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Fiio D5 DAC, Headphone Amp and ADC Review

amirm

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#1
This is a brief review and measurements of the Fiio d5 portable DAC, headphone amp, USB to S/PDIF bridge, and analog to digital (ADC) converter. It is on kind loan from a member. Looks like it came out back in 2011 but still being sold on Amazon for US $89 including free shipping. Because it is an older product and has a serious flaw I will not be performing the full suite of measurements.

From the outside, you think it is a cheap device but has a good feel to it and its controls:

Fiio D5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Review.jpg

The volume buttons control the level in Windows so they are very coarse to operate.

Being an older product, we get the first generation small USB connector:

Fiio D5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier Back Review.jpg

As you see we have both line out and S/PDIF digital output which is nice.

Here is the rest of the connectivity:
Fiio D5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier front Review.jpg

The functionality reminds me of what you get a in typical motherboard audio or sound card.

DAC Audio Measurements
Here is our dashboard:

Fiio D5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier.png


Distortion numbers are through the roof (relative speaking for a DAC) placing the d5 at the bottom of the pile of DACs reviewed:
Audio DACs tested.png


But that is not the reason I am giving it a vote of no confidence. If you could watch the dashboard in real time you would see the measured frequency change over time to 1.00004 kHz then suddenly jump down to 0.9994 (I hope I have the number of zeros and 9s right :) ). In other words, it doesn't have its own clock and operate in USB asynchronous mode. Instead, it is extracting the clock from USB and using that for the DAC. As that clock drifts so does the DAC clock until it resets.

Asynchronous USB use to be a big deal years back and not all devices supported it. Today it is universally used in every DAC almost regardless of price so no reason to use yesterday's technology with such poor clock.

For grins, I ran one more measurement, the jitter:
Fiio D5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier jitter.png


So many things are wrong here with broadening of the main tone indicating random noise. Spikes everywhere likely coming from USB bus. And so does the power supply noise.

I don't think any additional measurements could save this device so let's stop here and spend the time on other products.

Conclusions
Despite the nice build and very nice set of features, the engine in the Fiio d5 is old and non-performant. So I suggest avoiding it and hopefully we find one that is the same but performs well.

And oh, the owner has gifted this to me. I might use it in the future to test characteristics of USB bus due to its high sensitivity to what goes into it.

--------
As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

It is 1:46 in the afternoon as I type this review. I was hoping to skip lunch and save money that way. But my big intestines are eating the little ones so I have to go out and get something to eat. Appreciate you all donating money so I can't be in this dire position for too long using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

imagidominc

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#7
When a product is so broken it doesn’t even get the full measurements. Thankfully times have changed!
 
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#9
Suggestion to the owner of the DAC - learn how to use Internet search engines: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/11/fiio-d5-dac.html
These are the notes from nwavguy which is confirmed by @amirm's review above.
  • Likely worse than many built-in (motherboard) sound outputs
  • Significant low frequency roll off from headphone and line outputs
  • High overall distortion, especially at low and high frequencies
  • Relatively noisy
  • Relatively high jitter
@amirm are you really sure you are not nwavguy? :p
 

amirm

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#11

Jimster480

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#12
There is something to be said about having every device tested in identical way. That way, comparisons become easy. To wit, I keep getting products to remeasure that I tested with my old analyzer.
Remeasure the Topping DX7, just to see how it stacks up vs the new ones.
The DX7 and D30 are the only products on the old measurement system at this point in time.
 

amirm

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#13
Remeasure the Topping DX7, just to see how it stacks up vs the new ones.
Someone bought that from me already. Was sad to see it go....
 

gvl

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#16
There is something to be said about having every device tested in identical way. That way, comparisons become easy. To wit, I keep getting products to remeasure that I tested with my old analyzer.
Sure, but I think one could easily "bin" this device with high confidence using nwavguy's data and not cause you a waste of time.
 

amirm

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#19
I thought you had at least some DX7s tests done on the new AP, is there enough to "pin" them together?
No, they are quite different. The DX7 for example did not have the IMD hump that 7s does.
 

Zog

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#20
No. Charles was not a hero by any means....
True, true. I was obsessed by the head, or absence thereof. I neglected to turn my mind to the help that Pinky (if I may call him that) provided as compared to the opposition to democracy that Charles provided. I am sorry for my careless remark. I apologise profusely to your good self, your wife, your wife's tennis partners, and all members here. In future I will use my head (while it is on my shoulders) before I type.
 
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