Fiio Q1 MKII Review – Balance and Harmony

Comparison –


HTC 10: The 10 may no longer be the best sounding smartphone on the market, but it is an excellent example of smartphone audio done properly. Even still, the Q1 MKII provides a noticeable upgrade and improved driving power with pickier earphones/headphones. Starting from the lower frequencies, the 10 is bolder but the Q1 MKII is slightly more neutral and noticeably more defined, making the smartphone sound quite muddy.

The HTC 10 has a pleasant but not outstanding midrange with a somewhat artificial sense of clarity and thinner vocal body. Both sources are slightly dark in tone, and while the Q1 MKII isn’t quite as clear, it sounds appreciably smoother and cleaner throughout. Highs are noticeably more prominent on the 10 though it can tire with already brighter in-ears while the more detailed yet smoother Q1 MKII finds greater listenability and refinement. The Q1 has an appreciably larger soundstage with better resolution of layering and background details.

iPod Touch 6G: The 6th generation iPod Touch is utilising the same chipset as the iPhone 6 so it should sound very similar to the 6s and dongle included with the 7 and 8. It is a clean and crisp but not particularly musical source that suffers from similar fall-backs to the 10. Bass is tighter than the HTC but also leaner, the Q1 MKII though actually slightly fuller, is more controlled and coherent with the iPod glossing over some finer details. The iPod is cleaner and more neutral than the 10 but similarly thin with lower resolution.

While the Q1 MKII is similarly balanced, it has noticeably more body, sounding more natural and musical and finding greater synergy with the majority of my iems. Highs are bright but not especially detailed on the iPod which creates a sense of forwardness that can push v-shaped and mid-focussed in-ears over my threshold of comfort. The Q1 MKII lacks this entirely, it is once again, smoother and more nuanced with more texture and detail to instruments. The Fiio also has the larger, more nuanced stage though the iPod has respectable layering.


Verdict –


The Q1 MKII is a considerable step up from Fiio’s previous model in both form and sound though it definitely does not make Fiio’s higher end models redundant. It’s also not the most flawless source on the market, but for a lot of people, I think it will offer more than enough performance and buyers certainly receive a lot of product for the money. The build and design are as excellent as we have come to expect from Fiio and little features such as MFI certification and a very usable bass boost make it an excellent companion to any smartphone. And in listening, the Q1 MKII continues to impress with one of the more linear, transparent sounds I’ve heard around this price augmented by a clean, clear amplifier. The option to go balanced also offers some very real benefits though at the cost of a slightly hampered TRS output. Still, the Q1 MKII is a featured, versatile and well-considered offering that has never been more relevant.

Verdict – 9/10, The Q1 MKII is one of best DAC/AMPs I’ve heard around Fiio’s asking price and a fine upgrade to even the more distinguished smartphones out there. It’s excellent build, compact design and clean but musical sound make it a perfect on the go companion.



Ryan Soo

Ryan Soo

Avid writer, passionate photographer and sleep-deprived medical student, Ryan has an ongoing desire to bring quality products to the regular reader.


17 Responses

  1. Hi Colin, the Q1 MKII doesn’t have a huge amount of driving power and its smoother sound may not be the best match for the HE400i. If your current source is already relatively clean such as an iPhone, etc, then you can consider an amplifier, I feel it will provide a bigger difference in that scenario.

  2. When using the Q1 MKII in DAC-only mode with the line-out going to a separate amp (I’m using and original Cayin C5), does anyone else find it is still dependent on the volume control being turned right up and that both the bass boost and gain boost switches still effect it..?

    I haven’t had this happen with any prior DAC/AMPs being used in DAC-only mode, is this a quirk of a dual line-in/line-out connection or could it be an issue? I assumed that as long as it is turned on, it would provide a line-level signal that was unaffected by the amp controls; however, turned on but with the volume knob down there is no signal, it has to be turned right up to provide what sounds like an appropriate line-level level.

    It sounds good, but this just seems odd and I wanted to make sure I’m getting the full potential; and that there isn’t some sort of double-amping going on.

  3. Hi Javier,

    I feel the Q1 MKII offers a nice upgrade over iPods. It’s pretty well suited towards the U6, perhaps it will sound slightly smoother up top. The Fiio’s lower output impedance will surely help with a 6-driver IEM.


  4. Hey Ryan, have you paired the Q1 MKII with the iPod using any 64 audio IEMs? I’m planning on getting the U6 model and would like an idea of what to possibly expect… thanks!

  5. Hi Ryan,

    where can get the Q1 mark ii in silver? Is it even available yet? When will it be released?



  6. The Q1 MKII has a nice soundstage and a clean sound. It’s form factor and price are its greatest assets, driving power is not, making it better suited for portable use with IEMs. If you want to replace your entire setup, I would recommend waiting for the Q5, the amp on the Q1 MKII is less powerful than that on the original yet alone the E12.

  7. Hi Ryan, nice review. I am currently using a CCK to a Q1 Mk. 1 and then through my Fiio E12 Mont Blanc for home use only to my Q701’s. I find the soundstage on the E12 really nice, despite the bulky setup – do you think i’d benefit from ditching these for an all in one Q1 Mk. 2? Should i wait for the Q5? Thanks!

  8. Hi can you compare FiioQ1 markii with Cayin N3 considering only their sonic qualities. I mean to ask how the Cayin N3{3.5mm) without any external amping competes with FiioQ1(balanced) ?

  9. Hi, Ryan
    Have you come across the Topping Nx4, I would like to know what you think about it. It seems like a good product with way better drive power, and snr.
    Pls do review it whenever you get the opportunity.

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