FiiO New K3 Review

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.

About FiiO

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$.

FiiO K3s

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.

FiiO K3s

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:

Review : FiiO K3 – Legacy

FiiO K3s

Sound Quality

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.

Bass

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.

FiiO K3s

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.

Page 2:  More About Sound Quality, Comparison with E10K TC and Conclusion

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A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favorite Jazz recordings.

10 Comments

  • Reply September 9, 2021

    Ronson

    One correction: the original K3 also is USB C, so you won’t be able to tell the difference there.

  • Reply September 9, 2021

    Albert

    Hi, thank you for the review,
    How I can physically recognize a new version of the old one.
    Thank You

    • Reply September 10, 2021

      Berkhan

      I have no idea. There’s nothing to identify.

      • Reply September 10, 2021

        Albert

        Thank you

  • Reply September 9, 2021

    10basetom

    How does this compare to the E07K DAC + E09K amp combo when driving 300 ohm cans like the Sennheiser HD 650?

    • Reply September 10, 2021

      Berkhan

      I don’t have that combo, sorry. But in terms of pure output power the combo should be a bit better.

      • Reply September 17, 2021

        kmyk

        Just got it myself but the box seems to be the same as the old K3, even the model number. How do I know it’s the new one before opening it so I can return it if I got sent the wrong product?

  • Reply September 14, 2021

    Daniyal

    How does it compare to the BTR5 on sound quality alone ?

  • Reply September 14, 2021

    Daniyal

    Also i forgot to ask, how does it compare to Q3 in SQ ?

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