FiiO cannot be called a veteran of the sound market - it appeared only 10 years ago, when Fostex, Audio-Technica and other giants made a name for themselves a long time ago. In record time, this manufacturer literally turned the portable Hi-Fi market upside down, switching from headphone amplifiers to a segment of audio players. In many ways, the amplifiers provided FiiO with the foundation of competition in the portable player market.
We have already described the
history of FiiO in detail, so we will not dwell on it. It is enough that now the name of this manufacturer is heard by many, and not only audiophiles, but the company's flexible pricing policy has played its part. It so happened that the X3 began to be particularly popular among FiiO players; You can even call it one of the key products of the manufacturer. Therefore, an updated version of this music player was waited with bated breath. And here, in the summer of 2017, FiiO introduced the X3 Mark III.
The novelty has just started to get to the Russian stores, so now we have a chance not only to look at it, but also to make a detailed review. Looking ahead, we’re saying that FiiO didn’t make any major changes, but despite this, the update is by no means a minor one.
If the older models of the manufacturer are controlled by Android 5.1.1, then the X3 III runs on Linux, the system interface is somewhat similar to that of the second-generation X1. Among the visible changes, you can immediately notice the appearance of a touch wheel and a special button on the side, but the “stuffing” did not stand aside - there are even a little more innovations. About this a little later, it is better to say at once that the recommended retail price of the X3 Mark III
is about $ 200. Yes, this is exactly the case when it’s not a shame for the price of the device, and you don’t want to leave it at the very end of the review.
FiiO X3 Mark III Specifications
|DAC||2 × PCM5242|
|Opamp||OPA2140 + OPA1622|
|Display||TFT 320 × 240|
|Format support||MP3, AAC, OGG, WMA, FLAC, APE, AIFF, WAV, WMA, ALAC|
|DSD||DSD64 (.iso, .dsf, .dff)|
|Frequency range||5 Hz - 70 kHz|
|General harmonic distortion||≤0.002% @ 1 kHz (linear and 3.5 mm), <0.003% @ 1 kHz (balanced)|
|Channel separation||≥103 @ 1 kHz (linear), ≥69 @ 1 kHz (3.5 mm), ≥97 @ 1 kHz (balanced)|
|Signal to noise ratio||≥113 dB (linear), ≥112 dB (3.5 mm and balanced)|
|Wireless interfaces||Bluetooth 4.1|
|Power||≥160 mW @ 32Ω, ≥15 mW @ 300Ω (3.5 mm), ≥190 mW @ 32Ω, ≥20 mW @ 300Ω (balanced)|
|Dimensions||114 mm × 59 mm × 12.8 mm|
As you can see in the list of characteristics, now there are two DACs - this is the notorious PCM5242 from Texas Instruments, familiar to FiiO X1 II. A balanced amplifier with a corresponding output (but also about 3.5 mm, combined with a linear one, was not forgotten), Bluetooth support finally appeared. Innovations on the "hardware" is really a lot, back to them immediately after the story about the package.
The delivery set is traditionally worthy; FiiO has always been notable for its pedantic approach. A box of thick cardboard hides the player, which immediately put on a silicone case, and the player - the first thing you see, opening the packaging, the solution a la Apple.
Under the device is traditionally located a compartment with accessories. Among the latter are an adapter for coaxial output, a case made of artificial leather, a couple of protective films on the screen and a microUSB cable for charging. It seems that the player is not too expensive, and the bundle is very cool. Immediately two covers in the kit allow you to not spend extra on accessories. FiiO holds the brand, and it's nice. A case made of artificial leather, however, is an amateur and hides the beauty of the player a little, so it's best to do with silicone.
Externally, the FiiO X3 Mark III differs markedly from its predecessor. At first it seems that he has become a little more, but in fact its thickness has decreased, which had a positive effect on ergonomics. Aluminum is perfectly combined with the front glass panel, the build quality is pleasantly surprising, and the audio player looks more modern in general.
The transition from metal to plastic, under which the Bluetooth antenna is hidden, is made very carefully on the back panel. FiiO inscription here is made of metal and looks impressive, slightly bulging. The side faces are slightly bevelled, because of which the player resembles a red gold bar.
The controls remained almost the same - apparently, so that users of the past generation did not have to get used to the new for a long time. This is a volume rocker on the left side, there is also a power button and a multifunction key. The latter can be customized as you like - from switching playlists and equalizer presets to changing themes. "Out of the box" multi-function button works as a playback control key: if you press once, the music will stop; Two times - the next track will turn on. The left end of the manufacturer decided to explicitly use the maximum, placing on it a slot for memory cards with a capacity of up to 256 GB.
Audio connectors traditionally found a place on the bottom - here is 3.5 mm, combined with a linear output, to which you can connect headphones and use to output a digital signal on a coaxial. Next to it is a micro USB port for charging, and from the other side is a balanced 2.5 mm.
