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Review and Measurements of Fiio K5 Pro

amirm

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#41
So everything under the 'headphone amplifier audio measurements' section of the review is USB in->phone out?
Correct. That is what I always do when there is a combo DAC+Headphone amp. You can tell this by looking at the graphs:



See the horizontal scale saying it is in "dBFS"? That always means digital values were output from my analyzer. Otherwise it would be an analog voltage, dBV or dBU. FS means "Full Scale" and is shorthand for Full-scale digital sample.

I was in a rush in these two reviews to get the boards back to the owner and did not put much annotation in them. Usually I say it is USB input.
 

doombase

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#42
Amirm, is this test with the v1 DX3 or the DX3 LDAC which Topping is selling now? The instability of the Topping made me go with the K5 Pro.

Correct. That is what I always do when there is a combo DAC+Headphone amp. You can tell this by looking at the graphs:



See the horizontal scale saying it is in "dBFS"? That always means digital values were output from my analyzer. Otherwise it would be an analog voltage, dBV or dBU. FS means "Full Scale" and is shorthand for Full-scale digital sample.

I was in a rush in these two reviews to get the boards back to the owner and did not put much annotation in them. Usually I say it is USB input.
 
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#43
Hi everyone,

I bought this for my Hifiman Sundara after the DX3 I bought quit. My DX3 Pro V1 might have been defective; however, I noticed what sounded like distortion or a hiss while it worked. When I switched to this, everything sounded perfect. I am now second guessing myself. Would anyone recommend returning these for something else? Perhaps a ATOM/Tone Board or try the DX3 Pro V2? I want the ideal setup for my headphones.

I am afraid the DX3 Pro V2 would have hiss and might be a bad match for my headset.

I feel like everything on this is much fuller than my motherboard and GSX1000. It's like the GSX1000 makes things load enough, but doesn't power the headphones to make it sound full.

Thanks everyone.

@amirm Thank you for the review.
 
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mkawa

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#44
out of curiosity, what gain mode are you running the k5 pro in? if the k5 pro can power you HP in low gain and the dx3 has to go high gain, that could make the difference in the noise floor.
 
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#45
out of curiosity, what gain mode are you running the k5 pro in? if the k5 pro can power you HP in low gain and the dx3 has to go high gain, that could make the difference in the noise floor.
If you are talking to me, low gain. If the dac was a bad though....does it matter? Would it be better to use a toslink?
 

frogmeat69

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#46
@josiah If you think it sounds perfect, and you are happy, why are you so quick to get rid of it and try something you seem wary about already because of previous mishaps?
Slow down and enjoy the music, and see if your worries lessen before spending on something you might not need, it's what I'm trying to do myself, lol.
 

JohnYang1997

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#47
Hi everyone,

I bought this for my Hifiman Sundara after the DX3 I bought quit. My DX3 Pro V1 might have been defective; however, I noticed what sounded like distortion or a hiss while it worked. When I switched to this, everything sounded perfect. I am now second guessing myself. Would anyone recommend returning these for something else? Perhaps a ATOM/Tone Board or try the DX3 Pro V2? I want the ideal setup for my headphones.

I am afraid the DX3 Pro V2 would have hiss and might be a bad match for my headset.

I feel like everything on this is much fuller than my motherboard and GSX1000. It's like the GSX1000 makes things load enough, but doesn't power the headphones to make it sound full.

Thanks everyone.

@amirm Thank you for the review.
dx3 does have some hiss due to fully digital volume control which doesn't decrease the noise level when you reduce the volume. This k5 pro uses a volume control chip which preserve the SNR changing the volume. I think this is what you are experiencing. You just keep what sounds good to you.
 
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#48
dx3 does have some hiss due to fully digital volume control which doesn't decrease the noise level when you reduce the volume. This k5 pro uses a volume control chip which preserve the SNR changing the volume. I think this is what you are experiencing. You just keep what sounds good to you.
Shouldn't this show in the 'power Vs noise and distortion' measurements? The measurements show that dx3 is consistently below the k5 pro even at low power.
 

