Amplifier For The Masses: The Fiio E6

fiio_e6_01

The smooth finish on the Fiio E6 is a testament to how far Fiio’s production capability has grown. This is not something that a small-scale production facility can produce, and it’s hard to believe that this was done by the same company who made the E3 and E5 portable amplifier just three years ago. The quality of the product is so improved from the E3 days, it’s almost unbelievable that they were able to have such a transformation in the short period of three years.

If you are curious about the sound, it’s actually very good given the segment that it’s targeted at. And yes, the E6 is a big, big improvement over the E3 and the E5. You got nice detail, good amount of driving power, a pretty sparkly treble, and a tonality that slightly emphasizes the low treble. Pair this with the average mainstream consumer headphones out there (and my biased generalization tells me that they are often muffled, bassy monsters), and I would imagine that the low treble emphasis would inject a mild clarity-ala-Grado effect, while the relatively potent amplifier should improve the punch and articulation of the bass section. I think the combination should be a success.

The E6 would do pretty well as a semi tech-gadget for the masses, but I don’t think it’s going to start taking consumers away from small scale amplifier manufacturers like JDSLabs (CmoyBB) or Electric Avenues (PA2V2). Even the humble JDSLabs Cmoy with its Altoids mint case easily qualifies for a more potent “audiophile grade” amplifier when put next to the E6, but that’s not the point. The E6 is made to be an amplifier for the masses, and just looking at the build quality and features, it probably is the most mainstream-ready portable headphone amplifier in the market. It’s small, it’s build well, and it’s packed with convenient features like USB charging. Most importantly, it is priced so low that nobody has a right to raise objections about the price.

One of the most difficult aspect for an audio company is how to grow from a small boutique manufacturer to a larger output, mass production industry. And while some companies choose to stay small throughout the years, I see that Fiio has always wanted to be a big volume manufacturer. Looking at the E6 and how they hav I certainly think that they are capable of battling it out in the mainstream market. Congratulations, Fiio.

 

fiio_e6_15 fiio_e6_14 fiio_e6_13 fiio_e6_12 fiio_e6_11 fiio_e6_10 fiio_e6_09 fiio_e6_08 fiio_e6_07 fiio_e6_06 fiio_e6_05 fiio_e6_04 fiio_e6_03 fiio_e6_02 fiio_e6_01

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  • Guest

    wow , I see you upgraded the photo gallery.  Love the  new gallery style, hope to see it on more future reviews.

    thanks!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thanks, glad you like the gallery. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QWFHFLFHFAGYVFETP2YPCWUCEM Lukman

    great new galery mike…great picture as laways
    i bought the E6 with the superlux 661 (from your recommendation)…great pairing for portable entry level
    i use the EQ2(blue led) setting mostly…the EQ1 is to boomy and bit dark for my liking

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      That sounds like a good set up Lukman!

  • Brian

    I love my E6. Cheap, small, and packs a nice punch in a small package, especially since my IEM’s aren’t the focus of my money.

  • Turokrocks

    Small question, why do not we see measurements? to have a real general idea about the product, not personal. As you know what you like, I might dislike it, some people prefer bass to treble……, please confirm

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      Hi Turo, we don’t publish measurements, sorry. If you want measurements you can always try Tyll’s site, I do understand where you’re coming from but we prefer our ears ;)

      • Turokrocks

        Thanks for the tip :)

    • silver
      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        Yes. Thanks.

      • Turokrocks

        THANK YOU, THANK YOU

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Measurements are just not our thing. ;)

  • Fabio Rocks

    Love the new gallery! Mike this is not the complete review right? 

    • http://twitter.com/Lieven_V Lieven V

      I’m pretty sure it is Fabio. and thanks, we like it too :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Just trying to keep things short, Fabio. :) 

      • Fabio Rocks

        Allright!

  • Bingo

    Mike, any chance of reviewing this when it comes out?
    http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/11/objective-desktop-amp-oda-dac.html

    There are a lot of interesting claims about it, especially its cost.

  • Jtranman421

    Hey Mike,

    Big fan of Headfonia!  I just have a few questions.
    I’m considering getting this for my koss dj100, but I am not sure as to whether it would fully drive it to the highest of my koss’s capabilities.  I was also looking into the Ibasso D-Zero and Fiio E10 as well because they have gotten great reviews from you and I am definitely willing to shell out a hundred more dollars for them if they are worth it.  
    What do you think?

    Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi,
      Definitely go with the D-Zero as it is a more potent amp than the E6. As for the E10, you can’t use it as a portable amp, you know that right?

