Fiio E7 Portable DAC

After several low budget amplifiers (E1, E3, E5), Fiio now enters the market with a more serious E7 Portable DAC/Amp.

It’s hard to find another product to compare the E7 with. It’s sort of a hybrid between a portable amplifier and an entry level USB DAC. There has been many entry level USB DACs lately, but at the price point of the E7, the closest thing that I can think of is the Styleaudio UD-1 and the Nuforce uDAC (both of which I’ve written a comparison on). I no longer has the UD-1, so I’ll be comparing the E7 with the uDAC.

The biggest difference between the E7 to the Styleaudio UD-1 and the uDAC is that the E7 can run on battery power. True, you don’t really need battery power when you’re operating it as a USB DAC from a laptop, but having battery power makes the E7 serve a double duty as a portable amplifier. In that way, the E7 is unique because you can hook it to an Ipod and have a portable amplifier, and when you’re at your work desk, you can hook it up to your computer and have a USB DAC.

I’m really enjoying the E7, and I have a strong feeling that it’s going to be a product that I’ll use for a long time. When I want to go portable, I take the E7 and the Ipod, and I’m good to go. When I’m on my computer, I plug in the E7 to the USB cable, unplug the LOD cable from the Ipod, and have a great music set up. Of course, you can do this as well with more expensive amps such as the TTVJ Slim, RSA’s Predator, and Headamp’s Pico to name a few. Thing is, most of them sells for way over $300, while the E7 costs $80.

Clearly, the E7 is priced very competitively, and I consider it a good product — not some cheap chinese stuff. Not only is the E7 packed with features, it also comes with a solid build quality, and a solid sound quality as well.


By itself, the E7 is fairly well designed. The large mirror screen is actually not a full size display, though at the back of that mirror you can find a tiny display (roughly 1.5x3cm) that gives you access to the E7 menu as well as a volume level indicator. The build quality is quite solid, and fairly light as well, making it a nice amplifier to sandwich together with a DAP. Something that I particularly like is how Fiio included a rubber enclosure as well as a rubber band, both for protection and for practicality when you’re carrying it with an Ipod. A nice cloth carrying case is also included, as well as a generic USB and mini-to-mini cable.

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  • glac1er

    Thanks for the review, Mike. Does the E7 have other output beside its headphone out? I figure it doesn't have optical/coaxial/RCA output to connect it with a desktop amp?

    • I believe they're coming out with a desktop dock (E9) that will give you the connectivity features.

  • Robb

    Any notes on battery life?

    • Josh

      I recently purchased one and it is my first amp so I can say that it is great as both a DAC and portable amp!

      The site claims:

      Build-in rechargeable 1050 mAH Li-ion battery for 80 hours of continuous operation


      I have used it quite a decent amount when I travel alot, but I always hook it up to my laptop when I get home so I haven’t actually tested it to its fully battery capacity.

      Sucks though that when connected to the laptop the internal sound card gets deactivated…would be great if you could have separate outputs (djing etc)

      Personally, for the price and the features, it easily stole my attention from the others (note this is on a student’s budget)

      • Yep, the Fiio E7 is quite a great product for the price. The battery never seem to run out too.

        As for the internal sound card that gets deactivated, I think that applies for just about any USB DAC out there.

  • Ken

    Can anybody tell me why my E7 is not recognized by my Mac OS (Snow Leopard)? I also run WinXP on the same machine (Parallels) and it recognizes it immediately. Is this a known issue, and if so, is there a fix?

    • Danz

      Just connect your E7, go to ‘Sound’ from ‘System Preference’ and you can find it in there as ‘USB Audio DAC’, just select it there.

      Does anyone know if the E7 can be used as a DAC with an iPod?

      • Danz, no you can't use the E7 as a DAC with an Ipod. The Ipod dock outputs only analog data, unless you're using a desktop Ipod Transport like the Onkyo ND-S1 or the Wadia i170. Even then, they don't have USB out to connect to the E7.

        • Danz

          Thank you so much, Mike. It's a pity that the E7 cannot be used as a DAC with an iPod. I managed to use the E7 as a DAC with the iPad and the result was very good.

