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FiiO Q5 Flagship Bluetooth and DSD-Capable DAC & Amplifier

Rating:
4.61538/5,
  1. betula
    Fiio Q5 and the competition
    Written by betula
    Published Mar 5, 2018
    4.5/5,
    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.

    IMG_20180225_105605468.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_105724736.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_105906701_HDR.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_105919763_HDR.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110215289.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_105941733_HDR.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_111606937.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110042073.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110348138.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110525966.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110758311.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_111024309_HDR.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_111118392.jpg

    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.

    IMG_20180225_110558741.jpg

    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).

    IMG_20180225_110722456.jpg

    Conclusion

    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.

    IMG_20180225_111255928.jpg

    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

    IMG_20180225_110915774_HDR.jpg

    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.
    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
      surfgeorge, earfonia and betula like this.
    2. Ears Deluxe
      A great review and very, very helpful. It sounds like your taste in sound is very similar to mine, which makes this especially useful to me. And your English is exceptional. In fact, it's far better than most of the native English speakers I see online (and I say that as a professional editor and writer). Thanks for your hard work on this.
      Ears Deluxe, Apr 5, 2018
      surfgeorge and betula like this.
    3. surfgeorge
      Great review! Your comparisons and asessments feel so refreshingly clear and free of hype or prejudice. Nice photos too!
      Thanks for sharing!
      surfgeorge, May 25, 2018
      betula likes this.
  2. HiFiChris
    FiiO Q5: Swiss Army Knife - (almost) Reference
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published May 23, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - • price-performance-ratio
    • inputs/ways to connect it to a source
    • versatility
    • interchangeable amplifier modules
    • lots of included accessories
    • clean, linear sound
    • precise, digitally controlled volume (perfect channel matching)
    • Bluetooth sound quality
    Cons - • AM3A output impedance could even be a little lower
    • rather close, but not perfectly hiss-free with extremely sensitive in-ears in quiet passages
    • coloured LED indicators, input switch button and pressing a button during Windows USB DAC connection can be confusing at first
    Introduction:

    Besides the few products from their very beginning, FiiO have always been known well for making portable headphone amplifiers and DAC-Amps with good specs and reasonable pricing.
    Then they successfully started offering digital audio players (beginning with the original X3 that was way delayed, but eventually it was released and I was among the first people who purchased it) – but that is another story.

    The Chinese audio company however has never stopped progressing – some might even say that they progress too quickly – and implementing new features and innovations into their products.
    Starting with the Q1 MkII DAC-Amp that really only shares the name with its predecessor, FiiO began to implement a digital volume control into their new product releases with “traditional” appearing volume potentiometers, and I have to say that this is something I value a lot, not only because I have suggested it multiple times in the past, but also because it eliminates the bad channel matching at low attenuation settings that traditional analogue potentiometer implementations have – great!

    While FiiO’s Q1 MkII DAC-Amp is a great little device on its own and offered at a very reasonable price, it isn’t alone in the Q product line – new is the Q5, a truly feature-loaded DAC-Amp with a dual-mono implementation of its audio path, aptX Bluetooth and replaceable amplifier modules known from their X7 and X7 MkII digital audio players (it comes bundled with the AM3A module).
    It is set to be FiiO’s flagship DAC-Amp, which seems plausible given the audio implementation and features.

    DSC05169-small.JPG

    How well does the Q5, positioned as FiiO’s flagship DAC-Amp, perform? Let’s find it out.


    Full disclosure: The Q5 was provided to me free of charge as a sample for this very review.
    My review is, as always and nonetheless, unpaid, as honest and unbiased as humanly possible, and reflects nothing but my own impressions, just like with the plethora of audio gear I own myself and have possibly reviewed and/or talked about as well. I wasn’t given any directions/guidelines, no matter how it would turn out.


