New Head-Fier
The Do it all dongle dac!
Pros: 1. Fantastic packaging, provides everything one might need

2. Also includes the case inside the box, which most companies charge extra for

3. Has parametric EQ built in which is great and increases the versatility to use it with different iem's

4. Great features inside the DAC like Max volume controls etc. (I go in detail inside my full review)

5. The stock sound is really good! And is immediately quite apparent and stands out in the price range.

6. Price to performance ratio is really good!

7. The 3 user EQ inside the DAC is really nice. I personally keep one as a bass boost EQ for lean sounding iem's or when listening to at low volumes
Cons: 1. Does suck a lot of battery even in 3.5mm without the desktop mode.

2. Does get heated a lot, although it has a overheating setting which notifies you

3. A bit chonky than other dongle dac's


Hey everyone today I have the Fiio KA17 in for review. For a long time I wanted a dongle dac which could have a customisable EQ and saved inside the dac, and well looks my wish was fulfilled with the KA17 here.

I have also shared a video version of the review at YouTube any support there in form of a view, A like or A subscribe is greatly appreciated. But if you so wish to read the written version you can read this.

This is a review unit from Fiio and all the thoughts an opinions you are about to hear are my own.

Buy it here (Unaffiliated Link) :-

I will be as usual following my bullet style format for better readability for those who are dyslexic and in general find it hard to read long paragraphs. I follow this guide in general from the British Dyslexia Association.

So lets get started!



1. First I want to say that I am really excited for this product, but it turned into disappointment as when I first received the unit there were lot of issues and bugs. But thankfully it was fixed with an update

2. The version I had before was a pre-launch firmware updating to the latest firmware of the KA17 to the version v0.99 it fixed the dac and its issues. I held doing my review until the v0.99 update came as it also fixed a lot of issues.

3. The packaging of the Fiio KA17 is really awesome, The box holds the Dac, USB-C cable, an Usb-C to A adapter and a case.


4. The packaging is fantastic and it has everything one will need. Except maybe the usb c cable is a bit flimsy, but I personally haven't had any issues with it.

5. Also, almost all dongle dac’s case is sold separately but its so nice of fiio to include the case inside the box. Good job fiio!

6. Now the fiio ka17 size wise is a bit chonky and bigger than most dongle dacs out there.


7. The KA17 has 3.5mm and 4.4mm, volume buttons which are independent of the source, a menu button, a usb c port, a second usb c port for supplying extra power (this is a power only port and no data is transferred) which can activate its desktop mode or high gain mode and take the power upto 650mw for your most demanding headphones/iems, desktop mode toggle and the OLED display

8. The desktop mode can also be activated if it is connected by the main port and is receiving enough power from the source, some android phones, laptops, PC’s can supply enough power here.

It supplies 140mw from 3.5, 300mw from 4.4 in normal mode and 270mw from 3.5, 650 mw from 4.4 in Desktop mode!

9. Now talking about the UI of the KA17 and what it can do ( Please Watch my video on my YouTube for better understanding, as i give a live demo there)

10. The default screen shows the Bit Rate, Volume it is at and the Usb mode

11. First there is the gain menu, you can select low or high

12. Then there is the filter menu of which there are eight. Now I personally didn’t notice any difference with all these filters at all. I used the default fast filter

13. Then there is an otpion for volume step, where in you can select between wither 60 or 120 volume steps

14. The fiio ka17 also supports S/pdif so you can also toggle one or off that.

15. Then you have a setting where in you can adjust the left and right shift to the music which is a fantastic feature to have specially if your hearing is a bit damaged in one side or if the source music or video you are playing has some issues with the audio being leaned towards one side

16. After that you have the dimmer switch of which there are 5 preset settings

17. Then comes the EQ mode which has 7 presets and 3 user presets and an option to bypass the EQ completely


18. Now bypassing the EQ completely disables the MQA option too, so if you want to use MQA and don’t want to use the EQ use the option EQ-off. Before the v0.99 there was a separate option of MQA on/off

19. Now the 3 user available EQ are awesome as that gives me a lot of flexibility in having a bass boost EQ built inside the dac so that if I ever wanted a slight bass boost and I don’t want to use EQ on the transport then this works really well

20. Sometimes when listening at low volumes, quite a few iems there is a lack of body to the entire song and a lack of bass so I keep a separate EQ for low volume listening where in I bump the bass a tad bit more than case 1

21. The EQ is a 10 band eq and for each band you can select the gain and the Q value of the band. Which is really awesome! Q value basically means how wide or narrow the range around that band is when you are changing

22. Also each user eq gets a gain of +/- 12db

23. After the EQ section there is a max volume setting, here you can limit the volume above which ka17 wont be going.


24. Next setting is the rotation display which turns the display 180 degrees around depending on your needs

25. Next is the Display off setting of which in increments of 5 you can select from 5 seconds to 60 seconds

26. After that it shows the USB mode you are in, for PS5 and switch you need to be in USB mode 1 to use the ka17 with these devices

27. Language selection is next english or chinese

28. The version number and at last Recovery mode or factory reset the ka17 to its basic state.

29. That was a bit long covering the menu settings and what it does. Now talking about the dac chip and amps of the KA17. It has 2 ESS ES9069Q flagship DAC chips and a THX AAA 78+ headphone amp. A non-plus version of this amp was used in their M11 and M11s DAP’s. Also there are 8 op-amps in a 4 channel parallel circuit.

30. The digital and analog portions of the circuit are on totally separate circuit boards, each board is equipped with a shielding cover for total isolation.

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31. This also has the XMOS XU316 USB receiver, which is a first for a dongle dac if I am not wrong

32. The KA17 supports upto DSD512, 768kHz/32bit and full MQA unfolding

33. Now talking about the meats and potatoes, the sound

34. I will be talking about the sound without any EQ and I will be using the EQ bypass mode to test the sound.

35. Now before talking sound I want to say one thing, is that it is very hard to judge sound characteristics of a dac. And the sound is clearly dependent on the iem you are using and also comparing it with other dongle dac’s


36. The overall sound of the fiio ka17 is very neutral with a slight tinge of brightness.

37. This tinge of brightness isnt something which will make your bright iems unbearable to listen to but rather your warm sounding treble shy iems gets a small dose of treble which makes it sound nice and clear.

38. This neutral sound signature doesn’t mean that the bass authority has been lost, with iems like nova and kz castor the bass had authority and deep punchiness which made the bass sound crisper too. Something like my tanchjim kara in the desktop mode really benefited from the extra power and its bass sounded more fuller, crispier and very nicely texture here.

39. The mid range here is crystal clear and sounds exactly how I would want. Again the kara in desktop mode was really a treat to listen too! Chris cornells voice which sounds a bit lackluster in the kara in most underpowered dacs it sounded really good here.

40. The treble of the ka17 is very good, that tinge of brightness doesn’t cause any issues to any of my bright iems even at moderate volumes. The kara in desktop mode sounded very nice here too, the instruments sounded very good too. The treble notes here arent too blunted and they are really crisp.

41. The soundstage of the KA17 is phenomenal and so is the imaging. When listening to live songs specially the 1985 live album by Cassiopea it is immediately apparent. I was really surprised by this! Watching any movies like the top gun movies was awesome here and fly by of jets too was awesome and it was very crisp.


42. I cannot specify how good the ka17 powers and opens up something like the tanchjim kara in desktop mode. Kara is very hard to drive and seems like it is meant to be paired with the KA17.

43. Now for battery life. I tested it out with a moondrop chu 2 at 30% volume in low gain mode via the 3.5mm mode I got around 9.5 hours of battery. Yes it is very low and on my battery rank list this is the lowest, but thats sort of expected with the amount of power it pushes. Even when idle the KA17 pulls a lot of battery from the transport and it stays quite warm.

44. The ka17 does get heated up a lot, specially when using it in desktop mode. There is an overheating notification present on ka17 which will notify you when the temp is too much. I suggest using the ka17 out in open specially when using the desktop mode.

45. Now comparison to other dac -

46. v/s the Aune Yuki – Well in terms of features the KA17 wins here no doubt. Now previously I had given the yuki as my favourite dongle dac in terms of soundstage. But well the Fiio ka17 beats the yuki when it comes to that! If you still want something a bit analog sounding then the yuki is still a great option, but if you want a great soundstage and imaging along with a very neutral sound and detailed sound along with EQ then the KA17 is where it is at. The battery is much better on the yuki than on the KA17

47. v/s The colorfly cda m2 – In every aspect of sound the KA17 is just a superior product here, specially with ka17 having eq. But when it comes to battery life the colorfly is much better when compared to the KA17

48. v/s The Hiby FC6 – Well the fc6 is my favourite dongle period! But the ka17 is just superior when it comes to soundstage and imaging. When talking about the overall quality of the sound still prefer the analog sounding fc6 here. But I have to say that the KA17 takes the first spot too on my list of favourite dongles along with the FC6. If I want something with greater soundstage and neutral sound signature then the ka17 it is, if I want to relax and enjoy my music then its fc6.

49. Well the I had a lot of hopes for the KA17, it just broke all that and quickly became my favourite dongle along the FC6. If anyone wants a do it all dongle I highly highly suggest checking the fiio ka17 out. At its $149 price point I would say its definitely worth it, and I have never said this but even at 200 this is a really great product.

50. Being able to power most iems and headphones without any issues in desktop mode is an awesome thing to have. But it has one con is that it does suck up a lot of battery when connected even in normal mode, so do be careful of that when using it.

51. I am sorry if I come across a bit excited about this, because how the KA17 sounds is just fantastic and the EQ function + its price makes it an overall fantastic device to own.

52. Well that's my review of the KA17, I hope you liked it. If you have any questions please do comment and I will try to help you out. Thanks for stopping by!

If you have any questions please feel free to ask me and also if you have any issues regarding this format of review please do comment I will try to mend it. Also sorry to those who are used to reading long paragraphs of review in headfi. I hope my review was upto the mark, I appreciate any feedback.

Again a big thanks to Fiio for making this review happen.

Have a great day ahead :) Bye!
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Headphoneus Supremus
Mighty punchy DAC/amp unmatched in its many features
Pros: Punchy impactful sound, great for fast transients, relatively uncoloured

Perfectly clean background, free of EM interference

Nice screen for seeing all the modes and switching throughout multiple options

First DAC to provide external powering by a separate USB C

Nice design, well built (other than for relatively loose keys to accommodate thermal expansion); great colours

Great power on tap (in my case of IEM usage not tapped)

Quite small and lightweight given the power and capabilities
Cons: Power consumption of ESS chips is noticeably higher than that of Cirrus chips, and the peak power draw is 50(!) times higher compared to that of the most efficient DACs delivering the same level of sound

ESS signature of some treble “glare” can be perceived (at least psychologically)

MQA is a waste of resources for what can be viewed as BS, IMO

Perhaps, PEQ is great, but the software asking for the precise location to connect DAC is not for me

Filters of ESS chips in general, and KA17 in particular, are more subtle in difference to my ears than those of Cirrus-based DACs, e.g. Plus 4

2.5 mm could be incorporated in this form factor (Q1-II that was pushing consumers to 2.5 mm would be a strong supportive argument)
With the detailed pros and cons above, I will try to expand on them briefly and provide some comparisons and perceived synergy with several IEMs, rather than going through all features already described in other reviews.

First, I have purchased KA17 entirely with my own money for ca. $135 in the recent AE sales, so the subjective opinion is entirely my own.

Fiio in part started me in my audiophile journey: with Q1 first, then Q1-II with the 2.5-mm outputs engineered to push consumers to the world of balanced cables (perhaps, Fiio can request its cut from cable makers). Then I also got BTR3K and BTR5 that are very good products in my experience. (While FD11 became decisively my very last Fiio IEM: shabbily-made shell, proprietary connectors, hardly competitive even at $20-25, IMO.) Lastly, KA17 is my first Fiio product of the “7” series (feel BMW-inspired somehow).

While acquiring KA17, I pretty much knew what to expect: power hogging of a new ESS chip (being strongly Cirrus-biased now, I would prefer Cirrus implementation); good THX amps and a nice design and build.

I pretty much got all of this. Below is the unboxing image:

Then the sound was even better than I expected: sharp and precise, especially in the desktop mode and the high gain. KA17 rendering feels quite neutral for ESS-based DACs, though switching from Cirrus DACs, the perception of some ESS treble glare is there (perhaps a but psychologically and possibly also the feature of the sharp precise sound delivery). For those bothered with this glare, the slow filter option seems to alleviate it a bit. Also very nice colours to my taste again: charming shades of blue for both the DAC and the case!

The power consumption also exceeded all expectations. Notably, amps seem to be reasonably power-efficient, given their output. The ESS chip takes a lot of juice, and no idle shutdown, not ESS.

So in the desktop mode KA17 draws 250-260 mA, while playing music, and 224 mA in idle (music processing is always on with ESS, perhaps some MQA background rendering…)

In the normal mode, 200-205 mA and 185-190 mA, respectively is drawn by KA17, not drastically less compared to the desktop mode, so one may very well enjoy the power and might of all amps firing in the mighty desktop mode.

Surprisingly to me, at least at first (then making some sense given that the chip and amplifications circuits are separated), even with the battery connected, the desktop mode still consumes 25-35 mA playing music and 18-20 mA in idle, respectively.

Lastly, in a normal mode, the power consumption of KA17 with the battery connected is 8-10 mA and 5 mA respectively, finally gentle to the phone battery.

Notably, I could not perceive much of a difference in sound when a battery is connected – KA17 seem to be able to draw the power smoothly for its full operation. While many other DACs in my experience sounded noticeably better with the battery connected, e.g. E1DA.

For comparison numbers, Muse M3 (my previous record power hog) consumes 145-150 mA and 185-190 mA playing music and in idle, respectively; and no mistake – more power consumption in idle – one is expected to always play music with the Muse and those ESS chips.

E1DA SG3 takes only 92 mA and 80 mA playing music and idling, respectively.

Kuang Pai Plus4 uses 122 mA and 104 mA respectively, twice less than KA17, yet a lot of processing power consumed for a Cirrus-based DAC.

