Big Shoutout to FiiO for sending the K5 Pro demo unit for comparison to the K3!! I am not being compensated for this review, but they were kind enough to let me keep the units. Thank you for your continued support!
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Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Let’s start with a quick chart!
FiiO K3 vs. K5 Pro
Before we get into the FiiO K3 vs. K5 Review & Comparison, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
I’m Here to Help!!
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
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- Capability: Up to 32-bit/384kHz.
- Stereo Crosstalk: ≥70 dB (1 kHz).
- Outputs: 1x Coaxial, Line, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x 2.5mm balanced
- DSD Support: Yes, 64/128/256.
- Output Impedance: 1.04. What is Output Impedance?
- Output Power (Single Ended): 220 mW @ 16 Ohms, 120 mW @ 32 Ohms.
- Output Power (Balanced): 320 mW @ 16 Ohms, 200 mW @ 32 Ohms.
- Output Voltage: 7.39 Vp-p.
- Digital Outputs: Coaxial: RCA for 192 kHz, Support DSD64 DOP
Optical Out: Up to 96 kHz.
- Inputs: 1x Type-C USB.
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: ≥113 dB.
- THD: ≤0.004%.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz to 80kHz.
- Op amp: Low Pass Filter Op Amp: Texas Instruments OPA1612, Driver Op Amp: 2x OPA926
- USB chip: XMOS XUF208.
- Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.3 x 0.9″ / 70.0 x 58.0 x 22.0 mm.
- Weight: 83 grams.
- Warranty: 1 year.
- Power: Bus powered, 5 VDC 500 mA.
- Features: Bass boost, Gain switch.
FiiO K5 Pro
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- Capability: Up to 32-bit/768kHz.
- Stereo Crosstalk: ≥75 dB at 1 kHz.
- Outputs: Stereo RCA, 1/4″ / 6.35 mm Headphone.
- DSD Support: Yes, DSD512.
- Output Impedance: 1.2 Ohm.
- Output Power: 1.5W @ 32 Ohm.
- Inputs: 1x Type-B USB.
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: ≥115 dB (A-Weighted).
- THD: ≤0.004%.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz to 80kHz.
- Op amp: LPF Op Amp: Texas Instruments OPA1642, Driver Op Amp: Texas Instruments TPA6120
- Dimensions: 4.7 x 5.1 x 2.2″ / 12.1 x 13.0 x 5.5 cm
- Weight: 436g.
- Warranty: 1 year.
- Power: 15VDC, 1.5A
- Gain Switch: 0, 6, 12dB
The build of both of these units is fairly solid.
The K5 is significantly heavier than the K3 and that’s to be expected given the K3’s much smaller footprint and a knack for portability.
The K5 isn’t hefty by any means – it’s actually fairly light for a unit of this stature, but still feels pretty solid overall.
It’s a bit lighter than the iFi Zen DAC/Amp, coming in at 436g vs. 491 for the Zen.
The K3 is only 82g by contrast but still doesn’t feel cheap.
The K3, though light, was an upgrade over the E10K in the weight department as well.
It feels a bit more robust than its older, more stone-age-looking brother.
Both switches on the K5 feel great to flick, while the large ADC volume knob on the front is mega satisfying to turn.
The K3’s ADC volume pot actually feels just a smidgen more robust, and both the gain switch and bass boost feel satisfying as well.
Both the K5 Pro and K3’s volume pots make a faint clicking noise when turned on.
The K5 Pro doesn’t have a bass boost, but like the E10K, its gain switch is a bit easier to flick on and off than the circular configurations on the K3.
Both units come with some adhesive padding for desktop use, but the K3 includes longer cylindrical pieces vs. the button adhesives on the K5 Pro.
The original E10K utilized these buttons as well, and overall I think they’re more effective. What’s cool about the K5 Pro is that they come built-in, and you have 4 more at your disposal that have been included separately if need be.
All connections on both units feel nice and robust.
There’s a sense that these are indeed quality units that will hold up over time, and also work in a myriad of ways as well.
Let’s get into some features of both!
