Fiio X1 Vs X3: 6 Factors to Consider Before Choosing!

If you really enjoy listening to music on the go, you may want to consider getting a portable music player. However, from an assortment of DAP models, it doesn’t get any easier to choose one. 

So which one would be great if it comes to fiio x1 vs x3?

Fiio X3 3rd gen is actually way better and cleaner than the X1 second gen. Moreover, X3 is easier to use and supports more file formats than the x1 ii. However, both the music players are sturdy and durable. The form factor of X3 isn’t much different than X1.

Are you asking for more? We’re already prepared to fill your boots with all the other important information. So keep moving with us to know more about these DAPs.

Comparison of Fiio X1 and X3 in a Nutshell 

Be it between fiio M15 and M17 or x1 and X3, these music players come with a plethora of features. That’s why we understand you’ll need some brief guidance to help you with the decision.

Here’s why we’ve come up with the following summary table. Take a look!

Got some ideas already? If not, it’s totally okay! We still have tonnes of things in our sleeves. One of them would be the graph chart below that’s a numerical comparison of these two music players.

However, if you’re short on time then you can move to our verdict section to get an instant idea.

Best Pick Among Generations


No one is settling for less anymore! People are expecting more for less. In this case, the second generation of the original X1 is the fiio’s answer. As well as this 2nd generation is currently fitting in with their excitable product roadmap rollout. 

On the other hand, the X3 was fiio’s original DAP. At first, this model gave them a lot of issues. Nevertheless, back in 2013 things got back on track. At that time the new X3 second generation was well received by the users. It was launched with a lot of fresh and engaging features. 

Then again, in 2017 Fiio rolled in with their third generation X3 model. Thus, the X3 Mark III is their most refined non-touch audio player. However, it could be their most surprising one up to now. The reason behind this is that all the good things in X3 III are manufactured on a relatively dated processor.

All things said this is the reason I’m picking the latest versions to compare. I’ll be mainly comparing between x1 2nd gen and x3 mark III. 

So let’s not waste any time and dive into the main conversation.


Fiio often incorporates a few intriguing and liked appliances with their products’ packaging. So let’s find out what things are in the Fiio X1 II and X3 Mark III box!

As you open the box you’ll see, X1 II comes with a clear case. On the other hand, the fiio x3iii arrives with a sum of 2 cases. 

The clear case of X1 II won’t actually safeguard the device as the full silicone cases of X3 III would. However, if you’re not apt to slip your devices, you’ll enjoy this minimalistic strategy. It settles fine and tight. Also, it doesn’t look like it’ll easily come off. It can be a bit fussy to peel off, however, not extremely so.

However, the pleather case of X3 Mark III seems like it offers an adequate amount of protection for the device. 

But, sadly, the screen protectors of both of the DAPs are extremely simple to scrape. And there isn’t any screening coating on the exterior. It implies that it’ll get scraped when you’re shoving out bulges after applying it. 

We understand, in this case, you’d need screen protectors with sufficient protective layers. Here’s why we’ve listed some of the most durable screen protectors that won’t scrape off easily. Take a look!

However, no matter how durable the protectors are, refrain from dropping your device casually. Also, save it from your kids and kittens.

Winner: Fiio x3


In terms of design, I found the Mark III is a massive scale-up from its predecessor X3 II.

It seems way more unique and slim than its former X3 productions.

The form factor of X3 Mark III will be familiar for those people who have owned X1 II before. Actually, without any blink, you can say that the X3 III is the blown-up version of the X1 II.

It’s definitely way bigger (about one-third) than the X1. Actually, at first, its dimension took me aback when I did the unpacking. 

Although X1ii has rounded corners, X3 III has a slightly flat touch to its edges. The side panel of the X3 III is smoother than the cupped side panel of the X1 II.

Winner: X3 Mark III

Build Quality

If you looked at our moondrop starfield and kxxs comparison, you would notice how their build quality impacts other features as well. Likewise, mostly a music player’s build quality is at the center of attention for audiophiles.

So let’s get to know about the build quality of fiio x1 and x3 in the following sections. 


