Fiio X3 Mark III-Balanced to the End

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fiio X3 mark III, balanced to the end
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Let me ask you a question? Have you used Fiio X3 II player before ?

I bet you already have.  That’s why you are here. Is it? To find out more about Fiio x3 mark III.

Fiio x3 1st gen and mark II both are a favorite lossless music player among many audiophiles, so they are also curious to how this Fiio X3 3rd gen perform.

Well, without further ado, let’s get into the details.

Main Features of Fiio X3 Mark III

  • Digital touch scrolling wheel, more sensitive
  • Dual DAC, improve the sound quality
  • 3.5mm & 2.5mm balanced out + coax digital out
  • Bluetooth 4.1 in and out. It has two-way Bluetooth capability, so you can pair it to two devices and switch between them. Sounds great!
  • Asynchronous USB DAC for computer, up to 24 bit/192khz
  • Multi-function button that can be configured to control playback, interface themes, playlists, or equalizer settings
  • 3 level sensitivity scroll wheel

 

Design

Fiio X3 Mark III has a aluminum housing with chamfered edges, and its dimensions  is bit bigger but thinner, comparing with the mark II. So it fits quite comfortable at hand.

When you check Fiio X3 mark III, it looks more modern than Mark II. A touch scrolling wheel is the highlight of its design, it allows users to navigate through their music in style. It is a digital wheel, rather than mechanical, so it reacts more quickly when you thumb moves around it.

Despite X3 3rd gen has an extremely light weight , only 126 grams, but it still supports a huge storage capacity, up to 256GB micro SD card.

Note: there is no internal memory for X3 mark III, so you need to buy a micro SD card before using it.

Fiio X3 Mark III

Navigating through the menus is intuitive, and it is easy to find what you are looking for.

The screen is just about adequate for displaying the necessary icons and information.. It is much easier to see , and the color is more vibrant and much brighter. It may not the retina quality, but it does the job.

However, due to the reflective, it is difficult to read the information under the sunlight. But I think only a few people will care about this, because most of the time, the device will be stayed in your pocket.

Besides the independent track and volume buttons on the side, there is a mutlti-function button available, it can use to control playback, interface themes, playlists, or equalizer settings.

Sounds great ? Well, let’s continue.

The battery capacity of Fiio x3 mark III is 2,350 mAh, and it is 80 percent the size of the iPhone 7 Plus. Usually, you will get 10 hours of life out of Fiio X3 III on a single charge.

Function

In the initial testing, the interface of X3 mark III  is a bit slow.  We can understand that time is needed to toggle options like Bluetooth and USB DAC mode, but starting and skipping tracks seemed to take longer than it should.

Besides, gapless playback did not seem to work and, in some cases, the first second of tracks seemed to be cut off.

Regardless, the menus were quite intuitive to navigate. Menus are navigated primarily by the touch wheel and the side buttons.

It is easy to build a new playlist and adjust whatever the setting you want, such as, turning on and off Bluetooth, equalization, changing playback gaps and changing key lock setting.

Thanks for the efforts of Fiio engineer, there is a search function in Fiio X3 mark III, making it easier to look for particular tunes in a large library of music. And the music also can be sorted by categories, album, song, genre, artist, playlist and recent added.

On home screen, you will see five options, now playing, folder, categories( artists, playlist, albums, etc), playback setting and setting.

The latest good news, Fiio already released an updated firmware to solve the issues.  the interface feels a little faster than it was before. Gapless playback works now,  and songs start at the beginning

In addition to normal music playback, there is another useful function for X3 mark III,  you can use it as  a USB DAC on the computer,  making it possible to upgrade the audio hardware.

Note: software drivers are required for Windows, but mac IOS is currently not supported.

But Fiio has stated that they will work on updating  firmware , making the USB DAC functionality for the Mac.

As to the format support, Fiio X3 mark III supports nearly all modern music formats, such as DSD, APE, Flac, WAV, WMA , ALAC, .etc.

Another good  thing,  Fiio X3 mark II has obtained “Hi-Res Audio” certification  from The Japan Audio Society , the highest award for a natural, realistic listening experience. It can reproduce frequencies up to 20khz

Wireless Connection

With a high-quality CSR8811 chipset, Fiio X3 mark III supports Bluetooth 4.1,  making the connectivity much easier than it was ever before.

However, it is an odd thing Fiio X3 mark 3 doesn’t support Apt-x in 2017.

Fiio X3 Mark III

Sound

Unlike its predecessors mark II, Fiio X3 mark III features with dual PCM 5242 DAC, guaranteed to deliver high quality performance.They ensure a higher SNR along with more efficient noise rejection capabilities to produce high quality music that doesn’t involve unwanted artifacts.

X3 mark III also featured with separate headphone amplifier, loss pass filter and DAC components, making sure the function of each one of them does not get affected by the other in any way.

Once the music was on Fiio X3 3rd gen, the experience greatly improved. It sounds very clean and transparent, reproducing detailed transients and frequency response alike.

Besides the normal 3.5mm headphone output, one of the X3 mark III’s differentiating features is its second headphone jack, a 2.5mm jack that supports true balanced output.

Balanced outputs are favored by some in the audiophile community for their lower noise and potentially higher power output, depending on the quality of implementation in the device.

If you prefer the line out or coaxial digital output , you also can use it via the 3.5mm jack.

From our sides, the audio performance on the wired connection is better than the convenient-but-limited Bluetooth. We think the wireless connection could have been better if adding the apt-x.

But anyways, Fiio x3 mark III does its job already.

In case you may wondering the difference between X3 mark II and X3 mark III, 

X3 Mark IIX3 Mark III
DACOneTwo
BluetoothNoDual model, Bluetooth 4.1
Headphone jack3.5mm3.5mm, 2.5mm balance
Scroll Wheel Mechanical Rotary wheel Touch Wheel
In-line control Volume control, NoVolume control, Yes
EQOnly 44.1K and 48K32K-192K
Multi-function buttonNo Yes
Size96.7*57.7*16.1mm114*59*12.8mm
Weight135g126g
Pros

Award hi res audio certification

Better sound quality, dual DAC

High sensitive touch scroll wheel

Bluetooth 4.1 connection

2.5mm balanced output

Cons

Bluetooth don’t support Apt-x

No internal memory

Conclusion

DAPs like the Fiio X3 mak III are single purpose devices, but they aren’t redundant. They’re specialized. Just like the Apple TV exists, it is because they do one thing better than devices that do many thins.

It is true that X3 3rd gen come with some shortcomings, some due to unfinished firmware, and some due to cost-cutting measures . But it remains a very capable music player in a beautiful package.

If you’re looking to take a first step into the world of dedicated audio players, X3 mark III is easy for us to recommend.