With the Beyerdynamic DT770 AE , Beyerdynamic T51P, Sennheiser HD650 and Hifiman HE-560 there also is channel imbalance till two on the dial but you can’t hear any background noise at al. Yay! The E11K of course wasn’t made to drive orthodynamics or 300Ohm Sennheisers but it doesn’t hurt to try, right? All headphones, except for the Audeze’s that sounded terrible, played more than loud enough on low gain, except for the HE-560. No surprise there. The numbers might not show it but this little amp packs a punch!
Music, Maestro, Please
To me the first generation E11 had more forward vocals and was less refined overall. The new E11K has a fuller sound with good body from bass to highs and has more detail everywhere. I would describe the general sound as smooth and musical with a relaxed presentation of the sound. It’s less in your face and there’s a bigger sound stage then before. It’s basically better in every single aspect.
Sound stage, detail and dynamics wise the E11K is a normal performing unit, it’s good but nothing spectacular. Sound is more centered even when left right balance is pretty good. You’re more inside of the music compared to the bigger and more expensive amplifiers. It doesn’t live up to the Duets and RX-MK3s of this world but no one expects it to either. For its price it does exactly what it needs to do.
A lot of people, me included, love the Bass Boost (BB) function that companies like Fiio and JDSLabs use. Depending on the headphone used or the music you’re listening to you can, with just one simple click, get more or less bass. It’s perfect. With rock in example, it’s always on. With female vocals, it’s off. Easy! Bass depth, layering and detail aren’t the greatest on the other hand; it’s more the added bass body you get when you turn on the BB. Without boost it is actually pretty neutral like the mids section.
The (lower) mids, with the bass boost engaged, are fuller than on the original E11 and that to me is a good thing. Without the BB, mids have less body, are more neutral sounding and they’re perfectly in line with the bass. The E11K’s treble isn’t that extended. It’s not completely rolled of either, it’s somewhere in between but tilting more to the rolled off side just to make that clear.
For Fiio this isn’t a warm sounding amplifier. I’m sure a lot of people actually expected that. It actually sounds smooth, musical and has adjustable bass. With the BB off you get a fairly neutral, linear sound and with thebass boost on you get extra bass and body in the mids.
I found it for 60€ here in Europe at AudioGarden and in the US you can find it on Amazon for $59.99.
So do I like the new E11K? Yes. I do like it with full sized headphones and universal IEMs. Its small, doesn’t cost you a fortune and it does its job in a very good way for a small price. If your DAP or phone can’t handle your headphone and you want to keep it budget and pocket friendly, the E11K might exactly be what you need. Sound wise you won’t be disappointed but don’t be expecting a high end sound either, that’s no surprise at a fraction of the high end amp cost. Fiio’s own E12 amplifier is twice the E11Ks price but it also delivers a better sound. Price/quality wise the E11K scores very well as a matter of fact. Don’t forget it only is $60!
I’m glad I turned out to like the new E11K, my ears have been spoiled with higher end gear a lot but if you can enjoy your musical collection and headphones with a $60 amp, you just know Fiio did it right. Again.
You’ll be seeing a couple more Fiio reviews on Headfonia over the next few weeks cause there’s also a new Fiio E10K DAC and a brand new budget friendly X1 DAP which I already love. (Don’t tell anyone)