I'll just add my findings to this thread, and maybe update along as I find more to write about.
Some of what I write will be redundant to what iJimmy wrote, but I'll try to keep that to a minimum.
Unboxing & Pictures
The opened box for the G01 with all it's included contents. The box is completely transparent.
The contents of the box: Instruction manual, G01 guitar amplifier, 2 silicone bands, microUSB cable.
Back of the G01.
More Pictures (Click to show)
First of all, the G01 is very light weight, and while a little bulkier than I had once imagined, does not affect portability.
It plugs right into the guitar and still has a clearance; I do not own any Strats so unfortunately I cannot comment on its fit. Needless to say, however, FiiO must have put Strats into consideration, being one of the more iconic guitars out there.
G01 size compared to a Smokey Amp, which also comes in used cigarette box format. Small enough!
The G01 can indeed hold a strap. I'm not sure if the sample units are supposed to have one included, but mine did not.
The silicone bands included serve to add color to amp, but also to serve as bumpers. The aluminum face and back do have a bit of edges to them, which some might fear it can scratch their precious axe... the silicone bands, once placed, protrude over the edges for extra protection to both the unit itself and the G01. On a realistic note, however, the way the G01 plugs into the guitar leaves little chances of it scratching guitars.
Perhaps different color silicone bands will eventually be available. If not, rubber bands can also be used.
Without fitting the silicone bands the amp is definitely a more neutral and monotone color, but the edges of the aluminum plates may induce fear of scratching.
The G01 runs on a built-in lithium battery. This is quite convenient, but in the very long run the batteries might no longer be functional.
It can theoretically run 15hrs of play (if my memory serves me right), and while I've yet to try that, 1~2 hours of guitar + AUX in audio will definitely not deplete the battery.
Competing products such as the Vox AMPlug also claims similar or even more hours achievable with common household battery sizes.
So whether built-in battery is a pro or a con can vary depending on the user. Generally speaking, it is not a bad thing at all.
The internal battery is charged via microUSB, of which a cable is included in the box.
One feature that I really like about the G01, is the fact that it has a ON/OFF slider switch.
Like many if not most FiiO products, a blue light will indicate POWER ON; red light indicates low battery or charging (if plugged in).
Now one feature that was important to many owners of FiiO headphone amps, is the ability to use the unit while charging. Let me say that in the case of the G01, it is YES and NO.
Upon powering up the unit and plugging in the USB cable, I notice that the LED indicated had both red and blue lit (or purple). From the looks of it, playing the guitar with a USB plugged in might not be the most convenient unless you have an extension USB cord, but at least it could mean that if the batteries stop functioning you're not left with a paper weight.
BUT! The catch here is that the USB port and the headphone jack are located so close to one another that even really thin profile plugs such as on my JVC HA-M750, PortaPro, or even V-MODA cables cannot be plugged simultaneously with the microUSB. Forget heavy duty plugs, or even Neutrik/Switchcraft.
Both lights are on, and the microUSB is plugged in. At this point, even the low profile V-MODA cable cannot be plugged in.
If ever it was in FiiO's intent to allow use during charging, a slight shift in port locations might be a good idea.
The three pots; Drive, Tone, and Volume, are properly labeled in both their names and directionality. The wheels on the other hand are completely black with no additional markings. If you want to pre-set a sound, it would be best to dial it plugged-in as there are no indicators on how far you've turned the settings until you reach the min/max. This is not so important, however, as you essentially cannot see the wheels when the G01 is plugged in.
I've tested the G01 till now with two electric guitars and electric basses. One thing I will first mention is that they have typical jacks, that is to say they are not partially recessed like iJimmy's JEM.
To accommodate different types of guitars, the G01 will protrude a bit from the guitar--the distance between a guitar with standard jack to the G01 will be a bit over 1cm. As previously mentioned, the knob labels cannot be read in this position, but it is VERY easy to get used to, and in fact rather effortless to handle.
The knobs spin very well, offering little resistance under your fingertips. This can be a problem.
If you like to practice while sitting on your bed, you might end up turning the knobs by accident. The knobs are loose enough to be turned almost from 0 to max settings if the G01 touches, say, your bed sheets. That was my case, anyhow, and it can essentially spike the volume to unhealthy levels as each knob will affect the output volume in a way or another. This brings me back to the idea of saving a 'preset'... since the knobs are that sensitive, it is very difficult to keep a certain setting if the G01 is being carried around. Having pots that are a bit stiffer might be a good idea.
Sitting on the side of the bed, the amp is well in contact with the bed (case exaggerated with a bass). Loose knobs will cause any small movements to toggle DRIVE.
All of the instruments tested also use active components, with which I was able to still gain more than satisfactory volume on headphones with 150ohms impedance.
My thoughts on the sound is pretty similar to iJimmy's so I will not make much elaborations here:
Click to view iJimmy's review on Sound (Click to show)
I'll start by noting something about the tone: I keep it in the middle (or slightly to the left of it). Turned all the way to the right, the sound is too thin for me. Turned all the way to the left, it is muddy.
Clean (Drive: 0%): The FiiO G01 has nice cleans. No, you won't get a Fender Twin Reverb clean out of it, but that's not what the G01's target group is.
