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FiiO E11

95% Positive Reviews
Rated #2 in Portable Amps

Posted

Pros: Powerful clean audio with good portability and build quality

Cons: Takes quite a while to charge (3+hrs) and can’t be used while charging. If you have a decent portable player, you may not notice an improvement.

Overview/Design (9/10)

This is primarily designed to amplify sound out of mobile devices that do not get loud enough for you, either because they are low quality, your headphones are not sensitive enough, or you’re going deft :). As a bonus, it has a built in bass boost with 3 settings (off, 1, 2). It also has a good quality easily replaceable Lithium Ion battery (BL-5B), and comes with the mini USB charging cable and 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable. Also in the box are two silicone bands of different sizes to attach the unit to the back of your mobile device.

The unit has 2 LED lights, a blue one that comes on when powered, and a red one for charging. The power switch is built into the volume knob. You know it’s charged when the red light goes out. For those who plan to use this as a laptop or desktop amp, note that it cannot be powered on (blue) while being charged (red). It also has a high/low output switch.

The unit is surprisingly small and light, especially considering the power output. It is well-built with high quality plastics. The volume knob is metal and requires a good amount of force to move it, and I never had a problem of the volume changing while in my pocket. Battery life for me was between 8-9hrs average, but varies based on volume. Giving it 9/10 because it could still be smaller, and the mini USB port is being replaced by micro USB now as the standard. It would also be nice to use it while charging.

Sound (8/10)

Sound wise, it does what it’s designed to do exceptionally well. It’s mainly noticeable due to higher volume, but the bass boost works well, and it gets loud and stays clear without distortion all the way up. I did not test the AMP with high impedance headphones, I only own moderate to low ones myself. When connected to my Galaxy Nexus phone, with various headphones (Q350, HD-25 II, SR60i, HD558) the difference was night and day, but mostly due to the lack of power output of the phone. Bass boost is nice to have on mobiles that don’t have that built in.

However, when connected to my Sansa Clip (Rockboxed), I couldn’t really tell the difference when listening at my usual volume. That being said, the Sansa has plenty of power to drive any of my headphones to satisfying levels. I never really go beyond -12DB volume on the Sansa alone. I also found the bass boost less satisfying than using the built in bass adjustment on the Sansa. I still give it 8/10 because it does very well for poor quality sources like phones.

 

Verdict (8/10)

 

If you already use a decent quality portable that gets loud enough for you without distortion, and has built in bass boost or bass/treble adjustment, you will not notice much improvement. If you plan to use this as a desktop or laptop AMP, look elsewhere because you can’t use it while charging. If you have low sensitivity headphones you want to go portable with or you have a portable player that does not sound good or loud enough (like most phones), you will love this product. If your deft or like to crank volume in general, I highly recommend this. In my personal case, the Sansa is more compact to bring along with my Phone than the Fiio, but I still use the Fiio when my Sansa dies. So I still find it useful. But keep in mind the Sansa Clip is under $40, so it presents a cheaper way to get better sound on the go. Because there are portable players that are much smaller and produce comparable audio for less, I give it 8/10.

Posted

Pros: Powerful and slimm

Cons: Volume knob

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about affordable portable amps. Coming from using high end portable amps in the past I was quite skeptical. I thought that there is no way a sub 200.00 amp could compete with RSA and Headamp. I had the same mentality towards portable amps as I did towards customs. I guess I thought that if you could not afford the big boys then you really did not need an amp. I have seen so much change in the portable music industry in the last six years I have been a member here. Amps and customs were for the elite audiophile and that justified their price.If you wanted to Join the club you had to pay.

 

Let me give you a little of my background gear. I have tried several high end portable amps over the years. I started with the RSA hornet. I was so thrilled those many years ago when it was released. I was so amazed at the sound it could produce through my Custom ultimate ears. Shortly after the Hornet was released Ray came out with the Tomahawk. Hey a smaller portable amp that could perform better yet more battery life. I jumped on the wagon. As soon as I jumped purchased the Tomahawk Justin from Headamp posted about this new dac/amp called the Pico. Man my world was spinning around, I had to have it. Now I could use a dac to improve my pc sound and then take it on he go with my ipod. I was so thrilled with this amp till Ray posted about his new ultra small amp called the P51 Mustang and its Dac/amp counterpart called the Predator. I managed to hold out on this amp until recently. I have been enjoying this amp for a few weeks now.

