FiiO Q5 Flagship Bluetooth and DSD-Capable DAC & Amplifier

  1. Audiowood
    Fiio Q5 powerful versatile bluetooth device.
    Written by Audiowood
    Published Mar 15, 2018 at 3:41 PM
    Pros - Powerful Bass, good treble extensions without sibilance or harshness. Reasonable price. Tons of connectivity and options, custom leather case, good bluetooth stability and AAC, DSD APTX support.
    Cons - None. But would love an EQ in the companion app.
    I want to say a very big thank you to Fiio for letting me do a review of their latest Fiio product, the Q5 Bluetooth headphone amp/Dac.

    I have been listening to Fiio ever since they first launched their product, they have come a long way from a few cheap portable amps to some of the best amp/Dac/DAP in today’s market for a very reasonable price. They have been improving and changing their product range but they have never change one thing. The urge to charge an exorbitant price in their lineup even after winning many awards over years. I also want to commend their customer service (for helping to track the “lost FedEx Package”). FedEx suddenly found the lost package on the last day of Feb.

    I have been using wireless music device ever since wireless Bluetooth becomes popular. During the early days of Bluetooth, they are mainly used for answering calls and not exactly for music. Well, that has been changing since the last 3-4 years with Sony launching the MW1 Bluetooth for headphones complete with FM radio and SD cards. The sound was “Ok’ish”, wasn’t; too bad for traveling. But then, Astell and Kern came into the pictures when they launch the AK XB10 promising “audiophile” sound quality. It was not cheap, I paid $189 for it. This was the first Bluetooth device that made me dig Bluetooth music streaming even more. I was addicted to wireless from then on. The sound quality from AK XB10 is still pretty good even by today’s standard.

    I finally got the Centrance BlueDac after reading rave reviews and was recommended by some very experienced head-fi (who has very good ears lol). I was blown away by the number of details and “audiophile” tuning of BlueDac. It was very impressive for Bluetooth. So when Fiio launched the Q5, I swear I am gonna have to hear this since it’s cheaper, and have more function. So in today’s review, I will be comparing the Fiio Q5 to Centrance BlueDac since the AK XB10 is not in the same price league. The Centrance BlueDac cost $399 while Fiio cost $349. A $50 differences.

    To keep the review short, I will not be posting the specs here. As for the accessories, I will not write much about it or how much each adaptor or leather case cost. I decided to just post pictures of all the accessories. You can get all the specs from Fiio website (


    So let us head straight to what really matter. The built, features and sound quality.

    Built Quality.

    Oh my goodness, the Q5 screams high-end all over the place. From the smooth analog volume knob to the feel of the button and the sharp edges of the aluminum body feels very expensive. It reminds me of the original AK240 (yeah, I burnt a $2,499 hole in my wallet) super quality built with a hefty weight to it. There is nothing cheap at all. The cheapest feel is the faux leather at the back of the device. It’s a plastic that looks like leather. I think its suppose to prevent scratching when putting it on the table since the whole device is made of aluminum. I can already see some minor scratches on the devices, so I do recommend the leather case (sold separately).

    EB56B1F5-95C6-47E4-BE78-A09130CFC2B4.jpeg 884619BA-F0DC-45A1-B006-5018A1F82183.jpeg 58870125-E686-4D44-B5C3-1570E6557FC0.jpeg 1B368927-FBE2-41A9-B974-B9FB260E1A68.jpeg

    Comparing to Centrance BlueDac built, the BlueDac is made out of biodegradable plastic, feels very light and very fragile (I already break it when I accidentally drop it). Obviously, these 2 companies have very different philosophies. Centrance is promoting earth-friendly material and featherweights portability as it weighs only 120g. To be honest, I love the light weight of the Bluedac, but not a fan of biodegradable plastic. All in all, I prefer the heavier built quality of Q5. See pictures below for comparison.




    Input and Output

    In this regards, the Q5 wins hands down in the number of options. The Q5 has an Optical, COAX line in, a dedicated line out, a single ended 3.5mm headphone jack and a balance 2.5mm output, USB connection and an optional WM-PORT support (using Fiio L27 cable for all of sony’s diehard fans). The BlueDac is much simpler. It consists of a single ended 3.5mm, 2.5mm balance, and a USB connection. There are no optical or Coax support.

    The sound.

    This is what both companies describe their sound;

    Fiio describes the Q5 sounds as smooth, pleasant yet detailed due to its high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion.

    Centrance describes their sound as a reference-quality audiophile listening device. The sound is so awesome, you will hear detail in the music you never thought was there.

    As far as my experience goes, I don’t normally agree with what all these marketing talk about how great they are, but in this case, I have to agree to both of them. The Fiio Q5 sound exactly what Fiio describe, if you were to ask me to put into my own words, I will say the Fiio gives you a nice warm clarity with a very natural sound full of details. Nothing is sharp or unbalance, no sibilance, no harshness, just pure warmth clarity.

    Since both use the same brand DAC AK4490, only differences are Q5 has 2X of AK4490EN (yes with an EN). The sound tuning is more similar than different, but since this is an audiophile headphone forum, I will post even small differences here. Both amplifiers are dead quiet and have a black background. I used my hiss detector (Noble K10 CIEM) and could not hear any hiss in both devices. Sames goes for Shure SE846 and UE18PRO CIEM (25ohm).

