Fiio E9 Desktop Amplifier

Last year, Fiio introduced their first digital-to-analog converter called the E7, that was based on Wolfson’s high end WM8740 D/A chip. The E7 was priced aggressively at under $100, and it become a strong alternative for people looking for an entry level DAC for their headphone systems. This time, Fiio has released their first ever desktop headphone amplifier that is designed to be a natural upgrade path for owners of the E7 DAC.

Before the E9, there was no way to tap into the real capability of the E7’s WM8740, as the E7 didn’t come with an analog line level output. However, Fiio has thought about future expandability by installing an Ipod-style dock connector into the E7, from which a pure line out signal can be obtained from the E7’s DAC section. It comes naturally that the E9 comes equipped with a dock connector that matches the E7’s, making it the only product with the capability of accessing the line level analog signal out of the E7’s DAC section. This makes the E9 a strong product offering to existing E7 owners who now wishes to build a desktop system around their E7 DAC. And even more, with a total price of $200 for the E7 and the E9, Fiio has got a great product combination at a competitive price for headphone users shopping for a desktop DAC-Amp combo.

The E9 is designed to be a small box with multiple functions. When paired with the E7, it can do two things. Perform as a USB DAC-amplifier, or purely as a USB-DAC, where the amplification part can be done on a different amplifier through connecting to the E9’s analog line out port. Fiio has also installed an analog input port, so the E9 can be used purely as an amplifier, without the need of pairing with the E7. Without the presence of an input selector, the E9 automatically mutes the E7 DAC section when a connection is detected on the analog line input.

Back panel, from left to right: analog line in 1/8″, pre-out 1/8″, analog line out RCA, gain toggle switch, USB digital in, AC Adapter in.

 

The E7 on top of the E9.

 

The Fiio dock connector on the E9.

 

Fiio built the E9 around Texas Instrument’s well-known TPA6120 amplifier chip, and given a good circuit design and power supply, the E9 should be quite a potent desktop amplifier for the price. One thing that Fiio said regarding the E9 is that it’s not supposed to improve the sound output of the E7 DAC very much, as its primary function is to provide a stronger amplifier section. Now, I don’t know if Fiio is being overly modest, or if something has been lost in the translation of that statement, but I definitely can’t help but feel that the sound out of the E9’s headphone out is bigger and more open than if I had gone directly to the E7’s headphone out. After going A-B several times, I’ve convinced myself that the E9 indeed gives a more open sound and a more spacious soundstage. But the difference can be quite subtle on some recordings, and in this case open mic-ed live recordings shows the differences better.

TPA6120 datasheet.

Fiio cleverly installed a 33 Ohm resistor at the 1/8″ jack, in anticipation for headphones with higher sensitivity that would probably be terminated in 1/8″ jacks. This works well to give more range of volume control for IEM use, but it also works quite beautifully for music-sharing because you can listen to a full size headphone and an IEM simultaneously at both jacks, and not have a big discrepancy between the volume outputs. For instance, plugging in the Sennheiser HD558 and the q-Jays IEM simultaneously, the volume works out to be quite good in both outputs. Of course this will work better with some headphone/IEM combination and less so with others. Between the 1/8″ and the 1/4″ output jacks, there is a slight sound difference that’s probably caused by the 33 Ohms resistor. I feel that the 1/4″ jack, without the resistor, give a more open and clearer sound, and it’s the one I use the most. However,ย  if you feel that there is too much treble presence on the recording, using the 1/8″ jack is prefferable as it sounds less bright and generally warmer.

Equipped with the high power TPA6120 chip, the E9 has tons of gain for the most demanding headphones, even in “lifting” the ultra low-sensitive Hifiman’s Orthodynamic HE-6. It’s quite obvious that the E9 is quite successful in achieving the one objective it was designed to do. Looking at the E7/E9 system as a whole, the sound quality is quite good for an entry level DAC/Amp device. The DAC section carries a slightly warm tone, and the amplifier section is quite neutral and enjoyable to listen to.

