Hello everyone. I am a longtime music lover, recently turned amateur headphone enthusiast. I have been reading headfi reviews and forums while I gained my bearings as I've started this new hobby, and would like to finally begin contributing.
I received my E12 yesterday, and previously used an E11 as my primary portable amp. I also have several cMoys, and a couple of inexpensive tube amps. I own many budget/mid range headphones and wanted to offer to try and answer any questions anyone might have about how the E12 compares to the E11, general questions, or synergy questions (I have listened to both amps with mdr-v6's, sr80i's, dj100's, ad700's, Q701's, etc...).
I was going to add this to the E12 discussion/pre order thread, but it seemed like too much info and slightly off-topic for what is being discussed right now. This is my first forum posting, so please do not hesitate to offer advice on content, thread placement, or make any other noob mistakes I may be making.
I will try to keep this brief because this is not a full review. I bought this amp to pair with the notoriously wonderful-but-difficult-to-drive AKG Q701's, which I usually use with the E11. With the Q701's, I find E11 warmer but muddier, and the E12 very accurate and clear, with tight controlled bass, but almost clear to a fault - sort of like the first time you saw a 240hz lcd: didn't the movement look so sharp and detailed it was almost unpleasant? I felt the same way about the E12... A bit disappointed to be honest. It was like all the warmth was sucked out of my music (I do not know if solid state amps benefit from burn-in, and would love to hear opinions on that).
Either the amp is burning in, or the sound is just growing on me, but I am finding it more enjoyable on this second day of using it, and it feels a little warmer (which is probably just my ears adjusting). Other than sound quality, the amp is beautifully made and clearly designed to complement the iPhone 5, the pouch it comes with is quite nice, and the bass boost is excellent and really enhances sub bass more than mid bass. I leave the gain on +10db and the crossfeed off; I have found the crossfeed does the opposite of what I want to get from headphone listening; it shrinks the soundstage.
The few things I don't like is that the E12 seems less EMI shielded than the E11, because I get far more interference when using with my iPhone 5 (but still less than with cheap cMoys, and not enough to ruin the listening experience), it is more prone to making a horrible "popping" noise if you take headphones in/out while it's on, it does sometimes give a small hum when charging and listening at the same time, and, most of all, I am really annoyed that Fiio chose to make the gain and crossfeed switches so recessed that you need a needle to use them! I have headphones ranging from 32 to 250 ohms, and really wish I could just change the gain as I please :-/
Overall, even with my misgivings, so far I think the E12 is a good amp for the cost, I think many people would enjoy it's precise and analytical presentation, and these are just my initial impressions. I am considering starting a new post with A/B comparisons with the E11 vs E12 using the 6-8 or so most popular pairs of headphones I own - please let me know if that would benefit anyone (I still need to update my profile with my equipment, so if you read this and it's not there, it will be soon). Oh, and that reminds me, the E12 pairs incredibly well with the Sony MDR-V6's.
Thanks, and I hope this helps. I would've like more user feedback before I ordered mine, last week, so I thought I'd contribute.