FiiO Q15 - Bigass DAC/AMP meets EQ

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by Hrodulf, Apr 2, 2024.

  1. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    [​IMG]

    Inb4: I got the Q15 from FiiO for free in exchange for writing a review on Headphonesty. The review is done and will be live in a few days. I've given middling marks to FiiO products and they still send me stuff, so... take that for what you will in terms of biases.

    So, FiiO Q15, here's the skinny -
    1. AK4499EX+AK4191EQ combo
    2. X316 USB controller
    3. QCC5125 Bluetooth chip
    4. SGM8262-2-based analog stage
    TL-DR - I think it's a very compelling option for traveling listeners. Forget about pocketing the thing unless you wear Hammer pants. EQ is a bit fiddly to set up via the mobile app but once it gets going, those 10 PEQ bands can be a game-changer.

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    In terms of raw pre-EQ sound quality, it's not up to par with Diablo 2. In fact, tonally the Q15 is more smooth-operator vs the red slab of cock-rock. I have a feeling that the opamp analog stage is the bottleneck here. But props to FiiO for not going the OPA1612 path like everyone else and their twice-removed cousin.

    [​IMG]

    Sonically the highlight for me is the new AKM chip duo which seems to nail a very R2R/multibit sound. I could live with it even without the DSP doodads. The price of circa 399$ also seems right. The build quality is robust and everything looks/feels very premium. I'm a bit concerned about repairability because I see no bolts.

    [​IMG]

    Tested with: Simgot EA1000, Thieaudio Hype 4, Thieaudio Monarch MK3, and Linsoul x HBB Jupiter. Pairing-wise, I'd recommend more vivid/energetic/bright IEMs and headphones. Something like an HD650 or Audeze LCD-2 can be too dark and sleepy.

    Dims: 143.5x71.75x21.75mm
    Weight: 305g
    IO: USB/BT/SPDIF->3.5/4.4 (amped or line-out)
    Max powa: 1.6W@32Ohms
    Noise: works fine with sensitive stuff, at lowest gain plenty of volume control

    P.S. The pleather case is sold separately. Yes, we live in the darkest timeline since Harambe died.
     
  2. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I can't remember what other FiiO stuff you've heard in the past so since you're already hinting at this getting a glowing review, I'm kinda curious to know which of their other products you've been less enthused towards.

    I "rode off into the sunset" with a cheapo FiiO thing (forgot the exact model) and an AKG K550 years ago but thinking about it now I'm probably gonna wince if I revisit that system. Currently have a BTR7 which I got for pretty damn cheap for when I'm on IEMs (specifically for it having a higher OI cuz the Andro 2020s are too boomy with low-R sources) and I'm regretting it on account of some treble hashiness, but it's fine for podcasts and background listening.

    Actually, does FiiO even have a house sound? Not tried nearly enough for their stuff to know.
     
  3. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Just reviewed their K11 entry-level DAC/AMP. Pretty handy but sound-wise meh. I have their KA17 and K19 here as well. The KA17 sounds nice but the K19 is heavily bottlenecked by the THX output stage.
     
  4. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Depends. There are outliers but overall most of their stuff is on the warm side. I haven't tried their IEMs enough to get a feel for a house sound. FT3 full-size headphones I found quite pleasing.
     
  5. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    I bought a Fiio K9 (ESS version, but not the pro one) a while ago new for 399€ for my secondary workplace system and I feel it´s a good enough and practical and rather aesthetical desktop setup for the price. Similar THX 788+ output stage as in the K9pro or K19 (K19 just has more of them). However, I definitely would shop elsewhere for K9pro or K19 money.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
  6. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    K19's forte is the extensive DSP section. Imho, there's an industry-wide creative crisis in chi-fi amps. Of course, it's only a crisis if you listen and not only measure.
     
  7. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    It should compete with the RME ADI-2 DAC FS then...
    Another device with extensive DSP, but not my choice SQ wise. Same pricerange...
    A comparison review would attract lot´s of attention IMO.

    Well, somehow I´m not sad about that... Let others still have the benefit of being more creative and inventive...

    Really ASR and similar sites are to blame for measurement first (or only) mentality. I am shocked sometimes how people with good or even great heaphones have "cheap stupid dac/amps that (only) measure well".
     
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