Features & Usage
An incredibly useful feature is that you can use the K3 as a DAC into any amp that supports line in/out.
I personally have used the K3 with JDS’ Atom to fine effect, and have used the E10K with a few different amps as well.
Use this to connect to anything that supports coaxial in (TV, Receiver, etc.)
Same as above.
USB Audio 1.0 & 2.0
The cool thing about the K3 is that you can literally plug it in and start playing music without any drivers via USB 1.0.
If you want to use USB 2.0, just go to FiiO Support, and download the USB DAC driver.
Then, simply turn the unit off and disconnect everything (basically a reboot).
Now you can use USB 2.0, which supports DSD256 and up to 32-bit/384kHz.
The USB 1.0 section only supports up to 24-bit/96kHz files.
Balanced 2.5mm & 3.5mm Headphone Input
The K3 supports balanced which is a nice upgrade over the E10K.
The bass boost here is a little too much for my tastes, and I normally leave it off in most instances.
I do think the boost on the original E10K was done more tastefully, so take that for what it’s worth.
You’ll need this for some harder-to-drive headphones, but I wouldn’t rely on the K3 for anything more than say an HD600 (300 Ohm/97dB Sensitivity)
ADC Volume Pot
No channel imbalance issues at lower volumes.
This a complaint I’ve heard quite a bit from regular volume pots of the past.
Supports DSD, as well as file formats up to 32-bit, 384kHz.
The Small Led light next to the volume pot indicates the format you’re in.
Blue is 44.1 or 48kHz, Yellow is anything above 48kHz, and Green indicates you’re playing a DSD file.
USB Type-C Input
Type-C is becoming super standard but wasn’t when the K3 first came out.
In any event, it’s much more durable than the E10K’s Dinosaur micro connection.
The K5 Pro is a bit different, but still just as awesome (if not more so).
Let’s take a look at what it has:
RCA Analog Outputs
This is a great feature in that you can hook the amp up to separate studio monitors/speakers and play the music that way. What are Studio Monitors?
RCA Analog Inputs
You can also use the RCA ins to receive a signal from a source (for instance a separate DAC).
Right now I have the iFi Zen Blue hooked up to the K5 and I’m playing music wirelessly through my phone! Just snag a pair of RCA to RCA cables.
This is my favorite feature of the K5, as I can output the signal from my PlayStation 4 into the K5’s Optical Input and use it as a gaming rig!
What’s even better?
Plug it in and sound is coming from the K5 into my headphones instantaneously.
No need to even mess with the audio settings inside the PS4’s control panel/dashboard.
If you’re a lazy slob like me, this is the amp to get! XD
Receives audio via any of your devices that support Coaxial Out (TV, Receiver, etc.)
USB Type-B Input
You’ll be using this most often with your computer.
15 VDC Power Jack
Plug this into a wall outlet for power.
The K5 Pro comes with 3: they are labeled 1, 2, and 3, with S, L, and U next to each number respectively.
- 1-U is for USB,
- 2-L is for Line In or Line Out,
- 3-S is for S/PDIF I presume (it’s labeled Coax or Optical).
2-level Gain Stage Switch (0, +6, +12dB).
This is my second favorite feature on the K5 Pro, and they label it with one circular dot, 2 circular dots, or 3.
I’d feel comfortable driving most any headphones with this unit.
On middle gain with the HD600, I’m finding there’s plenty of headroom.
I’m on about 12-1 o’clock and find it more than enough + I still have one more (high gain) to play with if I need it.
+12dB will mostly be utilized with harder-to-drive planar magnetic headphones that aren’t very efficient.
I’m thinking 91-94dB cans like some HIFIMAN offerings, AKG, etc.
The HD600 sits around 97dB and isn’t too hard to drive out of most amps (even the K3 does pretty well with it).
6.35mm Headphone Input
Your standard 1/4″ jack.
As you can see, the K5 Pro is capable of quite a bit as well.
Let’s take a look at power output, and find out which one of these gains an edge (pun intended).