Using the E9 with the q-Jays dual balanced-armature IEM, the RK097 ALPS was fine enough that it didn’t show any channel imbalance at low volume. However, volume control was not as progressive as I would liked it to be, as there was a jump from no volume to medium loudness level. It’s not a big problem as I was still able to listen to the q-Jays at a reasonably medium low volume. I do think that the gain setting is set far too high, as I never saw the need for using the high gain setting (except when using the HE-6, but I doubt a lot of people will be using this headphone with the E9). It would be more user friendly if gain setting was a bit lower, so we can get better volume control for IEMs on the low gain, where big full size headphones can make use of the high gain setting.

The E7-E9 combo is not a perfect product, and there are small things that I wished they could’ve done differently. Perhaps my first complain is for the light-weight feeling of the volume knob. Lacking resistance from the RK097 potentiometer, I tend to over-turn the knob when changing volume levels. Of course, you’d also realize that turning the knob on the E9 doesn’t change the volume level display on the E7. A small thing, but it does get in the way of the user’s experience. Next, the lack of power switch integration requires the E7 to be turned on separately from the E9. Fiio has their own explanation for not having that feature on, and of course you can simply leave the E7 always turned continually since the E9 will supply charging power through the docks.

One function that the E9 missed is the ability to have the bass boost feature of the E7 to be passed on to the E9’s headphone out. Technical debates aside, I think a big percentage of people who enjoyed the E7 for its bass boost feature would be disappointed in this aspect. Lastly, for users who also take the E7 out for a portable set up would realize that the E7 doesn’t fit in the E9’s dock, when the rubber jacket is on. There’s another case that I believe could’ve been done better.

The sound from the E9 amplifier is generally neutral with little colorations. I enjoy the E9 more with the HD650 or the HD558, and less so with the more neutral Audio Technica M-50. The last TPA6120 based amp I used was Doobooloo’s portable balanced amp, and I thought it had a punchier upper bass and a fuller midrange section. The E9 can drive headphones to louder volumes, but I sort of missed the upper bass punch of the Doobooloo amp.

For a total budget price of around $200 (depending on different retailer pricing), the Fiio E7/E9 combination is quite a good value entry level product to have. Some competitors in the price range would include the Audinst HUD-MX1 and the Nuforce uDAC, but none of them have the headphone driving ability that I found on the E9 to have. I think Fiio has progressed a very long way from the days when they released their E3 amplifier. Congratulations, James!



Gears used for review:
Headphones: Hifiman HE-6, Sennheiser HD650, HD558, Audio Technica ATH M-50, Jays q-Jays
Source: Fiio E7
Amplifier: Fiio E9

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97 Comments

  • Reply January 7, 2011

    Mike

    The first article of the year! That was quite a big gap from the last one.

    Anyway, recently I've stopped splitting the articles into multiple pages for less than 2000 words articles. I think it reads just as well, and it's more convenient since you don't have to load the next page.

    • Reply January 9, 2011

      David Alexis

      Great review! I'm in the market for a desk top headphone amp, I've been using my Fiio E5 on just about everything including my HiFi, but I want something more serious for home use, with a good price tag, I'm definitely going to purchase the E9 now! Loving the site, great stuff!

  • Reply January 7, 2011

    Mike

    I will also add an E9 wallpaper on the Downloads section soon. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply January 8, 2011

    George Goodman

    Nice review, Mike! I think this appeals to people who have power hungry phones but don't want to spend a lot on an amp that provides enough power to start to unlock their capabilities.

    On a budget component sidenote, I recently read your Protector and HD25-1 review. You used them balanced and felt there was an improvement in the sound. Because you own the Ibasso Toucan, are you interested in doing a review with the Ibasso sennheiser balanced cable? The cable is only $39 from Ibasso and is termionated in the Hirose six pin balanced conmnector used on the Toucan. It woks with the HD25s and the HDxx series. I think the results will be very interesting. Some head-fiers use the HD650 balanced with the Toucan and really love it. I would be interested in that and how the HD25 fares. It looks like a nice portable setup.

    I also love the downloads section. The pictures are gorgeous!

