Fiio vs. iPod

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Runicen, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Ok, so this may have been asked before - feel free to send me to the appropriate thread if so. Searching just got me a bunch of legacy "For Sale" threads.

    I'm presently leaning heavily on a 5th gen iPod Classic I've modified to incorporate a 128gb MicroSD card. The Wolfson DAC incorporated in its design sounds great and gets me through my work day with a modicum of sanity intact. Thing is, I've been experiencing odd skipping on tracks - i.e. the track plays for two seconds and skips to the next (resolved by hitting the "back" button) - and have been contemplating picking up an iFlash card which allows for the installation of multiple cards (looking for 256gb of storage). Thing is, if I did that (and gave the little thing the battery upgrade it needs), I'm already looking at an outlay of around $150 just for parts - on a player that's ten years old, can't play FLAC and which can't play HD audio... Oh yeah, and which is locked into iTunes.


    Basically, I'm starting to question the wisdom of investing that much in the player, much as I'm easily seduced by the challenge of "can it be done?" From reading I've done, the 5th gen iPods are reasonably sought after for their DACs and the Fiio DAPs are generally regarded as good but not great. My question is, how does the Fiio stack up against an iPod Classic of that vintage and would I be better off just socking aside some cash and picking up an X1 or and X5?

    While I have to admit that even the current version of iTunes has an interface I prefer for organization and ease of use to anything else I've tried, I'm willing to leap out of that ecosystem if it is around the same price point and offers a genuine improvement over what I've got now.

    Any input is appreciated.
     
  2. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    Wow, I see the new iPods are only 128gb and are $500

    iPod touch »

    So much for any advice from me.......:shh:
     
  3. bdfin

    bdfin Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Washington State
    Fio X1 for less than 99.00 depending on where you get it. I guess they have a couple generations of those now too. Get one from Amazon, try it out......if you don't like it, send it back. I have one sounds pretty good to me but can't give you any comparison.
     
    Runicen likes this.
  4. Gaslight

    Gaslight Drake Dweller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    I've written this on other threads, but I wasn't impressed with the SQ of the FiiO X1. Simply didn't gel with the headphones I had. X3/X5 may be different.

    iPod Video / iFlash is a decent sound from the headphone out and, again imo, beats the X1. You can't turn it into a true HD audio player, but Rockbox will remove the iTunes limitation and lack of FLAC.
     
    MaxxMaxx4 and Runicen like this.
  5. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    I'm still using my 2 iPods all the time. I'll admit to wondering what I'll do when they bite the dust. Heres' s a basic question; does itunes work with other players that aren't ipods?
     
  6. hoover537

    hoover537 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    I've been looking into a Fiio as well. I'm turned off by the fact that you have to jump through so many hoops to have playlists which is important to me.

    It seems that all of the newer DAP's have issues with playlists and such.
     
    Runicen likes this.
  7. timind

    timind Bushy

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    I use a 5th gen ipod with a 256gb sd card installed in an iflash adapter. Mine gets listened to nearly every day, I love this thing. Since installing the sd card I have had it lock up exactly one time. It required a reboot with the center button. Other than that one incident, the ipod has been flawless. Another advantage with the sd card is extended battery life.

    Never heard the Fiio so can't compare.
     
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  8. hoover537

    hoover537 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Is that a do it yourself project or did you send it somewhere?

     
  9. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Strictly DIY, which is part of the reason the cost for "finishing" it correctly is so high. A friend wanted to take a broken iPod and upgrade it but lost interest in the project after getting hold of a Compact Flash to ZIF adapter. I figured I'd do a "proof of concept" build just to see how easily it could be pulled off. What ended up with was a MicroSD card adapted to SD, which was then plugged into the Compact Flash adapter. Part of the reason I don't consider it "done" is that I suspect that nested approach to adapting everything works, but I doubt it's terribly efficient - hence the tracks that need to be played a second time in order to play through correctly.

    My hangup at this point was realizing I would be spending more than the cost of a new X1 to do the job right and wondering if even a "just ok" modern DAP would massively out-perform an old iPod. For me, the appeal of the iPod in general is the elegance of the interface, which is why I'd always held off on Rockbox and the like - the integration between player and software, the ease of sorting and searching the audio library on the PC side and so on are the reason (IMO) that the iPod took off as well as it did in the first place and why I still use one. Drives me mad that Apple tries to pass off the Touch as a viable replacement.
     
  10. timind

    timind Bushy

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    DIY with parts from iFlash.xyz – Welcome to the home of the iFlash Adapter »
    I've done it to 3 ipods. The first trial was with an ipod that had a bad hard drive. On that one I tore up the ipod's case more than I'd like. For me, the first time opening up the ipod was a bear.