          • Yes, it would've been awesome if the two can work together. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JulioD

        There is this nice piece of software for Mac that puts an icon on your menu bar to let you control all of your sound sources. I love it since with it I don’t have to open the System Preferences to modify the source. It is made by Rogue Amoeba and its free Look for SoundSource.

        • Very nice share JulioD, I'll look into it. Thanks!

    • I'm not using Snow Leopard, ,but on my OSX 10.4.8, the Fiio E7 is recognized just fine.

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  • Hey Mike,

    I'm in the process of upgrading my home (Mac-based) listening system and recently bought an E7 and am really pleased at the quality improvement with my Apple in-ear headphones and Sennheiser HD 25-I's. I'm happy with what I have and also want to upgrade my listening experience to the best I can have.

    I want a quality pair of headphones that tell the truth with clarity and are fun to listen to. I've ordered a used pair of HD650's which have been delayed in the mail and whilst waiting I've also been considering HD800's, LCD-2's or T1's.

    Musically, these days I'm mostly listening to classic jazz-rock-fusion albums (Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Weather Report), live band recordings, well-recorded/produced studio pop/rock albums (Steely Dan/Donald Fagen etc.), electronica (Techno, IDM, Drum and Bass), spoken word/meditation/hypnosis audio programmes, and occasionally some classical, so an all-round solution would probably do the trick.

    Earlier tonight I briefly A/B/C/D'd my Apple in-ears, HD25-I's, with HD600s, and HD800's (through my Mac/E7 with CDs). I love the natural detail and image/soundstage of the 800's. They made listening to 'So What' from Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' a pleasure, But they otherwise sounded a little trebly and thin though beautifully sensitive. They lacked the 'oomph' am impact of live jazz/rock/fusion recordings, which my Apple in-ears and HD-25's provide. Maybe my ears are just more attuned to bassier headphones. Adjusting the bass setting on the E7 could be the answer if I opt for the 800's.

    Do a Mac and E7 (and perhaps an E9) do any of the above cans (HD800/LCD-2/T1) justice? or is there a better (and perhaps obvious) option that you can suggest?

    Also, my ears are quite sensitive and susceptible to ringing if I listen to loud sources for too long, so with my headphones, I will most likely be playing them quietly. Do the above open cans sing clearly at low volumes?

    Any response is much appreciated. Keep up the great work.


    • Mike

      Thanks for the kind words, Windsor. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The E7 is not quite the kind of DAC/Amp that people use when building a set up for the HD800/T1/LCD-2 headphones. But, if you find music enjoyable through it, then why bother changing, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I looked at your Music and I think that the LCD-2 may be the headphone that will fit you the best. I suggest that primarily because of these aspects: Bass Impact, your comment about the HD800 being a little treble happy, and your habit of low level listening. It is also quite easy to drive and I think your E7 may be able to drive the LCD-2 decently.

      • Thanks for responding, Mike.

        The LCD-2's could be the headphones for me, but I'd like to try a pair before buying a pair.
        If anyone reading this n the Surrey/London area has a pair of LCD-2's they'd be willing to let me try, or knows where I can try them, please let me know…

        Also, I just ordered a FiiO E9, which I've read will make whatever headphone I use sound true (short of spending a lot more money on a high-end amp/DAC)

        • Mike

          Good luck with the hunt Windsor. What headphone are you listening to at the moment?

          • I currently use either Sennheiser HD25-I or Apple in-ear headphones. They both provide great clarity, which I'm grateful for. I want the best home-listening experience I can have though, hence my continued headphone search. But I am happy with what I have. ๐Ÿ™‚

            • Today the post office informed me they have a package for me – it could be the pair of Sennheiser HD650 headphones I ordered – if so, they'll probably be delivered tomorrow with my E9, or at the least I'll have them both in a few days. *claps and rubs hands together in fun anticipation* ๐Ÿ™‚

              • Mike

                Sweet. Let me know how the HD650 sounds to you. It's quite different than the HD25-1. ๐Ÿ™‚

                • Hey Mike,

                  To me, there is a noticeable difference between the HD 25-I and the HD 650.

