I was introduced to Fiio when I purchased an E17 Alpen six months ago. Since then the E17 has been in daily use on my desktop and in my pocket. I think it's one of the best values in audio. So I was very excited to get a chance to review their new guitar headphone amp, the G1.
The G1 is designed primarily for the guitarist who wants to practice without disturbing neighbors or family. It's a pretty cool piece of gear.
First of all it sounds pretty good. It can go from a sweet clean tone to classic distortion with a simple turn on the gain knob at the bottom of the amp. You can adjust the amount of gain or overdrive, and the amp sounds very nice through almost the whole range. It is a sold state device, of course, and like most solid state overdrive/distortion units, it did get a touch fizzy at maximum gain. I prefer blues and fusion, so this wasn't an issue for me. It offers a great blues tone. I'm not sure how guitarists who play metal will feel about it though. One of the things that I loved about the G1 was that, even with the gain up pretty high, the unit cleaned up nicely as you back off on the volume from your guitar. As a player who primarily plays tube amps, this is a must.
One of the things that impressed me about my E17 Alpen was the build quality. The G1 certainly isn't as solid as the E17. There's more plastic here, but I think it's a necessary compromise. I wouldn't want something as heavy as the E17 hanging from my Les Paul. The plastic makes the G1 nice and light. You barely notice the amp, whether your sitting down or standing up. Otherwise, I had no problems with the workmanship of the G1.
The best thing about the G1 is that you can plug a music source into it. Whether it's mp3, flac, cd or whatever, you can plug in with an 1/8" jack, set your level, and through your phones, hear your guitar, front and center, jamming along with your favorite track. I had everything pumping through my Grado SR80is, and I was a very happy boy.
About the only thing that disappointed me was that I could not plug into either of my Strats. The jack will not fit into that type of Fender input.
I'm not sure what the final price on this will be, but if it's in line with Fiios other products, this is a very nice and useful addition to any guitarists gear collection. I wish I'd had one of these when I was a young guitarist who wanted to practice and jam all night long.