Headphone amplifiers like FiiO Q3 Vs K3 are ideal for you who want to improve the sound quality. It will elevate the listening experience, especially if you have high-quality audio files and a high-end device. These amplifiers are very similar and equally exciting, but there are also some differences. Suppose you want to know how they are different. Let’s take a look at what they can offer here.
In this comparison, we are going to talk about:
- Do You Need a Headphone DAC
- What are FiiO Q3 and K3
- How are the Designs of FiiO Q3 and K3
- What are the Input & Output in FiiO Q3 and K3
- How is the Power Output of FiiO Q3 and K3
- How is the Sound Quality of FiiO Q3 and K3
- What else FiiO Q3 and K3 can offer
- FiiO Q3 Vs K3
Music is part of our life, and while mainstream genres vary and constantly changing, it doesn’t change the fact that we need to use reliable equipment to listen to them. In modern days, we listen to music from compact media players or smart devices like laptops and smartphones. Both of them are equipped with DAC or digital to analog converter to convert the digital audio data into a low voltage signal that the amplifier can work with.
You must hear about headphone DAC or amps, usually placed between the primary device and your listening tool. This equipment aims to improve your music or audio’s clarity, detail, and dynamics. Headphone DAC is not a must for everyone but depends on your listening tool. The headphone has an impedance rating which is the combined resistance and reactivity of headphones to an amp acting as an electrical load. If your headphone has a high impedance, they will require more voltage to achieve a solid listening level.
You may need DAC, especially if the media player is small and has limited internal battery voltage. Those with low impedance may want DAC because they may have a lower damping factor and thus need more current. An amplifier can help improve the sound quality as well. A headphone amp will be very helpful for larger headphones to sound more natural. Some high-end headphones may need an amp to achieve the desired volume and sound quality, especially when hooking it to a compact device.
|FiiO Q3||FiiO K3|
|Product Dimensions||4.29 x 2.32 x 0.51 inches ||2.76 x 2.28 x 0.87 inches|
|Shipping Weight||3.88 ounces||2.89 ounces|
|Shop now at Amazon||click here||click here|
About FiiO Q3 and K3
Like most products, it is wise to consider the purpose before spending on it because not everyone wishes for the same results. If you have a pair of high-end cans or IEMs, they may benefit from a headphone amp or DAC, but most people with consumer-level earbuds or headphones don’t. Headphone amps or DAC vary in price based on what they can offer. If you have high impedance headphones, the amp or DAC may need to work harder or be rated higher, making it more expensive.
It will benefit people with audiophile headphones or another high-end listening device that often connects it to a compact device, having an additional amp or DAC. There are plenty to choose from, so we can always match the preference. If you want to shop on a budget, the FiiO Q3 and K3 are some of the best options to consider. They are around $100, making them extremely popular among people who want to try using the equipment for the first time.
FiiO is no stranger anymore in the audio equipment because they are among the top players. While their flagships are usually around $300, it doesn’t mean all of their favorite DACs are expensive. The FiiO Q3 and K3 are some of the most popular because of their price point. The two are very similar, with Q3 being on the slightly higher level. You can see the FiiO Q3 as a battery variant of K3 as they share so many qualities.
However, they don’t perform the same because Q3 can offer a better audio experience as it is a few steps higher than K3. It doesn’t mean the FiiO K3 is the wrong choice because it is also an excellent choice at the price point. We also like its convenience if you need a USB to coaxial output converting feature. Read also: FiiO Q3 Vs iFi Hip DAC 2 here.
FiiO Q3 and K3 Design
Many FiiO DACs or headphone amps from FiiO have a similar fashion. They are typically still compact enough for outdoor use or if you hook them to a compact media player. The FiiO Q3 and K3 housing is made from hard-anodized aluminum and has similar ports/knobs. The form factor of Q3 is approximately 105mm x 59mm x 12.5mm, while K3 is slightly thicker but narrower at 70mm x 58mm x 22mm. The Q3 is battery-powered, but it is a built-in internal, rechargeable battery.
The K3, on the other hand, is just a plug-and-play type. Like most DACs or amps, you get several accessories in the box. K3 only comes with the necessary and very little compared to Q3. This variant only provides a USB C to USB A cable and two pairs of rubber feet to prevent sliding when you place it on top of something. The Q3 accessories are a fabric pouch to carry the DAC, four bands to secure the equipment, one silicone pad, USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to lighting for apple products, and a jack-to-jack connector.
FiiO Q3 and K3 Input & Output
Next, let’s see the input and output available on FiiO Q3 and K3. The K3 has a more modest fashion, and so at a glance, the two results may go unnoticeable as it is also colored in black. The Q3 changed the plate into gold, making it easier to see. But, the two have similar features, such as the two output at the front and USB input at the rear. Interestingly, K3 can change the USB input from USB class 1.0 to class 2.0 using the switch.
In addition, the K3 has more connector types. If you need a coaxial port, this amp also offers the coaxial output port for when you want to use speakers, amplifiers, or decoders. It has an “opt out” too for connecting the other equipment. As for the standard output, K3 has 2.5mm balanced headphone output and 3.5mm single-ended headphone output. The Q3 offers both ports and additionally a 4.4mm balanced headphone output. The FiiO Q3 and K3 have a volume knob that acts as power.
FiiO Q3 and K3 Power & Pairing
As for the driving power, both FiiO Q3 and K3 are powerful. The two are rated or offering a peaking at ≥160mW and 220mW respectively on 32Ω load, so they are comparable to some entry to mid-range DAPs. Their balanced options will offer slightly more power than the single-end output, and the gain knob will boost the dynamic to add volume and power to the output. This setting is best for users with IEMs or small headphones and when you want a cleaner sound.
Overall despite being very compact, these DACs or amps can power most listening devices such as the HD600. The volume will be around five o clock with this headphone to achieve the most comfortable listening experience. If your headphone is more demanding, we may need to switch the bass boost to prevent the sound from being too laid back. Using the same 3.5mm K3 is more powerful than Q3.
FiiO Q3 and K3 Sound Quality
Now for the overall impression with FiiO Q3 and K3 because they sound slightly different. The K3 improves the sound, but it is not entirely flat with a hint of warmness from the bass weight, which feels heavier than the rest of the frequency. It doesn’t get in the way, at least for our taste, but it makes the music more pronounced. However, it lacks sub-bass while the mid-bass is rounded and heavier. As for the mid and highs, we think K3 is natural and accurate.
What’s noticeably different in Q3 is the clarity of the audio. Being a higher model, the internal component may be different, and this setup helps Q3 offer better details and separation. This DAC/amp is also more pronounced on the treble extension, making the vocal more distinct and producing better articulation while being more natural.
FiiO Q3 and K3 Features
We also want to mention some features, especially in Q3, because they may go unnoticed if you don’t keep the manual. This DAC has again button on the back near the USB input, and a single press will activate gain; a double press will switch the filters, hold while connecting it to the computer will enter UAC1.0 mode, and hold for 15 seconds will reset the device. The filters here will let you choose between a sharper roll-off filter and a slow roll-off filter.
FiiO Q3 Vs K3
Both FiiO Q3 and K3 are similar but also different. Their price point is not far distant and equally affordable, but Q3 sounds better, especially if you pay more attention to the clarity and separation. The internal component may affect the result, but K3 offers more with its coaxial output connectivity wise. The Q3, however, provides more features with the filters included. They are equally compact and perfect for a transportable setup.
There is no bad option between the two as you can choose the one that matches your preference best. But, we highly recommend the Q3 because its sound quality is cleaner and has better separation while sounding more natural. It is not far different than K3 in price point, and it is still very affordable.