The E10K’s bass is more detailed and tighter now. With both the boost on and off, bass body of the E10K is lighter than before and that actually is a good thing. With headphones such as the Philips X2 bass can get a little overpowering on the old E10 and with the new tuning this improves a lot.
Unfortunately there still is a small issue with channel imbalance on the volume pot. This is mostly noticeable and annoying for low volume listeners and IEM users. The volume pot besides that is very quiet. I’m sure that over the course of time when dusts starts to pile up inside the unit it might get more noisy just like my other E10 units, but those are worries for later. Right now it is smooth and quiet, just how I like it.
Ever since the E10 came out a lot of companies have entered the sub $100 USB DAC/AMP market. Some have succeeded and a lot more have failed. Making a device with good sound quality under $100 doesn’t seem to be that easy.
I’m still waiting for my new Stoner Acoustics UD120 but the E10K surely tops the original UD100 as DAC. It has more detail and it’s more musical and dynamic. I actually think the DAC part is nicer than the DAC part of the X3 (a WM8740) that can be used as a DAC only. And yes, that’s the DAC chip the old E10 had.
All other AMP/DAC combos I have here right now, like the Resonessence Herus and The Cypherlabs Picollo DAC, all sound quite a bit better than the E10K but that’s only normal as they are playing on another level. I’ll surely add a comparison to the new UD120 DAC and GEEK once they arrive. Headphone wise the E10K can take on a lot. Of course I don’t advise using this for your 300 ohm Sennheisers or 250Ohm Beyers but it does work. Same goes for your orthodynamic headphones actually. While it has more than enough power to drive the Audeze LCD-XC, you won’t get it to sound great. The E10K was made for the easier to drive headphones and in my opinion this new unit is even more versatile than the old one was. With the extra detail, more clear sound, bigger sound stage and slightly lighter bass a lot more headphones are likely to sound good with the E10K. Besides the before mentioned high impedance headphones and Orthos I haven’t found a single head- and earphone in my collection I did not enjoy when using the E10K.
A New Price-Quality King
The old E10 gave you a warm, musical and fun sound. The new E10K gives you all the good things of the E10 but with more detail and clearness while keeping it very musical. The E10K of course isn’t a high end top quality sounding unit though. Keep in mind this is not even an $80 unit. That being said, the quality and musical enjoyment you get from the E10K Olympus 2 is extraordinary.
To me the update of the E10 to the E10K is a big success, I think it’s better than the E11K upgrade actually. I am sure the E10K will be here for many more years. I bought three E10s myself and one just serves as a USB to Coax convertor in a desktop setup. These little units are so versatile it’s hard not to love them for the small price they’re selling for. It only costs $75.99 on Amazon.com and I even found it for 65.99€ on Audiogarden.fr.
Looking at what the E10K does and how it sounds there can be only one conclusion: The E10K Olympus 2 is the new Price-Quality King in the low budget AMP/DAC combo market. Heck, I’m even sure it outperforms a lot of the more expensive units as well.
I did forget to mention that the E10K, just like the new E11K now comes in a new box. Unfortunately you don’t get those lovely metal boxes anymore and that’s too bad. They were quite fun to have and to use for other things but this alone will not make it any less of a King. The new E10K is still a Headfonia favorite.