Fiio has more portable DAC/Amps than most other brands. It seems like every couple of months or so there’s something new from them, and now we have the Q15 to start their year. This is a new portable DAC/Amp that has Bluetooth for $399. Let’s see if Fiio starts off the year making a good impression.
What You Get
- Dual Type-C fast charging data cable*1
- Dual Type-C short data cable*1
- Type A-C adapter*1
- Storage bag*1
- Silicone pad*1
- PE film (pre-applied)*1
- Silicone ring*2
- Warranty card*1
There’s been a consistency to Fiio’s design for their various products for the past few years. Ever since, the M17, Fiio has taken its basic structure and has successfully adapted its design to a ton of its products. The Q15 is the latest to feature this slick design, and it’s joined by AG glass that makes the surface pop. This build is meant to make sense sitting on the back of your phone for daily use, and the Q15 succeeds in that.
Everything about the shape, weight, and feel of the device makes the Q15 fun to use regularly. As far as buttons go, the Q15 keeps its build relatively clean. You have your basic power and play/pause/volume controls, but the volume pot also acts as a button. For ins and outs, the Q15 features 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone outputs on the face of the device, while the rear gives you USB Type C and Coax inputs.
Underneath the hood, the Q15 is one of the rare devices to feature an AKM dual DAC combo. These are AK4191EQ and AK4499EX chipsets that feature new DWA Routing Technology that further tries to enhance sound quality. Paired with an XMOS 16-Core XU316, the Q15 supports 768kHz/32bit PCM, DSD512, and MQA full decoding. Dual audio crystal oscillators help the Q15 adapt to these sample rates, as well as various sound sources.
The Q15 supports Bluetooth 5.1 and features fast pairing and a stable connection. It offers a variety of quality CODECs, such as aptX LL, aptX HD, and LDAC.
You can get about nine hours of playtime from a full charge. To avoid draining a ton of energy from your phone, the Q15 has a phone mode switch that exclusively uses the built-in battery of the device.
I haven’t been disappointed with Fiio’s current crop of portable DAC/Amps in terms of sound. Through testing, the Q15 pairs exceptionally well with various headphones and IEMs. As is with most devices that offer it, I preferred to use the 4.4mm balanced output through a USB connection. This would give me a more favorable sound reproduction that shows the full potential of how the Q15 can shape the profile of different headphones. I started with the Sennheiser HD 660S2 paired with the Strauss & Wagner Lucerne, and the Q15 gave me the exact clarity and warmth I was looking for. The Q15 was able to make the HD 660S2 feel smooth while still expressing roominess and defined notes that were consistent throughout the mix.
Switching over to the Dan Clark Audio E3 removed a lot of that head-engulfing warmth, but the presentation of instruments and vocals remained unchanged. The soundstage appears with great width and dimension, with added height from the highs that have quite a bite when put through the Q15. In the matter of headroom, both headphones were boosted pretty high, but I was still left with a ton of gain to play around with. With the Q15, the sound never gets too loud no matter where you park it. Every volume adjustment felt like a comfortable amount of loudness that only helped to bring out certain frequency ranges and sound elements more transparently.
I’ve been impressed with a couple of Fiio peripherals recently, and the Q15 might be my favorite so far. From its sleek look and feel to its effortless sound reproduction, the Q15 is more than well worth the money. If Fiio could find a way to include more features, like the menu on the Q7, then this is one of the best portable DAC/Amps you can get. It surpasses the iFi Gryphon to me, as it’s more powerful and more elegantly designed. If you’re looking to pair a reliable DAC/Amp to your phone, then the Q15 is the best option that won’t set you back a ton of money.
The Fiio Q15 is available at Audio46.