Nicely efficient Tempotec E44 uses 62 mA and 0 mA (!), with more than enough power delivered and still competitive sound.

Lastly, Apple DAC draws 23 mA with 0 mA in idle, while most efficient DACs (Moondrop Droplet, Samsung AKG USB-C OEM IEM (also sold as Urban X) draw 5 mA to produce comparably loud sound, that is 50 times less power (!!) than consumed by KA17).

IEM tested with KA17:
recent KZs including ZAT, AS24 and my favourite wide-nozzle modified ASX; CCA Trio; Celest Phoenixcall and Plutus; 1More Penta; Simgot E6ML; Tempotec T800; Hisenior T4; and old Brainwavz B400, among few others.

Main  take on IEM synergy: softer sounding IEMs benefited from the precise punchy delivery of KA17, it also helps a bit with the overly prominent mid-bass of some IEMs. For instance, Penta has been pushed to sound a bit better, though more mid-bass taming would be still great. Polite E6ML sounded more engaged and assuring, hence feeling more competitive. Plutus benefited nicely accentuating its prominent bass with more treble energy; while Phoenixcall behaved more neutrally. Trio sounded nicely as well, though I think the difference with hybrids is a bit more (?)
A lot of benefits of KA17 for quite a few IEMs overall.
For already punchy and engaging all-BA IEMs, KA17 may be a bit too much for many. I still liked the overall rendering of all that I tried, but I am not a long-term listener, and lower volumes if sonically overhelmed, for the records.
Overall, this synergy story is just a scratch of the surface with already more than a half a day spent, so definitely my last review weaning off HeadFi.

Finally, few DAC comparisons with the images continuing with the background of “musical instruments”:

In the last image, left to right are E1DA SG3, Fiio KA17, Kuang Pai Plus4, and Muse M3. I thought to compare with more DACs (and with some I did) , but all the comparisons already happened to be quite exhaustive. Really feeling here for good reviewers (and sadly remorsing how copy-paste ones "win their game").

Overall, KA17 sounds most energetic of all my DACs, especially in its ESS-rendered treble; again, prominently precise, powerful and clean sound delivery.

First, ESS-based comparisons:
Muse M3 sounds noticeably more mellow, not unlikeable and also synergizing easier with more engaging and punchy IEMs.
Muse M3 is much bulkier and heavier compared to KA17 for the practicality of the fully portable use. KA17 is of the nice size for me, only a touch larger than Plus4 that I use everywhere.

E1DA SG3 is then in between KA17 and M3, being quite neutral, but with some touch of the bass added in its rendering - still a very competitive sound to my ears. The main downsides of E1DA are EMI and those prominent pop-ups on connecting/disconnecting that are most noticeable among all the DACs that I have.
Nicely contrasting, KA17 is free of those “pop ups”. Also E1DA strongly benefits from an external battery, while with KA17, even with my old S10, enough power is provided to operate KA17 fully; only the battery drain is mighty.

Then if to mention Shanling UA2 here – its warm ESS rendering with the noticeable added background noise, perhaps an attempt on mimicking AK-like “velvet” sound, as well as those lamp amps, coupled with the “famous” Shanling software support, made it my last Shanling product. To continue digressing: iBasso is also out for me with their two out of two dongles not recognized by Samsung phones without extra efforts. It is really great that there are many diverse competitors in the DAC market.

Now, my favourite Kuang Pai Plus4 still remains my preferred DACs for its many appealing aspects. Cirrus rendering is cleaner and more transparent. When switching back from ESS, Cirrus-based DACs can be perceived as more plain, but this neutrality is arguably better to appreciate all the subtle differences in IEMs.
The filters of Plus4 are definitely more functional with nicer more meaningful difference compared to KA17 filters. Furthermore the stage expansion of Plus4 is simply unmatched. The button operation of Plus 4 is also quite straightforward even without the screen.
In its turn, KA17 features the screen that is definitely useful. The design of KA17 is also more to my tastes. Lastly, the precise punchy sound of KA17 can synergize better with several IEMs, especially on a mellow side. So KA17 is quite closely completive with Plus4, just my current strong bias for Cirrus is decisive in preferring Plus4. Hopefully, Fiio will consider making a Cirrus-based KA17 analogue.

Now, this section is strictly for the “believers” and “believers in the believers” and "total believers" (others must totally skip it).
Thinking about the double amp of KA17, it occurred to me: what about bringing together two Plus4 DACs for twice more of the mighty audiophile mental power and beliefs! This doubling setup coupled with a prowess of the nice supporting short cable circuit (pictured as a contrasting heart of silver and gold below, made of super proprietary graphene one and Penon’s renowned connectors), delivered the sound that transcended one or two levels up (beautiful smooth and penetrating harmonic transients, extra clarity and the stage totally mushroomed in 4 dimensions); so you know, close and beyond even if compared to DAP totls. The mighty power of audiophile imagination totally ultimately rulz!

Lastly, my experience with AK chips, as with AK4493SEQ-based Kuang Pai KP1, made me feel that “velvet’ rendering is the furthest from my tastes. Cirrus implementations are the cleanest and delivering more transparent rendering that fully enable IEMs to display their own unique characters.
ESS rendering can be more engaging, but more of the imposed colouring requires more specific matching for the synergy that can be somewhat more limiting.

Overall, KA17 sound rendering definitely deserves 5-stars; while an appreciable list of shortcomings made me think about 4.5 or even 4 stars overall. Now, 4 stars would be rather unfair, given that new products pushing the boundaries further are bound to have more initial limitations.
So 5 stars for the sound and 4.5 stars overall with a great potential for further improvements.

Future work for Fiio (I feel free to suggest here, Fiio may feel equally free to dismiss these suggestions): building a similar DAC with similar amps, PEQ and external power that is based on Cirrus chips for better power management and more engaging filters. Fitting between, KA13 and KA17, this “KA15” with the MSRP of $120-130 will be a great DAC/amp (I would be in). For true audiophiles, KA19 based on the latest and greatest AK chips and with the power delivered close to 1 W can be a mighty attractive proposition.
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Does the peq allow for shelf filters?
I could not use PEQ fully due to Fiio software requiring way too many of different permissions.
Good review. I particularly agree with the power consumption comment.


New Head-Fier
FiiO KA17: Desktop Heart in a Dongle Shell
Pros: Excellent Build Quality
Aluminum frame + Glass
Unique Flag-ship configuration
App available
Firmware upgrade
PEQ + personalization
Neutral – Technical (slightly warm)
Power Monster
Menu & Volume buttons
OLED display with many functions
Independent volume (adjustable steps)
Runs quite cold also on heavy load in the Leather case
Price is good considering the specs
Cons: PEQ isn’t really smooth to use
Inserting the second power supply often causes some buttons to be pressed
The app can be improved
MQA mode need to be improved
The equalizer ensures that there are 2 interfaces; switching from one to the other causes playback to stop


Good morning, readers! Today FiiO sent me the FiiO KA17, a portable dongle with an almost desktop configuration. I currently believe it to be one of the most powerful and complex dongles in my possession.

The review will be more complex than usual and possibly longer. To make comparisons, I don’t have any recent desktop Dac/Amp so I deduce that any comparison would be superfluous but I will try to do my best.

The review, as always, will be completely unbiased and uninfluenced.

I would like to remind you that I am just a person who enjoys trying out new items and listening to a lot of music; I am not an expert.

My opinions are obviously subjective.

Tech Specs:​

More information:


The packaging of the FiiO KA17 is simple but refined. Just opened, we have the KA17 and its imitation leather case, a very welcome accessory, in my opinion, given the price of the dongle.

Under the first layer, we then find the type C cable and the USB A adapter (thank goodness).

The set of accessories is, in my opinion, correct for the price; if we want to be picky, I would have liked a slightly more robust type C cable. The cable for the additional power supply is missing but personally, I have so many cables at home that it is the least of my problems.

Build quality/First impressions:​

The FiiO KA17, being a flagship dongle, also boasts excellent build quality. The product is solid, not too heavy, and not too large considering the double PCB it contains; in fact, FiiO has kept the analogue part separate from the digital one to avoid background noise and possible disturbances. The Oled display is excellent, I think it is the same model that I have already seen on the EPZ TP50.

Honestly, I hope to see more and more displays on dongles, as they allow you to manage various settings without having to use apps. In my opinion, the screen is much faster than using the app. Returning to the build quality, it seems excellent in every respect, metal shell (the dissipation seems good even with the case), volume buttons, desktop mode, and a button to access the menu. On one side, we have the red type C input for additional power. Another very small constructive criticism is that I would have used two metal audio outputs like those seen on the Fosi SK02.

App & Firmware:​

I waited a while to test the FiiO KA17 and after a quick check with the factory firmware, I immediately updated following the instructions that we can find on the official FiiO website. Currently, the most recent firmware is 0.99 but I believe some other updates will arrive in the short term. In any case, the main improvement is the possibility of using the PEQ app, one of the most complete I’ve seen so far. However, when the FiiO KA17 switches from EQ ON to EQ OFF and vice versa, playback is interrupted. This happens because the interfaces are somewhat separate. When the equalizer is active, the dongle is limited to 24 bits at 192 kHz, and when you enter and exit these modes, the device it is connected to recognizes it as a new connection.

For example, Tidal will request access in exclusive mode again. The FiiO application can also record both interfaces but you will only need the interface that you can record with the EQ ON. I can’t tell you if in the future they will be able to make this functionality more fluid, currently, it is absolutely usable, just leave the EQ on and if by chance you don’t want it, there is the EQ bypass, which allows you not to turn off the PEQ but still hear the sound without any change. Having said that, once you have created your presets or modifications, the app is not strictly necessary as you can easily access everything via the display.

For the functions of the menu, I leave you a small reel, which is certainly more practical and useful.

  1. Gain Selection: High or low gain selection
  2. Filter selection: 8 digital filters
  3. Volume steps: you can choose between 60 and 120 volume steps
  4. S/PDIF: you can enable this function
  5. ADV-L/R: To adjust channel balance
  6. Dimmer: Display brightness
  7. EQ: 7 preset EQ + 3 Custom profiles
  8. Max Volume: You can limit the volume
  9. Rotate Display: Display orientation can be adjusted
  10. OFF Display: display auto off after inactivity
  11. U-audio: USB mode selection
  12. Language selection
  13. Version: Firmware check
  14. Recovery: Factory Reset

Firmware Download: FiiO Forum

MQA disappeared from the menu in the latest update and is now automatically activated when playing an MQA file, as long as EQ is deactivated. On my POCO M4 PRO, I noticed some micro-interruptions in playback when I switched from one interface to another (the problem could easily be attributable to the smartphone), however, once I entered MQA mode, if by chance you have a mixed playlist, I noticed that it was not able to exit that mode, playing no sound in the case of FLAC.


The FiiO KA17 has certainly raised the bar on the market; even if it doesn’t have to be a race to see who has the most powerful output, this dongle makes me smile so much. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of space for desktop dac/amps and seeing such a small dongle be able to deliver such power is truly fantastic. FiiO did an excellent job with two ES9069Q chips and two OPA1662 Op amps, accompanied by a balanced THX AAA 78+. A real madness that could be seen on a desktop DAC/AMP but hardly on a dongle. To make the 3.5mm output a little difficult, I asked for the help of the 75 Ohm impedance adapter but I can tell you that even when approaching 100 Ohms in total, the FiiO KA17 does not seem to be affected.


Honestly, I had no doubts since even the slightly less powerful Fosi SK02 had no problems.

Below are some of the tests I carried out.

The tests were carried out in high gain and desktop mode, using supplementary and non-supplementary power.

FiiO Ka17 vs Donglemadness

Test of the SE 3.5mm with 270+270 mW at 32 ohm:

  • Kefine Delci: Another pairing that particularly stands out. The Delci are truly great IEMs and together with the FiiO KA17, they are truly a spectacle.
  • HIFIMAN Sundara:You need to squeeze the volume a little more until you reach 40/60. Openback planars really need a lot of power. It doesn’t make much sense to stick with an SE cable if you can use it balanced.
  • EPZ Q1 Pro: Obviously, no problem. I feel like she added a bit of bass.

Testing the BAL 4.4mm with 650+650 mW at 32 ohm:

  • Hidizs MP145: The sound signature goes with any IEM. The MP145 has enough power. The bass is full and powerful, and the details and soundstage seem better than usual. Really good synergy. 25/60 of the volume needed.
  • Letshuoer S15: is pretty similar to the MP145 in terms of needed power. 20/60 of volume due to his brightness
  • Kefine Klanar: Similar result and same volume of MP145 needed. No efforts at all.
  • EPZ x Tipsy Star One: 64 ohm Star One on balanced only needs the volume at 20/60. At 30/60, we are already well above the volumes considered safe for long listening sessions.
  • EPZ Q5: Obviously, no problem; it would work fine even on a 3.5mm output so on a balanced 4.4mm, it needs very little volume on the FiiO to play correctly. The synergy of this pairing stands out particularly.
  • HIFIMAN Sundara: On a balanced cable brings literally life; the power of the FiiO Ka17 unleashed the dynamics. With the volume at 30 out of 60, we already have excellent sound pressure and good volume. Hifiman headphones and especially planar openback ones, also need a lot of current due to the very high dispersion they have outside.
  • HIFIMAN Sundara Closeback: Also, having the closeback model allows me to make an objective assessment and say that openbacks really have a lot of dispersion. Compared to the same volume, we have a much higher volume.

Power management:​

Extra Juice

After a month of using it, I realized that the second power supply is not extremely necessary to activate desktop mode. If the device you connect it to has the capacity to supply at least 5V and 1A, there will be no need for the other power supply. Nowadays, I believe that both the latest Mediatek and Snapdragon can easily handle it. If you don’t want any drain on your phone’s battery, then you’ll have to use external power. On my Poco M4 Pro, I don’t seem to notice any lack of power, but it is also true that the KA17’s power supply is very efficient; there is no interruption or background noise when connecting the external power supply. FiiO did a great job of isolating interference.