To be blunt, the K3 is fairly underpowered on paper but surprisingly drives my HD600 pretty decently even despite only pumping out 220mW into 16 Ohm and 120mW into 32 Ohm.
Do be aware that the gain has to be on and you’re pretty much maxing it out, but it does get loud enough.
The K5 by contrast supplies 1.5W (1,500mW) at 32 Ohm and is rated for 16-300 Ohm headphones.
Keep in mind this suggestion is somewhat conservative.
As mentioned before,
I’d feel just fine driving a less efficient headphone out of the K5 Pro.
The main takeaway is that the K3 really isn’t designed for higher impedance, low-sensitivity cans, and I wouldn’t rely on it for most inefficient HIFIMANs or AKGs.
It’s just powerful enough to drive an HD600.
The K5 Pro however is built for harder-to-drive headphones and in that way should become a mainstay on your desktop for a long time!
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Click to see the K5 in action!
Here I had the Zen Blue paired with the FiiO K5 Pro, with the Zen DAC on top.
Here I was comparing the K5 to the K3.
Experimenting with DSD and MQA files inside Tidal and Audirvana
Now for the most important part, how do they sound in relation to each other?
- Playlist: Here!
- FiiO K3 DAC Chip: AKM AK4452
- FiiO K5 DAC Chip: AKM AK4493
- K3 Amp Profile: LPF OpAmp: Texas Instruments TI OPA1612. Driver OpAmp: 2x OPA926
- K5 Amp Profile: LPF OpAmp: Texas Instruments TI OPA1642. Driver OpAmp: Texas Instruments TPA6120
- Source: Tidal (FLAC and Master Files), DSD64/128/256. 16/44, 16/48, 24/44, 24/48, 24/88, 24/96, etc.
- Headphones: Sennheiser HD600, Creative Aurvana Live!, AKG K702
Fortunately for us, this is a really easy comparison and a more significant one than I was expecting.
It’s not that one was necessarily better than the other; rather they both have a different flavor, and which you prefer comes down to your sound preference.
Even when I say significant, it’s still a pretty subtle difference in the grand scheme of things.
With some tracks, you might not even be able to notice.
For instance, on A.CHAL’s “Matrix”, I didn’t hear anything vastly different going on.
On Cautious Clay’s “Blood Type”, The K3 perhaps sounded slightly more open, and a bit cleaner. The K5 seemed to have a warmer tilt.
After these 2 tracks, the sound differences did start to manifest a bit more clearly.
The overarching theme is that the K5 Pro is more of a relaxed listen.
It’s more melodic and fluid sounding vs. the colder, cleaner, and somewhat brasher sound of the K3.
Brash doesn’t necessarily denote a negative connotation, but in relation to the K5, it’s definitely more in-your-face, forward, and aggressive sounding.
This notion was also very much apparent in Common’s “Little Chicago Boy”.
It’s just edgier sounding coming out of a K3. Colder. More sterile.
Common’s voice is a bit more prominent/forward in the mix as well. It kind of jumps out at you.
The K5 Pro by contrast sounds warmer, more relaxed, and more laid back. It’s a more inviting sound overall.
On “Doves in the Wind”, by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, I found more of the same to be true.
The K3’s vocals were more forward, with the overall sound being snappier than that of the K5 Pro.
On Odie’s “Noise” and “Night Terrific!” it’s more of the same.
You can make out more of his subtle vocal inflections and he sounds a bit crisper through the K3.
On the K5 pro, he comes across as slightly warmer.
Out of the K3 at 19 seconds (Noise), his breath can be heard a bit more clearly.
Even with all that said,
the sound differences are fairly subtle but definitely more noticeable than some other sound comparisons I’ve done.
A Note About Tidal
If you’re having trouble getting the K5 Pro to display Yellow (to indicate Master tracks in Tidal above 48kHz), don’t fret!
Here’s what to do:
- In Tidal, go to File, Settings (or Ctrl P) > Streaming.
- Now scroll down until you see “Sound”.
- Right underneath is “Sound output”, but in smaller letters next to it reads: (More settings).
