Fiio E10K: A Classic Reborn

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Disclaimer: Fiio sent us a free sample of the E10K aka OLYMPUS 2. No secret there.

When Fiio told me the E10 would be discontinued I was in shock. The E10? One of the, if not THE best price quality unit Fiio ever made? Why?

If my memory serves me well we even named the E10 Product of the Year back in 2011. The Original E10, which we reviewed here, was one of the first compact USB AMP/DAC combos under $100 that performed really well and it kicked a lot of the +$100 units’ ass. Luckily for us Fiio didn’t really discontinue the unit, they actually upgraded it to the E10K Olympus 2. Fiio sure likes to update their existing product line.

The Difference

Most of the upgrades were done inside the box but the lay-out of the new E10K has changed a little too. Compared to the original E10 (there was a design revision already) the new E10K has the gain button on the back instead of on the bottom and the Bass Boost switch now has a horizontal lever on the front. For the rest there are no changes and the E10K still has a 3.5mm headphone out on the front and a coaxial and 3.5mm Line OUT on the back. Just like before all connectors al gold plated. Build quality is the same as before too. The E10s, which I carry around a lot in my bag, can really take a beating and I doubt they will ever break. Size wise they are the same as well: the E10K still is tiny, measures 79 x 49.1 x 21 mm and weighs only 78g.

The first E10 used the very popular Tenor TE7022 USB receiver combined with the just as popular WM8740 DAC and AD8397 Opamp. It resulted in a typical warm and fun sound with good to huge bass depending on your bass boost preference. For the new E10K, Fiio staid faithful to the TE7022 USB receiver but they kicked out the warm sounding Wolfson DAC schip for the Texas Instruments PCM5102. The new Opamp now is the LMH6643. Maybe they could have also upgraded the Tenor because the E10K still won’t do 88.2 kS/s sample rates.

The E10K is still capable of doing 24/96 and puts out 200mW@32Ohm (<1.04Ω). It’s suitable for 16-150Ohm headphones but it can actually even handle the 300Ohm Sennheiser HD650. Of course don’t expect spectacular sound but with the Bass Boost on, it’s quite fun to listen to. The OPA1642 is in charge of the +1/+9dB gain section but I didn’t really need high gain for any of the headphones I tried it with (more in the sound part).

The Result

As I quickly mentioned before, the general sound signature of the E10 was warm and fun with good bass body. It had full mids and a reasonably open sound with inoffensive treble. Sound stage wise it wasn’t the best and the E10 never was a king for what technicalities are concerned but overall, it was really hard not to love its sound. The E10K Olympus 2 definitely is an improvement and there’s more to love.

The Olympus 2 for starters has a whole lot less floor noise than its older brother, with my CIEMs there is as good as none. Sound stage now is quite a lot bigger and you will hear more detail from bass to mids to highs. It has a cleaner and more dynamic sound, a better resolution and especially the mids and treble section has improved a lot. It’s like a veil was lifted and an extra layer of detail and quality was added. At the same time the old E10 sounds more aggressive and more centered than the new version. It also sounds louder at the same volume setting.

One of the most important (Fiio) features is the Bass Boost. As you can see in the graph on the next page it still has quite an impact on the sound but it’s not quite the same as it was in the previous version of this unit.

It continues after the click

Fiio E10K: A Classic Reborn
4.25 (85.03%) 163 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

149 Comments

  • Reply September 11, 2014

    arcwindz

    Great review! Now i want this even more, problem is it’s nowhere to be found in south east asia (T.T)
    Would love to see more comparison, will wait for those 😉

  • Reply September 12, 2014

    SallyMaeSusan

    Mmm; I notice the volume only goes up to 8…

  • Reply September 12, 2014

    Tk55

    “Of course I don’t advise using this for your 300 ohm Sennheisers or 250Ohm Beyers but it does work.”

    What budget AMP/DAC(s) would you recommend for a 250Ohm Beyerdynamic? I’ve got the DT880 and was looking at an E10K. Every other recommendation (like O2/ODAC or Magni/Modi) is easily 200 euros and up.

    • Reply September 12, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      probably something like the JDSLabs C5D but that is $249 as well.

      the best advice probably is to get a 32 ohm Beyer, the 250Ohm beyers were made for use with good gear.

      • Reply September 12, 2014

        Tk55

        I already have the 250 Ohms Beyer. So your advice would be to just save up for better gear? I could also just get an O2, then a DAC later.

        • Reply September 18, 2014

          Rem

          250 ohms beyers are easy to drive. E10k should be more than fine.

      • Reply September 13, 2014

        Marceep

        I have a DT 770 pro 32 ohm Beyer and I don’t have any dac nor amp, and from what I read I think it fits good with my headphones and I should get it. How do you think it fits to my Beyer?

  • Reply September 13, 2014

    tqbf

    I’m currently using the Alessandro MS1i plugged into the Avid Eleven Rack through going through my computer. Would the fiio e10k be an upgrade?

  • Reply September 14, 2014

    Jordan Ingram

    Does this bring it more in line with the E07K? Is there still a clear jump in quality with the more expensive unit?

    • Reply September 14, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      To me it beats the E7K

      • Reply September 14, 2014

        Jordan Ingram

        Ooooh! It has a bigger footprint than than the 7 though, right?

  • Reply September 14, 2014

    Patrick

    Wow now the e10k as a better version of the e10 – nice! But won’t buy it, because of no support to e17 alpen :3 Anyway guys ready for next week at canjam?

  • Reply September 15, 2014

    Axel

    How it compares to Dacport?

  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Anonymous

    […] dejo unas reviews que he juntado estos ultimos dias: Fiio E10K Review The E10K Olympus 2 by FiiO | Headfonics Review Fiio E10K – Reviews de foreros – ReproductorMP3 y […]

  • Reply September 17, 2014

    Joe Rico

    Does the E10k outperform the E18? In the E18 review it was stated that it bettered the E10 in every way. Where does the E10K stand? I just received mine and I’m VERY impressed. Not even for the price….just IMPRESSED.

  • Reply September 19, 2014

    Joe Rico

    I actually meant how does the E10k compare to the E17.

  • Reply September 22, 2014

    lilly

    Hello,

    could you please comment on the difference between E10K and the built-in sound card of the latest Macbook Pro (Cirrus 4208-CRZ).

    According to:

    http://nwavguy.blogspot.sk/2012/01/fiio-e10-dac.html?showComment=1335914056813#c1318668696023246376

    there used not to be any difference.

    Thanks!

    • Reply September 22, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      Posting info from the guy who adores us? Funny 🙂
      Sorry but I have no clue what’s inside Macs, I don’t use any.

    • Reply November 16, 2014

      blindcan

      According to the site you gave, the Macbook can’t deliver as much power as the E10 (and the E10K), and has noise floor problem when playing starts, and has an even worse noise issue when plugged into AC power.

      Site you gave indicated that the E10 is superior to the Macbook.

  • Reply September 24, 2014

    E10_upgrade

    Hi
    Nice review!
    I was looking to upgrade my E10
    I have AKG Q701 , would like a amp/dac which would provide some warmth , was considering

    1 – E10k
    2 – Schiit Modi/Magni
    3 – Aune T1
    4 – AUne X1
    5 -O2+ODAC

    Or some other option
    Budget is ~300$

    • Reply October 4, 2014

      oldandcurious

      I only have the HD600, HD558, SR80i and an HD239 to give you an idea of how different or similar in sound signature you are looking for, than what I have with me, which are –

      The O2+X3 as DAC – is my preferred sound for my main music genre which is classical;

      The O2+E07K – is also good, but with less sparkle in terms of how the brass and string instruments are delivered compared to the above combo, but has “deeper” presence when I listen to movie soundtracks like the Gladiator, The Rock or any of the Star Wars soundtracks

      My E09K+E07K – sounds more enjoyable for my HD558 and SR80i, when I watch action movies or listen to some R&B, male and female vocals or the Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour type of music.

      Still, the E09K+X3 is my preferred combo with big orchestral pieces. For chamber or baroque, it’s the X3+O2

      I may be wrong, but my E11K “should” sound similar to the E10K.

      I expect to receive my E10K by Tuesday (it is Saturday here) that will take its little corner on my work table in my office.

      For your $300 budget, you may wish to add The Island from Alo in your list. I heeded a wise advise to get the O2 instead, becaue of my music library.

      I hope the above added some “hhmmm….” in your next upgrade.

      • Reply October 10, 2014

        E10_upgrade

        You do have same musical preference as mine so you added big “hmmm” 🙂
        I will have a look at the O2+X3 combo. Initial expressions on 10K?
        Thanks a Lot

  • Reply October 12, 2014

    sarji ruiz

    Got mine a few days back. You could hook this up to an android phone AND run viper4android. To do so, you’ll need a powered USB hub, an otg cable and an optional power source like a powerbank to go fully mobile. You can ditch the external power source but be prepared to draw the heck out of your phone battery. The steps? Hook up the fiio to the USB hub. Power it up using the powerbank. When the blue light appears, that’s the only time you hook it is to the Android phone (btw mine is a kitkat 4.4). Enjoy 🙂

    • Reply October 21, 2014

      Syakir Zainol

      I am hoping Headfonia would do a review on Viper4Android

    • Reply October 27, 2014

      Foscot

      Is the powered hub for power only, or is it for the same purpose as on iOS (circumvent locks in firmware, etc.) ?

      • Reply October 28, 2014

        Headfonia_L.

        I would say for power

        • Reply October 28, 2014

          Foscot

          Yeah, he did say that it would drain a lot of power otherwise, but maybe then a powered OTG cable would work? I’ll buy one and let you guys know.

      • Reply October 29, 2014

        sarji ruiz

        strictly for power…

  • […] combo because I don't utilize it to its full potential. Powers up to 150ohm headphones. Review from Headfonia. Condition 10/10 1 year 2 months local warranty from The Headphones Gallery started on 12 […]

  • Reply October 21, 2014

    Syakir Zainol

    If this can power the HD650, then im getting one

    • Reply October 21, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      Don’t forget your HD650 will sound a lot bette ron a decent amp:

      it can actually even handle the 300Ohm Sennheiser HD650. Of course
      don’t expect spectacular sound but with the Bass Boost on, it’s quite
      fun to listen to.

  • Reply October 22, 2014

    Syakir Zainol

    Just got this today. Early impression is (based on what i have at the moment);

    Technicality -> Fiio E10K
    Musicality -> JDS Labs CMOY BB

  • Reply November 4, 2014

    Joe Smith

    I am currently using the original mode; Fiio E7 DAC/Amp down at work. How much of a difference would there be with the new E10K? I like the E7, don’t really need more volume but DAC accuracy/precision would be my main interest. I also hear the bass boost is a bit different between the two, can anyone comment? I occasionally use the stage 1 bass boost on the E7.

  • Reply January 6, 2015

    Jeroen Wijnands

    I just picked this up after listening for half an hour to this and an E17. The E17 has perhaps a slight edge when it comes to instrument seperation and detail which I noticed most on some cello music.
    I went for the E10 because it was more musical to my ears and more fun all around to listen to, I found the E17 just a bit tiring at times.

    • Reply January 6, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I can agree with that. the E17K is out since this week though

      • Reply January 6, 2015

        Jeroen Wijnands

        Unfortunately my dealer didn’t have one yet and when he gets stock in I suspect it’s going to be 150 euros at least. I expect it’s going to be great.

        I think where the strength of the E10k lies is that it’s a DAC for the rest of us. It’s affordable, it has a very accessible sound and it’s reasonably easy to get one.

  • Reply January 13, 2015

    bzzz

    eee….
    well…,just for the sound,what do you think its compare to pa2v2 and jds labs cmoy,
    from their bass,mids,highs,pace and soundstage for rock listening?

    tq

    • Reply January 13, 2015

      dalethorn

      I don’t think you could separate pacing for these amps from the headphone you use – there’s just not enough resolution for that. The other properties I couldn’t comment on except for soundstage of the PA2V2 compared to several FiiO amps I’ve had. I don’t think the PA2V2 has any DSP inside, but it has always impressed me as having a more spacious presentation. When I tried to qualify that with tests, I didn’t find anything specific, yet that quality persists. So I can’t say whether that “soundstage” is really a factor or not, but it does justify its price. Now the PA2V2 improves the sound of an iPhone5, but little or no improvement to the iPhone6 or 6-plus, so I messaged the guy who makes them to ask if he’s planning an upgrade, and he said that he can make a better amp, but doesn’t have a timeline.

      • Reply January 15, 2015

        bzzz

        pa2v2 is an amp so it doens’t has a dsp,right?

        I read some articles,there’s some say e10k has nice dac but poor amp,and pa2v2 is faster than cmoy though cmoy is well spacious
        perhaps I’m still confuse,maybe I have to read more and find what will fit for me

        but thanks for the reply…I think.

        • Reply January 15, 2015

          dalethorn

          If you buy a DAC-plus-amp combination, like some of the FiiO’s, you should have the option to attach another amp to it, but most FiiO’s don’t have the option to be a DAC only, so to keep your options open you might want something that can be a DAC only, or be DAC-plus-amp when you want that. That flexibility will cost more…

          • Reply January 16, 2015

            bzzz

            well,attaching….
            maybe that will do

            thanks

  • Reply January 21, 2015

    Dimitry Kolbaskin

    Its sounds pretty good for 70$ dac/amp.
    But ODAC (jds) is better.
    The ak100mkII , is also better.
    Where is the differences ?

    When you hear a good solo (guitar or vocal), with ak100 or odac, it is in front of you.
    When you put the e10k, the vocal or guitar is going somewhere laid back.. and almost disappear…

    • Reply January 21, 2015

      Dimitry Kolbaskin

      When comparing it with ODAC, it connected to NECO Soundlab V3.
      (and it sounds better then FIIO)

    • Reply January 21, 2015

      dalethorn

      The ODAC/O2 is definitely one of the best in mid-fi amps, and the FiiO amps** are below that level for sure, but offer good value for price.

      **I haven’t tried the E17k yet – am very hopeful for improvement over old E17.

      • Reply January 22, 2015

        Dimitry Kolbaskin

        On the second thought , what the point to get an amp, if it it totally destroys the most interesting part in music ? The mids are just no there, there as somewhere, but not inside the phones.

        So if it pretty cheap, 70$ is still a money, and there is no reason to put them to a bad product.

        E10K, it’s small, it’s cheap, and it will destroy all of the Vocals and guitars solo.

        So … Skip it. IMHO.

        p.s.: after hours with FIIO X5, a can say for sure, X5, is also bad product.
        If the IPOD classic 80gb, that is almost 7-8 years old is sounds better and with so much better UI , so why to put your money on it ?

        AK, is better in any aspect.

        • Reply January 22, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          It’s not as bad as you make it sound. Yes AK is better but not everyone has that kind of budget 😉

          • Reply January 22, 2015

            Dimitry Kolbaskin

            Oh man, many people are buying cheap products, then they trying to sell it, to get better equipment, at the end, its waiting of time, resources and money, and most important, it’s not gives you the pleasure, that good and expensive equipment gives you… The point is : save the money (no need to hurry) and get the , if not the best, but very good stuff. The difference , is only 200-300$, I’m not telling you “go and buy hugo+ak240+500$cables… I’m telling you: skip the mediocre fiio , go and get ak100/ak100mkII/ak120, you can get a ak100MK2 for 450$

            • Reply January 22, 2015

              dalethorn

              I have money, and I love my FiiO’s. If I were selling in a store, I think I could sell a lot of them, for use with phones and simple music players.

              • Reply January 22, 2015

                Headfonia_L.