                  The HD-25-I provides quite a compact, intense, visceral listening experience, great for rock and some bass-light recordings (Donald Fagen's – 'The Nightly' comes to mind).

                  Initially, after a few hours listening time, I'm finding the HD 650 to be a more lush, more relaxed and laid-back, warmly clinical listen. To my ears, they sound ever-so-slightly muddy/veiled in the treble, a little boxy in the mid-range, and a little boomy in the bass. But they are a most enjoyable experience. I'm really enjoying hearing nuances I never heard before in Miles Davis records, such as the warmth of Ron Carter's upright bass and the breathy emissions of Miles' Trumpet. The HD 650s are probably a keeper for me.

                  I'd like to compare them to the HD 600s and the other headphones I listed above; it'd be nice to have a flat/neutral pair of high-end headphones. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying my new purchases. ๐Ÿ™‚

                  • Mike

                    Yes, you're very good at describing the headphones. I think your description is spot on. With more powerful amplification, the HD650 can somewhat grow to be more HD25-1 like with a good PRaT and visceral punch, but it never actually takes over the HD25-1 in that area.

                    • Thanks for your descriptions, Mike.
                      I'm gonna A/B the HD 650s with HD 600s today.

                    • Mike

                      Sounds like fun, Windsor. ๐Ÿ™‚

                      Try reading this article before you went for your audition. ๐Ÿ™‚

                    • Thanks for the article link.

                      With my laptop and E7/E9, I briefly tried the HD 650s, HD 600s, and even more briefly again tried HD 800s.

                      I don't know how the E9 sounds in comparison to other amp/DAC's but the character of the headphones was quite clear. In comparison to my 650s, the 600s are flatter, but slightly boxy. The warm bass of the 650s lessens the slight boxiness of the 600's middle, which keeps things pleasant.

                      What I seem to be after is a home listening experience with audio equipment that is transparent and images the recording as intended by the artist, so I'm again thinking HD 800, T1, or LCD-2 as my headphone of choice.

                      I've located a T1 dealer near where I live, so maybe I can try them there if they have some in stock.

                      In the meantime, I'm grateful for my recent increase in home listening quality and that I'm again enjoying music (I'm listening to Steely Dan's 'Aja' when typing this), and I'm grateful for you and your site, Mike.


                    • Mike

                      Thanks for sharing, Windsor. ๐Ÿ™‚

            • Mike

              Okay. The HD25-1's signature is quite different than the LCD-2. I think you should also look into the HE-6 which is closer to the HD25-1 signature wise. It's a lot harder to drive though and I'm not sure the E9 can pull it off. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kuzuryu

    Slowpoke here but, if I have a FiiO E5 for my PX100-II/PX200-II and K701 (yes I know it's stupid but I can't buy a desktop amp now that I'm studying oversea), would a E7 do a better job than E5?

    Or I should just wait for the coming E11..?

    • Mike

      Hi Kuzuryu,
      I never compared the E5 and the E7 directly, but from what I remembered, the E5 has more noise level than the E7. It did have more treble presence than the E7's amp section, and with the E7 you may not hear treble details as good as with the E5. The E7 has a smoother sound than the E5. But this is all from memory (the E5 part) ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Kuzuryu

        I see ๐Ÿ˜€
        I'll think about it but most likely I'll just wait till March and see how E11 looks like.
        I hope you will review it!

        Love reading your reviews ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Mike

          I also look forward to getting the E11.

          Thanks, Kuzuryu. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • juman231

    Mike, comparing only the DAC sections, how would you compare the HRT Music Streamer II with the E7? Either way, I am thinking of linking them to an external headphone amp, so I was wondering how they differ SQ wise…Also, what budget amp would you use with the Music Streamer II? I know if I get the e7, I'd use the e9…

    thanks for the helpful reviews

    • Mike

      Hi Juman, the HRT should be better for a pure DAC function. The E7/E9 is good if you need a headphone out. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • juman231

        Thanks for your answer. I have one more question. what would you use as a headphone amp with the music streamer II for about 200 dollars? The setup I was thinking about was one of these: Audinst HUD mx1, E7/E9, and MS II + amp. Since I know MS II would be a best DAC, I think I'd stretch my budget for a good amp as well.(I was thinking about spending less than 200 as the other setups) I saw Deckhand Davie using his istreamer with the e9, so I'm also considering using e9 with MS II but I just wanted to hear what you thought. I probably wouldn't upgrade if I get a setup, so it would be ideal for the amp to drive something like the HD650…(a little worried because people seem to say MS II can be warm sounding and so is the 650?)