    Technical Specifications:

    International price before Taxes: ~ $369.99
    German/European Price: ~ €419

    Full Specs: http://www.fiio.net/en/products/83/parameters


    Delivery Content:

    As one (or at least I) would expect, FiiO’s flagship DAC-Amp comes with plenty accessories in its nicely designed box:

    A protective storage pouch, a silicone pad for stacking, two rubber bands for stacking, a really nice looking screwdriver to remove the amplifier module, a USB cable for charging and DAC use, a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable, one TOSLINK to 3.5 mm TOSLINK adapter, one coaxial to 4-pin 3.5 mm adapter and last but not least a lightning to USB cable for DAC use with a more recent iDevice.

    You might have noticed that no micro USB OTG cable is included, which is because the Q5, just like the Q1 MkII, is advertised with MFi certification but not for Android use, so compatibility with Android-based devices may and will be limited.


    Aesthetics, Haptics, Build Quality:

    The majority of FiiO’s most recent devices has got a quite unique and stylish, beautiful design, and I would say that this is also true for the Q5, although to a lesser degree compared to some other recent FiiO products such as the X5 MkIII, X7 MkII and Q1 MkII.

    Don’t get me wrong, the simple elegance of the Q5 and its understatement convey a classy spirit and I really like its black, textured pleather back panel, however I also think that the design looks a bit plain and boring compared to some of the several design prototypes’ elements (such as the pinstripe look that I really liked) – I just wish that there was a bit more going on at the large front panel, design-wise. Then again, FiiO made the design so that the amplifier modules for their X7 and X7 MkII still fit, and I highly applaud that. Still I personally think that the Q5 might age less well than the Q1 MkII that I honestly somehow find more attractive. I still find it good looking though.

    By the way, there are the red design elements, recessed volume dial, pleather back panel and last but not least top side with the gain and bass switch as well as digital and analogue inputs as well as a line output that I find visually very well done and especially like.

    - - -

    Build quality is really good – the chassis is made of CNC-machined metal, just like the buttons and volume dial. The back panel is covered with textured black pleather whereas the front panel is brushed.

    The included lightning cable is just awesome – short, but extremely soft and flexible.


    The optional Leather Case (LC-Q5):

    The LC-Q5 is currently only available in black leather, and I certainly wouldn’t mind to see more leather colours in the future.

    Build quality-wise, it is fine and well-build, however I have to say that similarly as the iBasso DX200’s stock leather case, it doesn’t necessarily look or feel premium compared to what manufacturers such as Cowon, Astell & Kern, Miter or DIGNIS offer. It might well be because some of the DAC-Amp’s design elements and lines are covered since those aren’t sculpted into the case, making it look somewhat like an unemotional black brick, but it’s also due to it being more functional than elegant.

    DSC05164-small.JPG

    Nonetheless, key features such as the LED bar, the DSD light along with the button and volume dial, the top of the unit as well as the bottom of the amplifier module (even headphone plugs with a big shell still fit nicely) are cut out precisely and remain easy to reach. Last but not least the playback control buttons are still quite easy to feel as they’re embossed into the leather. And the case fits like a glove.

    To me, it is more of a protective than a stylish or premium appearing leather case (I definitely like the appearance of the Q5 better without the case). So yeah, it does its job just fine and I would probably still get it for portable and semi-portable (=stacking or desktop listening in my case) use even though it doesn’t convey the luxuriousness of other leather cases I know.


    Ports, Buttons/Switches, Features:


    The Q5 really offers pretty much all what you need in terms of inputs, some of which are achieved by shared sockets and included adapter cables: a line input, coaxial input, TOSLINK input, USB DAC input (the amazing part about this one is that it works driver-less with Windows 7/8/10 while holding down the “previous” track control button while connecting the DAC-Amp to the computer) as well as Bluetooth and a separate USB input solely for charging the device (conveniently, it won’t draw any power from the source with an implementation like this, however it also means that there are two USB input sockets for two different purposes – that’s why an implementation similar to my Leckerton UHA-6S.MkII that has a switch that lets you disable USB charging would have probably been an even more elegant solution). It’s also got a line output and of course replaceable amplifier modules, so people who calling it the “Swiss army knife of DAC-Amps” are quite right.

    Since the bundled AM3A module offers both unbalanced 3.5 mm TRS and balanced 2.5 mm TRRS sockets, that part is covered too.
    What I don’t like about the amplifier modules is however that their screws have to be removed completely in order to take off the module – in this regard, iBasso Audio’s amp module screw implementation is superior.

