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FiiO K1 Review

FiiO has a really commendable line up of audio amplifiers, digital analogue converters (DACs) and music players. I’ve been particularly impressed by the really budget friendly X1 and E10 that delivered better than expected sound quality. So when FiiO updated their DAC offering with the new minuscule K1, I had high expectations.

FiiO K1

At just US$39, the FiiO K1 is really very affordable. So budget friendly it is that it may be a great introduction to the world of audiophile gear for a newcomer. So with that in mind, perhaps let me just digress a little bit to explain what a DAC is.

For the uninitiated: The quick answer is that the DAC works like a sound card, converting digital signals to audio signals that you can send to your headphones, speakers, or other listening gear. Even though your computer, tablet or smartphone will already include an internal DAC, audiophiles find that an external dedicated DAC produces cleaner, better, sound quality.

The FiiO K1 is really tiny. It’s about size of a USB flash drive, measuring 50 x 20.5 x 8 mm and weighing just 11 g. It’s also really simple. A Micro-USB port on one side, and a 3.5 mm audio jack on the other. There’s a small LED light to indicate power. There are no controls on it. Yup, that means no volume control, and no bass boost that some might have come to expect.

It’s a simple gadget. Just plug it in, and it’ll just work. Simple and easy. No drivers are needed on Mac and Windows.

On Android devices, support for USB DACs were added since Android 5.0 Lollipop. So if you’re looking to use the FiiO K1 with your smartphone or tablet, make sure you at least have Android 5.0 on it. You do need an OTG cable too.

Fiio K1

Physically, the FiiO K1 is encased in a titanium coloured shell with some detailing on the surface. It comes with a removable transparent plastic clip which can be used to attach the K1 to, say, your clothing if you use it attached to your smartphone while on the go. It’s not terribly useful, in my opinion.

Inside the FiiO K1, you’ll find the Texas Instrument PCM5012 DAC, TPA61332A driver, and Savitech SA9023A usb receiver to decode usb audio. The DAC chip used is the same as that in the higher-end FiiO E17K which sells for much more. Although there are some reviews that say the K1 doesn’t work with smartphones, it works flawlessly with my Nexus 6P.

Now, let’s talk about sound quality. Of course, if one were to compare with audio straight out of a computer or smartphone, you can easily tell that the FiiO K1 is better. The K1 delivers sound with clearer details, instrument separation, and impressive wide soundstage. There is more body in the bass and the mids. You’ll get more extension in both the bass and trebles too.

There is some noise, though, which you can hear on quiet tracks. It’s worse than the E10 I have, but it’s much better than audio straight out from my Retina MacBook Pro. At the K1’s price point, I suppose I couldn’t ask for too much. This is probably evident only with sensitive IEMs. If you drive a higher impedance headphones, the noise floor would be much reduced. For the most part, this is a small matter that only audiophile purists will mind.


The FiiO K1 great sound quality at a really budget price. Its minuscule size makes it very portable, which you can conveniently pair with your smartphone for use on the go.


  • Minuscule size
  • Great sound quality


  • Noticeable noise with sensitive IEMs

2 thoughts on “FiiO K1 Review

  1. Nice review. I just purchased one for my Dell laptop and after using it for a few days, I’m convinced that you can’t find a better price-to-performance DAC on the market. A bargain!

  2. Hi! Can I also use K1 with a powered speaker? If you have tried it, what are your impressions? Thanks.

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