An exciting DAC/Amp combo is taking the world by storm! Well, maybe I shouldn’t be so dramatic. But, actually, it is a really awesome little device that is creating some buzz among the audiophile community. It is the FiiO Q5 wireless DAC and amp. I recently was able to get my hand on one to try for myself. So without further ado, here is the FiiO Q5 DAC and headphone amplifier review.
Elegant, and Wireless – FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review
In the Box – FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier 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 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review
Look and Feel
The FiiO Q5 has an elegant and slick aluminum alloy housing. This housing not only is pretty and minimalistic. It is also logistical because it helps to keep out electromagnetic interference. Additionally, it has a leather patch underneath it which is highbrow and protective.
The FiiO Q5 DAC and headphone amplifier seems to be just about the perfect size. I have relatively small hands, but I found it easy to maneuver. It also fit super easily in my pocket. If it was a hair smaller, it would have fit my hand better, but this size will work well for most people.
The DAC/Amp is particularly portable because of its versatile methods of sending and receiving sound. It can connect to my phone via Bluetooth, which makes listening on-the-go easy and encouraged.
Inputs, Outputs, and Switches
The FiiO Q5 works with a wide variety of sources. It’s inputs include micro USB, line level 3.5 mm, coaxial, optical, and Bluetooth. It also has two output options: single-ended 3.5 mm and balanced 2.5 mm. The single-ended output will drive headphones with impedances up to 150 ohms. The balanced output will drive headphones with impedances up to 300 ohms.
Additionally, there are two switches onboard the FiiO Q5. One is a low gain/high gain switch which tells the amplifier how much power to supply. The low gain worked well for me with my Beyerdynamic DT 240 which has an impedance of 34 ohms. The high gain worked well with higher impedance headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones with an impedance of 80 ohms.
Secondly, there is a switch for a bass boost which sounds quite natural, although it is a bit over-the-top. When switched on, the low end (probably somewhere between 60 Hz and 100 Hz based on my ear) sounded bombastic which didn’t work for many genres but worked well for others.
Features – FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review
The DAC inside the FiiO Q5 sound great! It is detailed and clear, although I’ll save a more detailed description of the sound for the “Sound” section. The DAC consists of two AK4490EN DAC chips which are widely known for having a high signal to noise ratio and low distortion. They DAC supports PCM and Xmos up to 384 kHz/32 bit, as well as DSD up to 256. Using it via USB as a DAC for a computer is super easy because it doesn’t require any additional drivers to use. Lastly, it supports the WM-Ports used in Sony Walkmans.
One of the most remarkable features to me about the FiiO Q5 DAC and headphone amplifier is that each different output and control has its own power supply. As a result, it prevents digital audio signals from crossing paths with power which could be dirty and introduce noise into the signal. The DAC, line out, volume control IC, low pass filter, amplifier, Xmost, and Bluetooth all have individual power supply filters.
The FiiO Q4 supports Bluetooth 4.2, aptX, AAC, and SBC. However, it sounds better than most Bluetooth devices because it bypasses the Bluetooth DAC and sends it directly to the AK4490 DAC chip. As a result, it has lower total harmonic distortion, crosstalk, and a lower noise floor.It has a battery life of 10 hours for most uses, although if you’re listening via the aux line input, you can actually listen for up to 25 hours. Additionally, it takes about 3.5 hours to charge fully.
Interchangeable Amplifier Modules
One of the most interesting features of the FiiO Q5 is its interchangeable amplifier modules. This feature contributes to its already wonderful versatility. The Q5 comes with AM3A amp module. This module includes the same op-amp used in the FiiO X7 Mark II. The X7 sounds superb, so it was no surprise because this Q5 sounds awesome too!
–MFi-made for iDevices
–Hi-Res-Japan Audio Society
–Aptx– includes Qualcomm CSR8670 Bluetooth chip; also Q5’s Bluetooth can be upgraded through USB firmware updates
Sound – FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review
The sound of the FiiO Q5 DAC and headphone amplifier is clean and uncolored. Due to its super clean power situation, it provides a deeper sense of soundstage than you’d hear otherwise. Whether I was listening at very low levels the left-to-right response still felt balanced. And at high listening levels, I couldn’t hear any distortion at all. Overall, the sound was full and real. However, one downside is that because there is no color anywhere, the musicality of the DAC is moreso dependent on the musicality of your music and mixes.
Overview – FiiO Q5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review
The FiiO Q5 is a super awesome and versatile DAC/Amp combo. It has a clear, detailed, and uncolored sound. It can drive a wide variety of headphones and was especially portable. I’d recommend it to any audiophile who wanted an easy way to get detailed sound while commuting or listening at home. Therefore, I dub it a Major HiFi Gold Award!
The FiiO Q5 is available for the best price here: