FiiO KA17 Review (6)

FiiO KA17 Review

FiiO KA17 Review – The Ultimate Dongle DAC-AMP

The desktop mode in FiiO products has been continually refined with the release of various products, such as the portable yet desktop-grade M17, Q7, M15S, Q15, and KA13, and now the perfected desktop mode has found its way to the newKA17.

The FiiO KA17 features a special desktop mode, activated using the dedicated D.Mode switch. When the desktop mode is enabled, the KA17 will automatically adjust the DAC, amplifier power supply, and amplifier power output to unleash their potential with greater power output fully.

FiiO KA17 Review
The tone of the blue color looks amazing.

With sufficient USB power supply input and desktop mode enabled, the KA17’s four THX headphone amps work together in parallel for greater current and overall power output. The result is up to 270mW+270mW power output for single-ended out, and up to 650mW+650mW power output for balanced out.

FiiO KA17 Review

The KA17 comes with two of the new ESS ES9069Q flagship DACs, powered by fourth-gen 32-bit HyperStream technology. These chips feature even higher performance, lower power consumption, and less digital noise than previous generations for a pristine and pure audio background.

The flagship USB controller XMOS XU316 chip found in the KA17 allowed FiiO engineers to develop a highly precise adjustable PEQ, with 10 customizable frequency bands. FiiO’s self-developed PEQ algorithm and interface allow you to fine-tune the frequency, gain, and bandwidth of each PEQ band, letting you dial in the sound exactly the way you want it. PEQ adjustment is supported in formats up to PCM 192kHz/24bit not supported in UAC1.0 mode.

FiiO KA17 Review
The KA17 comes with a color-matching leather case.

The 16-core XMOS XU316 USB chip is rarely found in dongle DACs. This chip features lower latency, more stable signal transmission, and better compatibility than typically used USB control chip. Paired with dual crystal oscillators, the KA17 can handle various digital audio sources with various sampling rates.

The THX AAA 78 headphone amp proved itself in the mid-to-high-end M11 Pro and M11 Plus players. Now, the even newer and upgraded THXAA78+ is featured in the KA17.

FiiO KA17 Review

Inside the KA17 are two THX AAA 78+ headphone amplifiers, with 8 op-amps working in parallel in a 4-channel fully balanced configuration, allowing for greater power output and more detailed and realistic sound.

FiiO KA17 Review

FiiO engineers cleverly adapted the audio circuit designs of mid to high-end digital audio players to the compact KA17. With its high-precision handling of digital audio signals, thanks to the dual crystal oscillator clocks and high-performance DAC converted to analog signals output by a robust analog section consisting of LPF voltage amplification, BUF current expansion, and headphone amps working together in parallel, you can be sure that the KA17 can reproduce the detail and dynamics in your music as well as a serious digital audio player.

FiiO KA17 Review

The audio circuit’s digital and analog portions lie on separate circuit boards in the KA17, each board equipped with a shielding cover for total isolation. This ensures that the digital and analog portions of the audio circuit do not interfere with each other, enabling accurate processing of audio signals.

FiiO KA17 Review

Inside the KA17 is a 3-stage 3-main rails power supply design are three main stages of the power supply consist of first-stage filtering + overvoltage protection, second-stage DC-DC boost conversion, and third-stage LDO voltage stabilization. This electricity filtering applies to each of the three main power supply rails, one each for the digital, digital-to-analog conversion, and analog signal parts of the audio circuit.

FiiO KA17 Review

To top it all off, the power supply circuit is divided into ten smaller rails. The power supply found in the KA17 features many of the same principles as those found in desktop headphone amplifiers, ensuring a robust foundation for the KA17’s excellent sound.

The KA17 employs a 0.91-inch dot matrix display that can indicate different functions intuitively. Also, coupling with the physical buttons easily allows you to customize various settings such as screen orientation, filters and display sleep timer.

FiiO KA17 Review

The KA17 features two USB Type-C ports. One is the typical port used to connect to other devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. The orange port on the side is designed for use with an external power supply. When an external power supply is connected to this port, the KA17 can achieve higher power output and better performance without consuming the battery of your phone or other connected device.