    The sound signature of Q5 isn’t fully neutral as it’s a bit more to the warmer side but not overly done. There is a pretty good linearity and balance across the spectrum. Nothing sticks out, just very balanced. The strong points are having a stronger bass than most of my other portable amps like headamp Pico slim, Centrance BlueDAC/dacport slim and AK XB10. Yes, the strongest bass among these amps with the bass switches off. I don’t recommend using the bass switch as it completely muddle the bass and veil the trebles. This is no sub-bass switch, it’s a midbass switch so everything sounds even warmer with an already warm signature. However, if you have a treble centric IEM with midbass dip, this switch could totally change the game. I would rather have it when I need it than not having it at all.




    Other strong characteristic includes full richness and good treble extension. The soundstage width and depth is fairly good for a Bluetooth portable device. The Q5 present music in a very smooth but yet lively accompany by occasional sparkle here and there.Yes, it’s slightly warm, more like sunset cozy warm making it a very versatile musical portable amp/Dac There is quite a good precisions and a respectable amount of resolutions even though its warm. A healthy dose of everything, very balanced.

    I especially love the bass of Q5, the bass has a fair amount of body and richness yet tight and fast enough which really gives a good impact. Bass can go really low and maintains stability throughout. I do wish the midbass is a tad lesser as it does bleed very slightly into the mid. Yes, very very slight. The bass is never overpowering and yet one would never feel it’s not enough. There is a good sense of depth and width with great instrument separation and extension. I would say that the mid is quite romantic yet with a sense of energetic flow within it. This is a very musical amp.

    Treble is pretty robust but not too overly done. You get a sense of great energy and natural tuning with zero sibilance. No harsh peak, or crazy sparkle here. For those looking for higher treble energy, for low-level listening should look for the BlueDac as it has a more neutral tuning.

    Fiio comes with an optional case to bundle with your iPhone 6/7/8. Just not IPhone X.

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    FIIO IOS apps

    The Q5 is equipped with a companion app. This apps allows one to make full use of the AK4490EN dual Dac by changing the low pass filter to the following mode.


    The sound immediately change when you click one of the filters option. That being said, this is not a huge differences like an EQ. It’s a minute differences in sound shaping and it does not change the overall signature. It’s a fun thing to have. I generally prefer sharp Roll-Off filter as I am using mainly UE18PRO CIEM. It’s gives the overall harmonic and overtone a kick!

    This app is quite impressive since most companion apps that comes with bluetooth devices are really simple. Fiio app has the most features I have seen so far. There is an option to also do a channel balance. I really wish they include an EQ like the Earsonic ES100. Well, I am sure they will in the near future. Sony has it, BEO has it, Jaybird has a full band EQ, so Fiio, please include one in your next app upgrade.

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    Comparison with Centrance BlueDAC.

    In short, I would say their sound quality are both are in the same league even the DAC is from the same company. The major differences are in the amps. The Q5 comes with a variety of options but for this review, I am going to use the AM3A since its bundle together. The Bluedac is no pushover in this regard since Centrance decided to include the AmpExtreme, a powerful, custom, class-A headphone amp in it. This Amp extreme is their best portable HiFi amplifier yet and has tons of rave reviews from major hifi publications. So which is better? The answer lies in your preference of musical tuning. If you are going after a more neutral tuning where your focus is on overtones and harmonics, then you should audition the Bluedac. The bass slam, impact and treble extension are more pronounced. If you prefer more warmth yet powerful bass response, a romantic mid with natural treble accompany by good clarity, then go for the Q5. I suspect most audiophile would like the Q5 more due to the more powerful bass and musical tuning. I am not saying the Bluedac sound artificial, no, far from it, in fact, it just as natural with a more neutral tuning. Both amps are very detail, both wins!


    Overall, I think the Fiio Q5 is 2 steps ahead in the wireless game. The reason does not lie in the sound quality since Bluedac is just as good, but more on the huge amount of options and features. The Q5 wins hands down on connectivity, has a forward, back, play, pause button and just scream high end just by looking at it. There is also an option for the beautiful custom fit leather case, different amplifiers to match your headphones and the volume rocker is just amazing. This is a dream wireless device that everyone has been dreaming for a long time until Fiio makes it a reality.

    A reality not only for the rich kid but includes everyone with its resonable entry price point. I suspect the Fiio Q5 may win the 2018 best bluetooth audiophile device of the year. A gamer changer setup.

    Thank you for reading and a very big thank to Fiio. I appreciate the 10 days of fun!. 谢谢你 FIIO!

    1. KopaneDePooj
      Great review and comparison with the BlueDAC. Thanks!
      KopaneDePooj, Mar 16, 2018 at 4:53 AM
  2. betula
    Fiio Q5 and the competition
    Written by betula
    Published Mar 5, 2018
    Pros - Clean, clear, detailed and dynamic sound. Fast, precise and accurate. Firmware upgradable Bluetooth functionality is a big plus.
    Cons - Treble is nice and detailed but might be too bright for some. A little more 'soul' to the sound would be nice, but this is nit-picking and personal taste.
    I would like to say thank you to Fiio for lending me the new Q5, their flagship DAC/amp for ten days in exchange for my honest opinion.


    Like many of us here, I like Fiio for their friendly attitude to us customers since they came out with the first version of their X3 DAP back in 2013. The device itself was slightly bulky, but had a unique and warm sound with its Wolfson DAC chip. I liked it very much back then, and owned its predecessor too, the X3 2nd gen. Since I sold that DAP a few years ago I haven’t really been following Fiio’s new products. In 2015 I purchased my first Chord Mojo and didn’t need a DAP anymore. I am aware though, how Fiio keeps contact with us here on Head-Fi, and takes our opinion and suggestions seriously in future product development.


