FiiO Q5s Portable DAC & Amplifier Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO Q5s Portable DAC/AMP Review

 

Introduction:

The FiiO Q5s is the upgraded version of the original Q5 Portable DAC/AMP and the new flagship model of the company in this category. The Q5s is a Bluetooth and DSD capable “All in One” DAC/AMP that continuous to use the same interchangeable amp (amplifier) module design of its predecessor.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the Q5s as review sample. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.

 

 

Purchase Links:

The FiiO Q5s is available under the following official FiiO Online Stores;

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The device comes in a small white box which is wrapped with a white cardboard box that sports the product image and information’s.

 

This box contains the following items;

  • 1 x FiiO Q5s Portable DAC/AMP
  • 1 x USB mini to USB Type-C cable for file transfer and charging
  • 1 x 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm Cable
  • 1 x Coaxial to 4-pin 3.5 mm Adapter
  • 1 x Micro USB to USB Cable
  • 1 x Lightning to Micro USB Cable
  • 1 x TOSLINK to 3.5 mm TOSLINK Adapter
  • 1 x Protective Pouch
  • 1 x Screwdriver (+ 4 x replacement screws)
  • 1 x Silicone Stacking Pad
  • 4 x Rubber Stacking Bands
  • 1 x User Manual, etc.
  • 1 x Warranty card

 

 

Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

The FiiO Q5s is a portable Bluetooth and DSD capable DAC and Amplifier which has a very compact form factor with dimensions of 124mm x 64mm x 16mm and weights about 198grams.

The Q5s is a very well made device that features a sandblasted all-aluminum alloy CNC machined chassis, which has a solid appearance without any visible gaps or openness.

On the top of the device is a metal panel which shows the FiiO brand logo and the Hi-res Audio & Hi-Res Wireless certifications. Here is also a Bluetooth LED indicator that that lights up in different colors for example blue for SBC, yellow for aptX HD or white for LDAC, etc.

At the backside of the Q5s is a pleather (polyurethane leather) coating that reminds me to those of the Sony NWZ-ZX2 which helps for a better grip and additional safety.

The left side of the FiiO Q5s sports the multifunctional Power on /off and volume adjustment wheel. Here are also the input button and 4 LED indicators where you can see the actual input selections which are USB, Line, Optical and Coaxial. These indicators can also display the battery and charging status of the Q5s if you hold the input button for 3 seconds.

On the right side of the device are the Previous track (Bluetooth mode), Pause/Play (Bluetooth On/Off) and Next track (Bluetooth mode) buttons. Here is also a small hole where you can reset the device.

At the bottom of the FiiO Q5s is the AM3E Amp (Amplifier) module which is fixed with 2 screws to the main body of the Q5s.

Here you can find the 3.5mm headphone out, a Micro USB port, the 2.5mm balanced and 4.4mm balanced headphone outputs.

The Micro USB port works as digital out for USB DAC/USB Audio functionalities, as charging port and for FW update purposes.

On the top of the device are the Gain and the Bass switch, the Line/Optical/Coaxial input and the Line output.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Model                          : FiiO Q5s
  • DAC                             : 2 x AK4493EQ
  • USB                             : XMOS XU208
  • DSD Support               : DSD64/128/256
  • Bluetooth Chip            : CSR8675
  • LPF                              : 2 x OPA1642
  • OP+AMP                     : AD8620+OPA926
  • Bluetooth Version       : Bluetooth V5.0
  • Bluetooth Codec’s       : AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX Low Latency/aptX HD/LDAC/HWA
  • USB In/Out                  : USB Type-C USB2.0 Charging/Data trans./USB DAC/USB Audio)
  • Battery                         : 3800 mAH
  • Battery Life                  : 25h (AUX IN), 9.5H (USB IN / POT IN / COAX IN Bluetooth IN)
  • USB Port                      : Micro USB (11 Pin) Data exchanging, Charging, Firmware upgrade
  • Size                              : about 124mm x 64mm x 16mm
  • Weight                         : 198g

 

 

AM3E AMP Module – 3.5mm Headphone Out:

  • Frequency Response  : 5 Hz~50 kHz(-3dB)
  • THD+N                       : 0.002% (1 kHz )
  • SNR                            : ≥117dB
  • Max Input Level          : 3.8 Vrms
  • Channel Separation    : >75 dB (1 kHz)
  • Output Power             : 280mW@16Ω / 210mW@32Ω / 30mW@300Ω
  • Output Impedance     : 1.2Ω (32Ω loaded)

