Compendium updated February 25th, 2021.
What do the FiiO Q3, Abraham Lincoln, and Diana Ross have in common? They’re middle children. Middle children are dealmakers and negotiators. Often finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place (siblings, for instance), they learn to compromise and forge ahead.
Although we don’t expect the Q3 to have quite the historical legacy as Lincoln or Ross, we love how it navigates technical challenges and user expectations with a middle child’s approach.
We’ve compiled reviews from across the web for your reference. What you’ll find here are the TLDR versions of the full reviews (which you can access with the provided links). We’ll continue updating this compendium as reviews come in.
From Headfonics’ review of the FiiO Q3, first published on October 30th, 2020:
“Fresh AKM AK4462 DAC chips, THX AAA 28 amplifiers implementation, a generous set of accessories plus extensive I/O support makes the Q3 a flexible and practical DAC and adaptor option, turning phones into a DAP instantly.
“It has good synergy with various entry-level to mid-tier IEMs that need a small boost in power to shine and balances features and output quality nicely while not costing a fortune. The quick access to change the digital filters is also a nice touch-up option when you use some sensitive IEMs.
“With an extensive set of features and sufficient power, also a perfect form factor to put with a phone, the Q3 is an all-rounder, a swiss-knife of its kind, and a safe bet if you want to find your iPhone and amp or planning an upgrade to a 4.4 TRRRS system.”
From Headfonia’s review of the FiiO Q3, first published on October 29th, 2020:
“Unsurprisingly, the FiiO Q3 is excellent in almost every regard. It kept everything we liked on the Q1 Mark II, and pushed things even further. It sounds even more spacious, packs enough power to drive my good old planars, and whatever the source, I was able to connect the DAC hassle-free.
“If you own a Q1 Mark II, this time I can confidently advise you to up your game and get the new Q3. Sound-wise, the difference isn’t massive, but if you take into account all the various ergonomics improvements, the scale really weighs towards the new Q3.
From Soundnews’ review of the FiiO Q3, first published on December 16th, 2020:
“Q3 feels like a major step into the right direction for FiiO, its full Android and iOS support, plus several short cables found in the package are important notable changes leaving both smartphone crowds happy. I still remember searching for a Micro-USB to USB-C short cable on eBay so I could finish my Q5S review. Not anymore, as everything you need is already included in the package, there is even a longer USB cable, just in case you want to use with your PC or laptop.
“Sound wise, it delivered exactly what I was expecting, it has a good DAC section and a great amplifier section, powering even several high-end planar desktop headphones which came as a huge surprise for me. There are plenty of details and air around those notes, it doesn’t sound up font, close and personal, there are natural textures and a lot of midrange presence that are scaring brightness for good. Most of my listening was made via its regular 3.5mm output, thinking that is delivers double the power on its balanced output, makes it a much better deal in my eyes.”
From Positive Feedback’s review of the FiiO Q3, first published on December 8th, 2020:
“The FIIO Q3 ($149.99) will lift any and all smartphones, computers, and iPads to stellar heights. And at its current price point, it should be written upon anyone's short list, who is looking to upgrade the sound quality of all of the above. Further, it's small, not on the scale of the AudioQuest Dragon Fly series, but still small enough to pocket, palm, or to easily band to a smartphone for OTG listening. It is also stylish, minimalistic, and clean. Then, of course, there are its technicalities, which allow for DSD512 upsampling and 768kHz/32-bit decoding and at a price point of $149! This renders the entire Qobuz catalog completely under one's playback control and all DSD purchases/downloads easily handled. However, lacking MQA, to date, provides for ever-shrinking access to an ever-increasing percentage of MQA files in Tidal's growing catalog.
“That said, I highly recommend the FiiO Q3 for the things it does so very well—technical upsampling/decoding abilities (at price point) and its beautiful, transparent rendering of music across all genres, and its design aesthetic. Bravo!
“Pros: Technical abilities, sound, price, aesthetics, power
“Cons: Lacks MQA”
From Hear.reviews’ review of the FiiO Q3, first published on October 28th, 2020:
“The Q3 makes for a solid, inexpensive IEM DAC/amp, and with a pair of FiiO IEMs, a not unreasonably expensive portable rig. If don’t want to use Bluetooth, or full-sized headphones, yet want something that can slip into the inner pocket of a bag to use with a computer or phone, then the Q3 fits the bill. I reckon it makes for a noticeable step up from a Lightening audio adaptor, and very likely many USB-C audio dongles, especially when you have IEMs that sound best with a bit of amplification behind them.”
From Gadget Generation’s review of the FiiO Q3, first published on October 21st, 2020:
“The FiiO Q3 is a capable DAC/AMP with super clean output and more than enough juice for up to 300Ohm Earbuds/IEMs. But when it comes to full-size cans it surely lacks some power with its single-ended output. Some extra power through the 3.5mm output and better connector cables would have made this a perfect buy. Currently used the Q3 for about 20-25 hours, will publish my full final review after about 100-150 hours of usage.”
From Z Reviews’ review of the FiiO Q3, first published on October 27th, 2020:“The bass is Honda-Civic-trunk-shake low-end. *Smacks table* Bass!”
Editor's note: Emphases ours.