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 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.
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.”
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.