Review: FiiO Q1 Mark II – Additional Value

MIDS

Mids are blending the bass department nicely and creating a cohesive sound overall. Again it’s not amazing and rather modest, but that’s what I love with the new FiiO Q1 Mark II. It respects its technical capabilities and doesn’t try to do too much. Vocals are natural and they have a very good definition within the spectrum, as well as good resolution. But don’t expect a lush and rich mid presentation like from more expensive toys. Mids are a little dry but it covers that up with good resolution and a hint of forwardness. Nothing to complain about for the price.

I think mids are more resolving than the bass and that’s also a big step up from the Mark I. When you switch to the original, you’ll hear less transparency and separation across the mids. Instead, the Mark II has more amount and more quality at the same time. Mids are for me the most important part of any equipment, and hearing this improvement from FiiO is absolutely pleasing.

Once again, I don’t recommend to use the bass switch because it also affects the mids in a more negative way.

TREBLE

Treble is not shy with the FiiO Q1 Mark II in terms of amount but still has good level of control to prevent unwanted harshness or sibilance. Highs are similar to which you would find in the original Mark I, unlike bass and mids. But Mark II still has a little more organism in its sound and you can spot that difference with critical listening. Otherwise they’re quite like each other regarding the extension and quantity.

I have to say there’s a bit of a lack of extension in the upper parts of treble. This is observable if you have IEMs with more than 3 drivers with really good treble performance. I don’t think it’s fair to expect far reaching treble extension from a 99$ device though. The separation of treble from mids is quite good, and they have good articulation, although it can feel somewhat out of place if you switch from a high end source/amp to this.

TECHNICAL

The Q1 has good resolution and it doesn’t feel inadequate for the price level and it’s a very clean sounding source/amp. The background is definitely darker then the original model so that’s a plus in my book. That affects everything: imaging, separation, transparency and so on. Sound stage dimensions are moderate and width and depth gave me an equal amount of openness. The sound is airy enough to have a good level of imaging and separation. Dynamism is so hard to find in these prices so the Q1 is not great in that regard, but I did not expect it to be special anyway.

Now here’s the surprising part. The FiiO Q1 Mark II is weaker in power output than its original. This was not to be expected of course but that’s how it is. From the balanced output though, it gives a little more juice than the Mark I. The balanced output has been very popular with FiiO lately and this is another continuation. But again, be aware that you won’t get more power overall with the new model from the Single Ended output.

THE SONY CONNECTION

The FiiO Q1 Mark II can be used as a USB DAC for your iPhone, computer, as well as Sony Walkman players. By using a special designed adapter cable, you can connect from the WM-port of your Sony Walkman player to the Q1 Mark II, so that the latter may do digital decoding duties to add some spice to your music. This special designed adapter cable L27 was only released a few weeks ago and it’s called the L27. With this 6cm cable, you can further explore the functions of the Q1 Mark II (and the Q5 that may be available soon in December). The L27 cable goes for only $15.99 on Aliexpress

Some friends of ours in Singapore that use Sony DAPs are very happy with this new cable. Nathan also discussed this cable when he interviewed the guys from Sony a few weeks ago. The interview will soon be published on Headfonia. This is what Nathan has to say about the L27 at this time:

“Sony’s interface cable is short, right angled, and slaved to their hi-res line of DAPs but it works, and in fact may net higher performance than the player’s regular outputs. I spent several hours with it, the NW-WM1Z, and Sony’s high- FGAP DAC, and loved the combo enough to consider at least two of them, if not all three. The reason is clear: they work well and sound brilliant.”

CONCLUSION

Once again, FiiO prove themselves with another budget unit. I like Fiio for keeping their business concept the same all these years: Provide good options for audiophiles who crave good value for their money. This new model adds a much better sound reproduction -although having a little less power compared to original- and in terms of design it’s a wonderful device to use.

Great progress from FiiO.

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A lover of personal audio from Turkey, Berkhan always seeks the perfection. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside.

19 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?

  • Reply December 4, 2018

    FLORIAN GERARD

    hello

    can i use it for DAC use only when at home ? I don’t see any line out ?
    regards

  • Reply March 25, 2019

    David

    It has a line out.

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