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Fiio Q5s Portable DAC & THX Headphone Amp Review

Asylum Seeker

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#81
Yep, I was thinking about some of the big names who dropped headphone jacks in recent years though - Samsung, Google, Sony etc. The last two have now brought them back, and I suspect Samsung will follow suit in the future, and realise that following Apple's lead will just mean they'll have nothing to differentiate themselves with.
It's a tale of two planets. In the West, the headphone jack is becoming rarer. In Asia, not really. We have a lot more brands offered here...
 
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#82
LOL.
Whoops.

I was really looking forward to this review and now am very disappointed because the device I enjoy so much apparently isn't as good!
And at the same time, how beautiful to have such a surprise!


I wonder, if I compare it my Topping DX3 Pro (which was measured formidably here), what should I have my attention on to hear the difference?


@Power:
I use the Q5s on balanced out with HD800S cans, and I have to turn it up to 55% of the wheel to have a good sound, and 80% or so is just as high as my ears can take. So no power issues here.
 

DivineCurrent

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#83
You probably won't hear it. To me the biggest issue is the lack of power out of the single ended output. I bought a AM5 module to fix this, but since I got the BTR5, I haven't even bother with the Q5s.
I bought this for the sole purpose of using the 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced, which I thought was going to be 112 mW into 300 ohms according to FiiO, but the measurements here say only 62 mW into 300 ohms. That’s twice more power listed than what they actually provide.
 

bobbooo

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#84
It's a tale of two planets. In the West, the headphone jack is becoming rarer. In Asia, not really. We have a lot more brands offered here...
Motorola have also brought the headphone jack back too actually (although I see they're now owned by Lenovo). Hopefully people will keep voting with their wallets by buying phones with them so other manufacturers bring them back too, and eventually Apple will be the lone exception.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #86
I bought this for the sole purpose of using the 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced, which I thought was going to be 112 mW into 300 ohms according to FiiO, but the measurements here say only 62 mW into 300 ohms. That’s twice more power listed than what they actually provide.
Manufacture typical specs for power are for one channel driven, not two as I do. This would explain the discrepancy.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #87
On reviewing test results with manufactures, if I were reviewing the original unit and found issues, I would do that since the company sent it to me.

This sample was supplied by a member so I don't review such results with companies. I am making an exception with Denon and Marantz AVRs and it has really, really slowed things down.
 

imagidominc

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#88
My conspiracy theory is they just stole a THX sticker and slapped it on there
 

DivineCurrent

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#89
Manufacture typical specs for power are for one channel driven, not two as I do. This would explain the discrepancy.
Ah ok, thanks for clarifying Amir.
Seeing as I’m only going to use the headphone outs and never the line out of the Q5s, I’m hoping this will be a good solution for my use case. It’s too bad the line out is basically broken, but it still has the same ADC (perfect channel balance) volume adjustment as the Q1 MKII but with more power, maybe not worth $300 but still nice to have.
 

A Surfer

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#90
I like how literally the day after I bought the Q5s, this was posted. Ugh, I should have just stuck with the Q1 MKII, but this looked so tempting with more power and features. If it sounds worse I may return it, but I won’t be using the line out.
Try to form your own opinion based on use. While the goal of this community is to encourage excellence in engineering, a laudable goal, that means that sometimes a poor technical review doesn't mean subjectively the sound is also poor. I have no doubt that it sometimes does, but as I have stated a few times already, the Q5s actually sounds decent. I only use the 4.4 input, and I almost always used Bluetooth so I will preface my experience. Try it and see for yourself. I have been using it with many headphones and I have enjoyed it quite a bit. I have used the Verum 1, Klipsch HP-3, Pioneer SE Monitor 5 and the Edition X V2. While these headphones won't be to everyone's liking, nonetheless they are at the very least technically competent to assess an amp and DAC. You may be surprised.

Regardless, I am not at all defending what clearly is poor engineering by FiiO. I will be writing to them and asking for an explanation for the technical issues we see here, and I won't be listening to any garbage from them about testing methodology either. Let me know what you think. Cheers.
 

DivineCurrent

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#91
Try to form your own opinion based on use. While the goal of this community is to encourage excellence in engineering, a laudable goal, that means that sometimes a poor technical review doesn't mean subjectively the sound is also poor. I have no doubt that it sometimes does, but as I have stated a few times already, the Q5s actually sounds decent. I only use the 4.4 input, and I almost always used Bluetooth so I will preface my experience. Try it and see for yourself. I have been using it with many headphones and I have enjoyed it quite a bit. I have used the Verum 1, Klipsch HP-3, Pioneer SE Monitor 5 and the Edition X V2. While these headphones won't be to everyone's liking, nonetheless they are at the very least technically competent to assess an amp and DAC. You may be surprised.

Regardless, I am not at all defending what clearly is poor engineering by FiiO. I will be writing to them and asking for an explanation for the technical issues we see here, and I won't be listening to any garbage from them about testing methodology either. Let me know what you think. Cheers.
Thanks for the input. I’m getting the package this week so I will give my impressions soon.

