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m50's love the Fiio E7/E9

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

Hey everybody,

     I have noticed a sizable number of questions regarding the potential improvements one can expect from a dac/amping the Audio Technica m50's. Having just combined my m50's with an E7/E9 I wanted to share my two cents. I compared the output of a computer with an EMU-202, an iPhone and a computer hooked up to the E7/E9 and I have to say the differences were astonishing. Listening to the song "Overture" by Dream theater on all three devices at the same volume, here is my non-technical (I am no audiophile) impression of the sound:

 

- iPhone: The song sounded really claustrophobic in comparison to the other two, with the instruments sounding as if they had been cramped into the same small space. Instrument separation was noticeably poorer and the soundstage was non-existent. The bass was muffled at times and some of the cymbals sounded harsh. I would describe the overall sound as being lacking in depth and clarity.

 

- Fiio E7/E9: What an astonishing improvement over the iPhone! The first thing that will strike you is the complete lack of hiss during the silent portions of the music. Rather than the music sounding flat, it is as if there is a little room built around your head with speakers enveloping your head in music. The bass is noticeably more punchy and each instrument is easily isolated and enjoyed. The highs are crystal clear without being harsh and fatiguing. There is an overall sense of clarity and detail that allows one to focus on air drumming and feet tapping and not worry about the music not sounding its best.

 

- From the EMU-202: The EMU alone actually had less of a hiss than just the Fiio E7 but the combination of Fiio E7/E9 was on par with the EMU in terms of background hiss. Many of the positives that the Fiio E7/E9 combination had were reflected in the EMU as well with the exception of the bass sounding relatively muffled at times and the soundstage being smaller.

 

One interesting and noticeable quality I noticed with adding the E9 to the E7 was that the E9 sounded deeper and livelier at a lower volume than would be required if one was using just the E7.

 

Overall, there is most certainly a sizable leap in performance from combining the m50 with a dac/amp that is in my mind worth paying double the cost of the headphone itself. For the doubting thomas's and the skeptical newbies out there- go ahead and invest in a dac/amp! Audiophile or not, you will be able to notice an astonishing improvement.

 

Abhi

post #2 of 46

Hey Abhi,

 

Love the review. I have had the m50's for about a month now and am really enjoying them. I was thinking of investing in a dac/amp since the sound from my netbook is actually pretty weak. In comparison, it sounds decent with my Droid X and PowerAMP. I know the m50's sound fine unamped and many say an amp for them is overkill since they are so easy to drive. How do you feel about just the e7 for the m50? I'm leaning towards buying it since my bday is coming up and want your opinion on it. Appreciate it, thanks!

post #3 of 46

Thanks for your review..Im planning on getting the e7/e9 but the upcoming e11 looks tempting as well. Anyways thanks for your impressions

post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mingdizzle View Post

Hey Abhi,

 

Love the review. I have had the m50's for about a month now and am really enjoying them. I was thinking of investing in a dac/amp since the sound from my netbook is actually pretty weak. In comparison, it sounds decent with my Droid X and PowerAMP. I know the m50's sound fine unamped and many say an amp for them is overkill since they are so easy to drive. How do you feel about just the e7 for the m50? I'm leaning towards buying it since my bday is coming up and want your opinion on it. Appreciate it, thanks!

 

Actually at work I use just the E7 with the m50 as carrying my E9 to work everyday is a bit of an ordeal. The m50's show a drastic improvement with the E7 as a DAC over say an onboard sound card or a portable source. In general you get most of the benefits of the E7/E9 combination sacrificing only some clarity, crispness in bass and the strange phenomenon where music seems to sound as good at lower volumes. The other consideration is that if you have the newer white box m50's and want a little more bass you can use the E7's bass boost to compensate for any perceived lack of bass. 

 

I would say that overall its a worthwhile investment especially considering that in the long term you can add the E9 which will future proof you for higher sensitivity headphones that you may buy in future.
 

