Overview of audiophile player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

FiiO X5 III is the third generation of the popular mid-price player. He took from the flagship FiiO X7 touch screen and Android OS and became very similar to the X7 without a bottom amplifier connected. All the electronic stuffing in the X5 III was completely redesigned. In fact, the engineers left nothing from the X5, except for the popular name, indicating a relatively affordable price. What good has the update brought?

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

First, the Android OS. In modern conditions, the model of using players varies slightly. Yes, the user still writes favorite tracks from his library to the player. However, there are also popular streaming services and various cloud applications for Android, such as Sound Cloud, Play Music, Youtube and the like. Why would a portable player not provide the owner with the same features? Unlike a typical smartphone, the portable player based on Android is still able to output 32 bits 384 kHz and DSD128. In addition, you can save on developing and maintaining your own OS and get a ready translation into a hundred world languages. And the money saved on OS can be invested in a better quality musical stuffing.


Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

Why not transfer the player to your phone? Such experiments are already being undertaken, but the phone with a ground battery threatens the owner to remain unconnected, while a discharged player will not bring any special troubles. Why not connect an external DAC to the phone? Here there are just a few problems: not a particularly reliable Micro-USB connection, which was not originally designed for a pocket; Not always the possible compatibility of the smartphone with an external DAC.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

In addition to purely programmable buttons, the player also has hardware play / stop, next / previous, and also a digital volume wheel. All this distinguishes it from just a phone or simply a mobile DAC. In addition, there is a clean line output on a separate mini-jack, to which you can output a signal without adjusting the volume.

The brand feature of FiiO players is work as a USB DAC. Supported modes up to 24 bit 192 kHz. There are drivers with ASIO support for Windows 7/8 and, separately, for Windows 10.

Fiio X5 3rd gen – price. Where is the best place to buy?

The recommended retail price for the Fiio X5 3rd gen in the US is about $ 399,99. At this cost, you can order it on Amazon. Plus Shipping, so the total cost of Fiio X5 3rd gen when ordering on Amazon will be about $ 420. I would not recommend ordering anywhere else except on Amazon. Since you are less likely to find cheaper, and if you do not take into account the fact that Amazon is probably the most reliable online store, it still very often provides free shipping.

Android

Android 5.1, on which the player is based, is a fairly mature OS, with native code and extended battery life. Compared to Android 4.4, the operating time has grown by 1.5 hours in a specific numerical expression. According to the manufacturer, the player is not a phone version, but a special modification with a redesigned sound subsystem. The total running time with the use of typical headphones is an impressive figure of 10 hours.

As in the X7, there are two modes: Pure Music only for music and the usual Android for installing any applications from the Play Store. Pure Music does not allow running third-party applications and services, which saves the battery. In terms of sound quality, the modes do not differ – it is high in any case.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

If the previous models of FiiO players were made functional, but without any frills, then in the new X5 III the manufacturer decided to show off a little. The body is made from a milled solid piece of aluminum, coated with zirconium (No. 180 zirconium sand) and with accents of stainless steel. On the body, a hardly noticeable texture was opened – a small geometric pattern in front and behind.

In general, if not for the X7, then the X5 III could well claim the title of the flagship model in the premium segment. By the way, users were asked to remove the FiiO logo from the front panel of the device. The manufacturer promised to do this in a mass party.

There are three colors: gray, black and red. The case is quite slippery and flecked. It is best to enclose the player in one of the included cases, silicone or leather.

