Have tried many headphone DAC/Amps in the £50 - 200 range and nothing comes close to the resolving, enjoyale nature of this bit of kit. Western manufacturers should take note. Quality, performance and a great price point can all exist together! :) Had mine for almost a year now and have no intention of letting it go...
Pros: Clear, good imaging, nice small mobile setup
Cons: Paint wears out quickly, Equalizer sounds a bit digital
Let's get the negative out of the way first... I've owned two products made by Fiio: the E11 and the E17, and both fail to impress me. Maybe it's because I'm just not sensitive enough to hear the real difference, maybe it's the synergy with my other equipment, but I've owned a couple of devices, headphones and stereo equipment and where each and every single one of them had a charm of their own these just don't cut it for me.
The high ratings I've given them however, tell the story of a small pocket-sized device that I took with me to school, in the train, on the bus, my friends even holidays in France! And everywhere it always did what it's supposed to: providing the noise free juices my DT990 required. And it is a clear sounding unit, with a good tone even if it's a little dry. And with a bucketload of extra features the value is pretty good. The only feature that really made me get it was the equalizer (to turn down the bass and treble on my Beyer) and this let me down quite a bit. Turning the treble and bass up and down isn't really smooth and even when I did use it I could never find the sweet spot, it was either just above or under the desired amount. The unit is build like a tank though, and the only minus here is the paint which seems to be a bit thin. I took good care of my E17 and yet the paint on the edges seemed to fade every day. But even then I kind of liked the styling, made me think of when i got my first mp3 players.i
So there you have it, it does everything advertised, but it lacks a bit of character (dare I say musicality?). I sold mine to buy a HRT Microstreamer and haven't regretted it in any way, then again I just wanted a USB dac with a line out and a simple amplifier.
Pros: Great performance/price ratio; multifunctional; large number of audio input options
Cons: Not the best option for those wanting a pristine and highly-detailed sound; some crackling/distortion when using with Mac computers
I picked up a FiiO E17 when en route Germany to stay there for the 2012 Christmas period and the early days of 2013. I wanted to do some video editing work and listen to music when over there but didn't want to be without the stalwart reference quality Lavry DA10 which I didn't want to travel with on that occassion, so I decided to give the E17 a try.
Prior to owning the E17 I owned the FiiO E7, which was my first DAC and one I enjoyed very much, though wanting a more neutral sound than the E7 provided I upgraded from it. Since buying the E17 a few years after owning the E7, I was initially very impressed with the relatively more neutral-sounding E17, an all-in-one DAC/Amp with a clear overall sound and inbuilt EQ functions that I have enjoyed using, particularly when wanting more bass when listening with the HD 800
When I compared the E17 and my DA10 - a DAC/Amp costing many times the price of the E17 - the difference wasn't as night and day as I imagined it might be. The DA10 has much more high-end treble detail, which by comparison sounded a bit fuzzy on the overall less clear sounding E17 (I write this from memory as at time of writing I'm unable to use the DA10 with my laptop - more on that later in this review), but overall and considering the price of the E17, it does a great job of creating a cleaner-sounding listening experience than plugging directly into the headphone output of my laptop. The E17 also serves as a nice enhancement to my iPhone when I use the E17 as a headphone amplifier, but to be honest, when I'm out and about and listening to music I tend not to analyse the sonics of what I'm hearing and more often enjoy the music without feeling the need for a headphone amplifier as I'm happy with the level of amplification my iPhone already provides.
For Xmas 2012 I received the gift of a Sony PS3 and since returning to my place in the UK, the E17 has lived for many hours as part of my PS3/TV setup, which is currently also my main home cinema rig. Like how the E17 provides a clearer sound in relation to plugging into the headphone socket of my laptop, the E17 removes virtually all of the distortion I experienced when connecting my hi-fi amp directly to my TV, without a DAC in the audio chain. Adding the E17 to that setup has turned out to be a great value and cost-effective component contributing to a much more transparent listening experience than what I experienced when using my bookshelf hi-fi speakers and headphones without a DAC. For me, the E17 would be worth the money I paid for it if I just used it as part of my PS3 rig, but it does oh so much more.
To expand on what I wrote above, I have been unable to use my Lavry DA10 with my laptop due to snapping a headphone plug off in my laptop's headphone socket, and have been resorting to the USB-connected E17 when listening to music, editing video content, and other audio-listening-related purposes, and to be honest, since using the E17 I haven't missed my DA10 that much, though I would prefer to use the DA10 due to the enhancements in listening quality it provides. But really, considering the performance/price ratio of the E17 and what a versatile multifunctional device it is - and one with a large number of audio input options - I consider the E17 to be the best value head-fi component I have yet purchased and give it my highest recommendation to anyone (particularly those new to the 'head-fi hobby') willing to spend ~$150/£100 to investigate the benefits a great value DAC/Amp can provide.
