The DAC is made for the high-end market, and its history is interesting. It basically has the same parts as the $1,800 M17 digital audio player, but without the player part. So the FiiO Q7 doesn’t have a screen and doesn’t have anything else that an audio player needs. For example, it doesn’t have an Android interface and isn’t powered by the Snapdragon 660. Instead, you get the same audio circuitry as the M17, which makes the Q7 a very attractive choice. Taking this route not only makes the Q7 more flexible, but it also lowers the price by a lot: $749, which is only 42% of what the M17 costs.
FiiO Q7: Description
You still get the same great DAC and amp modules ESS Sabre’s ES9038Pro DAC and the excellent THX AAA 788 amp but in a portable size that you can use with your phone or on your desk. The Fiio Q7 came out in November 2022, and you can get it for $749 at Amazon. we used the DAC for about four months, and after using most of Fiio’s new products, we can say with confidence that this is one of the best ones.
Because of its hardware and excellent design, the Q7 might be the all-in-one DAC you’re looking for The Q7 has an aggressive appearance with jagged edges and RGB lighting along the side vents because it shares the same aesthetic as Fiio’s new designs. With dimensions of 158.4 x 88.5 x 28.3mm and a weight of 620g, the Q7 is a monster. It’s designed to be portable, but it’s too big and heavy to just throw in a bag, and you’ll be better off with something like the BTR7 instead.
FiiO Q7: Pros and Cons
- Energetic tuning
- High output power
- Excellent Bluetooth range
- Large and heavy for a portable device
- Gets hot with gain levels turned up
|DAC Chip||AKM AK4452|
|Output Power||Up to 220mW (32 ohms)|
|Frequency Response||10Hz – 100kHz (-3dB)|
|Supported Audio Formats||PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD up to DSD256|
|Digital Inputs||USB, Optical, Coaxial|
|Analog Outputs||3.5mm headphone output, Line out|
|Balanced Output||2.5mm TRRS|
|Gain Settings||Low, Medium, High|
|Impedance Matching||0 ohm, 2 ohms, 16 ohms, 32 ohms, 64 ohms, 150 ohms|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||63mm x 19mm x 82mm|
|Compatibility||Windows, Mac OS, Android (with OTG support)|
|Official link||Visit Website|
Design and Build Quality
From far away, it’s hard to tell the difference between the FiiO Q7 and its brother, the M17. Same huge case: 156.4 mm tall, 88.5 mm wide, and 28 mm thick. Same weight (or almost), with a total weight of 620 g, without the leather case, and overall… same design. Which is not a bad thing at all, especially for a DAC/AMP that is advertised as a “portable desktop-class amplifier,” and this device screams TOTL from top to bottom.
As usual for the brand, the build quality is flawless. There are no gaps and only high-quality materials can be seen and felt everywhere. Front panel? Gorilla glass. Back panel? Grainy silicon so you won’t scratch your phone or lose it when you are paired. What’s up? Aluminum that has been polished and cut with a CNC machine. Volume Knob? Golden and very big.
It’s still a very geeky device, with vents on the side, RGB lighting, and a screen that’s way too sharp for a portable DAC/AMP. But that’s also why it’s one of my favorite designs: it goes “all-out.” And when you use the included desktop stand, it looks and feels like you have a DAC/AMP that costs $1500 or more on your desk. It also draws everyone’s attention to your desk.
FiiO Q7: Controls
The Q7 has a variety of controls, including a new multi-function potentiometer dial and a physical power and playback control system with four buttons on the right panel. The interaction between the multi-function dial and the screen is easy to understand. The home screen shows the current input mode, and you can change it with a short press from there. If you press down on the home screen for a while, you’ll see more options, and the Q7 has a lot of them. This has a four-stage gain control that changes to a five-stage control with a very high level when you switch to DC power. You can also switch from PO to LO and set the LO to be either fixed or variable.
