When the Fiio Q11 was announced it peaked my interest. I saw how tiny it was and how much power it supposedly have in it’s 4.4mm balance while being less then $100, made me curious if I could have something that tiny taking up 95% less room on my desk, while still being able to power my sundara. So as soon it showed up state side in an online store I bought it quickly as for less then $100 seems to be a steal to me.
In the box, you get 3 cables, a rubber mount used to hold the Q11 together with your phone if your using it on the good and a pad that sits between the too. The cables are USB C to USB C, USB C to Apple Lighting and a 6FT USB C to USB A which is used for connecting the Q11 to your PC or laptop. Sadly the Usb A cable was not long enough for me, so I had to get a longer 10FT USB C to Usb A cable to use it with my desktop.
The Q11 is quiet small near the size of a credit card length wise and almost as tall as my Roku remote, on the rear of it is the USB C port, on the front the L/H Gain switch, 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Bal connectors and finally the Volume combo on/off knob. The 3.5mm doubles as a Spdif out(it has to be enabled in software I’ll explain that more later).
Since there are no 3.5mm for input to use the Q11 as a standalone headphone amp, It will only functions as a Dac/amp.
The 3.5mm handles 310mw @ 16ohm and 165mw @ 32. While the balanced 4.4mm connection does 650mW @32ohm,640mW @ 16 and finally 75mw @ 300ohms.
The clear window on the top of it is where the RGB light is shown when the unit is turned on, it changes based on the bit rate of the songs that being played and if the song in question is MP3 or DSD. Which might be useful to some people. Also on the rear when its power on, you'll see the charging led.
On to the spdif support that I mention before, while there is windows drivers which enables the use of ASIO, the settings isn’t accessible thru the xmos control panel, but the Fiio control app in android, meaning you have to disconnect the Q11 from your PC and connect it to an android phone, (Iphone users is outta luck for now since Fiio Control app in the apple store doesn’t support the Q11)
In the app you will see options such as switching the 3.5mm from Headphone to spdif and then either enabling the RGB LED or disabling it. Also you will see the different dac filtering settings by default its on non over-sample filter. Then the second page of it explains the Q11 and what each of the earlier plugs and knob do.
There is some channel imbalanced but it really only happens at ultra low volume, volume setting you turn to after you turn it on but after you raise the volume more it goes away. You really only notice it if you’re pairing a high sensitivity iem with the Q11 such as the CRA CCA or Fiio EA1 etc.
Over all the Q11 came off as being invisible in the chain if that make sense as I heard the sound signature of my ER2SE being flat and the sound signature of my Pro500Mk2’s having no brightness just some small details and a lot of bass, and finally with my sundara connected to the 4.4mm sounding really good with the highs having right amount of detail while not being blight, feeling of a large sound image with the music being as if its outside my head and the bass having some impact behind it.
I also tried it out with my Fiio M7 Dap and I didn't have a issue with it as the Q11 worked right away without any issues. But I didn't use it long enough as I was seeing if there was any problems using the two together.
At the end I really enjoying this fiio Q11, when I bought it I didn’t know what to expect but with the way it’s performs and for its price point, its a winner in my eyes. I even made it my primary desktop setup now since it takes up less space then my smsl Su and magnius.
The only thing I think that could be better is being able the settings that you need without having to disconnect the Q11 from your desktop to your android phone to use the Fiio control app and back again. Maybe a Fiio control app or something for windows without having to pull out the android phone.
I cant really think of any thing else other then a line out input for connecting a stronger hp amp to it or a aux in to use it as a standalone headphone amp.