        Sorry this got longer than I intended. but I really hope you can offer me some advise…

        • juman231

          not warm, I meant smooth?

          • Mike

            The Ortofon HD-q7 and Dr.DAC2 amp section are both quite smooth.

        • Mike

          I'd probably get myself the HD-q7 if I had the MS2 and the HD650. It has a good amount of refinement and some of the needed treble sparkle for the HD650.It's a little over $300 though. Otherwise you can get something like the Dr.DAC2 or Dr.DAC prime which is a ~$300 DAC/Amp set up. I've reviewed them a while ago and found both to be good, solid, solutions. You can find the reviews under “desktop source”.

  • Hey great review. Thank you!

    I’ve been meaning to ask about the E7 and what bassy headphones it would go with. to be more precise… I am looking for a portable set-up to listen to trance music mostly. thus, I’d appreciate a bassy headphone. Which ones would u recommend with the E7? or maybe some other portable amp? nuforce udac doesnt look too good…
    Any help is very appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Portable for trance, go for the HD25-1. You can even skip the E7.


      • Thank you so much! hd25-1 sounds like a great option! ๐Ÿ™‚
        but I was still wondering… I’m currently playing the music from my phone, which I guess is not the best option. It does play lossless files like wav though.
        But if I get the E7 would that improve the audio quality in any way? or should I invest into one of those DAPs like hm-601 or smth?
        Thank you!
        Really appreciate the help!

        • Anonymous

          I think you should just get the HD25-1 and enjoy it straight from your phone. I don’t know what phone you have, but if you are using something like the Iphone then it’s probably going to be good.

          • I’ve just got the hd25-1!!! Thank you so much for the recommendation. They play trance so much better than my AKG k702’s. I’m very happy.


            • Anonymous

              Nice! I love it when people finally find the right headphone.

  • harsya

    would it be a good sinergy if i pair it with an re-zero? as we all know that re-zero is detailed oriented earphone, and this e7 has a warm signature and a good mid soundstaging. would it be a good ‘couple’ ?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, that would be a good pairing to try.

  • Tim Tan

    Any chance you can review some topping amps to keep your budget trend going? There’s not much info about them anywhere.

    • Anonymous

      Any links?

      • Tim Tan

        Yes, those amps. I remember hearing about them on head-fi thrown in
        there every once in a while with Fiioe7 and the uDAC as entry level
        amp/dac combos, but no one seems to have a good review about them. I
        guess I was just wondering if you knew anything about them. I was
        thinking more TP30 to review since people so often wonder about the best
        budget DAC/AMP under 130.ย 

    • Anonymous
  • Tim Tan

    Yes, those amps. I remember hearing about them on head-fi thrown in there every once in a while with Fiioe7 and the uDAC as entry level amp/dac combos, but no one seems to have a good review about them. I guess I was just wondering if you knew anything about them. I was thinking more TP30 to review since people so often wonder about the best budget DAC/AMP.

    • Anonymous

      I just heard about them today from you. I’ll try to look into it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • OK…So I got one of these together with the E9 some time ago. Not really all that impressed with the sound, though. But still generally quite livable if all I do with it is purely background music playing (as opposed to dedicated listening sessions). There seems to be a weird fuzziness to it when I decide to be a little critical with my listening, though. I’m pretty sure the E7 is the weak link here too (as I had managed to A/B it with the Arcam rDAC – which I initially thought it to have a similar sound but the A/B revealed otherwise).

