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Thinking of upgrading from the FiiO E7/E9.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have been using the FiiO amps on all my headphones (see signature), and the E9 is used for the more demanding headphones like the Thunderpants, HD600, and DT990/600ohm. The source is coming from an iPod classic going through the Pure i20's DAC. Is it possible to have these headphones perform any better from a different amp/dac setup? I'm only willing to spend about $100 more than what the FiiO E7/E9 combo costs. So the budget is around ~$300. The Pure i20 has digital out (coaxial/optical outs), so I'd like an amp + dac combo that has coaxial/optical in and the setup will look like: iPod > Pure i20 > (new amp/dac) > headphones. Any recommendations are appreciated. DIY amp/dac stuff is fine with me as well. Thanks!

post #2 of 8

I'm personally a big fan of the Audio-gd NFB-11.  The Sabre32 ES9018 is a beast.  Highly-resolving and detailed.  The only sticking point is that it will expose source flaws.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

I'm personally a big fan of the Audio-gd NFB-11.  The Sabre32 ES9018 is a beast.  Highly-resolving and detailed.  The only sticking point is that it will expose source flaws.


Thanks for that suggestion! It's exactly what I'm looking for. Now how would they compare to the E9/E7 combo and what's price on them? Thanks!

 

post #4 of 8

Quote:

Originally Posted by sysfail View Post

Thanks for that suggestion! It's exactly what I'm looking for. Now how would they compare to the E9/E7 combo and what's price on them? Thanks!

 

The E7/E9 combo is $200 USD.  The NFB-11, by comparison, is $280 USD (but has to be shipped from China).  I think shipping cost me about $40 USD.

 

As far as SQ goes, both are good buys at their respective prices.  The E7 uses the Wolfson WM8740 chip, which is known to be a good chip.  The Sabre32 ES9018 is a newer chip, and is being used in a lot of higher-end DACs as well.  However, as far as which one is "better", that's highly dependent on the end user's ears.

 

The Wolfson chips tend to have good detail, but are also a little bit warm and smooth.  If you've ever listened to a Zune straight out of the headphone jack, that's the kind of sound you get out of Wolfson chips (as the Zune line employs Wolfson chips for their onboard D/A conversion).  The Sabre32, on the other hand, is highly-detailed and more neutral.  I wouldn't describe it as analytical, but if there are flaws in your source, they're going to be glaringly obvious with this DAC chip.  Based on its ruthlessness, I'd go with the Wolfson-based DAC if your source isn't up to snuff.  Also, make note, this doesn't just mean that your files should be in 320kbps mp3 or lossless, because even the highest-quality audio files will sound horrendous if they weren't recorded/engineered/mastered properly.

 

The NFB-12 is basically the same as the NFB-11, except using the Wolfson WM8741 instead of the Sabre32 ES9018. At $200 USD, I always felt it was a better buy than the E7/E9, but seeing as you already own the E7/E9, I wouldn't go this route.  It's not a significant enough upgrade.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for the info sridhar3! I guess I'll wait a little bit and shop around because I hear FiiO is also coming out with new stuff like an amp with a built-in DAC and has coax/optical in. It's supposed to be better than the FiiO E9/E7 combo as well in both the amp aspect and the dac aspect.

post #6 of 8

Quote:

Originally Posted by sysfail View Post

Thanks a lot for the info sridhar3! I guess I'll wait a little bit and shop around because I hear FiiO is also coming out with new stuff like an amp with a built-in DAC and has coax/optical in. It's supposed to be better than the FiiO E9/E7 combo as well in both the amp aspect and the dac aspect.


Anytime.  Good luck with the hunt.  It never ends >_<

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

Quote:


Anytime.  Good luck with the hunt.  It never ends >_<


I know! confused_face.gif

 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I think I've narrowed it down to a few amps. The Cavalli CTH, CKKIII, and the NFB-11/12. Which would be the greatest upgrade from the FiiO E9 powering the headphones I have in my signature?

 

EDIT: I also decided on just getting a seperate DAC and amp. So I need DAC advices around the ~$150 price range with Coaxial/Optical input and will also support the sample/bit rates higher than the E7's 16/44 rates.


Edited by sysfail - 5/23/11 at 8:22pm
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