On my smartphone, despite the dual power supply on the FiiO KA17, the volume is lower than on the PC. I deduce the limitation is not due to the lower current but mostly due to the phone’s software. I am in Europe and unfortunately, we have limitations to prevent hearing damage.

The only background noise is heard when you leave it connected to external power but the data cable is disconnected.

In the meantime, I bought two type C testers. In the future, I will update the review to tell you how much current it requires.

Sound Signature:​

The sound signature of the FiiO KA17 somewhat follows what I heard on the FiiO KA11. It certainly follows the FiiO sound style, very technical, excellent neutral tendency, only slightly warm. I think it is the dongle that is closest to the iBasso DC04PRO, or at least I think they are very close. Since PEQ is available, you can still adjust the sound to your liking, making the versatility of the FiiO KA17 absolute. You can make it as cold or extremely hot as you like. I love the sound of it as FiiO produced it. Being neutral, it pairs well with any IEM without significantly changing its sound.

The combination of DAC, OP AMP, and THX amplification is truly remarkable, and I must say that this dongle is truly absurd. I would have liked to bring you some comparisons with some Cayin, but unfortunately, I don’t own any.

Fast Comparison:​

vs Fosi SK02

Fosi Audio SK02

The Fosi SK02 is probably the dongle/dac/amp that comes closest to the power of the Fiio KA17. Their similarity ends there. They are two completely different products. The Fosi is very bulky; it is more suitable for desktop use, its sound signature is brighter than many dongles on the market; but it also has its own type of IEM, which it pairs excellently with. There are two totally different prices that are difficult to compare but if you are looking for power and not mobility, this is a monster.

vs iBasso DC04 Pro

iBasso DC04PRO

Even though it is an outdated model, it is still one of my favorites. Its extremely refined sound has made it one of the best CS43131s. Obviously, it doesn’t keep up in terms of power but to this day, it remains one of my favorite dongles. The FiiO KA17, in my opinion, with all its features, takes it off the throne.

vs EPZ TP50


The EPZ TP50 seems to share the same display as the KA17; graphically, I don’t notice any substantial difference, but some heavy graphic animations on the KA17 have changed. The TP50 is a very technical and analytical dongle, from what my ears hear. It doesn’t look out of place next to this monster. Even the TP50, despite the specifications being more modest, seems to me to have a lot of power; in fact, I never know whether to trust the declared specifications. Unfortunately, the PEQ is missing, I don’t know if EPZ intends to add some presets in the future but the customizable part would probably be missing. To be honest, the price difference is very little and the FiiO has much more present support.

Who do I recommend this DAC to?​

FiiO KA17 size on hand

The choice of a similar product can happen for various reasons. FiiO decided to make a similar product to see the market reaction. If sales go well (and I think they will), we will probably see a sequel. Many who enter this hobby at the beginning may buy a DAC for around 60 USD with a double Cirrus Logic chip; today, their level has improved considerably and the choice makes sense. But if by chance the hobby takes you, know that after the first dongle, the second or perhaps third will probably also arrive. The search for something better and better is constant; too many products come out and as it is always technology, it evolves every week. The FiiO KA17 is a dongle that will take away the desire for future upgrades for a while. A similar product has raised the bar so much that for a while I feel fully satisfied. On, it currently costs less than 160 USD, which is an absolutely interesting price. It costs more on AliExpress or in stores. It costs less than two good dongles so as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth it!

The final rating takes into account the cost, accessories, and particularities of the product.

Where to Buy?​

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which is better : micro details,
between ka17 and tp50 ?


Reviewer at hxosplus
Beat this if you can
Pros: + Excellent sound performance
+ Excellent technicalities
+ Better than all previous FiiO DACs
+ Dead silent and EMI shielded
+ Powerful desktop mode
+ Independent type-C power supply
+ Dot matrix display and buttons
+ Independent volume control
+ User configurable PEQ
+ Highly customizable
+ USB to SPDIF bridge
+ Excellent build quality
+ Case included
+ Best value for money in the market
Cons: - A bit larger than the competition
- Buttons won't control playback
- Gets pretty hot in desktop mode
- Less power efficiency than the competition
- iOS cable is not included
- The PEQ can only be customized through FiiO control app
The KA17 is FiiO's latest portable USB DAC dongle and their current flagship product dethroning FiiO KA5. It KA17 features the latest design pattern that was introduced with the KA13 but keeps the OLED screen of the KA5 while it also blends KA13’s desktop mode switch with an additional USB type-C power supply port as is inherited by the FiiO Q7 and M17. In case that you are not familiar with FiiO's USB DAC dongles, their catalog now consists of the following models from the most budget to the more premium: FiiO KA1 (now replaced by the FiiO KA11), FiiO KA2, FiiO KA3 (getting discontinued), FiiO KA13, FiiO KA5 and FiiO KA17.


The KA17 employs two of the brand new ESS ES9069Q flagship DAC chips, 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 an absolutely pristine and pure audio background.

The THX AAA 78 headphone amp was extensively used by FiiO in products like the M11 Pro and M11 Plus players. Now, the even newer and upgraded THX AA 78+ amplifier is featured in the KA17. Inside there are THX AA 78+ headphone amplifiers, with 8 op-amps working in a parallel, 4-channel fully balanced configuration, allowing for greater power output.

The audio circuit of the KA17 is far more complex than most USB DAC dongles, featuring dual crystal oscillator clocks, LPF voltage amplification, BUF current expansion and headphone amps working together in parallel. The digital and analog portions of the audio circuit lie on totally separate circuit boards, each board equipped with a shielding cover for total isolation.

Also included is a 16-core XMOS XU316 USB receiver, rarely found in audio dongles. This chip features lower latency, more stable signal transmission, and better compatibility than typically used USB control chips.

The device supports asynchronous decoding up to 768kHz/32bit, DSD512 and full MQA. USB DAC driver free is also supported while the KA17 can also be used as a USB to SPDIF bridge.

Desktop mode and power

FiiO's desktop mode has been introduced and continuously refined with the release of various products, such as the M17, Q7, M15S, Q15 and KA13, and now has found its way to the KA17. The FiiO KA17 features a special desktop mode, activated using a dedicated switch. Enable the desktop mode, and the KA17 will automatically adjust the DAC, amplifier power supply, and the amplifier power output to fully unleash their potential with greater power output.

The maximum power output of the FiiO KA17 is 300mWPC/32Ω from the balanced output in normal working mode and 650mWPC/32Ω for the desktop mode. With such power output, the FiiO KA17 is the most powerful USB DAC dongle at this size, even surpassing the KA13 (540mW), the Cayin RU-7 (400mW) and the iFi Go bar (440mW) that used to be the power champions.

The KA17 can easily drive most full sized headphones, like the FiiO FT3 and FT5 or even the 300Ω Sennheiser HD660S2. To get a rough idea about real life performance, for the Focal Clear Mg, 30 out of 60 steps are enough to get them loud with spare headroom (at desktop mode off) and the value drops at 25 out of 60 for the desktop mode (from the balanced output). At the same time, the KA17 is dead silent no matter if the host device is a noisy PC or an Android phone, so it is ideal for using sensitive earphones like the FiiO FX15.

The desktop mode will make the KA17 pretty hot, it is really difficult for such a compact chassis to effectively dissipate heat and stay cool, thus FiiO has implemented a clever thermal protection circuit.

The FiiO KA17 was updated to the latest v0.99 firmware.

Non Audio stuff

The FiiO KA17 has a tiny 0.91”, dot matrix display and three dedicated buttons so you can independently adjust the volume and access the menus without the need to reach for your phone or use an application. Play, pause and skip tracks are not supported. The screen displays information like sampling rate, gain and volume while it is used to navigate through the menus. The device is highly customizable, the user can select between two volume adjustment steps, gain (high and low), digital filters, EQ profiles, UAC mode, screen rotation and timer, channel balance, etc.

You will only need to reach for the FiiO control application in order to configure the 10 band PEQ. You can store up to three different user configurations. All settings are permanently stored in the device memory so there is no need to reach for the application again after you are finished. You can select your custom settings or one of the 7 ready-made EQ profiles directly from the device menu.

Important note: The EQ can only be configured through the FiiO control application.

The KA17 inherits the new design pattern that was introduced with the FiiO KA13 but this time the see-through glass window is replaced by the dot matrix display. Measuring 64x27.7x12.7mm and weighting 33.5g, the KA17 is also slightly bigger and heavier than the FiiO KA5 and KA13 but still compact enough for portable use. This is a well designed device that has a premium feeling and great looks, especially the blue version. The chassis is made from solid aluminum alloy and boasts excellent finish and craftsmanship.

The package includes a short USB type-C cable, a USB A to C adapter and a nice leatherette case. Unfortunately an iOS cable is not included as a standard.


Audio stuff

(This section includes comparison notes with the FiiO KA5 and KA13)

The general sound profile of the KA17 is not that different from FiiO's house sound as is expressed in most of their audio gear with THX amplification. The KA17 is neutral and transparent with a hint of treble brightness but it also has a touch of low-end warmth, a nice combination that makes for a balanced sound signature. In this regard, the KA17 sounds musical and engaging while expressing excellent fidelity.

The key difference is that the sound of the KA17 is weighter and fuller than the KA5 and the KA13 thus it combines plenty of musicality with top notch technicalities. Another notable difference is that the timbre is slightly more natural, the sound is harmonious and less sterile without any notable artificiality or metallic tinge despite some certain treble energy.

The low-end is surprisingly weighty and visceral for a THX amplifier, the bass on the KA17 is fuller and not that lean textured as in the KA13 or the KA5 while at the same time is fast, tight, well defined and controlled. Additionally it is punchy and impactful with great dynamic contrast, especially with an external power adapter.

The mid-range is neutral, crystal clear and transparent with excellent articulation and surprisingly colorful harmonies that are embodied into instrumental and vocal overtones. This is still a THX - ESS design, don't expect much liquidity and organic characteristics but the truth is that the overall timbre is more natural and realistic than someone would expect.

The KA17 is fast and energetic, airy and luminous with a touch of a well controlled brightness that is smartly configured as to shed light into the mix and help with detail retrieval but without verging into too analytical and brilliant. This is the most naturally expressed and better realized treble from all previous FiiO DAC dongles (battery powered ones also included). This is the most sophisticated and mature sounding FiiO dongle, also the most resolving and refined, greatly surpassing the KA13 and KA5 in these regards.

The soundstage that the KA17 produces is stellar, wide and spacious without artificially added width, the sound is open and expansive with surprisingly good layering. Imaging and separation are also top notch, the presentation is also quite holographic with plenty of ambient information. The overall performance is greatly satisfying and better than someone would expect from a portable DAC, especially if you employ the desktop mode which further opens the soundstage and enhances separation.


For $149 (a little more or less) there are dozens of other USB DAC dongles each one with its own unique merits. Some of them are more compact and lightweight, others have lower power consumption or fancy designs and most importantly, all of them have their own unique sound signatures. After all, not everyone is going to like the sound profile of the FiiO KA17 so thankfully there are plenty of other options, from extremely technical sounding to more analog and organic, there is literally a USB DAC to keep everyone satisfied. But the truth is that I can hardly think of anything else at this price point, that offers the same combination of sound quality, functionally, power output and compact enough size, as the FiiO KA17. So it's up to you to decide if you need something multi-talented as the FiiO KA17 or something else with more specific and unique characteristics.


The KA17 is FiiO's best USB portable DAC/amp so far, not only because it sounds maturer and more sophisticated than its predecessors but also because it embodies plenty of features and the innovative desktop mode that transforms it into a desktop-grade device.

The FiiO KA17 has really everything and even more than you are ever going to need from a portable USB DAC/amp. This is an endgame DAC and the only reason to buy something else is only if you seek a different kind of sound shaping or something smaller and more efficient. Everything else is included in the FiiO KA17, at a price that is really hard to beat, thus surpassing all competition when it comes to value for money. Plain and simple, the FiiO KA17 offers the best price to performance ratio in the market right now and I can clearly see it selling like hot cakes.

The review sample was kindly provided free of charge.

The price of the FiiO KA17 is $149 and you can buy it from here.

Visit my website to read the full version of the review which includes power consumption measurements and other interesting stuff.
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Does peq allow for shelf filters?
You can adjust gain and q for various frequencies.


Headphoneus Supremus
End Game Dongle?
Pros: Generously accessorized
Solid build, portable and light
Single-ended and balanced ports, with desktop mode + high gain options
Class-leading 650 mW power output, beats other dongles easily here
Has separate USB-C input to feed power, for folks who want to save battery of connected phones
Complimentary Fiio Control App for PEQ adjustment - game-changing versatility to adjust tonality of the dongle
No hiss/EMI
Low output impedance - great pairing for fussy low impedance IEMs
No "POP" sound on disconnecting transducers
Independent volume control, with fine volume levels
Stock form boasts of a neutralish profile with a touch of warmth
Top-notch technicalities like micro-detailing and soundstage
UAC 1.0 mode available for gaming devices
LED display screen, with multiple settings to play with eg - DAC filters, timeout screen, saved PEQ settings
Cons: Gets hot on desktop mode
Battery drain on desktop mode
Fiio Control App not available for Apple users
Barebones functionality with the App currently, other than PEQ

I bought the Fiio KA17 from Aliexpress at a discounted price.

It can be gotten here: (no affiliate links).

KA 17 9.jpg


KA 17 1.JPG

KA 17 2.JPG

KA 17 3.JPG

Tested at $149.99 USD

The KA17 is a plug-and-play device. It does not require additional drivers on Windows 10 and above, and this dongle was easily recognized by various Android and Windows devices I paired it with. Apologies, as I am not an Apple user, so I can't comment on its usage with Apple gear.

The KA17 is compatible with a free Fiio Control App for Android devices. This is sadly not available for Apple users. As of the time of writing, only PEQ can be accessed with the app, though Fiio's rep says they are looking to add other functions to this app later on (

KA 17 16.jpg

For our gaming friends, the KA17 has a nifty UAC 1.0 mode, which is compatible with devices such as the Switch and PS5.