However, I’m a little confused about the whole THX module thing. I purchased the Q5s on Amazon, but the THX module doesn’t actually come with it? I didn’t realize there was a separate module that was THX branded, but I looked it up now and I guess it’s the stock module is the AM3E not the AM3D. It looks like the THX AM3D has slightly better performance for $150 more.
 

restorer-john

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#92
But the story is not on the right. It is on the left! What is that notch? At first I thought the analyzer was loosing data but it was not. Zooming in we clearly see the issue:



I tested the above on my other Q5s and it had the same problem with line out. Thankfully this is one test that improved with headphone out without this problem with either output module.

Why did they put this in there? It can't be an accident. Was there some audible noise there and they decided to filter it out or something? Blood is starting to boil big time by this point.
Have you investigated this further @amirm ? It appears there are only two frequency steps in the AP's sweep at the "notch", 45Hz and 47Hz. It's clearly in the analog domain at that point and there is no way a notch could be that deep and be ruler flat either side within 1Hz.

Perhaps the device is muting the output due to the absence of what it determines is a valid load for some reason. What is the load on the device on those FR sweeps? And the duration, is it a chirp or a slow sweep?

I can see no other way you could go from 0dB to -60dB in 1Hz.
 
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#93
Thanks for the input. I’m getting the package this week so I will give my impressions soon.

However, I’m a little confused about the whole THX module thing. I purchased the Q5s on Amazon, but the THX module doesn’t actually come with it? I didn’t realize there was a separate module that was THX branded, but I looked it up now and I guess it’s the stock module is the AM3E not the AM3D. It looks like the THX AM3D has slightly better performance for $150 more.
Don't bother with the THX module, the measurements here shows it performs basically equally bad as the stock (which is also balanced) one. Unless you care to spend 150 bucks on top of the 300 of the unit itself. My advice would be to get the BTR5 which doesn't gets hot, it's way smaller, has 2.5 mm balanced output, USB C for DAC and charging and a small screen for volume and sample rate. Also the volume is probably Digital, so perfectly balanced, I would assume. Just my two cents after owning the Q5s since release last year (actually I was the first batch on AliExpress) and owning the BTR5 since February. To me it's not even a competition, unless of course you need a coaxial/line output or swappable AMP modules... or that sick THX sticker ;)
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #94
Have you investigated this further @amirm ? It appears there are only two frequency steps in the AP's sweep at the "notch", 45Hz and 47Hz. It's clearly in the analog domain at that point and there is no way a notch could be that deep and be ruler flat either side within 1Hz.

Perhaps the device is muting the output due to the absence of what it determines is a valid load for some reason. What is the load on the device on those FR sweeps? And the duration, is it a chirp or a slow sweep?

I can see no other way you could go from 0dB to -60dB in 1Hz.
You make a good point. No, I have not investigated it further.

The test is a stepped sine sweep so no chirp. Maybe the power supply is going into protection or something?
1596607782721.png


Input load is a high 100K ohm:

1596607708782.png


I think the actual attenuation is not accurate. I seem to recall very erratic response on the AP scope so it could be a intermittent loss of signal.
 

JohnYang1997

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#95
You make a good point. No, I have not investigated it further.

The test is a stepped sine sweep so no chirp. Maybe the power supply is going into protection or something?
View attachment 76702

Input load is a high 100K ohm:

View attachment 76701

I think the actual attenuation is not accurate. I seem to recall very erratic response on the AP scope so it could be a intermittent loss of signal.
White noise may be helpful.
 

tential

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#98
You probably won't hear it. To me the biggest issue is the lack of power out of the single ended output. I bought a AM5 module to fix this, but since I got the BTR5, I haven't even bother with the Q5s.
At this price I might as well buy the hiby r5 and get a screen. That thing does have power output.
 

restorer-john

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#99
To test the behavior of the "notch". Exact frequency, when does it happen etc
My guess is that it won't happen on white noise. The multitone was clean (ish) but the "notch" frequency wasn't quite hit. It sure is a mystery.

Considering the small dimensions of this unit, it sure has caused sizeable measurement headaches for @amirm.
 

PeteL

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It is too much to ask Amir to test with Bluetooth I suspect. I wouldn't care if he kept my Q5s longer. I almost exclusively used Bluetooth as my connection type. Frankly a good set of Bluetooth headphones and any one of many smartphones with well implemented Bluetooth out is all that you need. I use my LG G7 with Onkyo HF Player and either my Sony XM3 (bass mess corrected via HF Player's eq) or the KEF Spaceone Wireless. That is great for portable use, but I will say that I did enjoy the Q5s/AM3D combination with the Edition X V2 quite a bit so despite the measurements I will still say publicly that I have been able to enjoy the Q5s. I never used the line out or it as a DAC mind you,
I'd like to see that too, and don't want to answer for Amir, but I do know that the Bluetooth module for theAPx555 is a considerable investment. The Price list is not freely available, but If I try to extrapolate based on what it costed me to rent one for a month, not cheap. Yes you could download test files to a Bluetooth source, but then you induce all kind of uncertainties in the measurments, making them of little value.
 
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