JohnYang1997

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#49
Shouldn't this show in the 'power Vs noise and distortion' measurements? The measurements show that dx3 is consistently below the k5 pro even at low power.
amir's test doesn't have automated physical volume control, meaning all are digital controlled (correct me if im wrong). So the benefit of k5pro doesn't show in that graph.
 

DJ Nachi

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#50
A slight diversion from the current chat...

"In that regard, and in the context of a budget product that is designed reasonably well, I am going to recommend the Fiio K5 Pro. "...

Is the K5 Pro good enough to bring out the best in headphones like the HD 650 / BeyerDynamic DT 990 ? Or would it make more sense to get a schiit stack (Modi 3 + Magni 3 ) or a Topping D50s or DX3 Pro instead ?

Going purely by the measurements, the K5 Pro seems to fall well short of both the Magni 3(for power and Distortion) and the Modi 3(for SINAD and )
...

Does this difference in stats translate to a great deal of a difference in the sound quality of the K5 Pro vs SCHIIT stack(magni3/Modi 3) when strictly used as a USB dac + headphone amp ?

Thanks,
Nachi
 
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flipflop

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#51
Is the K5 Pro good enough to bring out the best in headphones like the HD 650 / BeyerDynamic DT 990 ?
Yes, it's an engineered device. It's not going to be the bottleneck in any system.
Or would it make more sense to get a schiit stack (Modi 3 + Magni 3 ) or a Topping D50s or DX3 Pro instead ?
You will have to ask yourself that questions. Do the extra benefits of these products outweigh their higher costs?
Going purely by the measurements, the K5 Pro seems to fall well short of both the Magni 3(for power
Both deliver ample power.
True, although Magni 3 falls short of K5 Pro when it comes to channel balance.
and the Modi 3(for SINAD
Again true, but K5 Pro outperforms Modi 3's SPDIF jitter and USB linearity.
Does this difference in stats translate to a great deal of a difference in the sound quality of the K5 Pro vs SCHIIT stack(magni3/Modi 3) when strictly used as a USB dac + headphone amp ?
The only guaranteed audible difference between any of these devices is the clicking sound from the DX3 Pro when the sample rate changes.
 

DJ Nachi

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#52
You will have to ask yourself that questions. Do the extra benefits of these products outweigh their higher costs?
@ FlipFlop, thanks for the precise answer...

That was my question in a nutshell, I just intend the K5 Pro to be used as a Desktop USB Dac + Amp with the HD650/BeyerDynamic DT 990..so I prettymuch do not need any more additional features (bluetooth/Pre amp ...).
So, if I re-phrase my question, it would be :

From a pure SQ perspective (I know this can be subjective), do the other options offer significant improvement on sound quality over the K5 Pro considering the fact that I will mostly be listening to music @320 KBPS.. ?

P.S. I might move on to DT1990/Hifiman Sundara over the next year and would start collecting FLAC, but I do not see equipment in this price-range really translating into a very discernable difference in sound in 320 vs FLAC, all else remaining the same.

Thanks,
Nachiket
 
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#53
I bought this for my Hifiman Sundara after the DX3 I bought quit. My DX3 Pro V1 might have been defective; however, I noticed what sounded like distortion or a hiss while it worked. When I switched to this, everything sounded perfect. I am now second guessing myself. Would anyone recommend returning these for something else? Perhaps a ATOM/Tone Board or try the DX3 Pro V2? I want the ideal setup for my headphones.@amirm Thank you for the review.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nts-of-fiio-k5-headphone-amp.6824/post-230272
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nts-of-fiio-k5-headphone-amp.6824/post-230648

Those are links to a member that has this unit and the Atom+Kadas tone board. He can hear zero sound quality difference, except there being no channel imbalance with the Fiio. Beyond a certain point of technical competence these graphs are meaningless to your everyday use, and you just end up chasing numbers (the curse of being a rigid objectivist?). If it sounds good, has the benefit of no problems with channel imbalance or scratchy pots, and is in a compact good looking package, I would stick with what you've got.
 

flipflop

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#54
From a pure SQ perspective (I know this can be subjective), do the other options offer significant improvement on sound quality over the K5 Pro considering the fact that I will mostly be listening to music @320 KBPS.. ?
Significant improvement? Absolutely not. The difference between K5 Pro and a reference amp+DAC will be somewhere between extremely subtle and non-existent. Just make sure your don't turn up the pot past 3 o'clock, as noted by Amir and the FiiO K5 Pro FAQ (currently not loading properly).
 

