FiiO X3 (2nd Generation) Review

Second Generation X

FiiO X3 (2nd Generation) Review

FiiO adds improvements to the second generation of their portable music players in terms of supported files and playback quality, but also some other changes.

Unlike the X1 and X5, which both have a horizontally aligned display and a large, multipurpose control wheel, the first generation of the X3 had a vertical display and classic control buttons. In the second generation this is changed and the new X3 have the same type of controls as the X1 and X5 on the front panel, and all models in the X-series are now more streamlined visually.

The casing is made entirely of aluminum alloy, the finish is in an attractive titanium color, and the second generation X3 looks high-end and feels robust. The TFT screen has a diagonal of 2 inches and is the same used in the X1 and has a resolution of 320 × 240 pixels, while the larger IPS display with a resolution of 400 × 360 pixels remains reserved for the more prestigious X5 model.

The control wheel occupies almost the entire lower half of the front panel and, like the other two models, is coated with rubber, which prevents your finger from slipping. In the center of the control wheel is a large multi-purpose button, while the outer edge has four small round buttons. In the bottom of the front panel you find a discrete LED, which displays the status using different colors.

A power button and volume control are placed on the left side, and are, just as the buttons on the front panel, made entirely of metal. The right side has a slot for a micro SD card, and the bottom have a micro USB port. The upper side is reserved for two 3.5mm mini-jack connectors, one used as a headphone output and one as a combined analog / digital output. The backside is completely plain, and only used for the FiiO logo, the model number and some other information.

FiiO X3 2nd Gen
FiiO X3 II

The Tech Within

As we have come to expect when it comes to FiiO, the interior of the X3 second gen is very well designed and filled with high-quality components. It uses Ingenic's JZ4760B with XBurst technology at 600 megahertz, which is characterized by excellent performance and low power consumption. To get high quality sound it uses a Cirrus Logic CS4398 D / A converter, which is one of the major changes in comparison to the first generation, which uses a Wolfson WM8740 DAC.

To reduce jitter as much as possible the X3 uses two crystal oscillators - one for 44.1, 88.2 and 176.4 kHz files, and 48, 96 and 192 kilohertz. The analog section uses two Texas Instruments OPA1642 and a LMH6643 for the headphone amplifier. This is complemented by an internal battery placed by the rear panel and has a capacity of 2600 milliamp-hours.

In The Box

The second generation of the FiiO X3 comes in a beautiful and practical package, and the list of accessories is quite long. In addition to a quick guide on how to use the device you will get a not particularly beautiful, but very useful, protective silicone case (black), as well as three protective films for the screen (one already applied). You can also change the look of your device using bodywork stickers in either wood, carbon fibre or the United States flag.

To connect the X3 to other devices, like a computer for example, FiiO include a 3.5-millimeter coaxial digital S/PDIF adapter, a charging cable, and a standard mini-USB / USB-A cable.

FiiO X3 inputs

Sound Quality

The first part of the listening test we conducted with a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 in order to assess the X3 on what it is primarily intended for - portable music. The sound is refined, with soft rounded tones, and somewhat warm but very pleasant bass. The lowest frequencies have exceptional weight and very good definition, and in some tracks it even seemed that the bass was overemphasized. It is however a good thing that the sound can be adjusted using the 10-band equalizer, which ensures that the X3 will please the taste of almost everyone.

The refinement we mentioned earlier is best heard in the mid and high frequencies, which are full of subtle details and never sounded sharp and distorted. Separation of tones and instruments is excellent in all three frequency ranges, and complex compositions sound clear and precise. The sound stage is very well balanced, and its size does not expand beyond the point where it starts to feel artificial and unnatural. In addition, after several days of listening to the FiiO X3, we started to notice details that we initially missed, indicating that it may need some break-in to perform at its best.

FiiO X3 controls
FiiO X3 memory

The buttons on the left side used to increase and decrease the volume are protruding slightly compared to the power button, which allows it to easily be found and allows you to adjust the volume without looking while the player is still in your pocket. Also, the new screen and user interface is almost on par with the more expensive X5 model, and using it is really simple and intuitive.

After listening on headphones we decided to test the X3 as an external Digital-to-Analog converter (DAC) as part of a stereo system. Thanks to the excellent Cirrus Logic CS4398 chip, the new X3 proved to be very good and provide quality conversion and sound completely in line with an affordable dedicated DAC. In fact, the X3 even performed better in some cases, with a very pleasant, well-rounded and somewhat warmer sound. It presents a wide and detailed soundstage, and does a good job at distinguishing the integral parts of the music, without feeling that anything is missing. Asynchronous USB connection and support for 192 kHz / 24 bit and DSD files is a big bonus for a device of this price and size, and will allow you to play awesome high resolution recordings.


Although the second generation of the X3 is better than its predecessor, not least thanks to a new screen and user interface, it stilll has regressed in some areas. It no longer has any internal memory and the user has to rely on a micro SD card up to 128GB, and the capacity of the internal battery has been reduced from 3,100 to 2,600 milliamp-hours. Fortunately, these features are more a matter of convenience, not quality, and it is likely that the new, and better, components and screen occupied more space, and some things simply had to go. On the other hand, in terms of components, ease of use and sound quality, the second generation X3 is undoubtedly better than its predecessor and in certain areas it is getting very close to the flagship model, the X5. Therefore, we believe that the increase in price is fairly modest, and for less than $300 you will get an extremely modern, high-quality and versatile portable music player / DAC with great sound.


  • All new digital audio architecture with native DSD support
  • Dual crystal oscillators dedicated to multiples of 44.1kHz and 48kHz frequencies for lowest jitter at all sample rates.
  • Audiophile-grade architecture and components with Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC
  • Updated design with all-metal chassis and fine grained matte finish.
  • New user interface design on a high quality 2-inch LCD screen

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Old Price: $169.99
Current Price: $169.99