New Head-Fier
F.Audio KS01 – Brilliant For Price
Pros: - Good Build Quality
- OLED display
- Flagship chips
- Slightly bright sound (ESS)
- Removable cable
- Different Firmwares
- Functional buttons for volume adjustment and play, pause and change song (depending on the firmware)
- Strong power
- Zinc alloy frame
- Super light
Cons: - Front and back design are exactly the same
- Black plastic love fingerprints
- No balanced output
- Seems a little bit cheap
- Messy informations
- Really hard to find Firmwares


The F.Audio KS01 Dac was bought with my own money, I will try to be as objective as possible and being a common audio enthusiast I will use simple words in this review.
Ks01 Preview

I’ve chosen to give this one a try because of its crazy low price and very little information about it.
Since I have a very restricted budget, the existence of so cheap products intrigues myself.
From my point of view Dacs sound very similar to each other, or at least they shouldn’t take away or add anything to the sound, but also this time some small differences are easily noticeable.
I’m going to compare it with cheap dongles I own with similar prices.

F.Audio KS01 Packaging:​

Box Front
Back box

The F.Audio KS01 comes in a decent carton package, with just the front brand and nothing else.

Box + accessory

Once opened inside, we find the dac embedded, below we find the accessories:

– Type C to type C cable

– Type C to USB A cable


Quite impressed to find 2 nice braided cables but surprised to not find anything else! Manual? Warranty card? No information about manufacturer or customer service.

F.Audio KS01 Tech Specs:​


  • ES9038Q2M + ES9603Q Amp
  • PCM 768kHz/32bit and DSD512
  • 3.5mm SE: 2Vrms – 280mw
  • OLED display
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR): 118db
  • Distortion: 0.0015%
  • Price around 35-50 USD

F.Audio KS01 First impressions:​

pics 1
Dac size
pics 3

The KS01 seems and feels quite cheap but well built with a zinc alloy frame. Actually it is really light weight and seems like an empty enclosure.
Seeing a display at this price is quite crazy! It shows the brand name on the boot, the volume level and information about the quality of the track.
The black faces are probably made of thin plastic or tempered glass that retains a lot of fingerprints.

3.5mm detail
Frame quality details
Volume adjuster

The buttons have good pressure feedback, similar to some phones volume adjusters.
They work on Android and OSX without any issue but how they work depends on the firmware you are using and also the device which is connected. It’s a strange DAC with more firmwares than information!

F.Audio KS01 Firmwares:​

Yes this F.Audio KS01 got more firmwares than information! After some searching I was able to find the folder containing the drivers and firmwares.

Boot logo

There are 3 versions:
  • V19 (older not tested)
  • V20 (160 volume levels, independent volume on OSX and Android, you can change also tracks from it with fast double click)
  • V22 (with 2 different version for buttons functionality)

When it comes you will find just 128 volume levels (I suppose it is the V19 firmware).
I’ve firstly tried the V22 but it seems there are just 140 volume levels and some weird buttons function, so now I’m on the V20 that seems really better and with 160 volume steps.
Here you can find the firmwares and see what changes between them. I forgot to tell you that the instructions are in Chinese so you’ll have to translate it.

KS01 Firmwares Folder

F.Audio KS01 Power:​

I don’t know if the tech specs of the F.Audio KS01 are right but for sure this dongle got some power!

160 volume steps V20

Maybe 280mw are too much for that amp section but it still really good! For this crazy price is a monster!
Also on high volume the DAC is still cold! It also seems to consume very little battery! Just luck or was there an optimization?
Its power is fine for that hungry beast of the KZ PR2.
Really low hiss or background noises also with super sensitive iems like Hidizs MS3.

I tested it with:
  • KZ PR2 need 70% volume
  • Blon Z300 in 3.5mm just less than 50% volume
  • Whizzer He10 and HE01 need less than 50% volume
  • Hidizs MS3 and MS5 both needs 45% volume
  • Philips X2HR needs like 65% volume to shine

F.Audio KS01 Sound Signature:​

I keep reading that ESS chips are warm and dark but actually both Hidizs XO and KS01 have some extra touch on the treble area.

Display information

The sound is more refined than a Cirrus and also more neutral.
The soundstage seems to be slightly wider, good layering and bass are not boosted.
This thing sounds amazing for the price and probably is really hard to find anything better.
It is cheaper than the Jcally JM60 that doesn’t even have a screen and a removable cable!
I can say that F.Audio KS01 price/quality ratio is insane.

Fast Comparison:​


vs Jcally Jm10

Jm10 got some warmer sound and slightly improved bass. Both of them are powerful but actually the KS01 is way better. Firmware updates, 2 cables, Display and control buttons for the same price.

vs Hidizs XO

Both are ESS equipped with that extra touch on the trebles. They’re both extremely good and also extremely different. The Hidizs XO seems slightly more detailed but the KS01 seems more natural.

vs TP20

Cirrus Logic is definitely warmer than the KS01. Here you can definitely hear the flagship chip. The KS01 emphasizes the treble slightly while the other emphasizes the bass. Also the soundstage seems better.