  • Hoki

    Hi Mike,

    After reading your reviews I’m trying to decide between either the Fiio E11 or E6. Advantage of the E11 is the bigger power, but the E6 is nice and small, so an ultra portable setup. 

    I’m looking to use it with an iPod/Android Phone and headphones e.g. Superlux HD661, Audio Technica JS55, Grado SR60 and the likes. So would the E6 be enough, or should I grab the E11 instead?
    Thanks a lot… and awesome website by the way. Have been following it for a couple of months now and I keep coming back!
    Cheers,

    Holger

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Holger,
      I really would still advise the E11 for those headphones. Especially the SR60 would just pair better with the E10.

      • Hoki

        Hi Mike,

        thanks! Yeah, I was really leaning towards the E11 and just ordered it. I think overall it has some nicer features and the size should be still alright. 
        I’m very curious now :)

        Holger

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You’re welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/fazilfuad Fazil Fuad

    Hey Mike,

    Awesome review, was wondering if the E6 would go together well with my HD558? I usually use it on the go with my iPhone4.

    Cheers,
    Fazil

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Fazil,
      It would be okay. I would opt for something like the JDSLabs Cmoy for the HD558. Less portable though.

      • Max Kemmett

        Hi Mike, I have the same headphones as the comment above and was wondering which FiiO would be recommended for PC use. I was looking at the cMoyBB but wasn’t convinced about having to charge it every couple days. I’m looking for an amp that I can keep plugged in, whether it be to an outlet or through USB for constant use with my PC. 

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Hi Max,
          For PC use perhaps something like the Fiio E10 is convenient. It runs from USB hub power, though you can’t use it for a portable amp. With the JDSLabs you can indeed run it with AC power using a separate power adapter.

  • Jonne

    Hey Mike,

    Love your website. I really like the look and practicality (also, the price) of this amp, but given what you’ve said about its pairing with the HD 558, I doubt you will be positive about it pairing up with my HD 598.

    Which amp would you suggest I use with the HD 598? Availability is an issue, living in mainland Europe, so I think only the Fiio’s are available to me. I haven’t owned an amp before. What is your advice?

    Thank you,
    Jonne

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Jonne,
      I’d recommend the JDSLabs Cmoy for the HD598.

      http://www.headfonia.com/60-pack-of-awesome-jdslabs-cmoy/

      • Jonne

        Thanks for your advice. I didn’t know they shipped abroad for such a fair price. Think maybe I’ll wait for the C421 review due to the sturdier housing. Thank you!

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Alright, Jonne. I’m loving the C421 and it’s a clear upgrade over the Cmoy.

  • Dan Cath

    Hi Mike,

    Just got a pair of AudioTechnica ESW9a’s and use it with standard iPhone /Android /MacBook Pro 1/8” port.

    Would you say that using these headphones with a small amp like the FIIO e6 would add significant sound quality (via added power), or do you think there’s no added benefit? If so, is the e6 what you’d recommend, or have anything else up your sleeve?

    Best,

    Dan

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Dan,
      Save up the money and get a different headphone, that’s how I would do it. The ESW9 is very easy to drive and doesn’t require an amp really.

      • Jeff Hardy

        Hey Mike -

        I also just got the the ESW9 as I believed it was supposed to be a great all around portable headphone. You’re making me reconsider my decision :) What would your recommendation be for a portable headphone I can use at work, but also take on the plane? My budget would be ~$300 – $350.

        Best,
        Jeff

  • Jeff Hardy

    Hey Mike -

    I also just got the the ESW9 as I believed it was supposed to be a great all around portable headphone. What would your recommendation be for a portable headphone I can use at work, but also take on the plane?

    Best,
    Jeff

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Jeff,
      You can try one of those noise canceling headphones? The only one I’ve reviewed is the Beats though. http://www.headfonia.com/closed-cans-shootout-m-50-esw-9-t50p-hd25-1-beats-studio-srh-840-srh-750dj-k181dj-and-dj1pro/9/

      • Jeff Hardy

        Thanks Mike. I originally read your review on closed cans and on the ESW9A and that it was compelled me to pick them up. I’ve also consistently read that you give up a lot with respect to overall sound quality with noise canceling headphones, so I crossed those off my list. 

        I’m willing to go a bit bigger than the ESW9A for a significant boost in quality. The other headphones I was considering were the Grado SR 325i and beyerdynamic T50P (you didn’t review those too well). I want a big boost up from the Sennheiser HD-202 without killing the bank and giving up too much in portability. 

