FiiO X1ii - Hits And Misses


Review from:Head-Fi

→→ Read the original article on Head-Fi: >> Click here

Pros - Sound quality, build quality, ease of navigation, features for price point

Cons - Speed (UI and library), poor Bluetooth performance, missing features (from old model)

Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click (photos in tables) to view larger images.


One of my first introductions to FiiO (from a DAP perspective) was the original X1. At the time I was looking for an affordable portable player which I could use on-the-go and also around home (pairing an appropriate amplifier for full sized cans). When it was first released, the firmware was a work in progress. It took FiiO a while to get it right, but eventually what we got was a fully featured pocketable audio
player with very good SQ, and some killer features including true gapless and also replay gain. The only negative (for em anyway) was the mechanical control wheel. Mine had become loose over time (a testament to how often I used it), and now navigation with it is decidedly challenging (it jitters all over the place – no accuracy in selection). Enter FiiO's upgrade – the new X1 2nd generation (or X1ii). CouldFiiO improve on what was to me the best sub $100 DAP being offered? Read on for my impressions.


By now, most Head-Fi members should know about the FiiO Electronics Company. If you don’t, here’s a very short summary.

FiiO was first founded in 2007. Their first offerings were some extremely low cost portable amplifiers – which were sometimes critiqued by some seasoned Head-Fiers as being low budget “toys”. But FiiOhas spent a lot of time with the community here, and continued to listen to their potential buyers, adopt our ideas, and grow their product range. They debuted their first DAP (the X3) in 2013, and despite some early hiccups with developing the UI, have worked with their customer base to continually develop the firmware for a better user experience. The X3 was followed by the X5, X1, X7 and most of these DAPs are now into their 2nd or even 3rd generations.

They've also developed new cables, desktop and portable amplifiers, DACs, ear-buds and earphones. FiiO’s products have followed a very simple formula since 2007 – affordable, stylish, well built, functional, measuring well, and most importantly sounding good.


The X1 2nd generation (from this point known as the X1ii) was provided to me gratis as a review sample. I have made it clear to FiiO in the past that I did regard any product they sent me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. I have continued to use a lot of their gear for follow up reviews, but also for everyday use. I had previously purchased a lot of FiiO products and inquired if I could purchase other review samples a while ago from FiiO (for personal use). They have insisted I keep any further sample products for for my own use. So I acknowledge now that the X1ii I have is supplied and gifted completely free of any charge or obligation. I thank FiiO for their generosity.

I have now had the X1ii for around 9-10 months. The retail price at time of review is ~ USD 95-100. The reason I have waited to review this item is for eventual firmware maturity.

PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, X7ii and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, SennheiserHD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and it has mainly been with my own personally owned IEMs - the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and LZ Big Dipper. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present) is listed in my Head-Fi profile (note to self - it does need updating).

I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not overly treble sensitive, and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.

I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be skeptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.

For the purposes of this review - I've used the X1ii and tested most of the functions I am able to. I have prior experience with entry level Sony's (very early models), then step-ups to the Cowon iAudio7, iPhone4, iPod Touch G4, iPhone 5S, HSA Studio V3, FiiO X5, X1, X3ii, X5ii, X7, X1ii, X7ii, X3iii, iPhone SE, Cayin i5, and the L&P LP5, L5 Pro, and L3.

This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.


I thought I’d list (before I start with the review) what I really look for in a new DAP.
  • Clean, neutral signature – but with body (not thin)

  • Good build quality

  • Reasonable battery life – at least 8-10 hours

  • Easy to use interface

  • Able to drive both low impedance and (within reason) higher impedance cans without additional amping.

  • Value for money

  • Enough storage to hold either my favourite albums in red-book, or my whole library in a reasonably high resolution lossy format (for me – aac256)

  • Gapless playback

  • Reasonable EQ

  • Bluetooth/Wireless if available

Did I get all of this with the X1ii, and more importantly was the X1ii an improvement on the X1 original? Well lets just say mostly on the features, but not entirely on the improvement, and although I hope that some of the remaining shortcomings with the firmware might still be improved over time, I have my personal reservations on how much can still be achieved.



The X1ii arrived in a fully printed white retail box measuring approx 95 x 165 x 40mm. The front has a full colour photo of the X1ii and the rear has a list of the main features (in both English and Chinese). Inside the outer retail jacket is a white rigid box and lid simply adorned with the word “FiiO”. Removing the lid gives us our first look at the X1ii. Under this is another compartment which is home to the accessories. 