FiiO X5 player specifications

Name FiiO X5 of the third generation (FX5321)
SoC RK3188
Number of cores 4
Core frequency 1.4 GHz
Chips DAC: 2 × AK4490, low pass filter: 2 × OPA1642, op amp: 2 × OPA426
OS custom Android 5.1.1
Entering letters and numbers virtual keyboard
Special Functions Android / Pure Music modes, symmetrically located assignable buttons, USB DAC mode (sound card), docking, etc.
Management touch screen
Graphical Interface Android 5.1.1 / FiiO Music software
Connection
Wi-Fi IEEE802.11b / g / n, 2.4 GHz
USB Micro-USB 2.0
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0, support for aptX
Screen
Size 3.97 in.
Screen Type IPS
Resolution 480 × 800
Density of points 233 ppi
Number of colors 16.7 million
Angles 178 °
Memory
RAM 1 GB
Extras. Memory card slot microSD
Maximum External Card Size 512 GB (2 × 256 GB)
On-board Flash Memory 32 GB
Available Flash Memory 26 GB
Buttons and Ports
Buttons buttons on the case, volume wheel and touchscreen
Headphone output 3.5 mm minijack
Line output / S / PDIF 3.5 mm minijack
Balanced output 2.5mm jigsaw
USB connector Micro-USB 2.0 (charging, data transfer, docking, USB DAC mode)
General
Color titanium / black / red
Weight 186 g
Recommended load 16-150 Ω
Channel Balance max. Adjustment of 10 dB
USB DAC (sound card mode) up to 192 kHz 24 bit
Dimensions 114 × 66 × 15 mm
Volume Control 120 steps, using the +/-
Equalizer 10-band ± 6 dB, 9 presets ready + custom (in the future there will be an equalizer with an arbitrary curve of AFC, drawn with a finger on the screen), the Viper effect
Gain low / high
Power
USB PSU for recharging DC 12 V / 1.5 A, 9 V / 2 A, 5 V / 2 A (recommended)
Charging indication LCD and LED
Battery Status Indicator yes (accurate, in percent)
Battery internal, 3400 mAh, Li-Pol
Charging time <2 h (DC 12 V / 1.5 A) and <3 h (DC 5 V / 2 A)
Battery life
with normal headphones 27 Ohm & gt; 10h
with a balanced connection of 32 Ohm ≥8 h
Support for file formats
Lossless compression:
  • DSD: DSD64 / 128 (.ISO, .DSF, .DFF
  • DXD: 352.8K
  • APE Fast / High / Normal: 384 kHz / 24 bit
  • APE Extra High: 192 kHz / 24 bit
  • APE Insane: 48 kHz / 24 bit
  • Apple Lossless: 384 kHz / 24 bit
  • AIFF: 384 kHz / 24 bit
  • FLAC: 384 kHz / 24 bit
  • WAV: 384 kHz / 32 bit
  • WMA Lossless: 96 kHz / 24 bit
Lossy compression: MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG …

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

Internal memory of 32 GB can be expanded by installing 2 microSD cards (up to 256 GB) in two slots.

In addition to the specifications, the manufacturer reports that it has used two separate quartz oscillators: one for DSD / 44/88/176/352 kHz, the second for 48/96/192/384 kHz.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

In the LPF chain after the DAC, there are two two-channel OPA1642 operational amplifier – we already saw such a solution in X5 II. But what was not, it’s custom-made models OPA426. The Internet does not know about such models, it is known only that these are powerful current buffers with a passport 300 mW at 32-ohm load. This is enough for a low-ohmic load. For the sake of experiment, we tried to connect the hardest high-impedance headphones that we had – the player, they too were on the shoulder.

Linear output characteristics
To G+ noise & lt; 0.0009% (10 kΩ / 1 kHz)
Frequency Response 5 Hz – 55 kHz (-3 dB)
Channel Separation & gt; 98 dB (10 kΩ / 1 kHz)
Signal / Noise ≥120 dBA
Dynamic Range & gt; 117dB
Output voltage & gt; 1.8 V RMS(10 kΩ / 1 kHz)
Characteristics of the headphone output
Power 1 ≥480 mW (16 Ω / K G+ noise <1%)
Power 2 ≥250 mW (32 Ω / K G+ noise <1%)
Power 3 ≥28 mW (300 Ω / K G+ noise <1%)
Frequency Response 5 Hz – 55 kHz (-3 dB)
Signal / Noise ≥115 dBA
Output Impedance & lt; 1 Ω (32 Ω)
Channel Separation & gt; 73 dB (1 kHz)
To G+ noise & lt; 0.003% (1 kHz)
Voltage swing & gt; 8 V P-P
Maximum current & gt; 250 mA
Balanced output characteristics
Power 1 ≥400 mW (16 Ω / K G+ noise <1%)
Power 2 ≥240 mW (32 Ohm / K G+ noise & lt; 1%)
Power 3 ≥26 mW (300 Ω / K G+ noise <1%)
Frequency Response 5 Hz – 55 kHz (-3 dB)
Signal / Noise ≥111 dBA
Output Impedance & lt; 3 Ω (32 Ω)
Channel Separation & gt; 98 dB (1 kHz)
To G+ noise & lt; 0.003% (1 kHz)
Voltage swing & gt; 7.5V P-P
Maximum current & gt; 250 mA

The characteristics are stated quite high, but these are realistic parameters, which are confirmed by our measurements.

