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.
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’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 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.
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 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
How do you compare it to topping nx2?
No idea about that one
The key comparison for me is going to be the new $99 Dragonfly made for phones and iPods etc.
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.
does it have a volume control?
only on your laptop
“The Fiio order for me clearly is E17K>Q1>K1”
I am wondering where does the E10K comes in this equation?
right after the E17K
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.
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.
How will you be using it? Why not the E10K or E17K?
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.
E17k is very small – very similar to E07k.
Thank you Dale and Lieven very much for your help. I’m really appreciate . I’ve just submit my order.
Can you please review Topping NX2?
no plans, sorry
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.
Isn’t that a desktop amp?
No, a very tiny thumb-size DAC/amp, like the K1 only slightly larger.
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
You could but I doubt there’s much quality to be gained, go for the Herus or DragonFly f you want top sound
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?
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.
Black is very good.
Has anyone got the Audioquest Jitterbug USB Filter? Is it worth a buy to use with the K1?
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.
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.
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.
Is the k1 compatible with mi reddi note 4
does it work well as DAC for external active speakers ?
or Fiio Q1 would be more versatile device? (for earplugs and line-out to active speakers or amplituner)
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.
can you try this with kz zs6 set up?
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.