FiiO E07K Andes Review
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The legend has returned. The FiiO E7 is one of the world's most famous budget DAC's and headphone amplifier. It skyrocketed FiiO to fame back when it came out. It was, and still is, on the lips of many new head-fi'ers as they come to look for a budget unit for their new setup. The E7 has aged in these last 2-3 years since it has been out, but now in 2012 and early 2013, the legend itself has returned. Updated and just as sleek and beautiful as the original was. I honestly can not think of another company that has been as major a brand of choice for a starter audiophile than FiiO. The E7 and FiiO has created and started more audiophiles than I can count. Let's take a look at it.
How To Use Video:
If you have ever held a(aluminum body) FiiO, then it should be self explanatory what the build of this little angel is. The aluminum is beautiful and sleek and highly well made. The edges meet incredibly well and its whole look is. It doesn't scratch easy and it doesn't scratch other things in your pockets easily*(if you don't throw many things in there).
What else do you want? The front screen is a reflective piece of material, possibly glass with a plastic sheet over it.
It should be noted by perfectionists that this model I received does have some non perfection. The white headphone symbols on top for the two jacks are a bit of a faded white. Same with everything else. It isn't full blanche, but does it really matter? I don't think personally but I have heard some people ask me. The volume + and - signs in the circles are also off center by a fraction of a mili meter. I don't really mind in any sense but this is for the perfectionists.
It comes with two screen protectors. You get to protect your screen but sadly it also has some issues. It is a generic screen protector and also large. The E07K's reflective screen area covers most of the front of the device. What you then get wtith a screen protector are peelings. The top and bottoms edges more or less peel away after a while and get dust underneath it. It looks quite ugly. The screen protector also dims and distorts the reflective screen. Women and men alike who want to use this as a mirror should note this. Without a screen protector, it works very well as a mirror.(see picture above)
After much time using it I have decided to not use the screen protector anymore. With 1 month of use and proper attachement of the screen protector, many parts are peeling already as dust gathers beneath it. The holding bands will also peel them up when I use my device.
The E07K's beauty is also revealed without it. Now at approximately nearley a month's time with this device. I am choosing not to use it. "Whatever will be, will be, the futures not ours to see" -Que Sera, Sera
You get a little nylon case as well, it does feel a bit baggy sometimes on it. I would say that the case prevents other items in your pockets from potentially getting hurt rather than drop damage. The case is very light and thin. Won't really protect against a fall. In my opinion, The ANDES looks beautiful without a screen protector and case. The secondary big lock style case is more of a travel case. Roomy enough to put an L9 in there with it.
You get a choice between protecting your E07K from your keys with the nylon case, but it reduces the E07K's attractive points by a full 100pts out of 150 in my opinion.(Bad Game joke by the way)
At the time of this writing, FiiO on their Facebook page has stated that they will offer(most?) accessories for free but that the user will need to pay freight charge. This is due to freight international being much much more expensive than that screen protector, leg peg, nylon case that was bought in bulk. Rejoice everyone. It will take 15-20 days from the looks of their estimate.
The Andes is a beautifully designed product that works very well as well. It's OS and EQ system is battle proven by the E17 to be a working formula and the additon of the LO Bypass switch and hold switch also make it even more useful. It is literally a down-spec'd E17. The standoff plastic legs that come with it also work very well as a standoff against the device you want to use it with as it prevents sliding and scratching of your smart phone or device. With a strap on the E07K, it can sometimes be hard to find where the up and down volume buttons are but it really isn't a big issue none the less.
It is kinda hard for me to talk about Usability even more as its bottom dock has literally stayed the same for years and there is little to want to change about it.
The E07K is very well designed but it does have some quirks. The standoff plastic legs that come with it slide after a while(it leaves a glue trail) and thus your inner pocket dust bunnies and other material stick to it. Some people may have a quirk with this but I don't see it as a problem. Next the controls of the Andes are opposite side of the controls on the iPhone and other devices which are popularily used with FiiO's. Putting the E07K back to back with that device makes it so that the volume contrlols are opposite the original ones. This may help un confuse those that need to switch between E07K control and their smartphone. I found it weird but found no problem changing volume at all. My thumb does the job well enough. Like I already mentioned before, the screen protector peeling off is a distraction and lowers the beauty of the device. The controls also WILL confuse you for the first 2 weeks that you use it. You will continuously forget what is enter and what is exit and may be even get angry a few times but this is what the device is like.
The ANDES and E7 both feature dual headphone outs but of course this has there own quircks. Some may not think about it but pairing a Q701 on one side and a IEM on the other when sharing is not a good idea. The power outputted is approx the same to both sides. With different driveability headphones, you either make it too quiet or too loud. This was a problem when I shared Apple Earpods and MH1C's with my cousin's.
This was tested with the FiiO E07K Andes, Audio-gd NFB 12.1, Miu Audio MRB, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 2G, Macbook Pro. The equipment I have and could have used are in my profile page.
