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FiiO K3 • The Review Tour of FiiO K3 All-new Headphone Amplifier & USB-C DAC

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by FiiO, Sep 22, 2018.
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  1. JayNetTech5
    Any kind of warmth triggers my OCD because solder joints. It does cool down after a while as with every amp that gets plugged in, it stays on the warmer side but doesn't get burning hot. Btw, does anyone know the benefits of having the separate driver besides DSD, like can I select 32-bit?
  2. Brooko Contributor
    For solder to melt requires a minimum temperature of between 90-450 degrees Celsius (depends on the type of solder used). This means that slight warming of the chassis is going to have no effect.

    Think about tube amps. They get quite hot and have no issues.

    And there is no advantage to 32b. It’s just 24b with padded zeros.
    JayNetTech5 likes this.
  3. JayNetTech5
    Here's my opinion on the DAC so far: I'm quite unimpressed with the sound quality, such a flat dull boring unlively sound with little texture and details, and a limited soundstage, a step down from a $32 ES9023 DAC/amp I got, I was able to hear lyrics better, delicate parts in a song, like picking/plucking/slapping on a string instrument, or highlights in songs you wouldn't normally hear, like they all had a significance in the track, this thing just blankets the sound all over again, like when you plug straight into a motherboard or a smartphone. If you aren't using any of the features on this, it's almost pointless if you want to really hear a difference in sound. Other than really nice build quality, just get a better amp, or don't expect anything special from the DAC portion. FiiO picked the lowest model of the AKM lineup btw, where they could have used a better last gen one with at least better SNR. If you love a small well-built unit with a lot of features to take advantage of high quality files, and a volume knob (which I partially dislike because it feels like when I turn it, it floats in between notches like it doesn't really catch or fall into a particular spot), then this is okay but don't buy this if you're expecting a noticeable upgrade in sound. I enjoyed my FiiO K1 better, problem is, these small DACs are weird to use with a desktop, I get them because the desktop choices in my price range seem like garbage, and not worth the extra money for the sound that they output, and even people complained about the E10K sounding dull and narrow. Another thing that's annoying me is that when I pause/unpause the playback of something, it randomly makes a small snapping noise but not all the time for some reason. Coming to think of it, I think I might have enjoyed the Monolith USB headphone DAC/amp if I purchased that one instead for the $100 price range.

    UPDATE: I finally found and installed the driver, which shows up as "Q series" for some reason but it sounds a little bit better, not sure why. I don't understand why things can't just run off of USB no problem without dedicated drivers. My other DAC/amps do. lol. I'm still getting a weird popping/snap noise a few seconds after pausing media, it happens at random times; this same exact problem also happened with my FiiO K1s but that was all the time.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  4. JayNetTech5
    Welp, the driver was nice until it started giving me playback issues, random skipping like a scratched cd, especially in game music, or when something loads. I hope they fix this some time.
  5. CagedTiger
    Ordered one of these. Not sure how worth it it will be for my H/K Soundsticks II 2.1 PC speakers and for my Sony 1000XM3s which I occasionally use wired (gaming, productivity where sync is important). However, my PC (Hades Canyon NUC) does have noisy audio ports (had no issues with noise when the speakers were connected to my iMac) so hopefully the K3 will resolve that issue. I do have an old Nuforce udac 2 somewhere but it has always been problematic (prone to static electricity, sometimes gives loud pops). I just hope that as this is a brand-new DAC, I don't get screwed by buying from first batches with possible hardware issues.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  6. JayNetTech5
    This doesn't have loud pops but you can hear little snaps when the amp turns on/off, and it happens randomly sometimes. I changed the latency to 256 from 512 in the control panel which resolved the weird delay during playback.
  7. CagedTiger
    Thanks for the heads up. Luckily, I bought it from Amazon.de which has always given me 5-star customer service in terms of giving me my money back or sending me a replacement if I had any issue with an item, even months or even over a year after purchase. Right now, everyone at Amazon.de is giving the K3 five out of five stars (not Vine buyers, mind you) so hopefully this will be a great value purchase for under 100. Thought about going for the predecessor (K1/E10K) but as most of my setup is USB-C, I really want put my money on newer tech.