Pros: Neutral. Multi-function. Solid built.
Cons: Nothing extraordinary or impressive. Just did it job fine.
I've owned E7 before, and had a Centrance DacPort LX. Well, E17 fits the bill to be the value buy (Over here Audio gears are expensive).
Sound Quality: Nothing impressive. Just plainly neutral with slightly rolled off treble. Not as energetic as the previous Dacport LX. Doesn't like to mess with the bass/treble boost functions. As an amp, it's quite powerful. Can drive my T70 (250 Ohm) with ease (my comfortable listening volume is at 45, minimal gain).
Built: Tough as tank, solid. Love the LED, looks classy. Quite bulky.
Features: Lots of features available. Bass/Treble Boost, channel configuration (left right +/- gain), is portable with built-in battery inside. Lots of optional connectivity (coax, usb, aux-in) and also DAC part supports up to 24/96 on USB (well, even the screen will show the playing song's bitrate info).
Value: Considered one of the cheaper and versatile DAC/Amp combo. Great for on-the-go audiophiles.
Pros: Sounds 100 times better than onboard audio, portable, built in equalizer, nice interface.
Cons: None that I can think of
Well, this is my first amp and DAC, but I can tell you that if you have some decent headphones and are just plugging it straight in your PC, you're doing it terribly wrong!
It just sounds so much better with this lil' guy.
I got it with the cable to connect it to your iPod so that I can have awesome audio on the road too.
Maybe it'd be nice to be able to equalize the mids too, but you can just lower the treble and bass to raise the mids, technically.
Pros: Great for the money -- possibly the best
Cons: Too much Nonsense that detracts from the essence of a good DAC and Amp
For $125~150 depending on where you buy it from, the E17 is an unbeatable value. Solid Wolfson WM8740 DAC, decent enough Amp. The WM8741 would have been a slightly better chip, but it needs 5V and 3.3V supplies concurrently to operate so you are not going to find it in a battery operated portable amp for the most parts because batteries deliver just one voltage. The WM8741 operates on 3~5.5V for both it's analog and digital circuits which allows it to conveniently be powered by a lithium ion battery (nominally about 3.7V). The Analog Devices AD8397 is, again, a decent enough output stage given the limitations of the single supply of ~3.7V. Nice Nichiren gold caps inside too, so they are not cheapening out where it counts. Strictly from a specifications standpoint this is traditionally stuff you find in a $300~600 headphone amp and one which is battery powered, but one which is typically larger. The bass and treble adjustments are nice. Don't be suckered into the thinking that they are simply for bass heads trying to mess up the sound. Headphones are not linear, amps are not linear, your ear canal's physical acoustic properties when sealed and driven as a column of air is not linear. Thinking that if you buy expensive and high quality sources, phones and amps you'll get the most accurate and enjoyable sound by keeping things flat and unadjusted is wishful thinking.
If you wear a set of cans you generally need a headphone amp to drive them and the E17 does that. I am not going to preach here, but if you haven't heard earphones driven by a headphone amp as opposed to a laptop or iPod, well... you should. Depending on the headphones the difference ranges from markedly improved to night-n-day. In-ear types need them less (most maxes out at about 0.1W), cans need them more (1~2W). But they all benefit and not insignificantly.
As a DAC, the FiiO E17 beats any laptop or portable audio player. But, like all USB DACs it is annoying in that the computing device may not pipe sounds to it in all instances. And, when it does sometimes it wouldn't mute the built-in speaker circuits and the amp from the HDA codec's integrated amp. There's a SPDIF and digital in, but your computing device may or may not have that output option.
The E17's amp is punchy, accurate and detailed. I think it can use a bit more forward mids, but it's not objectionably recessed in this regard by any measure. With the XBA-H3 I like the Bass at about +2~3dB, treble at about -1~2 dB. With the XBA-4 you'll cut the treble by -10 dB (bring sibilance from intolerable to just annoying). Shure 535s need a lot more bass (maybe +6~8) to not sound like a pair of bookshelf speakers badly needing a sub-woofer. But, that is all subjective. Ultimately, the sound delivers. Notably better the the somewhat underpowered FiiO E7 and in some pairings better than the Sony PHA-1 (which lack any low and high pass adjust-ability). Way better than the iBasso D-Zero.
