FiiO's new hi-res DACs are the perfect audio upgrade for your new iPhone 15

FiiO KA13 DAC attached to a smartphone and wired headphones, on beige background
(Image credit: FiiO)

Snapped up a new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro or even treated yourself to the iPhone 15 Pro Max? Good for you. Now, you're going to want to make it sound like a true hi-res player on your commute, finally unlock the full quality of Apple Music's lossless sound quality, which is lost over Bluetooth.

The important update for anyone prioritizing sound quality from their handset is iPhone 15's USB-C port, which you'll now find in place of the Lightning connector on the bottom edge of all iPhone 15 models. (Hurrah!) 

Now, iPhone 15's USB-C port can't improve sound quality on its own just by being there, but it certainly makes plugging in one of the best portable DACs or a set of the best wired headphones a lot easier – you can finally cast aside that easily-lost Apple Lightning adapter.

This is where FiiO comes in. Meet the new KA13 for the commute – and the K11 for the desk. 

Analysis: FiiO's timing is perfect – as is its track record

FiiO KA13 in silver on white background

You might mistake the KA13 for a lighter until you see its USB-C port  (Image credit: FiiO)

The KA13 is a portable USB headphone DAC/amplifier and honestly, I think you should take a good look at it for portable music playback – just see the firm's excellent BTR7 DAC, FT3 over-ear headphones and M15S hi-res audio player for reference. 

Making use of dual CS43131 32-bit DACs and 8262 Op-Amps, it delivers full support for 32-bit/384kHz and native DSD256 hi-res audio files, making it suitable for wide range of sources aside from your new iPhone, including Android, PCs and more.

Despite the KA13's portable size (a mere 56.3 x 22 x 10.5mm), FiiO's engineers have managed to fit both single-ended (3.5 mm) and balanced (4.4 mm) headphone outputs into its slender frame too, so you connect it to anything you want, really.

The FiiO KA13 also features a 'Desktop Mode' which can be manually selected to increase the power output to an impressive 550mW and the sleek metallic chassis features an ambient light window which changes colour to easily show the quality of the audio file being played: PCM ≤48kHz will display light blue, PCM >48kHz will display yellow and DSD displays green. 

The KA13 works with the FiiO Control media app for Android and iOS allowing settings such as Gain, Filter, SPDIF Output, Ambient Lights to be easily adjusted according to preference.

And it's affordable! The FiiO KA13 will be available from October – so enough time to get used to your new handset – priced $79, £69, €74 (which is around AU$123). 

FiiO K11 in black, suspended in mid-air on a gray background

The FiiO K11 is for your desk rather than your pocket, but it's a lot of hi-res audio connectivity for the money  (Image credit: FiiO)

Now, the FiiO K11 Desktop DAC/amplifier. It's a versatile low profile desktop headphone DAC and amplifier with multiple inputs – including USB-Type C, Optical and Coaxial – as well as RCA stereo line-out. The K11 also features a 1.1-inch display which can display information about the audio file being listened to, which is something I loved when gathering together a roundup of the 3 best wireless DACs to upgrade music from your smartphone

Available in either black or silver, featuring both single-ended and balanced headphone connections, the K11 is powered by a CS43198 DAC chip and features full support for 32-bit/384kHz and native DSD256 hi-res audio files. Despite its relatively small footprint of just 147 x 133 x 32.3 mm, FiiO has engineered the compact K11 to deliver a power output of up to 1400mW.

How much? Of course – it's also an affordable piece of kit and also available from October. The FiiO K11 will be priced $129 / £119 / €139 (which is around AU$200) and honestly, I think even the best DACs in the business from the likes of iFi and Astell & Kern (see the iFi iCan Phantom, Astell & Kern HC3 and iFi Uno for just a selection of the competition) should be looking over their shoulders – especially at these prices. 

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Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.