With the new FiiO E6 being announced, the popular and inexpensive FiiO E5 headphone amp seems to get its well deserved retirement.
While the E5′s housing was basically a blatant ripoff of the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle, FiiO went with a unique and rather fetching design on their new offering. The E5′s all-metal housing got replaced by a plastic one on the E6, resulting in half the weight. Contrary to the sturdy metal clip on the E5, the new clip looks rather flimsy, being made of transparent plastic – but on the positive side it is removable. Technical specs appear to be basically the same for both amps, but the E6 sports an improved bass boost and gain switch with three variable settings. It still has the same digital volume control as the E5, which should provide good sound without crackling or channel imbalance. Let’s just hope FiiO ironed out the one obvious flaw the E5 had: background hiss with sensitive IEMs.
For less than $20 the E5 was pretty much the best bang for the buck as far as portable amps go, outperforming many more expensive toys. It measured and sounded well, and could drive most headphones without issues. Let’s hope the new E6 will continue this heritage of affordable quality.