KA17 11.jpg

Other than the dongle, the packaging comes with:
- Leatherette case
- USB-C to USB-C cable
- USB-C to USB-A adapter

KA 17 10.jpg

Sadly, there is no Lightning adapter for our Apple users, but the accessories are nonetheless pretty generous. Some pricier dongles do not have a case for example. Talking about cases, we have in the box, an elegant leatherette case, and one can choose between a blue or black variant.

The USB-C to USB-C cable is sheathed nicely and is pretty supple, and the USB-A adapter is a useful gadget to plug the KA17 to laptops and PCs.


KA17 2.png

The KA17 comes in a rectangular profile, and is fashioned from aluminum alloy. There's a black or blue chassis which users can opt for during ordering.

It is quite portable, weighing 33.5 g and measuring 64 x 27.7 x 12.7 mm. The KA17 is definitely pocketable and unobtrusive.

The top of this DAC/AMP features an elegant 0.91 inch matrix dot display LED screen.

KA 17 12.jpg

One end has the 3.5 mm (single-ended) and 4.4 mm (balanced) ports.

KA 17 13.jpg

The KA17 is uniquely designed with 2 USB-C input ports. One is for data-cum-power, whereas the other one along the lateral side of the fuselage is solely earmarked for external independent power. As this dongle is marketed to output up to 650 mW power on desktop mode, we may need this power booster!

Anyways, the KA17 can be powered from just the data USB-C port, without the aforementioned external USB-C power port, but the caveat is that this only works if the upstream source has enough output power (eg laptops and desktops should be fine). Android phones may also power the KA17 from the data port, but bear in mind, the battery might be drained down rapidly (some lineages of Apple phones reportedly may not have enough power though).

Users would be pleased to note that the KA17 does not cannibalize power from USB-OTG connected source when the external power USB-C port is plugged in. Hence, this latter USB-C port is a useful option to pump out higher output without consuming the battery of a weaker phone that is connected to the other data USB-C port.

KA 17 8.jpg

On the other lateral side of the body, we have the desktop mode switch, volume switches and a multifunction button. Holding this multifunction button for 2 seconds will take one to the settings menu, where we have a wealth of toys to play with. These are:
  • SPDIF toggling
  • Channel balancing
  • Timeout screen
  • MQA toggling
  • EQ settings
  • Max volume cap
  • Finetuning volume steps
  • Screen rotation
  • UAC 1.0 and 2.0 toggling
  • Language
  • Firmware version checks
  • Gain settings
  • DAC filters
Since the KA17 is a powerhouse, one may inadvertently max out the volume and destroy the transducer (or heavens forbid, the ears!), so it is nice that Fiio has provided options to limit the max volume and volume steps!

For our friends who love to EQ, the KA17 is special in that it supports 3 custom 10-band PEQ settings via the Fiio Control App. As discussed, this is only supported on Android devices. There are also preset EQ options found here, namely:
- Jazz
- Pop
- Rock
- Dance
- R&B
- Classical
- Hip-hop

The PEQ is a really incredible tool to shape the dongle to whatever sound signature you wish for. However, PEQ is unavailable in the UAC 1.0 mode, and the PEQ only supports up to a max PCM 192 kHz/24 bit. The SPDIF output also has no PEQ. Thankfully, once saved on the Android App, the PEQ settings will be available the next time you want to use it (there are 3 custom PEQ banks available).

The KA17 supports up to 60 and 120 volume steps (which allows great finetuning of the increments), and it has independent volume controls, something which is not seen in pricier competitor dongles (cough cough looking at you Questyle M15).

Sadly, in stock form, the KA17 has no play, pause and track skip buttons available on the dongle, but as above, Fiio is getting feedback and seeing if these can be added to their App for future firmware updates.


The KA17's engine are dual ES9069Q DAC chips with dual OPA1662 amps. It supports up to 768 kHz/32 bit and DSD512, with full MQA decoding available. The 3.5 mm jack also supports SPDIF output (though this is limited to 96 kHz/32 bit).

KA17 3.png

For the technical geeks, this device has a THX AA 78+ amp, with 8 op amps in a parallel 4-channel circuit. Its brain is a
16-core XMOS XU316 with dual crystal oscillators. This is installed in a 3 stage plus 3 rail power supply design. The primary stage involves filtering and voltage protection, while the secondary stage settles the DC-DC boost conversion. The final stage involves 3rd stage LDO voltage stabilization, and the power supply circuit is split to two smaller rails.

KA17 4.png

The digital and analogue tracks are also installed on individual circuit boards with shielding, to minimize cross-talk.

KA17 5.png


I tested the Fiio KA17 with only Android phones and Windows laptops and PCs. Once again, I'm not an Apple user, so I can't vouch for its performance with Apple ecosystem sources.

On phones, I used the HiBy Music Player, with USB bit perfect OTG activated.

In stock form, tonally, the KA17 sports a neutralish profile, with a hint of warmth. It is very clean, yet expansive sounding. If one has heard the classic Fiio house sound, generally it veers to a sterile and analytical soundscape, and the apple here does not lie far from the tree. However, the KA17 seems to have a tinge thicker note weight than the other Fiio dongles - such as the predecessor KA13 for example - but the former adds a bit of musicality on top of the technical aspects with this added note weight.

Of course, with the previously mentioned 10-band PEQ, audiophiles can adjust this dongle to any tonality they wish for, so the possibilities and versatility of this device are literally endless. Dare I say it, but the PEQ is actually a game-changer, as one can prime the KA17 to be a warmer source for edgier gear, and vice versa.

Technicalities are superb for a $100ish dongle. Soundstage is expansive (especially with height and depth), and micro-details are retained well. Imaging and layering is solidly portrayed, and the KA17 can handily beat more expensive dongles in this department.

This DAC/AMP has single-ended and balance ports, with gain settings, and a beast desktop mode. Power-wise, we get impressive advertised output specs of 270 mW on single-ended, and 650 on mW balanced with the desktop mode triggered. As of the time of writing, the KA17 is the king godzilla in the dongle stable, beating its older brother's (the Fiio KA13) 550 mW output power. This is literally enough power to drive the most demanding of transducers, and users should not fear for any lack of headroom.

For voltage specs, on desktop mode and high gain, this corresponds to:
  • single-ended output: 3 Vrms
  • balanced output: 4.5 Vrms
No doubt we can't game physics, and the KA17 does get hot on desktop mode, especially when driving power-hungry transducers. The battery drain on phones is also quite substantial. Indeed, with desktop mode triggered, the parallel amp is in play, and Fiio reports a 40% power consumption increase with this:

Thankfully, we have an option to turn off desktop mode to conserve battery, especially for less demanding transducers. This dongle runs warm but not hot with desktop mode switched off. Additionally, Fiio has a placed an internal thermostat inside the KA17, which automatically reduces or tones down the output when the temperature hits a preset level. Using the KA17 in a fan-cooled environment, or perhaps removing the leather case may also aid in heat dissipation, especially if one is using the KA17 on desktop mode for long periods.

For those that do not require desktop mode, these are the specs for the power output on non-desktop mode, which is still very respectable, and should drive most gear out there, other than outliers (

3.5mm output, high gain:
  • L+R>110 mW+110 mW (16 Ω, THD+N<1%)
  • L+R≥140 mW+140 mW (32 Ω, THD+N<1%)
  • L+R≥20 mW +20 mW(300 Ω, THD+N<1%)
4.4mm output, high gain:
  • L+R≥150 mW+150 mW(16 Ω, THD+N<1%)
  • L+R≥300 mW+300 mW(32 Ω, THD+N<1%)
  • L+R≥30 mW+30 mW(300 Ω, THD+N<1%)
KA 17 15.jpg

FWIW, I put the KA17 through its paces via my hardest to drive gear:
1) Final Audio E5000 (low sensitivity at 93dB/mW)
2) Sennheiser HD650 (high impedance at 300ohm)
3) Yinman 600 ohm (600 ohm impedance and 87db/mW sensitivity)

With 4.4 mm and desktop mode, I'm glad to report these 3 goliaths were easily tamed, with much headroom to spare. Dynamics, soundstage and bass control were all exquisitely done, and the KA17 may actually do a better job with bass texturing and tightness than some desktop devices!

The KA17 has a low output impedance of 1 ohm on the single-ended and 1.5 ohm on the balanced ports, respectively. This fixes the issues of the predecessor KA13's 1.7 and 1.8 ohm output impedance on single-ended and balanced, which made it a tricky pairing with low impedance IEMs. We have no impedance mismatch here with the KA17, so there won't be tonal skewing of fussy IEMs.

Some additional areas of refinement: the KA17 has no EMI or hiss, which is a sign of good shielding and well-implemented noise floor control. There is also no nasty "POP" sound heard on removing transducers.


The KA17 will be compared against other midFI dongles . Some are actually pricer than the KA17, but read on to discover some surprising results, that performance is sometimes not related to price!

Cayin RU7

The RU7 is a 1-bit tech dongle. It is warmer and more analoguish than the KA17, though with inferior technicalities. The RU7 has smaller soundstage depth and height (but perhaps a hair better width), with weaker micro-detailing, imaging and transients.

Although the RU7 has a presentable 400 mw output on balanced/high gain, this is dwarfed by the KA17's 650 mW on tap. Both dongles run warm during usage (the KA17 a bit more so, especially on desktop mode, but this is not unexpected cause of the bigger power outlay).

The RU7 has 3 DSD filters, but it has no PEQ or app compatibility. It has no second USB-C port for external power feeding, and it also has some clicking noise during usage due to DSD conversion within the DAC.

The RU7 is more expensive, and has poorer power/technicalities, but it is a tinge thicker in note weight with a more natural timbre. However, value goes to the KA17, as the RU7 has no PEQ and can't drive higher demand transducers.

Aune Yuki

The Yuki is a dual Cirrus CS43198 dongle. It is tuned neutralish, with some blunted note edges.

The Yuki has no app compatibility, no DAC filters and no PEQ. It does not even have an LED screen.

With regard to technicalities, the Yuki is a league or two behind the KA17, with the former having worse soundstage depth and height, with second-rate imaging and micro-detailing. The Yuki is slightly more organic in timbre.

One area which may be deal-breaking, is the Yuki's anemic power specs. It has a paltry 160 mW on 4.4 mm, which is multiples lower than the KA17's monstrous 650 mW. Having said that, the Yuki runs cooler during usage, with a bit less battery drain.

Considering the Yuki is just $10 cheaper than the KA17, I would get the KA17 any day of the week, in view of the superior versatility (PEQ), technicalities, UI settings and power output.

Questyle M15

The M15 is a ES9281AC dongle, which is quite neutral. It has no LED screen, PEQ, app or DAC filter settings.

The M15 is behind in power output, and can't drive too demanding stuff. The M15 has weaker soundstage and imaging, with less dynamics. It also hisses with some sensitive IEMs, with EMI present on occasions. The M15 has no independent volume steps too.

In a nutshell, the M15 costs more, but actually doesn't perform as well as the cheaper KA17.

KA 17 14.jpg


I hardly give 5/5 ratings for my reviews, but the Fiio KA17 deserves this stellar score for performing excellently in almost all departments.

Externals like build, accessories and portability are solid, with independent volume controls that are finely-tuned, with even an option for volume protection. There are a myriad of settings to play with, such as DAC filters, and even a UAC 1.0 mode for our gaming friends. The PEQ - only available on the Android app - unlocks tonal versatility, and may be a game-changing addition to morph the KA17 to what is desired tonally on-the-fly.

In stock form, it boasts of a neutral signature with a touch of warmth, with excellent technicalities to boot - in particular, soundstage and micro-details are eye (or rather, ear) catching. Internally, the KA17 is well-designed, with no hiss, EMI, nor "POP" on disconnecting gear.

The KA17 has a wicked 650 mW output power on desktop mode, which kills all competition in the dongle world, and this workhorse can easily drive challenging low sensitivity/high impedance gear to aplomb, with eargasmic dynamics and large headroom. It is not a one-trick pony, as fastidious sensitive IEMs also synergize well, due to the low output impedance of this dongle, something that more powerful sources usually neglect.

Well, despite all these laudable traits, the KA17 is not perfect, and one has to have a critical lens to pick out small areas for improvement. The big power output comes with a compromise of battery drain and heat (especially on desktop mode). Thankfully, Fiio has cleverly added a separate USB-C port for external power feeding, so as not to burn out weaker batteries from mere phones. Also, there is an option to turn off the desktop mode to conserve battery, and the KA17 still pumps out respectable specs even with this handicap.

As written above, Fiio has promised to look into adding more functionality to the Fiio Control App, which as of the time of writing, only supports PEQ. If this can truly be addressed, we will be close to perfection, though the Fiio Control App sadly does not support Apple devices for the KA17.

In conclusion, the Fiio KA17 has my stamp of approval for a benchmark dongle. At the $100ish retail price, it adeptly beats costlier dongles in most departments, with the PEQ being the feather on its cap. The KA17 is a sound investment (no pun intended) for audio enthusiasts that want a future-proof portable source, that can also double up as a desktop device, with stupendous power in this minute frame.
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Wait, does it mean you can turn on desktop mode without plugging in the side USB cable? I just realised how affordable this one is, and now that my appetite for dongle is wet due to the Snowy night, I’m eyeing this one for my work desk
@o0genesis0o Yes you can turn on desktop mode without using the external USB power port, but it will drain the connected OTG upstream source if that can output enough power to feed the dongle.

For all intents and purposes, I've been using desktop mode with my laptop just on the OTG USB C port (not with the side power port), and it does use up quite a fair bit of battery.
Great review, as always!
I thought to ask some questions, but then everything was clear for the decision :)


New Head-Fier
FiiO KA17 Review: Pocket Powerhouse with Flagship DNA and a Reasonable Price?
Pros: Great sounding.
versatile with plenty of options.
Powerful desktop-mode performance.
Does have MQA.
Wide format support.
EQ available on the app.
Excellent build quality.
User friendly with informative screen.
Protective case included.
Cons: Desktop mode requires an extra USB-C cable which is not included.
Limited settings accessibility through the App.
A bit larger than other dongles.
It can get warmer than expected.
The FiiO KA17 arrives with high expectations, advertised as a “high-end USB DAC and headphone amplifier” delivering “desktop-level performance in a pocketable device.” As a follow-up to the well-regarded KA11 release, which is the budget dongle, does the flagship KA17 live up to the hype, or is it just another dongle in a crowded market? Let’s delve into its features, sound quality, and overall value proposition of what you get at the cost of $150.


