FiiO Q1 Mk II review
- by Face

*Disclosure: I purchased the FiiO Q1 Mk II myself for full price.*

The FiiO Q1 Mk II, FiiO is their second foray into their Q lineup (Now consisting of the Q1, the Mk II, and the Q5) and brings a novel feature rarely seen at the price point, balanced output.
Were there any sacrifices made to pack that feature into such a portable frame? If there were any, what could those be?
Enough lollygagging and on to the main portion of this review.

From Penon Audio website:

Weight: About 101g 
Dimensions: About 99mm x 59mm x 12.5mm
Audio Input: Micro USB/3.5 mm Jack
Headphone Output: 3.5 mm stereo jack
Balance Headphone Output: Supported (2.5mm balanced headphone jack)
Recommended Headphone Impedance:    16~100Ω(PO),16~150Ω(BAL)

Bass Boost: 0/5.4dB 
Channel Imbalance: 0.2 dB
Power Input: DC5V 2A recommended
Battery Capacity: 1800mAh
Charge Time: ≤4h
Battery Life: >20h(AUX IN)>10h(USB IN)
USB DAC: Up to 384kHz/32bit supported
DSD Support: DSD64/128/256
Line output specifications
THD+N: <0.003% (1 kHz/10kΩ)   
SNR: ≥110 dB (A-weighted)
Frequency Response: 6 Hz~80 kHz(-3dB)
Channel Separation: >90 dB (1 kHz)
Max Input Level: 3.4V


The Q1 Mk II comes in an approximately 6.5x4.5x2 inch carton box, with a pull out inner box sporting the FiiO logo that opens up to reveal the device on top, surrounded by foam and underneath you will find the included accessories:
 USB A to Micro B cable, Lightning to Micro B cable, a 3.5mm to 3.55 cable, a Silicone pad, 4 Silicone bands of 2 sizes, and a mesh pouch for the device along with  an instruction manual and a warranty card.
There is no Micro B to Micro B or USB C to Micro B cable included as this was a “Designed for Apple” device with MFi certification.

Build and Design:
The Q1 Mk II is an attractive device, definitely deserving of its iF Design Award, with smooth lines and all design elements coming together cohesively. If anything, the design isn’t an innovative one, but a very well executed one.
Size wise it’s a 4-inch diagonal and fits quite nicely in hand with the smooth curves of the side helping in handling of the device and lends quite well with stacking with most modern devices.
The main body material is smooth black aluminum, with plastic front and rear covers, with the volume knob being made of aluminum as well with red trim at the base of the knob, in a similar style to the AK70, and sports a 2 tone LED light to indicate blue for power and red for charging with purple being the color when both functions run at the same time plus a smaller green light to indicate DSD playback.

Overall, a well thought out and attractive design that should work well both in a stack with your transport of choice or with your laptop as an alternative playback device, as long as you don’t mind that this doesn’t come with rubber or silicone feet, though the included pad should suffice.

The FiiO sports one 3.5mm single ended output, one 2.5mm balanced output, one hybrid line in/out 3.5mm port, one gain switch, one bass boost switch, and one Micro B input, and while separate input and charging ports would be preferred it’s understandable given the compact size.

Using the device is quite easy, for most phones iPhone or android you merely turn it on and plug and play, it worked without a hitch on the iPhone 7 plus I tested it with, and played nicely with most android phones I’ve tested.
On Windows all you need is to download and install a driver an you will be good to go.

Fair warning though, phones with USB C ports may have some issue with the phone charging/powering the Q1 no matter what settings you try, this is largely a USB C issue as some cables work and won’t cause discharge and some will, the Oppo HA-2SE also has this problem.

The biggest draw here is the balanced output, often you don’t see balanced out in this price range, but it’s all part of FiiO’s new InfinitySound system, albeit not as fully spec’d out like the higher tier products in FiiO’s product stack, due to the relatively low to average 112mW output of the 3.5mm port.
While this will be good enough to drive most earbuds or IEM’s certain power-hungry models can prove to push the 3.5mm output to it’s limits. Fortunately, the balanced output of the FiiO is quite robust with a 240mW output being able to serve enough power to drive the HIFIMAN HE-400i (an admittedly relatively easy to drive set) comfortably, a pairing where the Single Ended output was struggling to give enough power to, especially on low gain.