Interface and features of the software player

The application of the proprietary player is steadily improving, overgrown with functions. The maximum volume of the wheel can be limited in order not to accidentally twist the gain into the out-of-zone zones and not damage the hearing and headphones. I liked the opportunity to play the last entries added to the library. However, if you do not need Hi-Res-format support, you can install any software player from the Android application store. Improved sound Viper Effect first appeared in X5 III. For the older model X7 it is also promised to add, so stay tuned.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

One of the types of display is a pointer indicator, a volumeter.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

You can also display the album artwork or lyrics.

Equalizer also works well in Hi-Res modes!

The latest firmware adds support for DoP for S / PDIF output – the player can be used as a transport for a DAC of a higher price category! The adapter to the S / PDIF connector is included.

5 types of digital filters – an integral feature of the new converters AKM 44-series. Here it is proposed to choose a trade-off between the flat frequency response and the speed of the filter. In fact, it turns out that the differences are minimal. The Sharp modes sound a bit shorter, Slow – a bit softer.

Hardware measurements

During the tests of the FiiO X7 player, we wrote that we rested on the capabilities of our equipment. Approximately the same thing happened this time: the results came to the limit of measurements without the use of special equipment. In some cases, with a full charge of the player’s battery and with a successful arrangement of cables, we received a signal / noise of more than 118.5 dBA. The manufacturer claims more than 120 dBA. In this, I readily believe.

The device being tested FiiO X5 III
Operation mode 24-bit, 44 kHz
Sound Interface ASIO
Signal path HP out 2Vrms
RMAA version 6.4.1 Pro
Filter 20 Hz – 20 kHz yes
Signal Conditioning yes
Level change -0.3 dB / -0.2 dB
Mono Mode none
Calibration frequency, Hz 1000
Polarity inverted / inverted
Uneven frequency response (in the range 40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB +0.03, -0.24 Very good
Noise level, dB (A) -117.2 Great
Dynamic range, dB (A) 117.1 Great
Harmonic distortion,% 0.0024 Great
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB (A) -89.9 Good
Intermodulation distortions + noise,% 0.024 Good
Interconnection of channels, dB -109.3 Great
Intermodulation at 10 kHz,% 0.0017 Great
Overall Rating Great

With the headphone output, the result is completely dependent on the signal level: when the signal grows, the noise decreases and the distortion increases slightly. We provide measurements of the headphone output at a level of 2 V RMS. If you reduce the signal amplitude to 1 V RMS, the distortion drops sharply.

The device being tested FiiO X5 III
Operation mode 24-bit, 44 kHz
Sound Interface & nbsp;
Signal path HP out
RMAA version 6.4.1 Pro
Filter 20 Hz – 20 kHz yes
Signal Conditioning yes
Level change -6.3 dB / -6.2 dB
Mono Mode none
Calibration frequency, Hz 1000
Polarity inverted / inverted
Uneven frequency response (in the range 40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB +0.03, -0.24 Very good
Noise level, dB (A) -111.2 Great
Dynamic range, dB (A) 111.2 Great
Harmonic distortion,% 0.0004 Great
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB (A) -100.9 Great
Intermodulation distortions + noise,% 0.0017 Great
Interconnection of channels, dB -108.1 Great
Intermodulation at 10 kHz,% 0.0008 Great
Overall Rating Great

So measurements can be carried out under different conditions, depending on which parameter you need to “pull out” – distortion or signal / noise. Or you can combine them, as manufacturers do.

The device being tested FiiO X5 III
Operation mode 24-bit, 44 kHz
Sound Interface & nbsp;
Signal path Line-out
RMAA version 6.4.1 Pro
Filter 20 Hz – 20 kHz yes
Signal Conditioning yes
Level change -1.6 dB / -1.5 dB
Mono Mode none
Calibration frequency, Hz 1000
Polarity inverted / inverted
Uneven frequency response (in the range 40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB +0.13, -0.07 Very good
Noise level, dB (A) -116.9 Great
Dynamic range, dB (A) 116.9 Great
Harmonic distortion,% 0.0009 Great
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB (A) -97.8 Great
Intermodulation distortions + noise,% 0.0019 Great
Interconnection of channels, dB -98.3 Great
Intermodulation at 10 kHz,% 0.0052 Great
Overall Rating Great

The measurements of the pure linear output show excellent results both in noise and in distortion. As a source of linear signal the player can also come in handy.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

Subjective evaluation, listening with headphones, opinion after use

Let’s pass to a subjective estimation. In our forum, a real holivar erupted on the topic “measurements vs. Plays “. Unfortunately, there is no convincing evidence of sufficiency of measurements yet. Moreover, there are discrepancies between some technical parameters and subjective assessment due to the primitiveness of the techniques and the lack of accounting for psychoacoustics. Thus, when choosing the equipment for the buyer, it’s best to listen carefully before buying. The expert’s opinion of the article is not decisive – listen then to the expert and not you, – but at least it can be used to obtain primary information about the product.