    After testing and reviewing the most popular and most interesting DAC/amps in 2017, the iFi Micro iDSD BL, iFi Nano iDSD BL and Chord Hugo2, I was more than curious to see what Fiio has to offer on this small but very competitive market of portable DAC/amps in early 2018.


    As you can see from my other reviews, I really like my Chord Mojo’s natural and lifelike sound, this device has been my reference point for a while. Being very close in price (Q5: £329, Mojo: £379) it makes sense to compare them in this review.


    Package, specs, build quality

    Keeping things simple and to save some space, you can read the specs on the product page if you are interested.
    The Q5 comes in a nice and neat box, with plenty of accessories. They even put a screwdriver in the box in case you want to swap amp modules.


    Build quality is superb. The only very minor issue I could mention is the led-light on the power button. When I turn the Q5 on, I simply don’t know how long I have to press the button as the indicator light is right under my thumb. This however is obviously just nit-picking.


    The Q5 is bigger than I expected, but still is a good size if you want to use it with smart phones on the go. The Oppo HA2SE is sleeker, but I am not a big fan of its sound. The Oppo’s sound is just not natural enough for my taste, especially at the treble. The iFi Micro BL is too big to call it portable, the Nano BL and the Mojo are small enough, but much shorter than a phone so it feels bulkier than a Q5 or Oppo HA2SE stack.
    The Q5 is much taller and slightly wider than the Mojo or the Nano BL, but it is slightly thinner making it a more comfortable stack to carry around.


    In my opinion the unique selling point of the Q5 is its Bluetooth (aptX) functionality, which is firmware upgradable for future improvements in Bluetooth technology. The future of audio, especially portable audio will be wireless, and aptX compatibility seems to be the first big step in minimizing the compromise we make in sound quality when ditching the wires. Having the Q5 in your bag and controlling your music on your phone without any wires is indeed very appealing. You don’t lose much in sound quality compared to usual Bluetooth connection, and you don’t really notice the difference traveling on public transport. Mojo can also do this with the Poly add on, but the two together cost £860, which is out of budget for many. People who simply want to go wireless won’t pay this much for the very versatile Poly.
    Going wireless for £329 (buying the Q5) though is something even a Mojo owner ‘on a budget’ might consider, as sound quality wise the Q5 is not very far from Chord’s smallest DAC.


    Sound and more

    Like the majority of us here, I am also the most interested in sound quality. Comparing DACs in the £200-£500 price range is not the easiest job as the differences are more subtle than they are between headphones. I am mentioning this, because when I am talking about sound differences between the Q5 and the Mojo the differences are also not huge by any means. They are present and probably audible to most of us here on Head-Fi, but I think in a blind test the average listener wouldn’t be able to pick up the differences. That is the reason why portable Hi-Fi DAC/amps are niche products.


    The most obvious sound characteristics of the Q5 coming from the Mojo, is how clear, clean and precise the Q5 is. The Q5 has a very fast, accurate sound. This is true for the whole sound spectrum, but the most obvious is in the upper mids and treble. The Q5 has a very ‘brave’ treble, much brighter than the Mojo. Listening superficially it almost gives you the impression of more details. This brighter and tighter sound however occasionally can be slightly more aggressive to my treble sensitive ears than desired. The Mojo in comparison sounds more natural, softer, warmer, more rounded and relaxed. The sound is slightly richer and has a slightly bigger body. To my ears it is more pleasing. I am not saying the Q5’s treble is harsh, it is just more sparky and dynamic, which someone either likes a lot or dislikes and prefers a softer presentation.


    Bass is fabulous on both devices. The Q5 has a bass switch, but I hardly ever used it. Mojo does not need a bass switch, as somehow it automatically knows the perfect amount of bass quantity you need. At 90% of the tracks the level of bass on Mojo and Q5 with bass switch off was equally satisfying. In the remaining 10%, sometimes Mojo offered slightly more bass. The bass switch on the Q5 however obviously changed this, but to my taste it was almost always too much, making the whole sound slightly boomy. Whether you need the extra bass is highly headphone dependent. Most headphones won’t need it in my opinion, however with bass shy headphones or IEMs this function can be very useful on the Q5. With my Nighthawk the bass switch just puts a boomy cloud on the sound, however with my Flare R2Pro IEMs sometimes it was a fun addition to certain electronic tracks.


    The Q5 does have nice and clear mids, but the magical lifelikeness of vocals that the Mojo offers is missing. This however is only obvious when A/B comparing them. The Mojo’s very lifelike, natural vocals and true to life acoustic instruments make Chord’s least expensive DAC a clear winner here, and anywhere else in my opinion. To my ears no other DACs are able to reproduce this lifelikeness and soundstage depth, not even the otherwise fantastic iFi Micro BL. This is not Fiio’s shortcoming but Chord’s advantage ahead of the competition.


    Treble is where things start to become interesting. This is where the Q5 is at its best. Precision and clarity pays off at the higher notes, giving that treble sparkle many audio enthusiasts look for. It is always clear, always precise. For ‘treble-heads’ I would almost recommend the Q5 over the Mojo, except with live acoustic music. The Mojo does feel slightly less agile and softer in the treble; however when you pay attention to its more laid back presentation you realize all the details are still there. To my ears the Q5’s treble can only be slightly too much with music which has a lots of percussion in it.


    There are a few things which I didn’t write about, simply because they are not too important for me personally. One of them is the DSD capability. I do have some DSD files, but FLAC is more than enough for me when it comes to storage space/sound quality, and I think the majority of the buyers will hardly ever listen to DSD files. This is still a must have feature though on DAPs and DACs these days. It is similar with people who like to know their car is able to reach 300 km/h, even though they might never drive it that fast.
    Another thing I didn’t write about is the different amp modules you can use with the Q5, which are interchangeable with Fiio X7 DAP’s amp modules. For someone who already owns a Q5 or X7, this can be fun.


