FiiO KA2 Evaluation — Headfonics
On this characteristic, we evaluate the FiiO KA2 which is a twin CS43131 geared up dongle-type moveable DAC/amp with a 4.4mm balanced output functionality. It’s priced at $59.99.
Disclaimer: This was despatched to us as a pattern for our sincere opinion. Headfonics is an unbiased web site with no affiliate hyperlinks or providers. We thank FiiO for this chance.
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Observe, that this submit follows our newest scoring pointers which you’ll learn up on here.
The Jade Audio partnership continues to maintain bringing forth an idea with most of their merchandise that present an excellent instance of drugs that’s good sound however doesn’t must price a small fortune. You’ll be able to throw the FiiO KA2 within the checklist of their elements that do exactly that.
Good worth to efficiency ratio
Restricted app options
When you go to the FiiO webpage and take a look at their product lineup you’ll quickly understand the largest dilemma with FiiO is what mannequin to decide on since they carry so many fashions inside a few of their product traces to select from. This truth is most prevalent specifically with their IEM lineup.
Their dongle DAC lineup nonetheless has remained moderately fundamental and to this point solely accommodates three fashions. Up to now we’ve coated two fashions, the KA1 and the KA3. This time we’re going to deal with the KA2, the center sibling.
There are numerous variations between the final two coated dongles significantly with the interior elements that have been used as a result of on the surface all three appear moderately comparable apart from some intricacies.
FiiO took a 180-degree flip this time with the KA2 and the interior elements it employs. On the opposite two dongle fashions, FiiO used ESS tech DACs however this time they went with a twin CS43131 chip setup. This dual-chip setup is able to 153mw with a signal-to-noise ratio of 131dB and a THD-N of 0.0005%.
Wanting on the numbers alone one can not inform it is a funds dongle DAC. The specification numbers look good on paper and appear completely aligned to significantly run IEMs since there appears to be a much less highly effective output than different 4.4mm dongles. Nevertheless, the output does appear to be catering to environment friendly gear.
This dual-mono dual-chip design throughout the KA2 runs 32-bit at as much as 384 kHz PCM and DSD256 digital music codecs however there’s a lack of MQA format capabilities. The FiiO KA2 can run on android, iOS, Home windows, or Mac out of the field.
FiiO has stored its black and gold scheme all through its dongle DAC lineup so the KA2 follows a well-recognized design language. Additionally they stored the subtly lit triple-color format indicator which I additionally like.
This explicit multicolor format indicator design has an LED which sits behind a circle that enables the glow of the LED to shine by way of. Nevertheless, it stays beneath an depth stage and isn’t evident or too intense even in a darkish atmosphere.
The KA2 metallic shell employs the identical fin design the opposite two FiiO dongles do. It additionally shares the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ look by being labeled a FiiO product on one facet and the flip facet being labeled with the Jade Audio branding.
Contrasting the KA1 which has a single 3.5mm output the KA2 is supplied with a single 4.4mm balanced output. So, pull out these balanced geared up IEMs of us.
Now I don’t know an excessive amount of concerning the intricacies of the interior circuitry however when you drop that 4.4mm right down to a 3.5mm with a gender changer adapter it nonetheless will work.
However I extremely advocate you utilize a standard 4.4mm geared up IEM as a substitute simply to make sure. This observe may trigger some harm down the road. Get the KA1 as a substitute when you plan on utilizing 3.5mm connectivity completely.
The opposite finish is supplied with a non-removable twisted cable that terminates to a male USB-C connector. There’s additionally a Lightning-equipped mannequin so you’ll want to get the appropriate one you want.
Now we may gossip and speak about how way more I just like the detachable cable setup on the KA3 plus it additionally has a extra strong output part. So, for the additional couple of greenbacks, it is likely to be value having a look at. To not point out all the opposite options that open throughout the FiiO management app when it connects to the KA3.
FiiO Management App
Sure certainly, the KA2 works with the FiiO management app, however the app appears to restrict you far as what it enables you to do inside it. For instance, the equalizer is disabled throughout the app however on a constructive be aware, you do get to mess around with 5 so-called low move filters to select from.
The opposite options that this app has that I believed have been most helpful have been the 2-step achieve management and the quantity management which might climb as much as 120% on quantity stage. It’s very helpful to set the utmost quantity stage.
There’s additionally a full product guide throughout the app. Nevertheless, one factor I couldn’t discover was a utility for firmware upgrades throughout the app.