The front panel seems very similar to the X1 II but only bigger. Nonetheless, the front panel of X3 III is placed behind a tempered glass end. Moreover, it has an aluminum outline just in the back.

Also, the fiio Arc configuration of the x1 II frame gets straight to the top panel. That’s why it doesn’t feel as flawless as the X3 III from the top down.

Furthermore, I found the button arrangement of X3 III more nicely built on the front panel than the X1. They seem a little more fixed and well provided to the panel. On the other hand, the X1 buttons seem to jut out a little more.

Winner: X3 Mark III


The X3 III comes with a 2.3 inch and 320×240 pixel thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display. It’s a non-touch display. Therefore, you’ll be able to operate through the manual buttons and touch-roll wheel underneath the screen.

The category and design of the display are very similar to the one used in the previous-gen of the X3. However, it’s a little bigger than the 2.0″ volume obtained on the 2nd gen division.

Also, it’s a well-lit display with vivid neat hues, proper viewing corner. Moreover, if you compare it to the X1ii, X3 iii has better flashing and more intricate composition of shade. The center from the LCD to the tempered glass isn’t that subtle. This benefits in terms of clarity and perceiving angles.

The grade of pixelation from the recent OS on the X3 Mark III display is identical to the X1ii’s. Nevertheless, Xiii is slightly low anti-aliasing to the 2nd gen HiBy system and glass. 

I have noticed this on some Linux powers software systems previously. It’s normally connected more to the font option that has kept up the exact format for both DAPs.

Winner: X3 Mark III

Inputs & Outputs

I feel, price-wise, Fiio has done an outstanding job when it comes to the ins and outs of X3 III. All of them are fixed on the bottom panel just like the X1 II. The roof panel is only flush metal.

With X3iii you’re getting the 3.5mm digital and line out of the former 2nd generation DAP. However, you’re getting an extra balanced 2.5mm TRRS on the polar side as well.

Formerly in the X1 generation, the cord and digital outputs were lodged in a double-purpose individual 3.5mm output. Transferring was executed through the OS controls in settings. 

On the X3 Mark III, you now have a 3.5mm jack with tri-functional capability. It now includes 3.5mm unbalanced for headphones and IEMs plus lineout and coaxial adapter.

However, you can get a wireless adapter to fit in any of the jacks of your audio player. For example, the Twelve South Airfly Pro. This adapter wirelessly transmits audio from in-flight reception, gym devices. Also, from gaming gadgets, TV’s or any 3.5 audio jack. 

You’ll be able to use your AirPods, noise-canceling earbuds, or wireless headphones anywhere with no more cables in the road. Moreover, now you don’t need to give up the audio quality or convenience in flight.

Nonetheless, like X1 II, this time Fiio is again going with the micro-USB for the X3 III USB port. I actually don’t see any risk in that. Still, a bunch of my equipment adopts this layout. There isn’t really any hint of it being canceled presently. 

I expect the following-gen will shift to USB-C. This configuration is quite easy to use and hence, I’ll instantly choose this port any time. 

Winner: X3 Mark III



When it comes to getting a music player some specific features matter a lot to me. Hence, I’ve discussed some of those features below. Kindly go through them to know your choice better.


Fiio has reformed the DAC in the recent X1. Now we’re getting the brand new and top-end TI PCM5422 DAC chip instead of the former TI PCM5142. Both are delta-sigma line drivers. 

However, the PCM5422 puts in a slightly more powerful range to the action of the X1 DAC stage. Also, the new one offers a higher SNR feat by 2dB over the aged chip.

On the other hand, fiio took one big step forward for the X3 series. The X3 Mark III now comes with a dual DAC implementation using TI’s PCM5242 chipsets. 

They have also separated the PCB board design to contain the DAC, BT operation, and amp stages separately to reduce interference.

Winner: X3 Mark III


This is the Achilles heel of the X3iii. Though I have to say not as much as it was on the X1 2nd Gen. The processor is the Ingenics JZ4760B processor chip with a SOC OS based on Linux. All the boards in the JZ47xx series consist of an XBurst processor. It is a MIPS processor clocked at 240->400Mhz. 

