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Portable Amps item created by JoetheArachnid, May 28, 2011
Pros - decently powerful, strong bass, long battery life, light weight
Cons - small soundstage, can get sibilant, slight hiss, can't use when charging
I bought this amp as my very first ever headphone amp. I bought it for my Denon AH-D5000 at the time, because even though it is very sensitive and effeiciant, my laptops audio jack still is incapable of outputting proper volume or impact (the internal amp chip must literally be putting out less than 1mW for this to be happening lol). So the E11 became the very first amp I got to hear as a reference point to what amps should sound like. Initially I was quite impressed by the sound, it was loud, the bass was super impactful on my Denons, and overall it felt like I was actually hearing my headphones in the proper way they were meant to be heard. That is until I started comparing the sound quality to my headphones plugged directly into the computer. See at this time I didnt yet have a dac, so whatever the E11 was plugged into was the dac (either my laptop, or my ipod classic). So I was very familiar with what the sound signature is supposed to be with both of my sources. The problem is that after going back and forth between my computer and E11 a few times, I noticed the E11 had a pretty noticeable drop in soundstage size. It was enough of a drop that it actually was becoming unpleasant to listen to music. It felt like the soundstage was a lot smaller than what the headphones were capable of doing (and its not like my headphones are the best at large soundstage to begin with, being closed back, and I wasn't using an external dac). Then when I used the E11 with my ipod I noticed the other major sound quality issue. It made the treble become a bit too sibilant on many more recordings than it should have. I use all lossless, and relatively well mastered music, plus I was familiar with how they sounded playing out of my laptop. So albums that normally sounded just fine, no sibilance at all, just maybe a slight brightness under normal conditions (out of the laptop) now sounded terribly sibilant to the point of being painful to listen. It didnt help that the ipod classic itself is slightly bright sounding, and that the Denons can be a tiny tiny bit too bright in the treble sometimes (usually its not thought, just sharp, but still enjoyable). So after a few weeks to a month of use, I just gave up on using it, because my laptop simply had the superior sound quality, even if it was less powerful and more quiet. I just couldn't enjoy music played through the E11.
Now there are some good aspects of it, and this is why I say It's a decent starter amp. The bass is really nice, pretty tight, lots of impact, and rumble. It has little distortion overall, and the EQ settings as well as the gain settings all work nicely, although I just preferred using it in the default settings, meaning everything on 0 EQ and low gain. Also the volume knob has a nice feel to it, and is pretty good at getting a nice volume level. Also the battery lasts for a very long time. If you only listen for a few hours everyday, then you can easily get a good 2-3 days out of the E11 before actually needing a recharge, but keeping it charged everyday is always useful.
Overall I'd say you pretty much get exactly what you pay for in that price range. Also I don't think the numbers for its output power are correct, because I was able to max out the volume knob with my 25ohm/116dB(around there) headphones without ever really feeling like this was too loud to keep them on my ears. Sure it was super loud and definitely not something you could listen to, but as a drummer I know what 110-130dB of volume sounds and feels like. This amp was not making my super effecient headphones reach those levels very easily. So I'm sure it could drive slightly harder to drive headphones, but I can't say it will do a good job of it in terms of volume. In terms of dynamics and being able to 'control' the drivers of a headphone, that it does pretty well. So I guess if you dont care/dont notice the small soundstage, slight sibilance, hiss, and ok output power, then this makes a pretty good buy for its price. Otherwise I would seriously just save up for something better, once you hit the $100 mark I'm sure theres plenty of much better amps. I bought this amp because of so many good reviews on its sound quality, and im writing this one because I want people to be aware of the potential disappointment this amp can bring if you have never heard or bought a headphone amp before. None of the many other reviews mention these same problems, but they are there.
Pros - Clean sound with bass boost
Cons - Volume knob gets in the way of the in & out audio jacks
Hi guys. I'm a new member here on Head-Fi. I got to say, I fell in love with my music again from all the advice and suggestions in the forum. This will be my first review on my very first portable amplifier. I am no way an audiophile so bear with me in review. This is my way of giving back to the community.
