Fiio DK1 Review – Not Your Average Desk Ornament

Introduction –

The DK1 is a multi-function dock for use with FiiO Players (X1,X3II,X5II ,X7) and DACs ( E17K), just another component in Fiio`s ever expanding catalog of accessories. It utilizes Fiio`s proprietary 11-pin micro-b connector to allow not only for DAC and charging functionality but also line-out.

Carrying an RRP of $20 USD, the DK1 is a relatively simple device with similarly simple functionality, but Fiio have put a little extra thought into its design resulting in a premium feel and unexpected practicality.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Fiio very much for providing me with a review sample of the DK1 in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not affiliated with Fiio and will provide an unbiased opinion upon the DK1.

 

Accessories –

My first impressions were very positive, Fiio have really stepped up their packaging with the DK1.

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The Largish box is shrink wrapped, displaying the DK1 on the front, an authenticity sticker on the top and basic functions on the rear (line out and charging). Unlike the RM1`s packaging, the print is vivid and the simple yet distinct ripple design of the box is in line with Fiio`s other accessories.

The box has a few layers of black card inside. On the first is a micro-b cable to connect the dock with your pc or usb charger, underneath is the instruction manual and warranty card and at the bottom is the DK1 itself.

DK1 Unbox

All components are well housed in folded cardboard cutouts, my DK1 was in perfect condition after shipping from China. No complaints here, seems like we can expect even more premium un-boxing experiences from Fiio`s future products, good job!

 

Design –

The DK1 is a great looking device, with or without a docked device. It contrasts well to Fiio`s darker devices such as the e17k I have here, and well compliments their lighter models such as the X1.

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Carrying Fiio`s traditional design language, the DK1 has a well finished aluminium base with plastic supports and a rubberized base. While some might be disappointed with the DK1`s use of plastics, I think Fiio has been very pragmatic with their use of metal, and the materials are well chosen on a whole.

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All of the surfaces you see and interact with are constructed from aluminium, it looks great in photos and feels even better in your hand. But apart from these surfaces, the DK1 is a matte grey plastic. There are a few reasons why Fiio have used plastic for certain structures. For one, the use of aluminium on the bottom and plastic up top keeps the centre of gravity low, preventing the dock from tipping, the plastic supports won`t scratch the back of your device like metal would and altogether they help to keep the weight and cost down (remember it only costs $20). The matte finish is nice and won`t attract fingerprints like a gloss coating would, but it will show oil marks from dirty hands. It`s an understated look overall and the colour choices are spot on.

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The look of the DK1 will well compliment most setups, especially those from Apple, sporting a similar sand-blasted aluminium finish and a silver/grey colour scheme. Whilst the aluminium steels the show, the matte, dark grey plastics used feel pretty great too. The bottom of the base is also plastic, no big deal as you never see it anyway. The bottom has a large rubber ring that really grips the table and when a device is connected, the dock is completely stable. That being said, without a device, the lightweight dock is a little easier to jostle around, especially with the rather thick included cable. This does mean that the dock is a little more comfortable with drops however.

The Fiio logo is laser etched into the aluminium frame, resisting fading. The DK1 will support up to 2A through the rear micro-b input port, which is pretty much maxing out any USB charger anyway.

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Of note, the included micro-b cable is nice and very thick. It`s great for smartphones but is perhaps a little firm for the DK1, putting strain on the micro-b port. I`m using mine with a 15cm Golf cable, the aluminium and silver braid well match the DK1`s aesthetic.

 

Usage –

When Fiio released the DK1, I assumed it was intended to be a purely aesthetic accessory. There`s nothing wrong with that, headphone stands are often viewed as unnecessary, but in daily use, they`re a nice addition to have and make life just a little easier. The DK1 is similar in that it well compliments PC setups whilst adding just a little extra convenience.

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The main interfaces are located on the back of the base. The DK1 is equipped with two ports, a 3.5mm line-out jack and a micro-b “power-in” port. The micro-b port also accepts data allowing for USB DAC functionality as long as your device itself supports this feature. Of course, the DK1 will also begin charging your device when you plug it into the top mounted micro-b plug. Since the DK1 uses Fiio`s proprietary 11-pin connector, the DK1 will NOT work with other devices, they will not even plug into the dock due to the extra pins.

The plug is quite interesting as it has the ability to swivel. This makes attaching and removing devices especially easy; the contoured back support allows a single digit to bring the device forwards, then it`s as simple as pulling the device from the dock. The swivel mechanism is spring loaded, pushing the device into the back support to prevent it from flipping off the dock, the swivel mechanism also relieves a lot of the strain input into the micro-b plug, a notoriously temperamental yet widely adopted connector. I did notice that the micro-b plug is quite firm and lifting my e17k tends to lift the dock as well. I do prefer this connector to an overly loose/intermittent connector, but it must be mentioned regardless.

One thing to consider when purchasing the DK1 is the large base. Whilst it does grant the dock a lot of stability, it also takes up a considerable space on your desk. If you have a smaller desk or like to keep other devices out then the DK1 might occupy more space than you are comfortable with. For reference, the base measures around 11cm in diameter and the support is just under 10 in height.

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I can`t comment on Fiio`s players, but plugging in my e17k (whilst the dock is connected to my laptop) turns it on and begins charging. The e17k has the ability to turn USB charging off for use with smartphones, but even when this feature is disabled the dock will still wake the e17k upon connection (but will not charge).

 

Verdict – 

The DK1 isn`t as functional as Fiio`s previous release (the RM1), but it still remains a great accessory for buyers in possession of a compatible Fiio player/DAC. It would have been nice for Fiio to have built in a clean amp circuit (such as that from the e12) into the DK1, but the K5 already offers this function and the DK1 is a very cheap device considering the quality of the materials included. If you`re looking for a very aesthetically pleasing way to showcase, charge and line-out your Fiio player (and even if you aren`t), then the DK1 is well worth the $20 asking price. It`s a very convenient way to keep your player ready, seamlessly integrating a portable device into an at-home setup.

Accessories – 8/10, The DK1 doesn`t really need much to get started. The packaging is well considered and the included micro-b cable is thick and well relieved. I would actually have preferred a thinner, more supple cable to allow for more flexible placing of the dock and Fiio could have included an aux cable as well. But for the price, I would hardly expect and the DK1 comes well enough equipped.

Design – 9/10, The DK1 is well designed and the differing materials are perfectly implemented. The finish is perfect and small features such as the swiveling connector work very well. The grippy base is completely stable and the connectors are built to tight tolerances. I do think that the base is slightly too light if anything and the micro b port might fit a little too tightly, but otherwise the DK1 is a very solid accessory.

Value – 9/10, With a mostly aluminium build and quality matte plastic trim, the DK1 feels nicer than it`s $20 RRP would suggest. Fiio could have included more aluminium in the base or perhaps weighted it with iron inserts to further improve the feel.

Overall – 8/10, The DK1 is a great dock but not much more, if you`re expecting additional amplification or flashy LED augments then you will be disappointed. What the DK1 offers instead is a very modern design, a nice choice of finishes and materials and a lot more convenience for existing Fiio player owners. The DK1 is an affordable way to enhance your Fiio player or DAC experience.

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