Fiio Q5 ( Roundup Review)

Xtenik collected all the review of Fiio Q5 here, so it is very easy for you to read all the reviews and get the objective opinions before you purchase. 

If you would like to check the original article, just click the button, it will link to the original review. 

Article Review 

Headfonia Review

Specifications
 
For the nit-pickers and nerdy ones here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets . For all you other readers, you can just go to the next page to see how the amp performs.
 
Digital inputs
 
The FiiO Q5 uses a XMOS XUF208 microcontroller to deal with all the digital inputs. It can support 384kHz/32bit digital flux through USB, 192kHz/24bit through Optical and 96kHz/24bit through Coaxial. It also makes sure your phone works flawlessly with the DAC.
 
For Bluetooth, FiiO used a dedicated chipset which involves the CSR86 Chip, fully compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 and older, plus the apt-X certification coming from the Qualcomm processor (in Bluetooth 4.2)
 
MFi certificate comes as a bonus, insuring the FiiO Q5 can be used with any of the Apple devices. A long awaited certification for FiiO, their first demand was in… 2010.
fiio-q5-review-1
(Image Credit: Headfonia) 
 
Audio Circuit
 
To this day, almost all of the devices use either AKM or SABRE chips for Digital-To-Analog conversion. The FiiO Q5 is equipped with a dual AKM DAC, an AK4490EN to be more precise, the velvet sound series. On paper, sound should be pretty wide with good dynamic and precise highs, we’ll see later if that come true.
 
With two parallel channels, each AK4490 gets an OPA1642 for low-pass filtering, a solid combination which can be found in other FiiO products too. When you use the line out, this is where the circuit ends.
 
If you use the classic headphone output, be it balanced or unbalanced, FiiO added a NJW1195 for volume control, directly wired to the volume knob it allows for no more than 256 volume steps. Interestingly, the bass boost is fully hardware, Panasonics Capacitors being used for this extent.
 
Finally, there is a new Power Supply IC to control each section. Ranking from LD01 to LD07 their purpose is to provide the cleanest current to each of them. So the FiiO Q5 gets the perfect balance between battery life and power.

Headfonics

Build Quality
 
Form Factor
 
The Q5 form factor does look a little like an X7 without an LCD screen from afar but there is a little more to it than that. It is marginally shorter in height though it does have a similar base design and shape to accommodate the amp modules. It is just slim enough to stack reasonably well with most smartphones in the market today.
 
With the amp modules attached about 20% of the form factor is exactly the same as you would find on the X7. The rest of the body is comprised of a flat sandblasted and anodized aluminum body with a slight dip and curve on the right side for access to the volume dial. The dip and curve apparently are there to naturally guide your finger to the dial without hunting for it and truth be told it does a very good job of that.
 
Volume Dial
 
The volume dial will look familiar to A5 and Q1 users as it uses the same 45-degree grooved pattern for grip (and styling) and finished with a red ring at the bottom much like the Q1. The quality of the materials used are that bit higher so it does look more refined than the Q1 dial and also a bit bigger. It is also inset rather than sticking out so it has an element of protection.

Whathifi Review

The diminutive Q5 really does need to be supplied in a box much bigger than the product itself – it comes bundled with an absolute stack of accessories.
 
Adaptors for digital optical, digital coaxial and Lightning connection are all bundled, as is a T5 Torx screwdriver and screws in case you intend to swap out the standard AM3A amplifier for one of FiiO’s alternatives.
 
There’s a carry-pouch and a variety of silicon pads and straps for securing and/or protecting your Q5 while it’s operating.
 
So it should be easy enough to deploy the Q5 to work with any appropriate product from any manufacturer, using any type of connection you desire.
 
The AMA3 amplifier section, which sits at the bottom of the Q5, is home to a USB output.
It also features both 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm balanced outputs, making the Fiio capable of working with some quite esoteric headphones.
 
Fiio offers a number of amp-section alternatives, so particularly power-hungry headphones can be accommodated – and, says the company, different sonic signatures can be achieved.
 
(We keep our fingers crossed the AMA3 is the best-sounding of the amps, because it’s the only one we have to test with.)

Themasterswitch

Sound
 
High Res Audio Quality
 
The FiiO Q5 is what happened when they went back to the drawing board after a good night’s sleep and a few cups of very strong coffee.
 