                Couldn’t agree more. FIIO for the win

                • Reply January 31, 2015

                  Jeroen Wijnands

                  Don’t let Dimitry hear it.

              • Reply January 23, 2015

                George Lai

                One could argue that brands like Fiio do a lot more for music lovers than $30,000 DACs and the like.

                • Reply January 23, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  I’d like to have one, just to rub it occasionally for good luck.

              • Reply January 23, 2015

                Nickjan Glas

                I actually picked up some E12’s for merchandize at an unbelievably low price and they were all sold within a day. Then again, I only asked 70 dollars a piece.
                I use mine, just the way you described, for a simple use with iPod. not too expensive a set-up for on the road, occassional use. great stuff.

                • Reply January 24, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  I was looking to get another E12, but Amazon is maintaining the $139 price.

                  • Reply January 24, 2015

                    Nickjan Glas

                    I just send you an email on your disqus registered mail.

          • Reply January 31, 2015

            Jeroen Wijnands

            so… a 600 euro unit outperforms a 80 euro device? Gee, that’s weird!

        • Reply January 22, 2015

          dalethorn

          When you play the cheap amp *after* playing the expensive amp, then yes it sounds cheaper. But to say it destroys the music, is like saying if I eat a $10 meal *after* I eat a $50 meal (maybe 6 hours after), then the $10 meal is bad food and upsets my stomach. Well, no.

    • Reply January 31, 2015

      Jeroen Wijnands

      sorry but that’s certainly not true at all here. Think you got a bad unit Dimitry.

  • Reply January 22, 2015

    Tóth Szabolcs

    Nice review.
    I want a new dac, but i dont no what is preferred.

    1. Schiit Modi
    2. Fiio E10K
    3. SMSL Sanskrit

    • Reply January 22, 2015

      dalethorn

      The Amazon reviews are not good for the Sanskrit. I would choose the Schiit (but you also need an amp). If you want DAC and amp both, then E10k.

      • Reply January 22, 2015

        Tóth Szabolcs

        I dont want amp, just dac. Thank you!

  • Reply February 6, 2015

    Dany1

    Using the E10k or E17k as a dac only ..paired with something like the Cayin C5 ..Which one is a better perfomer in your opinion ?

  • Reply February 12, 2015

    Cucumberino

    I just got this for my DT 990 250ohm but basically because my budget is pretty limited right now (200€ for E10K + DT990 more or less). Thanks for the review, was quite helpful

    • Reply May 26, 2016

      Neah

      and how is it? i’m also about to buy the E10K + beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
      250ohm and i want to know how it’s work for you? some people say the E10K can handle the DT 990 and some say it can’t.

      can you please tell me your Experience with the combo of E10K + beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO 250ohm

  • Reply February 18, 2015

    JohnD

    Great review! I have just bought an E10K, but I am uncertain what headphones to pair with it. I have some Sennheiser G4ME Zero’s for gaming, but would like a decent set for music also. What would you recommend? I was initially thinking of the DT990 250Ohm, but you say this isn’t advisable with the E10K. What would be best, for listening to a wide range of music? Thanks. 🙂

    • Reply February 19, 2015

      dalethorn

      I’m not familiar with the DT990, but the DT770-32 is a huge hit at Headfonia. The G4ME Zero is known for a large and accurate soundstage, and the DT770-32 should come close to that. But maybe close enough isn’t what you want – you might want something even better. The $400 B&W P7 isn’t such a big hit here, but I’d suggest taking a long look at it. It has a little enhancement at both ends, for a lively sound. And the build is great. If someone here could convince you that the DT770-32 is better than the P7, check it out. But if I didn’t get the 770-32 I’d skip the in-between Beyers and go for the T90. Forget the T51p – too bland – OK for jazz, but not for pop music etc. Most of the other brands are ‘lifestyle’ designs, like the HP50, Momentum, Focal series, and so on. Most of those have ‘relaxed’ highs, which could be good for music with strong sibilants and other harshness.

      • Reply February 19, 2015

        Headfonia_L.

        T90 with the E10K? noooo. Like Dale, my advise would be to go for the DT770/32 or even the beyerdynamic Custom One Pro

        • Reply February 19, 2015

          JohnD

          So what’s wrong with the DT990 250ohm exactly? It’s just a bit confusing seeing as I’ve read loads of user comments and reviews saying how great they are, and that it’s not an issue to run them off the E10K. Given the price… half and in some cases a quarter of some of the other suggestions here… are they REALLY that bad a choice for open style headphones?

          • Reply February 19, 2015

            dalethorn

            From what I remember the 990 is cheaper and lower quality than the 880, and also much brighter. One person I know who has reviewed these together is the guy at NobleHiFi – he can probably tell you about the comparisons between the 770, 880 and 990.

            • Reply February 19, 2015

              JohnD

              Yes the 990 is cheaper than 880, same price as 770 (32/80/250ohm). All reviews complement the quality however, so they are not poor quality in and of themselves. Of course there will always be something better that’s more expensive. I probably should have mentioned that my budget is that of around the price of the 990/770… so suggestions double that price, while interesting, aren’t really an option.

              • Reply February 19, 2015

                Headfonia_L.

