Home » FiiO E10K-TC and K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifiers Review: Sma
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FiiO E10K-TC and K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifiers Review: Sma

Review By Paul Schumann

Do DAPs have a future? While there are a subset of audiophiles who will maintain on to those costly devoted music gamers till the bitter finish, 99% of the planet have determined to go along with smartphones and tablets. Nobody desires to hold round that many units and I might relatively carry a Dongle DAC or transportable headphone amplifier than any DAP. Products just like the FiiO E10K-TC ($79.99 at Amazon) and FiiO K3 ($109.99 at Amazon) USB DAC Headphone Amplifiers are much more intriguing.

If you have got learn any of my earlier opinions, you recognize that I’m a fan of Classical music. Sure, I take heed to rock, pop, and jazz, however classical music is the place I’ll all the time be grounded. I’m positive it’s as a result of I grew up listening to my father’s music. While he did take heed to a mix of stuff as I used to be rising up, it was principally classical, particularly Bach.

By the time I reached highschool, I discovered prog-rock, which after all had a heavy classical affect. And whereas my Dad prefers his baroque music, as I acquired older, I began leaning in direction of the romantics.

I feel it’s honest to say that Brahms was my favourite composer by my 20s, 30s, and 40s. But whereas I nonetheless love that music, there are solely so many instances one can take heed to Brahms Violin Concerto or Beethoven’s fifth Symphony earlier than they lose their thriller. So, in my 50s, I began branching out in my musical journey with Twentieth- and Twenty first-century composers. What made this exploration attainable was the web. I began with Pandora and moved to YouTube as extra music began to crop up there. A good time for me to do that is when I’m at college early within the morning and through my off intervals. My technique of listening have been some cheap laptop audio system, but it surely was one thing.

Just a few months in the past, I reviewed the FiiO FD5 in-ear screens (IEM). For essential listening, I used my house system, however for enjoyable, I attempted them out on my cellphone and faculty laptop computer. While this was an enchancment over some inexpensive IEMs, I might hear the restrictions of musical replica by these supply units. Also, many YouTube information are usually not the very best quality both.

I improved issues by becoming a member of Qobuz and utilizing it on my laptop computer and cellphone, however I used to be nonetheless restricted. Then, virtually on cue, I used to be supplied the prospect to evaluation the FiiO E10K-TC and K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifiers. Life is sweet.

FiiO E10K-TC Front and Back
FiiO E10K-TC
FiiO K3 Front and Back
FiiO K3

Both the E10K and K3 are desktop USB DAC/Headphone amplifiers. They are virtually an identical in dimension and options. They each have adjustable achieve, a bass increase, a line output, and help PCM as much as 32-bit/384Hz. The K3 additionally helps native decoding as much as DSD256, whereas the E10K-TC doesn’t help DSD. Where additionally they differ is K3 has a 2.5 mm balanced output port and the E10K-TC has a 3.5 mm single-ended output.


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For this evaluation, I listened to those two cool units by way of the USB port of my laptop computer. All I needed to do was set up the FiiO USB software program and I used to be able to go. My supply was the Qobuz streaming app and listened to them utilizing the beforehand talked about FiiO FD5 IEM. Since my Qobuz subscription can stream up 24-bit/192Hz information, I assumed it could be a wonderful reference. I used to be breaking in two totally different units, I switched them out each couple of days.


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So let’s get again to the music. Picking one’s means by the panorama of Twentieth and Twenty first Century music is a difficult process. Once Stravinsky opened the doorways extensive open in 1913 with “The Rite of Spring”, classical music took off in a number of instructions. As a child, I attempted out my dad’s Schoenberg and Berg albums, however I discovered them unlistenable. What I didn’t understand, was that it was solely one of many methods classical music advanced previously century. Two of the Twentieth-Century composers who bucked the Schoenberg college have been Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein.

Their music has change into touchstones of American tradition. One of the items I got here throughout in exploration was Bernstein’s “Serenade after Plato’s Symposium”. A efficiency I found on Qobuz by Itzhak Pearlman and the Boston Symphony Orchestra [EMI Classics 7243 5 55360 2 0].

Also included on this album have been Barber’s underrated Violin Concerto and Lukas Foss’ “Three American Pieces”. I used to be instantly enchanted with the final piece. When you come throughout a brand new piece of music that takes you abruptly, the primary questions are: “Why haven’t I heard this earlier than? Why don’t I find out about this composer?”

It seems that Lukas Foss was a recent and shut pal of Leonard Bernstein. Energized by that discovery, I searched Qobuz for different Lukas Foss compositions.

One of the albums I discovered of nice curiosity, was a group of Foss’ 4 symphonies by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project [BMOP/sound 1043]. The BMOP makes a speciality of performing and recording world premieres of classical music. Unfortunately, the CDs of the Foss symphonies are offered out, however the music is obtainable on Qobuz at CD high quality.

These symphonies hint the evolution of Foss’ musical types, with the primary being probably the most accessible. Why this piece isn’t a part of the common repertoire of most American symphonies is past me. Listening to the first Symphony utilizing the K3 DAC, the strings have been candy, the woodwinds have been tonally beautiful, and the snare drums had startling punch.


