Review: Fiio K1: The even more entry DAC/AMP

Disclaimer: Fiio is a website advertiser and the Fiio K1 was sent to us free of charge. That being said the K1 is selling for only $39USD.

 

Fiio is for everyone. Fiio listens to the consumer. Fiio is unstoppable. Another new Fiio product has hit the market, they’re releasing products faster than we can write reviews. This time Fiio is back on Headfonia with the Fiio K1: a USB DAC/AMP device for the low end side of the market.

A few months ago I called the $69.99USD Fiio Q1 “The entry DAC/AMP” but it now seems Fiio wants to be present in an even lower segment. The Fiio K1 is going for only $39USD and that’s extremely cheap.

The K1

USB-Dongles don’t take up a lot of space and they’re small and light. Just a few weeks ago we looked at the Dragonfly V1.2 and compared to that the K1 actually is even smaller. The reason for that is simply: as you have to connect the K1 with the help of a USB cable, the USB connector isn’t there. That part measures around 1cm, so the K1 really is small and measures only 50 x 20.5 x 8mm. I actually prefer using a cable compared to sticking the unit directly into a USB-port. I remember killing a USB-port on one of my former laptops and the JitterBug + DragonFly combo also almost killed a USB port on my laptop. “Luckily” it was the NightHawk’s cable that broke and not the port.

Fiio K1 3

Fiio K1’s body is made out of grey aluminum and only weighs 11.3gr making it extremely portable. I’m not really sure why Fiio added a clip on it because you could keep it in your pocket just as easy. Let me know in the comments if there’s something I’m missing about this. Build quality-wise the K1 is just like any other Fiio product: extremely well done for the money you’re paying for it. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the see-through plastic clip though, but it can be “removed” (attention though, chances are you‘ll break the clip). You’ll find the standard female mini-USB on one side and a 3.5mm headphone plug on the other side. A tiny blue LED right next to the headphone port shows you if the Fiio K1 is in use or not.

Inside

Inside the Fiio K1 we find the Savitech SA9023A USB receiver, the Texas Instruments PCM5102 DAC chip and the TPA613321 Amplifier module. The Fiio K1 is plug and play and uses the standard Windows drivers. Mac users, of course, don’t have any issues at all. The PCM5102 is the same DAC-chip as Fiio uses in their Q1 and E17K and that chip can handle 32/44.1/48/96 (16/24) but no DSD.

Fiio K1 5

There’s no official support for Android and/or iPhone and using the K1 with your mobile phone will be “hit or miss”. Some users on Head-Fi have reported it to work perfectly fine on some devices while they couldn’t get it working on other phones at all. If you do plan on using the K1 in combination with your mobile phone, I suggest you to check the Head-Fi thread upfront.

Here are the rest of the Fiio K1 Specs:

Fiio K1 Specifications

 

Sound

Fiio created the K1 to work best for ear- and headphones between 16 and 100Ohm and I for this review have been using it mostly with the VE Monks, Fiio EM3, Mee Audio Pinnacle, Unique Melody Maestro, Beyerdynamic DT770AE and the Hifiman HE-400i.

More on sound after the click here or below

Review: Fiio K1: The even more entry DAC/AMP
3.4 (67.61%) 92 vote[s]

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

35 Comments

  • Reply April 5, 2016

    sulbh

    How do you compare it to topping nx2?

    • Reply April 5, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      No idea about that one

    • Reply April 5, 2016

      dalethorn

      The key comparison for me is going to be the new $99 Dragonfly made for phones and iPods etc.

    • Reply April 5, 2016

      dalethorn

      I found with my iPhone 6s-plus that it improved bass impact a little, but there was little or nothing to be gained otherwise. It’s possible that with some setups you might get more improvement, but it’s very marginal.

  • Reply April 5, 2016

    koolman

    does it have a volume control?

  • Reply April 6, 2016

    Ali Indrawan

    “The Fiio order for me clearly is E17K>Q1>K1”

    I am wondering where does the E10K comes in this equation?

    • Reply April 6, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      right after the E17K

    • Reply April 6, 2016

      dalethorn

      The K1 is great to have to show your headphone user friends. Anyone else won’t be so impressed, since they don’t use headphone amps. It’s just utterly cool to have in the pocket.

  • Reply April 22, 2016

    lucias tobi

    Hi, thank you for very detail review. I have the Fiio 07k and very pleased with it. Sadly fiio don’t make it anymore, I was trying to buy it but the price went crazy >$100 in U.S. Amazon. I just looking for a quiet decent dac/amp for my wife birthday.
    How is the sound quality of Q1 compare to E07k ?
    Should I buy the K1 instead ?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply April 22, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      How will you be using it? Why not the E10K or E17K?

      • Reply April 22, 2016

        lucias tobi

        Oh I got the E10k for my PC set up. She mainly use it for her mac air and her phone or ipad so she steal my amp. I was thinking about the 17k but is it gonna be much bigger or bulky. I would prefer something portable.
        My 50x,senn 598 are very easy to drive.

