We today take a detailed look at the FiiO E10K TC, an updated version of the company’s legendary USB DAC/Amp.
Disclaimer: The FiiO E10K TC was sent to me by the company itself for this review. The price of the unit is $82,99 USD at this time.
FiiO doesn’t need an introduction. Everybody knows them. You don’t? Then you can go to FiiO’s website here. They now produce almost everything when it comes to portable audio. They want to be competitive in every field they’re operating, and I personally respect their work. To be honest, it has been one of the few companies which haven’t driven up their prices to Mount Rushmore, yet.
About FiiO E10K TC
This is FiiO’s new 2021 edition of the E10K model, which was one of the shining units of FiiO back in the day. The E10K was called “Olympus 2” at the time so that might ring a bell. Our history with the unit goes way back, to 2011! It’s been 10 years since the original E10 DAC/Amp was reviewed here on Headfonia.
Then came Lieven’s E10K review in 2014:
The E10 model is one of the most successful price/performance units of the brand’s lifetime. Now, I have the latest edition in my hands, with a new Type C USB connector. Other updates are the XMOS XUF208 USB decoding chip, a refined PCM5102 DAC, and an overhauled amp section for a better noise floor. Compared to the original E10K, the USB Audio class has been upgraded to 2.0, and PCM is now supported up to 32 bit/384kHz sampling rates.
The device has bass boost and amp gain switches just like its predecessors. So nothing new there. The price is still sub-100$, so despite its age, it’s still a basic all-in-one solution for starter audiophiles in the hobby.
Package, Design & Build Quality
The box of the E10K TC is not a new one compared to the previous generation, except the printing on the cardboard. The new box is now full black with a sleeker look. When you open the cardboard box the inside still has the same design and accessories, so it’s basically the same story.
For design, everything is identical to the previous model. It’s impossible to tell if this is the E10K TC model from just looking at the unit. In fact, there’s still the Olympus 2 name printed on the bottom of the device, and the designation still reads as E10K. The only thing you can do is to check if the unit has a Type C USB socket. The FiiO New K3 doesn’t even have that differentiation. I guess FiiO didn’t even bother to change the printings on the units for making the manufacturing process leaner. The box has the “Type C” mark on it though.
The design is also the same. It’s very tiny, rectangular, and incredibly light in the hand. I like the K3’s design more but this one is also very practical with a goal-oriented, no non-sense approach. I don’t think there’s any reason to change this iconic design, to be honest, so I think FiiO made the right decision there.
At the front, you have your 3.5mm headphone output. The bass switch is right next to it with the volume pot. The gain switch is on the back of the device, with a line-out and coaxial outputs, and the USB Type C socket is right there as well.
The build quality is very good. The aluminum casing feels very solid with a cold touch and the volume knob looks & feels excellent. For a device at this price, the build is very very good and that also applies to the audio output sockets, switches, and inputs. For more information about the device regarding no-sound topics, you can also check the older reviews I shared above.
The FiiO E10K TC has a linear sound presentation with good detail, resolution, and definition. With a price tag of 82 dollars, the performance you get is pretty impressive and this proves that this is still a formidable little unit from FiiO. The device has a colorless approach to the sound, sounding quite lean and somewhat “basic”, but for that price, it has a very good sound performance. Its output power in particular is exceptional for its size.
The bass with the new E10K TC is conservative with a flat kind of response. The bass is mostly on the mid-bass side, and the kick and rumble are not as impressive as the New K3. It’s very tidy, controlled, and high resolution, but it at times feels a bit “empty” and shallow.
The best thing, however, is that this type of bass is quite true to the recording and it doesn’t have any color in it. So if you enjoy a reference type of presentation this might suit well for you. The resolution of the bass is very good, and the decay is also impressive as it doesn’t spread the bass around. The E10K TC indeed has a very tight bass response overall.
Some people would benefit from the lifted bass response of the bass boost, but just like the K3, that only makes the bass worse. You’re left with a boomy, dispersed, and disjointed bass response. Would I use that just for the sake of more bass quantity? I would definitely say, no. The switch is a bit better when you use the device with full-size headphones, but still, I would prefer not to use the switch.
Apart from the switch, the bass performance of the new E10K is quite fast but the impact and kick are low. It has a very clean-sounding bass but don’t expect a high quantity when the switch is closed. Yet, some people would like to have additional bass with popular music genres.