Article Index
FiiO X3 portable digital audio player
page 2
page 3
page 4 Sound Quality
page 5 Conclusion
page 6 Measured Performance
All Pages

    The X3 outputs S/PDIF digital from a 3.5mm jack and it worked properly from the outset, unlike the DX50, except that 192kHz sample rate files were down-sampled to 96kHz (firmware 2.05). Curtailed audio bandwidth was clearly visible on our analyser and both Q-DAC and our Rohde & Schwarz UPV audio analyser flagged up 96kHz sample rate. In case you are wondering, bit depth was not reduced, and since this is more influential upon sound quality than sample rate, the X3’s digital output still works well enough and has a useful role to play for hi-fi buffs who want the best from high resolution files.

    Of all the players I have used to date, the X3 was the fiddliest and least intuitive. It fires up quickly – in just a few seconds – but the home screen has a rather turgid list of options in dull blue text; turning brightness to maximum improves legibility. This is not a touch screen as on the Astell&Kerns, so the X3 is driven by pressing buttons. Basically, there are forward and back buttons, forward acting to Start and Pause play when a file is reached. There are Up and Down (the menu list) buttons too. Files can be searched by Category (Album, Genre, Artist), as a list, or as a computer folder/file tree.
    Since so much output is available via headphones, gain can be set High or Low, and maximum output volume and default output volume levels set also, to prevent excessive headphone volume. Album artwork is supported.
    The X3 is inelegant: its display panel is workmanlike, its controls prosaic in layout and touch and the screen a little coarse, but it is usable and I’m not going to be critical considering its low price.
    There are treble and bass controls, but no equaliser as found on many other players. Volume (0-60) is controlled by Up and Down buttons. Gapless playback is an option, and Repeat Once, Repeat All and Shuffle. Various screen dim and auto power off times can be set, to preserve battery life – or otherwise.
    The player can be re-set using a paper clip through a small hole in the case and, whilst this isn’t very convenient, our sample never crashed once, unlike all other players I’ve tested to date. I was impressed by this; the X3 was a sweet player to use in real life, if short on style.
    Our sample came with Firmware version 1.23 and was updated to 2.05 without difficulty; both were stable. You have to download the firmware to a microSD card, since the player updates from card only. A small card of 1GB will do, FAT32 formatted and best loaded direct from computer through a USB adaptor that costs pennies. The card is then put into the player, two buttons pressed simultaneously and bingo – it’s done.



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