- Click that and you’ll see Exclusive mode.
- Tick that box and the color should change to Yellow, indicating the Master File is above 48kHz. 🙂
This same concept applies to the iFi Zen as well!
In 2022 and beyond, there’s really no reason to invest in a K3 when you can just spend a bit more and have a DAC that you’ll hang on to for a long time.
In other words,
if you get a K3, you’re going to upgrade down the road. That’s as close to a guarantee as it gets.
Many folks have come back to me saying they still have their K5 Pro after many years and they don’t really see a reason to upgrade beyond it – at least not for the foreseeable future.
As for me?
I’ve had one since 2019 and plan to keep it around for the long haul. It’s just too valuable to let go.
Not only is the K5 Pro more versatile, but it has plenty of power for even the most demanding headphones and can be used with a console as well.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this FiiO K3 vs. K5 comparison.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Are you convinced that the K5 Pro is the better option? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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Album List & Soundtracks
More on the way
Great comparison article Stu, tons of good information. It seems a big upgrade, I’m always more comfortable with more headroom on a hungry headphone.
Thanks Federico!! Always great to hear from you and I definitely agree. I love to have that wiggle room for sure. I’ve entered you in the giveaway too!! 🙂
Gotta take a listen on some of them sometime, thanks for the review c: one question, what do you think about the Schiit Modi 3?
Hey man! Yeah the K5 Pro is my main console/desktop rig. Love it! Have not tried the Modi 3. I used to own a Schiit Magni 2 and Modi 2 but sold them. Are you in the market for an Amp/DAC?
Yeah, but for now i’m maybe getting a portable , it might be the dragonfly red (since I actually don’t have any flac or similar song in my library and my main source for “good quality” is Tidal) , recently i’ve read that the Cobalt is better in some aspects but not worth the price increase, later i’m planning to get a desk Dac/Amp combo, I’ll be lookin’ for some decent options, but that’s for later c:
Yeah man I def think the K5 Pro is in the running for you for future desktop along with the Zen Amp/DAC and ATOM.
I heard similar things about the Cobalt. I actually heard it wasn’t all that great, period. I have not read anything or researched it though. I want to formulate my own opinion and compare it with the DF Red.
I think the DF Red for you portable right now would be a great choice. Have you read my article? Def could use some love 🙂 https://homestudiobasics.com/audioquest-dragonfly-red-review/
Hi Just bought Zen Dac. It is my first bigger DAC/AMP – before i just used portable DACs with Dragonfly Black.
Im almost happy, sound is better but just consider or may spent little more money and get something better about 300$ or just stay with my ifi Zen Dac and think for future about Amplituner?
My headphones are Grado SR80e and Shure SRH840 in plans something better (Grado 500 or Bayerdynamic 150)
K5 is same class dac as Zen?
Hey man! I personally think you should sit tight and just enjoy what you have for now considering what you have. K5 Pro will be a bit warmer sounding, a tad more relaxed and laid back. The Zen is like a cross between musical/warm and detailed. I’m currently using the K5 Pro for mostly console gaming duties. Let me know what you think.
I just got to try the zen dac and honestly I’m disappointed. The K5 pro drives hard to drive headphones like the R70X like a champ and with the zen dac the music was suffocating and struggling to get the bass and treble extension and soundstage. That being said the zen worked well for auditioning the focal cans.
Hmm. Interesting observations! I will say that the K5 Pro has a lot more power and it is easier to drive some more demanding headphones. I love the feeling of having that 3rd gain switch if I ever need it, but it mostly stays on 1 or 2. What did you think about the way each sounded? I have my own thoughts but I want to hear what you have to say.
Thanks for stopping by man!
Thanks for your awesome review, it helped me to buy the K5 pro. I’m having one issue I hope you can help with – the color light on the K5 pro doesn’t change even when listening to Tidal MASTER quality audio. Right now I have to hooked up via USB to my computer and listening with headphone output to HD 58x. Is there something I need to configure to get the improved audio quality within windows or the K5 itself?
