EDIT 25/09/2014: The New E10K has replaced the E10 from this review: Go here: http://www.headfonia.com/fiio-e10k-classic-reborn/
The E10 was very easy to like from the very beginning. High quality all metal packaging with an exceptionally well designed volume control (with numbers too!) and all the right interfaces. The finishing of the brushed metal is so good in fact that at first glance the Fiio looks like a typical product from Ray Samuels. Like any gear fresh from the mailbox, what I do is set it up with the simplest system I have around. With the E10, plug in the USB cable in, play a familiar tunes in Itunes, plug a headphone in, and I was immediately listening to the newest DAC from Fiio.
First impression: this thing sounds good. Amazingly good in fact, despite the fact that I just finished the ALO Continental amplifier review less than 24 hours ago. Full mids, good bass, spacious open sound, unoffensive treble. Things are sounding very, very good, and I’m happily nodding my head to the beats of the music. Fiio has really nailed it with this one. Everything sounded right and full sounding. In particular was the bass, which I find very addictive. I had mistakenly switched the bass-boost switch on as I thought that to be the power switch (the E10 automatically powers on as you plug in the USB cable to the back panel). So the thing is running with the bass boost on. You get these punchy, fat, round bass, beat after beat. The bass is not super-articulate compared to say an AMB Labs Mini3, but it’s tight enough for music listening purposes (unless you really want to be picky about it). And the most important thing is that the bass is just fun. Punchy, round, a lot of fun. Turn off the bass boost and you get extra clarity in the bass section, but with the HD25-1, I just like it with the bass boost on. The midrange is just nice and full sounding. No complaints there, really. It’s not ALO Continental – level midrange, but for $80 it better be not ALO Continental level midrange.
The thing with the E10 (and I think I’ve said it before) is that it just sounds good. The TE2077 + WM8740 + AD8397 combination has just enough technicalities to resolve a typical mainstream recording, but the musicality is just amazing. I never felt the E10 to be lacking musicality at the slightest bit.
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