FiiO KA11 USB-C/Lightning Dongle Review

I have been looking for a suitable portable upgrade over the aging Apple usb-c / lightning dongle for a while. I want something small enough to essentially just feel like an extension of my headphone cable but powerful enough to really drive some of my harder to drive planars.

So, as you will hopefully see in this review, I believe the KA11 is exactly that and is a very pragmatic choice for a portable usb-c / lightning dongle for your smartphone especially at its $29.99 price.

Note: I would like to thank FiiO for sending me both the usb-c and lightning versions for the purposes of this review - check out KA11 on the FiiO Jade Audio website here for more information



The FiiO / JadeAudio KA11 builds upon the success of its predecessor, the KA1, but while the KA1 had a blocky design which felt a separate “DAC”, the design of the KA11 is much sleaker as you can see in the picture above and feels much more like an ‘adapter’ than the powerful dongle DAC amplifier that it is.

What is in the Box

The USB-c version: KA11 - in box.jpg

The lightning version: KA11-Lightning-box.jpeg

Design and Build

The FiiO / JadeAudio KA11 comes in two colors, Midnight Black and Sunrise Silver, and lightweight design of about 8.5g, the KA11 is unobtrusive and highly portable. While it is slightly bigger than the Apple USB-c dongle it doesn’t really feel bigger when connected to your headphones: KA11-Comparison.jpeg

Especially when attached to your headphone cable it feels like an natural extension of the cable and is unobtrusive when I am carrying it in my pocket with my smartphone: KA11-sennheiser-cable2 Medium.jpeg

So compared to the typical usb-c dongle it is much more portable. Here is a comparison with the FiiO KA17 (which I will have a review of very soon), a Qudelix 5K and the apple usb-c dongle:


I thought it was amazing that the KA11 was effectively smaller than the 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter I needed to carry with the Qudelix 5K.

Here is a short video:

Note: Spoiler for the KA17 review, if you have the money get the KA17, it is more powerful, has PEQ, has balanced output and many other features, but is definitely less portable than the KA11 and will not feel like an ‘adapter’ on your cable the same way the KA11 does.

The KA11 cable length is 65.5mm: KA11-upclose Large.jpeg

The KA11 boasts a robust aluminum-magnesium alloy body that not only gives it a premium feel but also provides excellent interference resistance. This, combined with its oblique cuts and curved outlines, offers a visually appealing device that’s both sturdy and stylish.


Internally the KA11 includes a high-spec SA9312L USB interface, an independent CS43131 DAC, and an independent headphone amplifier with SGM8262 op-amps for professional HiFi circuit architecture. Furthermore, for its price class it delivers an extremely powerful output of up to 245mW at 16Ω, making it stand out.

The dongle features a light which indicates the sampling rate of the audio source, with blue indicating “normal” < 48khz
quality audio and yellow indicating hi-res > 48khz while green indicates DSD audio. This can be controlled within the FiiO Control Application.

FiiO Control App

So as mentioned the FiiO control app can control various features of the KA11, including the light. With the light can be turned off, either permanently or until next time dongle is restarted, but only using the Android version of the FiiO Control app. I would imagine this capability will be added to the IOS version once Apple lift their restrictions. Screenshot_20240212-103500_FiiO_Control Medium.jpeg

Sound Profile

The KA11 is highly transparent to the source of the music, supporting up to 32bit/384kHz PCM and DSD256 audio decoding.

For those who like to tweak with the audio profile, there is the ability to change the filters within the FiiO control app (again Android only for now): Screenshot_20240214-164749_FiiO_Control Medium.jpeg

I was very impressed with the power I was getting when listening to my planar’s, maybe 70% volume compared to needing to max out the volume when using the US version of the Apple USB-c dongle. If you like the Apple usb-c dongle but just wanted more power and features I think the KA11 is for you.

Note: The KA11 does not support a microphone interface so does not have a ADC unlike the apple usb-c/lightning dongles so you won’t be able to use a microphone on your IEM cable.

Specification and Measurements

Technical Specifications
Colors Midnight black
Sunrise silver
Connectors Type-C
DAC C543131
Op-amp SGM8262
Supported formats 384kHz/32bit, DSD256
Output 3.5mm headphone jack
Dimensions 44.5 * 9.7 * 10.5mm
Cable length 65.5mm
Weight 8.5g
SNR ≥ 125dB 32 Ohms
Output impedance < 0.70 (32 Ohms)

Output Power:

L+R Power Ohms THD+N SINAD
245mW 16 THD+N < 1%
200mW 32 0.0006% 104
22mW 300 0.00038% 108

For comparison the Apple USB-C dongle has 3.6mw into 300 Ohms, 31mw into 32 Ohms, a SNR of 113db and an output impedance of 0.9. So in each of these published metrics the KA11 is better than the Apple USB-c.

This level of power in such a small package and reaonable priced dongle is particularly impressive and a significant advantage for those who want to bring a more demanding headphones with them.


Given its features, build quality, and performance, the KA11 receives a pragmatic rating of 5 out of 5. It offers exceptional value for its price, making it an excellent choice for audiophiles seeking quality audio without breaking the bank. Other than the missing inline microphone input it is an excellent choice over the aging Apple usb-c dongle and can even be used as a high quality alternative to much more expensive usb-c / lightning dongles.


In conclusion, the Fiio KA11 is a remarkable bargain, with a combination of elegant design, powerful output, low noise floor, and high signal-to-noise ratio makes it a top contender in the market of audio dongles. The KA11 is more than capable of satisfying the audio needs of both casual listeners and audiophiles alike. Whether you’re streaming high-resolution audio on the move or looking for a compact yet powerful solution for your portable setup, the Fiio KA11 stands out as an excellent pragmatic choice.