Fifine K688 review - featured

Fifine K688 Review | Aesthetically Pleasing, USB/XLR, Balanced Sound

I have been using Fifine microphones for quite a long time. The audiophile manufacturer from the Chinese land is known for providing incredibly best value microphones and a few headphones as well. Today, we’ll be looking at the Fifine K688 dual interface (USB Type C + XLR) which is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. So without wasting any time let’s get into the review:

fifine K688 review - design 2

Fifine K688 Review | Is There More To The Cool Sturdy Built?

Specification Sheet (Specs)

ModelK688
Microphone TypeDynamic
PatternCardioid
Connection TypeUSB type-C (mic end) to type-A 2.0 (computer end)
XLR
Headphone Volume Control KnobYes
Microphone Gain Control KnobYes
Sound MonitoringYes, real-time, via a 3.5mm audio jack
Mute ButtonYes, touch
Pick up (Polar) PatternCardioid (top pick-up)
Sampling Rate16-bit / 44.1k – 48k Hz
Frequency Response70-15k Hz
Sensitivity-58Β±3dB
Max.SPL130 dB
S/N Ratio>75dB
Dimensions18 x 5 cm
Weight1 kg
AccessoriesShock Mount, Windscreen (attached)
Fifine contact card
User Guide (Manual) in English only
2.5 meters Type-A to Type-C cable
Adaptor 5/8″ male to 3/8″ female
Price$79.99 (official website), $79.85 (on Aliexpres),

The Unboxing

Starting the Fifine K688 review, the Fifine K688 comes inside a black-red rectangular box.

On the top, we have the glossy picture of the microphone along with the model name, type of microphone (Dynamic), specialty (Podcast), and nickname (Amplitank). There are three highlights mentioned as well.

Fifine K688 Microphone review - unboxing 4

On the left side of the box, there are even 3 more highlights.

Fifine K688 Microphone review - unboxing 1

The right side has the name of the manufacturer and certifications on it.

Fifine K688 Microphone review - unboxing 3

Meanwhile, on the back, we have the accessories included in the box.

Fifine K688 Microphone review - unboxing 2

Removing the glued seal from the front, and opening in it upwards like a trunk, we have a layer of black foam hiding the microphone.

Fifine K688 review - first impression

Removing that, we finally see the first impression of the microphone with one of the accessories (shock mount) already attached.

There’s a separate compartment for the accessories which includes:

  • 2.5m (8.2 ft) USB C to USB Type-A cable
  • 5/8″ male to 3/8″ female adapter
  • Fifine contact card
  • User Guide (Manual) in English only
Ffiine K688 review - accessories

It should be noted that there’s no stand that comes with Fifine K688. You would have to purchase a stand or a boom arm separately.

Design & Appearance

Starting with the design, similar to the other premium microphone lineup, the Fifine K699 is a well-built front address condenser microphone. Every part of the microphone screams top-notch quality including the bottom knobs, the touch LED mute button, and the cold metal body with the soft and smooth matte black color. Usually, you would see Chinese manufacturers compromising the quality of knobs (metal body but plastic knobs) and a hard windscreen under this price tag, however, that’s not the case with this microphone. It’s all pure metal.

The audience who has previously used a Fifine microphone knows that design including solid quality and finishing has always been their highlights.

The shock mount is provided with the microphone as an additional accessory and is one of the accessories apart from the windscreen which impressed me. It’s heavy and made of metal. Four thick and hard black rubber bands help the inner ring to attach with the outer ring of the mount and thus reducing vibrations and other noises. There’s the only thing I found was plastic which is the four hooks around the outer ring that fastens the rubber bands. However, after doing some stress tests, I’m sure both the bands and the hooks won’t break. Also, don’t try to disassemble the shock mount, you will have a difficult time trying to assemble it again.

Fifine K688 review - shock mount

There’s the touch mute button with a built-in LED. The touch sensitivity of the button is medium which means that you don’t have to press too hard or too soft to make it perfect work. The LED light is pretty bright as well and visible and you can see the color from the other end of the room. This touch update was so much needed and thus it adds more value to the price. I have been using this for a month now and still, the touch is responsive as of day 1. I would be updating this review if its response increases over time. Here are the LED color indicators and what they mean:

  • Green LED color (on, by default) – unmute
  • Red LED color – muted

At the bottom of the microphone, we have connectivity ports and knobs. The knobs like said appear to be made of metal or premium plastic and are smooth. No sound of clicks is heard while rotating them. The knobs’ tightness is medium, neither too hard to rotate nor too loose, an easy one-hand operation.

Fifine K688 review - connectivity

I usually try to check the overall mic quality with the windscreen accessory (if it is provided). Usually, the windscreens are hard for your lips under this price, however, along with the shock mount, the Fifine K688 windscreen impressed me. It’s so soft and smooth and I was frequently touching my lips with it πŸ˜€

Fifine K688 review - windscreen closeup

However, I did notice that the windscreen is thin from the top which might not help you with plosives. When viewing the inside of the windscreen in front of a light source you can see the light passing from the top where you would be speaking. I think Fifine wanted to make a perfect thickness from the top so that the sound may not sound muffed along with controlling the plosives as well. However, I think other windscreens might be better for the plosives since they are mostly thicker. Fifine, can you try increasing the thickness from the top just a little? As for me, I will be using this windscreen combined with the pop filter.