 

post #5 of 46

I completely agree with this post.  I was amazed at the ammount of "life" in the M50's that was just waiting to be pushed.  They sound great un amped but wow with the E9 it's crazy!

post #6 of 46

This describes my m50 performance when comparing my j3 pmp to my u22 audio interface perfectly. They really open up on the interface. I certainly do not mind them unamped on my j3, but when doing critical listening for production I was so pleasantly surprised to notice this!

post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Borgbox View Post

This describes my m50 performance when comparing my j3 pmp to my u22 audio interface perfectly. They really open up on the interface. I certainly do not mind them unamped on my j3, but when doing critical listening for production I was so pleasantly surprised to notice this!


I currently listen to J3 and M50 as well! Do you think I'd hear a big difference if I get the e7/e9 combo for my laptop?

 

I've heard many laptops have bad soundcard and other technical aspects that bring down the sound quality, but I couldn't really hear a big difference between my J3 and my laptop headphone out. I always wondered whether having a DAC for my laptop would be a noticeable improvement over the J3.
 

 


Edited by juman231 - 3/10/11 at 5:56pm
post #8 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by juman231 View Post




I currently listen to J3 and M50 as well! Do you think I'd hear a big difference if I get the e7/e9 combo for my laptop?

 

I've heard many laptops have bad soundcard and other technical aspects that bring down the sound quality, but I couldn't really hear a big difference between my J3 and my laptop headphone out. I always wondered whether having a DAC for my laptop would be a noticeable improvement over the J3.
 

 

 

There will be a huge improvement from your j3 or laptop out guaranteed. I have a creative X-Fi which is a reasonably good sound card at work and the difference between that output and the E7/E9 is noticeable for sure. If you ask me it's totally worth the 150% premium on the headphones.
 

 

post #9 of 46

Abhisheknath, how are you connecting your iPhone to E7?

post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 

Well I never have connected my iPhone to the E7. When I listen through the E7/E9, I hook up the E7 to the PC/MAC as a dac and use the E9 as amp.

 

I don't believe there is a way to bypass the iPhone's DAC so if you hook up your E7 to the iPhone via line out or the headphone jack, the sound is not going to improve as much as if you were using the E7 as a dac through your PC/MAC.

post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhisheknath View Post



 

There will be a huge improvement from your j3 or laptop out guaranteed. I have a creative X-Fi which is a reasonably good sound card at work and the difference between that output and the E7/E9 is noticeable for sure. If you ask me it's totally worth the 150% premium on the headphones.
 

 



thanks for your answer. And when using the m50, is the sound quality much different when using e7 alone and using e7 and e9 together?

post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by juman231 View Post





thanks for your answer. And when using the m50, is the sound quality much different when using e7 alone and using e7 and e9 together?


can anyone answer this question? I'm actually planning to get one from amazon and if I don't hear any difference, return them. i just want to know if I'd need both to hear and appreciate the difference?

 

post #13 of 46
Thread Starter 

I think the most appreciable difference when using the E7/E9 rather than just the E9, is that you get more at a lower volume. Everything is livelier and has a larger soundstage at a lower volume than would be required if you were just using the E7. Thats a very good thing if you don't wont to damage your hearing for extended listening periods. The bass is definitely more punchy too.

 

Otherwise I think the difference is very subtle with the m50's. I want to say the clarity is improved with the E9 but it's hard to make that statement for sure.

post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhisheknath View Post



 

There will be a huge improvement from your j3 or laptop out guaranteed. I have a creative X-Fi which is a reasonably good sound card at work and the difference between that output and the E7/E9 is noticeable for sure. If you ask me it's totally worth the 150% premium on the headphones.
 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhisheknath View Post

I think the most appreciable difference when using the E7/E9 rather than just the E9, is that you get more at a lower volume. Everything is livelier and has a larger soundstage at a lower volume than would be required if you were just using the E7. Thats a very good thing if you don't wont to damage your hearing for extended listening periods. The bass is definitely more punchy too.

 

Otherwise I think the difference is very subtle with the m50's. I want to say the clarity is improved with the E9 but it's hard to make that statement for sure.


So....I'm guessing what you're trying to say is that getting e7/e9 combo will be a "huge improvement" from laptop HO or J3's HO, but when using it on my laptop, the difference in having only the e7 compared to having e7/e9 combo is the livelier sound as well as bigger soundstage with punchier bass?
 

 

post #15 of 46
Thread Starter 

Yes =)

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