 

Well with all the talk of affordable amps lately, I decided to contact Fiio and ask a few questions about their idea of providing cheap amps to the community. I thought it was another Chinese company trying to rake in the bucks on the efforts of people like Ray Samuels and Justin W. I thought this was tragic. I thought it could leave a bad impression and possible drive new audiophiles away from the hobby because of a shoddy product. When Fiio offered to send me an e11 and a L9 ipod LOD I agreed. I thought I would finally be able to differ people away from this product and protect them. I promised to give a honest review no matter what my biased beliefs were.

 

Well two days ago I received a package from Hong Kong by DHL.It took about four days to arrive which is quite good seeing as they did not send it express. There was a small box enclosed in the DHL envelope. Within the box there was some styrofoam protecting a small silver box about the size of a wallet and a small static envelope.

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The silver box contained the E11 amp, a 3 inch 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect, short usb mini cable, and a silicone band. It was packaged quite nicely and accessories were great. The anti static bac contained the L9 right angled LOD.

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The construction of the amp is mostly plastic.The volume knob is an ALPS potentiometer. They do this to ensure a low noise and good channel balance. There is a built in high-performance lithium battery. It is a BL-58 model. Basically that is a cellphone battery that can be easily replaced To one side you see five 220 16v RVT solid state capicators. Underneath the battery you see a switch to change from high to low power.

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As you look on the outside edge of the amp you see gain switch and a 3 position eq switch. The other side has the usb charging port, and the front has the volume knob, input and output connectors. There is a blue power led and red charging led on the top of the unit.

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The frequency response is 10~1000Khz. Signal to noise ration is ≥98dB. Crosstalk is 60dB. Gain ≥ 12dB High, and ≥ 6dB for the low. total harmonic distortion is <0.009%(10mW). Voltage on high is 300mW(16Ω), 200mW(32Ω), and 35mW(300Ω). Voltage on low is 120mW(16Ω), 88mW(32Ω), and 13mW(300Ω). The recommended headphone impedance is 16~300Ω, and the input impedance is >5KΩ.

 

The size is quite acceptable for a portable use. It is quite thin and light. It measures 92.55mm x 54.2mm x 13.4mm and weighs 65g with the battery.In my opinion it is easier to slip in the pocket than the p51 and ipod combo.

 

The L9 lod is a right angled 3.5mm connector with a low profile 32pin connector. It uses two 6cm PCOCCA-A copper wires with PFA insulation and a cotton rope medium surrounded by a black TPE sheath. the impedanceof the wire is a max 0.07Ω and has a resistance of min 2MΩ.

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I have been listening to the amp almost constantly for the past few days and it has about 30 hours on it. The battery lasts between 10 and 12 hours. and takes about 3 hours to charge. I was using my ipod classic 7g with ALAC and 320 KB/ps files. Iems I used were my ultimate ears ue-5c, ue-11 pro, and jvc marshmallows. I will use other iems as I get them in shortly. I was unable to use fill size cans as I don't have any on hand currently. I used many genres of music from Loreena Mckennitt to Disturbed. Basically every genre other than country. 

 

There are a few things I don't like about the amp. I don't like the how the volume knob was designed. I understand that they did this to prevent accidental operation of the volume knob. When the unit is piggy backed with the ipod it is very difficult to manipulate the volume knob. They could help prevent this by including some sort of feet to attach like RSA and headamp do. This would provide a bit more room between the amp and the ipod. I also feel that in this configuration the L9 is not suited.

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I do find the amp provides more than enough power for my iems and probably enough for full size cans. With my ue-11 pro I have the volume on 3 with a low gain and no eq. I would be afraid to turn it up any louder or put it on high gain as it would cause hearing damage. In my opinion it should be able to power most any iem or headphone out there you would take portable. There is plenty of detail and separation in the music. There is a strong punch in the bass and really tightens up sloppy bass. For the most part I dont use the eq, however I think it is a good idea for someone that does not have their desired bass in their cans. you can use a flat iem to listen to classical music and then add some bass to techno or rock to make the same iem fun.How does this compare to high end amps? Well the p51 has a larger soundstage and a bit more accurate bass and detailed highs.I think it would be quite hard in a blind test to tell this was not a high end amp.

 

The L9 is not a bad lod for the price ( around 20.00) there are a few things that could be better. I dont think the right angled connectors suit my current needs. The LOD sounds good. It is a bit warmer than the RSA lod I am comparing it to, but is more flexible.The 30 pin connector is a bit loose. It wiggles in the line out of the ipod and a little too easy to pull out. You can just lightly pull on it and it releases. I worry the connector can come loose when removing from my pocket.