    DSC05166-small.JPG

    Additionally, the Q5 also offers a DSD light, separated on/off button and volume control wheel (wherefore the volume level is “stored”), aptX Bluetooth, a light bar that indicates the mode the Q5 is in, playback control buttons (for Bluetooth connection), as well as gain and bass boost switches.

    Some criticism: FiiO has an app that lets you customise things like automated shutoff, the digital filter, L/R balance and the LED bar. However, it is, at the moment, only available for devices running iOS 8 and up, and not distributed to Android, Windows, Mac or iOS versions below iOS 8 at the moment, which is a pity.
    FiiO is however, as they assured me, working on an Android version of the FiiO Music app, and at the time of writing these lines it is already in the phase of internal beta testing, so it should hopefully come out soon.

    Some more (and more serious) criticism: while the line/coax/optical input socket is super convenient, it unfortunately is somewhat loose with some cables loose – the other sockets are definitely tighter, and the optical socket on the iBasso DX200 and DX150 or HiFime 9018d is tighter as well. Therefore it can happen that the cable that is plugged into this socket gets removed on the go or even if you are not paying attention for a moment during desktop use. Some cables seem to fit tighter though and cannot be unplugged unintentionally, such as some cables I soldered myself that are using 3.5 mm ViaBlue plugs.

    - - -

    Yup, that’s quite a lot of features, and I think I covered everything in this paragraph. Forgive me if I haven’t.
    Turns out I have and didn’t mention the reset pinhole on the left hand side of the device.


    Sound:

    It should be noted that all measurements, impressions and comparisons were done exclusively using the included AM3A amplifier module in single-ended use. The other offered modules may (and likely will, given their specs) perform differently. The used digital filters in DAC mode were always sharp roll-off or short delay, sharp roll-off.

    Volume Control:

    A fully analogue implementation of the volume control usually has the disadvantage that channel matching in the low potentiometer adjustment range is pretty bad and that one side is quieter than the other until you raise the volume. That is why I have developed a bit of hatred towards fully analogue volume control implementations over the years.

    Fortunately, just like the FiiO Q1 MkII, the Q5, also it appears like it might, doesn’t have a typical analogue volume control implementation – the pot that you operate controls the volume level on the digital domain wherefore channel imbalance is completely avoided, even if the potentiometer is in the very low adjustment range. Indeed, it is great to see an idea I have recommended to FiiO multiple times in the past to be finally implemented. I just love it.
    What’s great about the Q5 is also that the power button and volume control are separated wherefore the last volume setting is stored.

    The Q5 has got 256 digital volume steps more than the Q1 MkII, resulting in an even somewhat more precise and smoother operation than what the Q1 MkII already offers. Not that one would really notice this advantage though.
    One advantage one immediately notices though is that the Q5 won’t click when the bass boost is enabled or disabled whereas the Q1 MkII does.

    The Volume is almost muted during the first two, three mm after turning the DAC-Amp on, but then suddenly increases immediately although increments are smooth and gradual above that threshold – in the latter way, the Q5 feels just like a regular device with a traditional analogue potentiometer, but with the advantages of the digital attenuation (ideal channel matching), and this is probably exactly what FiiO wanted to go for.
    (Very personally, as someone who has come from preferring analogue attenuation to clearly preferring fully digital attenuation, I would still prefer a small screen and volume buttons or a pot with infinite turns and probably steps coupled with a small screen for the sake of even higher precision and always getting the exact volume setting I want, ideally with 256 steps à 0.5 dB in total, but I can totally see why FiiO went the way they did. Very personally, I also wouldn’t have minded an even slightly lower starting volume at times in order to sometimes being able to listen at super quiet volume levels just above the audible threshold with very sensitive in-ears – but that’s just me and for regular quiet listening even with very sensitive in-ears, the volume scaling is fine. Still I think that this (a gain reduction) might be an interesting feature/setting to add to the FiiO Music app that is required to access the Q5’s settings.)


