Stereocheck Reviews:

FiiO K19: Powerful and Flexible Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC

FiiO has long been recognized as a leading authority in the realm of personal audio equipment. Initially gaining widespread acclaim for their portable digital-to-analog converters and headphone...

FiiO K19
FiiO K19

FiiO has long been recognized as a leading authority in the realm of personal audio equipment. Initially gaining widespread acclaim for their portable digital-to-analog converters and headphone amplifiers, the company has since expanded its repertoire to include digital audio players (DAPs), headphones, Bluetooth receivers, and various personal audio accessories.

Recently, FiiO has expanded its product lineup to include additional digital-to-analog converters and headphone amplifiers, signaling a strategic move towards the desktop audio market. A prime example of this direction is the introduction of the FiiO K19 Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC. Despite what the name might imply, this new device offers remarkable versatility as a central hub for desktop audio systems.

FiiO K19: Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC with numerous interfaces

The FiiO K19 Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC sets itself apart as a highly exceptional solution due to its comprehensive array of interfaces, catering to a broad spectrum of sources. This device features a versatile connection suite that includes an optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface for high-quality digital audio input, alongside a USB-C interface designed for straightforward connection to both PCs and Macs. Additionally, it accommodates USB-C storage devices and offers an HDMI port, enhancing its connectivity options.

The flexibility of the FiiO K19 extends to its outputs as well. It boasts two pairs of RCA sockets for analog output, along with a pair of XLR outputs, enabling the transmission of analog signals in both unbalanced and balanced formats to power amplifiers or active speaker systems. For headphone users, the device offers comprehensive support, including unbalanced and balanced connections via a 6.3 mm stereo jack, a 4.4 mm Pentaconn, and a 4-pin XLR connector.

In terms of digital output, the FiiO K19 mirrors its input versatility with an optical and coaxial S/PDIF interface, and an HDMI port that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). This feature allows for a direct connection to a television, enabling the direct transfer of audio signals back to the amplifier/DAC.

The unit is also equipped with 12 V trigger inputs and outputs, along with an RS232 interface, which is uniquely implemented via a USB-C port, demonstrating FiiO’s innovative approach to connectivity.

Bluetooth connectivity is a given, with the FiiO K19 supporting Bluetooth 5.0. It goes beyond the basic SBC and AAC codecs, incorporating aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC, thus facilitating the wireless transmission of high-resolution audio. This wide range of interfaces and connectivity options underlines the FiiO K19’s capability to serve as a central hub for desktop audio systems, making it an outstandingly versatile choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.

Dual power supply

The FiiO K19 Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC employs an innovative approach to its power supply, utilizing an external power unit that supports a dual power supply system. This allows users the flexibility to choose between a 15 V DC input and a traditional 230 V AC input, catering to various setup requirements and ensuring that the device can be powered in different scenarios. Additionally, a notable feature of this device is the inclusion of a ground lift switch located on the back. This switch is instrumental in addressing potential ground loop issues, which can cause unwanted noise in the audio signal. By effectively eliminating these noises, the ground lift switch enhances the overall sound quality, making the FiiO K19 not just versatile in terms of connectivity and power options, but also in ensuring the integrity and clarity of the audio output.

Sophisticated signal processing

The FiiO K19 Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC distinguishes itself with its advanced signal processing capabilities, which are rooted in the deployment of high-end audio components. Central to its exceptional performance are two 8-channel ESS ES9039SPRO DACs provided by ESS Technology Inc., renowned for their precision in converting digital audio signals to analog. These DACs are paired with two AccuSilicon AS318-B Crystal Oscillators, ensuring an impeccably accurate clock signal for superior sound quality. This combination allows the FiiO K19 to handle Linear PCM audio up to 32 bits and 768 kHz, as well as DSD audio up to DSD512, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Further enhancing its audio processing prowess, the FiiO K19 incorporates an ADI SHARC+ ADSP-21565 DSP from Analog Devices Inc. This powerful digital signal processor is primarily utilized for its 31-band parametric equalizer, offering users granular control over their audio experience by allowing precise adjustments across a wide frequency range.

For its output stage, the device leverages an 8-channel THX-AAA-788+ amplifier from THX Ltd., a testament to its commitment to delivering high-quality sound. This powerful amplifier configuration ensures an impressive output of 8,000 mW at 32 ohms via the balanced output, making the FiiO K19 capable of driving virtually any headphones with ease and maintaining full control over the audio signal. This meticulous selection of components underscores the FiiO K19’s ability to offer an unparalleled listening experience, catering to the demands of audiophiles and professionals alike.

Prices and availability

According to the manufacturer, the new FiiO K19 Desktop Headphone Amplifier/DAC should already be available in specialist retailers in the Silver and Black versions. The recommended retail price is €1,300.