It packs a ton of features into a light, portable frame that offers both wired and wireless connections, and it’s absolutely fantastic.
 
The biggest problem with carrying around an additional amp for your phone is that you have to make sacrifices. You either resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to be dealing with multiple cables, in order to get an amp with enough features and audio quality to be worth your time, or you go the full Bluetooth route, and accept that the convenience means you probably aren’t going to be getting top-notch sound.
 
Power---Fiio-Q5
(Image Credit: Themasterswitch) 
 
Up until recently, getting a fully-featured portable amp meant doing awkward things like strapping it to the back of your phone using rubber bands – a solution that FiiO themselves utilised with products like the A5 Sure, it worked, but it felt like something FiiO only did because they couldn’t come up with anything better.
 
Another big problem with portable apps is that usually, the sound quality isn’t as high-resolution as we’d like. Yes, plenty transmit aptX Bluetooth – currently one of the best standards available – but you don’t get things like advanced sample rates, or DSD compatibility.
 
That’s definitely not a problem with the Q5. The circuitry inside it can handle audio up to 32 bit / 384 kHz, as well as handling DSD up to 256 standard.
 
While those figures won’t mean much to all but the most geeky of all your heads, all you need to know is that the Q5 can handle very large audio files without breaking a sweat, meaning you get a significant uptick in quality. For comparison, the Sony PHA1A, which is in a similar price bracket, only takes up to 24 bit / 192 kHz audio. The many wired connections, plus the included aptX Bluetooth, all spell good things for the audio quality.
 

Head-fi Review 

Bluetooth performance

The Q5 connected very easily to both my Dell laptop, and to my LG G6. My friends phone (a newer Sony) also had no issue at all pairing with the Q5. Reconnecting has always been very responsive and I have had no issues at all with this aspect of the Q5. I have tested the range and again not had even the slightest drop out when my phone is in another room, or in my pocket when I take the bus around town with the Q5.

I have been a big proponent for Bluetooth inclusion with audio gear for quite some time now and the Q5 is a great ambassador for Bluetooth. Personally, I think wired connections will be extinct in due time, and based on my experience having embraced Bluetooth for several years now, I will not mourn the inevitable passing away of wired connections.

I do suspect that wired connections will be included, at least for the foreseeable future, but it won’t be because they sound better than Bluetooth which was the case in the early days, rather the wired interfaces will be there for compatibility.

That is the exact opposite relationship where Bluetooth was once provided as the alternative connectivity option, with wired connections being conceptualized as the primary and desired connectivity option. I would suggest that the audio reproduction quality we are currently enjoying is so good, that in multiple trial, blind listening tests, I suspect the vast majority of users would find a Bluetooth connection transparent as compared with wired, but I digress.

The Q5 via Bluetooth sounds simply fantastic, it has been rock solid stable for me, and it is easy as pie to use. What more could I ask for? I am not sure if there is a viable user scenario for me by which I would want the Q5 to also function as a Bluetooth transmitter, but intuitively I suspect that if that functionality was implemented, I would find a way to enjoy it.

Audio reputation

Setup and Performance

FiiO is a simple-to-use device. It’s pretty straightforward, especially for iOS users. You just have to connect the USB cable and start playing.

For the Android users, things are not always simple. Sometimes it works flawlessly but sometimes Q5 will try to charge itself from the connected device and that could cause major battery drainage. This happens rarely and in some cases, it’s because of inappropriate cable. You should use a proper OTG cable or the ML06 cable sold by FiiO.

Q5 delivers an enjoyable sound and solid performance. The sound is very balanced, perfectly clear, and very natural. The frequency response is very close to a flat line, at least when it comes to the audible part of the audio spectrum. So, accuracy is not an issue.

The midrange is perfectly balanced, very accurate, incredibly layered and detailed. The vocals are impeccably clear and sparkling. None of the instruments or vocals are too emphasized. Nothing sticks out – it’s all perfectly balanced.

The bass response is flawless. The bass is punchy and fast when it needs to be and it can also be slow and very deep. It’s nicely defined, full, and textured. It builds a nice foundation for the midrange and it’s never overemphasized. If you are more into bass, you might find it a bit too flat but you can always turn on the bass boost which raises all the frequencies below 100Hz by 5dB. This emphasis extends to 1kHz and it also makes the lower midrange warmer and slightly muddy.