    Next was the 5th gen ipod which went smoothly with no damage to the case. Lastly I installed two 256gb sd cards (512gb) in my 7th gen ipod which went perfectly. With my entire itunes library of AIFFs loaded, I now use the 7th gen ipod as my main source for music by feeding the digital signal to my dac. The Mac Mini only gets used to rip music and transfer to the ipods.

    If you decide to do it and want some advice, send me a PM and I'll be happy to tell you all the lessons I learned the hard way.;)
     
  11. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Well, I haven't done a direct comparison head to head. I've had iPod Classics over the years and I now have a FIIO X3 2nd Gen. My wife still has a 5th or 6th gen classic, I don't remember. If I get a chance I'll dig it out and maybe do a direct comparison. From longer term memory and use I'd say none of them are really high-end hifi devices, but whaddya want from a portable? In my memory, the sonic character of the FIIO X3 2nd Gen is warmer and softer edged than the sonic character of any iteration of any iPod I've ever heard.

    Where the 2nd gen X3 has it all over the iPod is expanded functionality -- it will not only handle any format you can throw at it, it will also handle high sample rate and high bit rate files and even native DSD and the best improvement I've heard from these devices is from using higher res source files; it also has a 1.5 V line out so you don't need to go through the headphone amp if you're plugging it into a stereo, it can function as a USB DAC for your PC. It's more of a full-function portable high-res DAC not just a DAP.

    Where the iPod has it all over the FIIO is easy of use of software and software and firmware updating, integration with iTunes, etc. That's a night and day difference in favor of Apple.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  12. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The points you raised here are the main reason I'm starting to wonder if the cash would just be better spent on a new portable rather than rehabilitating an old one. The expanded functionality of the Fiio definitely checks some boxes the iPod leaves conspicuously blank.

    Aside from the lack of HD capabilities, I have to say I'm hung up on the fact that the 5th Gen iPod sounding a lot more "musical" than the 7th Gen models I have. Considering the 5th Gen iPods are supposed to be a lot less accepting of massive boosts in storage capacity relative to their younger siblings, it's a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'd be pleased as punch to create a 512gb iPod, but that simply won't be possible with the older model I prefer the sound of - again, this leads me down the road of, "Is it time to just upgrade?"

    Overall, I think what's gotten me to this point is realizing that the ease of use and bridging between software and hardware that used to make the iPod the hands down victor in these competitions doesn't carry the water it used to - not least of all when I consider that it may only be a matter of time before Apple either dramatically rebuilds the whole thing to shift the focus to streaming or simply swings hard to exclusive support for iPhones with no legacy device compatibility.
     
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  13. ishmaelk

    ishmaelk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madrid
    Why not Pono? I'm just saying, since as I live in Spain I can't buy one unless I accept paying high custom taxes.
     
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  14. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been tempted to check those out, but considering they cost the same as the X5, which can accept two microSD cards at a time, it gives the Fiio an edge.

    Now, if they suddenly went on sale for around $200, I can't say I'd turn up my nose at picking up a Pono...
     
  15. hoover537

    hoover537 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida

    I hear what you are saying. But have you looked into how hard it is just to make a playlist on these new DAP's? If you are really tech savvy then it's not an issue.
     
  16. Linto

    Linto Mayor of Simpleton

    At that level the Ibasso DX80/DX90 would be my choice, then save up for Mojo
     
  17. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've heard about that with Fiio devices, but I seldom use playlists. I either shuffle all or listen through albums in their entirety.
     
  18. superstar19

    superstar19 Senior Member

    Location:
    Canton, MI, USA
    Can't offer any insight on the Fiios, but I recently installed the iFlash quad in my 7th gen classic along with 4x128GB cards. I briefly looked into the Fiios line of products but wasn't quite ready to move away. The headphone jack on my Classic needed a replacement so I figured since I already had the patient open now would be the best time to do it. I was pretty nervous about spending ~$150 in hardware and cards, but it has worked out great so far. Every few weeks the player freezes and does a reboot, but it used to do that when I had the 240GB HDD as well.
     
  19. Gaslight

    Gaslight Drake Dweller

    Location:
    Northeast USA
    (not the OP but chiming in as I have thought about this). My main Pono concern was "pocket friendliness" as that's what I need in a portable device (using it while walking, raking the leaves, on the train etc). Its shape is not advantageous for pocket use, it's better for use on a desk or other flat surface.

    I also had/have concerns about long-term hardware support, but honestly you'll have the same problem with most DAP's. The Pono battery is replaceable but I'm not sure if there is an after-market battery available yet. The FiiO X1 also had a user-replacable battery, it's not soldered on.

