FiiO R7 vs FiiO K9 PRO ESS: Buyer's Guide


In the realm of audio technology, FiiO is known for crafting devices that meld high-performance with enduring build quality. The FiiO R7 and K9 Pro DAC/AMP models are no exception to this rule, each promising pristine audio fidelity. While both models come loaded with features and top-tier components, there are notable distinctions to consider when deciding which unit is the ideal fit for your needs. We'll examine the similarities, differences, and notable aspects of each model to comprehend how they compare to one another.

Digital to Analog Conversion: DACs at the Forefront

A key point of difference between the two models lies in their DAC configurations. The R7 employs a dual AK4497EQ DAC setup, while the K9 Pro leverages dual ES9038PRO DAC chips. ES9038PRO is a more advanced DAC chip offering a higher dynamic range and improved THD+N performance compared to the AK4497EQ, contributing to the K9 Pro's slightly superior DAC performance.

Amplification Power: A Notable Advantage for the K9 Pro

The R7 features a single THX AAA 788 amplifier, while the K9 Pro boasts dual THX AAA 788+ amplifiers. The addition of a second amplifier in the K9 Pro delivers more power and improved driving capacity for high impedance headphones, stepping up the audio experience.

Connectivity: More is Better for the R7

When it comes to connectivity, the R7 takes the upper hand, offering USB, Coaxial, Optical, IIS LVDS, AES, and Bluetooth 5.0 with LDAC. In comparison, the K9 Pro features USB, Coaxial, Optical, and Bluetooth 5.0 with LDAC. The inclusion of IIS LVDS and AES ports in the R7 provides a wider array of connection options.

Power Output: Boosting the Decibels with the K9 Pro

Power output is another category where the K9 Pro shines. It offers up to 1.5W (32 Ohms) in balanced mode, outperforming the R7's balanced output of 1.2W (32 Ohms). This additional power could be critical for users seeking to drive demanding headphones.

Design and Control Interface: R7 Shines with Screen Advantage

When it comes to the design and aesthetics, both the R7 and K9 Pro boast high-quality aluminum construction and sleek designs, creating a tie in this aspect. However, the R7 sets itself apart with its 5" screen. This notable feature, absent in the K9 Pro, offers a touch of modern sophistication and provides an intuitive way to navigate the amplifier's settings, putting the R7 ahead in terms of user-interface design.

Supported Audio Formats: A Tie

Both the R7 and K9 Pro support a wide range of audio formats, including PCM (up to 768kHz), DSD (up to DSD512), and DXD. This means that both devices are equally capable of decoding a variety of high-resolution audio files to deliver the best possible sound quality.

SNR and THD+N: Minor Advantage for the K9 Pro

While both the R7 and K9 Pro deliver excellent Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) and Total Harmonic Distortion Plus Noise (THD+N) measurements, the K9 Pro edges out the R7 slightly in both categories. This results in a cleaner, clearer, and more detailed sound reproduction from the K9 Pro.

Input Impedance and Sensitivity: Equal Match

Both the R7 and K9 Pro have similar input impedance and sensitivity, making them equally versatile in their compatibility with a range of audio sources and headphones.

Balanced and Unbalanced Outputs: A Win for the K9 Pro

While both models offer balanced and unbalanced headphone outputs, the K9 Pro stands out with its XLR balanced preamp outputs, which allows it to integrate seamlessly into a wider range of audio setups, particularly those requiring balanced connections.

Bluetooth Codec Support: The R7 Steps Up

Although both the R7 and K9 Pro support Bluetooth 5.0 with LDAC, the R7 goes a step further by also supporting aptX, aptX HD, and HWA codecs. This means that the R7 can provide higher quality Bluetooth audio with devices that also support these codecs.

Size and Weight: A Matter of Preference

The R7 is slightly lighter and more compact than the K9 Pro, which might make it more suitable for users looking for a more portable DAC/AMP. However, the K9 Pro's larger size contributes to its robust power output and additional features.

Conclusion: FiiO R7 vs. K9 Pro - The Detailed Story

In this comprehensive comparison of the FiiO R7 and K9 Pro, we've seen how both models shine in different categories. The choice between the two models will depend on your unique needs and preferences. If you prioritize a more intuitive user interface, wide Bluetooth codec support, and portability, the R7 may be the better choice for you. However, if power output, superior DAC performance, and additional balanced output options are key for you, the K9 Pro stands out. No matter which you choose, both models live up to FiiO's reputation for delivering high-quality, feature-packed audio equipment.