 

AM3E AMP Module – 2.5mm/4.4mm TRRS Headphone out:

  • Frequency Response  : 5 Hz~50 kHz(-3dB)
  • THD+N                       : 0.002% (1 kHz)
  • SNR                            : ≥115dB
  • Channel Separation   : >105 dB (1 kHz AUX In)
  • Output Power            : 560mW@16Ω / 535mW@32Ω / 112mW@300Ω
  • Output Impedance    : 2Ω (32Ω loaded)

 

Line Output specifications:

  • Frequency Response  : 5 Hz~90 kHz(-3dB)
  • THD+N                       : 0.001% (1 kHz)
  • SNR                            : ≥115dB
  • Channel Separation    : >97 dB (1 kHz)
  • Line Level                   : 1.5 Vrms

 

 

Features:

a) Dual AKM AK4493EN DAC chips:

The FiiO Q5s features the 2 (Dual) x AK4493EQ DAC (Digital to Analog Converters) of the company Asahi Kasei. AK4493EQ is a new generation Premium 32-bit 2ch DAC with VELVET SOUNDTM technology.

The AK4493EQ integrates a newly developed switched capacitor filter “OSR Doubler”, making it capable of supporting wide range signals and achieving low out-of-band noise while realizing low power consumption. Moreover, the AK4493EQ has six types of 32-bit digital filters, realizing simple and flexible sound tuning in wide range of applications. The AK4493EQ accepts up to 768kHz PCM data and 22.4MHz DSD data.

 

 

b) Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth Audio SoC:

CSR8675 Bluethooth Audio SoC (Sysetm on a Chip) inside the FiiO Q5s is a premium tier single-chip solution in our CSR86xx Bluetooth audio SoC portfolio designed to deliver high quality wireless audio performance and support development of highly differentiated premium wireless audio products.

CSR8675 is part of the CSR86xx portfolio, a range of silicon platforms for wireless audio applications which integrate a dual-mode Bluetooth radio, a low power DSP, an application processor, a battery charger, memory and various audio and hardware interfaces into a single-chip solution.

CSR8675 SoC in side the FiiO Q5s supports also Apple MFi for enhanced communication with iOS devices.

 

c) XMOS XU208 for Native DSD:

The XMOS XU208 is a 32-bit multicore microcontroller that brings the low latency and timing determinism of the xCORE architecture to mainstream embedded applications.

The XMOS XU208 Chip of the FiiO Q5s supports up PCM formats up to 32bit/384kHz and Native DSD up to 512x.

 

 

Wireless & Wired Connectivity:

a) Wired:

The default AM3E module of the Fiio Q5s supports both 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm / 4.4mm TRRS Balanced analog outputs. The Micro USB Digital output on the other hand supports PCM audio up to 768kHz/32bit and has also Native DSD (DSD64/128/256) support.

The Coaxial, optical, and analog line-in input are all handled through a multifunction input port that supports up to 192kHz/32 bit.

Right next to the optical/coaxial out is the analog line out interface (AUX) of the FiiO Q5s which has a Frequency Response of 5 Hz~90 kHz and THD+N of 0.001% (1 kHz).

The USB DAC function of the FiiO Q5s works with MAC’s, Windows PC’s (over USB 1.1), Android and iOS device without the need of installation of any driver. But, if you want to use the device with a Windows PC for the first time at USB2.0 mode, please go to FiiO’s website to download the driver and follow the corresponding instructions to install the driver.

Download link: http://www.fiio.com/supports

 

b) Bluetooth:

Thanks to the flagship Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth chips, the Q5s is able to support Bluetooth 5.0 which ensures a stable Bluetooth audio experience.

Supported Blurthoot Codec’s are as follows;

AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA.

 

Battery Life:

The battery life is pretty good for such a powerful device.

I have tested the battery life of the FiiO Q5s under the following condition;

*Test Gear FiiO FH5 & FiiO FH7, Volume %50, Low Gain

  • AUX Input       : approx. 23 – 24 Hours
  • USB Input       : approx. 8.5 – 9 Hours
  • Bluetooth        : approx. 9 – 9.5 Hours

 

 

Amplification:

The Q5s is bundled with the AM3E amp module with both single-ended and balanced 2.5/4.4 outputs. The Low Pass Filter (LPF) of the Q5s has 2 x OPA1642 (dual) Operational Amplifiers which have ultralow distortion and low-noise abilities.

