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Amp for Brainwavz HM5

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've been using the Fiio E6 and tbh it really hasn't added much for me other than get louder. Is there another amp in the <$70 price range that can bring out more in the HM5s? I prefer a slightly darker sound with a impactful bass that is still clean and tight, while the mids aren't recessed and vocals still shine. Should add more details to the music and maybe expand soundstage a bit. I know that's alot to ask for from a <$70 amp (The more portable, the better as well), but which one comes the closest to fufilling these traits. Thanks.



Set-Up Without E6 right now.




Fiio L3 LOD


iPod Touch 4G

post #2 of 14

Fiio e11 is great with it, as is the e10. One portable, one for home, both in your price range and you can get them used too.

Very best,
post #3 of 14

Fiio E11

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

How much of an upgrade is the E11 from the E6? What changes are going from one to the other?

post #5 of 14

The Fiio E11 is something to "try" to improve the sound of the HM5.

Put the Fiio 11 on high voltage, high gain, and full EQ boost, might change the HM5 to more of what your looking for.

Could also be the HM5 is not the sound you were looking for in the first place.

They are not bass heavy headphones, just decent bass.

I would say the sound from the HM5 is neutral and "real".

Maybe headphones like the Dt770 Pro 80-Ohm would be more to your liking.

post #6 of 14

Josh - just noticed this - and as per my reply to your PM.


  1. HM5 don't need an amp - they are ridiculously easy to drive.  An amp won't add anything except bulk, and preset hardware EQ.
  2. Better option for your iPod Touch 4 is the Equaliser app - it's a parametric equaliser so you can tune to your liking
  3. IF you do go the amp route - personally I can't recommend the E11.  Mine got an extremely sloppy jack after a year, and I had quite a bit of RF bleed with both idevices.  Just get a CMOY.  But again I don't recommend an amp.
  4. I agree with Purple ^ - if you don't like the HM5s default sound - maybe it's time to try an alternative headphone.  What don't you like about them?  What do you like about them?  Then can give more pointers.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

One last option- if i expand my budget to $100 max, would the digizoid zo2 be more of what i'm looking for? i hear it handles bass and bass boosting very well, while still keeping the details in the mids and highs. i REALLY don't want to sell the HM5s as I only got them 6 months ago and if i do, i may never find a single headphone that is for me BY ITSELF(no amp, just ipod).

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

How does the Zo's bass boost compare to the e11's bass boost in terms of area of bass affected, quality of bass, and quantity of bass?

post #9 of 14

I use the JDS Labs C421 with my HM5.  Sounds great.  I'm my subjective opinion I'd get this one:



post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SteveSatch View Post

I use the JDS Labs C421 with my HM5.  Sounds great.  I'm my subjective opinion I'd get this one:




Too far from my budget. I am looking to see if i can get an e11 and return it if it doesn't work for me. With that said, the things i hear about the Zo2 making the music more fun and engaging with a very customizable bass are very tempting. Anyone have more imput on the E11 vs Zo2? Also add in how the e11 OR the Zo2 is a step up from the E6 (Just reused that amp and it increased bass, but felt kinda muddy and unclear as well, so how do the other two amps improve on the E6?)

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 


post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

anyone else have thoughts on Zo2? Better off with the E11's bass boost?

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

About to buy the E11. Anyone else have any last minute options that best it in the <$70 range, now is the best time to say (portable amps only.)

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

So I finally got the E11 in the mail used for $45. I plugged it into my ipod touch, Fiio L3 to HM5s and my initial thoughts are for the most part positive.


Sound: They expanded the soundstage a noticeable amount as well as instrument separation between the 2 channels. However, at first listen on the standard music app, i found the vocals to be a little muddy or low end heavy. Not enough treble to bring out the details of the instruments or the singer's voice. So I tried using it in conjunction with the EQu app and to my surprise i found it worked alot better. I increased the treble to bring out the details better but with that brought less bass than i really wanted. So I put the amp on bass boost 2 and high gain and now they have a pretty solid impact in the bass without losing the detail of the treble. Now the only thing that would make this amp sound perfect is if it could bring the mids/vocals a tiny more forward in the sound spectrum. I could adjust the mids in EQu, but the result made them sound not as clear- it went back to the result of just having the amp playing through the standard music app.   7.5-8/10



Build: Decent. Since I got it used it was a little dented but hardly noticeable. the cover to the inside of the amp was backward when i got it, so i had to switch it back and even then one of the corners stuck out slightly. So even with the plastic exterior showing some wear and tear, i am confident the E11 won't up and break on me too easily.     7/10  



Overall: These are my 24 hour initial impressions. So I can't say this is my definitive conclusion as only time will tell. But for now, I'm giving it a solid 7.5/10

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