Retail boxInner boxFull accessory package

The total accessory package includes:
  • The FiiO X1ii

  • One USB data and charging cable

  • One clear flexible plastic / polycarbonate type case

  • Quick start guide and warranty

  • Screen protectors

  • Hi-res sticker

  • Customizing stickers

The accessories are reasonable quality and the case is a snug fit and protects nicely. With case fitted, the X1ii can be docked into both DK1 dock and also the K5 dock/amplifier.

(From FiiO's website), and I've included the original X1 specs, as well as the specs for the X3ii which is now very close in price.
ModelX1 2rd GenX1 OriginalX3 2nd Gen
Approx current price$95-100 USD$95-100 USD$140 USD
Dimensions~ 97 x 56 x 12 mm~ 96 x 58 x 14 mm~ 97 x 58 x 16 mm
Weight102 g106 g135 g
DSD SupportNoNoDSD64/128
Use as external DACNoNoYes
Battery1800 mAh1700 mAh2600 mAh
Play time~12hr~12hr~11hr
DAC ChipPCM 5242PCM5142CS4398
Main amp chipISL28291ISL28291OPA1612 + LMH6643
SNR (H/O)≥113 dB (A-weighted)≥110 dB (A-weighted)≥113 dB (A-weighted)
THD+N (H/O)<0.003% (32Ω/1kHz)<0.003% (32Ω/1kHz)<0.001% (32Ω/1kHz)
Output to 16ohm100 mW100 mW224 mW
Output to 32ohm70 mW65 mW200 mW
Output to 300ohm8 mW8 mW24 mW
H/O Impedance<1.0Ω<0.2Ω<0.2Ω
Line Out?Yes – combined with H/OYes – combined with H/OYes – separate outputs
Digital Out?NoNoYes
Internal StorageNilNilNil
External StorageUp to 256 GbUp to 200 GbUp to 200 Gb
Screen320x240 TFT320x240 TFT320x240 TFT
OSCustom FiiO (Linux)Custom FiiOCustom FiiO

CHANGES FROM X1 original

The main differences between the X1ii and X1 are:
  • Rounded more hand friendly build

  • Addition of Bluetooth

  • Change from mechanical to touch based wheel

  • Upgrade to internal components

  • Addition of deep sleep functionality


One of the first things I noticed when setting my eyes on the X1ii was how much different the external design was. It's sleeker, more rounded (curvy) and just looks so much more modern than the previous model. Dimensionally they X1 original and X1ii are actually very close, but the thinner body on the X1ii just adds to the impression of sleekness and more contemporary design.

The front is made of tempered black glass and is dominated by the 320x240 TFT screen at the top, and the touch wheel at the bottom. Around the touch wheel are the usual 4 buttons. The buttons are tactile and have a nice feel and feedback to being clicked. The upper left button brings up a context menu that is dependent on the menu you are in. The upper right button is a back button, and puts you back up one hierarchal level. The bottom two buttons are forward, back / up, down / fast forward, rewind – depending on your application. The middle button is simply to select (i.e. action button). Like the X1 original – if you want to change volume – hold this button in (when screen is active) and the wheel volume control is activated.

Side buttonsInputs and outputs

On the left hand side is the power on/off and below that the vol up / down rocker buttons. The buttons again give a really nice tactile response, and for my hand, are nicely located within easy reach. At the bottom is the combined headphone out / line-out jack, the micro USB port for charging / data transfer, and the micro SDXC slot (which FiiO says will take up to 256 Gb cards). The micro USB is compatible with both of FiiO's current docks – the K5 dock/amp and the DK1 dock.

The actual X1ii casing is an aluminum alloy which is beautifully finished, smooth and nicely rounded – providing excellent fit in the hand.

The new touch wheel is easy to use, has reasonable sensitivity allowing easy movement and selection, but avoiding overshoot. FiiO did add a feature where you can use the actual wheel for button presses, but I advise to turn this off, as it actually interferes with the wheels tracking. It was a nice idea – just not really practical. The wheel is a marked improvement over the mechanical wheel on my X1, but falls a little short of the fine control available on Apple's Classic.

Screen comparison X1ii to X1Docking with K5 and DK1

The screen is the same size and resolution as the original X1, but where the X1's screen is quite warm (has an orangish hue), the X1ii's screen colour is a lot cooler (blueish tinge). Depending on the album cover, this can sometimes give more contrast, and sometimes less (very dependent on what you're viewing). Both are relatively clear, and easy to read – but both also suffer in direct sunlight.

