The most important part of every audio product review is how it sounds. For objective evaluation, we held this FiiO Headphone Amplifier in our hands for more than a hundred hours. In this FiiO Q5s review, we will use the two headphones: Sony IER-M7, and MDR-1AM2, which has both single-ended 3.5mm and balanced 4.4mm ports in addition to Focal Clear. The music sources in this review we mainly use the Hi-Res Mora Qualitas/TIDAL music streaming service and Lossless music sources on my computer through Jriver/Audirvana.
Our first impression for the FiiO Q5s Headphone Amplifier is a slightly brighter color, the farthest visible color, and a thick, solid stripe that tells us the color of a sound brand. High-end quality product, but still easy listening to the majority of listeners even those who just started playing the sound. The first point and perhaps for those who have never heard of high-end DAC/Amp probably the first impression is the soundstage. The sound feels like it is opening up, airier as well as the sound details of the instruments is shown much better.
And as we said, we have used FiiO Q5s for almost 100 hours so that we can review it unbiased. The Q5s ‘s bass felt a bit lighter, increased, but lacked certainty, the bass range was clearer, and the sound sensation was more pronounced.
We will go into the colors of the Fio Q5s so you can easily visualize:
Bass range: The first feel is quite solid, indicating good block wellness as well as depth. The bass of FiiO Q5s is quite mature, it feels slow, not in a hurry so you can listen to classical music with contrabass, drum, snare or jazz, blues very well. The Q5s Headphone Amplifier‘ bass range sounds easy to hear and simple. For electronic genres like EDM or Trance, in general, lots of Bass music, you can turn on the bass boost mode to be more adventurous.
Mid-range: This is the most prominent feature of FiiO Q5s, the product has a great vocal extended capability. Slightly emphasizing in the High-Mid strip comes with extremely good clarity, helping the female vocalists to be very glossy, uplifting with warmth and sweet ears. The male voice is also quite well filled. However, some recordings may show a lot of errors if the recording fails, so many recordings feel thin and blinding.
High range: This is a hot spot of FiiO Q5s. In general, the high range feeling of the Q5s is a bit bright, with no sense of harshness, but many songs have a tighter feel and the instruments feel energetic than necessary. Another point is that the sound of the high range instrument does not have the ‘tan’ feeling, feels fine, but sometimes feels a little discrete with recordings like the symphony Mahler, Wagner. However, to express such a high range often requires DAC/Amp with a much higher price.
In general, the FiiO Q5s has a relatively balanced sound quality with a slight emphasis on the mid-range. Expressing the level of detail very well, the vocalist felt a little warm to listen.
Balanced or Unbalanced:
This is a point that many of you are quite interested in, and many believe that using only a Balanced port will take advantage of the product’s capability. Personally, we’ve tried to compare the two ports and really the things we seeing are just different, not necessarily a better one. In terms of sound quality, the 4.4mm and 2.5mm ports are completely the same, we do not see any difference at all so if using the adapter, it is quite meaningless.
Single-ended 3.5mm port: Listen to three bands more easily with vocal expression, which is simpler, easier to hear. If you mainly listen to mid-tones and vocals, you would prefer the single-ended port.
Balanced 4.4 port: There is a more spacious soundstage feeling, the separation of details between the two channels is clearly shown, and especially the bass band sounds clear, has better force.
Many people often ask me if this headset is compatible with this Headphone Amplifier / DAC, we would like to say that not all headphones we have heard. We have only heard some preliminary samples and do not always have headphones to unplug. Here are the headphones we heard through to match and find the best match.
Sennheiser HD599: It sounds unconvincing when the headset is cheaper than the DAC / Amp. However, we think this combo is quite musical and easy to listen to. If you can, you can still get to HD660s. (Note that the HD600 or HD650 would be harder to pull off and need the AM5 module)
HiFiMan Sundara: This is a combo that we would recommend to you, especially for listening to mixed genres.
Sony MDR-Z7M2 (MDR-Z1R): Both models have a fairly warm sound, easy to listen to and can be paired with Q5s. Specializing in slow music genres with thick, and solid bass range would be a golden combo.
Focal Elear: The sound is quite thick, sweet and relatively flattering, but still has good tempo. This combo shows the balance between the sweetness and technical characteristics of a high-end combo such as clarity, soundstage, and speed.
FiiO FH7: This is a combo that boss AudioPsycho will quite like because the sound is quite fun, full of energy, rich in technology.
Campfire Polaris: We have heard rumors about this for BassHead, we’ve heard 3 different ones. The sound has a lot of real bass, warm and very affectionate. This combo would be very suitable for new people who want to be full in all three bands, but still thick, easy to hear enough bass.
AKG N5005: This is a personal combo that we like because the ability to express the detail of the vocal is extremely delicate and feels light. Generally for listening to soft music, extremely good vocal. We still listen to J-Pop as well as a few K-Pop (IU, Heize, Bol4), this would be our favorite combo.
Compare with Q5:
Currently, we don’t have FiiO Q5 on hand now so we only remember it. The previous model has a strong sound tone, with a solid bass range, many impacts slightly press on the upper bass. In terms of technical specifications, maybe FiiO Q5s pretty much upgraded on the soundstage and detail clarity. In addition, the bright color also follows a slightly new and more subtle direction, in the true audiophile style.
In short, if FiiO Q5 version is mainly suitable for modern music, EDM, electronic, FiiO Q5s Headphone Amplifier is suitable for emotional music or audiophile music such as blues, jazz, vocal. That said, the Q5s is not low bass, among Portable DAC / Amp products, this is still one of the most detailed bass bands of the best row after Chord Mojo and Micro iDSD.
If you still like the FiiO Q5, you can still use it normally and if you want to upgrade, it is best to buy the AM3D module. And if you have listened to FiiO Q5 and feel that this sound is a bit violent, a bit of market then FiiO Q5s will be a reasonable choice.
Compare with xDSD and Mojo
Each sample will have different strengths and weaknesses you can research to choose the appropriate sample:
FiiO Q5s: It is possible to replace the amp module, the tone is a bit warm, easy to listen and this is also a Headphone Amplifier / DAC model using 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced ports. It can be compatible with a variety of headphones by changing the amp module.
iFi xDSD: The sound is very airy suitable for those who listen to many instruments such as a symphony, orchestra. In terms of detail, it is on par with the Q5s amply circuit, although only 500mW. However, with CyberDrive, it can pull hard-to-play headphones like R70x, HD660s or even Planar headphones.
Chord Mojo: Although it is the oldest model, it is still the best model, the soundstage is not as busy as xDSD or like Q5s, the sound color is very honest, with high detail and sound. More technical than the two against the competition. If you need a neutral DAC / Amp to show “the right” quality of the headset, Mojo is the most reasonable choice. If you want to use it to stream via DLNA, UPnP, Roon or plug in a memory card, only Mojo supports these features thanks to the Chord Poly module.
- Simple, powerful design
- Easy to control
- The battery is about 9 hours enough to use throughout a day
- There is a full range of input ports (line in / Coax / Optical / USB / Bluetooth) as well as full output ports from Line Out and headphone out ports like Balanced 4.4mm and 2.5mm.
- Ability to replace the module to upgrade the sound quality
- Sound quality is also gentle, clear, good detail
- Specialist in many vocal genres
- Relatively easy to pair with headphones.
- Affordable price, $349 on Bhphotovideo.com and Amazon.com online stores.
We don’t like:
- It doesn’t sound like a Bluetooth Amplifier
- The stock amp module is fairly neutral, but you can easily replace other amp modules if you wish.