Audio

Easy to get hooked to this cheap, functional player

The FiiO X1 II bridges the gap between mass-market features and high-res audio.
The FiiO X1 II bridges the gap between mass-market features and high-res audio.PHOTO: FIIO

Getting into high-resolution music can be like experimenting with drugs - it's addictive, expensive in the long run and just needs a slight initial push to get hooked.

FiiO's X1 II, the $189, second-generation update to the Chinese company's entry-level X1, is exactly the device to get budding audiophiles hooked.

It is not the digital player an audiophile will reach for. But for the music lover who wants to dip his toes into high-fidelity music without too much of an initial investment, the player is cheap and functional enough to give that first taste.

It takes the best parts of the X1, like size and affordability, and adds new features such as wireless Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and an updated digital-to-analog convertor.

The player supports the necessary high-resolution formats the entry-level music lover would have. It does a pretty good job with music playback as well, given its new DAC that reduces signal-to-noise ratio.

And while no self-respecting audiophile will stream music through Bluetooth, I found the feature very appropriate, given the X1 II's target market. It bridges the gap between mass-market features and high-res audio, although the Bluetooth playback is of a noticeably lower quality.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $189

    SUPPORTED FORMATS: APE/ FLAC/WAV/WMA/ALAC lossless formats up to 192kHz/32bit

    WEIGHT: 102g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

The X1 II retains the portability of the original X1, with rounded corners that make it very comfortable to hold. It is tiny, sized halfway between an old-school iPod mini and an iPod touch.

The iPod comparisons don't stop there - FiiO appears to have been inspired by the design of the original iPod, complete with scroll wheel and clicky middle button.

There's no on-board storage, so buyers should factor in the cost of a 256GB micro-SD card - the largest it can support - which is a decent amount of space even for large, uncompressed file formats.

The software is easy to use, although there are some bugs that mar the experience.

The player froze on me several times, especially when I was skipping tracks too quickly - not an issue I face with other music players, but it appears the X1 II's hardware can't quite keep up with it.

Another peculiarity I faced was when I turned the player back on. It will automatically reconnect to the last Bluetooth device it was paired with and play the song where it last stopped, but there will be no sound coming through my headphones. I had to skip to the next track to get music back to streaming.

•Verdict: The Fiio X1 II is really an entry-level product for those who want to give high-res audio a whirl before shelling out more money for better products.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Easy to get hooked to this cheap, functional player'. Print Edition | Subscribe