FiiO K11 is a brand-new USB DAC/AMP with a balanced design. It comes with CS43198 high-performance 32-bit DAC that provides exceptional high-resolution PCM and DSD signal decoding. It comes equipped with many input-output options including USB, Coaxial, and Optical inputs as well as 4.4mm, 6.35mm, and RCA output options. FiiO K11 is a pocket-friendly desktop DAC/AMP that can be used worry-free with a variety of devices including PCs, Laptops, smartphones, and even gaming consoles including PS5 and Nintendo Switch.
FiiO K11 is a highly capable USB DAC/AMP. The device is equipped with a powerful headphone amplifier section with three-level gain modes that produce a strong output delivering up to 1400mW of clear output at 32Ω of impedance load through the balanced connection output. It can easily drive most headphones and in-ear monitors with ease.
The latest K11 is designed with specially crafted audio circuitry that promises top-quality sound performance. The K11 is equipped with a high-performance CS43198 DAC chipset that delivers ultimate performance in decoding high-resolution 32-bit/384kHz PCM and Native DSD256 audio signals.
FiiO K11 houses multiple input-output options. We have digital input via coaxial, optical, and USB input modes, and we have outputs via 4.4mm balanced, 6.35mm single-ended, and RCA analog line-out options. K11 easily meet your need and requirements for a capable audio setup at a pocket-friendly price tag.
FiiO K11 is designed with a specially-developed low-noise power supply section. Using more than 16 low-noise LDOs for precise voltage stabilization and an external 12V power supply, the K11 achieves robust performance with stable power delivery to all sections of the audio circuitry.
FiiO K11 is equipped with a high-contrast durable VA display screen. It displays the active sampling rate, volume level, gain level, and activate output mode.
The FiiO logo is illuminated with RGB lighting, giving you a quick way to identify the sampling rate of the current audio being played back. Six LED strips work in conjunction with a carefully placed reflective film and parts of the body designed to reflect light to make the light show uniform and elegant.
FiiO K11 has a minimalistic design with a multi-function knob. This knob can act as a power on/off button, volume adjustment, menu exploring, screen control, etc. Users can also switch between the Line-out and Phone-out modes by simply double-pressing the knob.
Truly Balanced DAC & Amp Design.
Strong Output Power with 1.4W Maximum Thrust.
3-Level Adjustable Gain.
Specially Designed Audio Circuitry.
Premium CS43198 DAC Chipset.
Supports 384kHz/32Bit PCM, Native DSD256 Signals.
Specially-Crafted Low-Noise Power Supply.
Custom VA Display.
Adjustable RGB Logo Lightning.
Driver-Free USB DAC Mode.
Multiple Input/Output Options.
Compact & Ergonomic Build Structure.
Compatible With Gaming Consoles (PS5, Nintendo Switch, etc).
What’s in the box
You can watch the unboxing video for a settings menu walkthrough.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me with the review sample of the K11.
If you follow closely the decoding chipset technologies there is no way you could leave out the CS43198, a highly regarded chipset after the CS4399 which consumes very little power. The FiiO K11 uses CS43198 implementation and allows a balanced output architecture.
With a high output of up to 1400mW and 123dBA dynamic range operating in a single chipset configuration, the K11 has good enough power to kick some big cans loud as well as hook up to the speaker system with the RCA, still sounding dynamic and clean.
Other features of the CS43198 include a patented on-chip DSD processor that supports up to DSD256 in direct mode and 50kHz filtering. In my own experience, it is quite a smooth-sounding chipset with a clean treble. Depending on implementation it can also get engaging and dynamic.
The K11 has 3 separate gain levels, each gain level having its volume curve. This allows the K11 to give you a better listening experience with various types of headphones, whether you are using sensitive earphones or harder-to-drive over-ear headphones.
Within the K11’s slim build lies a specially designed audio circuit. This is backed by more than 16 low-noise LDOs for precise voltage stabilization and powered by an external 12V switching power supply. All of this leads to a purer and more robust supply of power.
The K11 FiiO K11 essentially has a flat tonality and offers a linear, neutral sound signature with a focus on providing clarity to the mid-range. It does not provide additional or less warmth to the sound. The mid-range is the focus area where the lower and upper midrange are brought into focus.
The bass response is crisp with a great level of detail. Thus, this opens the mid-range and allows it to shine through the overall sound. The midrange is presented in a lush and highly resolving manner. Treble energy is very good and remains neutral without too much coloration.