For this review, I received the FiiO KA17 directly from FiiO for a review. While I am grateful for this opportunity and their support, I want to assure you that my opinions and evaluations are based solely on my own critical listening and experience with the product. I strive to remain objective and unbiased in all my reviews, regardless of any collaboration or partnership.


The KA17 immediately impresses with its sleek design. The aluminum alloy chassis feels sturdy and premium, while the glass front panel, which acts as a screen, adds a touch of elegance. There are no creaks or loose parts, solidifying the build quality.

The FiiO KA17 doesn’t just occupy the top spot in their USB DAC/amp lineup; it embodies a shift in how audiophiles experience high-fidelity sound. Driven by the rise of smartphone music libraries and the increasing popularity of streaming services, FiiO recognizes the growing demand for on-the-go audiophile solutions. Traditional options like Bluetooth offered convenience, but USB dongles provided a more compact and plug-and-play solution with greater potential for audio prowess.

Building upon the success of previous generations, FiiO leveraged their expertise in DAC and headphone amp technology to develop the KA17 as a true flagship dongle. This wasn’t just about chasing market trends; it was about responding to a growing user base transitioning from basic sound quality expectations to a desire for audio that rivals dedicated portable players.

But FiiO doesn’t stop at pushing boundaries. Recognizing the competition in the high-end dongle market, FiiO strategically positions the KA17 within their existing product line, offering flagship performance at a price point that resonates with audiophiles on a budget. This strategic placement, spanning a range of $30-$150 (making the KA11 the most budget but not a slouch at all), ensures their commitment to catering to diverse needs and usage requirements.

In essence, the KA17 represents the culmination of FiiO’s expertise, market awareness, and commitment to democratizing high-fidelity audio. It’s not just a product; it’s a statement – a declaration that flagship sound doesn’t require a flagship price tag and that convenience and exceptional audio quality can coexist in your pocket.

Technical Specifications

  • Colors: Black/blue
  • USB chip: XMOS XU316
  • DAC: ES9069Q*2
  • Op amp: OPA1662*2
  • Headphone amp: Fully balanced THX AAA 78+
  • Max supported formats: Asynchronous 768kHz/32bit, DSD512, MQA full decoding
  • USB DAC driver-free mode: Supported
  • Display: 0.91-inch dot matrix display
  • Headphone outputs: Single-ended 3.5mm+balanced 4.4mm
  • Dimensions: About 64.0×27.7×12.7mm
  • Weight: about 33.5g
  • Output power 1: L+R≥270mW+270mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%/single-ended/desktop mode)
  • Output power 2: L+R≥650mW+650mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%/balanced/desktop mode)
  • Output power 3: L+R≥140mW+140mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%/ single-ended/non-desktop mode)
  • Output power 4: L+R≥300mW+300mW(32Ω/THD+N<1%/ balanced/non-desktop mode)
  • Output power 5: L+R≥30mW+30mW (300Ω/THD+N<1%/ single-ended/desktop mode)
  • Output power 6: L+R≥90mW+90mW (300Ω/THD+N<1%/ balanced/desktop mode)
  • Signal to noise ratio: ≥126dB (A-weighted)
  • Noise floor: PO<2μV(A-weighted); BAL<2.2μV(A-weighted)
  • THD+N: <0.0004% (1kHz/32kΩ)

Unboxing and Ergonomics

Packaged in a large cardboard box, the FiiO KA17 presents itself as a flagship product right from the start. The device is elegantly displayed, protected by a plastic foil, and accompanied by a matching leather case for added protection. Inside the box, users will find a USB Type-C to USB-C cable, a USB-C to large USB-A adapter, and two silicone plugs for the USB-C ports to prevent dust buildup. Although lacking a screen protector, the included leatherette case serves its purpose well. The device itself boasts a solid metal construction with a small black-and-white display on the front, providing essential information and setting adjustments. With physical volume buttons, a functional button for settings management, and a desktop mode switch, the KA17 offers convenience alongside functionality. Despite its compact size, it features both a balanced 4.4mm output and a basic 3.5mm SE output, catering to different user preferences.


First of its kind

First ever dongle with an independent power supply.

Forget limitations! The KA17 boasts the first-ever independent power supply port in a DAC. This revolutionary feature unlocks its full potential: unleashing the full power of the dongle, boosting power supply voltage, and enabling powerful parallel headphone amp output. This translates to exceptional power, effortlessly driving even demanding headphones while opening up a whole new world of sonic exploration through “power swapping” for different dynamic responses. While connected to the external power supply, the primary Type C isn’t consuming power but just transferring data.


Powering Performance: Advanced XMOS XU316 Controller

The KA17 leverages the powerful XMOS 16-core XU316 controller, known for its superior processing capabilities and low latency. This advanced chip, chosen and further optimized by FiiO, ensures smoother data handling and exceptional digital audio performance.

Fine-Tune Your Audio Experience: Specialized 10-band Parametric EQ

You can control your sound with the KA17’s versatile 10-band parametric EQ. Unlike basic EQs, it offers deep customization options, allowing you to adjust values precisely to your preferences. Forget complex terminology; the user-friendly graphical interface makes adjusting these parameters intuitive and straightforward. What you see is what you get, ensuring your desired sonic adjustments translate directly to your music.

But the power doesn’t stop there. Built on the foundation of the XMOS processor, this high-fidelity EQ supports high-resolution adjustments at up to 192kHz sampling rates. This means your meticulously crafted EQ settings remain accurate and detailed, preserving the essence of your music without compromise.

Unbound Audio Fidelity: Redefining Portable Performance

The KA17 transcends traditional designs, drawing inspiration from high-end music players. Its meticulous architecture preserves every audio detail, from the DAC to the final output. Dual DACs and a four-channel, fully differential amp work in harmony to deliver exceptional dynamics and channel separation.

But it’s the power that truly sets it apart. Over ten independent power supplies, with a dedicated three-level system for the analog section, ensure pristine power delivery for clean, transparent sound. This combination of innovative design and pure power unlocks a level of audio fidelity rarely seen in a portable device.

Unleashing Flagship Sound: Dual ES9069Q DACs

Experience the power of ESS’s latest flagship: the KA17 boasts not one but two ES9069Q DAC chips. This exclusive arrangement, utilizing ESS’s renowned 4th-gen Hyperstream technology, delivers incredible detail and resolution while crafting a spacious, natural soundstage. Forget harsh “digital sound” – the KA17 emphasizes musicality, immersing you in rich, natural audio.

Heat Management:

The KA17’s complex architecture and high output power might raise concerns about heat. Rest assured, the device is designed to stay comfortably warm, not worryingly hot, thanks to several innovative steps:

  • Optimized Power Efficiency: Over ten dedicated power supplies, meticulously implemented, maximize efficiency while minimizing heat generation.
  • Intelligent Power Management: In desktop mode, the KA17 leverages its stable USB power supply for efficient operation, unlike some dongles that struggle with power draw.
  • Aluminum Advantage: The full aluminum body acts as a natural heat sink, efficiently dispersing warmth.
  • Internal Safeguards: High-precision temperature sensors and automatic power adjustments ensure the KA17 operates safely, even under demanding conditions.

Smart Power, Seamless Experience:

The KA17 boasts intelligent power management for unmatched flexibility and peace of mind:

  • iOS Compatibility: Connected to power-limited iOS devices? No worries! The KA17 adjusts its audio power supply (voltage), ensuring smooth listening without exceeding device limitations.
  • Desktop Mode Unleashed: Connect an external power supply to the dedicated port and activate “Desktop Mode” for maximum audio power.
  • Computer Flexibility: Even without an external power supply, you can use “Desktop Mode” when connected to a powerful computer via the main USB port.

Under the Hood: Flagship Tech on a Budget

The KA17 boasts impressive specs for its price. Dual ES9069Q DAC chips and THX AAA-78+ amplification are usually found in flagship devices, not portable dongles. This translates to support for high-resolution formats like 768kHz PCM and DSD512, catering to even the most demanding audiophiles. MQA decoding capability is another premium touch, making it capable of more streaming services.

Power to Spare: From Pocket to Desk

One of the KA17’s major selling points is its versatility. In “standard” mode, it comfortably drives most IEMs and portable headphones. But the true power lies in the “desktop mode.” Enabling this unlocks a whopping 650mW into 32 ohms, enough to power even demanding audiophile cans. However, be warned: desktop mode requires an additional USB-C cable for power, adding a slight inconvenience.

App Integration: Convenience with a Caveat

The FiiO Control app offers convenient control over EQ adjustments. Firmware updates are handled through the app, ensuring your KA17 stays up-to-date. However, there is a minor snag: gain, volume, L/R balance, and more settings and features aren’t accessible through the app, requiring manual adjustment on the device itself.

Screen control features:

  • Volume Control: Choose from 60 or 120 precise steps with a customizable maximum volume to prevent accidental blasts.
  • Display Rotation: Flip the screen 180° for convenient viewing in any orientation.
  • MQA Decoding: Enable or disable MQA support for enhanced high-resolution streaming.
  • S/PDIF Output: Activate the S/PDIF output for compatibility with various audio systems.
  • Digital Filters: Select from 8 filters to fine-tune the sound according to your preferences.
  • Brightness Control: Adjust the screen brightness through 5 levels for optimal viewing in any environment.
  • Gain Selection: Choose between high or low gain to match the impedance of your headphones.
  • Multilingual Interface: Switch between Chinese and English for user-friendly navigation.
  • Balance Adjustment: Fine-tune the balance between the left and right channels for a perfectly centered soundscape.
  • Auto-Off Timer: Set the display to automatically turn off after a period of inactivity.
  • USB Mode Selection: Choose between USB 1.0 and 2.0 for compatibility with different devices.
  • Default Settings Restore: Easily reset all settings to factory defaults if needed.
  • EQ Customization: Explore 7 preset EQ options (Jazz, Pop, Dance, Rock, R/B, Classic, Hip-Hop) or create and save 3 custom profiles for personalized sound tailoring.
  • Software Version Check: Stay updated by viewing the current software version and checking for potential updates.

Sound Performance: Smooth, Energetic, and Refined

The FiiO KA17 delivers a sonic experience that very impresses considering the price (150$). Its core signature leans towards smooth and energetic with a touch of warmth, offering a natural and balanced presentation with impactful bass, detailed mids, and airy highs. Here’s a breakdown of its key characteristics:

Tight and controlled bass, avoiding muddiness. The KA17 delivers impactful kicks and rumbles without overpowering the rest of the frequency range. Whether it’s the thump of electronic music or the low-end growl of a bass guitar, the bass’s presence is satisfying and punchy.

Clear and detailed mids, faithfully reproducing vocals and instruments. Vocals sound natural and engaging, with nuances and emotions conveyed accurately. Instruments like guitars, violins, and flutes have a well-defined presence, allowing each note to shine through.

Sparkling and airy highs without becoming harsh or fatiguing. The KA17 extends the treble smoothly, creating a spacious and open soundstage. Cymbals have a natural shimmer, and higher-pitched instruments like flutes and trumpets retain their delicacy without sounding sibilant.

Spacious and expansive stage, making you feel immersed in the music. The imaging is precise, allowing you to pinpoint the location of each instrument and vocal within the soundscape. This spaciousness adds to the overall listening experience, creating a sense of presence and atmosphere.

Overall, the FiiO KA17 delivers a sound performance that surpasses its price point. Its smooth yet energetic signature, powerful dynamics, very accurate presentation, and high-tier technicalities make it a compelling choice for audiophiles of all genres. Whether you’re listening to classical, jazz, electronic, or acoustic music, the KA17 will faithfully reproduce your favorite recordings with precision and detail.


Quick comparisons

FiiO KA17 vs. Truthear Shio:


The FiiO KA17 and Truthear Shio present compelling options in the USB dongle market, each offering distinct sound signatures to enhance your listening experience. The KA17 boasts a natural sound profile with a subtle touch of warmth, delivering precise and well-balanced audio reproduction across the frequency spectrum. In contrast, the Truthear Shio offers a warm and inviting sound signature characterized by rich and lush tones, creating an immersive and musical listening environment. While the KA17 prioritizes accuracy and balance, the Shio emphasizes warmth, catering to different preferences in sound presentation. Both dongles feature high-quality components, but the KA17 remains the superior one in terms of power output (the Shio can give up to 150mW), features, and sound quality.

Head-to-Head: KA17 vs. iBasso DC04PRO:


While both the FiiO KA17 and the iBasso DC04PRO are portable USB DAC/amps aiming to elevate smartphone audio, they cater to slightly different preferences. The KA17 boasts superior power output, reaching a staggering 650mW compared to the DC04PRO’s 280mW. This translates to the KA17 effortlessly driving even demanding high-impedance headphones, while the DC04PRO may struggle with power-hungry models. However, the DC04PRO offers a more compact and lightweight design, making it even more pocket-friendly. Something in the DC04PRO makes me always come back to it, but the KA17 is still the superior one with more features, better quality overall, and much higher versatility.

FiiO KA17 vs. Tanchjim Space:


Choosing between the FiiO KA17 and Tanchjim Space hinges on your priorities. The KA17 reigns supreme with desktop-grade power (650mW) for demanding headphones and boasts a wider feature set like EQ and MQA support, but comes at a higher price and larger size. The Tanchjim Space prioritizes a more neutral and reference sound signature, portability with a compact design, and is more budget-friendly, but sacrifices power (230mW) and features. Consider your needs for power, portability, features, and budget to make the best choice.