    • Reply January 8, 2011

      Mike

      Hi George,
      The Ibasso PB-1 is a lot of fun, and it is currently the resident portable amp that I use. ๐Ÿ™‚
      However, I probably won't be doing a separate article for the PB-1 in balanced. I do plan to pitch the PB-1 against the protector for the upcoming portable amp shootout. I think I can do some testing like what you requested for that article.

      Cheers. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply January 12, 2011

        George

        Thanks. Head-fiers state it is really great in balanced, with the HDxx series as a favorite. I look forward to the portable amp shootout!

        • Reply January 12, 2011

          Mike

          Sure thing, George. I'm working on the portable amp shootout at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Reply January 13, 2011

            George Goodman

            Great!

  • Reply January 8, 2011

    Davy

    Awesome review, Mike. I praised the e7/e9 combo a little higher than you, but hey, I haven't had the opportunity to audition all of the fantastic headphone gear that you have!

    With that said, AMAZING photography as always…makes me want to buy something, ha!

    • Reply January 8, 2011

      Mike

      Lol… Thanks, Dave ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply January 8, 2011

    laon

    Nice writeup and shoot like always Mike ๐Ÿ˜€

    So, in the end, do you think there are better DAC/AMP combo under $200 than this E7+E9 combo?

    • Reply January 8, 2011

      Mike

      Thanks, laon.

      I think the Audinst remains a strong competitor, other than the fact that it has less gain than the E9 amplifier. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply January 12, 2011

        laon

        How about the amp then, i mean for e9 alone, i see it retail for about $110 on KK. I wonder how it would fare against gainclone build with the same budget…

        • Reply January 12, 2011

          Mike

          Oh, the Gainclone, being DIY, would probably be better. I doubt you can do it for $110 including the casework, but who knows. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Reply January 12, 2011

            laon

            I think you could, I asked a DIY-er if it possible and he said : absolutely. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • Reply January 13, 2011

              Mike

              That's good news. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    donunus

    Do you think fiio is planning on making something like the e9 but with the dac built in? The piggyback e7 looks a little tacky IMO ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      juman231

      probably not. But I know their future plans so far includes making a portable amp called e11 (only as an amp, w/o dac capability, so better amp than e7) and a DAP called x3

      • Reply January 10, 2011

        Hoover

        They also plan to build a desktop Dac as well
        Just not coming any time soon

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      Lol… tacky. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think juman231 is spot on: e11, and x3. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    donunus

    hehehe perfect double meaning there for ya LOL

    Anyway my tacky beast should be arriving at my doorstep tomorrow or the next day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply January 10, 2011

      Mike

      tacky beast? don't tell me you're getting the e7/e9? o.0

  • Reply January 10, 2011

    donunus

    yup I just felt the need to have a decently neutral budget amp around and when I saw your review saying these things have some real power, I just had to have the combo since I am also Dacless at the moment

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    donunus

    This amp is pretty impressive for the price. Ive never heard such a clean sounding high powered amplifier at this price point before. This is a first. At first listen it reminded me of an audio GD C2C in its smooth delivery of power but without the bright low treble and more recessed mids of the C2C plus this is much cheaper ๐Ÿ™‚ YESSS!!! I can now listen to non-remastered albums and appreciate their dynamics instead of having to listen to the clipping remasters of some of my favorite bands. Someone I know is already modding his e9 to get rid of some of the solid state dryness of the sound as we speak. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Angel

    Hi, does FiiO have a web site?

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    irwin

    Been finally waiting for your review Mike! ๐Ÿ˜€ How does this fare against the Matrix M-Stage?

    Oh, looks like it has the seal of approval from the Don hehe ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Reply January 12, 2011

      nerdpineapples

      lol sorry, messed up on my grammers.

      -irwin

    • Reply January 12, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Irwin,
      Briefly:
      – M-Stage has more low end and mid body, E9 more neutral
      – M-Stage has more punch and impact
      – M-Stage can drive the HE-6 adequately, the E9 less so.
      ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply January 31, 2011

        Ziflingus

        Mike,
        would you say E9 is on par with the M-stage?