Removing the windscreen, we see the glossy black metal windscreen which isn’t pressable at all but super rigid. It is also detachable as well but you might need a cross-slot screwdriver for it.

Fifine K688 review - windscreen

I have been using the older model called K670 of the company for more than a year and though both microphones have different design languages, I would say that this one looks much premium and provides an iconic look if you have a gaming or youtube setup. However, for podcasts, the old K670 provides a much more classical look. However, I will be reducing the one star because the windscreen thickness along with that shock mount inner body is not detachable from the microphone.

Fifine K688 review - k670 vs k688

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Connectivity & Ports

Once you peek at the bottom of the microphone you will be surprised by the variety of ports and knobs options present in one place. Unlike the Fifine K670 which was missing the headphone volume knob, this one has it along with the microphone gain knob. So no need to open the Windows volume bar again and again.

This microphone provides dual connection including connectivity via the traditional XLR port as well as a modern plug-and-play Type-C USB port instead of the standard Type-A port.

Fifine K688 review - type c cable

Note: The touch mute button on the microphone doesn’t work with an XLR connection. Fifine has mentioned this in the K688 manual.

Since it’s plug-and-play there’s no need to install the driver manually. Just plug it >> Windows automatically detects the device and installs the driver.

Apart from this, there’s also the 3.5mm audio jack for directly monitoring your microphone sound in real time. I’ll be explaining the monitoring of Fifine K688 in a separate section.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sound Monitoring

Once you connect your IEMs or headphones via the 3.5mm audio jack you will hear the sound of the microphone in real-time which is a pretty cool feature.

However, similar to the Fifine K670, the gain on this 3.5mm audio jack is super high along with a static noise making the sound monitoring somewhat useless. I don’t much improvement in the monitoring when compared to the sound monitoring of the K670 apart from the slightly decreased static background noise. If you are still interested in using the sound-monitoring feature of this microphone, I’ll recommend decreasing both the microphone gain and headphone volume from the knobs along with using this microphone in a super quiet environment.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Solutions To Improve Monitoring on Fifine K688

  1. Keep speakers and microphones at 100% in Windows and adjust them via knobs.
  2. From Windows 10/11, go to speakers >> Properties >> Levels >> Set levels for both microphones and speakers.

Sound Recording Quality

I use this microphone with the USB interface connected to my Asus Zenbook Q408 and HP Z32 Type-C monitor.

Sample rate: 2 channel, 16 bit, 48000 Hz (DVD Quality)

Am I the only one who thinks the sample rate could have been better? It’s fine for streaming, however, a better sample rate means better sound quality via USB and I think other microphone companies are providing it as well at a similar price tag.

Simple Test

I have a slightly heavy voice and listening to my voice of mine on this microphone, the first thing I noticed is that this microphone has a slight boost in the lower. I mean I loved how it sounded a bit heavier and bassy than my usual voice. If it gets too deep and heavy for you, you can decrease the lower frequencies from the equalizer a bit.

Apart from this, overall, I think Fifine K688 has a balanced approach towards all the ranges and the frequency graph does show that with almost a flat profile. This means that we can expect a thicker bass (thanks to the slightly boosted lows), not overshadowing the mids, bright and crisp highs.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Proximity Test

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Speaking in front of the microphone 3 cm away from the microphone

Speaking in front of the microphone 10 cm away from the microphone

Speaking in front of the microphone 20 cm away from the microphone

Speaking in front of the microphone 30 cm away from the microphone

Speaking in front of the microphone 1 meter away from the microphone

Speaking from the sides and behind the microphone

Since this dynamic microphone has a cardioid pickup pattern, this means that the receiver can pick up sound from the front/top only. Other sounds coming from the sides and back will be lowered/muted. I think the K670 does a better job with the cardioid pattern as all the sound from the sides and back is completely muted. K688 does pick some slight sounds.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Plosives

With Default Windscreen
With No Windscreen
With Default Windscreen and Pop Filter

Because of the thin windscreen on the top and nothing between the main grill and the capsule, the plosives on this microphone are not better than most of the microphones at this price (have a capsule-setback grill or thicker outer grill). In comparison to its older brothers including the K699/K670, K688 has improved. However, it’s not better than the K658 because the latter has a thicker windscreen.

I would recommend buying a windscreen or a pop filter just to make them sound better.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Overall Sound Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fifine K688 Comparison With Other Microphones

Fifine K688 ($80) vs Fifine K658 ($90)

I’ll select Fifine K688 if I:

  • Already have a microphone boom arm
  • Want XLR as well as a USB connection
  • Want all controls on the microphone
  • Better plosives
  • A more professional look
  • Detachable and better quality windscreen
  • Better price and value

I’ll select Fifine K658 if I:

  • Don’t have a stand or microphone boom arm
  • Thicker windscreen for better plosives (not detachable)
  • Gaming RGB design

The static noise which most people hear while using the monitoring feature is common in all FiFine microphones. Considering the sound, there’s a slight difference. K688 sounds more balanced in every aspect with better plosives when compared to K658.