The E11 is a really small device. It's 2/3 the height of my iPhone so carrying it around is really easy. Build quality is excellent considering it's price. My only gripe is the volume knob. Since both the in/out audio jacks are located near the volume knob, attaching cables is really annoying. Why? If you have L-shaped end audio jacks, they're going to either block the volume knob or overlap with each other because of the small spacing between them.
The thing I love about this amp is the replaceable battery. I think it's using the same model as those Nokia phones (BL-5B). I've had experiences with gadgets where you cannot replace the battery so when it's damaged or dead, you'll have to get it repaired or buy a new one. So I really appreciate the replaceable battery in the E11. I've been using this amp for a week now and I can say it can last you a day with casual use (riding the bus, listening at work, etc).
As I said before, I'm really new to this but I do compose music as a hobby so I have a decent amount of knowledge when it comes to sound. All I can say is that my SE215/s60i improved a lot with this amp. There are differences as the bass and lower mids are more defined and vocals are more clearer especially on the SE215. There are no distortions at higher volumes as far as I experienced. When I tried listening to my iPhone without the amp, I immediately noticed that it's lacking that enhanced sound that the E11 provides. It's kind of hard to describe in words. With the amp, songs sound fuller with more detail if you try to listen closely.
I use the amp daily when I'm commuting to work and has made my life more bearable. I even bought some 3M Dual Lock (detachable stickers & better than velcro) so that I could attach the amp to my iPhone for easy portability and remove it when I'm done. If you're a newbie like me and looking for an affordable amp, you can't go with the E11. I think this is a great product and I highly recommend it before considering on buying the more expensive ones down the road.
Pros - Clean sound, accurate frequency response, can drive most headphones, good detail
Cons - Can't use when charging
Today I got scared a little because this $50 portable amp sounded pretty much on par with the O2 amp. Yeah, really, it did!
I bought this thing last summer, and I didn't realize how good it was until I compared it to my recent purchase of the Objective 2 and my two vintage receivers. Bass is nice and controlled, mids and treble are right where they should be. Overall, a very nice balanced sound. And best of all, it can drive pretty much anything up to 300 ohms. It even sounds great with the Beyer DT 880 and Senn HD 580.
For $50, this is a STEAL, highly recommended!
Pros - Plug and play, switchable gain, switchable bass boost.
Cons - no adjustable bass boost (just 3 settings) Distorts with bass boost set high at high volumes. A little pricy for quality next to a CMoy.
The FiiO E11 is my first professional headphone amplifier and I have to say it was rather unexceptional.
First Impression/ measurements:
The first out of the box impression was incredible. Nice matte black plastic leading to a metal like edge with a notch for the volume nob (very intuitive) I accidentally dropped it taking it out of the box but nothing broke and after further inspection it is really very sturdy.
I opened it up and looked inside to see if I could see any hardware. I was greeted by a battery and some concealing plastic unfortunately but I'm certain I could find what they used on their site. I replaced the backing and turned it on.
This is where I expected and issue because FiiO has been known in the past to ship dead batteries (which will decrease their life and maybe even make them unusable out of the box), but, to my surprise, the amp happily turned on and boasted a cute little blue light letting me know it was operational.
I then measured its output for DC offset. For those who don't know, high DC offset (above more than about 50 mV) can cause permanent damage to headphones. The measurements came back as 1 mV on the right channel and 0 mV on the left, which is a very good sign. I then turned on the different levels of bass boost (bass boost also boosts DC offset) and measured. The measurements all came back as 0 mV, meaning some compensation circuitry was most likely implemented here. This is actually quite nice and kudos to FiiO for making sure that this wasn't an issue.