        What would you recommend from the above options or any that I left off the list?

        Best,Jeff

  • Anonymous

    hey Mike very good review thanks!
    I own that amp to power my HiFiMAN RE-262 on my iPhone 4S but I would like to have just a lil bit more bass on some songs.  I love the clarity and the sound coming from the 262s but I was wondering if those pa2v2 would increase bass a bit compared to e6 even with the RED EQ (Bass) enabled.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      If you want more bass the Fiio E11 is a better choice than the PA2V2, or the E17. 

  • viktor3006

    Hi Mike,

    Would you recommend using the Fiio E6 with the Audio Techinica SJ-11? Is there any significant sound quality improvements or anything of the sort when used together?

    Thanks.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes sure. I think you’ll get a better treble clarity and better bass impact with the E6 amp.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1250923044 George Lai

    Hi,If I connect the iPhone’s headphone “out” to an e6 headphone “in”,then connect my iPhone’s earbuds with mic to an e6 headphone “out”,will I still be able to make/receive phone calls on my iPhone earbuds?Regards,George

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi George,
      No I’m afraid that wouldn’t work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130287384 Rob Evans

    Hi Mike, I have just recently gotten into portable Hi Fi headphone audio and am still starting to buy gear I want to be practical but do not want to sacrifice quality, whats your opinion on e6 vs JDSlabs Cmoy? thing is I can buy an e6 here but  the JDSlabs CMoy I have to import from abroad and will cost me a little bit more with shipping and such. So do I just grab the e6 here or spend a bit more on buying a JDSLabs Cmoy online. I mainly listen to lots of Post Rock like GY!BE,Mogwai,Toe and Jazz/Bebop like Jaco, Miles, Bill Evans etc. and some smattering of world music like Buena Vista Social etc. By the way do you think it is better if I just buy a QLS QA350 and forget about buying a portable head amp and source? I will need to have that imported too by the way,sorry so many questions.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Rob,
      The JDSLabs is going to be a better amp than the E6.

      The QLS is a good sounding source with a decent amp, but it’s really big and the UI is a pain. Have you read our review of it? http://www.headfonia.com/qes-qa350-player/

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130287384 Rob Evans

        Mike, thanks for your reply, actually I have read your review on the QLS and it really piqued my fancy.  It could really as a minimalist home setup though…anyway JDSLabs it is, by the way do you have any recommendation for a good Headphones for this in the $100 range? The only brands I can get my hands on here are the Superluxes, Sennheisers, Audio Technicas though.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          $1000 range? There are plenty of choices for $1000!

          Oh wait you said $100. ;) Can you start by looking at this list? There are a few under $100:
          http://www.headfonia.com/full-size-headphone-recommendations/

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1130287384 Rob Evans

            Hi Mike,

            Following your advise I ordered the a CMOY from JDSLabs and it is really good. Its sounds so warm. To think I was only using my crappy Philips Headphones imagine the pleasure it would give with decent headphones…on to buying a decent headphone. I took a look at your recommendations and was going to but and HD 202 but they are not available here. What do you think of the HD 201? should I get this instead or should I get something else like Superluxes, I was also considering the Jays Vjays though. What do you think? AFAIK your recommendation is worth its weight in gold!

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              Hi Rob,
              The HD201 is a more neutral, less bassy version of the HD202. It works too, but I think the HD202 is more fun. The Vjays would make for a good pairing with the Cmoy, but it’s a small ultraportable and not a circumaural. The superluxes are nice too if you can get them.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UCTNH3IATZCLNPMB5KHDWYGMVE theyazzern

    great article, I was just wondering if this, the e7, or the e11(fiios all)  would be the best fit for my incoming beyer  dt 1350s, any advice? ( I listen to all genres, but usually electronic, pop, quite a bit of classical and dubstep).

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I would go with the E11.

  • akira_hyt

    Hi mike,
    Currently i own two headphones which are the ath-M50 and HD449. I find the bass part is somewhat lacking to my taste. will the amp helps to boost the bass of those two? if yes, which do you recommend? btw, i listen to many genres but mainly electronic and trance. thanks

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      If you can afford getting new headphones, I’ll always recommend getting the sound right in the headphones first. But if you can’t, perhaps try an amp with a stronger bass boost such as the Fiio E17 or the JDSLabs CmoyBB.

      • akira_hyt

         alright thanks!

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    Should get a better impact on the bass. Not like huge, but it should be there. Personally, I would opt for simplicity and skip the amp.

