FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

The FiiO K series stands as the company’s well-received budget desktop DAC AMP product line. Targeting entry-level users seeking advanced sound quality, the new K11 headset offers a solution for DAC AMP computer speakers (inclusive of active, monitor, and standard computer speakers) as well as headphones. Join us as we delve into the details in this comprehensive FiiO K11 review.

FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

FiiO K11 Review

Design and accessories

Crafted with an aluminum shell, the K11 boasts a slim and compact design, making it easily concealable beneath a TV stand. Adorned with the FiiO logo embellished with RGB lights, signaling music quality and serving as an aesthetic addition, the front panel features a rudimentary LED screen alongside a versatile multifunctional volume knob. This knob performs a multitude of tasks including gain adjustment, output, and input selection, digital filter alteration from 1 to 6, and light color adjustment.

FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

Navigating the FiiO K11’s menu is a breeze using the front-facing screen and volume knob. For those preferring minimal visual distraction, the screen timeout feature allows customization, ranging from an infinite display to as brief as 1 minute. This flexibility ensures the screen stays dormant when the volume knob goes untouched.

Furthermore, the K11 offers RGB functionality through the FiiO logo atop the device. If vibrant RGB features seem excessive, effortlessly disable RGB via the menu, leaving only the aesthetically pleasing FiiO logo unaffected and maintaining its refined appearance.

FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

Available in two colors, black and silver, our FiiO K11 review unit arrives in black, a complement to devices like the PS5, and SP3 in white.

FiiO K11 review test

The headset DAC AMP boasts a potent output power of 1400mW at 32 ohms when using the balanced 4.4mm output, while the single-ended 6.3mm output manages a capacity of 520mW at the same impedance. This robust power range accommodates a wide spectrum of headphones, ranging from in-ear to full-size. Notably, the amplifier circuit attains its pinnacle strength through the 4.4mm balanced output.

For users wielding high-impedance full-size headphones and seeking maximum performance, a switch from the 3.5mm or 6.3mm jack to the 4.4mm port is recommended. With an impressive capacity of 1.4W, the K11 confidently outperforms competitors such as HiFiMan’s Ananda Nano and Sennheiser’s HD 599, HD 600, and HD 660S. Additionally, users can select from three gain levels: Low, Medium, and High, tailoring the experience to their preferences.

Connect the DAC/Preamp to active speakers like the Genelec G One or FiiO SP3 using the single-ended RCA input located on the rear. Note that the K11 offers two modes, PO (Phone Out) and LO (Line Out); ensure only one mode is active at a time to avoid simultaneous dual-line output.

The FiiO K11 operates on UAC1 and UAC2 (USB Audio Class), enabling compatibility with devices such as the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation, computers, and laptops, and features Optical input alongside Coaxial In/Output.

Leveraging the FiiO K11 as a DAC for gaming consoles presents numerous advantages. While some may consider plugging a headset into the PS5 controller’s 3.5mm jack acceptable, in practice, it proves subpar. Additionally, the PS5’s 3.5mm output power is notably weak. If a moderate headset like the HD 300 Pro struggles to deliver satisfactory sound, imagine the strain on planar-magnetic headphones. Thus, the K11 emerges as an optimal solution. For PS4 users, connecting to the K11 via the Optical port is recommended.

FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

The K11 incorporates the CS43198 DAC chip, boasting prowess in decoding PCM 24bit/192kHz and DSD256 formats while establishing connectivity with computers, PS5, or Nintendo Switch via USB-C. Operating on direct DC 12V power, the device allows for potential future upgrades to enhance sound quality. Inside the FiiO K11, a power source and filter system employ high-precision low-dropout linear voltage regulators (LDOs) to furnish power to the decoder and amplifier circuits, as per the company’s specifications.

Irrespective of utilizing the balanced or unbalanced output, there’s an absence of noticeable noise floor or sound distortion with ample headroom for volume adjustments, even accommodating -10dB of preamp for EQ.

FiiO K11 Review: Your Budget Desktop DAC AMP

When the FiiO K11 links to a Windows PC via USB, the Windows OS volume control doesn’t affect this device! Despite the appearance of the Windows volume OSD, it won’t alter the volume; control solely rests with the K11’s knob. While this could pose an issue, connecting via an optical cable resolves this inconvenience. Opting for optical connectivity enables independent control between the K11 and Windows volume.

Though we contacted FiiO support regarding this, their response indicating forwarding the concern to the engineering team offers uncertain hope for a resolution. Therefore, caution is advised if USB is your sole option for connecting the K11 to your PC.

With that noted, if the USB matter doesn’t trouble you, this DAC/amp powers virtually any headphone boasts top-tier aesthetics, and remains budget-friendly. What more could one desire?

Following the new trend, the K11’s sound profile diverges from accentuating bass or prolonging notes, opting instead for a focus on clarity and swift transitions. It abstains from embellishing the midrange with vibrant hues but instead presents intricate midrange details in a realistic and profoundly nuanced manner.

Final line

The FiiO K11 boasts impressive specifications and delivers remarkable performance given its price range. It effortlessly handles playback of various formats, including DSD 256/11.2mhz, showcasing its capabilities without any hitches. Its performance extends to enhancing film and TV viewing experiences.

However, the absence of equalization controls stands out as a minor inconvenience. Having some control over equalization and the inclusion of presets would enhance its versatility further.

In essence, the FiiO K11 stands as an outstanding DAC and amp combination, offering a plethora of features and exceeding expectations for its price point. A purchase worth considering with confidence.

FiiO K11 price and availability

You have the option to buy it through Amazon.com for $129 or via Amazon.co.uk for £119.99.

About Ankeet Solanki

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