        • Reply January 31, 2011

          Anonymous

          The M-Stage is far more powerful.

          • Reply January 31, 2011

            Ziflingus

            What about sound signature?

            • Reply February 1, 2011

              Anonymous

              The M-Stage has a lot more bass body, the E9 is more open sounding, but
              not as much mids and bass body.

              • Reply February 1, 2011

                Ziflingus

                Do both amps maintain the same frequency response at low listening volumes?

                • Reply February 1, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  I think the Fiio may be a bit better for low level listening.

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    Marburger

    Hallo ! Headfonia's team publish in a month not enough reviews, readers want more !

    • Reply January 13, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Marburger,
      Your comments made me sad because it's true. Been having some slow periods, but I'm working on several articles at the moment, and hopefully the update frequency will improve.

  • Reply January 13, 2011

    donunus

    In your defense Mike, youve been doing great! I love your reviews and the products you choose to review. I give this site Ten Fingers Up!

    • Reply January 13, 2011

      Mike

      Thanks, donunus, for the very kind words. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply January 27, 2011

    ziflingus

    Mike,
    Great review!

    I have a few questions:
    – would you recommend the E9 (without the E7) for use as a reference amp for studio use with Akg K702? I want to use it with my steinberg MR816X audio interface, which lacks clarity & power in the amp section but shines in the DAC section.
    – I worry about connectivity issues – I will need to convert 2 mono TRS (balanced) outputs into a 1/8 inch stereo input, which does not seem right in professional grade equipment. What do you think?
    – It seems like it's a clear winner at this price point, and maybe equal in performance with amps costing 300-350 USD, and therfore a clear winner at the 300 bucks pricepoint. Is that true considering my personal needs?

    • Reply January 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      For ~$350, I think you can get this:
      http://www.musictechmag.co.uk/

      Bram’s been using it for his home recording stuff. It has a nice built-in DAC, and the headphone out drives his Hifiman HE-5LE.

  • Reply January 27, 2011

    CheetahDeals Blog

    How does this stack up to the NuFoce Icon-2? (Do you have any plans on reviewing the Icon-2, by the way?)

    • Reply February 12, 2011

      Anonymous

      Haven’t heard the Icon-2, sorry.

  • Reply February 12, 2011

    Frank

    I would like to know how does it compare to Audiotrak imAmp?

    • Reply February 12, 2011

      Anonymous

      Been a while since I heard the ImAmp, but from memory, the E9 has more voltage gain and a more open sound, while the ImAmp has a fuller and warmer mids.

      Cheers.

      • Reply February 12, 2011

        Frank

        Thanks. I am going to get a HD598, which (E9 or imAmp) would be a better choice in your opinion? Or do you have any other recommendation for headphone amp (<US$200) to pair with HD598.

    • Reply February 12, 2011

      talip bin osman

      ive listened to both of these amps… im a previous owner of the E9 and a current owner of the imamp…

      if you do have an E7, get the E9… if not, go with the imamp for it offers true RCA inputs, more versatile in a way you could do opamp rolling and you can take it outside since it’s battery operated…

      as for the sound, it really depends on your headphones… for mine, ive been very happy with the imamp’s synergy with two of my badboys… (M-50, HD 25-1) more so than the E9…

      try to audition both with music you are very familiar with… good luck…

      • Reply February 14, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks for adding in the information, talip!

  • Reply February 21, 2011

    Donunus

    By the way, why would one turn the e7 on when using it with the e9? I just discovered that the e7 doesn’t even need to be on to work as a pure dac

    • Reply February 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Does that work, really?

      • Reply February 23, 2011

        Donunus

        It doesn’t work on my e7 but someone told me that it works on his. Very weird indeed. Even though it doesnt work on my particular e7, it is already strange that the e7 is still detected even though it is off.

        I guess I should have said it works on some E7s. Maybe the guy that tried it had an older E7 than mine which was bought only after your review.

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          Donunus

          Someone borrowed my e9 at the time so i couldn’t test it with my e7 right away to double check whether it works when off on mine also.

