FiiO X3 – Review

Hey guys,

I have stressed for some time now on what phone I would get that has decent sound. At first I got the Galaxy S1 that had a Wolfson Dac and combined with Voodoo Sound I got decent playback.

Recently I got a Galaxy S4 knowing it has a Wolfson Dac too but I didn’t notice the European version didn’t have it, and I don’t like the sound on it.

I didn’t want to go for an Ipod or something similar because It didn’t find them to sound better than my S1 (which i kept just for music).

However, recently FiiO released their first portable player, the FiiO X3 which would solve all of my problems in this regard and at a decent price.

FiiO X3 Review

When I looked at the specs I saw some interesting things:

  • X3 can play APE, Flac, Alac, Wma, Wav and the usual lossy formats like MP3, OGG  & WMA files and at 192k/24Bit .
  • It has 10 hours playback time
  • It has the Wolfson WM8740 Dac Chip which I like a lot because of how it performs in FiiO E17
  • Same hardware equalizer for bass & treble as in E17
  • Multiple Outputs like USB 2.0, Line Out, Coaxial Out, Headphone out, which means that you can also use it just as transport to another DAC, which is very nice. I also heard that FiiO plans a firmware upgrade to make the X3 a USB Dac too, which would be absolutely awesome.
  • Has support for 65GB Micro SD Card

Fiio-X3-1

From distance, the build quality seems as sturdy as the other FiiO products, but when you take it in your hand you realize it has thinner materials, not so resistant as those from FiiO E12 or E17.

X3 has an easy to use menu and you can’t do anything else on it aside listening to music, that being the main focus of the unit. The screen is also there for the same purpose and nothing more.

Sound Impressions

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

FiIO X3 Review

I have done the tests with Focal Spirit One, Mikros 90 , Audeze LCD3Sennheiser HD800, & FiiO E12 .

Massive Attack – Inertia Creeps

The first thing I observed was the good PRAT. The drums had a good impact and tactility. The instruments also popped into attention very easy and made a good impression.

Johny Cash – The Man Comes Around

I love the FiiO sound signature. The guitars chords and the voice are right there with you playing with your eardrum.  The plucks tickle your ears and the voice is very warm and engaging. It really hit on my soft spot.

Rachmaninov – Symphonic Dances 

Considering the sound signature of FiiO, I was pleasantly surprise by the performance with this classical masterpiece. The instruments had a very good presence, feel & tactility, especially the lower notes ones. The flutes and similar instruments were more mellow and not so well detailed but very pleasant to the ears, flowing with delicacy and caressing your ears.  Some may prefer a more neutral sound, but I found the x3 having an airy presentation also with a decent soundstage making it very suitable for classical music as well.

Tracy Chapman – Speak the Word

Again, I was very impressed with FiiO. The guitars & drums are just awesome. They have a very good tactility and detail, they just make me dance. Also the voice has a very good tonality and texture.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

You would think that the X3 would be excellent with rock considering it’s sound signature. Well you cannot be more right. I just cannot stop from headbanging here. The PRAT is amazing and the drums and electric guitars just charge you with energy.

Fiio E12 Review

Summary

Bass

The bass has a very good depth being slightly elevated (the mid-bass ) but very fun to listen to. It has a very good punch and feel overall, making the drums very engaging!

Midrange

The bass and mid-range is what I love about the X3. It is a little elevated as well making the instruments like guitars, cellos, voices very engaging, tactile and pleasant.

Treble

The treble is a little recessed and has no sign of brightness. Many people could prefer more extended treble but X3‘s treble is mellow and very pleasant to the ears.

Transients

I love the attack and the tactility it gives to the instruments. You can feel the guitars and drums like they are near you. The decay is a little slower than the attack giving it a little tubey feel.

Detailed

The sound has very good definition and detail, in both micro and macro departments.

Excellent PRAT

I cannot stop listening to it. The x3 is very engaging and can rock your world. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself acting like this on the street while listening to it.

Conclusions

FiiO X3 Review

Am I going to recommend FiiO X3? What? You didn’t buy one yet :P ?

Of course I recommend it. The X3  is just awesome.

At this price the X3 is a steal. I loved it with all the headphones I tested it with, even with HD800 with which made a very good pair sound wise – good bass, engaging and warm sound with no sibilance or brightness.

I even liked the LCD3 with it, though not as much as HD800 which was a better match.

Even though I would recommend the X3 paired with the E12 with LCD3 & HD800, it did a decent job by itself.

So you can take your HD800 from your desktop rig and listen to it in your bedroom for a few hours without a problem.

I seriously don’t see any competitor to the X3 in this price range except maybe IBasso DX50 which I haven’t heard yet.

Pros

  • bass with good punch and depth
  • detailed in both micro/macro departments
  • excellent prat, good dynamics and energy
  • very good attack that gives tactility to the instruments
  • voices sound very natural and well textured
  • very good price

Cons

  • the build quality is below E12 and E17  material wise
  • some may consider the lack of neutrality a con, but in this case it is my kind of coloration :D

Can’t wait to hear the upcoming FiiO X5.