Now... I am not a big fan of the LED display and the push button controls. A knob and a few switches -- like they put on the E12 Amp -- would have done the job with better ergonomics and less distraction (especially in a darkened room). And, if they wanted a digital display a LCD would have been preferable as it wouldn't have to be lit! Regardless, if the purist line of thought is that digital clock and logic noise may affect the audio quality. Well, I can't hear it so that's good enough for me. Quality is so-so... the finish is decent but not top notch. The unit feels, well, a little cheap... but it is VERY cheap so I am not complaining. It is way bigger than the D-Zero and much thicker which is annoying when you are trying to use it when flying Economy class. Again, if they had gone without the display and sacrificed battery life -- 15 hours is really unnecessarily long, who listens for 15 hours straight or 7 hours continuously for that matter? Still... very good overall, very good indeed for something designed, engineered and made in China which sells for a tad over a hundred bucks. And anyone who thinks the build and finish is sub-standard please put it in context with the price! It is 10 times better built and finished than crude looking implements like the Air Head and Bithead -- they aren't bad DACs or Amps, but hell they were crude!!!
Pros: Build. Can play while charging. Can function as a DAC. Can be used with a wide variety of devices. Features
Cons: Some cracking/distortion can be heard. When attached to portable players, i have to flip the device around each time to see/access the features.
Now, this is my first headphone amp review, of my first headphone amp, and i feel confident enough to share my thoughts. So, bear with me as i discuss this in further detail.
Build Quality: This thing is solid. It is made out of brushed aluminum throughout with precision-cut glass for the screen. The buttons are made out of what appears to be aluminum as well, and when you press them, you get nice feedback from the actual device. Overall, A+ for the build.
Bass: Now, it is no surprise that you can adjust the bass. When you use this product with low quality headphones or earphones, and you turn the bass all the way up, all you hear is muddy bass. If you own a bunch of high quality headphones, such as the Shure SRH840s or Sennheiser Momentums, you will be able to get some high quality bass! The headphones i mentioned, and a whole lot of others, have high quality drivers and components within, so they are able to handle the bass impact a lot more than low quality headphones. When using the bass adjustment with a reasonably neutral sounding headphone like the Shure SRH840s, you can make your headphones sound superb. I was able to turn my SRH840s into a basshead headphone when the bass was all the way up basically. I would say it gave the headphones i used a slight boomy effect when it came to the bass, but it was bearable.
Vocals: The octaves in the vocal region were noticeably different from being un-amped. I could hear vocals a lot clearer and they were more distinct and precise. However, i did expect a lot more to be honest. I was never able to make the vocals sound harsh in any way, shape, or form. They remained true to the amplification, and never got harsh.
Treble: I was very happy with the treble boost that this amp offered. I listen to a lot of drum songs, specifically rock and metal, and this amp got rid of that dull factor that my computers generic sound card had. It made every track in my iTunes library become more pleasant to listen to.
Headphones used with portable amp - Shure SRH840, Sennheiser Momentum, VMODA M100, Shure SE215, Audio-Technica CKM-55 (No longer have). All of those headphones except for the SRH840s suffered from, a dull sounding/non-engaging treble, in my opinion. When i plugged in those headphones/earphones into the FiiO E17, every single song i played sounded more dynamic and lively, when it came to the treble. Mids became more enveloping, and, like i said, the bass became more enjoyable.
Conclusion: The question you are probably asking is: Do i recommend this? My Answer: Sure. I believe this is an entry level headphone amplifier, and the sound is pretty good. Would i recommend it over the FiiO E12, I don't know since i have not tried that, but i will let you know once i purchase and review it in the future. Thanks for checking out this review!
Pros: small, excellent value, Treble and Bass selection, good interface
Cons: some hips and distortion when using 3.5mm connection, no mid selection
Been owning E17 for about 2 years also my first amp, glad to see Chinese product that can come out with well build product!!
Pros: Has many forms of input; allows some control over gain, treble, bass, balance and volume; neutral sounding output; good price
Cons: Audio quality doesn't seem greatly improved (may be scratchiness of vinyl FLAC recordings interfering, or cheap headphones)
First review here, somewhat uneducated, so tell me how I go!
This is my first DAC (and headphone amp), and I feel that it was well worth buying. Although my cans probably are not at the level where I need a DAC (Ol' Faithful Sennheiser HD 205), there seems to be some boost in performance with the Fiio E17 'Alpen', although the placebo effect may be to blame.
I personally love how the E17 doesn't seem to add any color or brightness to the sound, as I am an avid fan of neutrality in music replication; and even if your headphones are too dark, bright or colorful, there are some moderate changes that can be made through the E17 to counteract that.
It was as simple as plug and play to use, and it comes with a hefty handful of input types, and I personally am very grateful for it's affordable price.
In conclusion, I believe that this could be considered a fantastic entry level amp/DAC, and may even be sufficient to power a higher-end set of cans, although tube is still the best way to go from what I've heard.
