If you are in the market for an entry level headphone amp/DAC combo, the Fiio K5 Pro is one of the best sounding options under $200.
Fiio K5 Pro$149.99
These days you have quite a few options if you are looking for a desktop headphone amp and DAC. Fiio has long made excellent products in this segment. The new K5 Pro looks to pick up where the now older Fiio K5 left off.
At $150 we will find out if its worth the money, or if you would be better off looking elsewhere.
Fiio K5 Pro Specifications
|USB Decoder||XMOS XUF208|
|Output Power||1.65W(16Ω); 1.5W(32Ω)|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz~80 kHz|
|Inputs||USB, 3.5mm, SPIDIF|
|Outputs||6.35mm (Headphones), RCA|
|Dimensions||120.5mm × 130mm × 55mm|
Packaging & Accessories
The K5 Pro comes in a standard black cardboard box. My unit arrived with a box a bit bent in one corner, but that’s certainly not Fiio’s fault. For a budget device the packaging is about as nice as you would expect.
There isn’t much in terms of accessories to be found here. Included in the box you get the K5 Pro, power adapter, USB cable, and 3.5mm adapter. Everything you will need to get started playing music from a computer.
Like its predecessor, the K5 Pro is entirely made of aluminum. The unit is light but solid feeling. The only plastic bit is the large volume knob.
Design & Features
On the front of the unit you will find a large volume/power knob. The knob turns very smoothly and I didn’t notice it skipping volume levels at all when going up or down.
To the left of the knob you will find a gain switch. There are 3 gain levels (0db, 6db, 10db) to choose from depending on how much power you need. Directly next to the gain selector is the input switch. You can choose between USB, RCA, and Digital (coaxial or SPIDF).
To connect your headphones Fiio has equipped the K5 Pro with a single metal 6.5mm connector to the right of the volume knob. As a DAC/amp combo the K5 is designed to be an all-in-one desktop solution for budget shoppers. The excellent AK4493 DAC ensures that the audio signal remains crystal clear, and with a power rating of up to 1.65W you should be able to power most headphones comfortably.
Around back you will find inputs for USB, Coaxial, SPIDF, and RCA cables. There is also a line level RCA out that passes through whatever input you have selected.
I tested the K5 Pro using primarily the Focal Elex headphones. For secondary testing I used Acoustic Research AR-E10 IEMs, and Koss KSC75’s. After the headphones were tested I hooked up the K5 to my Dynaudio Xeo 2 powered monitors to test the RCA outputs.
The unit was hooked up to my Windows 10 desktop PC via the included USB cable. Tidal HiFi, local FLAC files, and standard quality local .mp3 files were used for testing.
As soon as I turned on the K5 Pro I immediately noticed how clean the audio sounded. There was no audible hiss or background noise even with the volume turned up to the highest gain level.
The K5 Pro power rating appears to be accurate. It powered my Focal Elex with no issues. I never had to go above 50% on the middle gain setting. To test things further I tried a pair of Audio Technica ATH-R70x, which are quite a bit more demanding. Again there was power to spare.
The sound profile of this DAC/Amp is very neutral, it doesn’t provide much if any coloration to the sound. The unit does a surprisingly good job with detail, imaging, and bass. I was consistently surprised by the sound quality the K5 Pro produced. This is easily the best sounding sub $150 desktop combo unit I have heard.
While it sounds good, it’s certainly not perfect. When compared to my Monolith THX 788 there was a clear loss of overall detail and quality of bass, but the THX is more than 3x the price so that is to be expected.
This unit is really designed to be primarily a headphone amp, I also tested the RCA outputs to see how dual purpose users like myself may fare. The audio outputs and headphone jack are both active at all times, and the volume knob controls the levels for both. This is less than ideal but somewhat expected from a budget amp. Be careful not to blow out your eardrums accidentally.
Unfortunately the unit does not sound quite as good through the audio out. I noticed a general loss of detail, and the signal wasn’t as clean. The sound quality was adequate, but I would want something better for critical listening sessions. I don’t know if this is a side effect of the headphone jack and RCA’s being on simultaneously, but it was disappointing.
Fiio had a clear goal in mind when making the K5 Pro. Build a compact and affordable headphone DAC/Amp for PC users desktops, that looks good, and has best in class sound.
For beginners to the audio space, this is a fantastic low cost Amp. The K5 Pro sounds infinitely better than on board audio controllers, and trumps the other offerings in its price range like the Schiit Modi/Magni stack.
As long as you don’t do most of your listening via speakers, the Fiio K5 Pro is more than worth its price and highly recommended.