Reviewed by Gabby Bloch
The FiiO Q5 is has a lot of stuff packed into it. Inputs and outputs galore, Bluetooth capability and a detachable amp. How good does it sound, both wired and wireless? How powerful is it, and is it worth the price tag? Let’s find out in this FiiO Q5 DAC& Review.
IN the BOX – FiiO Q5 DAC& Review
FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier with Bluetooth
Short lightning to micro USB cable
3.5 mm cable
2 long straps
2 short straps
Screwdriver to change amp module
DESIGN – FiiO Q5 Mark DAC& Review
Look and Portability
This DAC AMP is pretty sweet looking. It’s got leather on the back, and has similar dimensions to a mobile phone, only slightly shorter and thicker. It would be great if it was a little smaller but that’s the beauty of Bluetooth. You don’t have to stack the Q5 to your phone. Keep your devices in separate pockets and have your phone free to use while you listen. But we’ll discuss the Bluetooth technology below.
Inputs, Outputs and Switches
There’s a lot going on here. There’s a 3.5mm headphone input and a 2.5mm balanced input. You’ve also got the optical/coax/line in, and line out. There’s a gain switch and a bass boost switch. The bass boost might be too much for some listeners, but it’s nice to have with very balanced headphones, or those that emphasize the high range. There are two micro-USB inputs; one for charging and the other for connecting to your phone if you decide to go the wired route.
FEATURES – FiiO Q5 DAC& Review
The DAC has two AK4490EN DAC chips, which have a high signal to noise ratio and low distortion. These chips are also knowns for their smoothness and definition. The DAC has a sample rate of up to 384 kHz/32 bit for PCM and XMOS, and up to 256 for DSD. No drivers are necessary to hook it up to your computer. It also connects easily to Sony Walkmans. The Q5 is designed specifically for the iPhone. It will probably work with Androids too. But because there are so many Androids on the market, there’s no way to test them all, and as such, FiiO decided not to advertise it as Android compatible. The Q5 is also aptX and High Res certified.
The engineers at FiiO are smart. Each section of the Q5 has its own power supply. The DAC, line out, volume control, amp, XMOS, low pass filter and Bluetooth are all separately powered. Why? It reduces distortion and minimizes interference.
Why would you use Bluetooth on a device designed to optimize sound? Doesn’t Bluetooth reduce sound quality? I decided to test it out, and I’m sorry to say I did indeed hear a difference. Still, I wasn’t disappointed by the Bluetooth connection. The Q5 bypasses the Bluetooth chip’s internal DAC. Instead, the Bluetooth signal goes directly through the Q5 DAC, which greatly reduces distortion and provides optimal clarity. Hey, it’s a good option to have.
Interchangeable Amplifier Modules
If you decide you want a different amp on the Q5, go right ahead. It’s interchangeable. But considering that the amp used in the Q5 is the same as the one used in the fancy and much more expensive X7, you might not want to bother changing it up. Still, based on you power needs and sound signature preferences, it’s another handy option.
SOUND – FiiO Q5 DAC& Review
The Q5 supports an impedance of 16-150 Ohms for regular headphones and 16-300 Ohms for balanced. But for the sake of curiosity, I tried a pair of 250 Ohm Beyerdynamics (not balanced) and I didn’t get get the volume I wanted. So these aren’t conservative numbers. 150 Ohms means 150 Ohms.
I love the sound on this beauty. Clear and smooth with just the right amount of separation. There’s not too much color on the Q5. So don’t expect to get a really filtered sound. The sound will still depend mostly on the type of headphones and the mix of the song. The soundstage is pretty good too. I didn’t hear a huge difference, but there was discernibly more width.
VERDICT – FiiO Q5 DAC& Review
I found nothing to dislike about the FiiO Q5. Great functionality meets great sound. For the price, I think it’s a bargain.