I was excited about trying the FiiO X3 Digital Audio Player, as the high quality portable music player has become very popular, and until now the other contenders have been quite pricey – I was not disappointed! Out of the box you get a USB cable, coaxial phono to mini jack adapter, a couple of screen protectors and a neat silicone protective cover. The player comes with 8GB internal storage and you can increase that with an extra 64GB micro SD card – that would give you 72GB of storage!!
The player itself is lightweight and very easy to use, the buttons are well placed on the front and the menu is easy to navigate. The X3 has a coaxial output and a line out – this allows you to use an external amplifier. Another great feature of the X3 is that with the new patch, available to download from the FiiO site, you can use the X3 as a stand alone USB DAC for your computer. The X3 can support the main music formats – APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, WAV – this includes the Apples lossless codec; so all of you Apple users out there will be able to use your existing library of music. It’s hard to believe that you get all of this for only £159… And we haven’t even got to the sound quality yet!
I decided to test the X3 with the Earsonics SM64 and the HifiMAN HE-400 as they are both hard to drive and I wanted to see just what the player could do, turns out it’s a little beast! With the player set to high gain it drove both the SM64 and HE-400 effortlessly – the volume was just over 50% and it was more than enough. The sound quality you get is clear and crisp, separation is superb and combined with the powerful amp there is no distortion – not surprising as the X3 uses the same Wolfson DAC as the Astell & Kern AK100 which is currently priced at over 3 ½ times the price of the X3! When listening to albums the X3 has the option of gapless payback which can be turned on in the ‘Player Settings’ menu – you will need to select the album through the ‘Category’ menu to achieve this.
It was very easy to set the X3 up as a USB DAC with my PC. Once I followed the online instructions to update the players firmware the next step was to install the driver onto my PC; this was also easy as FiiO supply straight forward instructions to do this. The main screen on the X3 changes once it is plugged into the PC and you have a simple control panel where you can adjust the volume, bass, treble, gain settings and balance.
To sum up, I honestly can’t find any reason not to buy the X3 if you are in the market for a high quality player – at this price it is even worth buying purely as a USB DAC.