FiiO X5 Portable Player

Those in search of an alternative to the more pricey although broadly accessible hi-res portable audio players may have found an increasing amount of astonishingly affordable versions coming their way from FiiO. So that it will not come as much of a surprise to learn that the X5 is the next model up in the FiiO line and is an amazingly affordable 24/192-able hires player with the guarantee of DSD playback via future firmware upgrades.

One of the regions is in the lack of any internal storage. Instead the X5 has two microSD slots that could accommodate cards up. Arguably another area where economies look like they have been made is in the style of the player itself, which quite astonishingly looks a lot less trendy than its GBP100 X1 sibling, and is finished in a somewhat utilitarian black casing although a soft silicone rubberised skin is furnished. In terms of attributes, the 2.4in display feels a bit low rent thanks to a somewhat dim backlight - even at maximum brightness and complete battery charge - and the screen's mirrorlike finish means you see as much of your own reflection shown as you do the menu text.

The X5 is the only real player here to truly have a scroll wheel for browsing around system menus. It's a fantastic touch that operates well, but the central enter button is somewhat unresponsive as you move through the machine menus, which means it could take a while to get to grips with, and the outer shortcut buttons are not intuitive and alter their functionality. Output Signal socketry is well supported and also you get independent line level and optical digital output jacks in addition to a headphone out, suitable for impedances from 16-300ohm.

Sound quality

With all the all-inclusive EQ settings - see X Factor - switched off, the X5 provides its smoothest operation. The frequency range is extended across all file formats and it puts on a show that was decent. However, the audio signature is not quite as grand as some of its nearest cost competitions, and the frequency response manages to sound a little contoured though EQ is off. The X5 does not quite manage to draw me in during listening sessions as much as its closest competitors, although it is a sonic subtlety.

With Stevie's Living For The City at 24/96, bass extension is good and promising but the X5's performance appears to be lacking some of the the and of track's sounds as though it's simply going through the motions.

FiiO X5 Portable Player photo