Fioo is proud enough to mention the 33% lower THD rating compared to the original E12 and the improved signal-to-noise ration of 115dB in their marketing communications. Like the E12A, the A5 doesn’t come with a cross feed option. Power wise the A5 comes in second as the original E12 was more powerful. You’ll find however that the A5 has plenty of power to drive almost anything. The A5is over 800 mW(32Ω/THD＜1%) and ≥150mW（300Ω/THD＜1%).
The full list of Specs is below:
Accessory wise the Fiio comes with a whole bunch of stuff:
- 2 silicone patches to put between the A5 and your source, so they would stay in place and not scratch each other. I myself stick 4 3M bubble feet underneath the A5
- 2 sets of Fiio labeled stacking bands
- 1 Micro-USB charging cable
- 1 of Fiio’s awesome ultra-short 3.5mm ICs (interconnects)
- A typical E12/A5 soft carrying pouch (which I personally do not like at all)
- There might be Hi Res stickers in the box.
According to Fiio:
“A gain level close to that of the E12 but with improved channel balance, lower noise floor and a purer sound.”
When plugging in my Jomo Samba – it is great for testing units – I was pleasantly surprised:
- No crackling noises (like on the X5iii)
- An almost non-existing “plop” when turning on/off the A5
- Complete silence, no hiss or floor noise whatsoever
- A completely silent volume control
There still is very light channel imbalance in the beginning of the pot but even at my lowest listening volume this wasn’t audible anymore. The volume pot itself – in low gain – has enough headroom to set the right volume. It does get loud quickly but no to that you would accidentally hurt your ears by spinning the dial too hard. So far the Fiio A5 is perfect.
With a lot of people preference in sound changes over the years. That can simply be because you hear things different getting older or it could just be that your taste has evolved. Many many years ago I would have always had the Bass Boost on the Fiio devices set to “on”. In fact it would be stuck there with all of my gear but nowadays that no longer is the case. Fiio is famous for their bass boost though and a whole lot of people buy it especially because of this feature. What BB does in the A5 is add +5dB of gain and it just makes bass body increase exponentially. If you’re a bass lover, you’ll absolutely dig it. If you’re not you’ll probably find the A5’s BB ads mid body as well and you will notice that it makes bass run into the mids. You do get a big and bold sound with great impact tough, there’s no denying that. Unfortunately this does has a negative impact on the audible detail and the precision level. But again, if you’re all about the bass, then you’ll have a smile from here to Tokio. With a headphone such as the AudioQuest NightOwl in example, bass became way too present for my personal taste. But I’m sure some people want just that.
With the Bass Boost turned off you get a more neutral sound and lighter sound where the mids sound a bit thinner with forward vocals. I’d still put the A5 on the warmer side of neutral though, even though this isn’t a really warm sounding amp with the BB of. With BB on it does sound warmer. I do find it to have Fiio’s typical darker sound signature but it isn’t like in the good old original E10 days. Speed is good but it isn’t the fastest sounding solid state amp either. Amps like the Duet and Vorzuge – which I know cost 5 times the A5 – logically perform better in this and all areas. But speed is good just like the level of detail is. You won’t get the very best but for the $129.99 price tag you’ll be very happy.
The sound stage level, just like the detail, is good for the market this amplifier is in. Again it isn’t the widest and certainly not the deepest but it’s good and perfectly in line with the A5’s price. Separation and spaciousness are good though, so the A5 doesn’t immediately give you the impression of a congested and concentrated sound. Without the bass boost, the bass has a rather neutral presence but it has good body and impact at the same time. It’s slightly more than “neutral” bass and that means no one will be complaining about being it too much or too little. Bass is fairly tight but not the most detailed or layered, it’s more the impact/presence kind of bass.
I absolutely loved the rich mids of the E12A and I like them again now. Like I said, the mids do sound a little thinner with forwarded vocals without the BB. Turn it on and the mids become a lot thicker while the voices stay forward. For my personal taste the mid body could have been just a little bigger and the voices a little softer/more natural, but we all have our own preference. I find the mids to go deepest with the best layering. Treble is good, soft and easy to like. Fiio isn’t a brand that’s famous for treble extension and it’s no different with the A5. Treble isn’t offensive and the delivery is smooth yet energetic enough to contrast the bass and mids, especially with the bass boost activated.
Comparisons and pairings on the next page, after the CLICK