Hey man are you the same guy from the other comment? Sorry I’ve been getting a lot of spam lately and this comment went into the trash via some filters I have set. I always check first before deleting and saw it.
Thanks for your great review, helped mw to pick up the K5 pro. My K5 pro always shows blue light when hooked up via USB on Windows 10, even with Tidal hifi or master quality. Is there some settings I need to configure on the DAC or Windows 10 so that the light will properly change based on audio quality?
Hey man! Thank you so much! So glad it helped you out.
Tidal was acting wonky just now. Wouldn’t open at all. Usually a re-boot does the trick but I had to un-install and re-install. Seems to be fine now. Probably something to do with a firmware update is my guess. If yours ever acts up just try those things first!
Anyways, when you go into Tidal, make sure it’s set to exclusive mode. Once you do that, the color will change.
Just go to File, settings (or control P) > streaming. Now scroll down until you see Sound. Right underneath is Sound output, but in smaller letters next to it reads: (More settings).
Click that and you’ll see Exclusive mode. Tick that box and the color should change to Yellow, indicating the Master File is above 48kHz. I’m listening to a Master of Coltrane’s Blue Train!! 🙂
Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!
Also thank you for this comment. It will be really helpful for others who may have the same problem. I will put it in the article with an image or video as well!
I’ll honestly admit I know hardly anything about sound as I’m not an enthusiast or an audiophile.
Last year I purchased a Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee which is rated at 150 ohms.
My soundcard is a Creative X-Fi fatality edition. I’m considering a K5 pro as I can get one secondhand on Ebay at a great price. Do you think this is worth spending money on for this headset?
Hey man! I haven’t heard that one, but it’s never a bad idea to invest in a K5 Pro, especially if you’re getting a deal. At $150 retail, it’s a steal. Anything less than that is even better. I’m using one now with the HIFIMAN DEVA. It’s just a fantastic product and so versatile. You will always have a use for it too, given it has plenty of power and can drive most headphones. A 58X would be a perfect match as well. I say go for it. You’re not going to be disappointed. They sell like hotcakes lol. Seems like every time I check, they’re sold out on various websites. Keep me posted!
Thank you for all the articles, they’ve been immensely helpful. I bought a k3 and am waiting for my pair of 6xx’s to show up! I was testing the dac with a pair of M50X’s and I swear I cannot tell a difference between using the dac and audio straight from the computer. Is this because I won’t notice a difference on these headphones, the audio quality (just Spotify on best settings), or are my ears just dense?
Thanks man and my pleasure!! Which computer do you have? That really plays a huge part. For instance, my old Lenovo T510 was awful, but my newer Lenovo X1 Extreme actually has a really good soundcard.
hey dude awesome review. i`m totally new kind of games xixi btw i had a FiiO K5 Pro but need lil something (budget) amps. what the best to pair with K5 Pro. Thanks.
Hey thank you! So you want a separate amp to pair with K5 Pro? My best budget choice is probably the stand-alone ATOM. Just use RCA to RCA from K5 Pro into the ATOM, or you can use RCA to 3.5mm.
Keep me posted!!
Hi friend, congratulations for the review, is there any way to get me out of a doubt? What is the best dac to listen to Jazz Instrumental, John Coltrane, Michel Petrucciani, Manu Katché, Rymden, Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Duke Ellington… Which dac is possible to hear a more crystalline and detailed sound from the instruments, K3 or K5? Thanks!
Hey man! Crystalline? K3 is a tad more refined/clean sounding, while the K5 Pro is a bit more laid back/relaxed and kind of warm but still mostly a cross between neutral and warm. For detail, probably the K3 is going to be your best bet. I’ve been listening to some of those artists a lot lately! It kind of depends on the headphone though. Which ones do you have?
