Pros: Great Pricepoint, reasonable DAC/AMP
Cons: Sounds a little closed in, only 16/48
Well, after almost a month with my E7, I figured It was time to give it a good review. This was my first DAC/AMP (paired with the E9) so I don't have much to compare it to, except an auditioned schiit asgard.
Build Quality and Appearance (8/10)-
Appearance isn't an area that generally matters that much to me, but the anodized aluminum ( did I get that right?) finish was a VERY nice touch the OLED screen was bright, but not necessarily good in sunlight.
The build quality overall is very nice as well. All of the screws are very secure, no rattling there. The buttons are tight and seem nice to the push, very sturdy. the glass on the screen has proven to be very nice, no scratching, or the one time I accidentally dropped it, breaking. However, the headphone out connections look and feel a little loose at times, something I wasn't too happy with. The signal doesn't ever seem to drop though, nor do I hear any crackling/fuzziness, so the issue doesn't seem to be a major issue.
I didn't know where to put this, but the user friendlyness is definitely lacking. Although the button layouts are pretty simple, the actual interface can be a challenge to navigate.
The E7 came in a nice box, with a silicone case. There was also a carrying pouch for it, a usb-mini cable, a 3.5 to 3.5 cable, and a silicone band to attach it to your DAP. Couple of nice touches, but pretty standard. The box had a picture of E7 on it, with "USB DAC/ headphone amp" written on it.
The sound comparisons were done with the onboard sound card of an iMac - Grado sr-125is, and also iPod - Sr125is. I then tried both those with the Fiio E7.
First of all, with the iMac-
As you could probably guess here, the results were substantial, considering the fact that in this situation it is acting as a DAC and an amp. The E7 basically did it's job. It cleaned up some rough edges, improved some perceived soundstage, cleared up the overall sound, and, well, amplified. The E7 made the mids really shine on my Grados, an already strong point. I couldn't stop listening to anything with an acoustic guitar in it. The sometimes piercing treble was tamed a little bit, but also a little it fuller if that makes sense, not quite as sharp and spiky, but a little bit richer. I also noticed an increase in detail, for example, hearing the guitarists fingers sliding down the strings, or the slow decay of the vibrations. The part I loved about this amp/DAC so much was it's ability to bring out the bass more, an area admittedly lacking in the lower end Grado models. It didn't really add anything to it, just brought it forward a little bit. In my opinion, improving the sound signature greatly.
From the iPod-
Paired with the iPod, the E7 only acts as an amp. I did however, notice along the same lines as with the iMac. The sound was cleaner, clearer and larger. It added some depth and detail to my MTPCs. It doesn't necessarily add much to the sound (a good amp shouldn't really) but kind of makes things more noticeable and makes it a little more spacious.
There is a couple negatives. if there is flaw in your recording, or in the sound signature of your headphones, it WILL bring it out. If you have an overly bassy pair of headphones, it will make them even bassier. If you have piercing treble, they might become even more piercing. This is only a negative if you have flawed recordings or seriously flawed headphones, In some ways, this is a good thing because if you have mids that you love, it will bring them out even more, etc.
The bass boost works well. there is no audible distortion really when using the bass boost, but I don't prefer to colour my music too much. I guess if you had severely lacking headphones it could come in handy, but I'm not really a basshead so I didn't pay much attention to that. i will tell you that it definitely works without distortion or serious loss of detail.
It can only play 16/ 44.1 . That's not massive I guess, but annoying for someone who has a fair collection of 24/96. Buyers beware,if you want 24/96 search elsewhere
For the very reasonable price, you get neutral amp/dac, that sufficiently drives headphones up to about 250 ohms. There's some cons but for the price/value, it's a great piece of equipment.