A 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.
FiiO is a Chinese audio company that should need no introduction by now. Among all the headphone amp, soundcard, and cable manufacturers they are probably the one with the best bang-for-buck ratio, consistently delivering high quality products for a very fair price.
Their older tiny portable amp model – the E5 – is still quite popular among users, and seriously well performing for its $20 price tag. Let’s see if FiiO could up the ante a notch with the E5’s recently introduced successor, the E6. Continue reading…
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.
FiiO, manufacturer of no-nonsense headphone amps for a reasonable price, seems to have topped themselves with the announcement of their upcoming E11 portable amp: this thing looks really good. The way the volume knob is protected in the drawings is rather ingenious. The rest of the design reminds me a bit of the Cowon D2.
Not much is known at the time of writing, but the E11 might sport the same opamp as the Headstage Arrow 12HE, the Analog Devices AD8397. It is said to have an easily user-replaceable standard cellphone battery, the usual FiiO bass boost, three gain levels, and a standard mini-USB port for charging. Output power should be higher than the currently available portable FiiO amps, and pricing might be between the E5 and the E7 – which would be fair.
In somewhat related news: FiiO might also release an MP3 player in the foreseeable future, we’ll see how well that goes. Nothing more is known at the moment.
Read more in the sponsored Head-Fi advertising thread.
Our friends at the FiiO headphone- and mobile player paraphernalia company sent me their newest oeuvre for reviewing – the FiiO E7, a portable headphone amplifier and USB sound adapter (also often incorrectly called pars-pro-toto ‘DAC’, as the cool people like to refer to sound interfaces), successor of the popular E3 and E5. Unlike some other Chinese manufacturers that cater to an ‘audiophile’ demographic, FiiO managed so far to release products that are of quite high build quality and having good performance while still keeping a fair price. To put it bluntly – in my opinion FiiO doesn’t rip their customers off unlike some other manufacturers, and the E7 is yet another case in point. Despite the E7 being the least inexpensive FiiO product so far, the not so high asking price of around $80 gets one a quite nifty and versatile audio toy.
Along with the FiiO PS1110 portable speaker I reviewed last week I also got a FiiO S3 portable speaker. While the PS1110 is exclusively a portable speaker, the S3 steps up the game and adds an integrated MP3 player that plays off SD(HC) cards.
FiiO has taken the portable audio world off guard with the high quality E3 and E5 headphone amps, disproving the rumor that everything cheap and Chinese is crap. What many people might not know is that FiiO also makes other products and one of them is the PS1110 WalkBox portable speaker.
I’ve been using this incredibly tiny and cheap headphone amp we already mentioned earlier for a few days now and I’m really impressed with its performance. My expectations weren’t exactly high when I ordered it, but after testing it with several phones I’d say the Chinese FiiO company managed to design a really fine product.
The amp’s construction is very simple. It’s powered by one AAA battery and sporting only a 3.5mm input jack that connects to the headphone output of an MP3 player and another 3.5mm output jack where the headphones plug in. The output also acts as the power switch. A red LED lights up when phones are plugged in, indicating that the amp is active. Rumor has it that a National Semiconductor LM4917 op-amp works at the core of the amp. However, this has yet to be verified.
The FiiO E3 was not designed to work with line-out connections since it lacks a volume control. However, what it does for low- (and not-so-low) powered headphone outputs can be quite nice – when one’s headphones synergize well with the amp, that is.
Although this one was up on the FiiO site back when we told you about the FiiO headphone amp, Chinese products like this isn’t really that interesting before they make it to the rest of the world. The FiiO S3 is now available on DealExtreme (check this link for more pics) and therefor fall into that category.
The FiiO S3 is basically a portable speaker with two 1.2W speakers running off USB power or AA batteries. What’s special about it is that it has an SDHC slot and a built in MP3 player along with both audio out and audio in jacks. I can see several uses for a player like this; first of all, I’d imagine this is a product suited for the older generation as the controls are simple and it doesn’t require headphones. It might also be a nice toy for kids as they too would prefer a speaker. Lastly, podcasting might be a good use for it although not ideal seeing it doesn’t have a screen. Either way, if FiiO is Meizu like we think, it should be decent quality for the $30 shipped.