This is the same chip used in the X1 2nd Gen and the previous generation of the X3.

It is not the fastest processor out there. However, I think FiiO has done a good job of optimizing the coding of the OS. Because it is a bit faster than the X1 2nd Gen, particularly on scanning. 

That being said, it’s the bottleneck in the performance of this system. Because it is an old chip by today’s standards.

Winner: Tie


The amp stage of the X1 2nd gen stays untouched. You’ll find the similar Intersil ISL28291 buffer chip and an OPA2322 opamp here that was found in the original X1. 

I think capacity ranges should stay the same for the X1 2nd Gen with the exact staging elements. Fiio has also claimed that the performance should be a heightened feeling of depth with low-end feedback here.

However, on the other hand, Fiio has inserted an OPA1622 based amp stage into the X3iii. 

Impedance matching is not super low like X1 ii. 

It’s around 1-1.5Ω for both its balanced and unbalanced outputs. That should be deep enough for most productive IEMs to sound more “correct” and truer to their tuning than X1 ii.

Nonetheless, without any doubt, I would prefer to pair up my DAP with more powerful amps. So that I can get the most out of my power-hungry headphones or speakers. Such as detail extraction, decent dynamics, and higher driveability. If you’d like it too then you can go through some of our best amp suggestions below.

However, don’t forget to read the documentation carefully before setting the amp up. Sometimes due to incorrect setup, the Bluetooth often seems to lose its connection.

Winner: X3 Mark iii


The X3iii will offer you Bluetooth 4. It’s competent in two-way communication. So you’ll be able to connect the X3iii to a portable speaker. 

Here’s a tweet by Fiio of their launch event with more new features in fiio X3 Mark III.

The 4.1 Bluetooth is actually nicer than the X1ii. However, it’s not decent enough in the recent wireless sphere. I found the pair up with Diva at close range, for example, in my pocket, quite good and substantial. It also indicated headway over the X1ii. 

Not only in the close range but in a high traffic location the connection was pretty strong as well. The Diva’s headset controls seem to function nicely. So I’d certainly try this pairing for outside chores. The Diva was also very fast to pair again once the X3iii had cataloged it originally.

You see, the X3iii’s Bluetooth transmitter is extensively modified in comparison to the X1ii. However, it still comes with some speed problems with a start-up. 

However, AptX is also missing in X3iii as it was on the X1 2nd Gen. 

The absence of aptX is because of the incapability of Linux to merge the aptX outlet into its MIPS structure. Audio is, accordingly, nice but not as vibrant and non-flatten sounding as aptX. You’ll see the variation if you’re comparing them with an aptX capable outlet like the fiio X5iii and X7ii.

Winner: Tie

Sound Quality


For the lion’s share, when it comes to audio players or IEMs like, the sound quality is the most checked feature. Therefore, we’re also not going any different here. 

We’ve also come with an in-depth discussion about both X1 and X3 DAPs’ sound quality.


In some ways, I find the tonality and presentation of the X3iii a slight return to the original X3. Only because that X3iii is more resolving and refined sounding.

I always found the X1ii to be drier and more neutral. The X3iii is a fuller, rich-sounding presentation with a more planted low end. Also a stronger even harmonic bias in its timbre. Simply put it is much smoother but more dynamic sounding than the X1ii.

It also massively upped the resolution over the X1 2nd gen. I found the X1 2nd gen to be well balanced for the budget DAP. But you’ll be able to immediately pick out the superior detail and layering in the X3iii.

X3iii pushes out vocals a bit more than the X1 2nd gen for sure. Also, its planted warmer bass response will stand out a lot more than previous iterations.

Winner: X3 Mark iii


You’ll get heavier hitting than previous generations of the X3 but also tighter sounding. It takes the fullness of the first-gen X3 but pushes it a bit further forward. 

The x1 2nd Gen will sound a bit leaner in comparison and more neutral in positioning.

The X3iii bass response is not as punchy as the X1 ii. But it is slightly richer and may shade it a little in sub-bass presence.