    Anything I can do to improve the sound quality, though? I’m using the Senn. HD600 and Phonak PFE112 IEMs to listen to it (home and portable respectively). I’m thinking DIY cables for a start. For the E9, maybe feeding the unit (via the wallwart) better power from a mains cond.. But I guess I’ll discuss more about the E9 on its own thread.

    • Anonymous

      Save up the money on mains cond. and cables and get a better DAC.

    • Oh forgot to add, I think what it’s missing atm would be some more bass slam (as well as outright extension) together with a bit more sparkle and crispness on top. The PRaT side of things seem to be quite ok although detail retrieval really isn’t one of its best strengths, though.

      • Anonymous

        I think you need a new amplifier man. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Eh?? New amp? I quite liked the E9 for what it does, though. XDD (Unless you meant the E7)

          But would you reckon that the MS2+ would be a good match for it? Cos, I’d realised that if the analog output section of the DAC is good, the E9 responds accordingly.

          As for the E7, well..let’s just say that I can’t afford to get myself the Fostex or the CLAS setup. Too rich for my blood. Hehehe.

          So you’d reckon DIY cables won’t be a good solution for the E7?

          • Anonymous

            Well all those things you say about needing more bass impact — that’s
            definitely amplification. Then you also mentioned about the PRaT, that’s
            also amplification section. More sparkly treble, a DAC may be able to
            tweak that a bit, but a different amplifier will give more differences.

            Cables and power conditioning makes a difference, but what you need here
            is a system overhaul LOL

  • Armelacompound

    I am currently using ATH-M50s from my laptop, will using the fiio e7 improve the sound very much?ย 

  • Taz

    Hi! I’m just tossing up between the Fiio E7 or E11 for an HD600/HD650.

    On your review you mentioned that the HD650’s could be driven to reasonable volume with the E7, but does it sound congested or does the sound stage collapse? On the E11 review comments I think you stated that you don’t think the Senn’s require *that* much current. However, does the E11 provide more power headroom for dynamics and soundstage?

    Obviously if the E7 was adequate, the bonus DAC and ability to couple it with the E9 would be welcome, but the portable amp part is the primary concern.

    Thanks for your time!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Taz,
      Yes the E7 is not that ideal for the HD600/650. Just not so much voltage
      and current although the HD600/650 is not exactly current hungry.

      On the E11, yes. The 300 ohm Senn definitely need less current than say
      the HE-500 Hifiman that I’m driving with the E11 at that time. The E11
      in a way provides more current and voltage than many other portable
      amps, but the 300 Senn is not exactly that difficult to drive (it was,
      when amps were weak and puny 3 years ago, but not now). I personally
      think that the JDSLabs Cmoy would give you a better Dynamics and
      soundstage than either Fiio.

      The JDSLabs is also especially good if you hook it to a DC power supply.
      Please read the review for more details .

  • Syakir Zainol

    Hi Mike,

    I am thinking of this E7 to compliment my SRH840 to be used in my office since I will leave my JDSLabs at home permanently attached to my desktop. I need the E7 to become my portable solution. My question is, will it be a noticable increase in listening experience or I will not miss it?

    • Anonymous

      Hmm… why not the other way around? The E7 is a desktop DAC.

      • Syakir Zainol

        Ooopps.. perhaps I should refine my question. Actually, I mean will I miss the DAC part on the E7 if i want to go portable with my laptop? Or should I just get another JDSLabs (or anything else) ?

        • Anonymous

          I still don’t understand what you’re trying to say..

          “will I miss the DAC part on the E7 if i want to go portable with my laptop?”

          • Syakir Zainol

            I mean, if i want to go portable, should I get this E7 since it also has a DAC. Or better I get another portable amp ( this price range) but without DAC since its amp part is better than this E7? For example, should I get another JDSLabs because even though it has no DAC the quality is better then E7 with DAC.

            • Anonymous

              I see.

              I think you have to understand that if you go with the E7, it’ll be a compromised portable amp as it’ll give you neither the power output of the E11 or the more refined sound of the JDSLabs. So it’s your choice.