*Edit: After considerable use, I feel like the best way to describe the action of the E17 is to say that it 'cleans and amplifies sound'. By this, I mean that I feel as though I can hear more instruments playing in the background, and everything sounds a touch louder and more precise.
Pros: Good looking. Solid built. Useful Equalizer feature. Definitely way better than integrated sound cards. Bass is tight, mids are good.
Cons: Treble is a bit unnatural to me but when you reduce it from EQ it sounds very good and normal. No automatic screen sleep. You must lock it to turn off
Great product from Fiio. I think its really good for starters. Works fine with almost all headphones. EQ is great. Clean sounding. Performance/Price ratio is definitely good. You can't go wrong. And also it can be used as a headphone amplifier alone. Portable. Extras are good.
Add related videos, links to item guides, etc.
FiiO E17 Complete How to Use Guide and Overview:
Had an issue other users should know about? Put it here.
Device not responding: Press and hold the rest button at top with a pen tip.
Device won't turn on: Make sure it was charged and make sure the hold switch is in the upper position where the orange is not showing.
I can't get 192KHz?: E17 only supports 192 KHz sampling rate over S/PDIF. Make sure you are using the S/PDIF interface and the device is set to "COX" or "OPT". Your computer also needs to support 192KHz for S/PDIF. Updating audio driver may help
Power and Menu button not too responsive?: The E17 requires not a large but a decent amount of pressure for the Power/EXIT and MENU buttons to operate. The force needed is not large and is only noticeable when turning on or off the unit or when exiting/going back a screen with the power button. As it may seem unresponsive when you do it lightly.
Hearing hiss and this click-click-click sound?: It seems this is a problem due to the digital volume stepper and is normal for it's implementation. This will usually not happen on 0 gain, but depending on use and headphones/earbuds it may. To fix this, make sure music is not playing and make sure you can not even play the music in case you hit something by accident. Then quickly raise the volume. After a while it should go away, or if it doesn't, wait for a bit. The hiss and clicking sound should now go away. You should now decrease volume to where you were before and continue listening. This is a problem mainly for the harder to drive can's and even then you would usually only hear it when music is not playing.
The unit does not raise or lower the volume the first time I hit the buttons?: This seems to be built into the E17 Alpen's system or code. Where it would want you to hit it twice after a set period of inactivity. There is no fix for this as it does not seem to be a problem for most.
This device is taking forever to charge!?: Depending on where you are charging the E17, be it from your computer or a wall charger will have different speeds of charging. Some computers have low power USB ports that only send out a small amount of power and thus would cause a very slow charge. If your computer has a fast or high powered USB port, then you can use those for a faster charge. Wall chargers can also be used. FiiO recommends to use high quality USB wall chargers like the one's Apple make's. Buying a cheap one off a site would work but is not recommended. Spending a bit more(very small amount more) to ensure the quality of that wall charger is recommended. Keep in mind the faster the charge, technically the worse it is for the batter. How much worse is very very minimal, so please continue to charge or use it as is.
This device has a rattle?: It has not been widely confirmed but it seems this is attributed to the LO bypass switch. There is a part in there that can not be secured down and thus is causing the rattle. Again this has not been confirmed to be the true source of the sound yet, but does seem to be likely.
Advice on installation, customization, and anything else.
Everything on HOW TO USE is explained in the video above.
Turn off USB Charge: The E17 can turn off USB charging when plugged into a computer or anytime it's connected through the USB port through the menu's. Press the "menu" button and scroll down with volume keys until you see "USB CHG". Press "menu" again to enter into the menu setting and then use the volume buttons again to navigate to the OFF or ON setting. Once you are done, press the Power/Exit button to go back to the menu, and press the same button again to go back to the main active use screen.
Attach gel feet?: The gel feet that come with the E17 are used to prevent slipping or scratching. If two devices are secured together, metal on metal could cause scratching. The gel would create a space to separate the devices. There are 6 that would come with the unit, this is in the HOW TO section as most can not get them on. Please remember to peel off the clear sticker on the bottom of each gel feet or else they will not stick. It seems it comes with 4 for each corner of the device and 2 for extra's. These feet will slide off eventually if you attack the E17 Alpen to a device and it moves around a lot.
Related Items and Accessories:
Not necessarily items within the community, just any other recommendations.
Toslink to mini-Toslink adapter may be necessary if you are going from E17 to Macbook Pro or any equivalent as only one adapter for optical is included.
FiiO L7 is used to bypass the E17's and E7's internal amplifier's so to use the E17 with another amp as a dedicated DAC unit.
Line Out Docks; popular one's from FiiO and iBasso and even self made one's are recommended for use with E17 and other devices. Line Out Dock's for the most part are used with iPod's but Sony Walkman's also have support for them.