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          I think on my unit, I need to turn on the E7 otherwise it doesn’t work.

          • Reply February 25, 2011

            Kuba

            this functionality depends on which batch your e7 is – older ones do not have to be powered on to work in e9. Newer ones have this disabled, because apparently some users thought it was a bug… [info from head-fi’s e9/e7 thread/Fioo’s rep]

            • Reply February 25, 2011

              Donunus

              Ahaaaahhh I knew it. Thanks for confirming

            • Reply February 26, 2011

              Anonymous

              Thanks for the info, Kuba!

  • Reply February 23, 2011

    J_Vansen_s

    Would u recommend the fiio combo or little dot mkiii for use with Beyer DT990 250 ohms?

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi J,
      Both amps will have their own sound signatures. The LD Mk3 will be more tubey, slower paced, smoother and fuller mids. The Fiio will be more solid state like. I personally will get the LD Mk3 for the DT990, but it all goes back to your personal preference.

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      It depends. What sort of sound upgrades are you looking for? What music?

      Little dot will give you more tube warmth and midrange body. Fiio will be drier and very solid state.

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      It depends. What sort of sound upgrades are you looking for? What music?

      Little dot will give you more tube warmth and midrange body. Fiio will be drier and very solid state.

  • Reply February 23, 2011

    Kuba

    Hi,

    firstly, a very well-written review with great photos!

    I am considering e9 as a DAC for my HiFi (Yamaha amp & Tannoy m2’s). How does it fare when using RCA output? How does using it with e7 change the usage possibilities/SQ? I could not pick it up from your text ; )

    Do you have any suggestions for other products within this budget?

    I’d really appreciate any info!

    Regards,
    Kuba

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Kuba,
      The RCA out works quite well. I assume you’re going to hook it up to a pre-amp, or an integrated? Cause I’m not so sure if the E9 will work well as a pre-amp (you can, but I don’t know if it’ll sound good). The E9 definitely improves on the E7’s output, as the E7 doesn’t give you a true line-out from the DAC signal.

      Within this budget, you can also look into the HRT MS2 (which as a stand alone DAC is better than the E7/E9):
      http://www.headfonia.com/the-hrt-music-streamer-ii-asynchronous-2496-for-149-95/

      or the Audinst HUD MX1 (which comes with a headphone out like the E7/E9, and is more comparable to the Fiio):
      http://www.headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Kuba

        Thanks for the suggestions!

        I think I may go with Audinst: primarily for line-out to active monitors, headphone amp would come handy when I get some serious cans (currently I’m on ATH-SJ5’s). Would it be a reasonable usage model? Maybe you are aware of something more suited for my needs?

        And while on that, any thoughts on bypassing Win7 mixer (and consequent downsampling) with this device? I read it does not have ASIO support, and I am more of a winamp then foobar guy.

        • Reply February 26, 2011

          Anonymous

          The Audinst doesn’t support ASIO? That’s just weird. I am using a Mac primarily, but I can check it out for you. What about Wasapi? Windows 7 should have Wasapi, right?

      • Reply March 19, 2011

        Lored

        I have no idea as to whether I should get the HUD MX-1 or the E7 + E9. The amplifier in the E9 should beat the MX-1 hands down, but what concerns me is the DAC. They both have the same wolfson chip but are there any difference in performance?

        Also I’m using the Ultrasone HFI 780 which sounds very clinical. Which will pair up better with my cans?

        • Reply March 19, 2011

          Anonymous

          The MX-1’s DAC is quite better. And with the HFI-780, I think you will
          be better off with the Audinst, and if you want upgrade to OPA627.

          • Reply March 20, 2011

            Lored

            Ah thanks. On Digikey I see many different models of OPA627. How would I know which I should get?

            • Reply March 22, 2011

              Anonymous

              Some people have compared different versions of the OPA627, and one
              version is supposedly better than the other. Frankly I have to call
              around to check which version that is, as I don’t quite remember.