Thanks my frind, yes clean sound! My headphone is OneOdio Studio Pro50( https://www.oneodio.com/collections/studio-professional/products/pro-50-black-professional-studio-over-ear-headphones ), This is my input phone, I hear it on my Acer I7 v3-571 Notebook which has the Dolby Digital Plus plugin, I use the Foobar2000 and AIMP players, I really like the result it is achieving, especially with the AIMP player via WASAPI, but I want to I can listen to SACD format with 1Bit on DSD, but my soundcard only runs at 44HKz, so I’m torn between K3 and K5, but I’ll use it exclusively for listening to JAZZ Instrumental, so from my question, I prefer to buy what of the best result specifically for Jazz! Thanks! 🙂
Hey man, you’re welcome! I may actually just get a K5 Pro. More versatile and I like it better for Jazz as it’s just a tad more laid back and works better for the genre in my opinion. I keep the K5 Pro on my desktop for full-time duties (I listen to a lot of Jazz with it) when I’m not demoing other gear if that’s any indication of how much I love it. 🙂 You’re not going to regret the purchase as the value received is pretty much through the roof. You may also check my official review out as it goes through everything.
OK, understood! Thank you very much for the information and for the review. I’m Brazilian, and here the price difference between K3 and K5 is 50% more, but it’s worth the investment, as I also have a pair of Monitors Microlab SOLO1 ( http://microlab.com/en/catalog/stereosystem/mains-connection/wired/solo-1/ ) in my desktop , I will be able to connect the monitors with the Line Out output in RCA. Thank you very much for taking my doubts, congratulations for the site!
Thanks man and my pleasure!
Hi my friend, I decided to buy the K5, but I have one last question, I hope you can help me, my Notebook i7 Acer v-3-571, comes with the Dolby Digital Plus plugin, and I really like the sound result. I tried to listen with the plugin disabled, but the richness of details that Dolby Digital Plus provides is impressive, and the main thing that doesn’t tire the ears, I’m listening to the phone for hours and doesn’t tire the ears, and I don’t want to miss the possibility of to be able to listen to the songs using dolby digital plus, because if I use the dac K5 as a sound card, I will lose the Dolby Digital Plus function, so now I ask you:
Is it possible, I use the K5 only as an amplifier, I connect the notebook phone’s output to the K5’s Line IN input, and use it only as an amplifier to increase the headphone gain? I ask this if I can’t adapt to the sound of the dac, as I’ve been listening to my songs with the Dolby Digital Plus plugin for 8 years, I need to get my ears used to listening songs more naturally (Flat) without Dolby Digital Plus! LOL
Yeah man you can do that! That’s just one of the many reasons I love the K5 Pro haha. Keep me posted!!
Hi man. Taking my first steps into getting a DAC/AMP combo and been watching a lots of your videos.
Due to budget reasons, I’ve been eyeing the Fiio K3 and K5 Pro. The price difference between those for me is around 80usd.
While I’m somewhat sure that the K3 would be fine for my usage at the moment (Music, Movies, TV, Gaming – all on PC and very very rarely on xbox), I’m a little bit worried that the amp on the K3 would not be powerful enough in the long run when I’m going to get more hard-to-drive cans. I’m currently using Sennheisers on the 50-120ohm range and everyone is saying they don’t need AMP at all.
So my question is: Is the DAC inside the K3 good enough for me to use it with a more powerful amp in the future and are the connectors in the K3 enough for such a task (meaning, I won’t be having problems connecting to an external amp)? I’ll be prolly going with something like Magni 3, ATOM AMP+, Topping L30 or similar.
Should I just bite the bullet and get a better DAC/AMP combo or stack straight away? I’m really tempted on getting the K5 Pro but is it worth while now with such a low ohm headphones? I’m surely gonna get more cans in the future like HD600 or Sundara etc.
Or would you rather suggest getting a lil bit more expensive ifi Zen Dac V2 or Topping DX3 Pro+ instead of the K5 Pro?
The more I keep reading about these amps, dacs and cans the more I’m starting to get a pre-emprive buyers remorse, lol.
Any insights are very welcome.
I really do understand your concern as I have both the K3 and K5 Pro here.
Let me start out by saying that the K3 is actually very useful for me at the moment. Right now I generally use it as a preamp into my Eris e3.5s as my K5 Pro is in the living room hooked up to my PS3 (I just recently repaired the Playstation).
