FiiO & JadeAudio KA5 is an advanced Portable USB DAC/AMP equipped with top-level components to deliver high-resolution audio performance. The KA5 houses dual CS43198 DAC chips. It also features dual independent amp chips for powerful amplification. It has SPDIF output, dual headphone output (3.5mm+4.4mm), OLED Display Screen, all-aluminum chassis, and multifunction physical keys as the key features.
FiiO KA5 comes equipped with dual CS43198 flagship decoding chips from Cirrus Logics. The CS43198 is a 32-Bit DAC that supports decoding for high-resolution audio signals and achieves best-in-class SNR, DNR, and Ultra-low Distortion ratings.
The KA5 supports decoding for the most advanced audio signals. You can turn your simple smartphone into a Hi-Res player with support for PCM signals up to 32-Bit/768kHz and native DSD256 audio signals.
For powerful output and serious amplification, the KA5 comes equipped with dual independent 8261 AMP chips. This compact KA5 produces a powerful output delivering up to 265mW of clean output per channel through the balanced port at 32Ω of load. Even through the single-ended 3.5mm output it provides up to 122mW power at 32Ω of load. These numbers are comfortable enough to drive most IEMs out there with ease.
FiiO Jade Audio KA5 houses dual headphone output ports including a single-ended 3.5mm and another 4.4mm balanced port. The 3.5mm output can also provide SPDIF digital output and you can pair further devices in the chain if you want to.
FiiO has featured a multifunction key on the KA5 and physical volume keys as well. The volume keys also provide multiple functions A and B. In A mode, the short press will change volume and the long press will change the tracks, in B mode, the short press will change track and long press for volume change. This adjustment can be made using FiiO Control Application.
FiiO KA5 is fully compatible with FiiO Control Application. It enables the user to change different settings on the device including digital filter, Volume control settings, gain settings, OLED display settings, etc.
KA5 has got a compact form factor build using a premium aluminum alloy chassis. The device has got front and rear tempered glass panels that give the device a premium and exquisite finish. It also has a built-in OLED display that showcases different settings at any given point of operation with the device.
Dual CS43198 High-Performance DAC Chips.
Powerful Amplification With Dual 8261 AMP Chips.
Supports High-Res 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and DSD256 Audio Signals.
OLED Display Screen.
Ultra-Low Noise OPAmps.
3.5mm+4.4mm Headphone Outputs.
Front & Rear Transparent Tempered Glass.
Multifunction Control Via Physical Buttons.
Supports Connection with FiiO Control Application.
UAC1.0 Mode For Low-Power Devices.
Compatible with Apple, Android, Windows, and Mac devices.
Type: USB DAC
Model: FiiO KA5
Chipset: Dual Cirrus-Logic CS43198
Frequency range: 20 – 40 000Hz
Compatibility: PCM up to 32bit/768kHz – DSD up to DSD256 (according to FiiO)
Price: $119.59, Leather Case: $9.99, $125 if you buy them both.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me with the review sample of the KA5.
The FiiO KA5 has a dark, silent background, a dynamic signature, and a full frequency spectrum that seems flat-lined and neutral in frequency response and it seems to produce music in a rather transparent way.
It seems FiiO was very concerned with the noise floor and particularly with hissing. They managed to keep it way down with the KA5 because I never heard any although I was trying to provoke it to surface it never did, especially on low gain and on high gain just the same.
The KA5 seems to take a step forward in imaging capabilities plus added placement accuracy from let’s say the first iteration dongle DACs that were introduced into the market which generally sounded somewhat narrow and lacked depth. CS43198 DAC chips have the clarity of the CS43131 but with an ounce of added warmth and character plus a slightly wider stage.
To start with overall tonality, the sound is well-balanced. The output is crisp, clean, and has an excellent tone. KA5 is one of those devices that doesn’t have a particular character to it. I wouldn’t call it bassy, because the bassline is full but fast and grippy too. It never really calls for attention. There are plenty of details to be picked up from the recording, but the sound is not high-frequency oriented or bright either. Everything in between sounds rich and informative too, and one might even say that this DAC has a somewhat midrange-centric character. To my ears, it simply sounds well-rounded and midrange-rich but it doesn’t actually feel like it is emphasizing any part of the spectrum in particular.
The soundstage is nicely developed in all directions, and the tones inside it are well separated. Each instrument has its own space, while vocals are big, bold, and upfront, as they should be. But more than that, KA5 never sounds analytical just for the purpose of being analytical. It binds all of those tones together in a natural wholesome way.
FiiO KA5 presents music in a lively and dynamic manner that’s not always given when it comes to really lightweight and portable dongles. To up the game on this front, I had to move to chunkier, battery-powered devices or stationary desktop units. As far as these small, USB-powered devices go this is one of the most driven and most engaging DACs I’ve ever encountered, no matter the price point.
Even though KA5 sounds very good over its single-ended output, using a balanced one definitely lifts the overall level of sound fidelity a notch or even two. Because of this, I strongly recommend to any buyer to use a balanced connection if possible.
The bass is extended, tight, and controlled with good layering and very satisfying definition while it is also very dynamic and impactful, especially from the balanced output.
The mid-range clarity is great, and the KA5 is articulated and refined but what stands out the most is the natural timbre and the realism of the presentation. Vocals and solo instruments sound delightful and lifelike, lush and mildly warm with plenty of colorful overtones and great harmonic wealth.
The same kind of naturalness applies to the treble which is smooth and easy to the ear but without missing in extension and resolution.
FiiO KA5 vs iBasso DC04 Pro
The DC04 Pro is a fantastic-sounding USB DAC-AMP thanks to its natural, balanced, and musical sound signature that is not devoid of technicalities. It also has amazing APP support like the KA5.
The KA5 on the other hand is slightly more clean and transparent and maybe a touch more refined. Also, it has slightly a wider dynamic range. But I must also add that I took these notes after around 1 hour of A-B testing and using some special Hi-Res tracks to identify the differences. I used the TinHiFi P1 Plus IEM for this test.
The FiiO KA5 might be the best dongle DAC-AMP in its class ($100 price class). Sound performance is top-level. APP support is one the best in the market. And additionally, it has an OLED display which is always welcome and that you can’t find in this price range.