In our opinion, the sound of the player FiiO X5 III is high-quality. No distortion is heard. Everything is transmitted very naturally. The sound is fairly neutral, does not have a special character or interpretation. Standing inside the AK4490 is itself a pretty soft DAC. In the player it does not sound sluggish, but rather dynamic and detailed. This is the merit and high-quality operational amplifiers of TI, and the overall high culture of developers. For a mobile device, sound is one of the best. We all liked it very much, and then the user should listen and determine whether “fits or does not fit”, yours is a sound or not yours.

Overview of the player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen) based on dual mono AK4490 and Android OS

During the evaluation of the sound, we actively used Hi-Res recordings, listened to DSD128, 24 bit 354 kHz, compared to the version of 16 bits 44 kHz proposed by the recording publisher. The difference is very small, but it is. Switching the recording from one fragment to another, you can catch your hearing for small differences at medium frequencies. The usual 16/44 format is slightly inferior to Hi-Res in detail and attack. Perhaps the fact is that the record was originally written in DXD, this is for her native source format. That is, the quality of 16 bits 44 kHz will be determined by the accuracy of the conversion, rather than the possibility of the format itself. However, Hi-Res is very pleasant and easy to listen to. DSD sounds subjectively more rough and granular, but these distortions do not irritate, because the sound seems a bit more dynamic from this than DXD. The latter, perhaps, is more balanced and neutral. Choosing between these options Hi-Res is possible depending on the headphones – on whether a softer or more harsh sound they have. Native DSD has a certain operational disadvantage: in this mode, the equalizer does not work. That is, DXD should not be discounted, this format is more convenient.

As we recall, the FiiO X7 flagship is based on the ES9018S and has interchangeable amplifier modules, and it is highly recommended to experiment with them. In the X5 III model, although AK4490 and a fixed amplifier are used, but everything is done on a level, so this model stands close to the flagship and very confidently begins to compete with it for the buyer’s attention.

Master & Dynamic MH40

We used to listen to several models of headphones, including the American headphones Master & Dynamic MH40. We got a white design, there are several more color options. Design gravitates towards retro. All the parts that look like plastic on the photo are actually made of metal. Pillows and headband are enclosed in lambskin. The overall appearance is strongly reminiscent of American brands, working in a retro style.

Master & Dynamic MH40

This headphone model is not very expensive, $ 400, but stylish and with a decent sound, something reminiscent of the M50X. It sounds exactly as good, even more natural. The headphones have a dynamic radiator of 45 mm with a standard impedance of 32 ohms.

Master & Dynamic MH40 and FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen)

We measured from the interest of the frequency response of the Master & Dynamic MH40 headphones on the Brüel & Kjær 4153 stand – Artificial Ear / Ear Simulator (IEC 60318-1), produced in Denmark. The schedule shows that the emphasis is on the bass and slightly on the HF.

The FiiO X5 III not only effortlessly voiced the Master & Dynamic MH40, but also coped with the serious load – the planar-magnetic MrSpeakers Ether C Flow, with their 23 ohms and 92 dB / mW, that is, with demands for increased current efficiency. Also we tried to connect the Fostex TH900 (25 ohms, 100 dB / mW). The player voices any expensive full-size headphones without problems, not particularly inferior in this capacity to the flagship X7 with an amplifier for BUF634. Moreover, the manufacturer did not play marketing and gave the X5 III a balanced output to the headphones. That is, potentially any player can be interested in any owner of even the most exotic headphones with a balanced cable.

If in the X7 review we complained about a long charge (4 hours), in the case of X5 III, you can use not only the usual 5 V charging, but also a fast 9/12 V, reducing the charge time to just 1.5 hours.

Of the shortcomings, you can complain about the rapidly greasy screen, so that you can control the side buttons better.

Video review of player FiiO X5 III (3rd Gen)



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