The TP20, however, with its balanced output has much more power and is suitable for use with even harder headphones to drive.

vs Creative SFXi

The Creative DAC probably has the same power. You can find this one at 50USD and still one of my favorite 3.5SE! More support (firmware updates + Apps). His sound is warmer than the KS01.
The KS01 is probably as good as the Creative in terms of sound quality.

Who do I recommend this DAC to?​

Sunset pics

If you are a beginner or on a budget, maybe changing/updating the firmware with Chinese instructions is not ideal, but if you are practical it could be an excellent dac from which to start this hobby.

Also If you don’t need a balanced output this could be a great option for your pockets. If you search for similar chip setup the price is way higher. The possibility to change firmware makes this suitable for more devices and customers.

Is it durable? I can’t tell you but actually I didn’t have any dead Dac in my collection. Having obsessive care for my products I’m not the most suitable subject to say if this DAC is durable.

Reviewed also at Mobile audiophile


100+ Head-Fier
f audio ks 01 dac review ( s recommendation )
Pros: the best price/function audio product I've ever seen,
only two keys have 6282847828 features (I will mention it separately in the review, I have never encountered such a thing before),
oled display in this price range,
128 level volume adjustment,
very good compatibility with balanced drivers,
increased detail in the treble,
280mw audio output from 3.5mm,
very good technical specifications for the price band, ( ess 9038q2m, ess 9603q )
very good material and screen quality,
small and easy to carry
Cons: no apps,
the volume setting has no memory, so every time you plug the device into the phone, the volume starts at 127 / 128,
quality control issue, ( only slight issue with type c slot )
no balanced output
I'm going to review a product that is on my legend list today, it's a price performance monster.

I ordered the device with my own money, I have nothing to do with the brand or anyone. f audio is not a brand I like anyway. Anyway, it is worth mentioning that the price varies between 40 - 45 euros. You can easily find it at this price.

box contents;

only and the device comes with a white box, there is dac and type c to usb otg cable in the standard box. If you pay a little more, you can order type c - type c otg or a hardware package that includes a lighting cable.


dac and cable quality;

the overall material quality of the dac is very high, and since it is a chifi product, there are no quality control problems. like most dacs this one has a slight flex of movement in the type c slot, other than that it doesn't seem to be a problem. The front and back of the product are black glass, sometimes I forget which side the screen is on because unless it's not working, the only way to tell which side the screen is on is the location of the volume keys. the cable is better quality than an average fiio btr3k cable and comes in a fabric braided form, it's fine.




strange functions of the volume keys;

the thing that surprises me the most about this device is that the volume up and volume down keys can control the volume of both the device and the phone separately. It's no joke, the volume keys can both control the 127 level volume setting on the device and control the phone's volume. I was very happy when I saw it for the first time, it really impressed me. As if that weren't enough, you can change tracks and stop/start music with the same two buttons. only 2 keys, like a joke.


display features;

it shows the volume, the quality and format of the track being played, and a few more status information. it doesn't have any other features, but the font is of very good quality, most products in the 150-250$ band use a calculator screen, while the oled screen of this device is very good. The text quality is much better than I expected. By the way, in the product images, the texts on the screen appeared in yellow, but on my device it was white, I don't know why.





technicial specifications;

for the price band, the technical features are very good, you may have to pay an average of 4 times more for a fiio or any product with similar features. anyway, I'm leaving a picture.


sound quality;

due to my past experiences with ess chips, I expect a very warm sound, not as warm as I expected, and this makes me happy. I did not expect the 9038q2m to sound so technical, it has a slightly warm sound. When I try this device with a headphone that contains only balanced drivers, such as the dt 300, the treble turns into a monster of detail. I can even write it separately. i think it will perform very well with almost most earphones except very warm earphones

flo lily;

1 ess9270 70 mw in whizzer;

It's a low-sensitivity iem, with a whizzer, the sound is pretty warm and the headphones aren't far from fun. although it is the only balanced driver, there is a slight bass, and the treble is fine. according to f audio, the iem is definitely more fun, not as much as a dynamic driver, but quite fun compared to a iem with a standard balanced driver.


f audio ess 9038q2m 280mw;

yes, the fun factor is gone after using the iem with f audio. we have a full monitor headphone in front of us, the bass is pulled back and the fun in the treble is left behind. When we look at the sound graphics of the iem, I see that this is the main target, the vocals are like glass. very clean vocals and other frequencies in the background suitable for critical listening. We are approaching Lily's main goal with f audio. With f audio, the earphones that were already vocalists turned into vocal monsters.