There is no harshness or brightness in the high end. The treble reproduction complements the rest of the audio spectrum. It’s also clear, transparent, and very natural.

You should always have in mind that the final product (sound) depends a lot on your headphones. Headphones and amp/DAC are equally important and finding the right combo should be your primary goal. FiiO Q5 with a standard AM3A amp module is not the most powerful headphone amp and, in combination with some demanding headphones, it can’t really give the best results.  

Ilounge Review 

The Fiio Q5 is about the size of a deck of playing cards, and surprisingly light despite its all-aluminum construction.
 
Its casing has a design language similar to that of its X5 and X7 DAPs, with sandblasted and lasered aluminum finishes offset by a polished chamfered edge and a leather(ish) panel on the back for safe mounting to mobile devices.
 
fiio-q5-review-3
(Image Credit: Ilounge)
 
On one side is a power button, DSD-decoding indicator, and a knurled aluminum volume knob with just enough resistance for comfort.
 
On top of the device is a gain switch, bass boost switch, 3.5mm optical/coaxial/line input, and 3.5mm line out jack.
 
On the right side of the device are track controls, a dedicated USB charging port (as with the Chord Mojo, the Q5’s signal and charging circuits are separated for a cleaner output signal).
 
Finally, on the bottom is a USB digital input, 3.5mm headphone jack, and 2.5mm balanced headphone jack.
 
The Q5 is MFi certified, which means it connects perfectly to iOS devices without the need for a Camera Connection Kit. It will decode PCM audio up to 32bit/384khz, DSD up to 256, and supports Bluetooth (aptX and AAC).
 
The Q5’s build quality is characteristically Fiio — everything feels solid — though in our short period of testing, the Q5’s chamfered edge already showed signs of wear.
 
In the box are Fiio’s usual generous complement of accessories: digital and analog cables, two sets of silicone bands, coaxial and optical cable adapters, a mesh pouch, and a screwdriver.
 
 

Hear.reviews

I compared the Q5 to the iFi xDSD and Chord Mojo. While the latter is almost double in price, it was considered relatively inexpensive for the amount of audio technology it packs. The value of the xDSD and Q5 are both in the amount of technology features available. To add wireless to a Mojo, it doubles the price. The xDSD and Q5 come with wireless by default.
 
What is more, the Q5 has amp module options which add a bit to the price, allow the choice of how much trade-off between battery life and power one desires. The Q5 is disadvantaged by the xDSD in not having a 3D mode and is also quite a bit larger.
 
Sonic performance was quite consistent with the Q5, regardless of input. I didn’t find, not that I had expected it, any significant degradation using wireless versus wired when comparing CD-quality music. Where I did find a difference was in changing the digital filters built into the AKM DAC used.
soundcolor
(Image Credit: Hear.review)
 
The stock “Sharp Roll-off” filter gives the Q5 a presentation that is sharp, compared to the slightly greater warmth of the xDSD, but is a bit fatiguing to listen to for extended periods. AKM have a chart that compares the filters versus their effect, with the more rolled-off filters sacrificing sound stage, pretty much as described in their chart.
 
At the other extreme is the Super Slow Roll-off filter, which appears to be non-oversampling. This presented the narrowest soundstage, even if it was easiest to listen with. For my own listening, I went with the “Slow Roll-off” filter for most listening, as it struck a nice balance and was easy to listen with for long periods.
 

Porta.fi Review

Sound Quality
 
While many have cited the Q5 as the X7 Mark II without the screen, it is important to highlight that the X7 Mark II uses a SABRE ES9028Pro DAC from ESS while the Q5 sports a pair of AK4490EN from AKM. Being FiiO’s Flagship DAC/Amplifier, the Q5 lives up to its billing, exhibiting a neutral sound signature with cleanliness, details and resolution that sets apart from the competition.
 
Starting with the low-end which is punchy and tight. The sub-bass is well rounded and subtle while the mid is well-balanced and tamed, overall it portrays a high-quality bass experience made possible by the cleanliness which allows the slightest detail to come through. While the low-end would not impress bassheads, it is highly complementary to the rich and lush mids.
fiio-q5-review-4
(Image Credit: Porta.fi) 
 
The mid-range on the Q5 is in-your-face, in a good way if you appreciate intimacy with your music. What made the mids the highlight of the Q5’s signature is the exemplary airiness which I have not experienced on other portable DAC/Amplifiers.
 
