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FiiO Q3 Review – MR.CLEAN

FiiO is a well known brand which has a great brand image in this audiophile field by producing a lot of high end audio gears producing excellent audio. Apart from the earphones and Digital Audio Players they also manufacture some high end DAC and AMPS. The recently launched Q3 is the successor of the Q1 MKII which had a nice sound output for the price and to take that legacy to another level FiiO had released this Q3 which comes with some interesting specs like THX AAA amplifier. In this review let’s see whether the Q3 stands up to the specs they have mentioned. 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Output Power: About 160Mw(PO/32ohms)

About 300mW(BAL/32ohms)

THD: <0.0012%

SNR: 114Db

Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16~100ohms(PO)   16~300ohms(BAL)

Battery Capacity: 1800Mah

Battery Life: USB MODE: 10hrs (PO)/ 8.5(BAL) AUX MODE: 19 hrs

Native DSD Support: 64/128/256/512

Max Sampling Rate: 768KHz/32bit

PACKAGING AND DESIGN:

It comes in a simple black box with the image of the product on the front. The contents of the box are

  • Dual USB C head cable
  • Long type C data cable
  • 3.5mm line cable
  • 2 long binding strap
  • 2 short binding strap
  • 2 non slip mat
  • Storage bag

The design of the Q3 is similar to that of the Q1 MKII. It’s compact but not as small as the BTR5. They are slim enough to be attached along with the smart phone with the help of the band. They are matt black finished and felt very soft to touch. They are crafted by smooth CNC and sandblasted all aluminium body.

They have included 3 ports namely 3.5mm standard output, 2.5 mm balanced output, 4.4mm balanced output. On the same side they have also included the Volume knob which is crafted beautifully by providing red accents in the front and knurling on the sides of the knob. A RGB light indicator is also given alongside the knob which indicated the sampling format namely

  • <48k Blue
  • >48k Yellow
  • DSD Green

The analogue volume knob is combines with the ADC curve reconstruction which eliminates the low volume channel imbalance.

On the other side the type c port is included for connecting it to the smart phone or laptop with an additional button for opting out charging functionality hence it won’t drain the smart phone battery during the usage of Q3. There two other buttons for the high gain mode and the slider switch for the bass boost mode. By double tapping the high gain mode the sound filters can be changed between sharp and slow roll off filters.

DAC AMP SPECIFICATIONS:

  • THX AAA Amplifier Technology

This technology helps in providing the low distortion, high power output and a pure, uncoloured sound.

  • AK4462 DAC
  • XMOS XUF208 USB CHIP
  • Bass Mode

The purely hardware based bass amplifier circuit can increase bass by up to 6db without affecting the mids or treble.

SOUND OUTPUT:

Source Used: iPhone Xr 

IEM Used: Tin Hifi T5, BQEYZ Summer

The overall sound is pretty clean and detailed. It’s a typical THX AAA Amplifier sound output which is pretty clean and detailed with no additional coloring in the sound. They sound close to neutral and with the bass boost mode it increases the warmth in the overall sound. 

BASS:

If you are having a warm iem then they will be having good coherency with this DAC amp but if you have a less warm iem then this will definitely struggle to deliver that quantity of bass. The T5 is a pretty good iem with slight bass boosted sound signature but when paired with this the sound became more intimate and closed. The airiness got reduced and sounds very clean and detailed.

In some ways the clean and detailed signature are really good especially if you are in to classical and vocal based tracks but playing the pop and rock music makes this a no go DAC amp. The bass is very lean and has no body to the mids which might help in bringing out the clarity but when it comes to the body of track, it lacks.

The power is also not up to the mark. They are powerful than the normal cheap dongle DAC but when compared to the other competitors in this price segment the power output seems little. Even at high gain mode I need to turn the knob to 60-70 percent which is average.

AFTER TURNING ON BASS BOOST:

They claim that it increases the bass up to 6db and it really does. The bass mode is always turned on during my most of the listening period because this mode made the listening experience a lot better when compared to when the mode is turned off. 

Now the bass got boosted a lot and provides the enough thump and sub bass extension is good too. But the caveat here is that this made the bass looser in some bass heavy tracks specifically. It doesn’t affect the mids or the highs but the bass became pretty loose. 

The overall bass in this Q3 is fine but not phenomenal. They are tight but slow in the non bass mode and looser in the bass mode. Overall I can give 7.5/10

MIDS:

The mids are the sweet part in the Q3. As being a THX sound signature they prove it by just delivering some smooth and detailed mids. The vocals are nicer both when the bass mode is turned on or off. Both the male and the female vocals sound nice and smooth with forward positioning. The separation between the instruments is good enough

HIGHS:

The highs are pretty detailed with nice extension. They move steadily and is very smooth without any harshness. When some DSD files are played along, the Q3 brings out the highs very nice and detailed enough. 

SOUNDSTAGE AND IMAGING:

The soundstage is average with nominal depth, width and height. The stage felt pretty intimate to me with the instruments being clubbed together, this is noticed when the bass mode is turned on. If the bass mode is turned off the stage gets expansive by quite a means. 

Imaging is usual. The placement is nice and sweeps nicely from the right to the left. 

BATTERY:

The 1800Mah battery means 10 hours or more of music under USB decoding, definitely enough for a normal day of usage.

It has a USB type C charging port hence there is no necessity to charge it with a separate cable and can be easily charged with your smart phone cable. 

PROS AND CONS:

Pros:

  • Clean and detailed presentation
  • No colouring to the sound
  • Bass boost mode is legit
  • Battery life
  • Versatile 

Cons:

  • Less Power Output
  • Less warm output
  • Intimate presentation

VERIDCT:

The FiiO Q3 is a nice DAC AMP with its THX AAA amplifier they provide a clean and detailed sound output which is great for critical listening. For fun listening there is not enough warmth in the unit. The bass boost helps but it feels very loose and not under control. The mids and highs have good detailed presentation with enough details.

Overall it’s a nice product but considering the price the competition is pretty much big. Even their own line of product the FiiO BTR5 excels in most of the aspects like in size, sound, power output, Bluetooth functionality, App support etc. If the product price is slightly lesser it would have been a good choice. Even then if you love the clean sound without any colouring then Q3 is the best choice for you.

This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C

KATHIRAVAN

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I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.

Shubham

Shubham Garg (Editor Shubz.in) is an engineer with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering from AKTU, Uttar Pradesh. Being a mechanical engineer he has always loved to learn the inner working of various machines and consumer electronics. He regularly tests various audio, home appliances, and daily use products, to provide the best advice to readers. He is a wizard that can make your shopping easy, saving you time and stress of figuring out what to buy.

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