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FiiO KA3 – Tiny new USB DAC and headphone amplifier

Once again, FiiO Electronics Technology Inc. Co. presents a portable D/A converter with integrated headphone amplifier, namely with the new FiiO KA3 in a particularly compact form.

The new FiiO KA3 should prove to be a high-performance flagship DAC, even though it is no bigger than a conventional USB stick. It goes without saying that there is also an integrated headphone amplifier.

The new FiiO KA3 is thus intended to be the ideal solution in combination with smartphones, offering nothing less than outstanding sound quality even when on the move.

FiiO KA3 – The HiFi Solution

FiiO Electronics Technology Co. Ltd. describes the new FiiO KA3 as a solution that is optimised for hi-fi and has the corresponding audio architecture. So these are very ambitious specifications.

The only interface of the FiiO KA3 to connect it to a source device is of course USB, whereby USB-C is used. This means that the FiiO KA3 can be used on smartphones as well as tablets and PCs or Macs.

The heart of this architecture is, of course, the D/A converter, which uses an ESS ES9038Q2M from the specialist ESS Technology Inc. that can process signals in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 768 kHz, DSD up to and including DSD512.

In view of these performance data, it is quite justified when the Chinese specialist for personal audio devices speaks of a high-performance flagship DAC.

Powerful output stage

The manufacturer promises a particularly powerful output stage for the new FiiO KA3, which is also constructed in such a way that signals are processed with the highest precision, free of distortion and noise.

The developers’ declared aim was to be able to operate a wide range of headphones without any problems, regardless of whether they are low-impedance in-ear headphones or high-impedance over-ear headphones.

Despite its very compact dimensions, the new FiiO KA3 not only has an unbalanced connection in the form of a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, but also a balanced connection in the form of a 4.4 mm PENTACONN.

To get an impression of the promised power, the manufacturer lists 130 mW at 32 ohms at the unbalanced input and 240 mW at 32 ohms at the balanced input as characteristic values.

Compact, solid and elegant housing

The new FiiO KA3 is completely made of aluminium and has a black housing. On the other hand, the front sides are anodised in gold, which, with a metallic finish, provides an elegant contrast to the black of the housing.

As already mentioned, the new FiiO KA3 almost resembles a USB stick and, with dimensions of 56.3 mm x 20.2 mm x 12 mm and a weight of only 17.5 g, can easily be taken along at any time.

By the way, a multi-coloured LED on the top indicates which signals are present. It lights up blue when signals in Linear PCM with less than 48 kHz are being played back, and green when Linear PCM with more than 48 kHz is being played back. Green indicates that signals in DSD are being played back.

FiiO KA3 07
Foto © FiiO Electronics Technology Co. Ltd. | FiiO KA3 Small USB DAC and amplifier

Control via app only via Google Android for the time being

In principle, it is just as easy to connect the new FiiO KA3 to an Apple iPhone – albeit with a corresponding adapter cable – and use it directly as it is to connect it to a smartphone with Google Android, a PC or Mac.

Only on Google Android, however, is it possible to configure the FiiO KA3 using the FiiO Control App, for example via seven different types of filters, an individual balance setting and the choice between high gain and low gain. Let’s see if the manufacturer doesn’t upgrade and make these options available for Apple iOS as well…

Finally, it should be mentioned that FiiO Electronics Technology Co. Ltd. will also offer this solution in Asia under the brand name Jade Audio as Jade Audio FiiO K3. This is the brand that the Chinese company initiated specifically for direct online sales in Asia.

Getting to the point

The new FiiO KA3 is supposed to be a particularly compact, lightweight and thus mobile solution that is supposed to provide the finest sound on the go. In the tried and tested manner, a D/A converter is combined here with a headphone amplifier, whereby it is quite impressive what potential the DAC used here by FiiO Electronics Technology Co. Ltd. offers.

Price€ 95,90
ManufacturerFiiO Electronics Technology Co. Ltd.
DistributionNT Global Distribution GmbH
More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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