              Anyway, about the OPA627, you need to get TWO of the OPA627, since each
              chip only operate in “single channel”, meaning one opamp won’t cover a
              stereo signal.
              This one is a good one to get:
              http://search.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail&name=OPA627AU-ND

              Then you need to solder TWO of those OPA627 into ONE “SOIC to DIP” Adaptor.
              http://cimarrontechnology.com/single-to-dualop-ampadapterpn020302.aspx

              (I just noticed that there is an option to “Add two OPA627AU” into the
              Browndog Adaptor — so you can get everything in one vendor.

              The soldering is not for the beginner, as you need to be very precise
              when soldering those SOIC chips.

              Lastly, *dumb me* I just did a quick check on Coolfungadget’s shop, and
              he sells these already ready to use:

              http://coolfungadget.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=82

              Getting it from coolfungadget seems to be the most logical choice, but
              it’s up to you.

              Cheers.

          • Reply May 22, 2011

            Bing1993

            Hi
            I’m purchasing AKG k702, and thinkingย 
            about buying a dac/amp. Would the mx1 be better than a e7 + e9 combo?
            Thanks

            • Reply May 23, 2011

              Anonymous

              Both would be just as good choice. I really haven’t compared the
              amplifier section, but the Audinst has the better DAC section.

  • Reply June 8, 2011

    Rodrigo Pita

    Hi Mike,

    I bought a Denon D5000 and a Cambridge DacMagic (Using the USB Connection) . So I need an amp to use with the Denon and my JH13 PRO to get along with the DacMatic. I was thinking about getting the Fiio E9 or the Matrix M-Stage, but I’d like you hear your opinion =) What do you think? Or What do you suggest?

    Thank You,
    ย ย ย  Rodrigo Pita

    • Reply June 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Rodrigo, I suppose the E9 will be more than enough for both the Denon
      and the JH13. If you want to get the M-Stage you’re welcome to do so as
      well — for an additional budget you’ll get more power reserve from the
      M-Stage so if you get some harder to drive headphones in the future your
      amplifier will be ready for it.

      • Reply June 9, 2011

        Rodrigo Pita

        Thank You again Mike. I think I’ll go with the M-Stage. Will tell you my oppinion when I get it! =)

        Rodrigo

  • Reply June 9, 2011

    Kelvin Ang

    I got myself the E9 with the E7 as a bundle at quite a steal. I must say, even if I were to consider the price point of the E9 “ala carte”, it’s a really good bargain, esp. where entry amps are concerned. It scales well with DACs, USB and power options also. Certainly quite like what Fiio has done with the E9.

    To potential owners out there, I would suggest you don’t go with the E7, though. Do consider other entry DACs around (although a more expensive option) that have a better analog output stage compared to the E7’s line-out via the proprietary dock. I’m pretty sure if you experiment around, you’ll be quite amazed at how this (cheap) little wonder responds. Quite fun exploring too, I might add.

  • Reply July 8, 2011

    Luongo

    What do you think of the soundstage and airiness in general comparing E9 and the Audinst MX1’s amp?

    • Reply July 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      The E9 is more airy and spacious, though the MX1 is also quite spacious and deep.

  • Reply July 27, 2011

    Anonymous

    Hey Mike, I’m considering the FiiO e9i (docks an iDevice instead of the e7, so no DAC capabilities ). I already have a HRT MSII, so I don’t need the DAC aspects from the e7, but I’m looking for:

    – A good pre-amp for the MSII, going to Audioengine A2’sย  ย 
    – Driving some Klipsch x10i’s, and eventually some HD598’s or AD900’s
    < $150

    I'm mainly considering the e9i because I like the idea of getting better quality sound out of my iPhone when my laptop isn't docked, but its just a perk. Is there anything else you'd recommend over or as an alternative to the FiiO at that price range?ย 

    • Reply July 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi rylander,
      I am not too familiar with the E9i (so it’s the E9 that does Ipods?) but if you want you can bypass the E9 and uses the volume control on the computer/Itunes. Digital volume control is better than generic analog volume control like what you’ll get with the E9.

      But if you need an amplifier at the same time for your headphone, I suppose the Fiio E9 does look like the all-in-one device that you need.

