Pros: Powerful, clean output with slight warmth, small footprint, value for money, drives most headphones, nice connectability with E7
Cons: Limited Line In Options
I originally purchased the E7 - mainly as a portable dac/amp, but as time progressed, I wanted to use it mainly for my desktop (bypassing the onboard), and needed a more powerful amp as I progressed to upgrade my cans.
The obvious choice was to use the E9, and pair it with the E7.
From Fiio's packaging / website
- Output power : 1W (16ohm loaded), 80mW (600 ohm loaded)
- Headphone impedance range : 16 ohm to 600 ohm
- SNR (line in) : ≥100dB (A weight)
- Distortion (line in) : <0.003% (100mW)
- Frequency response : 10Hz ~100KHz
- Fixed line out 2V rms
- Adjustable out : 0-2V rms
- Power supply: DC15V / 1.5A
- Size : 149mm x 96mm x 56mm
- Weight : 445g
The E9 is built really well, and a lot of attention appears to have been paid to get it looking really nice. The E9 has a brushed aluminium chassis, a front face plate featuring dual inputs (3.5mm and 6.35mm) + power on LED and a very smooth volume potentiometer.
The top of the chassis has a dock for the E7 - and will also be able to be used for future Fiio products such as the E17 dac/amp and also their new DAP.
The rear plate has a power in plug (for the included plug), USB input (16bit/44.1 for using with the E7 docked into the E9), a hi/lo gain switch, dual fixed volume line-out RCA plugs, a variable 3.5mm line out, and a 3.5mm line in.
The overall build quality IMO is very good. No rough edges, everything fits perfectly, and the exterior design looks very classy.
Performance / My Thoughts
Although so far I haven't had any really hard to drive cans, the E7/E9 combination has been very good. It imparts a very small amount of warmth - which goes nicely with my Alessandros and Beyers (DT880 250 ohm). Overall though the E9 is very neutral, and appears to be extremely powerful. It is able to drive the Beyers very easily with the pot only just getting to between 9-10 o'clock (or about 25% of the available travel)
Even at high volumes the E9 has been noiseless on my set-up. No signs of hissing. I have only been using the 6.35mm headphone plug & to be honest I just could not imagine using IEMs with this amp - it's not what it was designed for.
I have my powered speakers plugged int o the fixed line-out RCAs and it is a really nice set-up. As soon as a headphone is plugged, the speakers are bypassed. I have also tried my iPod via LOD to the rear 3.5mm input, and this set-up also works flawlessly.
As a value for money desktop headphone amp - especially as an entry level - the Fiio E9 is very, very hard to beat. Sleek footprint, solid build, great sounding, and very reasonably priced. Fiio has a winner on their hands. This combined with the E17 (to be released) will be a very formidable entry level package.