The FiiO KA17 lives up to its flagship moniker by offering cutting-edge technology, excellent sound quality, impressive power output in a compact and portable form factor, and, not less important, a very fair price for what it offers. While the lack of app control for gain and some more features you would like to quick access rather than start scrolling in the settings on the device itself is a minor inconvenience, the desktop mode, MQA decoding, and thoughtful design features set it apart from the competition. Considering its exceptional value for money, the KA17 becomes a compelling choice for audiophiles on the go seeking flagship-level performance without the flagship price tag. Users wanting desktop-level performance from a portable DAC/AMP with the flexibility for home listening. Audio enthusiasts desiring high-power output, MQA decoding, and advanced EQ customization would highly appreciate this dongle.

where you can buy it:

Official FiiO AliExpress store
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New Head-Fier
Redefines what you can expect from a dongle headphone DAC
Pros: Sound amazing especially in Desktop Mode
Desktop Power gives you tremendous power
10 band PEQ capability
Display for easy switching
Outstanding DAC
Outstanding THX+ AAA Headphone amplifier
Cons: IOS Application can't configure device (due to Apple limitations)
Screen hard to read in direct sunlight

Review of the Fiio KA17 DAC and Headphone Amplifier​

FiiO’s latest flagship model of USB-C dongle, encompasses an array of innovative features providing the very small and portable dongle with the power and capabilities of a desktop unit. The KA17 has been the perfect usb-c dongle for me for the past few weeks. I have been commuting by train each day to work in a ‘hot desk’ environment where I couldn’t use my normal desktop headphone amplifier, but I never missed that desktop amplifier even when I decided to bring my harder to drive Hifiman planar headphones.


The FiiO KA17 has that perfect middle ground where it’s powerful enough where you won’t miss a desktop headphone amplifier but small enough to stick in my pocket.

I hope in this review to give you a feel if the KA17 might also be for you.

Note: I would like to thank FiiO for sending me KA17 for the purposes of this review - you check out more details about the KA17 on the FiiO website here for more information. The retail price of the KA17 is $149.99


The FiiO KA17 sets a new benchmark for what can be achieved in the small footprint DAC and headphone amplifier category, combining exceptional audio quality with advanced features.

What is in the box​

The KA17 comes in a nice premium box:

IMG_9400 Medium.jpeg

Once opened here is what we get in the box:

IMG_9407 Medium.jpeg

Once you remove the top layer you have an usb-c cable and adapter on the bottom layer:
IMG_9408 Medium.jpeg

Once the KA17 is put into its protective carry case it’s a nice looking device:
IMG_9410 Medium.jpeg

Note: Each color variant of the KA17 comes with a matching leatherette case.
IMG_9409 Medium.jpeg

Build Quality​

Here is a short video showing the build quality of the KA17 from all angles:

FiiO has paid close attention to the user experience with the KA17 with the dot matrix display and a sensible button layout to quickly cycle through the menu options on the device.


While the screen is mostly bright and easy to read, I did find when using it in bright sunshine it was a little hard to read.

The KA17 is designed with a robust aluminum alloy body, ensuring durability and effective heat dissipation, complemented by a compact and sleek form factor that does not compromise on power or functionality. I did found the KA17 got slightly warm in usage but it never ‘overheated’ during my usage.


The KA17 is flagship device and FiiO has implemented some great features, let have an in-depth look at just a few of the standout features:

Independent Power Supply Port and Desktop Mode​

Te KA17 “Desktop Mode” is activated when connected to a power adapter or sufficient USB power, I actually found it worked well even with my iPhone 15 Pro Max usb-c connection. But when using the KA17 at my ‘hotdesk’ desk I did plug it into a separate dedicated usb-c cable connected directly to the wall to save the battery in my phone while still utilise the desktop mode.

Once you enable this mode via the switch on the device, you immediately hear the difference, it is like switching from a portable dongle (like the excellent KA11) to a proper desktop amplifiers with the DAC, and THX amplifier capabilities getting an excellent boost in quality.

In Desktop Mode, the KA17’s balanced output can reach up to 650mW + 650mW, see the full power output specifications later the review.

Internal audio architecture​

The KA17 employs the ESS ES9069Q, a 2-channel flagship DAC based on the fourth-generation Hyperstream technology, balancing high power and low distortion with excellent clarity.

KA17-architecture Medium.jpeg

The dual DACs and four-channel fully differential audio amplification ensure excellent sound dynamics and separation.

The THX AAA 78+ Amplifier stage is also superb feature for such a small device, this previously featured in FiiO’s M11+Plus DAP.

The KA17 features a XMOS 16-core XU316 controller, offering low latency and high digital audio performance.

Here is a list of output formats available under UAC2.0 mode on my Windows 11 Laptop:


Specialized 10-band Parametric EQ​

The KA17 boasts a 10-band parametric EQ, allowing users to adjust gain, frequency bands, bandwidth, and Q values, these PEQ profiles can be switched on the device using the built-in display but using the FiiO control application really allows you to customise the profiles.

EQ Profile switching via OLED display​

The 0.91-inch display, a rarity in USB dongles, intuitively indicates different functions, complemented by physical buttons for customization. Users can adjust screen orientation, filters, and the display sleep timer, enhancing the device’s usability.

A fantastic feature of the KA17 (which it shares with some other FiiO devices like the BTR15) is the ability to switch EQ/Custom PEQ Profiles via the OLED screen built into the device:

As you can see the display allows lots of on-the-go configuration without needing to launch the FiiO Control application which for iPhone users is a fantastic as the IOS FiiO Control app cannot control the features due to Apple limitations.

FiiO Control Application​

The PEQ graphical interface can be configured within the FiiO control Android application (unfortunately no IOS support due to Apple current restrictions), each custom EQ starts with a flat configuration:
Screenshot_20240218-102005_FiiO_Control Medium.jpeg

Using either the sliders to configure the EQ filters or by clicking the ‘Advanced settings’ to enter the PEQ values manually you end up with a nice graphical view of the PEQ setup:

Screenshot_20240219-220848_FiiO_Control Medium.jpeg

Having various profiles and especially customisable EQ/PEQ on small portable device is an incredible feature.
Screenshot_20240219-220946_FiiO_Control Medium.jpeg

For example, Apple does not allow a system-wide EQ on IOS, and while some individual IOS music applications have some EQ capabilities, the ability to EQ your headphones for all IOS music applications is a great feature, then being able to use those same PEQ settings for your headphone when using other devices is amazing, I tested this with my Macbook Pro, my Windows 11 Laptop and also my Xiaomi Android Smartphone, and it was great to have the freedom to just have the PEQ set once for my headphones but use it everywhere and even switch profile without needing to launch an application.

While it’s excellent to have PEQ editing capabilities, I feel FiiO can do more in this area, specifically:

  1. Add AutoEQ support
  2. Import / export capabilities
  3. More custom Profiles (currently there are just 3 custom profiles for 3 different headphones / IEMs)

SPDIF Output​

Compatibility with 3.5mm Coaxial SPDIF output allows for connections to other desktop amplifiers and DAC. This adds a unique dimension to the KA17 allowing for example your smartphone an easy yet high quality option to plug into your existing hifi stack and utilise 96kHz/24bit SPDIF audio output format.

This is the cable that is required for this feature, and it connects into the 3.5mm headphone output, and then it must be turned within the configuration, disable the headphone output:

SPDIF Medium.jpeg

Subjective listening experience​

I found the KA17 provided a very neutral response with no coloring of the audio, that is obviously when the EQ was disabled. The extra power that the KA17 provided also meant that when I needed that extra bass power I never felt lacking, I always feel you need a little headroom, and I was usually using at 70%/80% volume on my phone, I could even listen with the low gain setting and still have a little headphone with my planars.

Of course when listening to one of the built-in EQ profiles you can colour the output to your liking.

Specifications and Measurements​

Technical Specifications
ConnectorsType-C USB2.0 (power supply/data transfer)
USB Type-C POWER IN (orange, powering)
USB decodingXMOS XU316*1
Supported formatsPCM: Supported up to 768kHz/32bit
DSD: Supported up to SD512 (Native), DOP256
SPDIF: Supported up to 96kHz/24bit
Output3.5mm supporting 8~150Ω (Also support SPDIF)
4.4mm supporting 8~300Ω
Dimensions64mm × 27.7mm × 12.7mm
Display0.91-inch OLED display
SNR3.5mm ( Desktop mode) ≥ 123dB (A-weighted)
3.5mm ( Non Desktop ) ≥ 120dB (A-weighted)
4.4mm ( Desktop mode) ≥ 126dB (A-weighted)
4.4mm ( Non Desktop ) ≥ 120dB (A-weighted)
THD+N3.5mm ( Desktop mode) < 0.0015% 1kHz/-15dB@32Ω
3.5mm ( Non Desktop ) < 0.0015% 1kHz/-10dB@32Ω
4.4mm ( Desktop mode) < 0.0004% 1kHz/-8dB@32Ω
4.4mm ( Non Desktop ) < 0.0005% 1kHz/-3.5dB@32Ω
For those who like SINAD values a THD+N of 0.0004% = SINAD of 108db which is very impressive for a portable device

Output Power:

As you can see there are lots of different output power options depending on whether you are using the balance or single ended outputs and whether desktop mode is activated and the impedance of your headphones:

L+R PowerPO/BALDesktop ModeOhms
320mw + 320mwPOYes16Ω
270mw + 270mwPOYes32Ω
30mw + 30mwPOYes300Ω
110mw + 110mwPONo16Ω
140mw + 140mwPONo32Ω
20mw + 20mwPONo300Ω
460mw + 460mwBALYes16Ω
650mw + 650mwBALYes32Ω
90mw + 90mwBALYes300Ω
150mw + 150mwBALNo16Ω
300mw + 300mwBALNo32Ω
30mw + 30mwBALNo300Ω
While this might seem complicated for me, it was basically that were 4 different ways of boosting the listening experience, starting with 3.5mm output, then switch to 4.4mm Balanced for a little more power, then switch on high gain if you wanted a bit more and then finally switch on desktop mode if you really wanted to maximize the output capabilities.

The real star of these power ratings is the 460mw into 16Ohms and 650mw balanced into 32Ohms with that level of power you can enjoy headphones that normally would be limited to desktop amplifiers with a small portable device and even EQ those headphones if you want.

Frequency response​

FiiO have published their measurements and as you would expect from a neutral sounding dongle the FR is completely flat:

KA17 FR.jpeg


I gave the KA17 a pragmatic rating of 5 - it’s an excellent device with great features. If you want a single device that can be both a mobile DAC and a desktop DAC the KA17 is an incredible choice.


The Fiio KA17 represents a significant breakthrough in the USB dongle DAC market. It sounds like a desktop amplifier and has the high quality features of a desktop amplifier like a Screen, a great DAC and PEQ capabilities yet its size makes it an incredible portable device.

The KA17 sets a new standard for what to expect from a portable usb headphone dongle dac.


500+ Head-Fier
The Second Revolution of Dongles
Pros: • Game changer dongle
• End Game dongle
• All of the above also because of Desktop Mode
• All of the above with an affordable price!!!
• Best ESS sabre implementation with the smoothest treble ever heard
• THX Amps
• Treble
• Mids
• Bass
• Beautiful
• And many more there is no more space here is better to read the review
Cons: • Some functionalities missing from current firmware
• Price. Too cheap for some snob audiophiles
I am a big fan of dongles as I have a super busy life with work and kids and I am not using proper desktop amps and DACs anymore. I need simple and quick solutions. I was maybe the first adopter that used a dragonfly 1.2 with the first android version that could support usb audio back in 2015 when nobody back then knew and discussed about them.

Also, my needs changed with time as from a speakers user became by necessity a headphone lover. I acquired many headphones throughout all these years but I developed a particular passion for the whole Sennheiser 6 series and I am impressed also with my elex. All these headphones are suffering when they are driven with underpowered sources and shine when they are driven by a good source. Obviously, loudnesses alone is not a criterion to judge a dac/amp. It is surreal how a good headphone like 6XX can be transformed to a legendary one when is driven properly.

With the first generation of dongles you were struggling to really tell the difference by using a dongle or not. The first revolution came with the second generation of dongles like KA3 which started using amps on top of DACs in order to improve the sound. The KA3 was a revelation in an unbelievable price driving some of the 6 series on another level but had two main issues. It was too clinical and bright and had no physical volume buttons to fine tune the loudness, a real issue in my case.

The KA5 was a definite improvement in terms of functionality but not always in terms of sound. It drives wonderfully my 660s that needs a lot of thumb in the bass area but it does not give the kick in the butt that the ess chip inside KA3 gave to the old guard of senns, namely 600,650,6XX and 58X.

When fiio asked for feedback and while everyone asking for the cirrus logic chips I wanted just a good implementation of an ESS chip that will be tamed and not be bright. In the past and in an other thread I asked for a new endgame dongle that will have the following elements:

1) ESS chip but tamed so not to be bright or too clinical.
2) Best value op-amps to imitate desktop amp behaviour as much as possible
3) Physical buttons for fine tuning volume while iPhone volume to be controlled solely by these buttons as ibasso dongles usually do
4) Some re-clocking and cleaning power supply abilities for eliminating jitter and improving sound quality
5) Xmos usb controller (as for example in go bar)
6) Affordable price

It seems that fiio was listening and implemented most if not all of my suggestions and some more:

1) They used 2 flagship ESS chips that have one of the smoothest treble I have heard and not only from an ess chip but from any other dac chips
2) THX amps
3) Physical buttons but I do not believe that the ibasso behaviour is implemented properly yet or if any was intended at all
4) Oscillators, LO filters and some isolation of the boards for clean power supply as much as possible
5) Xmos controller
6) Same price with the KA5 (in the U.K. at least)

On top of that fiio implemented some additional stuff with most notable the idea of a desktop mode:

1) Desktop mode from the main usb-c power supply
2) Desktop mode by using a second usb-c power supply
3) A second usb-c for a using an independent power source

These additions implemented from fiio were first implement in the KA13 but I was not very much interested since I have not seen any upgrade for the op amps there. But when fiio announced the ka17 I immediately asked them for a review unit as I was thrilled to see that they have implemented some of my wishes from my previous posts and survey feedback.

To make the long story short the KA17 delivers in a spectacular way. It is a revolution to the second generation of dongles, like KA3 and KA5, which in turn were a revolution to the dongles before them.

I have tested KA17 with the following headphones:

HD660s2, Elex, HD660s, HD58X and 4XX.