The Q1 Mk II presented an adequate black background free from and static or hiss and didn’t cause any issue even with less forgiving sensitive IEMs like the Campfire Andromeda, either on single ended or balanced at either gain settings at reasonable listening volumes.
The gain and bass boost switches all found on the rear functioned correctly, with the bass boost adding around 5db in the bass region, nice if you have any gear that seems to lack a little low end. And the line-out functioned fine as well, the hybrid line in/out port being a nice touch to save space.

Tonality and Sound: 
All comparisons were done volume matched using: Campfire Andromeda, Hifiman HE-400i iBasso IT01
A reminder; Of course, the sound you hear will largely be the sound of the ear gear you plug in, but there are some minute and nuanced sonic differences that the playback device will have.
The Q1 Mk II houses an AKM 4452VE “Velvet Sound” DAC and Texas Instruments OPA 926 amp. The FiiO imparts warmth and smoothness to the sound of whatever you’re listening to. This may be attractive to those who have a certain sound they are looking for and want that little nudge of low-end to fully round out their sound, I found this to be a very nice pairing with the HE-400i.

The tonality of the FiiO is the same through either output, but the balanced connection of the FiiO is really where it shines, when running through balanced there’s extra dynamism to the sound, instruments or sounds that usually just blend in the background stand out more. Like in Billie Jean, through the balanced output the guitar riffs in the back that you wouldn’t really focus on are just a touch more defined. It’s a small change, but that plus the extra driving power the balanced output brings shows that it really is where the FiiO shines brightest.
So if you’re planning to get the most out of this device, then be sure to have a balanced cable ready.

Select Comparisons:
The following comparisons are here to give an alternative view.

Sony PHA-1A: The Sony is a similarly designed product, sharing the same overall shape albeit quite larger. The Sony does have the advantage of having separate USB ports for input and charging, as well as a full sized USB input making it a more versatile companion. It does lack the bass boost and DSD support but does have a gain switch. Tonality wise, the Sony also leans slightly warm but not as much as the FiiO.
The Sony also has much more power via the single ended output but lacks the flexibility the FiiO provides with balanced.
If DSD playback, super portability nor balanced output don’t interest you, the Sony provides an equally attractive, still somewhat compact alternative option, for the Sony price premium of course.

XDuoo XD-05: The XD-05 is an interesting device, it barely qualifies as portable thought the size it comes in it just squeezes inside, thus being a more rugged and unwieldy device. However it makes up for it with possibly the most features packed in, barring balanced out.
It is easily the most powerful device here, with 3 gain settings, a bass boost, DAC and SRC filters, with an OLED screen to boot. It can also playback DSD files.
The tonality of the XDuoo is the most natural of the 3, and if you’re looking for “purer” sound it definitely warrants a look plus the filters do add a slight flexibility for getting that last extra mile in the sound. The XD-05 stands out by being a “Honey I Shrunk the Desktop DAC/Amp” toeing the line of being portable but trading off by having a more robust feature set, so as a Laptop DAC/Amp the XDuoo is a compelling alternative.


The FiiO Q1 Mk II provides a very interesting value proposition.
Good build, decent power, attractive design AND balanced output all for around $100.
That doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws however, single end output being on the lower end of the spectrum, with middling performance, and no dedicated charging port comes to mind.

However if you’re a mostly IEM user looking to turn your iPhone or Android into Hi-Fi listening device, and want to sacrifice as little in terms of portability as you can, or a balanced believer looking for a portable solution with balanced output that won’t break the bank, then the FiiO Q1 Mk II Portable DAC/Amp will not leave you wanting, and is something you should seriously consider for your portable purchase.

Audirect new Dac/amp - ‘Beam’ 
DAC: ess9118CZ. 

