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FiiO X5-3 : FiiO’s Smooth Android DAP


FiiO X5-3 is the first DAP released by FiiO in 2017 and it comes with Android, full touchscreen controls, a smooth sound and a mechanical volume wheel



Introduction

 

FiiO X5 3rd  generation is the successor of the “loved by many” X5 2nd generation DAP from FiiO. 
I was a part of the tour for X5 3rd gen because I really wanted to hear it for a longer period of time before deciding whether I want to buy one for myself or not.
This proven to be an unwise idea as now I want to buy one. 
FiiO is a company that emerged in 2007 and focused on portable headphone amplifiers at first, but slowly extended their product range to DAPs (digital audio players), desktop headphone amplifiers and IEMs (in-ear monitors). I only met with a FiiO product in 2014-2015 when I got my FiiO X5 – the best DAP I would had ever laid my hands on at that point. FiiO impressed me with the quality of their products for the price asked ever since and I generally recommend their products for both the value and the quality of their offering, albeit I don’t have any affiliation with FiiO at this moment and there was no incentive offered for any of my words. Those are just my honest observations. 
There are many DAPs that want to claim the tile of King Of DAPs and none was perfect thus far for my needs, with the closest to perfect being FiiO X5ii which has been my great music companion for over two years now and proven to be a champ in every aspect.
About me
My name is George and I enjoy music and listen to music more than the average person. Sometimes I listen even 8 – 10 hours a day. I listen music while working, listen to music for enjoyment and listen to music while I’m gaming. Music is everywhere around me, be it classical, pop, rap, metal, jazz or electronica or any other genera for that matter. I also like to prepare long playlists to enjoy while working on my company’s games.
You can check out more on our pages here https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/     and here https://twitter.com/7heartstudios .
My love for music has had an impact on our games as we hold the music close to our hearts and we are committed to only use ogg -q10 as the encoding format for our music since it offers the best disk space to sound quality ratio, OGG -q10 being audibly transparent when compared to FLAC encoding. 
Sometimes I like to get lost in music and experience a whole new level of enlightenment from the long hours. I love new songs as much as I love songs that I’ve been listening to since my early childhood. I can say that music shaped my imagination and improved every part of my life, giving me a wide perspective over life – this being a broad statement made about music in general. Love is a term too short to explain how I feel about music, but so are most words when used to describe complex human emotions.
(Sorry, I got lost for a moment there. Back on track)
First Impression
I have owned a FiiO X5 2nd generation for a good while now. I has been my trusty companion through thick and thin, being there with me on my long trips to distant cities and being with me when I was happy and fully enjoying my life. X5ii shaped my standards for what I consider a worthy DAP and I was quite agitated when FiiO announced an X5-3 that was so different from it’s predecessor. I had so many questions, so many doubts about X5-3 so I wanted to test one and see how it works for myself. 
By the time FiiO X5-3 arrived to me, it was a cloudy morning and I had too little sleep that night having worked until 6 AM on the upcoming games Eternal Hour, Falsetto Memories and Quantum Magica. The agent delivering the X5-3 called me on a monotonous tone, so I swiftly went outside to pick the box. 
Fast forward through the unboxing and the first setup to the sound and device impressions, I was baffled. There was so much about X5-3’s feeling as a device that was different from X5ii. Instead of feeling like a DAP, X5-3 feels more like a high end luxury device that you might expect to get with an expensive car. The device is packaged with a leather case that adds a certain style to owning the device. The moment I plugged X5-3 in with me IEMs, Sennheiser ie800, the sound coming from the rather modern device sound was shocking; The entire sound was changed and in a positive way. It felt like X5-3 is the upgraded version of an X5ii on steroids and I had to listen more before making a certain assessment of how the sound changed exactly. All I knew is that I loved the guitar notes I was hearing
Packaging:
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Box and package
X5-3
Package contents
Leather skin + X5-3
X5-3 and X5-2
X5-3 came in a nice package made out of a cardboard box with an intricate layering inside. In the box you can find X5-3, its manuals, a warranty card, a tool for taking the mSD trays out, one coaux cable,  a leather (leatherette?) skin, a silicone clear skin (it is on X5-3 by default) and a high quality USB cable (thicker than the typical audio cable and dedicated for Audio). 
