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

Our X3 came with no fewer than twenty six hi-res music demo tracks  from Chesky, showing just how good high-resolution downloads – in this case from HDtracks – can sound. There were some great little demos here, including David Chesky in a Cathedral walking up to the mic to demo binaural recording technology - eery! Even worse was a binaural haircut where scissors and razor travel over the listener’s head on replay. Amusing demo tracks like this were common in the early days of stereo – I have LPs of them. It was great to hear more, in latest digital. However, I loaded and played my own series of music files that sit on a 16GB SanDisk SD card for listening tests, since they are tracks I know and also have on my Astell&Kern AK120 for comparative purposes. I used Philips Fidelio X1 headphones, Jay V-Jays when on the move, and the player also fed my WAD300B valve amplifier driving Martin Logan Electromotion hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers.
    Straight away I simply enjoyed the X3. Being used to an AK120 it obviously lacked the tidiness and orderliness, and the bass line behind Diana Krall singing Narrow Daylight (24/96) was softer and warmer, less defined in the time domain. This sort of thing apart, the X3 sounded big and lusty through ‘phones – there were the same forceful dynamic contrasts I have come to expect, or at least hope for, from such players, due to their specialised DACs and headphone amps.
    The Eagles ‘Somebody’ (16/44.1) roared along, Glen Frey sounding full bodied, the Hammond organ swirling fruitily in the background. The bass line on ‘Busy Being Fabulous’ was solid and kick drum had punch: this track rocked. Again the X3 wasn’t as tidy or couth as the AK120, but then you would not expect it to be at the price.
    It was with hi-res classical rather than Eagles type Rock that the X3 was ‘nice’ rather supremely lucid or tightly controlled. The Minnesota Orchestra playing Rimsky Korsakov’s Dance of the Tumblers from The Snow Maiden (24/96) came over as full bodied and powerful, but suffused with a small amount of bloom that added a pleasant sense of warmth to proceedings. If anything the X3 is best described as big hearted and almost ‘warm’ in the sense that it has an easy demeanour. It lacks the sharp definition or sense of deep inter-transient silence of more expensive players, it also lacks their forensic resolution and grip; it is less couth all round and not as dramatic. But it manages to be fun and it conveys the intrinsic quality of high resolution digital audio files well.



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