If I was judging the X1ii based on build impressions alone – its a real improvement over the original X1, without many critiques.

Internally the X1ii has a variation of the chipsets used in the original X1, with the SoC from the same family (JZ4760B vs JZ4760BS), and the DAC being an upgrade from the same family (PCM5242 vs PCM5142). The LPF and OP amp used is the same on both devices (OPA2322 and ISL28291). In terms of measurements, the specs (refer the table I made above) are so close as to be indistinguishable (distortion, crosstalk, SNR etc). The X1 has fractionally higher peak voltage output, but when comparing the two with test tones, the FiiO F9 IEM, and an SPL meter, the actual output difference was negligible (both at vol 33/100 – and the difference only 0.3 dB higher on the X3ii). This would make comparisons pretty easy. The other major difference was the inclusion of Bluetooth in the X1ii (which we'll cover shortly).

The X1ii is powered by a 3.7V 1800 mAh Li-polymer battery which provides approximately 11-12 hours use in ideal conditions with an average load (like the F9), and Bluetooth disengaged. In my tests this was achievable using IEMs with the screen mostly off (with just the occasional checks to see how the battery was faring), and the DAP set to play continuously. This was very similar to the original X1'sbattery performance. Charging was slightly quicker with the newer X1ii using a 5V 2.1a battery pack – just over 3 hours with the X1ii vs approx 4 hours with the X1 original. You can also play and charge at the same time if using a battery pack like this. The one addition the X1ii has (relating to battery) is a deep sleep mode, whereby you can put the X1ii to sleep with inactivity, and it “sips” at the battery at a much lower rate, and can be almost instantly awakened (relatively anyway).

FiiO's output specs and recommendations show that they recommend use of 16ohm to 100ohm headphones – and the outputs are respectively:
100 mW at 16ohm
70 mW at 32ohm
8 mW at 300ohm

These are practically the same as the original X1's output – but what does this mean in the real world? With FiiO's 28 ohm 106 dB/mW F9, I was able to get to my normal listening level of 65-75 dB at around 35/100 volume on low gain. At 100/100 on low gain, this was pushed beyond the 100 dB level (again low gain). 40/100 was enough to adequately drive VE's 320 ohm Zen ear-buds, and even HiFiman's 60 ohm 103 dB/mW RE2000 was nicely driven at 40/100.

Power tests with F9, Zen2 and RE2000And with HD800S, MS Pro and HD630VB

I did try the X1ii with my HD800S, and while you could get it loud enough at 60/100, the bass just didn't sound right – not as articulate as usual – and realistically adding additional amplification was needed for harder to drive loads. But for most portable use (it was great with both the MS Pro and the HD630VB), you simply won't need an extra amplifier – the X1ii (like the original X1) has pretty good power output.

The X1ii comes with both Bluetooth 4.1, and is capable of two way transmission – so you could attach the X1ii to a portable speaker, and also a hand-held controller (like the RM1) and use the remote to control the X1ii, and the X1ii to feed the Bluetooth speaker. So how did the Bluetooth perform in real life? For this test, I used Trinity Audio's Bluetooth lanyard and also my pair of Fiil Diva portables.

First step – turning Bluetooth on – and a whopping 13 second wait between the time the Bluetooth switch is toggled, and the menu returns to say its ready. Not a good start. Another 10 seconds to search and find the Diva, and then a further 3-4 seconds to pair. The connection with the Diva at close range (ie in a pocket) was pretty good, the occasional hitch, but OK for walking outside. When I got into high traffic areas though – the connection wasn't the best, and even having it close was no guarantee of it working well. Next test was leaving the X1ii on the desk and walking away from it. I managed 6-7m before getting a lot of drop-outs. For the record, with my iPhone SE, the Diva finds and connects within a couple of seconds, has an operable range of around 10-12 meters (rock solid), and is also very stable in high electronic traffic areas. I'm suggesting the X1ii's Bluetooth transmitter is simply underpowered. The good news with the Diva was – all the headset controls worked well. End result, I'd use the Diva with the X1ii for walking, as long as I wasn't going to be in any high density traffic areas. And the Diva was pretty quick to connect again once the X1ii had stored it initially.


Next test – doing the same with the Trinity Audio lanyard. This time another 10 seconds to connect. And again about 3-4 seconds to pair. Connection was good with the X1ii in front of me. As soon as I moved it to my pocket, it started glitching, and even turning my head would cause cut-outs. Maximum range away from the unit was 3m, and its basically unusable. Again – checking with the iPhone SE, and its operable range is around 12m with the lanyard, and the audio is rock solid within that range. One final note – the Trinity lanyards full functionality worked completely with the iPhone, but didn't with the X1ii.

