Compendium updated February 11th, 2021
The FiiO Q5S is one of only a few ways to get a dual AKM DAC plus THX amplification in a unit that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. And with an all-new Type-C USB input, FiiO has demonstrated a desire to keep it relevant for years to come.
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 Z Reviews' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on October 30th, 2019:
From Currawong's review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on September 9th, 2019:
From Audio Science Reviews' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on August 4th, 2020:
"I connected the Q5s using USB and Line out and fired our normal dashboard test and got this disappointing result:
"Look at the high spray of harmonic distortion to the right of our 1 kHz tone (the tall spike). I finished running all the DAC and headphone test which took two hours. I then went to graph the SINAD above in my spreadsheet and I see that I already had an entry for Q5s at SINAD of 100 db! What the heck?
"I dig up the old unit with standard headphone amp and measure it and it too produces 90 dB SINAD. Frustration is starting to set in.
"Aha! Maybe I used the headphone out. I plug the output cable into that and SINAD indeed shoots up to nearly 100 dB!
"...This was a painful review. So many variations to test. So many odd results. Two different devices. Two different amps. Three different outputs. Two different inputs. Maybe there is some explanation for the odd results that I am seeing but frankly, I don't have the patience to dig in more to find out. I see the words "THX" on a headphone amp and I expect world class performance. How did these measurements qualify for THX logo? What explains simple failures in frequency response of the line out?
"I should say the company is very nice and cordial to deal with. But ultimately I have to go by what I have in front of me. Sadly it is not a functional product in my view. Yes, it produces sound. Yes, most people won't hear these issues but you are paying for great performance and you deserve to get it.
"Needless to say, I can't recommend the Q5s with or without THX amplifier module."
From Sound News' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on September 4th, 2019:
“I disliked the aging micro-USB port and the raw aluminum edges of Q5S.
“However, when it comes to sound performance, Q5S shown attitude, balls and lots of control even for harder to drive headphones. IEM users can sleep tightly as Q5S is exactly what doctor ordered.
“It is small and portable, yet the sound it produces is grand and wide and that can be spotted from the first moments. It really resembles a high-quality desktop DAC and headphone amp unit.
“If you want to send an unaltered Bluetooth signal to it, the best Bluetooth codecs will come to the rescue, as at this moment Q5S is supporting all the best BT codecs including the widest range from the BT version 5.0.
“It really deserves the flagship status in FiiO’s DAC/Headphone amp line of products, at $350 I consider it better sounding than the on-stage Chord Mojo and at this price you can’t go wrong with it.
“I recommend getting it from here (Apos is offering free shipping in the USA, free 30-day returns in case you don’t like it, an extra 1 year of warranty and lowest price guarantee).”
From International Business Times' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on October 2nd, 2019:
“Not just for audiophiles, that's for sure. The Q5s produced a better sound that was discernible even by a mere audio enthusiast like myself. It is for those who are looking to take their enjoyment of music up a notch. It is also ideal for someone who wants a DAC/amp that can perform both on the desktop at work and in their pocket while on the go. The surprising news is that you might not even need to upgrade your headphones, as I discovered. The Q5s could be the addition you need to breathe new life into your existing set up.”
From Headfonics' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on November 3rd, 2019:
“FiiO has put a lot of subtle but important changes in the Q5s to produce a more modern and mature sound/performance. It was critical for me to see the Q5s with a proper BT solution using LDAC and I am glad they have delivered on that.
“The additional output power and 2.5/4.4mm balanced connection option on the new AM3E amp card is definitely needed in 2019 and does offer plenty of choices now for almost every connection out there.
“I am slightly disappointed with the level of noise coming from the BT solution and would have loved to have heard something with a bit less hiss and initial EMI but less efficient IEms play out quite well and that EMI tends to die down after a minute or two to acceptable levels.
“Going wired though the Q5s has clearly improved on the Q5 sound. The new dual AK4493EQ design dumps the bombastic high contrast musical AK4490EQ old sound and instead delivers something smoother, more balanced and linear to my ear. You may not get quite the sub-bass aggression but you do get a more euphonic timbre and a sound far refined, especially for vocal lovers.
“There are not many of these all-in-one BT AMP/DAC wonders left in the market these days and one wonders who long this concept will continue for given how strong DAPs are getting at the same price point. However, the Q5s along with the xDSD and xCAN are right up there as best performers for their price points in the sector today.”
From Headfonia's review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on November 27th, 2020:
“The FiiO Q5S-TC is, again, excellent in every regard.
“It’s still supremely versatile, thanks to every input and output available, allowing you to connect almost every source in a matter of seconds. Even more, now that FiiO finally gifted the Q5 a USB-C port which, if not revolutionary, really felt mandatory. At least for a 2020 DAC.
“Sound? Superb, as you might expect. The double AKM DAC and the new THX-AAA amp module (AM3D) produce magical wonders, and even if the difference between the previous one and the new Q5S-TC feels subtle, it’s still there. Like how the M11 Pro outperforms the M11.
“That said if you want the FiiO M11 Pro, but aren’t totally ready to go for a DAP, get the FiiO Q5S-TC. You’ll get the same sonic prowess, with your same old smartphone, either in Bluetooth or USB. Simple as that.”
From Monstarreviews' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on November 18th, 2019:
“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.”
From Tech Toy Reviews' review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on February 18th, 2020:
- 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.”
From Audiophile Heaven's review of the FiiO Q5S Headphone DAC/amp, first published on April 14th, 2020:
“With a sound that is clear, crisp, has zero hiss even with sensitive IEMs, but also is wide, and has a nice, neutral tuning that works well with warmer and thicker IEMs and Headphones, Q5s manages to stay in line with its competitors, and prove it is worth the asking price of 350 USD.
“Before the end of this review, I’d like to add Q5s to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, for its features, clean sound, modular design, design, which includes both Balanced and Single Ended outputs, large number of inputs, and for its excellent overall value.
“At the end of this review, if you’re looking for one of the best DAC/AMPs in the market, Q5s surely is one of the best. Just make sure to check my comparisons, because depending on what you need your DAC/AMP to do, there are a few options, each tailored for someone.”
Editor’s note: Emphases ours.