That being said, the K11 has a very black background and excellent dynamic range. Dynamic is superb, even more, so if you use the 4.4mm output, but through my listening, I found that K11 narrowed the gap between the single-ended and balanced outputs.
The unit has more than enough power to push every headphone in my collection. The noise floor is inaudible to my ears, even with sensitive IEMs. Using the 4.4mm balanced output, the sound gains even more clarity and spaciousness but the 6.35mm single-ended output is no slouch either. While the 4.4mm Pentaconn remains king in terms of spaciousness, the voices were equally natural, poised, and well-controlled, on the unbalanced 6.35mm plug too.
FiiO K11 has a neutral-ish bass response with a slight dip in the mid-bass section. This dip gives a nice boost to the sense of air in the presentation. With that in mind, the rest of the bass response feels flat and reflects the paired earphone or headphone as it is. The FiiO K11 is perfectly capable of delivering powerful bass if paired headphones have such a signature.
I paired the FiiO K11 with the YanYin Canon 2, which is capable of delivering strong, bodied bass, and the FiiO K11 drove it to its limits. The FiiO K11 supplies more than enough power to move the dynamic driver of the YanYin Canon 2 to its max, and the bass I heard was impactful, rounded, and had good texture.
The bass on the FiiO K11 goes deep into the sub-bass regions without any issue, giving the sub-bass an ethereal bass quality. The texture was quite lush and rich. Pairing it with the DUNU SA6 MK2 gets you a much faster, snappy bass response with great resolution so yes, the bass reproduction relies on the paired gear as it should with any good DAC. The bass reproduction does not lack power or definition. The FiiO K11 can deliver perfectly rounded, impactful hits without bleeding into the midrange.
The midrange of the FiiO K11 feels inoffensive, smooth, and uncolored. Oftentimes, pairing the FiiO K11 with analytical IEMs results in a slightly thinner midrange presentation. The detail level is good, the mids are clean and resolving without any color. The musicality is not the greatest though, the FiiO K11 does not do a wonderful job when it comes to conveying emotion.
It will, however, highlight the badly mastered tracks in your archive. I can’t recommend pairing it with analytical or flat IEMs for this reason. The upper mids are resolving yet controlled. They show good energy while staying out of stridency.
The FiiO K11 has excellent control over the upper midrange and you feel this especially so when you pair it with an IEM that has a great technical capability.
The vocal range also continues the drier character of the mid-bass, where there is an honest quality to the vocals, meaning it won’t be infused with euphony in any way. Midrange instruments tend to take a more neutral and honest timbral quality as well.
The treble reproduction is clean with good extension. They feel controlled yet energetic just like the upper midrange. FiiO aimed for a neutral and natural treble reproduction here. The highs do not feel artificial or metallic and they are not sharp either.
They have good extension and definition. Some of the sense of air is contributed by this area as well as the upper mid extension. That enhances the perceived stage width and depth too. We will take a look at the technical capability in the next chapter.
Treble instruments, such as cymbal crashes are controlled very well. Where there is a distinct and singular character to cymbal hits. However, there won’t be any additional splashiness or sparkle to embellish the treble frequencies.
On higher gain, the upper mids to the treble range is pushed slightly more forward and you could hear more air captured as well as enhanced texture and firmness in the upper register.
Let’s start with the soundstage. The soundstage of the FiiO K11 is above average with good separation and good imaging. The extension of the highs and the treble helps the stage depth and height perception, affecting the headroom positively. There is an adequate amount of air between the instruments and separation is satisfactory.
Layering isn’t the best in class and I think it’s because the width of the soundstage is better compared to the depth. Resolution-wise the FiiO K11 scales well with higher-priced, capable earphones and performs great. I would expect it to be a tad more dynamic and musical but that is just not how it is tuned.
The bite, the attack & decay are not as fast as I’d like, however, for the audiophile who is in pursuit of a smooth performer with a neutral signature, there aren’t many alternatives in the market (desktop DAC-AMPs) that come with as many features and powerful as K11 in this price range.
$129.99 for 1400mW output power, do I need to say more? The FiiO K11 gives you more power compared to some 3x expensive competitors. And this power comes in a linear and neutral sound signature.
For those who wonder the K11 is a desktop-class DAC-AMP, meaning it sounds better than many portable DAC-AMPs out there including FiiO’s own battery-powered Q11 (same CS43198 DAC) and even dual CS43198 powered the KA5. You get better dynamics, more energy, and spaciousness. So if you are not into mobility, then you know what to do.