Fiio X3 Mark III review: The case for a digital music player

November 28, 2017:  

Call me old school, but when it comes to music, I do enjoy listening to quality recordings without interruptions. Today’s smartphones are extremely capable and many now also come with a good built-in DAC (digital-to-analog-convertor), but the issue of distractions remains. Be it notifications, phone calls or the fact that you can continue to use the phone for other tasks, including, but not limited to social media. I prefer to carve out time and just listen.

But when it comes to DAPs and anything audiophile for that matter, the one worry is “Is it expensive?” This is where Fiio comes in. Fiio has been around in India for three years now, and quietly they introduce good quality audiophile products at affordable prices. The latest from their stock is the Fiio X3 Mark III. Not altogether a new player, but another iteration of the ever popular X3 series. Why I would not just state this as an upgrade, though is because, it does go a few steps forwards — but also a few back.

On the whole, the X3 Mark III is a brilliant little player. The build quality is solid, the packaging great. In the box is a nice pair of headphones, a coax cable adaptor, two screen guards and even two protective cases – one silicon and one leather. The device is Hi-Res Audio certified and is capable of playing all the hi-res file formats. It supports up to 192 Khz/32 bit tracks without any issues.

On the upgrade side, the X3 now supports Bluetooth 4.1 making it a great choice as a source for wireless speakers. It also has the usual headphone jack which doubles up as the line-out and can be easily switched from the devices interface. To please audiophiles the device also includes a 2.5 mm balanced headphone jack. One of the few players to provide this at this price point. Usually, balanced outputs are available in the more expensive DAPs.

Interestingly, the X3 has no internal memory but supports a 256 GB card, usually sufficient for a small music collection.

On the downside, still has a micro USB rather than USB C and the transfer speeds are excruciatingly slow. For some strange reason, 192 Khz/64 bit WAV files are no longer supported and the DSD support is only for DSD64 rather than the DSD128 on the Mark II.

Would I buy this device? Most certainly, it is a great little player at a very affordable price.

Price: ₹14,990.00

Pros: Great build-quality, great packaging, good price.

Cons: Laggy Card reader, Interface improved but could be better.

(This article was published on November 28, 2017)

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