Disclaimer: The FiiO Q5 was sent to us by FiiO directly in exchange for our honest review. Current price is 349$ and around 379€ around various websites.
Founded in 2007, FiiO now is a major brand in the hi-fi circles, offering a wide range of audiophile products. With a reputation of cost-killer-yet-audiophile constructor, the Shenzhen company steadily rose from a small team to a full-fledged company, producing thousands of products each month. After the acclaimed FiiO X7 Mark ii, we are now reviewing the all-new FiiO Q5, their newest DAC. Considered as the new flagship from the brand, we’ll see if FiiO still got it.
Not so long ago, FiiO was only producing small and bulky headphone amplifiers like the FiiO E11. Despite being pretty or sleek, it worked well and the affordable price got FiiO strong sales and popularity among the audiophiles. A few years later, the brand produced their first portable DAC/Amplifier dedicated to smartphones : the FiiO E18 Kunlun.
It was a major upgrade. The E18 was compatible with both android and iOS (even tough not officially) and FiiO gave their DAC two USB ports for charging and data plus a big knob and buttons for settings on the go. Again, it was a hit, with a market price lower than 200$. A bargain, even now.
The FiiO Q5 is the spiritual son/daughter of this E18, a flagship DAC, for the masses.
With its latest creation, FiiO is trying to blend everything they learned into one comprehensive device. The FiiO Q5 is a DAC, an amp but it also boast Bluetooth for wireless connection and it has the swappable amplifier setup you can find in the X7 Mark ii DAP. A Swiss-army knife for audiophile purpose, like the Chord Mojo in its time or the E18 for that matter.
The FiiO Q5 is pretty well built, the amp never feels cheap in the hand nor bulky. The aluminium is thick and compared to the IFI audio xDSD, there is a big difference handling it. If the IFI feels like a toy, the Q5 seems a lot more sturdy with its sharp edges and geometrical design. It’s not Astell&Kern precise but you can’t find real flaws in the construction. FiiO is making progress with each generation.
It’s a new jack-of-all-trade portable amp by FiiO.
Once installed, the removable amp is tightly secured and there is no major gap, good job FiiO. You can plug in all the amps available from the FiiO X7 first gen launch : AM1 / AM2 / AM3 /AM5 etc… The Q5 is being provided with the AM3A, the balanced one that allows you to connect both TRS and TRRS in-ears/headphones
On the top edge, the FiiO Q5 offers two knobs : one for the gain selection and one for the bass boost and two inputs/outputs.
The first one is a line out, which allows you to connect the DAC to an external amp. It’s a good old regular 3.5mm jack output, so you will be able to plug any amp you like with no hassle.
The second one is much more interesting, it’s an Opt/Coax/Line in combo, giving the user a lot of possibilities. FiiO even provides a mini-Toslink to Toslink adapter, a nice gesture considering the price of this DAC.
On the left side, you have the volume knob, the power on/off button and a small diode that lights up when you play DSD files. The other side has three buttons for next/previous track or play/pause option, doubling as switches for Bluetooth pairing and loop mode.
Finally, there is a second micro-USB input, dedicated for charge when you connect the FiiO Q5 by USB to a smartphone or a computer. For information, you can still charge it through the lower USB port when the DAC is offline.
All in all, it’s a solid piece of hardware and FiiO is displaying how much they learned through their years of doing development.
The review continues on Page Two, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.