 

In conclusion Fiio has opened my eyes. It is quite possible to provide a great product for an affordable price. There is plenty of power to amp most any can and has a great sound. I do prefer aluminum housings over plastic and would like a different knob or silicone feet, but this is a solidly built portable amp with great accessories. I love the silicone band they include. It is a good amp no matter how much the price tag is. I have no problem recommending this amp alongside the Pico, P51, and the likes. I do feel there are better amps out there but at 3x-5x the price.

 

The L9 on the other hand is different. I feel it could be a lot better. It has great sound but I just cant get over the connector. I would like to try a different LOD from them and see if it is better or suits my needs more.

 

Update.

I bought some silicone bumpers and it seemed to have fixed my problems.

 

Posted

Pros: Light, Powerful, great battery life, smooth volume knob

Cons: bass boost level two muddies up the sound, cheap feel

So this is my first portable amp that I have purchased. Prior to this I have used my receiver headphone out, outs from too many mixing consoles to name and my portable champ my iphone. Needless to say that the iphone is the worst out of all that I have used, sounds like booty to honest.

First Impression (looks):
The amp is tiny. It fits with room to spare in the palm of my hand. The amp has a matte finish from which fingerprints will be attracted to in disgusting ways. The two click buttons that are on there (EQ aka bass and Hi/Lo settings) feel a little cheap. I was actually afraid that I was going to scratch the plastic finish as I have to use my nails to switch anything because of their size. The buttons are tiny and it is hard to tell when you are in the first EQ setting or on the way there. EQ zero and two are easy as they are at their respectable extremes.The volume button is smooth once past the "click" of on. It's made of metal which gives a nice tight smooth grippy feel when turning the volume. This thing weighs 2.3 ounces and I gotta tell you that I thought it shipped without the battery. It is that light. I had to open it to make sure that the battery was actually in there.

Sound:
Turned the amp on with nothing plugged in and all I heard was the fact that I was plugged into an amp. Being around much more powerful amps it is nice to know that the operating noise that I get from a $6000 QSC amp is the same that I get from a $59 headphone amp. Immediately, I began listening to uncompressed music as the "Garbage In Garbage Out" rule applies more than ever when amps are involved. Ask the off key singers.

I used my custom molded UE 5's from Ultimate ears. I will be purchasing the Hifiman HE-500's as this amp is more than capable of pushing them. My UE's have an impedance of 21 ohms which my iPhone can play with not much success. The first thing I noticed is the sound stage. It is much wider than using no amplification. The center feels very focused.

Low End (bass) - The amp on EQ setting zero plays music as it was mixed which is typically what you need on a well mixed album such as Bob Marley's orignal mix of Could you be loved. On EQ setting one is where the punch of the low end comes in. Forty hertz from Linkin Parks Numb come through clear enough to rattle my ear drums. It is enough to fill out your needs without blowing you out of the water. The EQ two setting should not be used. The low end seems to remain the same while the low mids (150 - 300) get a boost. The only thing that I found this setting to sound good with is one reggae song. It does not sound bad but does muddy up the sound.

Mid - This is where this amp impressed me. Mids that are implemented well are silk on one's skin, like apple filling to your pie if you get my drift. The way this amp pushes the mid levels is truly amazing. I had to keep checking to make sure that this small amp was what was reproducing the sound. I can't say enough about the way that the mids make me feel. GREAT!!

High - This is generally where everyone wins or loses in my book. Consider the high end the pie crust to my apple pie. Too much of it, and it takes away from all of the hard work that the low (crust) and the mids (filling) have done. Too little and it gives you a taste yet leaves you wanting for more. I am on the side of not enough on this amp. If it had just an 'nth more I would probably never take this amp off from my headphones. The high end is there not sharp, not dull but could be brighter.

Hi/Lo (Outside casing) - Important to note that there are two Hi/Lo gain settings. One on the outside which in my opinion widens the sound stage slightly larger and boosts the mids yet keeps the high end sharp without cutting into your brain. At the same time it would be nice to have a touch more highs to make the sound better rounded. The bass sounds untouched. That being said switching from Lo to Hi does not kill you with POWER!!!! It gently raises the levels without hurting your ears by introducing sharp highs or ear splitting high mids. Good to have but not necessarily that important when on the lo setting (internally).