You also get the full suite of seven digital filters from the DAC, some basic controls for the brightness of the screen, a max volume setting to protect your hearing, and the option to use USB 2.0 or USB 1.0 for older laptops or PCs. One of the physical buttons controls the power and turns the LCD screen on and off. The other three buttons control playback and track interactions like pausing, rewinding to the previous track, or skipping to the next track. They do work with media players like Roon and Foobar2000 in both OTG and USB-DAC modes.
FiiO Q7: Layout
Many times about how portable devices have too many buttons and complicated layouts. With seven buttons on two sides and so many features packed into the M17’s case, it didn’t feel friendly or easy to use. The user experience was far from ideal. I like being able to change my music without looking at the screen, and that felt like a bug in M17’s quest line. It wasn’t my favorite layout, but luckily, Q7 came to the rescue and fixed the biggest problems of its close relative by taking away three buttons and moving two switches, giving it a much fresher look.
We wasn’t sure why M17 had a volume knob and two separate volume buttons, but that won’t be a mystery to me anymore with Q7. Installing a FiiO Link app on your smartphone gives you access to a few extra features. For example, you can use a custom EQ, change the color of the status indicator, choose a Bluetooth codec, or change the channel balance.
On top, there is a big volume wheel and four headphone jacks, two of which are single-ended and two of which are balanced. It has 3.5mm and 4.4mm jacks that can also be used as SE or BAL line-outputs, in case you want to use it with a desktop integrated amplifier or headphone amplifier. On its right are buttons for On/Off, Previous, Play/Pause, and Next. On its bottom are a 12V two-pole DC input, a USB Type-C for charging or USB DAC mode, full-sized coaxial and optical inputs, and tiny switches that let you choose between battery power or DC power and the USB-Charging feature.
FiiO Q7: Sound Quality
The Fiio Q7 is a powerful portable amp and DAC that sounds just as good as its desktop counterpart but is easy to move around the house. Even though the Fiio Q7 only has one ES9038PRO chipset instead of the M17’s two, it sounds very dynamic and is great at bringing out small details, nuances, and depth. The Q7 is a high-quality device with very low levels of distortion, as shown by its pitch-black background and smooth performance.
Even though the Fiio Q7 doesn’t have a bright or dark sound, it has a very dynamic sound that sounds close to natural. When the DC mode is turned on, the Fiio Q7 changes. It becomes more holographic and immersive and gives the headstage more space.\ Overall, the Fiio Q7 has a light sound with a lot of weight in the low end, a forward upper midrange, and a strong treble with a lot of clarity and detail up top. The Q7’s ability to make micro-dynamic swings at both low and high volumes makes it surprising how much dynamic swing it can offer.
FiiO Q7: Battery Life
The FiiO Q7 has the same powerful 9200mAh li-poly battery as the M17. It can charge with QC4.0 +FD and takes 4.5 hours to fully charge. When you use it as a desktop amplifier, you can use the DC power mode to charge and play at the same time, or you can turn off the battery all together.
The battery is supposed to last about 10–11 hours with one end connected and 8–9 hours with both ends connected. This is based on a benchmark test with the gain set to super high, MP3 16BIT/44.1kHz playback, the screen off, and the volume about a third of the way up. It’s a good price, and if you compare it to something like Chord’s Mojo 2, which is also SE 600MW max and rated for 8 hours, it’s very competitive. Don’t forget that you’ll lose an hour or two if you want to go lossless with the screen on.
Even though its size seems a bit big for the amount of power it has, the Q7 has great clarity, tightness, and even a bit of character. It’s also a big plus that the High-Res Bluetooth works with MQA and DSD. And if you use it as a desktop DAC as it was meant to be used, it should look great with your other audio gear.
In battery mode, the Q7 has four gain settings: low, medium, high, and super high. When the DC adapter is plugged in, the ultra high gain can be used. Through the menu, you can set the ultra high gain to automatically turn on when you plug in the DC adapter or to let you choose it yourself.
The Shanling UP5 is the same thing as the BTR5 2021 from FiiO.