Review: FiiO Q1 Mark II – Additional Value

Disclaimer: We received the FiiO Q1 Mark II free of charge as Fiio is one of our advertisers. The Fiio Q1 Mark II goes for 99$.

INTRO

Another day, another FiiO product. This time it’s all about the Fiio Q1 Mark II. This entry level portable DAC/Amp has received a significant overhaul compared to the original model. It looks nice, sounds nice and it doesn’t break the bank with just a 99$ price level.

I think there’s no need to give information about FiiO and their products anymore. If you don’t know FiiO, then you kindly need to check your knowledge as an audiophile. Let’s get into it.

Q1 MK2 SPECS

DAC-Chip: AK4452

X-MOS Platform

Official Apple MFi Certification

For a full run down of specs, check here: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/76/parameters

DESIGN & BUILD

The new Q1 brings the house down in terms of design. This is really elegant, simplistic and smooth. When you compare it to the Mk1, it clearly comes on top in every way you can imagine. The full black color, rounded edges, slim footprint and the stylish volume knob: all are perfectly blended together. It reminds me of the good old Headstage Arrow. It’s very suitable for stacking, like the Arrow was. That Hi-Res Audio sticker is also a nice touch.

Build quality is very good too. The MK1 was also pretty good in terms of that, but thanks to the more compact and sleek design, the Mk2 gives a sturdier impression overall. The chassis is full aluminum and I found out that it doesn’t scratch easily in normal use. Of course the device you’re going to use for stacking (smartphones especially) can get scratches depending on their build materials, so watch out for that.

The volume knob, bass and gain switches and audio jacks, all gave me a good user experience in terms of quality. So overall, the FiiO Q1 Mark II is a great device regarding structure and materials.

USAGE

Like its design, the Q1 is very friendly with any device you can use it with. From tablets to smartphones and computers, all you need to do is connect the USB cables supplied in the package. However I’m going to criticize the contents of the box here a little. Since this one is targeted for the Apple IOS devices, you only get a lightning cable for USB connection. So if you want to use it with Android smartphones, you have to purchase a suitable micro USB cable separately.

I personally am a bit puzzled. FiiO supplies a USB cable for computers, and a lightning cable for Apple, but no micro USB cable for Android. The device perfectly works with Android as far as I know, so I think there is no point not to include an additional cable for Android users. Besides, I don’t think the inclusion of an additional short cable would’ve done bad for marginal costs. Of course the user can order a cable easily but I still don’t get this idea of “Apple compatibility”. It works with every device after all.

Stacking is easy with the Q1. It doesn’t add a large footprint and it looks really cool if your source device is also black. You can use the device as a portable amp with the supplied 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, or you can use it as a DAC/Amp of course, with the USB cables for PCs and Apple devices.

I didn’t test the battery life extensively but it seemed quite good overall in normal usage. I can’t specify hours but I didn’t face any problems with the battery. Unless you forget the device open, you won’t see a sudden drain.

VIDEO

The Fiio Q1MKII also was part of out Watch-it series a few weeks ago. In the following video Berkhan shows you the unit and how to use it

SOUND

The FiiO Q1 Mark II is a very good performer in its class, just like most of FiiO’s offerings. It has a flat sound with very good mids for the price and has good technical abilities as well. But I want to highlight the progression since the original Q1 model. The new Q1 is the better sounding DAC/Amp in every way, and it’s a nice step up from “meh” to “very good”. However, there’s also a surprising downgrade but let’s not spoil that and take a closer look at the new Q1’s sound.

BASS

The bass department is not dominant and it’s quite laid back at times, reproducing a tight and linear kick. It’s neither very punchy nor rumbling, but it’s quite clean and actually very suitable for bass heavy IEMs to balance out overpowering lows. In terms of getting deep and decay it’s of course not the best out there, but I would say decay is very good for the price. For deepness? It doesn’t reach too low so it’s not amazing in that regard, but still pleasing for only $99.

Pairing with a headphone/IEM which has good amount of bass would be the best choice in my opinion. Because the Q1 chooses to be careful and considerate with its lows, you’ get a very good control at low frequencies at all times. That makes it a good companion for bassier equipment. Midbass especially is under control, therefore it’s nice to hear those instruments and vocals shine, without an annoying hump from the lows.

