| Headphone Amplifier | DAC | 1400mW | DSD256 |
FiiO K11, the brand new DAC/headphone amplifier from FiiO.
The FiiO K11 belongs to the K series of DAC/amps, a product line that has been on the market for quite some time; in fact, many years ago we reviewed the tiny little brother, the FiiO K3.
As the model name suggests, this is the 11th generation of their series but the only one that has a whole new approach to the design and general aesthetics.
This FiiO model looks harmless from the outside but it is, actually, a powerful and rich-featured DAC/amp that can compete with models costing two to three times the retail price of the FiiO K11.
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FiiO K11 Review
Tests & Scores
Accessories & Packaging
The unit comes inside a fairly large packaging for the dimension of the unit, containing inside the following item:
• 1x PSU
• 1x USB-C cable
• 1x 1/4″ adapter
The FiiO K11 has an aesthetic feel that reminded us to an Apple Mac Mini; in fact, if you look it from the side you might think it is actually a Mac Mini.
The top case has an unibody design with a metalized silver finish, no visible seams and curved lateral edges. Overall, the unit looks clean, stylish and with the potential to match and integrate to any Hi-Fi system or desktop environment.
The font panel holds all headphone jacks, screen and knob while on the back panel you get access to the rest of the I/O connections.
On the top case you might have noticed the newer FiiO logo, this is actually a translucent one with RGB backlighting that can be adjusted through the in-menu of the unit.
On photos, the FiiO K11 might seem to be a large DAC/amp but it is actually a thin a remarkably small – you could stack nearly six FiiO K11 on the same space (WxHxD) of other DAC/amp that we have reviewed such as the SMSL DO300EX or two stacked FiiO K11 on the space of a budget-friendly SMSL HO100.
Operation & Control
The DAC/amp is fully controlled by the single knob found on the front panel. This knob is used either for volume control and for menu navigation, power on/off and settings selections, as the knob is also a multifunction button.
The knob has an infinite clock and counter-clockwise rotational movement with a tactile feedback per step but no audible clicky sounds.
Overall, the knob feel well put together allowing a defined control of each step.
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Construction & Build
This FiiO model has a rugged upper case made entirely of metal (also the knob) and a bottom case section made of plastic.
The center of the bottom case has a very large octagon silicone piece that acts as the feet for the unit. This different approach to the feet design allows a highly proficient anti-slippery system that allows the K11 to stay in place on any type of desktop surface or if stacked up in a sound system.
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The screen of the FiiO K11 is well integrated in the unit, looking polished and harmonic with the overall aesthetic of the device.
The screen might not be the largest that you can find on a DAC but the resolution and clarity of the fonts make it extremely easy to read.
On top of that, the whitish color and strong brightness adds a further level of ease to see the information on bright rooms.
As the screen is not particularly huge and the fonts used are more on the large side, some of the menus and settings information might not be completely clear of what they represent. Therefore, users might have to reach the user manual to understand what each setting is being represented – after a while of using the unit you will get familiar it and memorize the sort of acronyms.
The FiiO K11 looks small and simple but it offers some compelling features regarding I/O variety for audiophiles.
• USB DAC
• RCA stereo line out
• 1/4″ headphone out
• 4.4mm balanced headphone out
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As we mentioned several times, the FiiO K11 is a particularly small DAC/Amp and even more considering the quality of the internals and the amount of power it can deliver.
Inside, the little guy is equipped with:
• CS43198 DAC
• 2x SGM8262 amp chip
• SA9312L USB chip
With a maximum power of 1400mW, the FiiO K11 is able to provide 40% more power at 32 ohm than the premium SMSL DO300EX (DAC/amp with a price tag above $500).
While testing the output power in real life scenarios, the FiiO K11 was able to drive without any power issues full-sized headphones like our Sennheiser HD650, Sennheiser HD600, beyerdynamic DT990 PRO 250 ohm and beyerdynamic DT770 PRO 250 ohm.
All of the aforementioned, were driven with ease and with a fair amount of margin to crank up the volume above safe dB levels. If you notice that the K11 is falling short of power, remember that the DAC/amp has 3 gain levels, so set the gain option to the power needs of your headphones – also each gain level has an independent volume curve that FiiO considers better adapted for a smoother and more natural volume control.
On top of that, the FiiO K11 provided a clean and uncolored signal that allowed every headphone to conserve their sound signature and sonic character without interfering nor degrading their performance.
As a matter of fact, our measurements revealed a completely flat frequency response from the FiiO K11 output, with no traces of unexpected spikes, dips nor boosted frequency ranges.
Moreover, this FiiO model was able to provide a noise-free experience and no single issue with scratching potentiometers (as this is not an analog potentiometer but a digital encoder)
To fine-tune the sound of the DAC/amp, the brand has added 6 digital filters that can be selected through the settings of the device. On the other hand, if you were expecting internal control of bass and treble, the K11 does not offer neither of them.
If you are an owner of the older FiiO K5Pro you will be quite surprise of the upgrades offered by this newer model.
As matter of fact the FiiO K11 vs FiiO K5Pro introduces a dedicated balanced output and circuitry, half the min. THD+N and nearly three times less noise floor uV levels.
The specifics of the FiiO K11 include:
- THD+N: <0.00035%
- SNR >123dB
- Noise Floor: <2.8uV
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FiiO K11 Scores
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FiiO K11 Frequency Response Curve and measurements
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FiiO K11 Technical Specifications
- Type: DAC / headphone amp
- THD+N: <0.00035%
- SNR >123dB
- Noise Floor: <2.8uV
- CS43198 DAC
- 2x SGM8262 amp chip
- SA9312L USB chip
- Headphone out: 4.4mm balanced, 6.35mm unbalanced
- USB: DAC Type-C
- Gain: 3 levels
- Light: RGB
- Weight: 407g
- Size: 147x133x32.3mm
- Sampling: PCM 384kHz, DSD 256
- Output: 1400mW (32 ohm, bal), 520mw (32 ohm, unbal)
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