So final thoughts on Bluetooth:

  • Works well paired with gear which has reasonable BT receivers in unobstructed short range

  • Overall somewhat weak and unstable

  • Very slow connection

  • If turned on, slows the X1ii when restarting

  • Personally I'd use my iPhone

Anyone who's owned an X1, X3ii or X5ii will immediately recognise the UI. Its pretty functional and divided into 5 main areas
  • System Settings

  • Play Settings

  • Browse Files (folder navigation)

  • Category (tagged browsing)

  • Now Playing

Rather than go through screen-shots of all the UI screens, its probably easier to cover the main features, usability/speed, what its missing, and any issues I think it has.

For the price, the X1ii actually packs in a lot. You have your normal settings like timers, sleep mode, the ability to recognise in-line remotes in compatible head-sets (and the F9 IEM is a perfect match with the X1ii in this regard), language settings etc. There are some nifty additions though. The X1ii comes with 6 UI themes (and they aren't too bad IMO either). You can choose to display cover art, lyrics, and also change the on-screen font size (great for those of us with older eyes). You can change screen brightness, key-lock settings, and it also has a USB mode for use in the car (I couldn't get this working with my Camry – so probably incompatible).

Main menuSettingsEQTagged library

In the play settings, there is a 7 band equaliser – which works pretty well, and has presets for those who use them. There is line-out functionality and this can be set to variable or fixed which is nice to have. You can toggle to play through folders, and there is a gapless function which works for FLAC but has a small micro-gap for aac256 files. It does not really bother me – but if perfect gapless is essential for you, then it may pay to look elsewhere for now. Interestingly gapless is perfect on the original X1.

You can browse in folder mode, or by tagged library, and there is a rudimentary search function (first letter) which works surprisingly well if you just want to skip to a certain album or artist. Playlist functionality is pretty crude, but if you make them with an external app, they are pretty easy to manage (I use one for my test tracks). 

Missing Features / Issues
So gapless will be one of the big ones (depending on your tolerance to a micro gap), but the other one I really miss is the lack of replay gain which was working perfectly on the X1 original. For a device like this, I used to love (original X1) setting the player to shuffle all songs and not having to worry about changing volume. With the X1ii sadly we are still waiting, and I'm not sure if its likely to be implemented any time soon.

UPDATE 20 SEP – FiiO have a fix for lossy gapless being trialed on the X3iii. Expect this to filter down to the X1ii soon.

The other big issue is speed related – both the UI and scanning. I have 6576 tracks all very uniform aac256 on my sdxc card in my X1 original. It scan the entire library in about 3 minutes 30 seconds. Not rocket fast, but OK for someone who doesn't often add new music. The same card on the X1ii takes 12 minutes and 30 seconds. Yep – its like wading through molasses! And the UI is straight up sluggish. It lags more than the original X1, there is often a 1-2s delay between pressing play and music actually starting, and sometimes it looks as though its playing – but no sound. Usually its just a matter of pressing stop and then play again – but you shouldn't have to do this. I've also had a couple of instances when I've plugged in an earphone, and its engaged line-out mode. Thankfully you get a warning so you don't blast your ears – but these are all bugs, and they are very random.

Basically, if I was giving the X1ii a 10/10 for better build and aesthetic design (compared to X1 original), for the UI, usability, speed and even features, that score would be around 5/10 because in reality FiiOhave gone backwards on the original. The worrying thing is that the X1ii is now 10 months old – and things aren't improving. The issue isn't navigation either, as the X1ii is very easy to navigate. Its simply the lack of, or broken state of, some features, and the extremely slow speed.


The following is what I subjectively hear from the FiiO X1ii. Some of you may find this section a little limited, so I’ll give you some insight into the way I’ve changed my opinion on how to describe the sound with any competently made DAC, DAP or amplifier. The problem with trying to break the sonics down to bass, mids and treble is that DAP / DAC / amp is designed (or should be designed) to be essentially flat across the frequency spectrum. If it has enhanced bass, then isn’t it adding colouration that should come from the headphones or EQ or recording? Likewise, I won’t comment a lot on sound-stage, as this is primarily a by-product of the actual recording, or the transducers you’re using.