The front panel is perhaps the most interesting, so they left it "for sweet". The screen not only became larger compared to the previous version of the X3, it is more readable in the sun, and the viewing angles are not affected. Under the display are the same four buttons, which FiiO audio players have long recognized, and a touch wheel with another central button. The sensor works very smartly and responsively, the purpose of the buttons has not changed.
Finish the story of the front panel and the appearance can be on a small LED display at the very bottom, since the right and upper edges are empty. Nevertheless, designers do not eat their bread for nothing, it is very difficult to find fault with the appearance of the player.
Interface and features
Due to the fact that the manufacturer has been trying to switch to Linux from old software for a long time, it may be unusual for owners of the past generation X3 at first. So, scanning the media library takes much more time, and some functions like volume leveling have completely sunk into oblivion. Nevertheless, the firmware design has changed little: playlists are available in the library, the list of recently added files and the Favorites tab, the playback settings are quite standard. You can activate the line-out mode, channel balance, play around with an equalizer, and so on. Looking ahead it’s worth saying that the equalizer turned out to be “useless”: without it, the sound is much brighter and richer.
The system settings provide the ability to customize the assignment of buttons on the locked screen, scrolling sensitivity, control from the headset buttons and much more. The rest of the set is more or less standard: brightness, off timer, changing the font and language.
Adjusting the volume of the player by using a 120-step digital potentiometer, 10-band equalizer (± 6dB). As for Bluetooth, it seems to be more “for show” here: there is no support for Apt-X, so the quality of the sound transmitted without wires leaves much to be desired. However, the alternative is always good, even if so.
Despite the fact that FiiO refuses its "machined" firmware, which engineers have been improving for many years, there is no feeling of a "raw" operating system. Of course, there is still something to strive for, but there were no glitches, lags and other inconveniences in the testing process. As for the touch wheel, it turned out to be better than mechanics, despite the fact that because of this, the audio player lost a bit of its classic charm. At the same time, the presence of physical buttons and the fact that the main actions can be performed without using the touch wheel, hint that the manufacturer is not yet ready to move far from its origins.
The battery capacity, according to the manufacturer, is 2,350 mAh, which is enough for 10 hours of continuous operation when headphones are connected via cable. Yes, I would like more, but then FiiO would have to sacrifice thickness (and therefore portability), and the extra 2-3 hours are unlikely to play a big role.
Since the player has a balanced output, and the usual 3.5 mm headphone jack, of course, it’s best to listen to it from a balanced one. But if you remember the cost of the device, which we talked about at the very beginning, you can understand that most of the target audience will use ordinary headphones with it (especially when smartphone makers are switching to USB Type-C without a headset). connect). Therefore, we took the liberty to test the X3 Mark III
using a 3.5 mm output - true, with the not-so-usual Mr Flowers Ether Flow headphones.
What FiiO players have always bought is the exact ratio of the model of the player and the quality of the sound it produces. In the case of the new X3, the story repeated itself - in sound, it clearly wins against the X1, but lags behind the X5 a bit, we will not compare it with the X7, since there is no point in it. Nevertheless, the manufacturer has found how to surprise even fans of the brand who know everything about him: the sound of the X3 Mark III is very different from the previous generation of this model.
The new X3 is striking in its detailing - it even seems that the player is as close to the X5 as possible by this characteristic. Paired with Ether Flow, it is revealed more than fully, but with budget headphones the effect will be decent. The player perfectly conveys the mood of the track, and its strong point is vocal and the ability to properly share instruments. Of course, you will not hear the fifth violinist in the third row if you do not have a professional ear for this, but the usual listener will have plenty of impressions.
Many people are used to the fact that the sound quality of the player directly depends on the headphones used, and in most cases this is true. However, the FiiO X3 Mark III is not so picky about choosing headphones (largely because of its segment), so even if you connect an accessory to it for 2-3 thousand rubles, you can be satisfied. This is the magic of this manufacturer - dragging the blanket over and “pulling it out” at the expense of the existing technical characteristics. By the styles, this "baby" is also unpretentious, it can rightly be called universal. Good will go both rock and hip-hop, and vocal jazz compositions. Yes, someone may call the choice of a DAC doubtful, but here it is not one, besides, it was necessary to create a balanced scheme. Especially with the choice of amplifiers, the manufacturer once again did not lose.
It so happened that despite the minimum number of differences with the X3-II, they still exist. The main thing is the presence of a balanced output and Bluetooth, and the sound is thrown only by not so deep low frequencies in the third generation (but improved detailing). The main competitor of the novelty is still the X5-II, although it loses a little in sound.
Damn it he is good
The updated X3 turned out to be very worthy, though not too different from the previous generation of this audio player. FiiO engineers have set themselves the main task - to create a device that will surpass the sound of many colleagues in the workshop, but it will remain familiar to users of players of past generations. Changing the X3 II to the X3 Mark III is
hardly advisable, but it’s definitely worth it to consider a new product as an upgrade from a budget model (and even more so as the first Hi-Res player).