We today take a detailed look at the FiiO New K3, the company’s new USB DAC/Amp.
Disclaimer: The FiiO New K3 was sent to me by the company itself for this review. The price of the unit is $119,99 USD at this time.
FiiO doesn’t need an introduction. Everybody knows them. You don’t? Then you can go to FiiO’s website here. They now produce almost everything when it comes to portable audio. They want to be competitive in every field they’re operating, and I personally respect their work. To be honest, it has been one of the few companies which haven’t driven up their prices to Mount Rushmore, yet.
About FiiO’s New K3
This is FiiO’s new 2021 edition of the highly successful K3 model. FiiO has upgraded the device with a new high-quality XMOS USB chip, a new flagship-grade ESS DAC, and dual crystal oscillators. FiiO K3 2021 still manages to keep the price in the affordable area with a price tag of 119.99$.
The switch from the AK4452 to ESS9038Q2M results in a Signal Noise Ratio improvement of 14dB, whilst the distortion is reduced by 13dB. This means an overall of %12 performance increase by FiiO’s claims. You can see the figures below.
Let’s start now.
Package, Design & Build Quality
The box of the new K3 is nothing new. It’s identical to the previous model. In fact, it’s impossible to tell if this is the new K3 model from just looking at the box. Well, actually you can’t tell the difference by looking at the unit either. There’s nothing on the box or on the unit to tell you that this is the K3″s”. The box and the unit are printed as “K3”, so I don’t know how a consumer would possibly identify this product as the new K3. Maybe I received an old box so I really don’t know.
The design is also the same. It’s very small and it has rounded edges for better handling when in use. It is a well-designed unit with a good button and port layout as you have everything you need in the correct and convenient positions. Compared to the E10K, this design is much sleeker and very premium. I liked the Hi-Res audio print on the device instead of the sticker. I’m also impressed by the small footprint.
At the front, you have your 2.5 and 3.5mm outputs. The gain and bass switches are also there, next to the volume knob and the LED indicator. On the back, you have a line-out, coaxial and optical outputs, a USB 1.0/2.0 switch, and the USB Type C socket for PC/Smartphone connection.
The build quality is very good. The aluminum casing feels very solid with a cold touch and the volume knob looks & feels excellent. For a device at this price, the build is very very good and that also applies to the audio output sockets, switches, and inputs.
For more information about the device regarding no-sound topics, you can also check Nano’s 2018 review below:
The new FiiO K3 is a very clean-sounding and very impressive device in terms of sound. The performance is simply excellent for the price. It’s a fantastic companion for stopping by a coffee shop and listening to music from your laptop. Sure, it has its limitations but that’s only normal for the form factor and price. The sound is very detailed, sharp, clear, and crisp.
Of course, the sound would depend on your headphones as always, but no matter what headphone I tried with the new K3, it played beautifully and consistently. I’m personally very impressed by the performance and let me tell you why.
The bass with the new K3s is very very impressive. It’s very tidy, controlled, and rumbling with good body and slam. The resolution of the bass is very good as well as the attack. Its decay is also quite impressive as it doesn’t spread the bass around. Of course, that’s only the case when you don’t open the bass switch.
I’m not quite a sound effects guy so I really don’t like these types of additions. Sure, some people would benefit from the lifted bass response but I think in this device that only makes the bass worse. Much worse, if I have to be precise. All of those qualities I mentioned above disappear, and you’re left with a boomy, dispersed, and disjointed bass response. Would I use that just for the sake of more bass quantity? I would definitely say, no. The switch is a bit better when you use the device with full-size headphones, but still, I would prefer not to use the switch.
Apart from the switch, the bass performance of the new K3s is excellent. Lows are very clean sounding just like the rest of the spectrum. The quantity is just right in terms of mid-bass and sub-bass balance. I suppose the upgraded DAC chip works wonders here. Maybe it’s a bit lifted at times with popular songs, but it’s reference-like when you listen to Classical and Jazz recordings. This is great stuff from FiiO.