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How does the FiiO E17 USB input works when docked in the E09K?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This interrogation has stemmed from my apparent incapacity to understand how the E09K/E17 docked combo actually works.


For some context: I recently bought a FiiO E09K desktop amp, and I am currently strongly considering the purchase of a E17 Amp/DAC to replace my current Hifiman HM-101 which I use as a USB external DAC, but that I find brings too much noise, picking too much RF and stuff...and I wanted something portable too, which the E17 seems highly suitable for. Obviously, while I'm home, I'd like to use the E17 docked into the E09K, as apart from being the most logical and aesthetic setup, it charges the unit. Like most people, I'd put it in lo-bypass mode for DAC-only usage, with the E09K doing all the amplifying. 


Now comes the problematic part. I am very unsure about my computer (a 4 year old HP HDX 18 laptop) having any S/PDIF output jack whatsoever. While the sound control panel does list a S/PDIF Digital Audio Device, I can't seem to find any actual RCA jack...Now I've read somewhere that some laptops have 3.5 mm (mini) headphone jacks with SPDIF output, but I can't be quite sure of it until I have something to try it on..And I'd rather not spend more than 150$ just to learn it's not there afterall.


Obviously, all of this trouble could be avoided if I could just use the USB input on the E17, but it's on the underside, just besides the dock port. That seems to mean that I can't dock it as long as I plug the USB in. However, there is a USB port on the backside of the E09K. Am I wrong, or is it the actual USB input for the E17, that goes through the dock? 


Is the overall chain : Computer -> USB input E09K -> dock E17 -> E17 Headphone LO -> E09K Aux IN -> E09K Heaphone Jack ? That seems rather long...


Or is it the other way around (dock passing data from E17 to E09k, as in : computer -> spdif -> e17 -> dock -> e09k -> e09k headphone out )?


If someone could share some light I'd be really grateful!


Cognitive Biased


N.B. : I've checked some pictures of wired setups but all of them showed the front and not the back, so I couldn't see if any USB cables were plugged in the back. However, most of them showed an interesting absence of any S/PDIF input, which supports my theory. 

Edited by CognitiveBiased - 5/26/13 at 4:25am
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Or is it two-way? Computer -> USB IN E09k -> Dock out to E17 -> E17 DAC only > Dock out to E09K -> E09k Amp -> Headphone jack Out? 

post #3 of 9

I'm pretty sure it's the second thing you said.  USB input on the E09K is passthrough to docked E17 (or E07K).

post #4 of 9

Here is my setup The E17 is docked into the E09K, the E17 will automatically switch to USB when docked.


Cables from left to right:

Aux IN: RCA -> 3.5mm TRS for iPod / whatever hookup (Optional)

Line OUT: RCA -> RCA to my Corsair SP2500 Amplified Speakers (Optional)

Pre OUT: Not Connected (Optional)

USB -> Computer

E09K Power cable

Front Headphone jack to my DT880 Pro's

The USB on the back of the E09K is ONLY for the E7K / E17 use when docked.

Hope this answers your question.


post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Yes! Thank you so much.


And if I may ask, how do you like the sound with your DT880's? I was thinking about purchasing some DT770 250 ohms for myself. I know they're quite different, but still, do you like the E09K/E17 Amp + DAC setup? Any issue you've had would be quite informative.

post #6 of 9

Hey CognitiveBiased!


I started with an Audioengine D1, it is a nice little compact unit, USB powered, very light and well made.

It would be great for a laptop as a portable DAC / AMP but I found it not very useful as a desktop unit. The DT880 Pro's have a coiled cable that when moved would drag the D1 around as there is not enough weight to the D1 to keep it in place. The RCA cables to my speaker amp are a little stiff so they would move the D1 as well... I didn't want to Velcro it to the table so it just didn't meet my usage requirements.


The RCA jacks on the D1 are variable, it's a Pre Out and not a Line Out so the volume control changes the RCA's level. When you plug headphones into it the RCA's are muted, this means you are constantly plugging and unplugging your headphones if you want to use speakers. Then you have to adjust the volume on your speakers and the D1. Most amplifiers with a Line In like to have a line level that is at least 1Vrms for a 0dB signal. Since you would have to have the amplifier turned up at least halfway when you plug headphones in they would be too loud, just a poor design in my opinion.


Anyway enough about the D1, since it only has 2Vrms output at the headphone I would have to turn it up almost full to get a loud listening level from the 880's.

I have a FiiO E11 which has an output of 2.4Vrms and it barely drives the 880's.


What to do, I had won an E17 in FiiO's photo competition so I returned the D1 back to B&H and had them replace it for a FiiO E09K...


Night and day difference!

The E09K is all metal and stays put on the desk with everything plugged in, it does not move when you move the coiled headphone cord. It has Pre Out, Line Out, Aux In and the USB to the dock connector. It has an maximum output of 5.3Vrms, more than enough power to drive the 880's I really cant go past 11 o'clock before it gets too loud.


The unit has a 6.35mm jack which is nice, it's dead quite with no music playing and the volume up, and it is flat through the frequency range, just a great little amplifier.

It uses a well know ti amplifier chip, that is used in quite a few other amps, almost putting out 1W into low impedance headphones.


The only problem I can find with it the dock connector, they are plastic and I am used to apple metal shrouded ones. The dock bay itself is a little to big for the E17 and has a sloppy fit, so I modded the bay a little (2 Rubber Strips) and now it fits nicely.


Fix here -> http://www.head-fi.org/t/587912/fiio-e17-alpen-first-impression-final-thought/5610#post_9268523


The E17 has it's own quirks as well, the screen does not shut off when docked, it you slide the hodl to shut the screen down then when you turn off the E09K the E17 stays on etc...


All in all the E09K/E17 is a great combo with the most connection features for it's price. But if you don't own the E17 or E07K already, I'd look at the Schiit M&M stack instead, it gets high praise around these parts. (The Magni has no Line Out if that is a feature you require.)


Hopefully not too boring a read and I answered your question.


post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

In fact I already own the E09K and have ordered the E17 a couple of days ago wink.gif. I just wanted some personal feedback and learn if they worked well with Beyerdynamic headphones.


Thank you for your detailed input, it is much appreciated. Not boring at all!



post #8 of 9

I just got the E17 - and considering the E09K (also to drive Adam A3X active speakers) - one question I have is, can I also still use the E17 SPDIF optical input through the E09K to drive my speakers?  Not sure.  Any advice would be welcome!




post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

When docked the E17 automatically goes to USB mode. However, you may be able to switch it to OPT/COX and then use the Headphone Out to plug it via AUX IN to the E09K (for that you would need a 1/8" to RCA cable, AKA a Y audio cable splitter ). Haven't tried it, and don't know if it would charge either...

Edited by CognitiveBiased - 4/13/14 at 2:47am
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