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FiiO E11 vs Little Dot Micro+... A "Micro" review...

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I recently purchased and received a new pair of Mr Speakers Mad Dogs with all the options as well as a new FiiO E11 amp with extra battery and charger.

After putting a full charge on the stock battery via USB, I've gotten a total of roughly 9 hours out of it. That's with the amp set to "High Voltage" and "High Gain". The bass EQ has been left off. The volume has been between 5 and 6 most of the time, sometimes up to almost 7, sometimes a little below 5.

The LDM+ is just a straight forward amp. No settings at all. Just a volume knob that doubles as the power switch. Within the past week, I have logged close to 50 hours on it. The kicker there is that this amp is still running of a full charge I put on it well over 5 years ago!!! That's right, you read that correctly. It's still running off a 5+ year old charge!

Since last week, I have put roughly 45 hours on it powering my trusty, 20+ year old Sony 7506's. I have put another 4 hours or so on it powering the Mad Dogs at about 90% max volume. IIRC, this is the normal gain amp, not the high gain one they offered, so it doesn't quite have the balls of the E11 as far as sheer output is concerned.

With that said...

The Mad Dogs are known to be a little on the darker, warmer side of the spectrum. You may also know, the same holds true for the E11 amp. Together, this makes for a really really warm sound overall. In the process, it's making the bass and lower midrange a little overbearing, making everything a bit bass heavy and both male and female vocals extra chunky and chesty sounding. Bass definition ins't really there in this combo. The bass has a thick fuzzy edge to it which makes more of a dull thud rather than a sharp thump or thwack. The heavy midrange and vocals makes the entire experience quite congested. On top of this, the treble is rolled off more than it should be. So in short, being a bit extreme, but it's pretty much listening to mud.

Like I stated above, the E11's stock battery just ran out of juice after 9 hours or so. The reason I've switched back to the LDM+ is because that extra battery and charger that I got (as a kit mind you from Amazon) is a complete dud. I pulled it off the charger and installed it in the E11, turned it on and nothing. The power LED didn't even attempt to light up. Just completely dead! It's been on the charger ever since I got it and the light on the charger just glowed a solid, dim red. Not knowing exactly how the light on the charger is supposed to work, I didn't know if it was charging or not and the directions on the box are very poorly translated/written. Apparently it was not charging. I put the stock battery on the charger and the LED on it is fading and flashing to a bunch of different colors now. Now I know why in the directions it was referring to the light as a "rainbow". Now it makes sense. LOL

I even tried charging that extra battery in the E11 for the past couple of hours to see if it would charge that way, and it's still dead. How nice...

Anyway, I have the LDM+ powering the Mad Dogs again, still on that 5+ year old charge, and believe it or not, but this little amp sounds much better than the E11 with these cans! Bass is very tight and clean with plenty of extension and punch. The midrange and vocals sound a lot better now, though still just a tad bit on the warm, full side. However, they are more forward now as well. The treble is brighter, more forward, yet still silky smooth. The sound stage is actually a little wider and deeper, probably due to the better treble extension and more open midrange.

There's still room for improvement, but I'm hoping that will come with more break-in time on the Mad Dogs'. I would like the treble to open up a little more, and I would really like that midrange to thin out and open up more. It still has that heavy sound to the vocals. This heavy vocal sound is also a trait of the Sony 7506's. Hmm... I'm wondering if this is typical of the Mad Dogs with very few hours on them. You never see people telling how they sound fresh out of the box, just after they have about 50 hours or more on them.

Just an FYI, the source is either an iPhone 4G or iPad (original) via a FiiO L10 LOD cable.

Your input/comments are welcome.
post #2 of 2
Thread Starter 
This is weird...

I just fired up the E11 this morning with the Mad Dogs and now it sounds fine. So much so that I decided to match the levels with the LDM+, and swap back and forth several times with different music. Now the E11 sounds the way it should. How this is possible compared to what I wrote yesterday is beyond me.

Just like that, the entire sound of the E11 has improved drastically after the second battery recharge. confused_face.gif

The bass has leaned out a little and tightened up, being fairly crisp now. The lower midrange and vocals also have cleaned up. There's still a slight bit of thickness there, but that has to be the headphones, not the amp(s). The treble has also come up front some as well. The sound stage is more open due to all of these improvements. This is more or less what I was originally expecting from this setup just from reading all of the reviews and such about them.

The best part, it now edges out the LDM+ in every way. Not by a huge margin either, but enough to justify the purchase and to be satisfied with the new amp. And just think, yesterday I was pondering the idea of returning this little amp and getting my money back! I'm sure some of this has to do with the Mad Dogs breaking in some more as well. Who knows, but I'm happy now! biggrin.gif
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