Hi/Lo (Inside Casing) - Also important to note that on the Hi level on the inside that your battery life is cut from ten hours to somewhere around four. All listening prior to this was done using the lo setting. On the high setting the amp sounds so much bigger but not in an obnoxious way. Music of all kinds sound much more full bodied and in your face. The bass boost on EQ 1 is where its at. You have no need to go above this simply because of how growly the low end sounds. Depending on how well the mix you have is kick drums punch you in the face and the mids and highs soothe you.

My negatives to take away: Could use more high end, and ACTUAL level two for bass that could punch out your teeth rather than a mid booster. Wish they didn't use plastic that attracted fingerprints. Bigger buttons on the side for the EQ and gain settings.

Overall, my opinion on this amp is that it is absolutely AMAZING for the price. Great first amp that has WAY more power than I will ever use (until I get my HE-500's).

Posted

Pros: Lovely smooth sound for hardly any money. (£40)

Cons: Volume knob isn't properly fixed to the potentiometer spindle; it has a little bit of "give".

 

 

Well, "impressive" doesn't even come close...

 

 

I have a Sony NWZ-X1050 which sounds awesome through my car stereo, my home stereo and, of course, the noise-cancelling earbuds that came with it. The problem is that I don't like earbuds.

 

 

The only pair of working 'phones in the house at the moment is a pair of Sennheiser PX200 cans. These are renowned for having very little deep bass and, because they're so small, the isolation is practically non-existent.

 

 

Not any more! I amped them through the E11 and now, not only are they loud enough to drown out any extraneous external noise, but they actually have whump and rumble! They have some bass at last, and very smooth it is too.

 

I wish the weekend would hurry up and get here - I can't wait to go out and get some proper cans...

 

My only gripe with the E11 is that the volume knob has a little bit of slippage on its spindle, though because of the design of the case, it isn't going to fall off, so I can put up with it.

 

[EDIT] I've since purchased a FiiO L5 LOD Cable to go with the amp. It's very nicely put together, too. It has nice thick cable, and both plugs feel solidly attached. 

Posted

Pros: Plug and play, switchable gain, switchable bass boost.

Cons: no adjustable bass boost (just 3 settings) Distorts with bass boost set high at high volumes. A little pricy for quality next to a CMoy.

The FiiO E11 is my first professional headphone amplifier and I have to say it was rather unexceptional.

 

First Impression/ measurements:

 

The first out of the box impression was incredible. Nice matte black plastic leading to a metal like edge with a notch for the volume nob (very intuitive) I accidentally dropped it taking it out of the box but nothing broke and after further inspection it is really very sturdy.

 

I opened it up and looked inside to see if I could see any hardware. I was greeted by a battery and some concealing plastic unfortunately but I'm certain I could find what they used on their site. I replaced the backing and turned it on.

 

This is where I expected and issue because FiiO has been known in the past to ship dead batteries (which will decrease their life and maybe even make them unusable out of the box), but, to my surprise, the amp happily turned on and boasted a cute little blue light letting me know it was operational.

 

I then measured its output for DC offset. For those who don't know, high DC offset (above more than about 50 mV) can cause permanent damage to headphones. The measurements came back as 1 mV on the right channel and 0 mV on the left, which is a very good sign. I then turned on the different levels of bass boost (bass boost also boosts DC offset) and measured. The measurements all came back as 0 mV, meaning some compensation circuitry was most likely implemented here. This is actually quite nice and kudos to FiiO for making sure that this wasn't an issue.

 

Listening Tests:

 

Being excited about its good looks I plugged it in and set it off on a personal favorite mix of mine on soundcloud. It is important to note here that there was no equalization software used here as I wanted to get an impression off the amp on an average laptop with average settings. I will add an equalized test result later for those who wish to see it. I started it playing and noticed it was rather quiet. This was strange because it was set to high gain and the volume was all the way up. I realized that I had stupidly had the inline volume on my headset down so I turned it up....and nearly deafened myself. The FiiO (on 32 ohm high sensitivity headphones) gets LOUD. It started distorting at this volume which was strange because I know my headphones weren't maxed out. I turned the inline volume down again and (As a side note here This lowers dampening factor to the headphones as it adds resistance before the speakers (bad thing) but this shouldn't cause the kind of distortion I noted from the FiiO) It sounded as if the little happy amp was getting rather cranky now turned all the way up with high gain and bass boost all the way up. I just tried to recreate the problem with low gain and was successful. Even at low gain it cannot handle the bass boost all the way up and volume above 6.5 (8 is max). To ensure that this was the amp I turned them all the way down and slowly edged them upward to make sure it wasn't the extra resistance causing issues. As I expected, the distortion stayed the same from lowest to max volume (It sounded like it was running out of current to push because on bass hits it got scratchy) As another side note: It just died and is charging now. If anything changes when the product is fully charged I will be sure to change my review.