    One nice thing about those old iPods is that popularity = replacement batteries are abundant. You just have to learn how to open them up without damaging them. Plus that iFlash adapter replaces the other piece of hardware most likely to fail on those iPods.
     
    Runicen likes this.
  20. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    How are you liking the iFlash? I suspect some of my data issues have been down to the "nested" adapters I had to use to make the card I had on hand work. At this point, I'm just interested in making this thing work and having a player I don't need to futz with for a few years before it needs replacement - hence thinking about just going for a new player rather than keeping the Frankenpod.
     
  21. superstar19

    superstar19 Senior Member

    Location:
    Canton, MI, USA
    I haven't noticed any performance difference with the iFlash so I've been very happy with it. Everything is operating as it had before. I had a 240gB HDD in before so the weight difference is the only thing that is dramatic. It's so light that it almost feels "cheap".
     
  22. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF East Bay, CA
    Thanks, Runicen, for starting this useful thread.

    I bought an 80GB video iPod years ago for use in our cars. I chose a subset of my music collection, tagged it to fit the iPod's limitations and converted those files to mp3s. That 37 GB library has been in place on the iPod for about 9 years without changes. This year I used the iPod to fight boredom on exercise walks. Still works!

    The FiiO players look like a cost effective alternative when I need to replace the iPod.

    Classical music is the majority of my music library and I had to create a second copy of my music files with different tagging to fit the iPod's limitations. Browsing by tags will probably be too limited for my needs on a FiiO player. However, I think that I can create a folder and file name structure that will work adequately.
     
  23. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I noticed that myself having moved to MicroSD in the Frankenpod. Another perk is being able to forget that horrified reaction if the iPod falls off a desk or something. What used to spell death for an HDD is far more benign with solid state media! Nice for those of us who can't bring ourselves to cut the headphone cord. :D


    No need to thank me. I suspect a lot of us will be running up against this question in the coming years. Can I just say that I'm jealous of your 37gb library? :laugh: I clocked my home library at 1.06tb a few weeks ago and I think it turned some of my hair gray. The rabbit hole goes deep. :crazy:

    The great shame in all of this is that no company has yet to even attempt to match Apple's integration of software and hardware. At its prime, iTunes was an incredible achievement and the relatively seamless bond between iTunes and the iPod still hasn't been matched as far as I'm aware. Most solutions involve, "How close can I get to that with these third party options?"

    As for your issue with tagging, I've tended towards using a directory system that is pretty much impossible to muck up. Granted, I'm trafficking mostly in pop/rock with a bit of jazz and classical on the side, so a purely classical library may introduce its own problems (I know I dread ripping some of the mega boxes I own and figuring out how to differentiate performances/ensembles under my present system). Here's what I work with:

    Music Folder\Artist\Year - Album Name\Artist - Track - Title.flac

    The Artist folder is always "lastname,firstname." This allows me to do things like migrate to Foobar and use the directory structure to organize my library when the software doesn't integrate an artist sort similar to iTunes/iPod.

    What I'm going to lament is the loss of sync in play counts between software and player. It's a really nice way to just listen and to figure out later what I've "auditioned." I've yet to encounter another option which incorporates this, sadly. :cry:
     
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  24. Old Listener

    Old Listener Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF East Bay, CA
    Runicen, thanks for the long reply. My main music library of Flac files on my file server is about 800 GB. About 43,000 files. The iPod has 256 VBR mp3 files of a subset of the main library files.

    I have 15-20 recordings of a work that I really like and only 1-3 in the iPod library.

    I use JRiver Media Center on my PCs. It provides excellent supports for the tags and views that I need. Before I started ripping CDs, I worked out how I wanted to tag my files: what tags to use and how I wanted the values to read. For example, "Beethoven" rather than "Ludwig von Beethoven" or "Beethoven, Ludwig von".

    I researched the iPod thoroughly to be sure that I could find a way to accomplish the minimum that I needed for playback on a portable player.

    If I have to go to a folder/file name based browsing method later, I will research it before I plunge in. Folders and file names work well for one sequence of browsing steps but poorly for others that don't fit the hierarchy. I expect to get around that by having duplicate files in different hierarchies for special cases. By the time I need an iPod replacement, a 500 GB mini SD card might be available.
     
    Runicen likes this.
  25. superstar19

    superstar19 Senior Member

    Location:
    Canton, MI, USA
    Do you have a LastFM account? I use Musicbee to manage my lossless library and it has a LastFM plugin which I think will sync your device playcounts if you use Musicbee to transfer music to the player. I actually have the LastFM desktop app which syncs with my iPod playcounts through iTunes and somehow these counts all make it back into their lossless counterpart in my Musicbee libarary.
     

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