                I don’t really agree with Ed’s reviews but the DT990/250 can simply not be driven by the E10K. Volume isn’t everything

                • Reply February 19, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  I can’t say that I agree with any of Edd’s reviews either, but if someone is looking for a second opinion by a guy who knows those models and who takes his reviews seriously, I usually point them there just for the basic information. I’d like to have another second-opinion source, as long as it isn’t somewhere the user would get totally lost.

                • Reply February 20, 2015

                  JohnD

                  So, as to OPEN style headphones within the same price range as the DT990, what is the best pairing for the E10K?

                  • Reply February 20, 2015

                    dalethorn

                    Maximum output power is 200 mw at 32 ohms, no doubt a fraction of that at 250 ohms. Fiio recommends a headphone maximum impedance of 150 ohms. But with all that, I like to cheat myself, and sometimes I get good results on many or most of my tracks. But you’ll likely get a lot of soft clipping with the 990/250, which could still sound pretty good, but you lose some of the benefits of clean amplification that way.

                    • February 20, 2015

                      JohnD

                      Someone posed this “DT990 for E10K” question over at the Head-Fi forums actually and got the following response, which I found very interesting…

                      Beyerdynamic lists the DT990 Pro as having a sensitivity of 96 dB/mW. So we want to figure out how much power we need for 14 more decibels. It just so happen that if you divide the change in decibels by 10, then do 10 to that power, you get the change in power. In this case that’s 10 ^ ( 14 / 10 ), or just about 25. So now we know we need an output of 25 mW for 110 dB with the DT990.

                      Now, how powerful is the E10K? This will depend on the headphone’s impedance and the amp’s voltage output. Sometimes the amp’s spec page will publish the max power output at various impedances, in which case you can just use that. The E10K only tells us the power at 32 ohms which isn’t much help, because the DT990 has an impedance of 250 ohms. But it does tell us the max Vp-p (peak-to-peak voltage) of 7.39 Vp-p, which we can use. First, though, we need to find the Vrms (root mean square voltage), which is more useful for audio. It’s easier than it sounds; for a sine wave like our audio signal, you halve Vp-p to get the amplitude, then divide that by the square root of 2. In this case that’s ( 7.39 / 2 ) / sqrt(2). The E10K is capable of up to 2.6 Vrms in a best case scenario.

                      What’s that mean for power? Converting to power is pretty easy too, you just square your Vrms and divide by the headphone’s impedance, which gives you a value in full Watts. Then multiply by 1000 to get that same value in mW. Then the E10K should ideally be capable of ( 2.6 ^ 2 ) / 250 * 1000 = 27 mW at 250 ohms.

                      Now, most amps can’t drive their max voltage into every impedance, it can fall off due to output impedance on the amp or a limited amount of current. That’s a story for another post, though. The E10K should be pretty capable of 25 mW into 250 ohms, it’s not a difficult load. But, I’ve seen DT880s measured as needing up to 3 Vrms for 110 dB as opposed to the 2.6 we tested here, meaning official specs were not accurate. Still, remember that’s only if you need volumes of 110 dB. As volume goes down power goes down rapidly (about half the power per 3 dB down).

                      I think you’ll be just fine with the E10K. If you feel safer with something else, look for something capable of 36 mW at 250 ohms, or 3 Vrms, using the equations I posted if needed.

                    • February 20, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I admire the math here, but is the picture that simple? Is the DT990 impedance curve really flat? Does the 110 db account for all transients? If you’re going to do measurements you have to know all factors.

                    • February 20, 2015

                      JohnD

                      I don’t know, this is all way over my head tbh lol! I agree there could be some debate here, but ‘Headfonia_L’ did say that the DT990 250 “can simply not be driven by the E10K” which I am having trouble understanding how he can be so emphatic about.

                    • February 20, 2015

                      Headfonia_L.

                      Listen to it on a decent amp and then listen to the E10K. You’ll know what I mean. Again, like Dale also said, power just isn’t everything

                    • February 20, 2015

                      JohnD

                      Thanks. I didn’t mean to sound argumentative or anything, I just wanted to understand what you were saying. But yes, I guess the only way one person can know is to listen to both and make their mind up. It’s probably like wine in that respect, you can say one grape is better than another, but until you try both you can’t know for yourself, or appreciate the difference. Would you say the magni/modi 2 would be a big step up and provide noticeable improvement over the E10K, with the DT990 250’s?

                    • February 20, 2015

                      Headfonia_L.

                      And I didn’t mean to be rude, sorry if it came over like that.

                      Some people say and LCD2 can perfectly be driven by the AK240, but if you know how the LCD2 is supposed to sound when using a proper amp for it, you wouldn’t make those claims.

                      Luckily for me, I have the possibility to try a lot of different combinations. Unfortunately, most people can not do that. I fully understand that but that doesn’t mean they should make claims like “It can be driven by xxx”

                    • February 20, 2015

                      JohnD

                      Not at all, I appreciate your expertise, and I’m very new to audiophilia (that sounds wrong lol), so I am in no place to question really, I just was a bit confused by the contradictory reviews/comments I’ve read. So would you have a recommendation for an amp that WOULD drive the DT990 250’s very well? The magni/modi 2 seems to get great reviews, and it’s JUST within my budget, but I don’t know how much better it would be. It’s nearly 3 times the cost of the E10K, but is it 3 times better?

                    • February 20, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I’m sure the Schiit amps would sound better, but someone needs to compare the power output to 250 ohms.

