X5 and feed the raw sound into the E12 to amplify. There is a definite improvement in control and sound stage. You can also get a special kit (about £10) to connect the E12 and X5 together, and it is well worth the money.
First impressions are good, very very good. The build quality appears to be rock solid and the player was nicely accessorised, the silicone case being very reassuring to have. I bought two micro sd cards at 128GB giving a usable storage of just under 240GB. My X5 came fully loaded with the most recent firmware update, 2.5 at time of writing, and was a doddle to set up. simply slot in the cards, format each one and you are ready to receive music. I cheated and went for a programme called Dapper (its free) which interfaces with iTunes to provide a more automatic style synch than drag and drop. I have only listened to one album, on my portable headphones which are Sennheiser On Ear Momentums - the sound is excellent. It is my favourite reference album, so is a tried and tested test.I have also used the X5 as a DAC (again no problems, no additional files needed) and it has performed wonderfully well with my iMac and a music player called Fidelia.
For those used to Apple products they will find the User Interface (UI) quite clunky and getting files onto the X5 is not as easy as synching with iTunes. It is also considerably more laborious. Without the aforementioned Dapper programme I would be mildly irritated at how complicated it is (at least to me) to create playlists. That said I am still giving it 5 stars for the sound quality and the storage capacity. Apple dropped the ball with the iPod. I should add that I bought the X5 at a discounted price due to the new X5ii having been recently launched.
As my trusty old Sony1060 was full and I couldn,t load Apple Lossless I decided it was time to invest in a new player. I studied all the reviews of modern gear and they all seem to offer good sound but had a few drawbacks, even if you spend over £1000! I took a chance and ordered the Fiio X5 mainly because I already use their E12A amp. I listen to everything from Georghiu to Dylan and use B and W P5,s and Grado 325e,s. The sound is fantastic!! It is very clear and "melodic", just enough precise bass and has great separation of the components of the music, close your eyes sit back and enjoy it. This machine is simply for playing music, you won,t get any emails, you can,t surf the net and it won,t make coffee! The interface is OK, and transfer from iTunes is simple drag and drop but you will not get much album art. I could not format a 64G Sandisk to Fat32 by connecting the disc directly to my Macbook but found another format code which works fin, not sure if this is causing the problem with album art but am waiting delivery of same new sd card which I will format in the X5. (will update). With all this storage I can get about 350 albums in AAC which should see me out. I will of course remain curious as to how much better an AK120ii can sound! Dave
Excellent DAP - works well, without a separate amp - with AKG K702 and Klipsch i10 (although Klipsch remote control buttons don't work with the X5). Compared this with my desktop setup using a Hailde HD DAC (not too shabby) and it is not that far behind. As a DAC, works well with Foobar2000 and JRiver MC. Also works with the latest version of JPLAY - reports back to JPLAY to recommend settings. Sound quality - well that depends on your music files and headphones! But, given good FLAC files (16 bit and 24 bit etc)and using AKG K702 headphones, the results are excellent. Perfectly flat presentation - no colouration - and I have yet to spot any 'digital glitch' issues. Copes with some awkward recordings that cause problems with other DACs (violins 'breaking up' etc) which indicates a quality DAC and audio path. Even copes with 64 DSD files, although I don't see the point of these considering their size. Sound stage more than acceptable with a good separation of instruments. Smooth sound - nothing is ever harsh. Copes well with piano and voice. Usually the tricky things, so a quality product.
All told - finally reached portable HiFi at a reasonable price. Couldn't be happier and thoroughly recommended.
I've decided to upgrade from my Zen X-Fi mainly because the X5 offers more than enough space to locate my current and future music requirements for years to come. Many of the reviews have said the sound is excellent. I agree, however it's not significantly better than my old Zen. If you're upgrading from a phone or ipad then you're likely to really notice the difference. I was excited about the codecs in the X5 and the chance to be able to listen to 24 bit 192 kHz (24/192) audio; however I've just read an authoritative article which shows that this format is likely to sound inferior to the commercially available 16/44.1 or 16/48 formats and offers no conceivable benefit. I was sceptical but read for yourself and I think you'll agree - http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html I'll not comment too much on the other aspects of the X5 as the reviews on Amazon cover its classy, solid feel. Despite the useful skin that comes with it, I've purchased the £10 leather-look case as it offers better protection when not using the annoying plastic screen protector.
This is an excellent product whether it is used as a portable music player or a DAC connected to my laptop. I have my music saved as lossless (or higher) format and the listening experience is great. With two micro sd cards inserted, even with hi def format, I can save over 3000 tracks. The only quibbles I have are The clunky navigation system and the fact that you can only make a playlist by transferring one track at a time.
This is a fabulous audio player, both in sound quality and usability.
I have been looking for a while for a good audiophile replacement portable player. I've had Cowon's before and have always grudgingly accepted the seeming trade-off between audio quality and interface usability that seems to come in this market segment. The X5 has the audio chops without doubt, and, surprisingly for an Asian company has made a decent effort with the interface too.
It was a good player, however I returned it as I wanted something more small. But if you are looking for an alternative from the iPod classic - this is a good option. Only annoying thing is that the wheel is actually mechanical and not touch-sensitive like the iPod (quite slow with scrolling if your library is very large).
Considered buying this or the colorfly C4. Bought this as it was significantly cheaper and have to say that I'm not disappointed! Its an excellent mp3 player, easy to use and best of all, with expandable memory slots. Would have preferred some built in memory but this is a minor point.
Although it is heavy, so not the kind of mp3 player you would choose to put into your coat pocket.