FiiO E17 “Alpen” is out, the E7′s big brother

fiioe17 FiiO E17 Alpen is out, the E7s big brotherA few years after FiiO introduced their unique, feature-packed E7 portable headphone amplifier and USB sound card, they revamped the concept, resulting in the freshly hatched E17.

A lot of tech is packed into the fancy brushed metal housing with the familiar two-color OLED display. Inputs and outputs certainly are on the more versatile side of things: two parallel 3.5mm headphone outputs, an S/PDIF input (presumably both optical and coaxial), a line input, FiiO’s proprietary 18-pin port (working with their L7 dock and E9 desktop amp), and of course a standard USB input. The E17 supports 24/96 over USB and 24/192 over S/PDIF, so audiophile dogs and bats won’t complain about lacking treble.

Several sound adjustments can be done in the E17′s firmware: bass, treble, gain level, and – sometimes miracles do happen – pan/balance. It seems FiiO did read our E7 review, and the included rant about audio balance missing on almost all portable devices nowadays. I, for one, am very grateful that they added this basic – yet for some people very important – feature.

The E17 should go for about $150, which definitely is a fair price, considering all the included features and the nifty metal housing.



tds101 on January 22, 2012 2:44 AM

Hmmm, this has volume controls? Me likey,…but is it worth it over the ZO2? I mean, if you don’t need the Pan/Balance feature,…

tds101 on January 22, 2012 2:46 AM

YUP,…it’s got a front-side +/- for volume!!! And it’s 15hrs runtime as well,…not TOO shabby.

Marvin the Martian on January 22, 2012 4:42 AM

LOL @ “audiophile dogs and bats”… true!
Nice looking unit, FiiO.

morsch on January 22, 2012 11:34 AM

I’ve got an E7. The interface is fairly annoying, the less time I have to spend using it, the better, so more features that make me use it aren’t all that enticing.

What’s particularly bad is that, when using it as an USB DAC, it doesn’t seem to support changing the volume via the computer: ie. I can change the volume in Windows or in Ubuntu all I want, the output level remains the same. That means I have to reach for the E7 way more often than I wanted to.

The E7 also doesn’t seem to turn off by itself, ever. Why not have an option to turn off the device after not receiving any incoming signal for 30 minutes or so?

Finally, another issue that I’d like resolved but which probably isn’t: If I understand correctly, the E7 simply doesn’t have the power to drive more demanding headphones, even when being powered from USB — USB simply doesn’t offer enough juice. Hence the E9 desktop amp! I guess being limited by USB output power means the E17 doesn’t get rid of that issue, either.

Martin Sägmüller on January 22, 2012 5:04 PM

TDS101, I wouldn’t compare it to the ZO2. The ZO is a tiny dedicated portable amp with excellent quality bass boost as its main feature. The E17 is a huge jack-of-all-trades thing, and FiiO isn’t known for good sounding bass boosts – all their amps are more on the muddy/boomy side with bass boost enabled.

tds101 on January 22, 2012 7:55 PM

Thanks Martin (as usual)! I guess my ZO is good for now, with a ZO2 coming in the future.

JSV on January 23, 2012 4:15 AM

These portable amps are relatively big, and some quality audio players can be very small (like the Sansa clip).

Since this amp already has a screen and quite a few buttons, it wouldn’t be much bigger if it had a built-in music player with a few GB of storage…

Think about it: A portable headphone amp with built-in music player… Wow, Groundbreaking!

tds101 on January 23, 2012 2:40 PM

FiiO was going to do an mp3 player, but screwed up and took too many suggestions from too many people in their head-fi thread. That’s the impression I got about it,…too bad.

Almoxil on January 24, 2012 5:03 PM

Hello, Martin. Long time no see! I’ve got the ZO2. It works great with my S9 and the d-Jays. Although a bit hissy when no music is being played, it makes d-Jays bass way more punchy and enjoyable.

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