The coherence of cleanliness and high-resolution extends to the hi-end, where airiness and cleanliness continue to enhance the listening experience allowing details to come through with sparkle and treble extensions.
 
For those of you who have read my Q1 Mark 2 review would know that I am not a fan of FiiO’s bass boost option, the same can be said for the Q5 where the bass boost switch has only been turned on once throughout the whole review process. Enough said.

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpUnry5Opxc ( By Currawong, First look)
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Igw20mjKo4 ( By Currawong, full review )
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay6c0uhk4L8 ( FiiO Q5 amp/dac Review (using an ipod) -By Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPrWi74QdSc ( FiiO Q5, (un box) Flagship DAC/Amp, Dual DAC, USB/Optical/Coaxial/Line in) Also make by Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHJK5ku933g ( Porta.fi is working hard on every review item, because it always come to two language video)
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx0wijMjGs0 (Chord Mojo vs Fiio Q5) 56 minutes Video!
 
 
 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu6DTewzNUE (AM3 Amp Unit 2.5mm Balanced Output Noise Level)
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6UYWwSC9bo (Portable Bluetooth Audio Round-Up !!! (FiiO Q5 – ifi xDSD – Mpow – Get – Many More!–By Z–review)
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFgAcBlI-nE (Hidiz DH 1000, FIIO Q1, FIIO Q5, OPPO HA2 SE, HIBY R3)
 
 
Russian
 
 
 
 
Thailand
 

FAQ

Is there any point in moving from X7ii to Q5 in SQ?
 
I don’t think so. My memory was that the X7II sounded better with an external amp, suggestion that the DAC section had improved. I didn’t find that with the Q5.
 
In order to use the dac do you need to use the usb cable?
 
USB, coax, optical or Bluetooth
 
Can I add this to android tV Box BT out to increase volume to my BT earbuds ?
 
If you have any device with a Bluetooth transmitter, then yes, it could pair with the Q5.
 
Above FAQ Source
 
 
 
Is it worth replacing X7II for wireless mode in pocket and also receiving calls ?
 
If that is your portable scenario then yes
 
How does this stack with note4?
 
Stacks fine. That is my 2nd most common config
 
Have you tried it out with your android phone? With wired and Bluetooth connection.
 
Yes, it worked both ways. DSD works, BT works easy. You need an OTG cable that won’t draw power like the one from elecom here in Japan
 
I use a iPhone 6s with Micro iDSD but sound drops out sometimes during DSD playback (Onkyo app) Any similar issues with iPod Touch?
 
No. I was having DSD drops with another amp/dac that I have not reviewed yet but the DSD on Q5 and ipod touch gen 6 is not having any issues with skip/pause/or crashes my DSD of Pink Floyd ANIMALS which is .dff never played on anything besides this rig. Happy surprise
 
How does this compare to the q1 Mark II sound quality wise has to be better I’m guessing? Is it safe to assume that this has a similar sound quality to the X7 Mark II?
 
I think it sounds better than the X7MKII but that is in my head. Just likw not having the FiiO FW/U.I so that is the likely pro Q5 bias source for me 😉
 
Above FAQ Source
 
 
 
How did you get the controller using the music app? I can’t workout how it works.
 
It works without any issues, but only on bluetooth connection
 
Which one is more resolving this or x7 ii?
 
I’d say they are on par in terms of resolution, may be Q5 is a tiny bit better, but really a bit
 
Do you think Fiio X5III with or without an amp like the A5 can be as good sonically as the Q5 as both the X5III and Q5 have same DAC-state?
 
They are totally different sonically, despite having the same DACs. Q5 is neutral and super-detailed, while X5-3 is a bit smoother and warmer in representation.
 
How does the Q5 compared to the Bluedac? Which one do you think has better sound?
 
They are pretty close in terms of sound. BlueDAC is a bit more neutral and has more power, while Q5 offers replaceable amps
 
Above FAQ Source
 
 
How does it compare to the mojo across the sound frequencies?
 
Sounds wider and has a bass switch if needed. I am still getting the sound of it in my head as it just recently became my main listening device
 
Above FAQ Source