  • http://twitter.com/ipingpongplaya jay

    Hi Mike, I’ve just gotten the Goldring DR100s and was wondering what kind of effect the Fiio E5 or E6 would have on performance. I feel that the DR100s are lacking a bit in volume and bass now. Would you recommend either amp?

  • http://www.facebook.com/RadenSastro Raden Sastro Ibnoe

    Yo mike… Which Fiio has the biggest power to driving hd555? I wish no much colorized, because the sound is good enough for me, seemed my samsung p3 couldn’t handle it alone

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Try the E11, should be plenty of power.

  • http://twitter.com/promise308 Ned

    Good Day, just want to know which is better for my Superlux HD 661. e6 or e11? thanks. 

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Ned,
      E11 tonally is a better fit.

      • http://twitter.com/promise308 Ned

        oh. ok thanks Mike! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.glennaldy Leonard Glennaldy

    Hey mike, if i had sennheiser HD 598, would my amp, fiio e6 is good enough to improve my senn? Or i should upgrade my amp?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Leonard,
      You should upgrade to at least the Cmoy.

      http://www.headfonia.com/60-pack-of-awesome-jdslabs-cmoy/

      • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.glennaldy Leonard Glennaldy

        Sorry for double post. Hey do you have other recommendation? In my country it’s a lil bit hard to find amp like this. The most popular and easy to find was fiio.. But yeah cmoy price is in my budget range. I like it

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Leonard,
          You can go with the Fiio E11. It’ll be a better amp for the HD598.

          Or if you are using it with a computer, the E10 will improve the HD598 more than the E11.

          The reviews can be found here:
          http://www.headfonia.com/tag/fiio/

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.glennaldy Leonard Glennaldy

    Hey mike, i already had sennheiser HD 598, and also i using fiio e6 as my port amp. If my amp good enough to drive my senn? Oh and my DAP is Apple Ipad 2.

  • charlie_lee

    hey mike, do you think this amp would suit well with my Audio Technica Pro5Mk2 ? or do you have any other recommendation around this price range ?

    thanks :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Pro5Mk2? You know I’ve never really tried that headphone with an amplifier. Recommendations, I think you should look at the P2V2 if you want something better than the E6 and maintain the attack.

      • charlie_lee

        alright then, another question, do you think i need an amplifier for that headphone to drive it to its full potential ? I’m using it on my laptop currently.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          I think you need an amplifier for any headphone bigger than Portapro size.

          • charlie_lee

            I see, if you dont mind me asking, personally, i prefer the presence of bass but not too overwhelming, clear mid, and treble that is clear but not too high.
            So, which one do you think amp is better for my headphone, cMoyBB v2.03 or PA2v2 ? or any other amp yould like to add on ?

            Thanks :)

            • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

              A bit too specific than what I can help, I’m afraid as I’m not that familiar with the Pro5Mk2.

              The CmoyBB without the bass boost on is slightly mid-centric, warm and smooth

              The PA2V2 is more neutral with faster pace and more attack.

              • charlie_lee

                imo, you should really try it out, it’s a really nice headphone, for me at least :P

                sorry for asking again, but what exactly do you mean by smooth, faster pace and more attack ?

                • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                  Ouch… wonder how to explain that better..

                  • charlie_lee

                    hmm, guess I have to google it myself ? :P
                    Do you think Fiio E11 would suit this headphone better, or do you think that I need a DAC included amp for my headphone because I’ll be using them mainly on my laptop, I’m kinda in a dilemma here :x

                    • Trent_D

                      I’ll have a go at it. If you can forgive a silly dance analogy, you have a waltz and a polka. Both use a three count. While, when you count off a waltz (1 2 3, 1 2 3) the numbers and beats flow into each other in a very smooth manner. With the polka, the count is very staccato (1! 2! 3!).
                      the cMoy is like waltz. It is romantic, laid back, the sound flows smooth from one frequency to the next. The Pa2V2 is more like a polka. It isn’t as smooth, or romantic a sound, but it has punchier bass which gives it a faster pace. The treble isn’t as laid back here, it is more forward, giving the music an impression of more attack. Does this make any sense? Not sure it does…

                    • charlie_lee

                      hahaha, thanks for the effort trent, much appreciated :)
                      strangely enough, I kinda understand that..
                      from what I understood, I should opt for Pa2V2 because I wanted the bass to be controlled and punchy and also to hear the details in my song. Genre of song i listen to is mainly neo-orchestral and pop-rock.
                      An example of it would be this.

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iHmWdbKp1w

                      so in your opinion, did I understood your explanation correctly ? and one more thing, do you think that it’s necessary for me to get an amp with DAC included for my laptop ?