  • Younjulilus

    Hi Mike,

    How E7 will match with Burson HA-160 and Denon D7000? ย Would it be too much of weak link compared to others? ย What would be the part that will suffer the most?


    • Anonymous

      Hi Yoon,
      Yes, I think it’ll be too weak of a link there. Need a better DAC, perhaps something like a Dacmagic would be a good pairing for that set up.

      • Younjulius

        I thought you preferred music streamer ii over DACmagic. What would I miss if I keep E7 over the other two? Thanks.

        • Anonymous

          Yes I do, but I was just making that recommendation based on the headphone that you use. I thought it’d be a better match with the Denon.

          • Younjulius

            How VDac will compare againt DACMagic and E7 with my D7000 and Burson 160 which have strong bass?

            • Anonymous

              I’ve never listened to the Vdac so I can’t say.

  • Tim

    Hi Mike, does the E7 serve as portable DAC and Amp on-the-go? I will use iPod -> LOD to USB input, then the E7 DAC will work to bypass the crappy iPod internal DAC and make it more refined right?ย 
    Any other options I should look at for one-box-solution battery-powered portable DAC & Amp on-the-go? The new Fiio E10, TTVJ Slim DAC or something from Ibasso perhaps?
    Thanks, really appreciate your help!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Tim,
      No you can’t use it as a portable DAC. To bypass the Ipod’s internal DAC you need to get either the CypherLabs AlgoRhythm Solo or the Fostex HP-P1.

      • Tim

        Thanks for your response Mike,
        Is there no other portable DAC + Amp that exists in the wild which could bypass the iPod internal DAC? ย How about TTVJ Slim with DAC upgrade Mike?The Fostex is quite pricey (but I will read more about it) while the Cypher will defeat the purpose of one-box-solution portable DAC + Amp. I believe that they sound awesome though.ย Actually I’m quite interested to your Fiio E10 sound impressions but I think it’s not battery-powered/portable.ย Do you think it’s a big deal to bypass the iPod internal DAC or did you find it not that significant SQ-wise? I’m using Yuin PK1.Thanks so much.

        • Anonymous

          HI Tim,
          Unfortunately no there is no other way to bypass the Ipod’s internal DAC. I believe Apple puts some sort of an encryption on the dock port and so you won’t be able to extract the data out unless you have the key to the encryption which CyperLabs and Fostex apparently made a deal with Apple for.
          Obviously yes it’s a big deal to bypass the internal DAC, but if you find the cost to be too much then you can look into the Hifiman players.

  • kris

    Hi, Mike. You mentioned that, when working as an amp,ย  the E7 has slightly higher gain the the Ipod’s phone-out. However, does it have better driving capacity than the ipod? The ipod can drive IEMs like ER-4B to a loud volume, but can’t really feed the ER4. loud enough, but no quality. Will E7 do better?


    • The E7 will be better, but the E10 is even better. And if you want to wait 1-2 weeks, I’m going to do a review on the new E17.

      • kris

        That will be great! I’m planning to getting a budget solution for mobile use at the present. Looking forward to your review!

        • Yes, it’s probably going to be published in January 2012 though. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

          • kris

            Haha, that’ll be great. However, Mike, would you be kind to test K701/702 on it? I know it’s kinda crazy. But I’m considering getting a headphone for home use. Swaying between HD600 and K701/702, since I can’t auditor the at the same time but separately. Perhaps I will go with the easiest to drive one. (I noticed that most sources seem to pair better with Sennheiser rather than AKG for Senn’s popularity)

            I personally think the HD600’s treble sounds fun. It’s like the treble area is compressed, while bass and mid comfortably stretching out. I don’t know whether this is HD600’s sound signature or it was unproperly driven. Expect for that, everything is wonderful.ย 

            Thanks again!

          • Kris,
            I probably won’t have a K701 to test with, but generally speaking headphone amplifiers have grown to be more powerful and I don’t think that you would have a problem driving the K701 with any of the newly released amplifiers.

            As for the HD600/K701/K702, you can read these two articles:

  • How do I use the E7 as a DAC connected to the SR-71A as an amp? ย 
    I have the L7 but seems it is only used to hook up with USB amps.

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