    The amp module which comes with the Q5 (AM3) by default has a 2.5mm balanced output too. This is again very fashionable these days on portable devices. However I share the opinion of Chord’s designer Rob Watts, who says single output done right might be even better than balanced. I do not deny, some headphones might benefit from balanced mode, but the whole single/balanced debate is a much more complex issue than just declaring balanced output to be better than single.
    Power-wise the Q5 will be able to drive any average headphones. Mojo is significantly more powerful though, I wouldn’t use the Q5 for high-impedance headphones (300Ω).



    Overall the Q5 is a very impressive device. Top notch build quality, very impressive sound quality. It is up there with the best portable DAC/amps available today. I could be happy with a Micro BL, or I could be happy with the Q5. I personally however keep my Mojo, simply because for me the magic is there in the most lifelike sound. The Q5 and the Micro BL are very close second, although they are quite different. In the end it comes down to personal taste. There is no better or worse on this level, just different.


    My subjective list of preference looks like this:
    (I have tested or owned all of these DACs in the past year.)

    1. Chord Hugo2 (£1799) – simply put: this is another world
    2. Chord Mojo (£379) – for the most lifelike sound and greatest soundstage depth
    3. iFi Micro BL (£549) – for power, versatility and a grandiose sound
    4. Fiio Q5 (£329) – for clarity, dynamism and sparkle + BLUETOOTH
    5. iFi Nano BL (£199) – unbeatable sound quality for the price
    6. Oppo HA2SE (£289) – the only one I didn’t like much due to the least natural sound compared to the DACs on this list


    The Q5 is one of the best available portable DAC/amps today with some unique selling points: clean, clear and dynamic sound plus firmware upgradable Bluetooth functionality. The competition is tough, but I am sure the Q5 will bite out a good chunk of this relatively small market of portable Hi-Fi DAC/amps. It is a good size for portable use, very good sound quality and Bluetooth aptX for less than a Mojo.
      earfonia, Gonzalez, chrisba and 6 others like this.
    1. KopaneDePooj
      Great review, thanks! Interesting comparison with the Mojo, I'll have to manage somehow to find and listen to one, you made me very curious. Because I like natural, lifelike sound too :)
      KopaneDePooj, Mar 5, 2018
      earfonia and betula like this.
  3. KopaneDePooj
    My name is Bond, James Bond...
    Written by KopaneDePooj
    Published Feb 9, 2018
    Pros - sound quality, versatility, build quality, design, ergonomics
    Cons - can’t take calls over Bluetooth, leather case not bundled
    ...I’m agile, resourceful and refined. The FiiO Q5 Review.


    I’ve become interested in headphones and related gear more intensively for about 4 years and during this time I have tried to find my preferred sounding headphones for various occasions and uses. Three months ago I bought my 1st “better” source - the FiiO X5 3rd gen - and being interested in how it compares to other products I applied for the FiiO Q5 Review Tour.

    The FiiO Q5 sample was loaned to me by FiiO, free of charge, for a 10-day evaluation and posting of my opinion of the product. After the 10-day period I’ve sent the unit to the next reviewer.

    About me:
    I’m 49 years old, male.
    Music preferences: classic rock, prog rock, metal, grunge, jazz, roots reggae, world / ethnic, classical, some 80's new wave, some electronic / pop
    Some of my prefered bands: Marillion (with Fish), Rush, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Genesis (P. Gabriel), Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson.
    Only 1 album to take on an island: The Beatles - Abbey Road. OK... take one more: ABBA: The Album.
    Sound preferences: I like a warmer than neutral sound signature with 2 to 3 dB elevated bass, full-bodied vocals and detailed but natural, not harsh or grainy upper-mids to highs. I’m particularly sensitive to elevated or harsh 3K to 8K region, and I don’t like thin, dry, sterile, abrasive, clinical sound. I don’t believe in “detail retrieval”. I think details don’t need to be “retrieved”, brought forward, they need to remain in the original form, tonality, loudness and position relative to the other sound elements as a whole. To be there in natural amount. I believe in realism of the MUSIC reproduction. I also don’t listen at crazy volume. I generally listen at a volume comparable to someone singing loudly, 3 meters away from me, with no amplification. If that makes sense. I don’t know how to translate that into decibels.

    This will be my first product review and I’m not a native english speaker. So please bear with me. Or don’t. I like constructive criticism. I didn’t read any review about the FiiO Q5 prior to this, to avoid bias.



    Tech highlights:
    • DAC: dual AKM AK4490EN
    • Supports up to 384kHz/32 bit sampling rates and native DSD up to DSD256
    • Interchangeable amp modules, fully compatible with FiiO’s lineup
    • Bundled with the AM3A amp module with both single-ended and balanced outputs
    • aptX Bluetooth audio
    • Digital Inputs: USB / Coaxial / Optical / Bluetooth
    • Analog Inputs: Line IN
    • Analog Outputs: Headphone Standard 3.5mm / Headphone Balanced 2.5mm / Line OUT
    • Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16~150Ω(PO); 16~300Ω(BAL)
    • Battery Capacity: 3800 mAh
    • MSRP for US market: is about $349.99 and subject to change for other markets.
    Full features here
    Full specs here