FiiO KA17 Review

Built into the KA17 are temperature and DC output monitoring systems that ensure both the unit itself and connected headphones won’t be damaged under abnormal conditions. You can also set a maximum volume level to prevent accidental hearing damage to your ears from excessively loud audio.

FiiO Control App

The Fiio control App on the KA17 only has two sections. One is for the EQ and PEQ adjustments if EQ mode is enabled on the unit and the second is the guide on how to control it. All other controls are done on the KA17’s menu system which you can look at in the unboxing video (starting at 5:32).

Unboxing and Menu

FiiO KA17 Full Specs

Price: $149


The KA17 offers a pleasing bass response that is both textured and rounded. A nice amount of mid-bass adds a warm touch to the sound while maintaining control throughout the entire range. The sub-bass complements the mid-bass, giving it a defined weight and texture without overpowering the overall sound.

The KA17 delivers rich and powerful bass that can handle various music genres effortlessly. It maintains a good level of detail, allowing the listener to hear each bass note clearly.

FiiO KA17 Review

The mids on the KA17 are impressive, offering effortless, detailed, and smooth sound all at once. The male vocals have a strong presence and tone, while the female vocals are soft and velvety, with plenty of intricate details. Overall, the midrange is cohesive, smooth, and captivating to listen to. If you appreciate vocals, you’ll definitely enjoy the tuning of the KA17.

The KA17 accurately imitates real instruments, including vocals. The strings have a pleasing weight and texture, and they don’t sound boring or lacking in life. I was pleasantly surprised by the upper midrange, which has a nice extension, especially when compared to the KA13. However, it is well-controlled, so I haven’t noticed any harshness in the sound.

FiiO KA17 Review

The KA17 has a pleasing mix of clarity and smoothness in its treble presentation. While the top octave is slightly less prominent, it still provides a good amount of detail with a natural tone. Additionally, the lower treble of the KA17 is more lively than the upper treble, which leads to quicker dispersion, particularly for crashes on stage. If you prefer a smoother treble, the KA17 is designed to cater to that preference without sounding too muted.

The KA17 is a master at being smooth; its standout feature is its effortless and seamless presentation. It offers a medium-sized soundstage with sufficient depth. The positioning and imaging are impressive considering its price, and the KA17 skillfully layers instruments in a tidy manner. Additionally, there is a noticeable amount of air between the instruments.

FiiO KA17 Review
Second Type-C port for power-in.


The FiiO KA17 dongle DAC-AMP has all you can ask for and more. THX AAA 78+ AMP circuitry support for example. XMOS XU316 USB flagship USB control chip which you can find on more expensive audio gear. Full PEQ support on the hardware level and maybe most importantly the 660mW output power which translates to real desktop-level use. The KA17 can be easily used on desktop setups alongside mobility use, isn’t that perfect? And all comes for just $150 which makes it more desirable in my opinion.

And with the latest firmware update, FiiO managed to fix many bugs that were present and annoyed some users. Now the KA17 works flawlessly, the ultimate dongle DAC-AMP.

FiiO KA17 Firmware Update

Update 26-94-2024: New Firmware Update

KA17 V1.49 firmware changes are as follows:

Updated at 2024-03-06

  • 1. Added the ability to connect to a computer for decoding. The volume on the computer can be adjusted and memorized.
  • 2. Added mobile phone USB exclusive mode playback volume with adjustable volume.
  • 3. Added a pop-up prompt for inserting USB into the side port.
  • 4. Fixed the problem that switching EQ in the FiiO Control App or on the local machine cannot follow in real-time.
  • 5. Fixed the problem of incorrect data saving when adjusting EQ custom 3 in the FiiO Control App.
  • 6. Modify the EQ switching logic. MQA is supported when EQ is OFF. MQA and DSD tracks are not supported when EQ is turned on.
  • 7. Modify the filter name.
  • 8. Optimize UI interface.
  • 9. Other performance optimizations.

Firmware download link: Click here