 

Along with this issue of distortion I noticed that the bass boost, even on the highest setting, was rather modest. I've experienced better boost with software equalization on a mobile device. This was a deal breaker for me because I was really looking forward to the extra oomph it would give to bass without equalization. 

 

Bottom Line: It isn't a bad amplifier and looks slick and clean, but it has a few issues here and there that make it a little bit of a bad deal.

 

I give it a solid 3 stars and would recommend it as entry level equipment to people who want mobility and a little extra volume.

Posted

Pros: Sound

Cons: Battery/power management, unable to use whilst charging

This ticks so many boxes, with high quality amplification able to drive difficult loads,(it smooths out the low end in my Audio-Technica ATH-M30s enough to make them listenable), great size and weight, excellent volume control, and hardware switches for bass boost (it doesn't need it, but it is there) and output gain.

But there are a few design features that make it a deal breaker for me: I have one, like to listen through it, but rarely do because:

 

  • The unit cannot run whilst charging through the 5V USB port. So if you aren't charged and ready then you 'aint using this baby. I know it is likely to improve battery life, but major problem for me.
  • The unit drains considerable power when switched on, even if there is no signal voltage at the input. If this is turned on and doing nothing, the clock for 10 hours keeps running. Don't use this amp to go to sleep listening to something, or you will be out of juice in the morning (something I routinely do)

My only other minor gripe is the mismatch between the size of the unit and almost every mobile audio device excepting the older long ipod nano means the supplied rubber band method of clamping to the audio play is not useful. This is begging for a velcro fix method on most devices.

 

So with a few tweaks, I'd likely think this was an exceptional buy. It probably still is, for the amplification quality and the money, but for what I use it most often for (amplifying my go to sleep music) it suits very poorly.

P

 

Edit: (either not yet allowed to comment, or cannot figure out how to reply to comments) Reconsidered rating, added another half: I bought this in Australia when it was hard to find any retailer selling a Fiio, hence the high price, but as I said, despite being a great amp amplification wise, it sits idle on my shelf 99% of the time because of these flaws. I may as well not own it at all.

Posted

Pros: Subtle and detailed sounds, great price

Cons: build quality

This is my very first portalble amp, ever after my purchase of the great TDK ST-800. Results are surprisingly good and capable of driving my older Sennheiser HD overheads and the newer ST800

Too bad the left channel died quickly. The first solution was to change to a newer DIY silvery cable. However, the second came too soon and could not be saved with two more cables.

Posted

Pros: ULTIMATE BASS

Cons: Need additional equalizer options and a robust finish like the E17

Hello Bass Heads,

 

I use my V-Moda Crossfade LP and V-Moda Remix remote with my iPhone.

They sounded decent. 

 

Got the FiiO E11 shipped today. Works like charm. Crisp n clean sound.

 

GODDDDD!!! Even the crappiest tracks(the ones I usually skip) in my playlist sound AWESOME!!

 

The FiiO E11 makes your BASS headphones sound EXCEPTIONAL

 

Posted

Pros: durable, small

Cons: white noise, feedback

Audio Quality-some white noise. Feedback when strapped to iPhone.

Quality-Very durable and small.

Design-You cannot use it while charging. It also is easy to bump the volume know when in your pocket.

It came with a dented battery cover. It wouldn't quite close. FiiO sent me a new battery cover, no questions asked. They also gave me a free FiiO t-shirt. Very satisfied.

Posted

Pros: Adds a great body and HiFi feel to the sound. Light and portable. Great soundstage and stereo separation. Bass adjuster.

Cons: Poor battery life. Plastic construction feels cheap. Dock cables are a tad expensive.

Great amp for the money, in my view best FiiO has done.

This is my first amp and really I'm quite shocked at how much the sound quality can improve by just carrying one extra little box.

Battery life and construction could have been improved, but of course that in turn would have added more weight.

I'm sure I will try the E17 in the future, but for now E11 is amazing and fits my needs perfectly. biggrin.gif

I'm actually considering buying another one for backup, they are on offer at an amazing price at the moment on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006KORF26/ref=gno_cart_title_1
FiiO E11
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Powerful and affordable portable amplification from the budget audio kings at FiiO.

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