    Packaging and accessories:
    The Q5 comes in a sturdy hard box with a foam padding frame inside and accessories in a compartment below the main unit. The packaging is well made and similar in size and layout to the one that FiiO X5 comes in.
    It is well accessorized and includes the following:
    • micro USB to Lightning short cable for connecting to Apple devices
    • 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male short cable for line IN or line OUT use
    • USB to micro USB long cable
    • 3.5mm to RCA coaxial adaptor cable
    • optical adaptor
    • screwdriver and 4 extra screws for amp module replacement
    • silicone pad for placing between devices when stacking (if necessary)
    • 2x long straps and 2x short straps for stacking
    • carrying pouch


    In addition the review bundle included the following accessories which ARE NOT included in the retail package:
    • LC-Q5: Leather case of Q5
    • LC-Q5i: Dedicated case for bundling the Q5 with iPhone
    • L27: WM port to Micro USB digital audio cable
    • L28: Coaxial digital audio cable
    • Micro USB to Type C USB short cable
    • Micro USB to Micro USB short cable
    I really wished the leather case LC-Q5 would have been bundled in the retail package instead of the pouch, as with the FiiO X5 3rd gen, where you receive a leather case and a TPU case in the box. The leather case is much more useful than a pouch especially when stacking because it prevents slipping of the silicone straps.





    Build and design:
    FiiO has really come a long way from my old E06 that I had velcroed back to back with my Sansa Clip a few years ago. The design of the Q5 follows the new trend that started with the X5 3rd gen / X7 Mk II DAPs and won some well deserved iF and Red Dot design awards.

    The build quality of the Q5 is nothing short of outstanding. Elegant aluminium alloy sandblasted body, bold (or is it Bond...?) angles combined with rounded corners, lasered shiny chamfered edges, different metal surface textures and the PU leather cover at the back. All these make for a sharp looking gadget. If James Bond would be an audiophile this is what he’d use. This gadget should be called Agent Fii007/‾.

    The RGB LED between the amp module and body is a very nice design element, and also provides information about the selected input, glowing in different colors. Because it is recessed relative to the metal body there is no annoying bright light when charging at night. It pulsates and “breathes power” very gently.





    All the buttons and switches are tactile and responsive, providing a reassuring feedback when operated. Especially the volume potentiometer is well done, having enough resistance to avoid accidental turning in your pocket. That resistance also helps with setting a fine controlled volume level with ease, especially from 11 o’clock position and on, where the volume rises more steeply. The jacks and USB inputs are also of good quality which is to be expected at this price point.




    Usage and pairings:

    Smartphone to Q5 USB in:
    Although the Q5 has no official support for using with Android devices, I used it with my HTC 10 with no problems. Using the provided USB-C to micro USB cable my phone instantly recognised and connected with the DAC. I used Tidal Hi-Fi and USB Audio Player Pro app which operated in Bit-Perfect mode with various resolution files including native DSD with no problems.
    You can find more about the Q5 and Android in the article written by Product Manager Demond here.

    PC to Q5 USB in:
    The FiiO USB drivers need to be installed, and if you want to play native DSD also, some drivers and components for ASIO and DSD support in Foobar2000.
    This guide can help, but use the latest drivers in the Download section here.
    All installs went smooth and the music playback with my PC to Q5 was flawless.

    Smartphone to Q5 Bluetooth:
    No problems here either, I got aptX connection with both my HTC 10 and X5 to Q5.
    The sound quality was surprisingly good over Bluetooth with just a slight loss of depth and resolution, but the sound character of the DAC/AMP was kept intact.
    The Bluetooth ability of the Q5 is really of great convenience if you want to avoid stacking on-the-go. The Q5 stays in one pocket with the headphone cable attached, and the smartphone in another pocket, free to operate independently. My only gripe with this usage scenario is the lack of a “phone bluetooth” profile support. You cannot take phone calls on the Q5, cannot use your headphone cable inline remote or microphone. But the ringtone and notifications sounds are sent to the Q5 so at least you know if someone calls you.

    For the next iteration of this DAC I propose that FiiO ads Bluetooth phone call support and links the - fwd / pause / play / back - buttons to the headphone cable inline remote also.

    FiiO X5 line-out to Q5 line-in
    Using the Q5 as an amp for the X5 went with no problems and was very beneficial for the X5. More of that in the “Sound” section.

    FiiO X5 coaxial to Q5
    All good.




    Bass Boost
    Generally I’m not a fan of bass boost, and I didn’t test it very much because everything sounded properly without it. What I found is that with some thin sounding recordings it brings live and punch by elevating a good chunk of bass and taming the mids without adding distortion. So it can be beneficial in some situations

    Tested the Q5 with my Sennheiser HD 598 SE, HD 518, Momentum 2 over-ear, Koss Porta Pro.
    In all cases the sound was improved and the matches were good. My critical listening I have done with the Sennheiser HD 598 SE.


    Sound evaluation will be made in relation to the FiiO X5 3rd gen DAP which is the best source that I own, but the sound description also stands on its own.

    HTC 10 > USB Audio Player Pro / bit perfect > USB type C to micro USB > FiiO Q5 > Sennheiser HD 598 SE
    Fiio X5 > Sennheiser HD 598 SE

    Listening notes:
    1st impression - fresh out of the box:
    Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing
    Q5 vs X5 - More effortless, more focused, cleaner upper mids with less grain but more detail, more even in the midrange, deeper bass, more extended highs.