    Frequency Response:

    One of the most basic and fundamental things an audio device should have is a flat unloaded frequency response in the important range of 20 to 20000 Hz. While it is anything but sorcery to achieve this in modern days, some (however mainly inexpensive and rather no-name) audio devices still fail to achieve this very basic thing.

    So let’s see how the Q5 measures (in single-ended use) when used as a…

    … pure Amp (Line In):

    Line in HPO.jpg

    … DAC-Amp (USB in):

    USB DAC HPO_3 (sampling rate in mixer has to be set acordingly).jpg

    … DAC-Amp (Optical in):

    TOSLINK DAC HPO.jpg

    … pure DAC (USB in -> Line Out):

    USB DAC LO_3 (sampling rate in mixer has to be set acordingly).jpg

    … Bluetooth DAC:

    BT DX150 HPO.jpg

    As we can see, no matter what signal path (analogue or digital) is used, the Q5 basically always puts out a desirably flat signal (probably useful hint: at first I was disappointed to see the USB DAC filters acting too aggressively (starting too early), but then I fortunately quickly figured out that the default sampling rate was mismatched in the Windows audio settings. Setting it accordingly solved the issue and led to the desirably flat response seen above).


    The Q5 additionally also offers an additional bass boost:

    Bass Boost TOSLINK.jpg

    As one can see, it adds ca. 5.3 dB of broad bass boost below 100 Hz.

    Output Impedance:

    Even when having a flat frequency response without load or with a simple load (such as a headphone that has got the same impedance over its entire frequency response), things are getting quite a bit more difficult with most multi-driver in-ears that have got more than just one driver and a crossover circuit that causes the in-ears’ resistance to vary along with their frequency response.
    If the audio device’s headphone output doesn’t have a low output impedance, the in-ears’ frequency response and therefore heard tonality will be skewed and they will (depending on the player’s output impedance and the in-ears’ specific impedance response) sound more or less different compared to when driven by an audio player that has got a low output impedance.
    To maintain an unaltered sound even with low impedance multi-driver in-ears, it is therefore best to have an audio device that has got an output impedance of around (or ideally even less than) 1 Ohm.

    This is what the FiiO Q5 puts out when connecting a critical, low impedance multi-driver in-ear to its single-ended output:

    Line In TF10.jpg

    The connected load was my Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, an in-ear that is among the more source-picky species of its kind and changes its sound rapidly as the player’s output impedance climbs (yes, it even makes a perfectly low output impedance of 0.1 to 0.5 Ohms visible). I therefore pretty much always use it for measuring the frequency deviation compared to a simple load. Based on this, the output impedance can be calculated.
    The measured deviation in combination with the FiiO AM3A is still on the more reasonable side and can be calculated to be around 1.3 Ohms, which is still a fairly good value and proves that the player can drive the vast majority of multi-driver in-ears without (or with only slightly, which is the case for divas such as the Triple.Fi 10 or Shure SE846) altering their sound unlike players that have a rather high/higher output impedance. This also backs up FiiO’s specs that state around 1.2 Ohms.

    While that value of around 1.3 Ohms is reasonable, it can however already lead to some slight tonal changes with some really low impedance in-ears with a high impedance swing (e.g. Triple.Fi 10, Andromeda, SE846), so for the reference flagship device the Q5 is supposed to be, I would wish for an even lower output impedance below 1 Ohm, closer to the 0 Ohm perfection (hint hint, AM1).

    I didn’t perform any output impedance measurements of the balanced output, but the spec stated by FiiO spears rather realistic and there’s no reason to not believe in it given FiiO’s previous honesty with their specs.


    Hiss:

    As someone who is quite sensitive to hearing hiss when it is present and as someone who is also using many sensitive and some very sensitive in-ears such as the Shure SE846, Ostry KC06A or Pai Audio MR3, three models that are real “hiss-magnets”, having an audio device with as little audible hiss as possible has always been an important thing to me. The destination of perfection, a hiss-free audio player in combination with super sensitive in-ears, was what I could reach with my iBasso DX90, the Plenue 2, as well as the Luxury & Precision L3 and L3 Pro, though the L & P players don’t have the ideal output impedance for every kind of in-ear. And devices such as the iBasso DX200 with its stock amplifier module came very very close to it.

