Aune is the high-quality HiFi brand of AO LAI ER Technology Co.ltd which was founded in 2004. This is a review of the AUNE X5s 6th Anniversary Edition, a multi-function digital music player/transport. It’s the third generation of the X5 series and boasts optimized circuitry as well as an updated 600MHz processor. The X5s does hardware-based PCM and DSD decoding up to 32bit/384k and DSD256.
Disclaimer:This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
AUNE X5s Review
Very fast boot and response time
Classic AUNE build quality
Clear and informative display
Has both analogue and digital outputs
No automatic file sorting
Package and Accessories
The X5s unboxing begins in classic AUNE style. It starts with a large, textured, matte black box that is plain except for the logo on the top. Inside the box are the X5s player, remote control, power adapter and 3 silicone caps for the ports on the back of the unit.
Build and Functionality
The AUNE X5s has a similar style to the other models in their X-Series. It has a matte finish, aluminium enclosure with a curved, convex top and a convex channel running down both sides. The unit feels quite dense and weighing in at 2kgs that’s no surprise. It is heavy relative to its size which adds to its premium feel.
The front panel is dominated by an OLED display with large, clear text. It displays all the relevant information such as:
Bit depth/Sampling rate
Left of the display are a standby indicator light and remote receiver. To the right of the display are the multi-function playback/navigation controls and SD card slot.
Here’s what you’ll find on the rear panel:
So How Does It Work?
First, you need an SD card or USB flash drive or external drive loaded with music (there is also a Bluetooth version of the X5s). The X5s supports WAV, FLAC, DSD, APE, ALAC and MP3 file formats. When you power on the device, it will automatically scan any inserted cards or drives. After that, you’re ready to start playing music.
The line output can be connected to directly to active speakers to make a simple and compact HiFi system. Alternatively, the X5s can work as a digital transport output an ultra-low jitter digital signal (via Coaxial/Optical/AES) as a digital transport.
You can either play ‘All Music” which will play all the files on your storage media or you can use folder navigation to play specific files or folders. The usual play modes are available – single play, play all, shuffle, loop etc.
I noticed while using the X5s is that it has a very fast boot speed. Depending on the size of your storage media, you can be up and running literally within 2-3 seconds. The system UI is responsive too and there’s no noticeable lag when navigating the music or menus, thanks to the upgraded 600MHz processor.
One thing I found disappointing is that the X5s does not sort files automatically This means that files appear in the same order that they were added to your memory card instead of alphabetically. In order to remedy this, you will need to use something like the free Drive Sort application.
While you can operate the Aune X5s with the front panel buttons, it’s much easier to use the remote. The remote gives you access to all the playback and navigation controls as well as dedicated buttons to change the digital filter and add songs to your favourites. The remote itself is plastic and feels quite flimsy but it works just fine.
For testing, I used a mixture of FLAC, MP3 and DSD64/128 files which were on a Sandisk SD card.
Test Setup 1
First, I connected the X5s to my Singxer SDA-2 DAC (review here) via the coaxial output and tested with various headphones. Now, operating as a pure digital transport, the X5s delivers a jitter-free signal to your DAC which in turn delivers the audio. A nice bonus about using the SDA-2 is that it displays the incoming sampling rate on the display.
When used as a digital transport, the sound coming from the X5s depends entirely on the quality of the music files. In this case, the Singxer’s warm, resolving tone comes into play which is then moulded again by whatever headphones or speakers are at the end of the audio chain.
Test Setup 2
Next, I connected the X5s to my Audioengine HD3 Wireless speakers (review here) via the line out. The sound was clean and transparent without any apparent colouration. This is a really simple way to get a nice HiFi system up and running for those who don’t have or don’t want to use a computer in their setup and are simply looking for a digital turntable for delivery. This is a nice, compact system that can easily fit on a smaller desktop or counter.
Test Setup 3
For my final test rig, I used the X5s’ line out to plug directly into the Feliks Audio Echo tube headphone amplifier and listened with the Acoustic Research AR-H1 planar magnetic headphones. This resulted in a clean, detailed and airy sound with an impressive dynamic range from the headphones with a hint of warmth added by the Echo.
As an aside, the Echo can also be used as a preamp, so I fed a line from it to my stereo amplifier which was connected to the NHT C3 Carbon Fiber speakers. This turned out to be a fantastic combination and one that will likely be a permanent fixture in my living room.
The C3 CF’s already impressive soundstage got even larger. At the same time, the precise imaging and layering were preserved, allowing the speakers to paint a holographic scene. At the heart of this setup, the little X5s delivered the music without a hitch, jitter-free and remained responsive at all times without any UI lag.
So who is the Aune X5s for and should you buy it? I think it’s ideal for those that have a digital music collection but don’t want the distraction or complications of a computer. Or perhaps you have a computer but want to have a fuss-free HiFi setup in another room or part of the house.
I still enjoy my Shinrico D3S because of its large colour display but I found myself using the X5s a lot more often. Why? Because of its almost instant boot time and responsiveness plus the fact it can output an analogue as well as a digital signal.
The X5s can work with or without an external DAC which opens up even more possibilities. My only misgiving is the lack of automatic file sorting but that’s quick and easy to fix. Once you have your files sorted you don’t need to do it again unless you add new files to the SD card or hard drive.
If you’ve been waiting for the right time to join the digital revolution, this might just be the incentive you need.
Yes (batteries not included)
RCA output level
RCA output frequency response (+/-0.5dB)
20Hz – 20kHz
RCA output noise
RCA output THD+N
WAV : Up to 32bit 384kHz, WAV + CUE FLAC: Up to 32bit 384kHz, level 0-8 DSD: DSF / DFF DSD64-DSD256, SACD-ISO APE: 16bit 44.1kHz ALAC AAC MP3