I did look throughout the web site within the help part and located firmware for the KA1 and the KA3 however not for the KA2. Maybe one might be launched at an extra date hopefully since FiiO tends to open up extra options with every launch.
Low Cross Filters
I brushed by way of these so-called low-pass filters and located these filters to be considerably delicate or virtually inaudible, effectively virtually. I feel they’re not affecting the low finish in any respect or because the identify implies however as a substitute are some DAC filters as a result of one for instance known as a non-oversampling filter which is a useless giveaway.
The minimal section together with the sluggish roll-off filters are extra midrange ahead whereas the opposite two appear to stay extra impartial, particularly the no oversampling variant which appears to be the cleanest sounding.
The opposite two do tackle a smoother method, particularly on the prime finish. Your mileage might differ so be sure that to test them out together with your explicit gear. They appear to react in another way with totally different gears.
Packaging and Equipment
The FiiO KA2 comes with a USB-C to full-size USB adapter or not less than this model of the dongle DAC does. You don’t get a lot else apart from a person’s guide.
The KA2 dongle comes inside a slide-out field and is laid inside a foam mould together with the full-size adapter. My explicit unit arrived in good form though my native supply man appeared light and barely performed soccer with my deliveries fortunately.
The FiiO KA2 appears to be a well-controlled dongle DAC sonically identical to the others throughout the FiiO lineup. All of them mission largely neutrality however attempt to stay uncharacteristic and peak free. Impartial bass, midrange relaxed and easy, and a few moderately darkish excessive frequencies are all current characters.
The dynamic vary appears moderately excessive however at occasions it appeared as if energy ran out at prime quantity when engaged in loud quantity classes and the dongle would tackle a considerably saturated character when performed loud. This isn’t the “rock out on excessive quantity” kind of dongle it appears however moderately a extra delicate listen-to dongle at a reasonable quantity stage.
The frequency response curve appears flat line, effectively prolonged, and concluded. The KA2 appears to remain inside a margin of combativeness and tries to stay light whereas on the identical time making an attempt to stay dynamic and musical, particularly on the prime finish.
Noise ranges are very low and the KA2 appears to have a tuning geared to run IEMs specifically since they reveal extra hiss and noise ranges throughout the gear. The KA2 appears to have a pitch-black background which mixed with its light tune makes this dongle DAC very IEM pleasant.
Staging and Dynamics
The KA2 portrays a considerably punchy character however the bass response is tilted impartial and appears scientific and is absent of bloom and generally uncharacteristic.
The midrange alternatively appears exact tonally and proper in magnitude. The excessive frequencies appear a contact darkish in comparison with equally geared up dongles and in comparison with the remainder of the frequency vary.
Staging is all there though some parts can bleed outward from their occupied area. It’s barely noticeable. Imaging is sort of good together with the quantity of area it may well produce lengthy because the headphones are as much as the duty. There’s nothing dramatic to say a couple of soundstage that’s moderately undramatic.
The KA2 energy output appears ample sufficient to run some environment friendly planar headphones and a few high-impedance dynamic driver fashions however once more, I’d simply keep on with IEMs with the KA2 because it appears significantly designed for that objective.
It’s not a powerhouse dongle however the quantity of constancy it may well produce is the primary ingredient right here and it’s what you purchase it for. So good moderation of the quantity is vital.
The quantity of energy obtainable will get you by if you wish to use some full-sized headphones and most occasions appears to suffice. There may be some distortion on the very prime of the quantity nonetheless and it’s in all probability because of a scarcity of present and or voltage output.
Far as energy consumption goes, it falls someplace in the midst of the remaining. I may get 10 and as much as 18 minutes of music with 1% battery life however when you use full-sized headphones and loud quantity ranges that point might be lower in half however won’t ever drop beneath that so it appears to be moderately environment friendly once more when you reasonable that quantity.
It doesn’t matter what you pair the KA2 with as a result of the sound signature is moderately impartial characterised and has no robust side that may favor a warm-sounding or vibrant IEM and can add a really small quantity of character of its personal.
In fact, the FiiO IEM lineup pairs effectively with the KA2 however it can also play properly with others. I paired some Tri I3 IEMs which have a tri-configuration of a dynamic, a BA together with a planar driver which was taken to very loud quantity ranges.
Dynamic driver IEMs additionally work properly. The FD7, the Meze RAI Solo, and a pair of FD5 IEMs labored effectively and in good synergy with the KA2. I may go on however you get the purpose. Most IEMs will fare simply high quality.