Review: FiiO Q5 – The Step-Up

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.

 

About FiiO

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.

 

Presentation

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.

The concept

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.

Review: FiiO Q5 – The Step-Up
4.3 (85.71%) 7 votes

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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

    4 Comments

    • Reply July 3, 2018

      Roxy

      Magnificent review, covered all bases with benchmark cans and subjectively written.

      Fantastic company, real progressives in the field with accessible un-faustian prices.

      Fabulous stuff, well done !

    • Reply July 5, 2018

      M Girvan

      I have to agree, the Q5 is one impressive piece of gear, and quite possibly the finest achievement for the company. I was lucky to be selected as part of the head-fi Q5 tour. I was so impressed with it that I just had to buy it and I think it is one of my very favourite purchases and certainly an absolute amazing price to performance piece of kit no doubt about it.

      It feels simply wonderful in hand, it looks rugged and aesthetic with a simple, yet bold angular approach. I simply love the feel and positioning of the controls with those wonderful little user friendly design touches like the knurled accents on the volume dial, which is simply fantastic. The Q5 feels like a full on, high quality and sophisticated device.

      I don’t agree that the Bluetooth isn’t fully audiophile, that isn’t my experience at all, I simply love the Bluetooth. The Q5 is as fully competent sound wise as the Mojo and with the addition of an amazing Bluetooth implementation, much better looks and form factor, I think the Q5 bests the Mojo. I have been using it via the balanced input with my Pioneer SE Monitor 5. The balanced cable for the Pioneer also fits the Sony Z1R perfectly and I was able to also use the Z1R with the Q5 and the results were absolutely fantastic.

      I am absolutely floored by the sound quality of such a portable and affordable device, just pleased as punch. I have no hesitation recommending the Q5. FiiO absolutely answered the bell and delivered. I have also completed one firmware and one Bluetooth update that after a little confusion went without a hitch.

    • Reply October 18, 2018

      dang vu quoc anh

      Can I used q5 as dac for my dx80 ibasso through optic channel or i can only use it as a amp?
      thanks!

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