Being excited about its good looks I plugged it in and set it off on a personal favorite mix of mine on soundcloud. It is important to note here that there was no equalization software used here as I wanted to get an impression off the amp on an average laptop with average settings. I will add an equalized test result later for those who wish to see it. I started it playing and noticed it was rather quiet. This was strange because it was set to high gain and the volume was all the way up. I realized that I had stupidly had the inline volume on my headset down so I turned it up....and nearly deafened myself. The FiiO (on 32 ohm high sensitivity headphones) gets LOUD. It started distorting at this volume which was strange because I know my headphones weren't maxed out. I turned the inline volume down again and (As a side note here This lowers dampening factor to the headphones as it adds resistance before the speakers (bad thing) but this shouldn't cause the kind of distortion I noted from the FiiO) It sounded as if the little happy amp was getting rather cranky now turned all the way up with high gain and bass boost all the way up. I just tried to recreate the problem with low gain and was successful. Even at low gain it cannot handle the bass boost all the way up and volume above 6.5 (8 is max). To ensure that this was the amp I turned them all the way down and slowly edged them upward to make sure it wasn't the extra resistance causing issues. As I expected, the distortion stayed the same from lowest to max volume (It sounded like it was running out of current to push because on bass hits it got scratchy) As another side note: It just died and is charging now. If anything changes when the product is fully charged I will be sure to change my review.
Along with this issue of distortion I noticed that the bass boost, even on the highest setting, was rather modest. I've experienced better boost with software equalization on a mobile device. This was a deal breaker for me because I was really looking forward to the extra oomph it would give to bass without equalization.
Bottom Line: It isn't a bad amplifier and looks slick and clean, but it has a few issues here and there that make it a little bit of a bad deal.
I give it a solid 3 stars and would recommend it as entry level equipment to people who want mobility and a little extra volume.
Pros - Sound
Cons - Battery/power management, unable to use whilst charging
This ticks so many boxes, with high quality amplification able to drive difficult loads,(it smooths out the low end in my Audio-Technica ATH-M30s enough to make them listenable), great size and weight, excellent volume control, and hardware switches for bass boost (it doesn't need it, but it is there) and output gain.
But there are a few design features that make it a deal breaker for me: I have one, like to listen through it, but rarely do because:
The unit cannot run whilst charging through the 5V USB port. So if you aren't charged and ready then you 'aint using this baby. I know it is likely to improve battery life, but major problem for me.
The unit drains considerable power when switched on, even if there is no signal voltage at the input. If this is turned on and doing nothing, the clock for 10 hours keeps running. Don't use this amp to go to sleep listening to something, or you will be out of juice in the morning (something I routinely do)
My only other minor gripe is the mismatch between the size of the unit and almost every mobile audio device excepting the older long ipod nano means the supplied rubber band method of clamping to the audio play is not useful. This is begging for a velcro fix method on most devices.
So with a few tweaks, I'd likely think this was an exceptional buy. It probably still is, for the amplification quality and the money, but for what I use it most often for (amplifying my go to sleep music) it suits very poorly.
Edit: (either not yet allowed to comment, or cannot figure out how to reply to comments) Reconsidered rating, added another half: I bought this in Australia when it was hard to find any retailer selling a Fiio, hence the high price, but as I said, despite being a great amp amplification wise, it sits idle on my shelf 99% of the time because of these flaws. I may as well not own it at all.
Pros - Subtle and detailed sounds, great price
Cons - build quality
This is my very first portalble amp, ever after my purchase of the great TDK ST-800. Results are surprisingly good and capable of driving my older Sennheiser HD overheads and the newer ST800
Too bad the left channel died quickly. The first solution was to change to a newer DIY silvery cable. However, the second came too soon and could not be saved with two more cables.
Pros - Powerful clean audio with good portability and build quality
Cons - Takes quite a while to charge (3+hrs) and can’t be used while charging. If you have a decent portable player, you may not notice an improvement.