                    • Trent_D

                      The bass punch on the cmoy isn’t terrible or boomy, nor does the smoothness obscure detail. Now, I haven’t heard the Pa2v2 myself, but I think I might want the the cmoy for the track you offered here. It isn’t that fast, and I think would benefit from the larger soundstage the cmoy has.

                      As for a dac, if you have no other way to output the audio from your computer besides the headphone out of the computer, I would say yes, a dac would be a good idea. Do you have a budget you are working with?

                    • charlie_lee

                      hmm, it’s one of the artists I listen to under that genre and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of songs that are considered fast under the same category, as most of them are also considered trailer music, which is epic and fast in tempo imo.

                      Does larger soundstage really helps in listening to music ?
                      Currently I am using surround speaker connected to my laptop and I will use my headphones whenever I feel like using it, so far their usage is something like 60:40, more on headphones.

                      Currently I am looking at cmoy, pa2v2, or fiio e11, so my budget is around that area.

                    • http://www.facebook.com/john.wood.7906 John Wood

                      charlie, don’t over think it, no amount of research and reading can tell you what will work for you. find a good dealer and do some listening. make a choice and live with it for a while. it’s a learning process and a lot of fun. i would say the e17 is a good jumping off point, i’m using it with akg k550′s and loving it. if you are listening from a laptop, i would say that a dac should be a priority, with good quality files you will see a marked improvement

  • Guest

    hey mike, do you think this amp would suit well with my Audio Technica Pro5Mk2 ? or do you have any other recommendation around this price range ?

    thanks :)

  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

    Nikhil,
    The E6 should be sufficient.

  • http://www.facebook.com/agungruswandi Agung Kurniawan Ruswandi

    Im new to audio community. Based on review on this site ive decided to bought superlux hd651 since i’m basshead minded. My question is would this amp improve my hd651 sound quality (especially in bass)? I also have plan to upgrade my headphone with better basshead in the future. My next question is would this amp be enough to accomodate better basshead? Or should i buy fiio e11 instead for my long term plan? Sorry for bad english. Hehehe. Btw, i’m using it for my daily activity with ipod nano 4gen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philipp.stolberg Philipp Stolberg

    Hey Mike,

    Right now I’m deciding between the Fiio E6 or the Hifiman Express: HM-101.
    I’m using the ultrasone 580 with my macbook pro and 80% of my music is electronic (deep house/techno) music.

    Which one would you reccomend to me in the point of sound quality?

    Thanks :)

    • Trent_D

      fiio e10

      • http://www.facebook.com/philipp.stolberg Philipp Stolberg

        thanks :)i read some reviews of the e10 and many of them say that the e10 sounds good in the beginning and starts to make problems after a while. Why do you think that the e10 is better?

        • Trent_D

          Better bass, fuller mids. You will want that bass with your music. I had both at one point. I kept getting static and interference with the hm-101. No such issues with the e10. I know there were issues with the e10′s first run with the headphone jack coming loose, but those have long since been fixed. The rule of thumb seems to be, never buy anything in its first wave. Always wait till all the kinks get worked out. Of course, this is coming from the guy who just ordered Schiit’s brand new amp, so…

          • http://www.facebook.com/philipp.stolberg Philipp Stolberg

            alright, thank you very much!

  • Max

    Hey Mike, I’ve got a new pair of Sennheiser HD 202′s that I’m using with my E06. To be honest, everything is quite bass – heavy. As in, I can’t hear much treble. Any suggestions would be great. I’m using these with my PC, so if you know any software that has an overall EQ for all applications, that’s perfect. I only ask about EQ because Spotify doesn’t (Sadly) have an equalizer. Thanks, Max

    • Dave Ulrich

      First, the e6 has a few different EQ modes: two different levels of bass boost and a flat EQ mode. Make sure you are on flat. Second, it sounds like you may be double amping your headphones. If you have the E6 plugged into your computer’s headphone out, then the computer’s built-in amp is amping the signal AND the E6 is amping the signal. That could be contributing to your issue. Now, the HD202 is extremely easy to drive. Unless you are hearing noise any time you plug your HD202 straight into your computer, there isn’t any need to use an external amp with it. If you are getting noise with your computer headphone out, something like the Fiio e7k would be what you would want to go with. It will bypass your computer’s sound card completely. The e7k also has bass and treble control built into the unit, so you could add or reduce as needed.

      The last thing to consider is the the HD202 is a fairly dark headphone. If you are used to a brighter sound, it can take some time to get used to.