FiiO KA17 Quick Review: Multitasking USB-C portable DAC AMP

After the success of the KA13 DAC/amp dongle model, Fiio continues to produce the KA17 with parameters and features even more overwhelming than its predecessor, but the price is not much higher. Discover the best portable DAC for under $150!

FiiO KA17 Quick Review


Constructed entirely from metal with precisely machined lines and a durable anode color layer, this device exudes quality and reliability.

FiiO KA17 Review: Best USB-C portable DAC AMP HiFi Decoder

The FiiO KA17 features a compact 0.91-inch OLED screen that presents functions clearly, enhancing the user experience. Physical buttons complement it, allowing for easy customization of screen orientation, audio filters, and the screen off-timer, which makes the interface both user-friendly and visually appealing.

Notably, it is one of the few USB dongles on the market that supports a 10-band Parametric Equalizer (PEQ), offering users the ability to customize gain levels and bandwidth for a highly personalized audio experience. You can seamlessly make adjustments using the multifunction button located beneath the volume controls.

FiiO KA17 Review: Best USB-C portable DAC AMP HiFi Decoder

This USB-C portable DAC AMP includes a carefully crafted, snug-fitting leather case for added protection and style. While the package includes a USB-C to C cable, purchasers should note that it does not include a USB-C to Lightning cable.


The KA17 utilizes a USB type-C port for connectivity to smartphones and computers, boasting an XMOS XU316 USB Receiver chip, two ES9069Q DAC chips, and an amplifier structure assembled on the THX AAA 78+ chipset, inclusive of four operating simultaneous amplifier modules.

FiiO KA17 Review: Best USB-C portable DAC AMP HiFi Decoder

With a fully balanced circuit architecture, the KA17 delivers considerable output power. In Desktop mode, the device offers 650mW + 650mW at 4.4mm. Although the impedance level at which this capacity is measured remains unknown, it is clear that the output is significant, especially considering the compact size of the device, evident when compared to the KA13.

Audio is dispensed through the device’s two inputs: 3.5mm and 4.4mm. Tests were conducted using JH3, HD 490 Pro, and Audeze MM-100 headphones via the 3.5mm input and the results were satisfactory. Ideally, the HD 490 Pro and MM-100 headphones would use the 4.4mm jack. However, due to the lack of a 4.4mm cable, the 3.5mm input had to suffice.

FiiO KA17 Review: Best USB-C portable DAC AMP HiFi Decoder

The KA17 also features a 3.5mm input capable of producing an SPDIF signal for another DAC to decode, allowing vintage MD or CD players with superb sound quality but only a Coaxial input, to play music from computers or phones. The KA17 is an affordable digital transport that broadens your CD player’s music source options.

KA17 features two USB-C inputs: a black port for data and power, and a red port for direct power input. Despite the non-ideal appearance of this setup, it contributes significantly to the effective sound output, especially in Desktop Mode when MM-100 and HD 490 Pro headphones are in use.

FiiO KA17 Audio

Using an external power supply with the KA17 enhances sound quality significantly in high-power mode and reduces battery consumption on connected devices. I’ve experimented with power supplies from Belkin and Baseus. During live streams, the sound quality with the Belkin power supply, which is similar to an iPhone charger, is noticeably superior.

FiiO KA17 Review: Best USB-C portable DAC AMP HiFi Decoder

The KA17 can operate in Desktop Mode without an external power source, providing a perceivable boost in volume. However, this mode alone does not substantially improve the richness of the bass, lower mid, or the recording’s dynamics. By connecting an external power source, the bass becomes more pronounced and clearer, details in the bass are more distinct, and the highs and mids gain strength and tightness with a quicker decay. The difference in sound quality between using the KA17 as a simple portable DAC/amp and pairing it with an external power source in Desktop Mode is profound.

Upon first use, the KA17 sounded rather tinny. However, after allowing it to warm up with music playing for about 15 minutes, the sound quality significantly improved. The KA17 exhibits a robust sound profile, particularly enhancing the upper bass and extending into the sub-bass, revealing detailed sounds of deep-frequency instruments like contrabasses or drums. The way the KA17 reproduces sub-bass, especially when paired with JH3 and HD 490 Pro headphones, is truly captivating.

Final line

The FiiO KA17 delivers a bold sound profile, unlike the more refined tones of the iFi Go Bar. It excels in producing fast bass and powerful treble, appealing to fans of pop, rock, and EDM. This dynamic sound also complements lyrical music and contemporary tracks well.

The KA17’s midrange doesn’t lean towards sweetness or warmth; in fact, it lacks warmth entirely. Vocals come through without embellishment or excess coloration, which I personally prefer. This straightforward presentation is appreciated, as I find DACs/amps that overly enhance the sound less appealing.

Price and availability

The FiiO KA17 stands out as the best portable DAC HiFi decoder priced under $150. It’s currently available for purchase on and for $149.99 and £124.99, respectively. Our FiiO KA17 review unit comes in black, although it is also available in blue.

About Ankeet Solanki

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