There are a lot of desktop headphone amps out there, but it can be hard to find one in your price range. Thankfully, Fiio has a new DAC/Amp combo that is meant to be part of your budget desktop setup. Going for $129, the K11 looks to provide a good amount of power and fidelity to your headphones. Other models from this product line have been successful at that, including the slightly pricier K7. With the K11 costing less, can it produce enough sound options and other features to be of value?
What You Get
- Power adapter (including AC cable)
- USB A to C cable
- 6.35mm adapter
- Quick start guide
- Warranty card
Right out of the box, the K11 is extremely sleek. The version I used for testing was the black variation, but I kind of wish I was using the silver version. Both colors give you an elegant design and would look good as a part of any desktop setup. It may surprise you how slim and condensed the K11 is. Its chassis also feels high-quality, with its aluminum alloy construction. What makes the K11 so aesthetically pleasing though its combination of its customizable LED logo lights, and screen. This screen, which also houses your quarter-inch, and 4.4mm balanced headphone plugs, indicates your sample rate, gain, and output mode.
The K11 has a specially designed audio circuit and power supply. Its chipset is a Cirrus Logic CS43198, supported by 16 LDOS low-noise power supplies. The DAC also supports a driver-free mode, which makes the K11 compatible with any device that possesses USB. That makes the K11 compatible with any game console. You can expect the K11 to support sample rates up to 384kHz PCM and bit depth up to 32bit PCM and DSD.
When it comes to Fiio’s budget DAC/Amps, their chipsets consistently produce clean and powerful audio. The K11 is no different, making it an easy choice for more economical desktop setups. Of course, there are plenty of low-impedance headphones that the K11 has no problem driving well, including the 32 or 80ohm Beyerdynamic DT 770, or the HiFiMan Sundara. You barely need to crank up the volume to halfway before you get a full scope of what these headphones are capable of, and you only need the lowest gain level to achieve that. You can pair higher impedance headphones with the K11 as well, including Fiio’s 300 Ohm FT3, which pairs with the K11 quite well when using the gain switch. The K11 offers these headphones with increased spaciousness and smoothness.
Throughout testing, many different headphones were given some extra width and dimension, heard mostly through some listening of the Audeze LCD-2C. With the K11, some headphones have expanded headspace, most noticeably when pairing open-back headphones. In terms of timbre, the output of the K11 is totally elegant. It organizes frequency information well for the price and is able to reproduce nice textures that express bass and highs more fully. With the FT3 specifically, the K11 does a good job of maintaining a good reference sound throughout its sound signature.
If you’re looking for your first serious DAC/Amp for your desktop setup, the Fiio K11 is the perfect choice. It’s able to drive a ton of different headphones efficiently while supporting them with smooth timbres and enhanced imaging. One of the highlights of the K11 doesn’t even have anything to do with the sound though, as its elegant design, build quality, and easy usability make for one of the best budget DAC/Amps you can get.
The Fiio K11 is available at Audio46.