We’ve certainly been spoilt by Fiio’s offerings of recent years; it’s a situation that’s all too easy to get used to. First it was amps which got insanely cheap, then DACs. Now we have to get used to the idea of great quality digital audio players for under £100. What’s the world coming to?
Based on the design of bigger brother the X5, the X1 sports a control wheel on the front and buttons for an alternative means of control. Options and tracks can be scrolled through quite easily, and information is displayed clearly on the generously-sized screen. EQ status and battery can be checked at a glance, and other improvements have been made to the player’s software when compared to Fiio’s other players, such as the X3. For instance when moving around the menu system whilst listening to a track, it is now possible to see on the file list which track is playing; but you will need to find your own way to the exact folder where the file is.
Output options are reduced when compared to the X3 and X5; the X1 has one audio output socket only, but is good for both headphones and line-level output. This needs to be selected within the player options menu while no music plays, so don’t worry about the possibility of damaged equipment!
Another very nice feature is the capacity to detect button presses from a headset. When used with headsets on the newer CTIA wiring standard, the X1 should be able to pause, skip track forward and skip track back. This was tried with the new Sennheiser Momentum in-ear model, and the SoundMAGIC E10S.
The sound is amazing for a player under £100. Compared to the X3, the X1 comes across as slightly cooler-sounding and the quality is what we have come to expect from Fiio. The sound gives a slightly brittle impression when compared to more expensive players such as the AK100; but at a fifth of the price the Fiio X1 is a very credible alternative for the cash-strapped music fan!