    Using the Q5, regardless in what mode, the amount of audible hiss with extremely sensitive in-ears such as my Shure SE846, Pai Audio MR3 and the Ostry KC06A is fortunately on the quiet side and quite faint, quite close to being not present at all. However, it is ultimately still not as quiet as my fantastically quiet iBasso DX90, Leckerton UHA-6S.MkII or the Cowon Plenue 2. It also hisses very slightly more than the iBasso DX150 or DX200, and is also a hair less quiet than the FiiO Q1 MkII (line in). Nonetheless it is among the best devices on the market in this regard and slightly quieter than the popular Chord Mojo that I own as well, or my Apple iPhone 4, but for perfect reference, and the Q5 is designed as a reference device, I would wish for even more quietness during quiet passages using extremely sensitive in-ears.

    Grade: Reference A--/B++; close enough and among the best devices, but not 100% there with extremely sensitive in-ears.


    Subjective perception of Transparency, Details and Soundstage…

    … in Wired Mode (Line In, TOSLINK In, USB DAC):

    Now to the quite subjective part of my review. My opinion and experience regarding the perceived “character” and “transparency” of source devices and amplifiers is this one: there can be an existing audible difference between various devices, but it should definitely not be overrated – simply because the basic character of a headphone won’t be completely changed (if the circuit follows a clean design philosophy and the output is load-stable), but sometimes rather slightly “shaped” and is usually very subtle in many cases and is (in most cases) just slightly present (if even there) and not “huge” or like “totally different classes” or “night and day”.
    DAPs, DACs and Amps are also no music instruments and don’t “extend further” in the lows, don’t have “more bass and warmth” and don’t have “less mids” when compared unless their measured sound output says otherwise – and fortunately there are only very few devices that don’t have a flat output nowadays.
    I am not a fan of exaggerations and hyperboles here because as long as the objectifyable parameters of an audio player are neutral and not too shabby (loaded frequency response, distortion, crosstalk, dynamic range, noise, …), the audible difference, if there is any, will be quite small at best if two devices are compared with proper volume matching that cannot be done by ear but only with instruments, since even small differences in loudness can be perceived as a technical advantage by our ear and brain.

    A more detailed, German article written by me concerning the “audible difference between comparable audio devices, if there is any”, can be found here: […]

    So let’s go on with my subjective impressions and observations (for this critical listening, I mainly used my UERM, Audio Technica ATH-IM03, Etymotic ER-4S, Audeze LCD-X as well as the NocturnaL Audio Atlantis and Fidue SIRIUS in single-ended mode. I also used a few more headphones and in-ears from different price and performance ranges for listening but more for personal enjoyment than for the sake of critical listening and comparisons. The main DAC/source for the Q5 in use as a pure amplifier was the iBasso DX200 with the stock AMP1 module’s line output whereas my PC served as digital source for USB and TOSLINK input:

    First and foremost, I’m happy to report that the Q5’s sound quality is basically identical regardless of what wired analogue or digital input you select (there is a minimal difference with the Q1 using super sensitive in-ears due to slightly different “intensities” of hissing).

    The main advantage, besides the replaceable amplifier modules and even more features, you get with the Q5 over the Q1 MkII is a tighter sound. While the Q1 MkII is a great product on its own, it can, for whatever reason, sound a bit soft (/”mellow”) with high quality in-ears. Not so the Q5 that sounds just as tight, clean and transparent as an impeccable audio device should. Not a night-and-day-difference, but the slightly softer presentation can be noticeable with sensitive in-ears. Not really with full-sized headphones though where it makes little to no difference, probably unless you’re driving the DAC-Amp to its limits.
    So it sounds just as tight, clean and transparent as it should be. Period. And that would justify that FiiO positions it as flagship device.

    Using the analogue inputs, the perceived “timbre” is neutral to my ears – the (frequency response and distortion) measurements are anyway. Just flat and neutral, unlike devices such as the Chord Electronics Mojo or iBasso DX80 that measure flat as well but appear subjectively a little “smoother”/”richer”/”less aggressive” sounding – not that it would be an exaggerated night-and-day-difference though.