This is primarily designed to amplify sound out of mobile devices that do not get loud enough for you, either because they are low quality, your headphones are not sensitive enough, or you’re going deft . As a bonus, it has a built in bass boost with 3 settings (off, 1, 2). It also has a good quality easily replaceable Lithium Ion battery (BL-5B), and comes with the mini USB charging cable and 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable. Also in the box are two silicone bands of different sizes to attach the unit to the back of your mobile device.
The unit has 2 LED lights, a blue one that comes on when powered, and a red one for charging. The power switch is built into the volume knob. You know it’s charged when the red light goes out. For those who plan to use this as a laptop or desktop amp, note that it cannot be powered on (blue) while being charged (red). It also has a high/low output switch.
The unit is surprisingly small and light, especially considering the power output. It is well-built with high quality plastics. The volume knob is metal and requires a good amount of force to move it, and I never had a problem of the volume changing while in my pocket. Battery life for me was between 8-9hrs average, but varies based on volume. Giving it 9/10 because it could still be smaller, and the mini USB port is being replaced by micro USB now as the standard. It would also be nice to use it while charging.
Sound wise, it does what it’s designed to do exceptionally well. It’s mainly noticeable due to higher volume, but the bass boost works well, and it gets loud and stays clear without distortion all the way up. I did not test the AMP with high impedance headphones, I only own moderate to low ones myself. When connected to my Galaxy Nexus phone, with various headphones (Q350, HD-25 II, SR60i, HD558) the difference was night and day, but mostly due to the lack of power output of the phone. Bass boost is nice to have on mobiles that don’t have that built in.
However, when connected to my Sansa Clip (Rockboxed), I couldn’t really tell the difference when listening at my usual volume. That being said, the Sansa has plenty of power to drive any of my headphones to satisfying levels. I never really go beyond -12DB volume on the Sansa alone. I also found the bass boost less satisfying than using the built in bass adjustment on the Sansa. I still give it 8/10 because it does very well for poor quality sources like phones.
If you already use a decent quality portable that gets loud enough for you without distortion, and has built in bass boost or bass/treble adjustment, you will not notice much improvement. If you plan to use this as a desktop or laptop AMP, look elsewhere because you can’t use it while charging. If you have low sensitivity headphones you want to go portable with or you have a portable player that does not sound good or loud enough (like most phones), you will love this product. If your deft or like to crank volume in general, I highly recommend this. In my personal case, the Sansa is more compact to bring along with my Phone than the Fiio, but I still use the Fiio when my Sansa dies. So I still find it useful. But keep in mind the Sansa Clip is under $40, so it presents a cheaper way to get better sound on the go. Because there are portable players that are much smaller and produce comparable audio for less, I give it 8/10.
Pros - ULTIMATE BASS
Cons - Need additional equalizer options and a robust finish like the E17
Hello Bass Heads,
I use my V-Moda Crossfade LP and V-Moda Remix remote with my iPhone.
They sounded decent.
Got the FiiO E11 shipped today. Works like charm. Crisp n clean sound.
GODDDDD!!! Even the crappiest tracks(the ones I usually skip) in my playlist sound AWESOME!!
The FiiO E11 makes your BASS headphones sound EXCEPTIONAL.
Pros - Light, Powerful, great battery life, smooth volume knob
Cons - bass boost level two muddies up the sound, cheap feel
So this is my first portable amp that I have purchased. Prior to this I have used my receiver headphone out, outs from too many mixing consoles to name and my portable champ my iphone. Needless to say that the iphone is the worst out of all that I have used, sounds like booty to honest.
First Impression (looks):
The amp is tiny. It fits with room to spare in the palm of my hand. The amp has a matte finish from which fingerprints will be attracted to in disgusting ways. The two click buttons that are on there (EQ aka bass and Hi/Lo settings) feel a little cheap. I was actually afraid that I was going to scratch the plastic finish as I have to use my nails to switch anything because of their size. The buttons are tiny and it is hard to tell when you are in the first EQ setting or on the way there. EQ zero and two are easy as they are at their respectable extremes.The volume button is smooth once past the "click" of on. It's made of metal which gives a nice tight smooth grippy feel when turning the volume. This thing weighs 2.3 ounces and I gotta tell you that I thought it shipped without the battery. It is that light. I had to open it to make sure that the battery was actually in there.