                    • February 20, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I can’t really add anything that L hasn’t already said, but I will say that this issue isn’t like which grape or which wine tastes best, or whether the grape is ripe enough to make wine from. This is about dynamics mainly, and a couple of points to consider: One is that dynamics, or transients etc. demand a great deal more power than what is considered adequate for “normal” use. If your use isn’t critical (portable, noisy environments etc.), or you can live with “soft clipping”, which doesn’t sound all that bad, then maybe the E10k would work OK, if your music tracks have adequate volume. Point number two, about the impedance curve, is if it goes way up at certain frequencies, then there’s more of a power demand there, and you could get worse clipping at those frequencies.

                      BTW, I don’t remember ever discussing impedance curves before, because it never seemed necessary. But if users are trying extra hard to pinch pennies and go against the usual advice on amplifier power to save money, then that’s one of those monkeys in the wrench that can trip people up.

                    • December 14, 2016

                      Zed

                      I am satisfied user of E10k with ASIO driver installed and Beyerdynamic DT 1770 pro at 250 Ohms. Compared to 32 Ohm headphones the volume is not so loud but for general usage it is really OK, usually I use volume at 2-4. Even at max volume it is still “at the limit”. The best is to check with your headphones and if not happy you can always return it.

                      I am not aware or theory behind it. I can imagine that with dedicated DAC I can get improved performance but for me and my ears it is just fine. Never had better performance before – I mean if you go up compared to previous audio equipment you own then you should be sattisfied.

    • Reply February 19, 2015

      socks mk2

      I have owned a DT990 600 ohm for a while now and if you’re opposed to really “hot” treble, stay away. It can be really harsh, ear-piercing and sibilant. After trying headphones that aren’t nearly as exaggerated in the treble, I can definitely say I’ll never buy another headphone like the DT990 ever again.

      The Philips Fidelio X2 has a similar amount of bass, but is closer to an all-around balanced headphone. The soundstage isn’t as wide as the DT990 or any open-back pair by AKG. It’s not bad either. The X2 is extremely easy to drive which is nice. The X2 doesn’t cause any hotspots and almost feels weightless even after long listening sessions. You will see benefit in replacing the stock cable on the X2. The stock cable is awful to be honest. I spent like $10 on a 3.5mm M to M cable by kabeldirekt and the SQ was a bit improved (not tons), but is much less microphonic.

      • Reply February 19, 2015

        Headfonia_L.

        Nothing wrong with the X2 cable, that was the X1 cable

        • Reply February 19, 2015

          socks mk2

          I have shag carpet in my listening area, so the braided stock X2 cable drags a lot. Lol. YMMV.

    • Reply June 7, 2015

      Robert Billington

      I have the PC363d with is very similar to the Game Zero just an older version which is almost the same and it works great with the E10k.

  • Reply February 19, 2015

    Mohammad Rizki

    how about E10K vs E17K?

    • Reply February 19, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I’m still working on that

      • Reply February 27, 2015

        Yubin Peng

        Do you know about when you are going to post it?
        I can’t wait XD
        or could you give us a sneak peek of its noise floor with iems?

        • Reply February 28, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          It will be online next week. Fiio and floor noise is often a bad combination

          • Reply February 28, 2015

            dalethorn

            Hi-Fi devices are very sensitive to noise and distortion, precisely because they’re Hi-Fi.

        • Reply February 28, 2015

          Yubin Peng

          So true~

  • Reply November 8, 2015

    Lille John

    I have read the article and I’m not sure, I have a pair of LCD2 rev2 and a La Figaro 339 and are more than happy with the sound. I mostly listen to Infected Mushroom (yes l should get a Violectric or Burson to get out max).
    But now I need a portable amp, and do you think I would be pleased with the FiiO 10K – with in mind that I’m pleased with the 399 setup?

    Thank you for all your great articles/reviews.
    Best Regards John

    • Reply November 8, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Hi John, for what headphone would that be? With what source?
      The E10K in no way “does” the LCD2

      • Reply November 8, 2015

        Lille John

        Sorry for the lack of info.
        Source: iPhone 6s + and the E10K – would it be an ok match with the LCD2.2?

        As I mentioned above I am more than satisfied with the sound with the imac+Cambridge audio dac magic+La Figaro 399 so that is my reference.

        • Reply November 8, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          No, the E1OK, like I said, does not do the LCD2 by far

          • Reply November 8, 2015

            Lille John

            I missunderstood the meaning “The E10K in no way “does” the LCD2.
            And thanks for the answer which portable amp+dac that can be used with my LCD”.

            Headfonia_L: Do you have a dac+amp in mind that can handle the LCD2?

            How about the Audezee CX – any FiiO-amp that can handle them?

            Thank you all!

            • Reply November 8, 2015

              Dave Ulrich

              I’m curious. We are talking about $1000+ headphones, yet you want to find the cheapest portable amp.

              • Reply November 8, 2015

                Lille John

                Hehe Dave that’s a Iegitimate question.
                First of all i liked the size, and we don’t have that many resellers for headhoneamp’s here in Sweden (High End Headphones overall is a really slim market here) but we have one webstore that have FiiO 🙂

                To buy the headphoneamp’s it would be cheaper to take a airplane-ticket to NY, than buying them over internet.

