The Latest Must Have: The Fiio E10 USB DAC/Amp -updated-

fiio_e10_07

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.

Excellent build quality all around.

 

Gain selector on the back.

 

Front faceplate.

 

Back faceplate.

 

Size comparison with the Fiio E7. The E10 is slightly thicker.

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tomy.todorov Tomislav Todorov

    Thanks for the replay dalethorn. I’ll try to give more clues about what I’m looking for. When I’m listening to rock music with vocals I find my TMA-1 loud enough directly from my laptop jack, in terms of quality it’s ok I even find it too bright for my taste and do some eq so I don’t think I’m into “airy” headphones. My complains come when I want to listen to bass heavy electronic music and I like to listen that kind of music really loud and not only hear but feel the bass.I’m even planning to buy Pro700 MK2 because I want something darker with more bass than the TMA-1 just for electronic music. The power of my laptop is insufficient for this purpose so right now I’m using Mackie Blackjack usb audio interface. The headphone amp is very loud but above one particular level it becomes to distort badly, maybe this is because it has 25ohms output impedance which is to high for my low impedance headphones (I read that it should be 8 times lower than the output impedance of the phones). So I am looking for usb powered dac/amp which is smaller than the Mackie, it is as loud with hard hitting bass but without distorting. As for listening to rock music I find the loudness and quality sufficient directly form my laptop.

    • dalethorn

      The USB-powered DACs will not work for you according to this description. The distortion you heard is not likely due to impedance, it’s due to lack of power. An impedance mismatch would more likely just make the bass mushy. You may find a USB-powered DAC/amp that goes loud without obvious distortion, via soft clipping. But soft clipping just limits the volume so hard clipping doesn’t occur.

  • Calvin Purnomo

    Is it possible to use this little fellow as a standalone DAC? Since I’m planning on hooking it up on my bright-ish SSMH, in order to give it a little warmer feeling? Or is it automatically bypassing the volume when used on line out? Thanks!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I don’t remember precisely if it bypasses the volume control, but I think it does since I’ve used it as a stand alone DAC before.

      Your other choice is to go with the e07k, but you need to get an additional line out adapter from Fiio to get a pure line level signal from it.

      I think they’ll pair well with the ssmh.

      • Calvin Purnomo

        Ah yes, thanks for the reminder! Didn’t realized that there is newer affordable fiio DAC+amp combo!

        comparing those two (E10 vs E07k) which one to go? I suppose E07k should be a refined one since it’s newer?

      • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

        I can confirm the LO bypasses the volume control, I use it like that in my living room

        • Calvin Purnomo

          Does the E07k also do the same when used on LO? The so called L7 Adapter is still needed eh? or The L7 is just for active speaker use?

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            I don’t remember the specs that well, I think you still need the L7

            • Calvin Purnomo

              Ah, just did some reading a bit, yes apparently I need the L7. I thought the 3.5mm port near the usb port is the Line Out. It’s the Line In!
              Pretty curious design, E07k has 2 headphone out port, while not having 3.5mm Line Out.

              Anyway, putting the need of adapter aside, E07k is the one to buy instead of the older E10?

              • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                Well the E10 is going to be cheaper, I think. The 07K is better, you should read the review, I believe I talked a little bit about it to the E10 and E17.

                • Calvin Purnomo

                  I’m sold already on E07k. Been able to get it for good price. Will try it as a amp first I guess, while waiting for the L7 adapter. I suppose maximum volume (0db) output from headphone out is almost the same as the line out? Or is it “processed” a lot from the circuitry?

                  • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                    I can lend you an L7 if you want to swing by Jaben STC

                    • Calvin Purnomo

                      my E07k and L7 just arrived! I’ll test it right after I got home. Anyway, just noticed from the spec, that E07k isn’t optimal to drive my 250Ω Beyer 880, it’s slightly out of its optimal impedance rate (16Ω – 150Ω). Is it really okay?

                      Although I’m planning on using it as standalone DAC for my SSMH anyway..