So how do I go about describing it? Well my gear isn't great for measuring DAPs but judging by the correspondence from FiiO, and their own measurements, the X1ii is quite linear in its frequency response, apart from a small (0.3-0.4dB) drop in the sub bass from 60 hz down (graphs can be referenced here - What I will do is comment on overall tonality and resolution, and also expand further when comparing the X1ii to both the original X1 and also the X3ii (which is now a comparable price).


For the record – on most tracks, the volume on X1ii was adjusted to give me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list When I tested side-by-side with other DAPs I used test tones, and an SPL meter to volume match. I used the same track, and had the players set up so I could rapid switch. Testing was performed with a pair of Earsonics ES3 IEMs which have a remarkably similar response to Campfire's Andromeda.

X1ii General Tonality
I had to check first with a couple of DAPs I own to get a base-line for neutrality first. This included my iPhone SE, FiiO X7ii and original FiiO X5 – all of which are essentially neutral, with perhaps the faintest hint of warmth in the tonality. After going back and forth several times, to my ears the X1ii has essentially a neutral tonality, perhaps the slightest hint of warmth, and is indistinguishable from the original X1, and essentially very close to the overall signature of the iPhone SE. It shares common overall tonality with the X5 and X7ii – but both surpass it in terms of smoothness in presentation of notes, and clarity.

Resolution / Detail / Clarity
Clarity and resolution is very good for this DAP, but after swapping with some of the other “higher tier” DAPs, the one thing which stood out for me was a slight harshness in the lower treble which isn't present in the likes of the X7ii. Its very subtle, but becomes more noticeable with longer sessions swapping back and forth. What also stands out though is how good the X1ii is able to render both detail and clarity – at this price point it is phenomenal. It misses nothing – from the different nuances of the cash registers in PF's “Money” to the clicks of Withers drumsticks in “Sultans of Swing”. If I didn't have the X7ii switching right now, I'd be even more impressed, but the X7ii is definitely at a higher level in detail retrieval.

Soundstage / Imaging
Why is this section even here? The perception of sound-stage in a DAP is a result of the music you listen to (the recording) and the transducers you use. The DAP has virtually nothing to do with it, as long as it has decent crosstalk measurements, and there is no DSP involved. I often laugh quietly to myself when I read reviews claiming one DAP has more sound-stage than another. For the record, I volume matched the X1ii and original X1 (practically same DAC sections), and tested my binaural tracks. Both sounded identical. And the ES3 sounds the same in terms of sound-stage whether I use the X1ii or X3.

X1ii vs X1 Original
This will be pretty quick. In terms of form factor and overall build quality, the new X1ii is a step up, both in terms of how it feels, looks, and especially how the navigation wheel operates. FiiO clearly did their homework here – and they've come with a nice upgrade.

In terms of sound – they are virtually identical – I could happily live with either.

In terms of features, the X1ii adds Bluetooth (and not really that well implemented) and also the deep sleep feature (which I really like). The X1ii does handle IEM's with on-control cables a lot better than the original. But it gives up 100% properly working gapless, and replay-gain (which I really miss). In terms of other features, the two are practically identical.

So now we come to speed and usability, and I'm afraid this is where the X1ii simply isn't an improvement – its actually a regression. The newer X1ii is simply bitterly slow, laggy, and at times extremely frustrating.

Overall – is it an improvement? I have to actually say no. It looks and feels better, and the navigation is an improvement – but the speed issue detracts from what could have otherwise been an improvement.

X1ii vs X1X1ii vs X3ii

X1ii vs X3ii
The X3ii was (IMO) the best value for money DAP FiiO had in their line-up through 2016. Its now only ~ $140 which makes it only marginally more expensive than the new X1ii – which makes this a very valid comparison.

Physically the X3ii has practically the same dimensions as the original X1, although the mechanical wheel on the X3ii was always far better than the original X1 (mine is still in great condition despite a lot of use). Still the X1ii is better in terms of form factor, looks and feel. The wheel is also better on the X1ii (should last longer), but its marginal. The X3ii does have the advantage of separate line-out socket, which doubles as a digital out. The X3ii is also a lot more powerful – almost 3 times the overall power output.

In terms of sound, the X3ii is a step up. More refined overall without giving up any neutrality. It can also play more formats including DSD. When taking into account features, the X1ii again adds Bluetooth, but both have the deep sleep feature. Again the X1ii handle IEM's with on-control cables better. And again it gives up 100% properly working gapless and replay-gain, as well as not being able to be used as acomputer DAC. The X3ii also has a 10 band EQ compared to the X1ii's 7 band. Speed and usability once again go to the X3ii, and it is a joy to use in comparison to the X1ii's often laggy interface.