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Excited by my private discovery, I listened to extra of Foss’ music and got here throughout his Piano Concertos by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra [HMU 907243]. This album is an thrilling recording of two of Foss’ early works. The sound of this recording is kind of exceptional, particularly for the solo piano. The second concerto is the extra mature of the 2. The opening with the brass is downright chilling. The E10K conveyed the menace of the brass devices with ease.


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After listening to the Foss Piano Concertos, Qobuz beneficial one other piano concerto by Takashi Yoshimatsu. Yoshimatsu is an lively Japanese composer who has, what might be referred to as, a neo-romantic fashion. His “Memo Flora” concerto debuted in 1997 is a factor of magnificence. The first part of the primary motion units the tone with alternating 6/4 and seven/4 meters and the piano and violins beginning at pianissimo and slowly crescendoing to a mezzo-forte.

The complete piece exudes lightness and wonder. Don’t get me flawed, I really like quite a lot of fashionable classical music, however a lot of it may be so rattling tough to wade by. This concerto has sufficient fashionable parts to maintain it fascinating, however retains a lyric attraction that’s simple on the mind. Using the K3 to take heed to this piece, I used to be capable of expertise the total ebb and circulation of its dynamics.


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Since I loved Yoshimatsu’s Piano Concerto a lot, I made a decision to discover extra of his catalog. As of the writing of this text, Yoshimatsu has written, amongst different issues, six symphonies and concertos for quite a lot of different devices. While concertos are nonetheless a staple of the fashionable repertoire, the symphonic type is just not used a lot anymore. In all of those items, he cleverly incorporates parts of western classical and conventional Japanese music.

His first symphony opens with an historical Japanese flute performed in a technique to remind one of many wind rustling by the timber. In a number of of his symphonies, he has used the pentatonic or heptatonic scales with the strings as an homage to historic Japanese music.

Of his six symphonies, my favourite is the fourth. It is chock stuffed with nice melodies and inventive orchestration. This symphony additionally incorporates melodic nods of Berlioz to Mahler. I particularly loved the ultimate motion’s boisterous ending. All in all, an exquisite piece.

FiiO K3 Back
FiiO K3
FiiO E10K-TC Headphone Amplifier USB DAC Back Angle
FiiO E10K-TC

Conclusion

I might go on about all the great music I encountered utilizing the E10K and K3 with Qobuz. It has been an fulfilling means of discovering new music and with the ability to take heed to it in such excessive constancy utilizing my laptop computer. So how do the E10K and K3 sound? After switching backwards and forwards so many instances I misplaced rely, I can say they sound fairly related. In reality, if I did a blindfold take a look at, I wouldn’t be capable to inform them aside within the setup I used. Both offered ample bass with the FD5 IEMs ($299 at Amazon), so I by no means felt the necessity to hit the bass increase.

The mids have been pure and missing sibilance and the highs have been candy. Both rendered an amazingly extensive soundstage with well-defined devices. I used to be particularly impressed with the dynamics I skilled utilizing the E10K and K3. Transients have been fairly sharp and the subtleties of particular person devices got here by. Both of those units are very musical of their presentation. Could I dig as deep into the music as I can with my system at house? No. But what I did expertise was superb, contemplating I used to be streaming on a laptop computer.

I actually appreciated utilizing each the E10K and K3 at my college to take heed to streaming music. It’s extremely astounding that FiiO is ready to get a lot nice sound out of such small packages. I might extremely suggest both of those units for taking part in music off a laptop computer, as I did. I totally intend on utilizing them sooner or later to discover extra music.

Ratings

Tonality

★★★★★★★★★★

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

★★★★★★★★★★

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

★★★★★★★★★★

Attack

★★★★★★★★★★

Decay

★★★★★★★★★★

Inner Resolution

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Width Front

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Width Rear

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Depth

★★★★★★★★★★

Soundscape Extension Into Room

★★★★★★★★★★

Imaging

★★★★★★★★★★

Fit And Finish

★★★★★★★★★★

Self Noise

★★★★★★★★★★

Value For The Money

★★★★★★★★★★

Specifications

Type: USB DAC Headphone Amplifiers

FiiO E10K-TC Headphone Amplifier USB DAC Front
FiiO E10K-TC

E10K-TC
Power Source: Standard USB Type-C Connector
DAC Chip: PCM 5102
Output Power: > 200mW (32 Ohms)
Sampling Rate (USB Decoding): Up to 32-bit / 384kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >114 dB
Coaxial Output: Up to 24-bit / 192kHz
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to twenty okayHz
Headphone Impedance: 16 Ohms to 150 Ohms
Dimensions: 79 mm x 49.1 mm x 21 mm
Weight: 78 grams
Price: $79.99 at Amazon

FiiO K3 Front
FiiO K3

K3
Power Source: Standard USB Type-C Connector
DAC Chip: ES9038Q2M
Output Power: > 120mW (32 ohms)
Sampling Rate (USB Decoding): Up to 32-bit / 384kHz and DSD256
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >121dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Headphone Impedance: 16 Ohms to 150 Ohms
Dimensions: 79 mm x 49.1 mm x 21 mm
Weight: 82 grams
Price: $109.99 at Amazon

Company Information
GuangZhou FiiO Electronics Technology CO., LTD
Room 901, Building Kaiyue
Huangshi West Road
Baiyun District, GuangZhou
China

Voice: +86 136 605 40625
E-mail: Sunny@fiio.internet
Website: FiiO.com

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