Coming soon

The Smooth Dark Knight
Smartomi HOOP review
-Written by Niyologist

I am a man that is after a few goals. There is one goal in particular that makes my heart race. The Ultimate Portable Sound. I will keep hunting for it. It seems like an endless goal. Although that's the fun of it. The journey.

Thank you Jennifer Zeng for sending me a review sample of the Smartomi HOOP.

Pros: Warm, Smooth Sound, decent clarity, punchy bass, good durability for the price, lightweight, fast connectivity.

Cons: Bluetooth Signal not stable for uninterrupted long term listening, track transition a bit sluggish.

Bluetooth tech: Version 4.1 w/AptX CSR

About AptX CSR: In digital audio data reduction technology, aptX (formerly apt-X) is a family of proprietary audio codec compression algorithms currently owned by Qualcomm.

Specs and Care of Product:

Dimensions 170*200*75mm

Item Weight 189g (6.67 oz)

Package 1 x User manual;

1 x Wireless headphone;

1 x Micro USB cable;

1 x 3.5mm audio cable;

Note Keep the headset away from heat and humidity.

Do not drop or knock the headset.

Do not use chemicals or detergents to clean the headset.

Due to the portable design of the headphones, users with relatively small head circumference may feel more comfortable during use.

Working Time Play Time: 16 Hours

Waterproof IPX4

Battery Charging Time: 1 Hour;

Charging Voltage: DC 5V;

Operating Voltage: 3.7V;

As for the Waterproof Rating. I can't confirm it. I have never tested it in rainfall. The Manual says to not have it in high humidity. So I never took the chance.

Charging Connector: Micro USB Interface;

Signal tests:
I've done tons of tests. It seems that the signal from the HOOP is solid for indoor use. For outdoor use, it jitters a bit. When I commute to Midtown Manhattan. It makes it difficult to keep a good signal. There's a lot of drop outs. Mainly due to other rogue signals nearby that make it tough to keep it connected. Stronger Bluetooth sources like My Axon 7 and more frequently used Moto X4 make it easier to keep a steadier signal in Midtown Manhattan.

Micro USB Charging Cable and Auxiliary Cable.

Build Quality and Design: 
Rubbery like coating and plastic build. The head band has a soft leather padding on the top arch. The band is also made out of tough and lightweight metal. The Left and Right markings are raised within the rubber like ABS plastic. The left side has the mic, pause/play, and rewind/fast forward buttons. The right side has the volume buttons, power buttons and charging port. The cups have a Matte Black color. Very nice touch.

What I like about the Smartomi are the very responsive controls. The mic is very responsive with phone calls. The pause/play and rewind/fast forward buttons work on just about all of my Bluetooth sources like the Shanling M1, Hidizs AP60, Cowon Plenue R, and Moto X4. The issue with the response of the controls is that the signal interruptions make it slightly more difficult to transition to other tracks. Otherwise it's snappy at home. Where there is excellent signal.

Battery Life and Charge:
I have tested this out numerous times. The headset has truly long battery life of over 10 hours. The charge is super quick too. It never charges longer than 1.5 hours.


Sources used most: Cowon Plenue R and Moto X4.

Bass: Slightly boomy with a good amount of slam. Not entirely for bass heads. Lacks texture and articulation when it's wired and wireless. Despite that it's still punchy.

Mids: Fairly laid back in general. Average detail. Very 2 dimensional. Although it is warm sounding.

Treble: Lower treble has a slight peak. Yet not sibilant. Mainly due to the warm atmosphere and probably the tuning. After that it's smooth and drops off after 8 KHz.

Sound Signature: Warm and Smooth with a bit shine on the top. Overall balanced.

Soundstage: Decent depth and width. Yet it doesn't jump out at you. It's more of a surrounding feel.

The Smartomi HOOP is a decent headset for watching movies on your phone. It's also decent for music as well. The best results from this headset are used with sources that have AptX Bluetooth connection. Anything else less than that will make it pointless to use it. AptX signal works best with devices that also have AptX signal. For CD Sound Quality.
If you like warm and balanced sound with decent details and don't like being bound by wires. Then this is for you.