The OP+AMP section of the FiiO Q5s features 1 x AD8620 (dual) input amplifier and 1 x OPA926 Operational Amplifier of the company TI (Texas Instruments)

Here are some Output specifications;

  • 3.5mm Headphone Output              : 280mW@16Ω / 210mW@32Ω / 30mW@300Ω
  • 2.5mm/4.4mm TRRS Output            : 560mW@16Ω / 535mW@32Ω / 112mW@300Ω

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

DAP’s                         : FiiO Q5s, Chord Mojo, Hidizs DH1000
IEM’s                          : FiiO FA7, FiiO FH5, FiiO FA7

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Spotify)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • No Doubt – Hella Gut (Spotify)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Twerl – Lishu (Spotify)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Photek – The Hidden Camera (Spotify)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320 kbps)

 

The Sound:

The FiiO Q5s shows a neutral tonality with a touch of warmness. The bass is deep and fast, the midrange is soft and musical, while the treble range is controlled and shows good extension.

 

Bass:

The FiiO Q5s has a good subbas depth and extension, while the intensity is not too much or too low. The tonality on the other hand is soft and slightly warmish than neutral.

The bass performance of the Q5s is very successful, with an additional emphasis that comes from the lower register. This additional emphasis is an advantage for IEM’s with a flat bass response, while this means an additional bass boost for IEM’s with higher bass intensity.

The depth and emphasis of instruments like cross drums, bass guitars or the synthesizer is quite good. The subbass performance doesn’t lack with any kind of music, which is an area where the sound engineers of FiiO did a good job!

The midbass tuning of the FiiO Q5s are powerful, pronounced and pretty fast. It shows a slightly warmer than neutral tonality and fairly smooth and musical presentation, without to show any negative situations like muddiness of mixings.

The midbass region shows slightly more quantity and intensity than the subbass area.

I can say that the bass of the Q5s is very successful with its sweet, detailed and dynamic presentation. It is very smooth, clear and shows a good level of layering.

 

Midrange:

The midrange of the FiiO Q5s is quite transparent, balanced and airy, while the tonality is warmer than neutral.

Vocals:

The FiiO Q5s has a good lower midrange depth which is an advantage for the presentation of male vocals. Male vocals are showing a mildly warm, moderately thick, musical and pretty soft tonality, without to have any negatives like muddiness. The clarity level of male vocals are also quite good, while the transitions are quite smooth, which makes the male vocal presentation of the Q5s very enjoyable.

The FiiO Q5s has a fairly strong upper midrange emphasis, which gives female vocals good detail retrieval.  Female vocals are also more upfront and detailed compared to male vocals. The overall presentation of female vocals is pretty transparent, sweet and emotional.

 

Instruments:

The FiiO Q5s performs quite well in terms of instrument separation and positioning. The instruments are well settled on the stage without to shows any unwanted mixings.

When it comes to the instrument tonality I can say that it is slightly warm, musical and natural. The presentation of instruments is quite full bodied, detailed and airy.

For example; acoustic guitars are lightly bassy, sweet and warm, which makes them very pleasant to listen to.

I also like the sound of the violas which are represented in a warm, emotional and quite natural manner. The violins are soft and there are no unwanted situations like harshness.

 

Upper Midrange & Treble:

The upper midrange of the FiiO Q5s is pronounced and but soft in its tonality. The upper midrange extension is very good for a device in this price range, while everything from female vocals to violins is crisp, clear and detailed.

The Q5s has a well pronounced and strong lower treble tuning. This frequency range is in general somewhat warmish, bright and musical in its presentation. Instruments like Hi-hats in metal music have a good intensity and it is possible to count the hits, while the crash and ride cymbals are pretty fast, controlled and are showing a good level of extension.

There is no remarkable interference when the piano accelerating in genres like Jazz music, the notes are clear and distinct.

The level of airiness and clarity of the treble range is in general fairly high, while the emphasis is concentrated in the lower treble area. The treble intensity decreases in a controlled manner towards the upper treble region that we know as brilliance.

 

Soundstage:

The FiiO Q5s is quite successful in terms of instrument and vocals separation as well as the positioning. The soundstage the Q5s shows a good width, while the depth of the stage has an average performance compared to the width. The neutral air between the instruments makes the scene of the Q5s quite airy.