    Spatiality with in-ears is good and the Q5 with its AM3A module “sounds” rather spacious, falling somewhere between the iBasso AMP1 and AMP6, sounding a bit more spacious compared to the Q1 or AM1 module. Since it’s just a nuance and not a large difference in absolute terms, as it wasn’t to be expected otherwise anyway, there’s no real need to go into further nonsense detail.
    The sphere “created” by the Q5 also appears round with equal amounts of width as well as depth (with my beloved iBasso DX90, I get the feeling of a stage presentation that is somewhat more wide than deep – but again, it’s tendentially just a nuance).

    - - -

    Together with the precise digitally controlled volume and very low (although just a step below perfect) noise floor with super sensitive in-ears, this guarantees for a lot of carefree listening pleasure.
    And all in all, there are also reasons why I see the Q5 standalone combination as superior to my Chord Mojo, such as the more precise volume control (finer steps), ability to listen more quietly, lower noise floor, constant output impedance, higher versatility and lower price.

    … in Wireless Mode (Bluetooth – Apple iPhone 4, Apple iPhone 7, Hidizs AP200):

    Very nicely, FiiO has implemented the Bluetooth path really well, as there is no added noise or other undesired stuff going on even when connecting super sensitive low impedance in-ears to the Q5. The heard signal remains just as clean as with any other connected cable source, which is extremely good to hear.

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    Linearity over Bluetooth is flawless, as long as the source device transmits a linear signal over Bluetooth. But what about transparency/general audio quality? Well, that ultimately depends on the device that transmits the Bluetooth signal. While some SBC sources can show some variance when it comes to audio quality (my Laptop’s output Bluetooth quality is garbage, for example), portable Apple devices that transmit the AAC codec as well as sources such as the Hidizs AP60, AP200, BlackBerry Q10, Apple iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and several modern high-end smartphones that transmit aptX should sound identical (at least the ones that I have tested so far, for example with the Mass Fidelity Relay, a really good stationary Bluetooth DAC that was the first Bluetooth device to sound audibly transparent to me in a blind test, did and didn’t show any quality or sound differences).

    So, how audibly transparent is the Q5? When the aptX or AAC codec is transmitted, I would call it audibly transparent – as in not being able to tell the difference to a wired transmission. In that way it is equal to the Mass Fidelity Relay I just mentioned. The only thing that would hinder me from using Bluetooth more frequently really is just my mental border. Other than that – there is no area where I see (or better: hear) a disadvantage of the Q5’s Bluetooth quality. And the sound quality is already really good with good SBC streaming sources, with only slightly compressed highs and just a slight loss of perceived spaciousness.
    Finally another audibly transparent Bluetooth audio device, and this time it’s also portable.


    FiiO AM1 (a.k.a. “Wait, this Review isn’t over yet!”):

    As mentioned and obvious, all amplifier modules available for the FiiO X7 and X7 MkII can be used with the Q5. Thus, also the AM1 module that is targeted towards very sensitive in-ears. Unfortunately, this very module was, to my surprise (and sadness), meanwhile discontinued since only relatively few people were interested in it compared to the other modules.
    No, this right here isn’t going to be a full review of the AM1 – I’ll save that for later. Nevertheless this short-ish paragraph will contain all the info that will also be available in the standalone-review. And the main reason why I included this paragraph right here is to tell you why getting the AM1 module in addition to the already included AM3A might be definitely worth it for your specific in-ears.

    The AM1 module is the least powerful module out of FiiO’s interchangeable AM range, and this was done on purpose. As a result, it won’t only somewhat increase battery life, but also output less power into a higher Ohm load than the other modules even though it’s still plenty powerful for most needs and full-size headphones. You may ask yourself why this might be an advantage – well, there are sensitive/very sensitive multi-BA in-ears, and there are extremely sensitive low impedance multi-BA models (and very few dynamic driver models that fall into this category, such as the Ostry KC06A). Even though the Q5 (thankfully) has a digitally realised volume control implementation that guarantees perfect channel matching even when the pot is at a very low setting, having an amplifier module with less power output can be beneficial for the latter sort of in-ears since it increases the low level volume control precision by a hair.

    Then there’s the output impedance, the biggest factor – while the AM3A’s ~ 1.3 Ohms are still reasonably low and sufficient for the majority of multi-BA in-ears and don’t affect their frequency response, some low impedance multi-BA divas with a quite strong impedance swing in their impedance response, such as the Shure SE846 and Campfire Audio Andromeda, can already show some slight audibly (and definitely measurable) frequency deviation in some parts compared to an output with ~ 0.2 Ohms output impedance. As a result, if you are an output impedance perfectionist with low impedance in-ears with a strong impedance swing, I think that the AM1 will fill you with greater inner pleasure and satisfaction (it definitely does in my case) as it is closer to 0 Ohms output impedance perfection.

    Both modules perform pretty much equally well when it comes to hiss performance with super sensitive in-ears – in this regard, the difference is negligible (the AM1 is ever so minimally quieter by a μ).

    The only minor disadvantage is that you might lose a hair of transparency and spatiality using sensitive in-ears compared to the AM3A – but the difference is small enough to not matter to me and that I consider it negligible.

    - - -

    So when should you get the AM1 over the AM3A? If you are an output impedance perfectionist and have got low impedance in-ear divas with a high impedance swing that already react to output impedance figures that are usually good enough for most other multi-driver in-ears that wouldn’t show slight tonal changes yet. So guess what, I personally consider the Q5 with the AM1 module the actual, true “reference flagship” combination.


    Conclusion:

    The FiiO Q5 DAC-Amp is designed as a super versatile, competitively priced Swiss army knife perfectionist flagship. And it deserves this status. Well, almost – because I wouldn’t go as far to call it perfect. Yes, it might hold the flagship status as in being FiiO’s most expensive and versatile DAC-Amp at this time, and its performance is very good, however a step below perfection in some areas: The bundled AM3A module’s output impedance (~ 1.3 Ohms) could be lower for reference flagship status (although it is reasonably low on its own, it is only “good” but not “perfect” compared to the 0 Ohm perfectionist target) (hint, hint, AM1), and for absolute perfection with the most sensitive low impedance in-ears on the market, a minimally quieter noise floor with empty audio files/in quiet passages would make it even more perfect (it’s very close and one of the best devices on the market, but slightly behind the best, although you will almost not hear the faint hissing anymore when you are using extremely sensitive in-ears as soon as the music starts playing quietly).

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    So yup, I basically only found two “flaws” – the output impedance (can be perfected by getting the (unfortunately discontinued) AM1 module) and noise floor (that is really low, although just a little higher than perfectly quiet reference bliss). Other than that, and generally, the Q5 is a super versatile, clean and transparent sounding device that offers a lot and doesn’t cost much. And it sounds great over Bluetooth.
    1. turbo87
      Nice review. Can you comment more about the mojo versus the q5, since have both of them. Thanks.
      turbo87, May 24, 2018
    2. HiFiChris
      @turbo87

      Q5 has the more precise (finer steps) volume control and also allows for quieter listening w/ very sensitive IEMs.
      W/ AM1 module, the Q5 is even more linear in the high treble with in-ears that don't have a flat impedance response.
      Q5 hisses less.
      For me it is Q5 > Mojo unless you need that extra power.
      HiFiChris, May 24, 2018
      AllenWalker likes this.
  3. KopaneDePooj
    My name is Bond, James Bond...
    Written by KopaneDePooj
    Published Feb 9, 2018
    4.5/5,
    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.

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    Introduction:
    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.

    Disclosure:
    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.

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    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
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    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.

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    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.

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    Operation:
    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.

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    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.

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    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

    Headphones
    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.

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    Sound:
    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
    vs.
    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.

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    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.

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    Opus3 DSD Showcase no. 1 to 5
    Tracklist and description > http://shop.dsdfile.com/category/samplers/

    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.

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    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.

    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

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      Arghavan, chrisba, Gonzalez and 17 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
      liquidluvr and KopaneDePooj like 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.