Overall – this is an easy choice – the X3ii is simply the better buy (especially at its current price point).

X1ii vs HiFiMan MegaMini
The MegaMini is due to be re-released with a few changes and a different price point. The internals remain the same, the shell becomes heavy-duty plastic/polycarbonate, and the new price point is supposed to be around the $150 mark.

Physically the MegaMini is a lot smaller and lighter. In terms of power (according to the specs) the X1ii actually has slightly higher output. Both can play similar lossy and lossless formats – although the MegaMini will do DSD64. In real life tests, the battery life is about the same, and both have very good sound quality.

The MegaMini is a lot faster, both loading the library (4 mins vs 12mins), scrolling, and just general speed of use. They both sound very good for the money, and general SQ is good to above average for the price point.

Which leaves us with features – and this is where we start to see some value in the X1ii. The MegaMini has no EQ, no line-out, no Blue-tooth (although that barely counts with the X1ii anyway), no in-line control support (headphones), no lyrics display, no gapless at all, and no settings for things like balance or volume presets. Its a very bare minimalist player. What it does, it does well – but it kind of puts things in perspective when comparing the two. This is one time I would prefer the X1ii.

X1ii vs HiFiMan MegaMiniX1ii vs Cayin N3

X1ii vs Cayin N3
I haven't had the N3 long – so please take the following with a grain of salt. Both the N3 and X1ii share similar overall dimensions, and both are extremely well built. In terms of power (again referring to the specs), the N3 should output close to double the power of the X1ii into a 32 ohm load, so an advantage there. The N3 has an AK4490EN DAC under the hood, so this gives it the ability to play all the formats the X1ii can cover, as well as DSD up to DSD256. The N3 also has Bluetooth (4.0 with AptX), and it is a lot better implemented than the X1ii. Battery life (per specs) is around the same for both units.

The N3 is a lot faster – loading the library, scrolling, and general speed of use. Both units sound very good for the money (although I would say the N3 is slightly smoother/flatter and the X1ii is a little more vibrant/edgy), and general SQ is again good to above average for the price point with both DAPs. The UI is slightly easier to navigate with the X1ii's wheel, but I'm sure given time I'd get used to the N3's button layout.

Which leaves us again with features – and this time the X1ii is on the back foot. The N3 virtually has all the features of the X1ii, but adds digital out, use as a DAC, has better implemented gapless, and has working replay-gain. It also has a 10 band EQ compared to the X1ii's 7 band. The difference in price between the N3 and the X1ii is $149 vs $99. If you can afford it – the N3 is the much better buy.


So how do I see the overall value of the X1ii? This is really a tough one, as I don't know too many devices around $100, and FiiO have created a device that sounds really nice, and has some nice features. It just handles pretty poorly (slow). I guess I'm on the fence with this one – paired with the F9, its nice and light, easy to use (on cable controls), and if I just hit shuffle its a pretty good experience. But as soon as you go to delve deeper into the UI, things start to slow up and the lag gets noticed. For the features you're getting your moneys worth and more. For the lag though – it takes a lot of the gloss off the price.


My thanks to FiiO for their support with my questions, for supplying the review sample, and for including me in their review rounds.

The X1ii is a very well presented DAP with good build which looks great and feels really nice in the hand. It has a pretty good feature-set, which includes EQ, tagged and folder browsing, gapless (although not perfect) and even a search function. It has enough power for most portable headphones, and decent battery life.

FiiO has added Bluetooth this time round, but it has poor range, and is very slow. It is two way though, so if you pair with a remote and portable speaker, and have it not too far away from you, I can see how it could be appropriate for some people.

Its major failing is in its overall speed – both in scanning (simply dreadful) and generally laggy UI.

If you don't mind the laggy behaviour, don't use Bluetooth regularly, and simply want a very good sounding DAP for ~ USD100, then the X1ii fits the bill because it really sounds quite nice. But again – if that's what you're looking for, there are better options. My recommendation would be to spend an extra $40 and buy FiiO's X3ii (currently being replaced by a newer model), or an extra $50 and buy Cayin's N3. Both are simply a far better value proposition.

I agonised over rating this one. For a start I was considering 2.5 stars, but the X1ii is actually better than that and I think a lot of the detractors forget the price point, the features it does have, and the overall SQ. But there is no doubt it has issues, and to me 3 stars feels right. Sounds great – but I just can't really recommend it with its current speed and Bluetooth issues. There are better options out there.

Despite its shortcomings – great with F9and Alessandro MS Pro