FiiO X1 Portable High Resolution Lossless Player
SRP $100.00

FiiO X1 Portable High Resolution Lossless Player
SRP $100.00

Specs: 

Dimensions: 96.7 mm x 57 mm x 14.1 mm
Weight: 106 g
Screen: TFT 320×240 
Audio out 3.5 mm headphone jack
Formats supported: 
Lossless:
  APE (Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit;
  APE (Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit;
  APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit;
  FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit;
  WAV: 192 kHz/24 bit;
  WMA 9.1 LOSSLESS: 48 kHz/24 bit;
  Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit;
Lossy compression:
  MP2, MP3, AAC, ALAC, WMA, OGG

[audaud-hr]

It was sad when Apple retired the iPod Classic earlier this year. It was also an opportunity, as more and more music lovers wanted to have a place to store large amounts of their music library on a portable device that one could also listen to began to look at other opportunities.

There have been a series of high end – high price devices, like the excellent Astell & Kern ($800-$2400) and players from HiFiMan ($169-$800) and others.

FiiO, a relatively new company, had offered some well regarded players in the $300-500 range. Now the’ve stepped forward with a reasonably priced player with excellent specs and clean neutral sound; The FiiO X1 Digital Audio Player. It’s available online for about $100 and it has no storage built-in. To fill it up, you grab a MicroSD card that can be up to 128 GB in size.  If you plug it in to a Mac or PC, to your computer, it looks like a hard drive. Drag your music onto it, and you are ready to listen on your computer.

Unlike iTunes, which mainly supports MP3 files and Apple Lossless (ALAC), the FiiO supports APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA and WAV files at up to 192kHz/24 bit. It also supports the standard lossy formats. That means the FiiO plays just about every high resolution and over resolution  file around except DSD format. The late iPod Classic or any of its Apple successors play no high resolution files.

The X1 looks a bit like the classic iPod. It has a mechanical scroll wheel and unlike the iPod it has 4 buttons, one in each corner. The bottom two lets you skip to the next track, the top right button takes you back a level in the menu structure. The top left button takes you to the main menu.

The user interface isn’t fancy, but it is clean and easy to figure out. The X1 charges with a Mini-USB cable, and the battery lasts about 12 hours of playback.

I listened to some MP3 files, and some Apple Lossless tracks. In each case they sounded better than they did on my iPod Classic. The fun part was playing high resolution music, so I tried some Mahler and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Those sounded really excellent. All my at home listening was on Sennheiser HD-600 headphones.

Another bonus was trying the X1 in my car. I had always thought the iPod interface was proprietary and that I wouldn’t have control of the music from my steering wheel buttons. Not true. I could navigate the albums, use the steering wheel controls, and I could even see the album art on my navigation screen. Again, in the car, the X1 sounded better than my ancient iPod Classic.

I have no doubt that some of the more expensive players have better specs, maybe a better DAC for converting the digital bits to analog, and fancier screens, but the X1 sounded just great for a hundred dollars and the cost of a MicroSD card of your choice.

The X1 has a single output that can be switched from a headphone to a high level output for plugging into a receiver or integrated amplifier.  The latest firmware update supports standard playlists, and unlike the iPod, you can delete any tracks or albums you like.

The X1 comes in Silver or Gold finish. It’s attractive, reliable and sounds really good. I was afraid that my iPod Classic would fail some day and leave me without a portable digital audio player for listening around the house and in the car. Those fears have vanished. The FiiO X1 is a quality piece of software and hardware and a low price. My iPod Classic is now unused in a drawer.

Be sure to consider the FiiO X for someone special on your Christmas list or for yourself.

—Mel Martin

on this article to AUDIOPHILE AUDITION!

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