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Taron & Andrew Lissimore
We always talk about how a high-resolution player loaded with lossless music files is the key to great headphone performance. Outside of the actual headphone itself, employing top-caliber .WAV (or similar quality) high-bitrate files is the most important factor for getting really superb sound, especially in portable listening applications.
Of course, its always been a bit of an investment getting a dedicated hot-rodded music player to go along with your great headphones - that is, until now.
The new FiiO X1-II ‘second generation’ digital media player offers a whole host of modern features and excellent design updates over the first version. And the best part is FiiO held the line at an amazingly affordable price still under $100 bucks.
Hey, we hear all that murmuring out there ..."Ahem, well, yeah sure it's a ridiculous bargain but what’s the performance trade-off over more expensive high-res players?," you might rightfully ask. “Not much!” is our gleeful response.
Somehow, the FiiO folks managed to bring a lot of the good stuff from their pricier devices like the X5 and X7 players into the bargain X1-II unit while adding sweet new features like Bluetooth 4.0 wireless streaming into the mix. Holy wire-free jams, Batman!
The new FiiO X1-II model has a tidy new scroll wheel controller and improved headphone amp circuitry along with nicer cosmetics over the first iteration of the X1 player. The LCD 2-inch screen display is noticeably sharper behind a tempered glass panel and the whole interface seems more intuitive to learn and use than other high-end player devices of this type. For car audio applications, the X1-II unit can charge via a USB connection while listening via an analog mini-cable. You can also send out the X1-II audio to your compatible Bluetooth car radio if you prefer going wireless.
A vast array of internal settings allows personalization of tons of device features including on-screen display options and a user-customizable EQ. The charging method is via an included micro USB cable. Expect about 12 hours of play time from a 3 hour charge. Our FiiO X1-II review unit arrived 100% fully charged up and ready to rock right out of the box.
Most importantly, the internals of the FiiO X1-II player features an excellent circuit topology with high-performance SoC JZ4760B audio chips capable of delivering truly impressive audiophile-level sound. And of course it ably handles the usual array of high-resolution file formats like APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, WAV, MP3, AAC, Ogg, etc.
There are still some relatively minor drawbacks like no internal device storage. However, you can now use 256G SD cards in the X1-II, so consider the capacity problems addressed and solved, natch. You also can't use the X1 device as a ‘stand-alone’ D-to-A processor/DAC for your computer like you can with the more expensive FiiO units. But then again, that’s where the big cost savings come in - as ever, it’s always, “mo’ features, mo’ money!”
And although FiiO has a pretty nice built-in headphone amp circuit in the updated X1-II player, critical audiophiles using high-impedance/low sensitivity reference headphones or extra power-hungry cans may still opt to employ an outboard headphone amp via the X1-II player’s analog line-out feature. The X1-II player can also dovetail with a bigger FiiO desktop system like the FiiO K5 for improved sonic drive and acoustic power when listening at home or the office.
A hair sleeker versus the previous X1 model, the FiiO X1-II is a very compact and portable player measuring roughly 4” inches long by just over 2 inches across and about ½” inch thick - it’s definitely a very slim-profile, easy-to-carry little box. The sturdy aluminum alloy metal housing feels nicely solid and lightweight in the hand and durably built for the long haul.
A big plus is future FiiO firmware updates for the X1-II player should further expand its performance, browsing and navigational abilities, so its a well-supported yet affordably friendly high-tech music device with legs for potential future improvements. Well done, FiiO!