Some people prefer to listen to music at a very low volume. I see nothing wrong with that but for testing purposes some problems or highlights can only be unveiled at more "modern" listening levels in my opinion. These do not include blow your ear scream-o levels, but more like the type that isn't too loud but comfortable enough for most modern adults or teens.
Nothing detected be it that you believe in it on SS devices or brain burn in.
It has more or less the same amount of power as the E17. ~240mW @ 16 ohms.
E07K as amp and DAC:
The E07K is a very smooth sounding device. That is all the truth to this device that I can possibly sum up in a few words.
The mids and vocals do take a spent back in presentation. They do not carry the weight or authority that an Audio-gd or Objective unit would give you with the vocals. To explain, I mean that the mids on the ANDES are very close to the bass. They don't come out to the front to present themselves as much as other units such as the MIU MRB or O2 would.
The bass of the E07K is much more present in terms of authority and presentation than my testing units. Instead of seperate zones that are further apart on my test units that I am using as "reference" units for this review. The E07K brings the bass/low frequency regions presentation to be closer to the mids. They are also more loud and present. I have tested to make sure my switching between units is not accounting for this. They are also a bit boomy. Do not let the connotation of the word boomy in this niche area put you off. They are just more boomy compared to more perfected refernece units of this price point. The loose some of the huge punch but it is not unpleasant. IT is actually quite pleasant. I am a universal listener being both a treble head and a bass head. The universality of FiiO's sound has always been situated into it's bass and especially their bass boosting capabilitie(I am not using bass boost).
The highs are a bit dulled off. This isn't bad, this is of course compared to my testing units. They will offer the user the sound that they want of course. Crisp. But I find that it just didn't deliver what I wanted for highs. Very bright highs are not a good thing of course. So these do protect the listeners ears. They are very good for the unit and price though.
Amp only with iPod lining out:
FiiO has always made devices that scream one thing. Universal sound. Their target group generally aren't the flat all you want type of people. I can see why. Some just don't like the more "accurate" sound of these "audiophile" products these days. When I get congestion, even I get a affinity for other things. The E07K builds off FiiO's already well known formula of universality.
The ANDES is warm/sweet/fun. These words are audio jargon that can mean different things to different people. What I mean by them is that the sound it produces is very comfortable to the average consumer. Not overly analytical,fatiguing, metalic, bass-shy. Headphones GENERALLY with those qualities are not considered warm/sweet/fun. The E07K does a good job of not overly amplifying the fatiguing elements of a song. Of course this is all comparative but I personally say that it is more song friendly than a majority of amps.(consumer market in cheap products)
The bass as with the Alpen I had and the E02i and E5 are all different but their principle behind them are very parallel. A bass induced phenomenon of wonder and hit. Some songs just don't sound good with a highly controlled bass hit. The HFI 580 headphone for example suffers from this. When it is paired with an amp that has a weak bass responce(for any technical reason or another) or one who's bass is highly controlled it suffers immensely. The bass on all of FiiO's units I have heard fix that by not going to any extreme formula of sloppy car sub or amnetic bass.
Andes mids are very controlled. They don't spread across the spectrum(in a good or bad way). It is in a solid spot in my opinion. I personally feel it to be a bit too constrained compared to what I usually listen to on my desktop but it does offer a very front but slightly laid back vocal. I find that while the vocals are slightly more forward, it doesn't fully make you feel the need to be engaged(could be bad or good).
The highs are very controlled. Nothing too out of place or too bright. I would lean towards a more lack of a sparkle for most cases. This is of course comparing to a O2 which will serve as a middle ground. But that lack of a sparkle that I find isn't really a con for most. It already does extremely well.
I find that no matter what fault I have been trying to find with FiiOs recent devices. The price point they offer it at leaves me little to go off on. The majority of my main criticisms of this device would be in the accessories of this device. They come with a boat load but some of them just don't seem to go well. Some feel hapsidasily thrown in. But even if it feels like they were, they still have little fault in it. The screen protector has peeling problems due to the large area it must cover and how often the user's fingers or objects are near that area. The furry cloth case also seems a bit counter intuitive. It features a loose fit, is big, and while it can be used for storage or travelling, seems not not be needed. This is a portable/travel device of course.
FiiO has done it again I would say. I never had the original E7 but with the way this device sounds and can be used for the price, I have much to like about it. It is an extremely well built and beautiful device and sounds great. It is available for the same price as the original E7 was officially available for. The legend has returned with new features, a new more modern look and usage and it sounds great.
Audio Sonic quality: 9/10
Output Power =242m@ @ 16 Ohms
Peak Output Current=64mA
Battery Life=20 hours
Charge time=180 minutes
Output impendence=.25ohms @ 16ohms loaded
Op amps: AD8692 and TI TPA6130A
Sample Rate max=24bit/96KHz
USB receiver=TI PCM2706
Edited by bowei006 - 1/2/13 at 2:20pm