  • Reply August 9, 2011

    Jgreen

    Hi Mike, I was wondering if the E9 and E7 combonation would work with my Audez’e LC-D 2 and Audio Technica Ath-w5000 or if I should look at some higher quality stuff like the Woo Audio Wa2 or wa3 and/or the Creek OBH-21 and 21se. I was also looking at the Apex Butte. If you get get back to me about if any of these pair well with my pairs of headphones that would be great. Also, if there are any <$600 amps that you know about that pair especially well with my LC-D 2 or W5000 that would be great. Thanks!

    • Reply August 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi,
      The LCD-2 and the W-5000 are two very different headphones and I am not sure if you can find one amp that fits both well.

      For one, definitely not the E9/E7. They’re good products, but you need something higher. The LCD-2 works well with something like a Schiit Lyr. But for the W-5000 I think you’d need a higher end, $1-$2K tube amp to shine.

  • Reply August 20, 2011

    Katun

    Hey Mike, I’ve got a quick question for ya.

    So, on the back of my P650 there is the digital out jack and also the AV out (red/white) jacks. What’s the difference between the two? I’m not understanding very well.

    The reason I ask, is because I just recently got the E9 and am probably going to get the E7 with it. And I want to bypass pretty much everything in the P650 so the E7/E9 can take care of it all. Which of the two jacks would I be using?

    Thanks, and sorry for the strange and misplaced question.

    • Reply August 20, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Katun,
      The digital out sends out a digital signal, the AV out sends out an analog signal.
      You would use the digital out to a DAC that has a digital input in the S/PDIF format. I believe the Fiio E7 doesnt have that.
      With the E9 you would plug it in to tthe AV out.

      • Reply August 20, 2011

        Katun

        Thanks, that kinda makes sense.

        Currently I’m using my P650’s dual AV outs into the E9’s single line in. With the addition of the E7, I’m still able to do that same thing and get the E7 to bypass the P650’s DAC, right?

        Very sorry, but I’m a bit confused =(

        • Reply August 20, 2011

          Anonymous

          You can do that if the Fiio E7 has a digital input in the S/PDIF format which it doesn’t. Try doing a wikipedia search on S/PDIF.

  • Reply September 9, 2011

    Luke

    Hi Mike – I’m know nothing about headphone amps at all, so excuse the naivety of this post. ย I have recently had my Shure SE530’s re-shelled and a driver added by Unique Melody. I used to just use them for my iPod, but am now using them on my laptop and my hi fi for CD’s and vinyl. ย The hi fi is driven by an Arcam Alpha 8 amp and power amp.ย 

    I’m looking for a budget headphone amp that I can use on both to cut out the hiss. ย Would the E7 / E9 combo do the job? ย And if so, would it be easy to swap from hi fi use to laptop (MacBook) use?

    • Reply September 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Luke,ย 
      I’m not sure that the E7/E9 is entirely hiss free with your IEM. In my experience custom IEMs are VERY sensitive. You may have to get the more expensive ~$300 amps to get a totally quiet amp.ย 

  • Reply September 30, 2011

    RobertRCB5

    Mike I am a music freak and I want to know what amp/dac is best for my Cowon J3?ย  I have hi end earbuds which I enjoy but I am always looking to improve.

    Thank you,

    Robbie

    • Reply September 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      HI Robbie,
      I can’t help you here since I’ve never listened to the J3. But to throw an educated guess, I think the amplifier in the E9 is a LOT more powerful than what’s on the J3.

  • Reply January 7, 2012

    Chintu0007

    hi mike,
    ย  ย I am using ath m50 with cowon j3 would the fiio e17 help to improve the sound quality

    • Reply January 7, 2012

      Mike

      Chintu0007,
      So you’ll be using the E17 only as a portable amp? If that’s the case I’ll suggest you look into amplifier specific solutions. The E17 has a good amp, but if you’re not going to be using its DAC function, I think there are better options out there.

  • Reply August 15, 2012

    Nathanial Brady

    Would you suggest the fiio e9e7 for the Sennheiser HD 650? If not which amp/dac would you suggest is a good pair for the same price?

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