DJ Nachi

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#55
Significant improvement? Absolutely not. The difference between K5 Pro and a reference amp+DAC will be somewhere between extremely subtle and non-existent. Just make sure your don't turn up the pot past 3 o'clock, as noted by Amir and the FiiO K5 Pro FAQ (currently not loading properly).
Thanks again flipflop,

and no, I will never go beyond 3 o'clock.. I do not even go beyond 75-80(on a scale of 0 to 130) on my X3 II to drive the HD650s. I actually prefer my music low volume but high Fidelity. That is kind of the whole point of me looking for a decent, powerful amp in the first place : to ensure my headphones have enough power even at low volumes. Hope the K5 Pro fits the bill since I am not into changing gear too often..
 
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#56
I am actually considering returning this and getting the Creative X3... I do miss the surround sound of the GSX1000, it just doesn't sound good on my Sundara. Works fine on the Philips X2. Guessing it's an amp thing. I doubt the X3 would perform worse considering how high the G6 performed.
 

amirm

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#57
amir's test doesn't have automated physical volume control, meaning all are digital controlled (correct me if im wrong). So the benefit of k5pro doesn't show in that graph.
That's correct. I wish there was a good solution to change the volume control automatically for testing.
 
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#58
Hi,
I have Asus Xonar DX sound card with Cirrus Logic chipsets: the CS4398 (front) and the CS4362A (centre, side and rear) that runs my new KaliAudio LP6s. I still have my 5 year old Fiio E10 (Not K) for my Audio Technica M40x and TinAudio T2. I feel both the M40x and T2 have a lot more potential and the old E10 is a bottleneck. I was looking for a balanced DAC but then the cost goes up along with thick cables on my desk/Toppings is not readily available in my country/it has a ton of QC issues. Will the K5 pro be a huge upgrade for my current gear? Will the LP6s sound better on the line out of K5 Pro as compared to my old Xonar as well?
Thx.

UPDATE: I just purchased the K 5 pro :D
 
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#59
Hi,
I have Asus Xonar DX sound card with Cirrus Logic chipsets: the CS4398 (front) and the CS4362A (centre, side and rear) that runs my new KaliAudio LP6s. I still have my 5 year old Fiio E10 (Not K) for my Audio Technica M40x and TinAudio T2. I feel both the M40x and T2 have a lot more potential and the old E10 is a bottleneck. I was looking for a balanced DAC but then the cost goes up along with thick cables on my desk/Toppings is not readily available in my country/it has a ton of QC issues. Will the K5 pro be a huge upgrade for my current gear? Will the LP6s sound better on the line out of K5 Pro as compared to my old Xonar as well?
Thx.

UPDATE: I just purchased the K 5 pro :D
Interesting, this is only available in the US. Its even only listed on the US eBay selling directly from Hon'gkong, for more than the Amazon price (and Amazon US will not ship outside the US). But nobody else (UK, Germany, Italy) has the K5 Pro.

Wait and see if the world also get the K5 Pro?

Edit: I figured it out. You can only get it from Fiio directly or Hifi shops, not Amazon or eBay or anywhere else online.
 
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#60
Interesting, this is only available in the US. Its even only listed on the US eBay selling directly from Hon'gkong, for more than the Amazon price (and Amazon US will not ship outside the US). But nobody else (UK, Germany, Italy) has the K5 Pro.

Wait and see if the world also get the K5 Pro?

Edit: I figured it out. You can only get it from Fiio directly or Hifi shops, not Amazon or eBay or anywhere else online.
I'll update once I get it. You're right. I purchased it from FiiO official Indian Site.
 
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