Winner: X3 Mark iii


On x3 iii, lower mids retain a bit of the bass warmth and even harmonic bias. I wouldn’t term it as soft or overly rounded. Rather it’s just smooth and easy-going with a reasonably natural sounding timbre. 

Instrumental layering is much better than X1 2nd gen and really does sound more open and dynamic in its presentation.

The X3iii does a good job with vocal presence. It pushes it slightly further along with its lower treble. 

Side by side with the fiio f5 and X1 II, however, the positioning of X3 Mark III is slightly further back. Nonetheless, with both of the above-mentioned DAPs, X3 iii sound a bit more aggressive in their upper mids and treble signature.

Winner: X3 Mark iii


Treble is relaxed but not rolled off on X3 iii. Again, a massive step up from the X1 2nd gen. Because X1 ii sounds a lot more muted and less resolving.

The headroom in X3 Mark iii is pretty okay actually! It’s just not as much ‘pop’ as X1 ii. Therefore, X3 iii is much superior in both accuracy and timbre.

Winner: X3 Mark iii


The output in X3 Mark III is actually a bit noisier than I expected. Considering the X3iii output resistance is 1.4ohms, it’s not as low as the older X1 2nd gen 0.2ohm rating. 

However, I was expecting total silence on X3iii. That is not the case sadly as it does have noise.

Nonetheless, it also starts to fade away once you start using IEMs at 20 ohms or higher. Or with sensitivity ratings that start dipping to 110dB or lower. 

Winner: None


Another most important thing about audio players is their compatibility with speakers and IEMs. The more compatible they’re together the better the performance. 

Performance with Speakers

You can use wireless Bluetooth speakers with both X1 II and X3 III. 

I attempted connecting a Philips Bluetooth portable speaker with X1 II and X3 III and it was paired up instantly. 

The soundstage in the speaker with X1 II really pulled me towards it. However, with X3 Mark III soundstage broadened on width and depth. With X3 Mark III sound comes to be more fluffy and tones become gullible. Also, sound becomes a little quicker along with a better thrill and effect. 

Winner: X3 Mark III

Performance with IEMs & Headphones 

X3 iii is really an IEM DAP with enough power to happily drive an efficient or low impedance headphone. Tonally I prefer neutral IEMs with the X3iii. 

Anything overly bass dominant or warm in signature might not have the best synergy with both the X1 ii and X3iii.

X3iii with hybrid IEMs such as the iBasso IT03 sound quiet and lively with excellent treble. Whereas X1 ii suits mid-focused attenuated treble IEMs such as the Fidue A85.

Nonetheless, Fiio’s own dynamic-driver F5 and the hybrid fiio F9 paired better with X3iii than the X1 ii. The noise levels are super low for a starter with both of these IEMs. 

Winner: X3 Mark iii

Our Verdict 

Usually, FiiO X3 is the fairest option. It can generate outstanding output power and apparently delightful sound quality. The potential to function as an external DAC is also very helpful. So, initially, there isn’t any need for you to spend more money on a dedicated amp. Besides Fiio X1 sometimes faces problems turning on.

Moreover, Fiio X3 has much higher output power than Fiio X1. If you want to use high-impedance headphones, you should choose Fiio X3. It is powerful enough to drive a 300-ohm impedance. Headphones with such high impedance generally deliver better sound accuracy and definition.

Here’s a short table that summarises everything:

This was all we had on these two DAPs. Hope we kept our promise with all the necessary information here.


What’s the power output recommendation of Fiio?

Fiio’s output specs and guidance says that they suggest the use of 16-100ohm headphones. The outputs suggested by them are respectively- 100 MW at 16 ohms, 70 mW at 32 ohms, 8 mW at 300 ohms.

How’s the category scanning of fiio X1 gen 2?

I found the scanning in X1 gen 2 quite sluggish in terms of mid-fi DAP criteria. It takes around glacial 10 minutes to locate and index 2250 FLAC tracks from the SD card. 

Final Words

Hope I could shed some light on your fiio x1 vs x3 conundrum.

However, while looking for a music player always try to remember which setup you’re using with it. In that case, you’ll be able to get a perfectly drivable music player without any lagging issues.

Have a charming day!

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