    2 days later in-depth listening:
    Lars Erstrand and Four Brothers - Body And Soul - DSD Showcase 5 - 1bit DSD
    Eric Bibb - Where The Green Grass Grows - DSD Showcase 1 - 1bit DSD
    Diana Krall - Peel Me A Grape, Narrow Daylight - 16bit FLAC
    Jethro Tull - The String Quartets (flac album)
    Q5 - Liquid, organic, with great micro-detail and resolution, but not abrasive, no harshness in the vocals, upper mids or highs, yet cristal clear and natural. Smooth, yet focused.
    Seems like every sound element is polished and has its own space and breathe room in relation to the others. Very good dynamics and transient response. Bass goes deep and it has texture. Soundstage has more depth, layering and is more three dimensional. X5 feels more compressed in comparison.



    4th day:
    Pink Floyd - Money
    Steven Wilson - Luminol
    Dead can Dance - Song of The Stars
    Q5 has more authority, goes to the same loudness more easier, maintaining great separation and relation between frequencies. Vocals remain natural sounding when loud. When I turn up the volume the sound gets BIGGER and richer, while on X5 it gets LOUDER, struggling more to maintain sound integrity, and the vocals becoming a bit more shouty and somehow rough. The Q5 feels like it can reach the same volume while not hurting your ears. Also the Q5 feels less compressed, you can feel more air between every sound element. Everything is arranged against a contrasting dark background, so “the edges” and contours of every sound element are clearly distinguishable. I guess this is what they call a “black background”. It is the first time I experienced it.





    Opus3 DSD Showcase no. 1 to 5
    Tracklist and description >

    Alan Taylor - Kerouac's Dream
    Cyrill Lutzelschwab & Martin Hess - Boxenkiller
    Henry Mancini - Pink Panther
    Carl Orff - Introduction Fortune
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Concerto No21 Andante
    Giuseppe Verdi - La Donna E Mobile
    Giuseppe Verdi - Requiem Dies Irae
    Dire Straits - Water Of Love
    Dreadzone - Yeah Man
    Genesis - Battle Of Epping Forest
    Genesis - Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
    Gigamesh - All My Life (Original Mix)
    GusGus - Deep Inside
    Iron Maiden - Afraid To Shoot Strangers
    Iron Maiden - Revelations
    Kem - Heaven
    Metallica - Don't Tread On Me
    Metallica - Sad But True
    Michael Jackson - Jam
    Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
    Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
    Rammstein - Mein Herz Brennt
    Rammstein - Sonne
    Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem
    Robert Plant - 29 Palms
    Rush - Tom Sawyer
    Seal - Crazy
    Rachelle Ferrell - Sista
    Rachelle Ferrell - Will You Remember Me
    Zucchero - Il Volo
    Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy
    Macy Gray - Redemption Song
    Rebecca Pidgeon - The Raven
    Paquito D'Rivera - Como Arrullo De Palmas
    Amber Rubarth - Don't You

    Sound conclusion:
    Q5 vs X5 sound differences:
    Bass - Q5 a bit deeper and punchier, with better dynamics, harmonics, and more detail.
    Mids - here is the biggest difference with the X5 having a bit grainier more abrasive high-mids, and a bit more forward. Q5 mids / vocals are cleaner with better resolution and less digital, more organic, natural, even sounding. Making an analogy with photo processing the Q5 feels like an image that comes untouched from a high quality prime lens with great focus, contrast and color, while X5 feels slightly sharpened / enhanced in post-processing.
    Treble - Q5 feels cleaner, more natural, and more extended.
    Sound stage, stereo image - the X5 sounds a bit compressed in comparison to Q5.

    IMO a great deal of the sound difference comes from the better external amp module used in the Q5, because when testing line-out of X5 to line-in Q5 (with the AM3A module being used for amping the X5), the sound quality is somewhere in between the two on their own.

    Please observe the intensive use of “a bit”, and “feels” in the description above. The FiiO X5 is a great sounding device on its own.

    But, in the end, IMO the Q5 is a step up over the X5. Although they share the same dual DAC, the combination of different DAC tuning + the external AM3A amp module + no Android to deal with (speculating a little here) - makes for an improved audio experience.


    Final words:
    Day 10, listening to “The Wall”. Pink says to himself:
    “There must be some mistake, I didn’t mean to let them take away my soul, am I too old? is it too late?
    Where has the feeling gone? Will I remember the song? The show must go on...”

    I’ve come from noticing the Q5 main thread a few months ago, to really being interested in it, then losing patience and buying the X5 on Black Friday, to returning and applying for the review tour. After a long(ish) wait and some annoying customs paperwork, I finally received this beauty. There were 10 days of intense usage, photo sessions, touching, petting and most of all delightfully music listening. I’m in love with this device and sooner or later it will replace my X5 3rd gen. Sorry FiiO for making the X5 look a little bad but... it is what it is.

    Note: After reading it a few times, I realize that part of my review including this final words may sound a little overenthusiastic, but this is because I genuinely liked the Q5 very much. Please don’t take this as it will necessarily work the same for you. Generally my advice is: go and try to listen to audio gear before you buy and form your own opinion. This hobby is highly subjective and nothing can replace the act of testing for yourself. For me the Q5 is a great device and I will make it my own. For now, it is time to pass it to the next reviewer. Bye-bye Q5! But see you soon!