                I was seriously thinking about it to buy a Woo Audio wa5 🙂

                • Reply November 8, 2015

                  Dave Ulrich

                  Well, Cypher labs lists a distributor in Sweden called Audiotrade. Maybe see if they can be of any help.

                  • Reply November 8, 2015

                    Lille John

                    I havenow decided to buy a non-portable amp, (due to my LCD2 insn’t closed and, Im moving to another city soon and there I wont need the portable sulotion (no subway).

                    Which is the best match for my LCD2: Burson HPA 160D or Bakoon HPA-01? I can get them both for about the same price.

                    Thank you evereyone for your help, and sorry for going off-topic.

                    • November 8, 2015

                      Dave Ulrich

                      If there is any way to get your hands on a Violectric amp, that’s what you want for the LCD’s. I haven’t heard either of those, but I disliked the LCD 2 and 3 with the Burson Soloist SL tremendously.

                    • November 9, 2015

                      Lille John

                      Yeah I have tried my LCD2’s to the Violectric and it sounded great, it had more than enough power to Infect the headphones.
                      On the Viokectricscene I am a bit I updated which is most fitted to the LCD2 and LCDXCS, if it has a dac it’s a great plus.

                    • November 9, 2015

                      Headfonia_L.

                      LCD2 -> Violectric V200 or V28A. Bakoon is awesome too but mostly just for LCDs, so if you plan on adding other headphones, Violectric would be the way to go

                      Violectric also has DACs 😉

                    • November 17, 2015

                      Lille John

                      I ended up with the new Burson Conductor Virtuoso with the (BurrBrown). 🙂
                      I prefered the Burr Brown before the Sabre because it had a little more “body” and was less analytic and sharp that the Sabre could be sometimes.

                    • November 18, 2015

                      Dave Ulrich

                      Hope you like it. I have to admit I hated the LCDs with Burson (of course that was the SL), but to each their own!

                    • November 20, 2015

                      Lille John

                      Dave I partly agree, you get an extremely well-controlled audio-picture, with the LCD2.2 the extreme control can also make it make it sound “pent” or maybe “stuffy” is the right word for it.

                      But it still fills my four criteria (and it does all in one box!), at my studio I needed the following:
                      1. A really great solid state headphone Amp. (I cant leave my La Figaro 339 on when leaving home, because of the hard to get tubes).
                      2. A decent/good Dac to the amp.
                      3. Be able to control the volume on my KRK Rokit 8 Rev3 Monitors
                      4. Remote-control = No more complaining from my girlfriend because she has to get up from the sofa to change the volume.

                      Yesterday it ended up that I bought a pair of LCD-XC (also to please my girlfriend), at the same time a Bakoon Audio HPA-01 followed me home – WOW!

                      To get back on topic:
                      How is the combination with the Fiio E10K + my LCD-XC?

                    • November 21, 2015

                      Dave Ulrich

                      It should be able to drive it fine. Not sure how good it will sound.

                • Reply November 8, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  The iPhone 6s DAC is probably comparable to FiiO’s, then the amp in the FiiOs wouldn’t help except add more volume. I’ve run my iPhone 6s with the E17k, which sounds good, but there wouldn’t be any reason to unless I were desperate for greater volume.

            • Reply November 8, 2015

              dalethorn

              For sound quality and dynamic headroom, no.

        • Reply November 8, 2015

          Dave Ulrich

          The e10k can’t be used as a portable amp. If you are looking for a portable solution to use with the iPhone and the LCD2, The Cypher Labs Theorem would be your best bet, but that is a fair bit more expensive.

  • Reply December 2, 2015

    Agnishwar Mitra

    Guys, I read the article (and lot others as well). I still have a couple of queries … My setup is a) Logitech Z906 speakers & b) Sennheiser HD598 headphones. These are plugged onto my PC (running Windows 10 with Realtek ALC892 audio onboard driver) ….

    I am looking at buying the Fiio E10K

    Query 1: Will I be able to use the Digital Coaxial & the front headphone out at the SAME time? The reason being I will like to bypass my onboard sound card but pass through the Digital coaxial onto my Z906 which being a THX certified speaker might not need the Fiio’s function (In fact, I am not even sure whether it will be able to handle the DTS, Dolby, etc. other audio signals … hence, a pass through will be appreciated). The device will be used mostly for my Sennheiser HD598. Granted that I won’t be needing both the outputs at the same time, I still wish to keep my options open.

    Query 2 : Is the DAC + AMP feature of the E10K better than X3 (yes, you can use it as a standalone USB DAC)?

    Query 3 : I read somewhere that the USB cable provided with the E10K is pretty rubbish and should be upgraded to a 28/24AWG USB Cable. The supplied cable is 28/28AWG. Any remarks on this?

    Though technically I am not an Audiophile, I do like listening to clean, clear sound with just about enough bass (the HD598 has enough bass for my taste). I also have a Fiio X3, a Cowon iAudio 9 (which I rarely use) and a Yamaha EPH-100 to couple with these !

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply December 2, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Yes
      I prefer using the E10K as USB DAC
      Don’t worry about the usb cable

      • Reply December 2, 2015

        Agnishwar Mitra

        Thanks for the speedy response …. Can you please answer my first query? Much appreciated …

        • Reply December 2, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          I did: Yes. (you can use both coaxial, LO and headphone out at once on the E10K)

          • Reply December 2, 2015

            Agnishwar Mitra

            Great ! Thanks … already placed an order through Amazon … This rubbish onboard sound for my HD 598 is driving me nuts !!!