For the purpose I use the K3 for, it’s great. I can watch YouTube videos/basketball games/movies, listen to Spotify, mix beats, etc. But yes, for harder to drive headphones it just won’t provide enough juice and that’s always been my main gripe with it. In other words, I very rarely use it for headphones by itself unless I’m doing a demo/comparison for someone by request.
Now, if you use it balanced (2.5mm) then it’s completely fine for most cans, but realistically 2.5mm is becoming less and less common nowadays. It seems a lot of products are going the 4.4mm route including FiiO. Their newer K9 Pro actually has a 4.4mm out on the front and they’re known for using 2.5mm in a lot of their DACS.
As for your question, yes. The K3 is also useful to me in that regard because I can easily pair it with another amp and the DAC inside is excellent. At the end of the day, I keep it around because it is very versatile.
This is a tough question as the K5 Pro is basically my top DAC recommendation for beginners (along with the Zen), and I also do generally tell people that buying one straight away instead of a K3 is probably the best option and a better plan as the K5 Pro is a lot more versatile than the K3. In other words, you’ll probably upgrade later anyway. As useful as the K3 is, the K5 Pro is even more so, and the K9 even more than that.
You’re not going to really care about the low ohm thing because of the K5 Pro’s value, so I wouldn’t really be concerned about that. You’ll always have a use for it and will love your investment as soon as you get it fired up and see what it’s capable of.
I’m going to also have to adjust my recommendation for the V2 as I think it’s overpriced now. $130 for the original was insane. The V2 At $160 I still thought was a great buy due to them making it compatible with consoles. At roughly $190 now it’s now a rip-off so thanks for reminding me. I honestly think part of it is inflation as a lot of products have increased in price, but I wouldn’t pay almost $200 for that. The newer K5 Pro ESS is $200 and like the original, it’s way more versatile and still worth a $50 increase (the original AKM K5 Pro was $150).
And don’t get buyer’s remorse. I can tell you as a guy who has demoed about 60 of these things, the differences sound-wise are fairly marginal. I mostly recommend based on features and versatility.
I hope that helped. Keep me posted with questions!!
Thank you for the long and thorough reply.
I took a look at my local Audio shop’s selection and saw they are getting the new ESS versions of both the K5 Pro and the Topping DX3 Pro+ next month.
Prices, at the moment for pre-orders are ~180usd for the K5 Pro and ~225usd for the DX3 Pro+
With these prices and taking into consideration the fact that I probably won’t ever going to be needing/using the Bluetooth on the DX3, which one would you recommend?
My common sense points towards the K5, but as there is only a few reviews of those ESS models out there for either of the units I’m still kinda hesitant to pull the trigger.
Thank you again!
Yeah, I’d lean K5 Pro. It’s interesting because as of now (subject to change) you can actually still purchase the AKM version at or in the ballpark of the original price. Regardless, I absolutely love the unit I have here and use it every day when gaming. Hoping to get the ESS soon for comparison but for me, it’s an easy decision in getting one and I think you should.
Hi Stu, I bought the K5 to go with new Audioengine HD3 desktop speakers. The setup sounds great. However I have followed Fiio’s instructions connecting my Mac through USB using AudioMidi setup at the highest format setting, as instructed: 32bit 780khz. I am only using Apple Lossless and high res. The colour indicator stays on green all the time, even when playing a low res song. How do I get it to change colour according to the resolution it’s playing? I believe it should do this? If I set input at a lower res the colour stays on blue even if a high res song plays. Or shouldn’t I bother with AudioMidi set up? It’s not a deal breaker but I wanted the light to indicate the resolution. Cheers
Hmm. Well, I know with Tidal you had to go inside Tidal’s settings and make sure the app was controlling the device. After that, the colours would change accordingly. Most people would tell you a unit like the K5 Pro wouldn’t play masters but that’s simply not the case. It’s just a matter of tinkering with some settings.
Perhaps try that with your current app. Aside from that, I’m not too sure as I don’t use Apple or AudioMidi.
Keep me posted!