One of the most exciting parts of owning a product is opening the box it came in, then using it the first few times. If a product is really good, it will be exciting every single time it’s being used, and this is something FiiO X5ii was really good at with the device I bought in the past.
The most intriguing parts of the box are X5-3 itself, the leather case and the USB cable. While I’m not a leather expert, the leather case has a nice red stitching on it’s back that adds a clear plus of style to it and the leather itself has a smooth yet slightly textured feeling to it. There is no indication whether it is faux leather or animal leather, but it looks pretty good in person. The writing on the back looks and feels nice to the touch and the holes in the leather case exactly where they should to enable a good operation. The leather case is arguably better than the silicone one for most usage scenarios since the cut around the headphone jack in the silicone case won’t allow for certain cables to be used, but that is just me nitpicking. 
The USB cable is also a very interesting addition as it’s been changed from the ones a few years ago (when I first bought my X5 and my X5ii) and now the cables are of a higher quality and have a different type of construction and shielding. Flexing the cable is possible, but it is not overly flexible. The stiffness is most probably caused by its internal composition. 
It is worthy to mention that there are screen protectors both on the face and on the back of X5-3; The screen protector found on the display of X5-3 is a glass screen protector with rounded and chamfered edges that doesn’t impede operation and usage of X5-3 in any way. The screen protector on the back seems to be a thin plastic protector that is applied to protect the back of X5-3’s glass back from scratches. I am pleased with both additions since they come in the box and already applied from the factory. 
The Hi-Res sticker on the glass display of X5-3 can be easily peeled off but I didn’t really take the liberty to do so as I don’t own the tour unit. There was a similar sticker on the back of my X5ii when it arrived and it took me 10 seconds to peel it off, and another 5 to clean any residual glue, but given the smooth glass texture of the X5-3’s glass display protector, there won’t be any trace glue left.
All in all, The unboxing experience of X5-3 is nice and the box includes the right amount of accessories. There aren’t many other accessories that I would had really asked for since it’s package is robust, but I would like audio companies to bring back the 3.5mm jack saver (a rubber 3.5mm plug) that was found with the first generation of FiiO X5. I found them good for protecting the headphone jacks from dust or other debris, but it is good to mention that the silicone case offers rubber flaps over the 3.5mm audio jacks.
What I look in for a DAP
When buying a Digital Audio Player, I have a few things that I really need for me to even consider buying it. Those are:
– Battery life – at least 8 hours of function at high volume on high gain, with some screen operation and with EQ function engaged (real world usage scenario) 
– Good and intuitive / ergonomic build (buttons arrangement, robust build, no creaking noises, resistance to pressure for when it’s a pocket, robust headphone jacks)
– Display (screen) brightness, sharpness, colors and general quality 
– Good Value
– Interesting design – the device must look modern / elegant / luxurious and fit in with both street usage and a business environment
– To work well with both IEMs and over the ear headphones
– Sound quality
– USB DAC function 
– Good EQ function
– Enough I/O ports
– Fluent, Fast, stable Firmware 
– Wide Music file type support
Technical Specifications
Output Impedance
1 ohm into a 32 ohm load
Connector
3.5mm Headphone Out, 2.5 mm balanced 
Frequency Response
5 Hz – 55.000Hz (-3dB)
Works as a USB DAC
Yes (didn’t test)
Battery
3400mAh, Li-Polymer
Play Time
~10 Hours
Display Size / Type 
3.97″, IPS
Display Resolution
480×800 pixels
Output Power 
480mW into 16 ohm, THD+N <1%
Weight
186g
DAC Chip
AK4490 x 2
Max Output Voltage
8 Vp-p
Max Current
250mA
Cross Talk
98 dB / 1kHz
SNR
115dB (A weighted)
AMP Configuration
OPA 1642 x2 + OPA 426 x2
CPU
RK 3188 4-core
Firmware
Customized Android 5.1
Wifi Support
Yes, b/g/n standards
Bluetooth
V4.0 apt-X supported
RAM
1GB
mSD support
2 x mSD slots (max 256 GB x2)
Formats supported 
Virtually every format made supported by Android apps
 
(Build Quality, Sonic Quality & Usage Next Page)

2 Comments

  1. Very enjoyable review, free of pretentious reviewer language,and I have about the same experience using it. The software is still a learning curve for me, it is by no means as simple and efficient as IOS, but the fantastic sound made up for this. Probably FiiO' s best product to date.

    1. George Dobrescu

      I'm happy you're having fun with it, Willy!

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