Turned the amp on with nothing plugged in and all I heard was the fact that I was plugged into an amp. Being around much more powerful amps it is nice to know that the operating noise that I get from a $6000 QSC amp is the same that I get from a $59 headphone amp. Immediately, I began listening to uncompressed music as the "Garbage In Garbage Out" rule applies more than ever when amps are involved. Ask the off key singers.
I used my custom molded UE 5's from Ultimate ears. I will be purchasing the Hifiman HE-500's as this amp is more than capable of pushing them. My UE's have an impedance of 21 ohms which my iPhone can play with not much success. The first thing I noticed is the sound stage. It is much wider than using no amplification. The center feels very focused.
Low End (bass) - The amp on EQ setting zero plays music as it was mixed which is typically what you need on a well mixed album such as Bob Marley's orignal mix of Could you be loved. On EQ setting one is where the punch of the low end comes in. Forty hertz from Linkin Parks Numb come through clear enough to rattle my ear drums. It is enough to fill out your needs without blowing you out of the water. The EQ two setting should not be used. The low end seems to remain the same while the low mids (150 - 300) get a boost. The only thing that I found this setting to sound good with is one reggae song. It does not sound bad but does muddy up the sound.
Mid - This is where this amp impressed me. Mids that are implemented well are silk on one's skin, like apple filling to your pie if you get my drift. The way this amp pushes the mid levels is truly amazing. I had to keep checking to make sure that this small amp was what was reproducing the sound. I can't say enough about the way that the mids make me feel. GREAT!!
High - This is generally where everyone wins or loses in my book. Consider the high end the pie crust to my apple pie. Too much of it, and it takes away from all of the hard work that the low (crust) and the mids (filling) have done. Too little and it gives you a taste yet leaves you wanting for more. I am on the side of not enough on this amp. If it had just an 'nth more I would probably never take this amp off from my headphones. The high end is there not sharp, not dull but could be brighter.
Hi/Lo (Outside casing) - Important to note that there are two Hi/Lo gain settings. One on the outside which in my opinion widens the sound stage slightly larger and boosts the mids yet keeps the high end sharp without cutting into your brain. At the same time it would be nice to have a touch more highs to make the sound better rounded. The bass sounds untouched. That being said switching from Lo to Hi does not kill you with POWER!!!! It gently raises the levels without hurting your ears by introducing sharp highs or ear splitting high mids. Good to have but not necessarily that important when on the lo setting (internally).
Hi/Lo (Inside Casing) - Also important to note that on the Hi level on the inside that your battery life is cut from ten hours to somewhere around four. All listening prior to this was done using the lo setting. On the high setting the amp sounds so much bigger but not in an obnoxious way. Music of all kinds sound much more full bodied and in your face. The bass boost on EQ 1 is where its at. You have no need to go above this simply because of how growly the low end sounds. Depending on how well the mix you have is kick drums punch you in the face and the mids and highs soothe you.
My negatives to take away: Could use more high end, and ACTUAL level two for bass that could punch out your teeth rather than a mid booster. Wish they didn't use plastic that attracted fingerprints. Bigger buttons on the side for the EQ and gain settings.
Overall, my opinion on this amp is that it is absolutely AMAZING for the price. Great first amp that has WAY more power than I will ever use (until I get my HE-500's).
Pros - durable, small
Cons - white noise, feedback
Audio Quality-some white noise. Feedback when strapped to iPhone.
Quality-Very durable and small.
Design-You cannot use it while charging. It also is easy to bump the volume know when in your pocket.
It came with a dented battery cover. It wouldn't quite close. FiiO sent me a new battery cover, no questions asked. They also gave me a free FiiO t-shirt. Very satisfied.