 

 

Some Comparison: 

FiiO Q5s versus Chord Mojo:

Chord Mojo is a DAC/AMP that sounds warmer and fuller than the FiiO Q5s, which offers a more neutral, transparent and spacious sounding presentation.

The subbass of the Q5s is superior in terms of depth, while the Mojo has a slightly better midbass intensity and quantity.  The bass of the Chord Mojo are mainly focused / concentrated in to the midbass area, but the FiiO Q5s is more successful in terms of speed and control of this area.

The midrange of the Chord Mojo sounds warmer and fuller compared to the FiiO Q5s, while the level of clarity is on an average level. The Q5s on the other hand offers a more transparent and detailed midrange presentation.

The Chord Mojo has the upper hand in terms of male vocal performance due to the fullness and depth of its midrange. The FiiO Q5s is otherwise superior in terms of female vocals with its noticeably more transparent and better extending upper midrange.

The upper midrange of the FiiO Q5s is more pronounced and shows also better extension. The treble range of the Chord Mojo has a more laid back tuning than the FiiO Q5s. The Q5s has again the upper hand in terms of treble intensity, extension and quantity.

When it comes to the soundstage performance, the Chord Mojo has the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth, while the FiiO Q5s is more successful in terms of soundstage width.

 

 

FiiO Q5s versus Hidizs DH1000:

The Hidizs DH1000 has a more neutral, somewhat thin and bright tonality compared to the FiiO Q5s. The Q5s sounds noticeably fuller and also warmer.

The bass of the DH1000 is in general quite linear and shows less subbass depth than the FiiO Q5s. The DH1000 is pretty successful in terms of midbass speed, while the Q5s has the upper hand for quantity and intensity in this area.

The midrange of the Hidizs DH1000 sounds more neutral, a bit thin and dry compared to the FiiO Q5s, which offers a warmer and fuller presentation. The lower midrange of the Q5s has more depth and makes it more successful with male vocals. The Hidizs DH1000 on the other hand, has a more pronounced upper midrange with better extension, which makes it more suitable for female vocals.

The treble range of both DAC / AMP’s is quite successful. The treble presentation of the FiiO Q5s is more controlled and slightly warmish compared to the Hidizs DH1000, which has a more neutral tonality and more aggressive presentation in this area. The DH1000 is slightly more successful in terms of treble extension and detail retrieval.

The soundstage of both devices is pretty similar in terms wideness and airiness, while the FiiO Q5s has the upper hand in terms of soundstage depth.

 

Bluetooth DAC and Balanced Out Sound Performance:

As I have mentioned before, the FiiO Q5s is a Bluetooth DAC capable devices which can be paired with sources like Smartphones, Tablets, DAP’s, etc. that allows you to listen your library or online services like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music or on it.

Yes, the wired performance of the Q5s is with no doubt better, but I have to admit that this device sounds noticeably better than many other Bluetooth DAC capable device on the market, especially if I pair it with a source that supports LDAC. I was quite satisfied with the Bluetooth DAC performance of the Q5s during this review.

The FiiO Q5s also features 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced outputs in addition to the 3.5mm single-ended output. Especially the 4.4mm balanced output shows a very good sound and powerful output performance. The 4.4mm Balanced out offers a deeper soundstage, more bass depth and extension and additional musicality compared to the 3.5mm TRS output. The upper midrange and treble regions of the 3.5mm TRS are sounding brighter and slightly thinner than those of the balanced outputs.

 

 

Conclusion:

The FiiO Q5s is an All-in-One DAC/AMP which has many things to offer. When it comes to the sound, it offers a bass performance that is deep and fast, a midrange that has a soft, musical and detailed tuning, while the treble range is quite controlled and shows good extension. The hardware and connectivity features like Interchangeable AMP Modules, Bluetooth DAC, 4.4mm & 2.5mm balanced out, USB/Line/Optical/Coaxial inputs and a well implemented bass boost option are very impressive for a device at this price range.

 

 

Pros and Cons:
  • + Overall Tonality and Detail Retrieval
  • + Bass Speed and Control
  • + Midrange Musicality
  • + Treble Extension
  • + Bluetooth Sound Performance
  • + Interchangeable AMP Modules
  • + Lots of Connectivity Features (Bluetooth DAC, 4.4mm&2.5mm, Optical, Coaxial, etc.)
  • + Well Implemented Bass Boost
  • + Robust Craftsmanship
  • – Soundstage depth could be slightly better
  • – No Protective Silicone Case included

 

 

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply