The world of portable DAC/amps is brimming with an extensive range of options. Every now and then, a piece of technology comes along that stands out from the crowd. The Qudelix 5K is one such device, impressing audiophiles with its high-end audio solutions and affordable pricing, even in 2024. This Qudelix 5K review will dive deep into the specifics of this much-hyped device and analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
Initially released in 2020, the Qudelix 5K is a portable Bluetooth DAC/amp that’s designed to enhance your audio experience. It’s an impressive device that combines a digital receiver, DAC, and amplification circuitry in a small, portable package. The device is designed to make wired headphones effectively wireless, and it does so quite efficiently.
You may ask why we review such an “old” product when we are now in 2024? The answer is twofold. First, it is still an extremely competitive option given the feature set and value (as you will see in this review). Second, Qudelix released a new product in 2023, the T71. I’ll have a review of this device up shortly, but I feel it was worth revisiting the Qudelix 5K before doing so.
Design and Build Quality
The Qudelix 5K sports a utilitarian design. Its minimalistic aesthetics, featuring a small black box, might not be the most eye-catching, but its functional attributes are where it truly shines. The device is lightweight, weighing only 26 grams, and is compact enough to comfortably fit in your pocket. It’s made of high-quality plastic with an anti-scratch UV coating, ensuring durability.
On each side of the device, there are two buttons, each serving multiple functions. One button is used to control the volume, while the other controls playback and the ON/OFF switch. These buttons are also used for navigating through the device’s various features, and can be programmed with different functions via the Qudelix app (more on this in the “Features” section of the review).
The Qudelix 5K is equipped with both 3.5mm and 2.5mm audio jacks for unbalanced and balanced outputs, respectively. The device also has a USB-C port for charging and USB audio interfacing.
The Qudelix 5K’s sound quality is undoubtedly one of its standout features. The device uses the ESS Technology ES9219C DAC chipset (originally, the ES9218 was used but was discontinued by ESS), which delivers a clean, detailed, and somewhat warm sound. The sound signature is well-balanced and neutral, making the Qudelix 5K suitable for a wide range of music genres and for those looking for a neutral sound profile that doesn’t sound too boring.
The device supports most Bluetooth codecs such as SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, and even Sony’s LDAC. The base sound quality is impressive, and it can even surpass its peers if you spend some time adjusting the DSP settings to your liking.
The performance of the Qudelix 5K is quite remarkable given the small size. It offers enough power for most headphones, including my Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80ohm and Fostex T40RP MK3, both of which are notoriously difficult to drive. The Bluetooth signal is strong and stable in all of my testing, ensuring a seamless listening experience regardless of which input you are using.
As a DAC, the Qudelix 5K supports up to 24-bit/96KHz bitrates, and is a class 1 USB audio device so no driver is needed when connecting to a device.
The Qudelix 5K is also equipped with excellent DSP options. You have the option for GEQ and PEQ equalizer settings, including Auto EQ presets that can be imported and saved as custom profiles and various filter settings.
However, it’s worth noting that using the DSP features extensively can quickly drain the battery. The device’s 500mAh battery can last anywhere from 7 to 20 hours, depending on the settings and the volume, of course.
The Qudelix 5K is loaded with several impressive features. As mentioned before, it supports many modern Bluetooth codecs and has robust DSP functionality and Auto EQ support. One of the nice features of the device is that you can connect it to virtually any computer, video game console, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and it will work without issue.
Of the many devices that I have, I have tested the Qudelix 5K on the following and it works without issue: Desktop Windows PC, Windows Laptop, Mac Mini, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPad Pro from 2020, several Android phones (Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, Google Pixel 6), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Sony WM1AM2 DAP.
The Qudelix 5K also has a high-sensitivity microphone. This is personally not a feature that I use or need, but I did try it for the sake of testing and the sound quality was just ok.
One of the device’s standout features is the Qudelix companion app, which is available on Android, iOS, and as web browser extension for Chrome-based browsers. The app offers a plethora of options for customizing the device’s sound and functionality. The app also provides firmware updates and metrics for viewing the current state of playback and battery level. Below are some screenshots from the app. Note that even though the Qudelix 5K was released in 2020, it is still getting updates as recently as July 2023. That is a fantastic commitment of support from Qudelix for their product.
The Qudelix 5K is a compelling option for anyone looking for a portable DAC/amp. It offers excellent sound quality, a wide range of features, and a high level of customizability. The device’s performance and build quality are also noteworthy. The fact that the Qudelix 5K can be used with so many different devices is simply amazing and is a massive selling point.
However, it’s not perfect. The device’s USB audio is limited to 24bit/96Khz, and the on-board mic’s usefulness is somewhat limited. The buttons on the device are also easy to misclick.
Despite these minor drawbacks, the Qudelix 5K stands out as a highly capable device that offers great value for its price. Whether you’re an audiophile or just a casual listener, the Qudelix 5K is heavily worth considering, even given the tight competition in this space that has occurred in the last couple of years.
In conclusion, for those willing to spend some time tweaking the DSP settings, the Qudelix 5K can provide an audio experience that surpasses most of its peers. It’s a well-rounded device that delivers on its promises, making it a worthy addition to any audio gear collection.
HiFi Oasis Overall RatingHiFi Oasis Overall Rating
- Design & Build Quality7/10 Good
- Sound7/10 Good
- Features8/10 Very good
- Excellent DSP Options including Auto EQ
- Companion app allows extensive customization
- Multiple connectivity options
- LDAC support included for Bluetooth
- Enough power to drive the majority of headphones
- Slightly warm but overall neutral sound profile
- No 4.4mm connection
- Materials and build feel cheap
- Buttons very easy to misclick
- Bitrate limited to 24bit/96Khz