    "Wrong! Do it again! Wrong! Do it again!
    If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding!
    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?
    You! Yes! You behind the bike sheds! Stand still laddie!"
    -- Roger Waters

      chrisba, Gonzalez, Tragic and 16 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AudioBear
      Thanks for taking the time to write a really superlative review. Oh, and you can never use that non-native speaker excuse again since you write better than most native speakers.
      AudioBear, Feb 22, 2018
      KopaneDePooj likes this.
    3. KopaneDePooj
      @audiophilefan Thanks man! The pineapple crown shots look more "dangerous" because I angled the camera :) In fact the Q5 was very well secured between the stiff leaves. I wouldn't have put it into danger :))
      @AudioBear Thanks, I appreciate :)
      KopaneDePooj, Feb 23, 2018
      audiophilefan likes this.
    4. audiophilefan
      You're welcome! Nice to know it's safer than it looks. Haha. :wink:
      audiophilefan, Feb 26, 2018
      KopaneDePooj likes this.
  4. darkdoorway
    Fiio Q5 Impressions - Pairings and Bluetooth
    Written by darkdoorway
    Published Feb 3, 2018
    Pros - Detail Retrieval shines through
    Fun sound
    An AptX based wireless anti-stack solution
    Cons - Can be a little clinical depending on what you pair it with

    A bit of background for this impression:

    I am not on the review tour. I have not been sent this unit for review purposes. I am a mostly UK based head-fier, who has been quite interested in the Q5 for a while. A fair while. And now that the unit is out, I'm interested in sharing my experiences.

    I was the 17th person that ordered this product from Fiio's AliExpress store. Being part of a limited first batch available to non-Chinese, this unit comes with Fiio's leather case. And a soft Goat.



    Build quality - let's put that at the end. More flavoursome stuff first:

    After quite a lot of Reddit and Head-fi, I was looking for a couple of things from the Q5. I've mostly found them.

    Detail Retrieval:

    I'll write further about this in the pairings section. I feel detail retrieval is above par for this price range. Fiio has a clean implementation of the dual AK4490. I don't detect a background hiss. Details do shine through:

    Billy Joel's Pianoman - At about 30 seconds in there's a distortion mostly hidden by lower end equipment, but brought out on more disecting kit. With the Fiio Q5 - Check, it is there and obvious to me. This is more a quick litmus test rather than a full quality check. So doesn't by itself say the Q5 is great for detail.

    Dire Straits- Sultans of Swing - Great audiophile check track. Multiple layers of instruments spacially distributed. A listen on the Q5 shows some fine details brought out. The Fiio unit picks out the soft instruments on this track and presents them without having to strain to listen for them.

    Baby Driver Soundtrack - Bellbottoms - I love using this track to test audio equipment. Bellbottoms can sound just dead on some equipment and shows the value of a good DAC/Amp. Instrument separation and vibrancy across the audio spectrum do shine through with the Q5.


    This was the second thing I was interested in. The AM3 module paired with the Q5 does deserve its reputation and has already had a lot written about it. So I will only say, that as part of this impression, the unit performs as previously written about.

    I will, however, comment on Bass and Gain Switches. The Q5 paired with the AM3 module feels powerful. I have given up any high ohm stuff to test it with, but there is plenty of room on the voulme knob. The gain switch adds fairly extreme gain, so in my opinion should only be used with high ohm equipment. Your results may vary.

    Now. The bass switch. I've used amps in past with a bass switch, a switch that had the potential to turn a nice piece of kit into a fart blaster.

    I was expecting a little fart blasting when switching the bass on the Q5. Nope. No fart blasting. Wait... is this even working? First batch. Maybe it is defective. Nope, it is not. The Bass switch on the Q5 is not defective.


    The switch does, however, focus on lows and sub-bass and pretty much leaves mids alone. I say 'pretty much' as there is a detectable change to mids if you listen for it.

    This bass switch makes select music have some amazing depth. Especially when testing with some trance albums:

    AvB 666 - A memorable episode from Armin - the bass switch on this episode adds some depth which does enhance lows considerably and adds even more vibrancy to the episode. Female vocals feel untouched.

    Tron Legacy Reconfigured - bass detail with the switch makes you feel like you're next to a giant speaker at a daft punk concert.

    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories - Lots of fine tracks on this album to speak to sub bass.

    The Q5's bass switch doesn't work in some cases and can cause distortion:

    AM - Arctic Monkeys - I expect the bass switch effect on this album, specifically the distortion is to do with the way this album was mastered, making further enhancement of lows problematic.


    Comparing this device to the Audio Opus #11 which I had for a fair while ( but not A/B-ing as I have since passed the Opus to someone else ) I would say that to my ears, the Q5 is in another realm in regards to detail, sub-bass and power. And that is saying a fair bit, as the #11 is a device with solid detail retrieval and highlights the upper regions. Detail of sound on the Q5 outclasses the Audio Opus. I acknowledge that this may not be a fair comparison. The price ranges are slightly different as well.


    Shure SE425 VE:
    The se425, winning What HiFi's award for top IEM in that price range every year for the last few years - Pairing the se425 VE with the Q5 plays to the IEMs strengths. Not a bass heavy IEM, the 425 is well balanced, fairly disecting and easy listening for long periods. With the Q5, these attributes are all retained making them a good match.

    Cosmic Ears CE6B / Linum Music Cable:
    Note, the CE6B (formerly called the CE6E) is comparable with a 1964 V6s. (Check out Lieven's excellent shootout review between these two)

    The 6B is a smooth listening and forgiving relaxing experience. Paired with the Q5, this doesn't change. The 6B really shines on bass centric tracks and the Q5 adds another dimension to that, making the IEM more enjoyable.


    Just because I've always thought. "Man the ADDIEM would really fly with a great source."
    And it does, but not by much. Quite a bit of warmth and bass response are added to this iem when paired with the Q5. So it does address some of the shortcomings of this iem, but not to a level where it can compete with another price bracket.

    VE Monk (original)
    OK. Had to try the Fiio with this little piece of witchcraft. The original monk benefits a lot from this DAC Amp combo. Please note, i'm not saying the Q5 transforms the monk. The flaws exhibited in the monk are still present, but if you love the monk and want it to sound better, the Q5 will do that.


