There sure is a lot going on in the world right now. Twitter’s a mess of US election coverage, overthrown governments và localized horror shows. Oh, và the Olympics are starting soon.

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What better way to lớn tune out the noise than with some headphones và a great little portable music player? Sit back, crank up some tunes, and I’ll tell you all about living with the Fiio X3 second generation, portable, high resolution, music player.

Some history.

My first portable music player was an old Toshicha cassette tape player. Eventually it was replaced by one of those yellow, chunky Sony Walkmans. I loved that thing. Years later, after the portable CD players came & went, I bought my first MP3 player. A Creative sầu Labs Nomad Jukebox. It was terrible. My music was all ripped at an abysmal 128kbps MP3. It sounded awful, & the interface was shit, but having six gigs of storage capađô thị was incredible. And then I bought another one with 10 gigs. This was around 2000, 2001.

Skip forward a year and I bought my first Apple computer, a G5 Mac Pro so I could run Logic. Then they came out with the iPod. I still had the Jukebox và was wondering what all the fuss was about. By the time the 3rd Generation iPod came around I had to lớn try one.

It was mind-blowing.

The sound chất lượng was incredible. Way better than what the Creative Jukebox could vì chưng with the same headphones. The iPod had a better headphone amp than just about anything before it. It was compact và felt great in the hvà. The capacitive touch wheel was the first example of that kind of non-moving interface. People were on the fence about it, but I thought it was great, if occasionally dangerous. I probably damaged my ears a couple of times due to accidental volume increases. It had good line-out capabilities. I installed an iPod connector in my Audi TT that meshed with the factory sound system and sounded fantastic.

All was good.

Then the iPhone came out & ruined everything.

iTunes began the slow decline into the complicated morass it is today. Based on the number of people googling “alternative sầu itunes players“, there’s a svào dem& out there. I’m still liking Audirvamãng cầu, btw, but still have sầu lớn use iTunes to lớn manage my library. I can’t get rid of it.

With the advent of the iPhone, và then the iPod touch, Apple’s interest in stand-alone music players waned. They have finally discontinued the iPod classic. I still have two of the last generation và they’ve served me well. Indeed, it seems lượt thích since Steve’s gone, nobody toàn thân at Apple really cares about music or sound unique anymore.

So why change?

I’m no longer listening to lớn 128kbps MP3s anymore and haven’t for quite a few years. I’ve sầu reripped almost my entire CD collection in ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec). I also have an increasing number of high res recordings from HDTracks and elsewhere. More artists are putting out lossless 24 bit recordings, sometimes up to 96KHz. None of Apple’s portable hardware, from the iPhone to the máy tính bảng ipad lớn the iPod will play these well, if at all. My last-gen iPod classic will play 44.1KHz/24bit ALACs but I’ve noticed an odd digital distortion on a couple of recordings and wonder if it’s got a bad dithering algorithm in there.

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The other annoying thing about the iPod is its lachồng of line out connection. Sometime around the 5th generation, they dropped the pins on the doông chồng that provided a clean, line output. Now plugging into lớn an external device requires connecting through the tai nghe socket and turning the volume all the way up. Not only is this messy, as it’s very likely overdriving the headphone amp lớn achieve the cấp độ required for line level, I have khổng lồ be really careful plugging headphones inlớn it so I don’t blow my head off.

And introducing…

The Fiio X3 addresses these limitations aggressively. If you haven’t heard of them before, Fiio’s a small Chinese company run by some enthusiastic music listeners. My first exposure to them was with their portable USB DAC/Headphone Amp, the Alpen E17 (now onto its second generation và worth checking out). A great little unit that really upped the sound unique on my máy tính xách tay. Tear-downs of the Fiio hardware show impressive sầu attention lớn detail and some real wizardry putting these tiny devices together. They vì chưng great work, and the X3 gene 2 is a fine example of what they’re capable of. It feels really solid, has a metal body toàn thân, the mechanical shuttle wheel has a satisfying action with smooth detents. The buttons are all metal. The volume up button has a little nub on it so you can easily feel it in the dark.


Oh, but wait. You want lớn use the built-in DAC in the X3 to stream sound from your laptop? No problem. The X3 will also act as a USB audio device.

Battery life seems impressive sầu. I have yet to lớn run it out during the month I’ve sầu had the X3. The 2600mAh battery is rated for over 11 hours on the spec sheet & I have little doubt it’ll get there. Certainly 10 hours. Charging takes some time và they recommend using a 2 amp charger with it, not included in the packaging. A hot USB port or wall plug will charge it fully in around 3 hours.


ok, it wouldn’t be much of a Reviews if I didn’t have sầu something bad to say about the X3. Let’s get the worst thing out of the way: The display is not great. Hard lớn see in daylight. You can forget about seeing the screen at all if you’re wearing sunglasses. It’s just not very bright. The 320×200 px TFT display is like a throw-baông xã lớn about 10 years ago.

And through the display, we get lớn see the Fiio’s interface. I’d heard a lot of negative sầu comments about the UX on these things, but honestly, I think it’s pretty good. I just wish that one of the 6 included themes was blaông xã text on trắng as it might make the thing a little easier to lớn read in bright daylight. The blue jeans theme… & the wood panelling… Not good.

But version 2.0 of the firmware fixed a bunch of UX nits except one glaring one: The Genre category. Instead of showing artists và albums in a given genre, the X3 shows you all the files within that category. Not really useful, unless you plan on shuffling an entire genre.

It actually took me a little while when I first plugged a card inlớn the X3 to figure out how khổng lồ update the media library. By default, it was set khổng lồ update only manually, & it can take some time on a fully-loaded 128GB thẻ. Like, over a minute.

And where is that truyền thông library? It seems to lớn be stored somewhere in memory in the X3 itself, not on the thẻ. Since there’s no external player management software, this media library is where all your playlists live. And there’s no way lớn edit them outside of the player’s interface. Not a big khuyễn mãi giảm giá, but I would love sầu khổng lồ be able lớn make tweaks lớn the metadata in an editor.

Where this becomes a problem is if you want lớn have sầu multiple cards with, say, different genres on each. You have to lớn wipe out the truyền thông library anytime you change cards, losing all your favorites, recent plays & playlists. It would be nice if they stored that information on the thẻ itself.


While I was shopping around, I read a bunch of đánh giá around the webs about some of the available players out there. There are some crazy, high-kết thúc devices, and a slew in between. Surprisingly, some of the higher end units have even worse interface problems than the X3. I knew going in the interface was going to lớn be a bit basic and the display was going to be a challenge. These aren’t deal-breakers for me at all, and inside, when you’re not in the blinding sun, the display is quite decent. I am supremely happy with my little X3 and a huge tín đồ of what Fiio’s doing in the space.

I’m enjoying listening khổng lồ music & podcasts on this thing so much, I find myself making excuses so I can go off and listen khổng lồ it. It is a total upgrade over my old iPods.