audiosense dt 300;

tiandirenhe cs43131 high gain mode;

vocals are leading, the treble is pulled back too much so vocals stand out too much and make the stage feel very narrow. what is this? Why do my $190 audiosense sound like $20 iems? then i switch to f audio and my dt 300 turns into a complete monster of detail.

f audio 9038q2m

there is another dt 300 in front of me, the treble sounds so detailed that it puts dt 300s in my top 5 list. The 240mw feeds very well and the instruments are where they should be, the trebles are sparkly and the details become interesting even for someone like me who doesn't like brights iems. The slight warmth added to the dt 300 makes me adapt to this earphone even more, after this thing I don't listen to my dt 300 much with any other device than f audio. f audio is a very good choice when it comes to balanced drivers and detailed highs. it just pulls the vocals back a bit.


it's a small and simple device, which means comfort. maybe not as short as an ibasso dc 03 pro, but it makes up for it with its finesse. It is easy and light to carry, you can put it in a small bag and carry it easily in your pocket.

last word;

how many dac's are there on the market with an oled screen, 280 mw output, es 9038 q2 m chip and playing well for only 40-45 €? I really like this device. It's a very cheap device even just to try, I recommend it to everyone.

recommendation; s
price performance; s
personal preference; a+



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you really don't believe it reaches 280mw!? it's literally impossible!
i think it is like 120mw. Still good!
280 is likely quoted at 16 ohm, which would make it around 140mw at standard 32 ohm.


1000+ Head-Fier
F.Audio KS01 Dongle - Ain’t No Dong!
Pros: -Solid build and sound quality
-Unbeatable price/performance
-Best buy value
-Market disturbing price
Cons: -Glass body attracts fingerprints
I’m a bit of dongle aficionado myself. Have tried a few dozen different ones and currently own about ten. I bought this dongle blindly on AliExpress. First, I was very attracted to the specs. Metal body, oled screen, volume buttons, high-end dac chip, amp chip, powerful output. Secondly, F.Audio is also a pretty-well known for producing interesting obscure DAPs, no pun intended, so they should be somewhat experienced in producing high-value portable sources, right?

This unit is amazing for its retail price of about $40-55 USD. Engaging sound, together with rich feature set, provide an overall package that tops any other dongle that I’ve tried under $100 USD.

Firmware updates are supported. There’s a comprehensive download available that includes firmware update/instructions, windows xmos driver, aiso driver, and even a video outlining proper foobar settings!

Select Comparisons

vs. Centrance DACport Slim
Slim is more colored and less suitable for iems due to relatively poorly implemented analog volume control. KS01 is lighter, eats less battery, with blacker background.

vs. Creative SFXI Amp
SFXI Amp is warmer and thicker with a strange but interesting on-board dsp preset. KS01 shines more air through upper mids and transitions quicker across the requency range.

vs. E1DA E9038D6K
E1DA is less powerful but neutral, cleaner, better separation, more sub-bass and high treble. KS01 has oled screen, volume buttons and is colored, slower, with more mid-bass and low treble.

vs. Lotoo Paw S1
Paw S1 has balanced/single-ended, more power, shared lo, various eq/dsp features, pleasanter, liquid mids, it’s warmer and more chill. KS01 is a bit raw in comparison, with sharper note ends and less refined upper mids but is more neutral, accurate with blacker background presentation.

vs. Tempotec Sonata MHD
MHD is mqa renderer, supports mic, with sub-bass bias and cleaner, colder signature. KS01 has elevated mid-bass with better dynamics across the frequency range.

vs. Tempotec Sonata E44
E44 is more laid-back, has better stereo imaging and supports both balanced and single-ended. KS01 is less glary, more engaging and refined around note ends.

KS01 Highlights

- 9038q2m portable flagship ess chip!
- independent ess amp chip!
- xmos xu216 usb chip!
- 2vrms / 280mW rated!
- oled screen showing bit-rate and volume level!
- dedicated windows drivers!
- firmware updates!
- 160 volume steps!
- two firmware versions: independent volume control and synched-to-source volume control!
- playback control: play/pause, next/last track!

KS01 Lowlights

-Since volume and playback buttons are shared, at times the volume is changed when you intend to change the track, and vice versa. It takes a bit of practice and there’s also an option to tie the volume control to the source and control it from there.

-Initially, I had stuttering issues with UAPP in exclusive mode, which is my primary go-to-way for listening to dongles. At times, there were also static sounds when changing volume. When connected to laptop, I couldn’t control the volume through KS01’s buttons. I’m glad to report that I haven’t experienced any such issues since updating to the latest firmware (v22).

Last edited:
@Kindlefirehditaly you can copy and paste the instructions into Google translate. You can pick the firmware version with volume control option that suits you best. I chose the one with independent volume control. Installed V22 since it appears to be the latest version out of the ones I received.
Thank you so much! You are really kind! Hope is a good dac! is really cheap and deliver a good power!
V20 firmware seems the best one!