That becomes very blatant when you compare it to the original Q1 to Mark II in terms of bass. Q1 Mark I is messy in terms of lows, not controlled and in line like the Mark II, and of course that affects the other parts of the spectrum. Mark II is a definite upgrade concerning bass quality. Yet, I don’t recommend you to turn on the bass switch. That simply disturbs the Q1’s qualitative bass response and replaces it with a wild, boomy bass. Maybe you could find it useful in extreme situations, such as extremely flat sounding headphones but other than that, I simply recommend to leave that switch off.

Go to PAGE 2 for the rest of the part on sound and the conclusion

Review: FiiO Q1 Mark II – Additional Value
3.8 (76.67%) 48 votes

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As a lover of personal audio, Berkhan always seeks perfection in his reviews. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to maintain his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes the photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside. Either way, he will always do his best.

16 Comments

  • Reply December 8, 2017

    Vinc

    could you do review of two news daps: ak70 II and sony nw zx300? Both are same prize category. Both have very good reputation on hifi forums and both lack reviews on english net. And if you do, please look at dac function of zx300. Some people report it has delay, which makes video and games on pc unsynchronized.

    • Reply December 8, 2017

      Berkhan

      We’re trying to get a ZX300. Lets see if we can have the sample unit.

      • Reply December 8, 2017

        Vinc

        great! looking forward to it. i already ordered one but then i read about pc dac delay and now im not sure if i should buy or cancel, because i will use it mainly with my pc. anyway. any article about zx300 is much appreciated as there is absolutely nothing on english speaking internet

    • Reply December 8, 2017

      John Hospod

      Thanks for the review. I’d generally recommend making more comparisons across different brands so that readers that own competing items have their own frame of reference. For example, how does this compare to the Audioquest Dragonfly Black?

      • Reply December 9, 2017

        Berkhan

        I don’t have any other dac/amp in my inventory at the moment. If I had, I would of course have done some comparisons.

  • Reply December 28, 2017

    Camo

    Received the Q1ii today and OMG its a beauty of a device, but I wouldn’t expect anything less than that from FiiO. Its sounds fantastic and is a direct upgrade to my now year old FiiO K1.

    I must say for the low price of £35.99 for the FiiO K1 that tiny device kicks serious ass. However, from the last hour of listening the Q1ii sounds more forward with greater resolution and sound stage while still having that house FiiO sound. Its slightly darker and less thick than the K1.

    I took some pics of it today, you can view the Imgur gallery here – https://imgur.com/a/Yltwh

  • Reply March 15, 2018

    Kyle

    How does this compare to the fiio e10k? I have the dt770 80s, ibasso it01 and fiio fh1. I like that the q1 can be used with my phone and has a battery but is the e10k more powerful? Does the q1 work well with laptops? I can’t decide between the two.

    • Reply March 15, 2018

      Berkhan

      No idea I’m afraid. Never had the E10K.

      Q1 works fine with laptops. If you’re also going to use it with your phone, than the Q1 is the best & portable choice I think. And looks like your ear/headphones don’t need an amazing power.

      So I guess the Q1 MKII would work nicely for you.

  • Reply March 27, 2018

    Ricardo Pinheiro

    For using with Android tablet / iPhone, should I upgrade from the first Q1? I don’t plan to going balanced

  • Reply April 6, 2018

    Johno

    Is the 3.5 SE output powerful enough to drive a pair of Audio Technica m40x? I’m planning to use it both at home and in the go. If it’s powerful enough, it seems to be the best choice for use with an iPhone.

    • Reply April 6, 2018

      Berkhan

      I think it should be enough to drive the M40x.

  • Reply August 5, 2018

    ahmed shokry

    I want to buy this device but I will use it as amp only via the 3.5 input socket because i’m andriod user , will it be good for me or there are a better options at the same price ??

  • Reply August 14, 2018

    Shantanu Limaye

    Hi! I read your review of Fiio Q1 Mark II. I have one question. I am using RHA T20i with iPhone. Can I get better Sound Quality if I add Q1 Mark II to it?

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