    Bluetooth Connection:

    The Q5 provides a stable Bluetooth connection with an AptX capable source. I did encounter some issues with Poweramp, but on testing, those turned out to be specific to that application. The AptX option works and delivers a quality stream to the Q5 from source. This option removes the need to stack, allowing the Q5 to be safely tucked away, leaving you portable with your phone.

    In my humble opinion, one of the main reasons to get the Q5.

    Vs OTG
    I can't leave this section without writing about the Q5 with a wired connection. I'm a big OtG fan. And, correctly volume matched, I honestly can't tell the difference between connecting the Q5 via wireless AptX or wired OtG. I don't want to get too much into a compressed Vs uncompressed opinion in this impression, save to say that on balance, I will not be using OtG or any other wired connection again with this device, and do not feel the need to.


    Build Quality:

    Fiio advertised the Q5 as having a premium feel with leather highlights. I would say the device does have a premium but rugged feel.

    This isn't a ceramic and glass encased baby. More an industrial and sleek machine. Not quite an Oppo HA2, the Q5 exhudes a functional premium look.

    The included leather case is very sleek and made to fit the device snugly.

    It will easily go in your pocket.
    1. Rautej1
      Hey mate, coud you please corroborate a bit on the Bluetooth bit? Does it work like this: Phone pairs Q5 like a "headphone" and sends sound right in, Q5 then converts it via DAC, amps in in AMA3 a plays it via wired headphones?
      Is there some way of having it connected as bluetooth DAC and feed data instead of sound to it, or is it just cable DAC if I want to have full capability?

      Are you saying, that differences between these two (BT vs usb) are indiscernible by ear?

      Thanks, Jan.
      Rautej1, Feb 15, 2018
    2. darkdoorway
      Hi. I'm....not too sure what you are asking. It is a Bluetooth DAC. You pair it with your phone / computer / whatever and play. The Q5 receives a wireless digital signal , amps and plays it through the headphones connected to it.
      darkdoorway, Feb 23, 2018
  5. Ynot1
    Fiio Q5 rewrites what it means to be versatile.
    Written by Ynot1
    Published Feb 1, 2018
    Pros - Connects most any input interface. Sound quality is top level. Does both single ended and balance exceptionally.
    Cons - Really nickpicking, bluetooth could be faster in syncing.
    Q5 review

    Here, I am writing a review of the versatile Fiio Q5 after having participated in the product tour. I found the Fiio Q5 to be very substantial in many respects. The physical build and the fit and finish were very premium. I really like Fiio's taste in form and function. And there is no question the Q5 sounds good and is better than the recently released Q1MKII. Why it is better is subject to a couple of things, which will be explained shortly. Pleased be advised that it is possible that you nor I will benefit financially from this written material so help me God. But if you believe a word I say then please secure your wallet before continuing.

    There goes Fiio, releasing yet another portable audio amplifier, the Q5. Haven't we been impressed enough already with the Q1MKII? Well it seems this one is different.
    Not that it isn't impressive; it is. What we have with the Q5 is taking the goodness of the Q1MKII and going in a different direction. It is like this. Some people live in the urban environment and they require specificity in doing things. Like a bro would not be caught club hopping after hours with sandals on, not gonna happen. A gentleman, dude if you will, needs the proper attire; and hence the Q1MKII. Other people live out in the boonies and can and must roam the earth. In doing so they require equipment to survive; equipment that can do many things practically and efficiently; and hence the Q5 is born.

    The Q5 can do what the Q1MKII does well with more power, within reason, to driving headphones. Outside of portability, Q1MKII can not best the Q5; if price was not made a factor. That said what is it that the Q5 can do that Q1MKII can not do? A whole lot,
    and please check the user's manual, that is made available by Fiio, for details. I have to disclose that I simply did not have enough time, due to tour regulation guidelines, to give an honest look-over of every feature that the Q5 brings. Yes, I did not do all of my homework. But!!! I had fun. And the Q5 made me happy within this context.

    None the less, I list here what I like about the Q5. The Q5 has a lot of versatility. More connections than most will ever use, let alone need nor want, but is good to know when the time comes that you're ready; sounds kind of inappropriate but I digress. And I like the included accessories and other goodies like storage pouch and torx driver and more. Last but not least the sound quality on the Q5 is really amazing. And the single ended connection sounded really good just like the balance connection.

    Here below I listed my relative feelings in comparisons to other gear that I am familiar with.

    The other amps and daps in my possession that I made comparisons with were the Advance Accessport, Benjie X1, Walnut V2.1, and Creative Labs G5; as well as Q1MKII.
    These comparisons reflect observations made in recent memory.

    Q5se: Q5 single ended mode with ios

    Q5bal: Q5 balance mode mode with ios

    Q1se: Q1 MK II single ended mode with ios

    Q1bal: Q1 MK II balance mode mode with ios

    AAP: Advance Access-port

    BX1: Benjie X1

    W: Walnut 2.1

    G5: Creative Labs G5

    Relatively Power wise:
    Q1se < AAP < BX1 < W < G5 < Q1bal < Q5se ~ Q5bal

    Relatively Clarity wise:
    Q1se < W < BX1 < G5 < AAP < Q1bal ~ Q5se ~ Q5bal

    I really liked the Q5 for all that it does, but I would still choose the Q1MKII if the main use case was portability with balanced earphones. With that said if I plan to use headphones at all then the Q5 is a must. Fiio continues to bring greater value, performance, and quality as time goes on.