While many have cited the Q5 as the X7 Mark II without the screen, it is important to highlight that the X7 Mark II uses a SABRE ES9028Pro DAC from ESS while the Q5 sports a pair of AK4490EN from AKM. Being FiiO’s Flagship DAC/Amplifier, the Q5 lives up to its billing, exhibiting a neutral sound signature with cleanliness, details and resolution that sets apart from the competition.
Starting with the low-end which is punchy and tight. The sub-bass is well rounded and subtle while the mid is well-balanced and tamed, overall it portrays a high-quality bass experience made possible by the cleanliness which allows the slightest detail to come through. While the low-end would not impress bassheads, it is highly complementary to the rich and lush mids.
The mid-range on the Q5 is in-your-face, in a good way if you appreciate intimacy with your music. What made the mids the highlight of the Q5’s signature is the exemplary airiness which I have not experienced on other portable DAC/Amplifiers.
The coherence of cleanliness and high-resolution extends to the hi-end, where airiness and cleanliness continue to enhance the listening experience allowing details to come through with sparkle and treble extensions.
For those of you who have read my Q1 Mark 2 review would know that I am not a fan of FiiO’s bass boost option, the same can be said for the Q5 where the bass boost switch has only been turned on once throughout the whole review process. Enough said.