When FiiO released the much anticipated high resolution X7 DAP, it threw a considerable spanner into their well managed naming conventions. Up until that point any contemporary FiiO product blessed with a 5 in its name was clearly designed to be the top dog, the bees knees and the flagship of its range. Nothing has as much power as the A5 amplifier, nothing looks as versatile as the upcoming Q5 DAC and nothing could produce lossless audio on the go as the X5 could. Then came the step beyond with the X7 and before we knew it the X5 (now in it's second generation) was relegated to merely second best. It just couldn't compete with the touchscreen, android interface and modular amplifier system found with the X7. The X5 was equally squeezed from below by the advances in both the second generation X1ii and X3ii, snapping at it's heels with their near comparable audio resolution while costing considerably less. The X5 as it stood became an evolutionary cul-de-sac.
From the benefit of hindsight this is clear hyperbole; the X7 can be seen as a unique test bed that allowed FiiO to work out and refine ideas that they could develop into the next generation of X5. The newly released third generation X5iii has immediate similarities with the X7 as both enjoy a 3.97 inch touch screen and Android interface, both have WIFI connectivity and both use the audiophile grade FiiO Music app. However, scratch a little deeper and as the differences emerge, you'll find this new X5iii gives the X7 a serious run for it's money. Two top of the line AKM AK4490EN DAC chips, one for each channel, help fully realise the AKM's famed VELVET SOUND low-distortion architecture. These chips are part of a new generation of high-quality 32-bit DACs that support all PCM and DSD formats (up to 32bit/768kHz) while digital filtering allows the chips to finely and exactly reproduce your music.
This third generation retains the dual crystal oscillators originally found in the X3ii, one for sample rates of 44.1/88.2/176.4/352.8 kHz, and the other for 48/96/192/384 kHz. This ensures that regardless of the sample rate, there will be significantly reduced jitter, improved clock accuracy and virtually no conversion artifacts. FiiO has also doubled the OPA1642 dual-channel amplifier chip to both increase the overall output power (up to 300mW under a 32Ω load) and provide a greater ability to deal with capacitive loads. Two headphone outputs (one regular 3.5mm, one 2.5mm balanced TRRS) and 2 microSD slots (accepting 2 x 256GB cards) complete this 'double' theme.
By far the greatest unique achievement of the X5iii third generation is it's adoption and support for rapid charging technology. This means that if you manage to drain the already copious 3.8V battery (for c.10 hours use), you can connect the X5iii into a 9V/12V high-voltage charging source to fill the battery in as little as 1.5 hours! Of course, if you don't have a high-voltage source you can still charge it regularly using regular USB charging.