They all sound magnificent scaled up from a dongle like never heard them before. The KA5 in comparison seems to have more bass but this I believe an illusion as the bass is more in comparison to the other frequencies and dominate the sound signature. The treble seems more but is piercing in comparison with the KA17. This is again because the proportions of the ingredients, frequencies in this case, are not balanced fully.

The KA17 has considerably more space, vertical and horizontal, has more spacious and lush mids that extend wonderfully into the space, like a desktop system, and integrates the bass and the treble in a harmonious and proportionate way. Nothing stands out without reason. In the songs that the bass stands out, the bass stands out. It is not everywhere looking to overcompensate for something.

The treble is gloriously so smooth and by the virtue of being smooth you are able to increase the loudness in levels you could not do before. In that way, you increase the information because everything is louder, the mids, the space, the soundstage, the details, the voices and whatever else stands between you and the music.

I tried to A-B test between the KA3, KA5 and KA17 with my 660s2 and finished my comparison after 10 minutes. In desktop mode, there is nothing to compare really. The KA3 challenge the KA5 but both of them they cannot even come close to KA17. Even the numbering is correct although that i am sure was not intended. From level 3 to level 5 and then by virtue of the desktop mode to level 17.

Given all the tricks that are implemented in this dongle is difficult to attribute exactly where all this improvement exactly comes from. But the sound many times reminded me the moment when I have changed to the Burson op-amp for my little bear. The sound has this crispiness which comes usually from a good designed opamp.

These differences are not revealed only for 660s2 but also for all the other headphones. Particularly the 58X was scaled like never before and the difference was apparent by playing movies in Netflix. I never heard 4XX playing music so nice, that was also an unexpected shocking revelation.

However as I heard rumours in the past that similar planars (400se) burned amps like xcan I would be hesitant to rely exclusively to a non-desktop source for driving planars in long listening sessions. I have a feeling no matter the omhs reading that my 4XX headphones need a nuclear reactor next to them to in order to feel happy.

I did not test KA17 with my 6XX and 600 as these are located in the other side of the Europe currently but I have tested them excessively with my Elex and 660s. And while I have not formed a permanent opinion yet I believe that because of the KA17 I can say that the order of happiness for me is: 660s2 > Elex > 660s.

It is the KA17 greatness that reveals and magnifies the subtle but rather important improvement in the quality of s2 against s1 and slots it right above the impressiveness of the Elex.

From the other hand, the KA17 magnifies the spaciousness of the Elex placing it in an other dimension where the soundstage is transformed from a 3D presentation to a holographic 5D one. The sound is enveloping you from any direction in an ethereal and surreal way. I was never paying attention to soundstage as I am keen to musicality first but here is difficult to not take notice. Again the system clearly resembles and imitates, as much as possible, a desktop system as it was the intention in first place.

All in all, in terms of sound quality this is a revolution as it resembles, as much as possible, a desktop system. For serious headphones this is a game changer in the category of dongles and given the price a very potent giant killer.

In terms of functionalities, there are some issues regarding the software as this is not behaving like the KA5 anymore. In the current version the button mutes/unmutes and does not pause/play songs and none of the settings can be manipulated from the fiio app anymore. It is not clear at the moment if this is a bug or a permanent limitation. Instead the app is focused on the eq settings that I am not particularly interested and I did not tested them extensively. It seems that they lower the sound level overall and I do not want them as I am NOT relying in EQ.

There are a bunch of filter options but not my favourite NOS, as this is not offered by ESS, however by changing the filters momentarily I kind of feel the change in the sound briefly maybe because the KA17 is so revealing. But I did not want to do a thorough testing mainly because there 8 filters and so many permutations to testing, comparing also to the filters of the other dongles. With my available free time it would take me around 30 years to finish the review so I have focused in other areas instead.

I tested with 4 different phones and one iPad with the following results:

1) Iphone 15 pro max, Samsung A52s and galaxy note 10 plus - full desktop mode with the main usb c port.
2) iPad Pro 12.9 first generation. No Desktop mode with main port. Desktop mode with the additional port.
3) iPhone pro max 12. It needs two ports to play. Then it plays with both two modes.

The best quality was with an iOS device, using desktop mode with the Apple camera adapter and by using a jitterbug between the main port. The second usb cable was connected to the second port of the KA17 directly and by using Apple Music in lossless mode.

This is probably for many reasons including obviously that Apple Music plays best with Apple devices and with the signal unaltered to the KA17 as ios is designed to behave. I have not heard a lot with the 15 pro Max though because it belongs to my wife. In any case, the future lies with the usb c mode.

Initially, I could not control the volume of the iPhone with the phone buttons but this behaviour miraculously changed at some point. So I am not sure what it was intended here. Still I believe that the best choice is what ibasso implements currently i.e. full control of the volume from the dongle for the ios devices.

The size of KA17 is greater than the size of KA5 and this is to be expected for the additional technology incorporated in such a small device. Initially I prefered the design language of KA3 and KA5 better but after a few days I find the ka17 more beautiful and also this design hide its size very cleverly. In addition, I prefer the back that is aluminium and not glass as I do not see any benefit for the back to be glass. The screen is better and the buttons are more comfortable and the change in volume is much easier due to better buttons and additional space.

The devise gets very hot with the desktop mode as expected and sometimes I am taking it out of the leather case in order to breath and cool. More or less the size is comparable with the go bar and is really a small compromise given the sound quality of this devise. If someone has different needs can try a smaller dongle as they are plenty out there.

I believe that the extra usb port opens new dimensions to this category of usb-c dongle dacs. Given the set up someone can add a battery, an audiophile power supply or some gadgets like ipurifier and jitterbugs to play with. Can preserve the battery of his phone and enjoy for hours in the desktop mode which elevates the sound in another dimension.

I really do not know what I expect to see from a dongle in the future. I am not sure if a knob volume control can implement correctly and practically although some companies already tried that but I believe there will always be an inherent limitation given the size and the shape of a dongle. Position the usb ports to the side maybe and the knob where the main port is now??? I do not know.

Even better op-amps and performance? Fine tuning of technology with Femto clocks and cleaner power supply? No clue.

Small nano-tubes for more organic sound??? Haha no way. Some of that stuff can be emulated from appropriate software I believe. I have converted to DSD on the fly with audirvana in the past and the sound is quite different but still you need a powerful transparent amp to portray the difference.

And although proper desktop amps like Vioelectrics and etc. are not going to be threaten any time soon, the truth of the matter is that further significant improvements from now on, change the map as start to question directly the existence of entire product categories such as transportable dac-amps and daps.

Finally, one can not avoid to mention the most important fact. That all of this goodness comes in an really affordable price tag which is fully respectful for the client. 125£ including the leather case, the same price with my KA5 which did not include a leather case. Of course, fiio dongle prices were always decent KA2, KA3, etc. and I guess it pays for fiio to play the long game as I have all of them. If the price is right I see a reason to have them all.

All in all, this is a revolutionary dongle in a revolutionary price. Moreover, I like fiio's attitude that really listens to customers, make surveys and tries her best to satisfy our demands. I am very happy that a lot of our requests are implemented and implemented correctly. This is a fabulous product that after few minutes of use raise only two main questions:

1) Should you buy the black or the blue version?
2) Should you buy both?

Viva La Revolution!!!

Last edited:
I suspect that but I am not sure because I never had the ka13. I have all the others. I suspect on the basis of the ESS chip that is correctly implemented and the thx amps and all the other technologies Although you will not impressed by the desktop mode because you already have it. So I am not entirely sure for the WOW factor in your case. I would do it though only for the screen.
I pulled the trigger on the KA17 it will arrive on Sunday via Amazon by the way sweet review of the KA17,
Thank you very much for your kind words. I believe you will not regret this purchase and be surprised positively. The THX amps, the ESS dacs and the rest improvements will be apparent.


New Head-Fier
New king!
Pros: perfect quality of workmanship, excellent sound, dynamics and consistency of sound, sound stage, number of functions
Cons: Nothing
Fiio KA17:

Currently, we have a real apogee of dongles and all kinds of mobile miniature DACs/AMPs. At the same time, the Bluetooth section is developing, which is very encouraging, because it’s really nice to be free from cables. However, in the near or distant future, wireless technology will not even come close to the potential of a wired connection. That’s why manufacturers continue to outdo each other with ideas for the best mobile USB sound cards. At the same time, miniaturization and the audio industry have already reached such a level that little can be improved, and racing for numbers no longer satisfies users. Fortunately, there is a group of audio producers who decided to go beyond the usual patterns by serving us their best technology in the most compact version. For example, iBasso with the DC-Elit model made a huge stir on the market, but the great quality was also accompanied by a quite high price. Fiio went in its well-known and beloved direction by offering a number of the best technologies along with the world’s newest DAC chip from Saber, i.e. the double ES9069EQ and a full-fledged amplifier chip from THX AAA78+ at a very affordable price. Before I move on to the price, I will mention that one of the highest available xmoss systems, i.e. XU316, was used and the digital and analog sections were separated from each other. In addition, we took care of the display and two operating modes, because we have an additional USB C port to power our device in dekstop mode, we can reach up to 650mW per channel at 32Ohm and all this in a device the size of a pendrive. The price of the latest flagship model in the USB dongle segment is USD 149, which is hot on the heels of the competition.

Fiio KA17 is a flagship and this is what the entire package looks like. In a large cardboard package we can see a beautifully exposed device, protected with a protective foil and a nice leather case in a color matching our device. Then we find a ubb C-USB-C cable and a USB C to large USB adapter. Two plugs for the USB C ports have also been added, although I would prefer some protective glass for the screen, but I understand that due to the design of the case this idea was abandoned, fortunately the included cover made of elegant ecological leather looks really great and functional. The device itself is made of solid metal ensuring durability, and the front of the device has a small black and white display that shows not only the parameters of the music being played, volume and amplification, but also allows you to adjust the settings completely to your needs. From the settings level we can change display settings, amplification, and music filters. This is a great convenience, and in addition to the physical volume buttons, we also have a functional button for managing settings and a dekstop mode switch. The DAC/AMP itself is so small that it easily fits into the headphone case. The build quality is exemplary, and we have both a balanced 4.4mm output and a basic 3.5mm SE output.

The low tones are produced in a very flexible and realistic way, a lot depends on what kind of headphones we connect to our device, while with the iBasso IT01X the bass was extremely plastic, soft and engaging, it was not intrusive and did not cause additional amplification in already strongly exposed areas. lower bands of headphones. At the same time, the low tones gave me a lot of pleasure, and with headphones such as the TIN P1 ka17, it perfectly weighted the lower range and made the music even more engaging and exciting. This is very interesting because the lower bands retain the neutral character and purity typical of the THX amplifier, but at the same time, by adding a bit of warmth to the sound, the sound has become much more realistic and natural. This tuning means that the lower bands literally lead us by the nose, arousing the appetite for more pieces of music.

Midrange: Thanks to the great purity and lack of any noise or artifacts in the music, we hear nothing except what was recorded on it, even with such sensitive headphones as the iBasso AM05 I did not observe any noise. The midrange itself is impressive, primarily thanks to the large soundstage, which is perfectly spread out to the sides and has plenty of depth. It may not be as huge a stage as in the case of iBasso DC06pro, but thanks to this its naturalness and realism of the message are not compromised. The vocals are natural, sweet and full of realism, the amount of detail is truly amazing, especially since every instrument, sound or insect flying in the background is in its place. Despite the huge amount of information, everything is extremely coherent and maintains a natural and realistic message. The music doesn’t sound light or dry, which is what I was afraid of the most, instead I heard a fairy tale that you can really fall in love with.

High tones: This is a completely tamed saber, there is not a hint of sharp, unpleasant or tiring sound here, in addition, the whole thing sounds very spacious and delights with the beautiful sound of string instruments and the richness of space. I must admit that this approach to treble provides us with wide functionality and versatility with virtually every type of headphone tuning we encounter. The instruments also have natural size and color. This is a very good tuning direction and a completely new approach when it comes to the Saber DAC. All the best aspects have been preserved while eliminating the flaws.

Energy and power:
In standard mode, one USB cable is enough and we obtain approximately half of the potential power of our device, but even in this case, KA17 is a very powerful DAC/AMP and is able to drive virtually any in-ear headphones. As for the desktop mode, there is enough power to even connect over-ear headphones, and my HifiMan sundara was correctly driven. I also tried to test the ka17 with the HE1000se and, to my surprise, it was better than acceptable. Of course, in the case of such headphones there is no way to achieve their full potential, but we can listen to them safely because they will sound quite good.

Fiio KA17 (149USD) VS iBasso DC06pro (119USD)

Ka17 is, above all, a great combination of naturalness and neutrality of sound, while DC06pro has a more midrange, wider sound. In terms of power in standard mode, the DC06pro wins, but in stationary mode the KA17 is the undisputed leader. Overall, both devices are great and look great. DC06pro is also smaller, but the presence of a built-in screen in KA17 significantly improves functionality compared to the limited application. However, there is no better or worse here, both devices are great and represent a very high level.
Fiio KA17 (149USD) VS iBasso DC04pro (119USD)
DC04Pro from iBasso is probably one of my favorite dongle DAC/AMPs, it represents great and balanced sound and extremely high price-quality ratio. The KA17 is more versatile and sounds a bit spacious. Therefore, it is worth listening to both devices and making a decision based on our preferences.
Fiio KA17 (149USD) VS BTR7 (199USD)
Fiio BTR7 is an excellent device with Bluetooth function, it represents an incredibly high sound level. The neutral and clean transmission of the BTR7 is unique and provides a completely reference image. However, the KA17 sounds more lively, natural, a bit warmer. However, here again it all comes down to our preferences, lovers of analysis and ruthlessness in the message will love BTR7, and listeners who prefer more warmth and energy in music will approach KA17. However, I value both devices extremely highly and consider them to be great reference points in their price ranges.