  • Reply December 14, 2015

    Frank Iengo

    Hi Headfonia, I have a question:
    Can the E10K Olympus 2 do a good job with the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 Ohm?
    I have just bought them and I had a doubt about.
    Thank you.

    P.S.
    Sorry for my English, I am from Italy 🙂

    • Reply December 14, 2015

      dalethorn

      I have a DT1770 Pro 250 ohm and a FiiO E07k, so they should be comparable, although the E10k is newer. When I play a low-volume track on the E07k with 6 db gain, it plays loud. At 12 db gain on the E07k, it’s VERY loud, and that is a low-volume track.

      • Reply December 15, 2015

        Frank Iengo

        Hi Dalethon,
        Thank you for answering me and for sharing your experience.
        Have a good day.

    • Reply December 14, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      The E10K is quite nice and is better than you think. Your sound will be ok but not as good as the headphone can sound.

      • Reply December 15, 2015

        Frank Iengo

        Hi Headfonia,
        I really appreciated your answer and I want to thank you for the information

      • Reply December 27, 2015

        Nir Hason

        It’s because of the high 250 Ohm impedance? I have the DT-770 Pro 80 Ohm, it should fit more to my headphones or it won’t sound good as they should be too? (If it won’t. Do you have any recommendations for the Beyer?)
        Thank you in advanced

        • Reply December 27, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          For 80ohm it’s ok, but a better amp will make it sound a lot better

          • Reply December 27, 2015

            Nir Hason

            Tnx for the quick reply! 🙂
            What is your recommendation for a better amp (in the range of 150$~)

            • Reply December 28, 2015

              dalethorn

              To be used with….?

              • Reply December 28, 2015

                Nir Hason

                With my Beyer DT770 80 Ohm

                • Reply December 28, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  To be used with (sources).

                  • Reply December 28, 2015

                    Nir Hason

                    laptop/ipad

                    • December 28, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      The iPad rules out the best sound for $150 – i.e. the Dragonfly v1.2. So to use with the iPad, you could use one of the FiiO DAC/amps, and also use that with the laptop. Many laptop computers will already sound as good as the FiiO DAC/amps like the E17k, E10k, etc., so you might have to keep looking for someone who has compared several, and found something better that works with both. The times I’ve looked for an amp (sans DAC) that would really improve the sound of my laptop and my iPad, I came up with 2: The $375 Zen Head and the $500 Portaphile Micro. I had the FiiO E12, and I liked it, but it was only good for more power, not so much for sound.

                    • December 28, 2015

                      Nir Hason

                      Tnx. I will search for someone that compared several already.
                      Zen Head is out of my budget right now but if I won’t find anything that I like I think I will start saving money for the Zen (;

                    • December 29, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      Some of the tube amps around $130-$150 are quite good. I like my Bravo Ocean.

        • Reply December 27, 2015

          dalethorn

          The DT770 is a very crispy sound, so I think the FiiO would be a good match. But if you want the most razor-sharp sound, a better amp would do that, like Lieven said.

  • Reply December 26, 2015

    Sam Philpot

    how would the E10K fair with the Oppo Pm-3’s?

    • Reply December 26, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I already found the PM3 to be overly dark (and I am being kind), So I wouldn’t match it with the E10K, rather the E17K. But actually I’d pick an even clearder and lighter sounding source

      • Reply December 26, 2015

        Sam Philpot

        Thank you very much! When you say an alternative source, what would you suggest if on a budget to get the best i can out of the PM-3’s?

  • Reply February 4, 2016

    Maurizio Cassano

    Hi, I would like to thank you for the amazing job you have been doing for so long! I own a pair of Philips Fidelio L2 that I really love them. My use is mainly on the go (Spotify on my Mac), I usually work in different places in the same day. I am looking for a small DAC like the Fiio E10K, do you think it’s a good fit for my Fidelio? Thank you.

    • Reply February 4, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you. It certainly is, it’ll give the L2 a bith of warmth and the bass it lacks just that little bit

      • Reply February 4, 2016

        Maurizio Cassano

        Thank you so much for your kind reply. Do you have any other pick in this price range that would you suggest instead of the E10K?

        • Reply February 4, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          oh but I do suggest it. Maybe the new K1 but haven’t tried it yet

        • Reply February 4, 2016

          dalethorn

          I ran the K1 against the E17k yesterday. I would not buy the K1 unless I could not buy something better. The E07k is very close to the E17k – I suggest the E07k if you don’t like the E10k. But you lose the knob with the E07k.

          • Reply February 4, 2016

            Maurizio Cassano

            Thank you so much, I think I’ll go for the E10K.

  • Reply June 21, 2016

    George Melendez

    Hi…
    I’m new to DAC’s and would like to know what would you choose between the
    FiiO E10K USB DAC & Headphone Amplifier and the HiFimeDIY SABRE DAC 2, UAE23+ Asynchronous USB DAC with headphone amplifier and built in USB isolator. You can check it out here >>> http://hifimediy.com/DACs/usb-dac2 <<< I would appreciate your advice for this will be my first DAC and I want to make a good choice.

    Thanks
    George

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