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Portable Amps item created by gavinfabl, Jan 16, 2013
Pros - Powerful
Cons - None
The Fiio E12 Mont Blanc is the latest amp from Fiio. Fiio is a specialist audio company that make superb audio accessories, and are well known in audio circles for making great value products with incredible sound.
The E12 Mont Blanc is a high performance portable headphone amplifier, which has a high quality built-in processor and power amplifier in a super slim body. The specifications are as follows -
Power Supply – DC5V, 2A , Frequency Response 20hz-20hz, SNR > 110db, Crossfeed Attenuation >65db, Gain >16db high or 0db low, Max Output Power 600mW at 16 ohms, 880mW at 32 ohms, 160mW at 300 ohms.
Battery Charge time approx 1.7 hours , with a 12 hour runtime
Suitable for headphones 16-300 ohms. Dimensions 123mm x 65mm x 14mm. Weight 158g
So what does this headphone amp do? In simple terms it takes the sound from your portable device or smartphone and amplifies it. More on that later.
In the box you get the warranty card, instructions, micro USB cable to charge from your computer, 2 Fiio bands for holding the amp and portable device/phone together, some soft feet, and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for transferring sound from the headphone socket into the amp.
If you have an Apple device like an iPhone or iPod you can get iPod line out cables as shown. If you have a lightning connector, your will need a 30 pin adapter or adapter cable. Taking the sound via the line out produces a much better quality.
So what makes this amp special. Firstly it looks fantastic, even better than the photos. Secondly and more importantly it has a lot of oomph and energy to make your headphones perform like you wouldn’t believe possible from a portable amplifier. You will also hear lots more detail and information in your songs that you didn’t realise were there. And the E12 does this effortlessly. Being such a powerful portable amp allows you to plug larger more demanding headphones in from 16 ohms up to 300 ohms. In addition to the extra level of information your music will come alive as your headphones are being provided with so much emery and oomph. Far more than the tiny amp in your phone or iPod. Another benefit is the volume. The E12 Mont Blanc can go much louder than your phone or iPod.
I tried using the amp with an iPod Classic and an iPhone 5. Both produced impressive results. I tried a range of music from Andrea Bocelli – Concerto One Night in Central Park, Muse – 2nd Law, Wycliffe Gordon – Dreams of New Orleans , Michael Buble – Fever, Nicola Benedetti – Silver Violin and some dance music. Vocals, instruments, speed and attack, depth and soundstage were amazing. And the amp never rang out of steam. Headphones used for sampling the amp were a pair of Sennheiser HD568.
The E12 Mont Blanc features a bass boost which is very discreet and doesn’t distort the music. There is also a cross feed and gain control should you need them. I have included some photos on main thread, page 38.
Further to my post with my initial impressions I thought I would some more feedback using specific tracks. For this test I am using an iPod Classic with a silver & copper line out cable and a pair of Sennheiser HD568 headphones. My music is ripped at mp3 320 bit rate. I have the E12 bass boost left on as the HD568 seem to sound so much better. The bass boost doesn’t seem to distort the sound, just add when the music needs some very low oomph but not in any way overpowering. Anyway here goes –
Dreams of New Orleans by Wycliffe Gordon – Chinatown – great separation of the trumpets from each side, and clear separation of the other instruments. A superb musical sounding song. The E12 presentation puts you right in the music. I feel like I’m grooving to the beat.
Greatest Hits by Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody – I had to turn the volume down for this track. The E12 did everything as before, even with voices but as the songs attack changes, the E12 seems to scale effortlessly with it. In fact as the track gets louder, the E12 just exploded with attack.
Thriller by Michael Jackson – Thriller – a classic track. At the start there’s great sub bass in the cemetery. The E12 reproduces the song very accurately picking out all the nuances.
Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles – an old recording but has a superb toe tapping musicality produced by the E12.
Isla by Portico Quartet – Dawn Patrol – this track really defines just how good the E12 is sonically. The plucking of the bass strings, the deep bass, the other instruments all around too just produce an electric performance.
Fantasie by Nicola Benedetti – The Lark Ascending – the violin playing at the start is leaving goose bumps on me. The violin feels so alive. Airy. The E12 is producing a neutral but emotional sound. Mesmerising too.
Love me by Norah Jones – Norah’s voice sounds superb. Another very musical track.
I Heard Love is Blind by Amy Winehouse – Amy’s voice is so real with such precision on the guitar in the background. In fact the realism of the track is excellent.
In summary, the E12 plucks all the nuances from your music, making it sound alive with toe tapping musicality. It also does seem to have improved with low level bass after 3 hours use. It’s accurate, fairly neutral sounding and packs so much energy that your headphones perform magic.