It is excellent if you want to practice at night or when you're not at home and you don't have access to a full-size amplifier. Lows, mids and highs all come out nicely. I would have loved it to be a bit warmer though. 7.5/10
Crunch (Drive: 50%): This was definitely my favorite channel on the G01. With the drive at about 50%, you get a really nice crunch on the G01, that is GREAT for jamming and practicing. I really believe this is where I'll keep my G01 most of the time. Lows are full (although there's a slight hint of processing sometimes, but you won't notice this much jamming with scales), mids are nice and crunchy, almost perfect really. Highs are clear and nice. 9/10
Distorted (Drive: 100%): This was my least favorite channel. Although still decent and playable, I felt it was too processed and actually did not have enough gain. You don't get a 50% increase in gain compared to Crunch, and you gain some mud and a processed sound for it. Lows were processed, so were the mids and highs, but they were less processed (It's still there though). Pinch harmonics were also not as strong as I would've liked. 6/10
-Tone at 0 sounds quite muddy.
-Tone at 50%+ sounds quite good; it can also be tuned to make nice slap n' pop on bass.
-Drive + Tone at 100% you get an almost MIDI-like sound... not truly a interesting setting. MIDI-like is exaggerated but it's getting there. It could be my guitar.
I truly enjoy the cleans out of the G01, with anywhere above 30% tone.
I will just mention that the G01 is very quiet when the tone and drive knobs are at 0, something I don't encounter with most of the full-sized amps I've tried ($400 models as upper-limit... mind you, in CAD; everything here is more expensive). The volume pot is dead quiet. That's always a good thing.
The face and back plate are both brushed aluminum, like many other FiiO products. The rest is completely plastic.
While the gap that goes along the whole unit's center may give the impression that the product is cheaply built, it feels very solid. Pressing with my fingers as far as I can, I can feel no notable deflection anywhere.
The plug flips in and out to storage. This is a lot less stress on the cables inside compared to sliding in and out.
But as a hinge, we can also expect this place to be the weakest part of the entire unit. The plug is stopped at 90 degrees by a plastic stopper, which should be more than strong enough under normal use. Basic care is recommended when plugging and unplugging the unit, as well as while in use.
The hinge at work, with the cable. Remember that the plug is 1/4". Not sure what I am seeing on the interior, that wasn't the point of this picture.
The retracted plug does not sit flush inside it's compartment due to the spring, but will not protrude either. Without the silicone bumpers a small bit on the side may protrude but is still not likely to be caught in anything to cause any form of danger to your equipments or the G01 itself.
Some days the plug doesn't feel like staying in. Can you see it? It's the little bump on the right side. Not obvious enough huh!
A button is used to release the plug from either lock position, and the worse that happens to it seems to be that it can be a little squeaky... but even that is in the realms of nitpicking.
For those that will store the G01 in tight spaces though, the button may be engaged accidentally with pressure as it sits on the face of the amp. If ever that is you, keeping a rubber hand across the center of the unit will prevent the plug from releasing.
The ports are one of my favorite part. The microUSB jack is quite solid, no qualms here. The Headphone and AUX jack are the most solid ones I've tried among my E17 and my brother's E9! No matter what 3.5mm plug I try, and no matter how much I push it sideways (reasonable force, I'm not trying to break my plug) there is no drop in signal at all. It doesn't even budge sideways, at all.
Headphones plugged to the Headphone jack, with music playing. Laptop sitting ON the headphone plug, and absolutely does not budge it nor causes any sound to be lost.
In fact, I wish my E17 has a jack like this, except below:
The headphone jack does NOT support TRRS plugs. The AUX jack does.
So no Apple earbuds! If you're using a headphone with inline microphone and the cable is not removable, you will be losing part of the sound. This may be to your advantage though.
The channel lost is the same one as when cables start to break (or when it's not grounded); you lose the main channel. Depending on the track mixing of the song you're using, you can tune in to essentially the off-vocal or karaoke version of the song. This can be potentially useful for careful listening to specific tracks--if the track in question is not gone.
Sadly that only applies to music analyzing. With the main vocal track gone, it also means the main guitar track is gone. This also means that you will hear little to nothing of your own guitar.
If a TRRS plug is truly the only thing you have, your only work-around is to insert the plug with about 2~3mm remaining on the outside. Otherwise, consider an extension cord that ends with a TRS plug.
This might be something FiiO should consider changing, as more and more headphones today have inline mics.
For those that do not know what TRS/TRRS is: TRRS (left) and TRS (right).
Up till now I only had the chance to have my cousin try it, and he loved it. His only complaint was that it does not have enough effects--which I cannot deny, but we can all agree that for effects we're looking at a whole different ball game.
Without a price known yet (See post 16), it is hard to say whether or not the G01 will represent good value. Looking at how most FiiO products have been up till now, we can hopefully expect a YES here.
A nice little portable amp that is lacking a bit in Drive sound. For bass it's actually quite pleasing as-is, and I can only wonder what the one geared towards bass will sound like!
Naturally, those seeking very specific types of amp sound might be finding their way into other products that have preset amp emulation.
The G01 has been found to have RF interference sometimes. This scenario has been produced and reproduced by plugging my iPhone 4S into the AUX of the G01, with the two units at short distance from one another.
Tabulated Notes (Pros/Cons)
+ Silicone straps add color and protection as bumpers.
- Plug does not always retract flush (without bumpers).
+/- Simultaneous red+blue light suggests being usable while charging, but plugs do not fit.
- Knobs are quite loose, sitting on the bed can cause major volume spikes.
+ Nice and secure 3.5mm jacks, absolutely no loss in channel/signals fiddling with it.
+ Volume pot is dead quiet (might be different with high sensitivity IEMs?).
+ ON/OFF slider switch.
+/- Build-in Battery (in the long run, depends on end-user).
- Headphone jack does not support TRRS plugs.
If there is anything anyone would like me to try, ask away!
Changelog 12-09-2012: added Other Notes, pictures, and quote to iJimmy's review on sound.
Edited by kalbee - 9/10/12 at 9:12pm