                    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

                      You should be okay. I’ve used with the 300Ω Senns.

  • Digo

    Hello Mike.
    Could you recommend me a DAC up to $ 200 for hi-fi system – Q Acoustics Q2050i and Yamaha A-S500. My goal is to improve the sound quality.I will listening a electronic music (house, deep house, tech house). I would greatly appreciate for your help

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Digo,
      Mostly all the DACs reviewed here should give an improved sound quality.

  • Ashur

    The USB receiver chip should be TE7022 not TE2077 ^^

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thank you for the correction, Ashur.

  • Ludo

    I have a MacBook Pro (early 2011 version) and a Beyer DT 880 (250 ohm). Am I going to see a difference with this E10 ? Or not ? Thanks.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Ludo,
      Usually the on board sound card is not that good. How do you find the sound of the 880 to be with the macbook?

  • Crax

    Hello Mike, I am looking for a ideal USB DAC to drive my Shure SE535. I
    understand I don’t need it to be very powerful because SE535 are highly
    sensitive, but I want it to have no background noise at low volumes. My
    HP Probook is dreadful at this. I’ve been looking at Fiio E07K, E10, E17
    and just don’t know which one would be the best in terms of SQ. Can you
    help me, please? I’m also open to different options with a maximum
    price of 200$.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Please go with the 07K it has an extremely black background.

      • Crax

        Thank you very much for your answer.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You’re welcome

          • scaalp

            I not agree with this advice, the background is not black with se535 and a Fio E07k

  • Rinfinite

    I’m thinking of getting the E10 for my Sennheiser HD518 but I don’t know if I’ll get any improvement. They sound great using the Encore ENMA DAC http://www.encore-usa.com/ph/product/ENMAB-8CM which seems to drive them fairly well, 35% volume is borderline deafening already.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Alright I really can’t say if you’ll get an improvement too as I don’t know what the Encore sounds like.

  • TheAnimator

    Does anyone know if this works with windows 8?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I can’t test it but I suppose it does

  • Apogee

    I really want Fiio to release a E010K with a better dac, more power and a 1/4inch headphone output.

    • Dave Ulrich

      isn’t that the e17?

  • John Junior

    Hi, I found a pretty great deal for Fiio E10 and at the same time great deal for Ibasso D2+ Boa. Headphone is HD600, FA-003, Senn Amperior but for portable use I think I’ll be with Amperior most of the time.Wonder if I should get FiiO E10 or D2+ Boa.

    And can FiiO use as a standalone amp for Note 2?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Well the Fiio E10 doesn’t run on battery, you need to get it hooked to the USB port for power so it looks like the D2+. I’m not too familiar with that model but that was one of the more popular IBasso models in the old days, before Ibasso started releasing new amps every few months.

      • John Junior

        Alright sir. Thank you. After all the consideration, I get FiiO X3 because someone just sell me for about $120 and they can be use like E17. I hope the battery won’t let me down after few month usage.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          That’s great

  • ciptadi s

    Hi Mike which one you would personally choose, fiio e10 or topping d20?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Technically the D20 is better. I just don’t like the sound very much. And I like the E10’s USB-powered simple set up.

      • ciptadi s

        Great! Thanks Mike..

  • meh

    u didnt really clarify the e11 vs e10 part, is mostly the bass the different from the both?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I find the E10 the more fun one. The E11 I actually never use

      • meh

        tested it(e11), yea the bass is rather loose to my liking, separation is below par(IMO), and slight loose/distortion on some highs, the others are okay
        *pair with dt880

        i dont think i going to keep the e11 for long xDD

      • meh

        can i know wat cable u use in this review, is it the stock fiio cable that included or custom cable?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          Stock Fiio usb cable

          • meh

            after few month reading here, i just realize that there were post about burn-in,low-high gain,cable etc..
            i think u should put the link of those in the recommendation part(maybe..)

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              if you find me all the info I will add it ;)

              • meh

                at least the current page is good enuf, it keep thing simple and more as a guideline