FiiO KA17 is an excellent dongle at a very high level. It retains the character of the THX amplifier with an additional portion of warmth, which makes the sound more pleasant and universal in its presentation. The price of USD 149 is not decent for the quality we receive and the components from which this dongle is made. We get not only a carefully designed metal casing, but also a beautiful glass display and a case included. In terms of power, it is the most powerful dongle on the market, and in terms of sound, it goes way beyond the price range. Resolution, amount of information and even, linear sound make the KA17 a very versatile and successful model with universal and ultra-clean tuning. KA17 is one of the best dongles on the market and you can feel it in every piece of music you listen to. That’s why I highly recommend KA17 to every fan of a good and realistic school of gaming. At the same time, I believe that up to 200USD KA17 is definitely on the podium when it comes to USB sound cards, and even successfully rivals many stationary projects or DAPs. Bravo FiiO, great job and the amount of work put into KA17 is noticeable and easy to notice whenever you listen to this excellent Dongle.
which has a more forward/brighter midrange, dc06pro or fiio ka17?
I think that DC06pro.


100+ Head-Fier
Fiio KA17's Review - Pockectable "Desktop"
Pros: High Price performance ratio
Good dynamics
High power output with Desktop mode
Independent Type C port for power input ( desktop mode on )
Very good synergy with warm and neutral IEMs/Headphones
Leather case is included
Cons: Occasionally, due to the characteristics of being quite dynamic, certain track might be a little fatiguing to listen to on high volume, unless paired with warm IEM


Fiio is currently refreshing its line up of products, the KA7 which was announced early last year has come to fruition now, and it has been renamed to the KA17, and it sports quite a powerful specification which I have also listed out below. The build quality is very solid, front sporting an OLED screen which shows the sampling rate, and various other information on it. The side of the dongle itself also sports a type c port for power supply when desktop mode is enabled. The packaging is good and quite premium, and inside the box, you have the dongle itself, a type c to c cable, usb c to A adapter, also the KA17 comes with a leather case, which is nice because you don’t have to purchase it separately. Let’s take a look at the specifications below:

  • Dual ES9069 high-end DAC
  • XMOS XU316, supporting full MQA decoding and PEQ sound effects with a 192k sampling rate
  • Supports PCM 768K sampling rate and DSD512
  • Multistage balanced THX AAA 78+ headphone amp
  • Push-button: Desktop Mode (desktop amplifier mode, high-power output)
  • BAL maximum output power of 650mW (Desktop mode on)
  • 0.91-inch dot matrix display screen, showing more status information
  • Main TYPE-C port (power, data) + side TYPE-C port (power supply, used for desktop amplifier mode)
  • 4.4mm as well as 3.5mm output
  • Volume button + play button + desktop amplifier switch + display screen
  • 3.5mm interface compatible with SPIDF output

Gears used for this review

  • Tidal MQA/FLAC -> Macbook Air M2 -> Fiio KA17
  • foobar 2k -> Macbook Air M2 -> Fiio KA17
  • Spiriti Torino Twin Pulse IEM
  • 7Hz Legato
  • Hifiman Sundara (Open Backed)
  • iPhone 15 -> Fiio KA17


My review is solely based on what I hear via my equipment and I never consider my reviews to be objective in any way rather a subjective approach. Do take into consideration that everyone’s ear anatomy is not the same, so the psychoacoustics perception might be different as well, but i believe it will not stray too far

Battery Drain
  • The KA17, given the power that it outputting, i would not expect it to be very efficient, personally, i find it to be alright, connected to my iPhone 15 at 90%, streaming Tidal Flac and MQA on my mobile network from 10am onwards, dongle’s volume at 43/120 on low gain, at 10.52am, i’m left with 82% of battery, which i personally think it’s alright, given i’ve been streaming on mobile network, on wifi, the drain will probably be lower
  • Upgradeable firmware whenever there’s new firmware release which will add/fix certain bugs or additional features (Unfortunately, the flash tool doesn’t support Mac and my windows VM can’t detect the KA17,i do hope they will release a Mac version in the near future)
  • Independent volume control that doesn’t control the OS’s volume but actually controlling the volume of the DAC
  • Choice of volume steps 60 or 120, i personally go for 120 because i get more control for it
  • PEQ support, set the EQ directly on the dongle itself, low and high gains, UAC 1 and 2


Sound Impression ( Low Gain and Desktop Mode off unless stated)
The KA17’s tonality is leaning towards slightly warm and neutral, but when desktop mode is turned on, the KA17 becomes very dynamic and depending on the pairing, it can be very exciting to listen to. The overall note weight is alright, not overly thick or thin. Instrument’s timbre sounds quite natural to my ears.

Listening Impression with the following gears
Hifiman Sundara

  • Bass is punchy and tight, mid bass especially
  • Sub bass has slightly better extension
  • Mids are slightly being pushed forward instead of sounding slightly recessed prior to pairing with the KA17
  • Slightly better separation and imaging
  • Male vocal has slightly thicker texture and sounds fuller
  • Female vocal is full sounding as well
  • Not so much changes in terms of detail retrieval
  • Desktop mode on, with high gain and volume step at 65, driving the Sundara to its potential is definitely not an issue for the KA17
7Hz Legato (Desktop Mode On)
  • Legato is a bassy and warm IEM, aimed at delivering analog-ish speaker sound
  • The mids are slightly recessed, but when paired with KA17, the mids doesn’t sound that recessed anymore and it sounded a little bit more forward, both male and female vocal also have better texture and body to it
  • Bass on the other hand has better control and slightly tighter, this is when the Desktop mode is switched on, Legato loves power
  • Not much changes on the detail retrieval as well as soundstage, slightly better imaging i would say
  • Legato is not hard to drive, but the KA17 does have more than enough power to push it hard as Legato scales really well with more power and source
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse IEM (Desktop Mode On)
  • For those who are not aware, Spirit Torino is a brand from Italy and they make mostly high end headphones and the Twin Pulse IEM is a trickled down version of the Twin Pulse Headphone, sporting a dual beryllium plated DD in isobaric configuration, they’re not hard to drive but they certainly scale very well with power
  • The sound signature of the Twin Pulse IEM is very natural, neither overly warm or cool, just very natural in terms of timbre, vocal, as well as the overall note weight
  • With the KA17, it seems to have good synergy, slightly better dynamics and it gives the Twin Pulse IEM a bit more energy on the top end, yet it doesn’t make the mid sounds thin and also weakens the bass
Comparison (Earmen Colibri)
  • The Colibri is smoother sounding overall to my ears, not as dynamic as the KA17
  • The overall note weight is slightly thicker compared to KA17
  • Treble is smoother sounding compared to KA17, also less extension in my opinion
  • In terms of features, there are no EQ/PEQ available or app control from Earmen, It is just a plain dongle itself, with a bass boost button
  • In terms of power output, KA17 definitely is running circles around the Colibri, but Colibri will be able to drive most efficient IEMs and headphones without any issue
Final Thoughts
There are many dongles out there in the market, i have tested quite a few but not all, Fiio is out to disrupt the market in my opinion, packing a lot of punch in this little dongle. The sound is very good overall, not to mention it is also able to output a whopping 650w with the desktop mode on, and connected to external power supply. If you are currently in search of a dongle that has good power output, and also a dynamic sound signature, the KA17 is definitely for you, also coming in at only 149$, with features such as PEQ, Desktop Mode, and also compatible with Fiio Control Apps, it is definitely a steal at such pricing. Highly recommended by me!

*A big thanks to Fiio for sending this over for the purpose of this review. I thank them for their support.


Head over to their official AliExpress Store and official website if you are interested in getting one:

Fiio KA17 Product Page
Fiio KA17 - Non affiliated
Your review mentions "play" button. Did you get the multifunction button to work for play/pause? Or the volume to be skip track? Neither of these work on my ka17, and the app doesn't seem to work for any features/settings except EQ. Di you manage to access the app for any of the settings, such as firmware update, volume steps, balance, etc? If this doesn't have play/pause I'm going to have to send back, which was the main reason I bought it, at the moment the app support and controls are terrible compared to the KA5. Thanks.


100+ Head-Fier
Speechless - FIIO Setting the Bar High Again
Pros: +VALUE
+Sound Quality
+Very Safe Sounding
+Battery Consumption
+Desktop Mode
Cons: -Awkward Power In USB Placement
-Dust Under Glass
Dual ES9069Q + THX AAA 78+
$150 USD

IMG_20240110_161758_474 Cropped.jpg
First, let me thank FIIO for sending me this DAC in for review, rest assured my review is 100% my own personal opinion.
If you're interested on the KA17, you can check the official FIIO page below

Inside the box, you get :
  • KA17
  • C to C cable
  • C to A Adapter
  • Leather Case
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card
  • Type C Rubber Plug

Build Quality
Is good, KA17 build is mixed from aluminum(?) and glass, though I do notice some residue / dust around the front glass part of the KA17, it might be just my unit but hey its there.
The KA17 has a monochrome OLED screen which display some information like sample rate, gain, desktop mode, volume and UAC mode
Right side of the device, it has multi function button, volume button and “Desktop Mode” switch.
The KA17 Desktop Mode requires you to plug additional type C cable on the left side of the device provide power to the dongle.
To be honest the positioning of the port is a bit awkward in my personal setup and testing.
On the back side there is some FIIO branding and information like Hi Res Audio logo.
On the bottom there are 4.4mm and 3.5mm ports

When you connect the KA17 to your smartphone you can set EQ and look at the guide of the device via FIIO Control APP.

On the KA17 itself, you can set settings such as :
  • Gain
  • Filter
  • Vol Step
  • Channel Balance
  • Brightness
  • MQA ON / OFF
  • EQ ON / OFF
  • Max Vol
  • Rotate Display
  • Display Timeout
  • USB Audio
  • Language
  • Check the Firmware Version
  • Factory Reset Device
Battery Consumption
Plugged in to my Infinix Zero 30 5G device, it drains 1% of battery for around 7minutes of playback time, so the KA17 is not really power hungry for use as a portable device.

The KA17 has 8 Filters to choose, but I found the stock FAST filter to be my favorite, so I will describe the sound with the FAST filter.
I would like to describe the KA17 as a slightly warm sounding device

Bass on the KA17 is on the warmer side of the spectrum, I can easily notice that the KA17 has some kind of bass highlight / emphasize on the lower region. The bass sound “dense” to me for the lack of better words.

The bass presentation is on the slower / wet / more emotional than your typical ESS Sabre analytical sound.
Tested using FT3 350ohm with desktop mode, the KA17 has no problem giving superb control and dynamics, KA17 bass is pretty satisfactory in my opinion.

Midrange on the KA17 is also warm and weighty, especially on the lower midrange area.
It also sounds “dense” to my ears, definitely not muddy but it has additional weight to display more emotion and dynamic.

Upper midrange sound a bit more laid back and rounded than normal, it is very safe sounding for bad recordings / low quality files. Even your low quality music will not sound like a mess on the KA17, it is good in my opinion so user can just enjoy their music rather than analyzing flaws on the recording / file quality.

Treble here is smooth but extended at the same time, the KA17 is a very safe sounding device, it shows music as a whole music or cohesive rather than analytical separated music.
Don't get this wrong, the KA17 has superb detail for its price but the presentation here is just not very analytical. I dare say it is almost as good as the Cayin RU7 which cost 2times more than the KA17.

Is spectacular for its asking price of only $150

Stage is grand and full of layered presentation which is again, mind blowing for its price.
At first listening I thought the KA17 would be priced around $250 - $300 because of how good the stage layering is. (yes I received the KA17 before launch and without knowing the specs / price at all)

Detail Retrieval is very good for its price, it has a lot of micro details, the KA17 also capable to render layers of decay sound. While it is not the best I've heard (well because it is only $150) but the point here is for only $150USD the KA17 capable to render micro layer sounds.

Imaging is very good, it makes my Moondrop CHU 2 sounds holographic which is crazy, this is also the one that makes me think at first if the KA17 is priced at $250 or above, mind blowing for only $150

Separation & Positioning is very good, while the presentation of the KA17 is “whole”, cohesive, and musical, you can still easily separate and pinpoint which sound is coming from.

Output Power is rated at 650mw @ 32ohm balanced and 270mw @32ohm SE both with Desktop Mode enabled.
Tested with FT3 350ohm, KA17 did not have any problem driving the FT3 to its full potential.

SE vs Balanced
Obviously with balanced you get more power, tonality wise it sounds similar but with balanced I do noticed more superior stage size and separation and dynamics.


Moondrop Moonriver 2 Ti $190 USD

The KA17 easily beats the Moonriver 2 Ti in terms of technicalities, which is why I also thought the KA17 would be priced around $250+
The Moonriver 2 Ti has different tonality, the Moonriver 2 Ti is more neutral and clear sounding of the two, while KA17 has more emotion and dynamics.

Cayin RU7 $300 USD
The RU7 has more superior technicalities compared to the KA17, but its not by much.
The RU7 has more details and superior micro layering especially on the decay of the sound, it sounds much more “wet” compared to the KA17.
Tonality wise, the RU7 has more organic timbre but more or less same tonality in general, probably thanks to its 1bit resistor configuration compared to the DS DAC that KA17 use.


All of the new FIIO releases is blowing my mind for real, it offers very good value for its price, it just like I'm always repeating myself at this point on my conclusion.
Every single one of new FIIO releases, I got shocked and always made me rethink the price to performance value of a device.
In other words, FIIO pretty much always set a new bar and a new standard for its price bracket on all of its newest releases.

Yes while on my particular unit the build is not perfect (the residue / dust under the glass part), the sound quality is really, really good.
If you're in the market for a versatile dongle that you can also use as your desktop DAC-AMP, I can whole heartedly recommend the KA17 for its asking price of only $150USD

Thanks for reaching this far !

Just in case you're Indonesian or understand Bahasa Indonesia, you can watch the review below

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It has parametric EQ. You can do whatever you want with it.
Does the peq allow for shelf filters already?
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Ten Protons
Could you please recommend a portable DAC up to $500 with a built-in equalizer?
The main feature is that it can be controlled via USB from a computer.

I was looking at the FiiO KA17, but its equalizer can only be adjusted from the phone, which is very inconvenient.
I've read about the Qudelix 5K, but according to reviews, it doesn't have clear and transparent enough sound.