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Article Index
FiiO X1 2nd Gen
p2
p3 Sound Quality, Conclusion
p4 Measured Performance
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X1 EXTRA

 

 

Noel Keywood reviews FiiO's latest X1 portable digital audio player – and finds it gives you more, for less. 

 

 

Gentlemen, set fire to your engines. When you do, FiiO’s new X1 will switch on, they say. I didn’t try to “ignite” my car’s engine – as advised on their website – to find out but I did try out the rest of this new budget player – and came away impressed.

   The X1 2nd Gen as it is called is small, light – and at just £100 will not stretch anyone’s budget. This new portable, digital audio player (DAP) will likely be as popular as the first X1 by offering a financially painless way into high quality audio on the move. I use the Astell&Kern AK120 player in my pocket as a hi-res CD player so have a particular view on DAPs. The X1 2nd Gen didn’t meet my requirements – but boy was it good at the price. Here’s a lovely, if limited player.

   The tiny X1 is top-pocketable: yes, like Astell&Kern’s original AK100, the X1 2nd Gen is small and light enough to fit a shirt pocket, measuring 55mm wide, 97mm high and 12mm deep. On our scales weight came in at 111gms, where 180-220 gms is common. It will drive one pair of headphones, into which it can deliver a healthy 1.5V measurement showed – and this is more than enough to go very loud. One fifth as much was once a common maximum, to prevent hearing damage, but these days esoteric headphone designs are appearing that are insensitive and need more (Oppo and Audeze magnetic planars); the X1 drove my Oppo PM1s easily.

   The headphone socket doubles as a Line output, fixing volume to maximum (1.5V); an external volume control then provides signal attenuation. This means the X1 provides less volume than a CD player (2V) but technically this is no big issue – just turn amplifier volume up. Note that the headphone port is on the bottom of the player, not the top as is usual – not something I see as especially convenient, especially for shirt pocket use.

   A microUSB port provides a charging and file loading connection, through the usual microUSB2 to USB2 Type A plug – cable supplied. A menu option switches this from file loading (mass storage) to operation with a car system (In-Vehicle mode), but this only switches the player on and off; it doesn’t send music to the car’s audio system. To do that, FiiO say, connect the player’s analogue line out to the car’s analogue line in, assuming it has one. 

   Or use wireless Bluetooth, since the new X1 has this also. If your car has it, then it might work. One user on the FiiO website said this did not work but I paired our player with an Audiolab M-ONE amplifier successfully. aptX compression is not used at present but may come later, FiiO say.   

   As with the previous X1 there is no digital output – and this is where I pass. For home and office use I need a digital output to link into a hi-fi DAC so the portable can be used as a high-resolution CD player in effect. If you want this, then an X3 is the way to go perhaps. 



 

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