    What about the Fiio driver, though? Any sense in installing it as it seems to have issues?
  8. JayNetTech5
    I noticed an improvement in sound, the music became more spacious and airy where before the FiiO driver was installed it was so dull, recessed and a complete disappointment, I'm not sure why. If you install the driver you can use 32-bit setting and adjust buffer/latency settings as well as select DSD output, etc. I'm not 100% sure the driver is what's giving me issues, could be a defective unit but the problems aren't present or severe out of the game I played, I'm also running mods in the game, so that could be why I was having issues as well. You probably won't have any issues, I just notice little details that bother me. The biggest deal breaker for me is the sound quality, I lost musical details from my other cheaper dac but gained more instrument spaciousness and imaging but soundstage feels smaller for things further away and in certain areas of imaging of where sound is coming from feels less imaginative, the other dac was better in my headphones for games, the sound is smoother in this one, maybe a bit too much. For the price, the dac chip used is mediocre imo. That's awesome that amazon gives you a one year policy over there, I bought an extended warranty for $3. I'm stuck with this, since I don't have a good reason to give amazon for returning it. I hope you enjoy yours.
  9. FiiO
    Dear friend,
    Did you change the buffer size in the FiiO control panel?

    If you have a very large Buffer Size, you may notice a lag. If you have a very small Buffer Size, you will notice little to no lag. However this can also place more strain on your computer, as it has very little time to process the audio.
    So you would need to choose a suitable buffer size in order to reduce the lag but not place too much strain on your computer for check.

    Best regards
    FiiO Stay updated on FiiO at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/FiiOAUDIO https://twitter.com/FiiO_official https://www.instagram.com/fiioofficial/ https://www.fiio.com http://fiio.udesk.cn/im_client/?web_plugin_id=24494&group_id=47899&language=en-us
  10. CagedTiger
    That's too bad. Kinda made me question my choice of dac now. :beyersmile: I did read all of the reviews (aside from online store user reviews) I could find on the K3 and they all seemed overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people seem to recommend the AudioQuest Dragonfly as USB dac for under 100 bucks but the limited connectivity was the deal-breaker for me as I want separate ports for speakers and headphones. I just hope the K3 doesn't end up being a dud where people start recommending the K1 over it even if they were similarly priced.

    Anyway, I'll be sure to install the driver and possibly adjust the latency/buffer size to fix the small issues mentioned in this thread regarding delays and pops.
  11. JayNetTech5
    I selected 256, but I'm thinking of going lower since I have no problems with 256 either, and I'm running an i5, so I'm assuming I shouldn't have any issues going lower. Thank you for clarifying.

    Tbh, I'd probably choose this over the Dragonfly based on the features also, they sound similarly flat too, so might as well go with the one that's more robust for the similar price range. I honestly thought this would make my online music sound better, for instance, taking poorer quality music and making it more clear and detailed, but it actually seems to work more for files rather than streaming (obviously), and it does make music files sound really good compared to what I had hoped it would do alongside. I heard DACs that make spotify or youtube sound like a high quality file, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get what I mean. Rather than highlighting details, this seems to bring out errors in the recording.
  12. KaiFi
    ^A higher-quality sound source probably will highlight errors. More revealing DACs and headphones tend to be less "forgiving" of bad recordings or lossy files. They allow you to hear the imperfections that other sources mask. At the same time, they will bring out the details in quality recordings.
  13. JayNetTech5
    Do you know a desktop solution that would help with streaming youtube?
  14. psysword
    I dont know what all this *****footing is all about. I have just bought this DAC and using it with my cell phone and as a desktop connected to my ASUS Xonar E1 for a bump in Headphone amp power to drive my HD 700s and man the step up in clarity is amazing. I am also using a Toslink cable to connect the ASUS to the K3, and as a sound engineer I am blown away by the clarity. Blown away. Its not the best Headphone AMP. In fact quite poor, but it makes up in spades with sound quality. I am using it exclusively with a MAC book Pro and a samsung Galaxy S9 and they are both performing like champs. So my comments may only apply to MAC users, while using FLAC files. And yes I did have the cable problem too, and I am using the original supplied cable with no problem along with a dongle. But man I have been hearing new guitar sperarations, thicker midrange and as a musician and sound engineer, this is helping me to put out music that I can first hear now as an audiophile myself. So now it’s Full Circle boys. Audiophiles making music for Audiophiles. ONLY possible through a good DAC. That’s the secret to all those HD track music. Record well–––– hear well! DUH! Cheers to the community and I have learned much from such forums and wish all of you the best! My artist name is Pzyklon.
  15. Klots
    And my little K3 is for sale. Used it about a week. Very nice device, but upgraded my headphones and need more power. If anyone interested, pm me :)
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