Fifine K688 ($80) vs Blue Yeti ($93)

I’ll select Fifine K688 if I:

  • Already have a microphone boom arm
  • Want XLR as well as a USB connection
  • Want all controls on the microphone
  • Minimalistic built
  • A balanced and neutral sound

I’ll select the Blue Yeti if I:

  • Don’t have a stand or microphone boom arm
  • Fuller vocals
  • Customizable sound patterns
  • More heavy and old-school condensers built
  • Better plosives
  • Better sampling rate

Blue Yeti has more emphasis on the vocal making it sound full. Fifine K688 has a balanced sound and a bit of boosted lowers.

Fifine K688 Review – Pros & Cons

Pros

  • One of the best minimalistic designs out there
  • All metal built
  • Dual Connectivity (USB Type-C and XLR)
  • Touch mute button
  • Every control present on the microphone itself
  • Smooth and aesthetically pleasing windscreen
  • Shock mount as an additional accessory which does decrease the vibrations a lot
  • Overall balanced and a neutral sound
  • Realtime sound monitoring

Cons

  • The windscreen is thin from the top
  • No stand in the accessories
  • 2 channel, 16 bit, 48000 Hz (could have been better)
  • The inner ring of the shock mount attached to the main chassis is not detachable
  • Plosives control could be better
  • Average sound monitoring (super high gain with lots of static noise)
  • The touch mute button may not work on the XLR connection

The Verdict

Overall, I would say that this Fifine microphone is one of the best-looking microphones from the Fifine lineup. Maybe, it’s just my personal preference, but there’s one word to describe the design which is ‘Minimalistic‘. The windscreen quality is top-notch, though a little thickness to the top would have been better. I love the cold metal feel with the aesthetically pleasing matte color with the glowing LED touch mute button. It would have been better if the shock mount would have been easily and completely detectable so that you can use a table stand, not just limit yourself to the boom arm.

The best highlight about this microphone I liked is the connectivity options it has. Though the XLR connection does limit the microphone a bit (the mute button is not usable on it), apart from that, I didn’t feel any difference between the sound quality recorded via USB versus the XLR. Moreover, finally, we have every bit of control options on the microphone itself (the microphone gain control and the headphone gain control knobs along with the mute button). No more going to the recording devices in the settings and controlling the gain.

Ffiine K688 review - boom arm attached

The sound monitoring feature which works in real-time is mediocre. Slightly improved from the Fifine K670, but the gain on this is still super high, picking every sound in the background along a static noise. It is somewhat fixable as mentioned above.

In the end, the sound quality is overall balanced and neutral. At some points, there was a slight boost in the lower frequencies resulting in a more deep and heavier voice. I do love that but not everyone likes it and it can be improved with the help of an equalizer. The sampling rate is a bit lower but it does get the job done for me. The mic passes the proximity test and has an audible pickup distance of 10 cm. The cardioid pattern works fine. I think it works a bit better in the K670 where it just cancels the sound entirely from the sides and back. In the case of K688, it lowers the sound from the side but it’s still a bit audible.

The plosives are a bit downside of Fifine K688. Because the windscreen is a bit thin from the top and there’s no capsule-setback grill or thicker outer grill present, the P’s and the S’s are not controlled. Using a pop filter combined with the default windscreen or a thicker windscreen alone would fix that.

In short:

A Dual Connectivity Microphone With A Minimalistic & Sturdy Design And A Balanced Sound All Under $100

Price & Availability

You can buy the microphone from the links below. It’s available on Aliexpress and Amazon as well as Fifine’s official website. The price varies from $65 to $75 depending on the promos going on.

I hope that this review helped you in making a decision. Still, want to know something about Fifine K688? Let us know in the comments.

Fifine K688 review - featured
Fifine K688 Review | Aesthetically Pleasing, USB/XLR, Balanced Sound
Summary
The Fifine K688 is an excellent dual connectivity, dynamic microphone which has a balanced recording sound, minimal yet sturdy metal built, and all the controls you ever need. It literally competes with the $150+ microphones with half the price. Though the pop filter thickness could have been a bit more and you might have to buy a separate stand or boom arm with this one.
Design & Appearance
9
Connectivity & Ports
10
Sound Monitoring
5.5
Overall Sound Quality
8
Accessories
8
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
One of the best minimalistic designs out there
All metal built
Dual Connectivity (USB Type-C and XLR)
Touch mute button
Every control present on the microphone itself
Smooth and aesthetically pleasing windscreen
Shock mount as an additional accessory which does decrease the vibrations a lot
Overall balanced and a neutral sound
Realtime sound monitoring
The windscreen is thin from the top
No stand in the accessories
2 channel, 16 bit, 48000 Hz (could have been better)
The inner ring of the shock mount attached to the main chassis is not detachable
Plosives control could be better
Average sound monitoring (super high gain with lots of static noise)
The touch mute button may not work on the XLR connection
8.1
Total Rating