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.