        • Reply April 23, 2016

          dalethorn

          E17k is very small – very similar to E07k.

          • Reply April 23, 2016

            lucias tobi

            Thank you Dale and Lieven very much for your help. I’m really appreciate . I’ve just submit my order.

  • Reply May 3, 2016

    sulbh

    Can you please review Topping NX2?

    • Reply May 3, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      no plans, sorry

    • Reply May 3, 2016

      dalethorn

      I haven’t gotten a Topping as yet, but I ordered the Schiit Fulla, which should arrive end of this week. I hope it’s better than the K1, and comparable to the E17 in sound quality.

      • Reply May 3, 2016

        sulbh

        Isn’t that a desktop amp?

        • Reply May 3, 2016

          dalethorn

          No, a very tiny thumb-size DAC/amp, like the K1 only slightly larger.

  • Reply September 21, 2016

    Creep

    Can the K1 be used to connect to an integrated amp ? Since its a DAC I am considering it as a cost effective upgrade to run my audio from my Laptop going into the Amp. Please advise. Thanks much

    • Reply September 21, 2016

      Lieven

      You could but I doubt there’s much quality to be gained, go for the Herus or DragonFly f you want top sound

  • Reply January 17, 2017

    CamoGeko

    I got my K1 today, it was a perfect Leicestershire for me and was bought primary to use with my XMG custom gaming laptop (from 2013) which has the Realtek ALC892 codec. Honestly I wasn’t expecting much improvement but it’s definitely noticeable, the upper frequencies are sharper, mids have become silkier and low end is more refined. I totally recommend it to anyone looking for a better sound from their laptop.

    Honestly, I’m planning to upgrade in the near future to either the E17K or the Dragonfly black. Which one would you recommend?

  • Reply January 17, 2017

    CamoGeko

    I can’t get Dragonfly Red sorry, it’s like £160 which is too expensive for me to spend on a DAC. My only choices are the ones I specified. Although since the main use for the DAC will just be plugged into my laptop Dragonfly Black seems more suitable.

  • Reply January 17, 2017

    CamoGeko

    Has anyone got the Audioquest Jitterbug USB Filter? Is it worth a buy to use with the K1?

    • Reply January 18, 2017

      dale thorn

      I have it, and the K1. It may help, but the results vary according to the ancillary gear. I found it to clean up sound slightly from an iPhone, making it less dirty sounding (subtle though), but with my Macbook it was different – it added a little bit of air and sense of spaciousness on some music, not others. If you don’t mind the money, try it and see, but if money is tight you might want to save it toward a better amp.

      • Reply January 18, 2017

        CamoGeko

        When you say air and spaciousness, was that compared to just K1 without the Jitterbug?

        I might get it anyways, because at the moment the K1 is plugged straight into my laptop.

        • Reply January 19, 2017

          dale thorn

          Air and spaciousness isn’t really ‘added’ by the JitterBug, but you may get more of that if the JitterBug manages to clean up some noise in the circuit/channel. It’s not assured, and it varies with every place you use it, for the simple reason that excess noise, distortion, or other electrical interference etc. is random and unpredictable.

  • Reply May 2, 2017

    Satyam

    Is the k1 compatible with mi reddi note 4

  • Reply May 22, 2017

    luk

    Hi

    does it work well as DAC for external active speakers ?

    • Reply May 22, 2017

      luk

      or Fiio Q1 would be more versatile device? (for earplugs and line-out to active speakers or amplituner)

    • Reply May 22, 2017

      dale thorn

      I checked a LOT of reviews and every one (except one) missed this point. The DragonFlys can be used a pure DACs to drive amplifiers, so why not the K1?

      Although I could not find a definitive article, one person did say they used it to drive active speakers, and it worked well. But it can get hot and distort, so it needs to be kept cool.

      I did not have a heat problem with my K1.

  • Reply August 25, 2018

    Musica

    can you try this with kz zs6 set up?

  • Reply February 17, 2019

    Dan

    I had impulse-bought the Fiio K1 as an open-box sale, a day or two before going on a long trip to Europe in 2017. I had a ThinkPad X220, which is a great little old unit to type on while traveling, but has very noticeably garbage onboard audio. Thus, I had been looking for a cheap, compact “cure” that didn’t involve bringing my USB microphone (which has an acceptable DAC onboard, but is large and heavy as an EDC). My headphones were a couple of modded MDR-7506’s (detachable cables, different earpads, etc.)

    While I’m not an obsessive audiophile, I’m allergic to crappy sound. I require at least some “life” to my music, lest my mood be negatively impacted! The K1 did the job, and my lonely evenings there were spent with nice sound in my ears, listening to music and watching films.

    After that, I had used the Fiio K1 with similar laptops at small parties to drive amplifiers, with success. I had also used it as a “cable-extender” with long USB cables for conference calls while moving around a room. This caused the plastic clip to crack, but not break off.

    It’s a robust little guy, a bit of a one-trick “instant better sound for cheap”, but it does that particular job very well.

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