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FiiO E7 USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier

  1. Wiiffler
    "best things comes in small packages"; Couldn't be more right!
    Written by Wiiffler
    Published Feb 7, 2014
    Pros - Great amp/dac combo, Easy/no installation, Robust, Excellent price/quality
    Cons - Thickness makes it a bit unappealing for portable use
    Oh the wonders this little box can do!
    The compact yet powerful Fiio E7 is everything you could ask from a 99$ DAC/amp.
    After installing the drivers, you're good to go. It gives your music a great dynamic range.
    Using it on my Ultrasone Pro 900, with the different bass setting, a "+2" on the bass EQ truly makes the Ultrasone nature stand out. 
    This little thing can drive deep, impactful bass with ease. I rarely, if ever, go past 25.
    It's a great improvement from my on-board audio card. I don't find myself using it with my Ipod, the thickness of it makes it a bit unappealing, Perhaps I need bigger pockets!
    This little box made a great improvement, and I recommend it to anyone that want a small, inexpensive amp/DAC combo!
  2. julian67
    Solves the problems of poor PC audio
    Written by julian67
    Published Oct 3, 2013
    Pros - Good sound. Easy and simple to use. No noise. Easily drives very low impedance earphones.
    Cons - Limited to 16-bit 32/44.1/48 KHz streams.
    I'm in the UK. I bought this as a boxed ex-demo unit with warranty from a FiiO retailer for £39.99 which is US $64.65 or €47.40

    I bought this because my PC's integrated audio is frustratingly bad and other solutions and workarounds were not ideal:

    My PC's analogue line out is noisy (electrical interference) and the headphone output is even worse.

    It can't drive very low impedance headphones such as my Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5vi Earphones

    It hasn't the power to nicely drive slightly less sensitive earphones such as Koss KSC75.

    It does have SPDIF optical output and this connects to my ancient Yamaha Home Theatre receiver and sounds great, but that also has high output impedance and so can't drive earphones with very low impedance. It's also a power hungry beast and an extremely expensive way to run small earphones.

    I had also previously tried a very cheap USB sound card but this was pretty nasty sounding with good headphones and also horribly badly made (one of those items which can fall apart while just sitting there).

    I saw this FiiO E7 offered very cheaply as an ex-demo unit with warranty. I had read several reviews and a good technical appraisal (nwavguy) so went ahead and bought it.

    Success! It solves all the above problems. It drives all my earphones and headphones very nicely. It is isolated from all the electrical noise generated by the PC so there is not a sound unless audio is playing. There is no hiss even with the Ultimate Ears SuperFi which hiss with every other thing I ever connected them to. It can push the relatively less sensitive Koss KSC75 to very high levels, easily enough even with well produced music with wide dynamic range. It uses virtually no power, being USB powered, and takes up less space than a pack of cards. That is quite a welcome difference from my giant Yamaha HT receiver.

    The sound quality is excellent and seems absolutely neutral and with no objectionable qualities of any kind. I think the bass maybe lacks some impact or dynamics but that is being picky and subjective and is only in comparison with amps that have some serious power i.e. powered by mains, not battery or USB.

    I've been using the FiiO with Windows XP and Debian Stable and it works exactly the same way with each. It's automatically recognised as a standard USB audio device and the built in driver does the job. It bypasses the operating system's volume control but by default not the sound mixer. You still can use an individual application's volume control but the system control is fixed to preserve bit depth.

    I didn't try anything similar in Windows but in Debian I can entirely bypass ALSA's system mixer (dmix) and make the FiiO exclusive. Assuming the Fiio to be the first sound card (or the only one) adding the following to ~/.asoundrc would do the trick:

    pcm.!default {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "hw:0,0";
    This should give bit-perfect audio decoding for two channel 16-bit 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz audio.

    The FiiO E7 is well designed, seems well assembled and is very nicely presented with good accessories. I possibly will never use it as a portable amp but I am extremely satisfied with it as a USB DAC and amplifier for earphone and small headphone use. If you have a high quality and really well implemented soundcard and headphone output on your laptop or PC then the FiiO probably won't do anything for you, but for the other 99% of us with rather noisy and low power integrated audio with a poor headphone output the FiiO E7 can make a huge improvement.


    Two years later and I still love this device. Initially I bought it to improve my old PC's audio and it certainly met expectations. In the meantime I've bought a new PC, new USB DAC and new desktop headphone amp so the FiiO is no longer needed in that role. But I've also bought a Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE smartphone which fully supports USB DACs and I've been using the FiiO as an external DAC/Amp with this. It is truly impressive. Smartphone volume out via headphone socket can be rather quiet (power saving is all important for smartphones) so the FiiO adds a whole new dimension to the sound you can enjoy with your phone. It boosts the output levels and sounds fantastic while doing so.

    I've also bought the FiiO L7 Line Out Dock (it is inexpensive). This lets the E7 be a more versatile device: a USB DAC/Amp combo, or a portable amp which accepts Line In from analogue source and outputs to headphones, or a portable DAC which accepts USB input and outputs via Line Out to your preferred amp.

    This is a really remarkable design, brilliantly executed. There may be other products out there which are similarly versatile and useful but I didn't find them yet.

    If I could give the FiiO E7 10 stars instead of 5 I would do so.
    1. Achmedisdead
      I always wondered about that device.
      I have the ELE DAC, which created quite a buzz around the forum a few months back, and while it does sound very good with my laptops, it does not always isolate the electrical noise from my desktop PC, unfortunately. 
      Achmedisdead, Oct 4, 2013
    2. julian67
      I have read of some USB devices still being affected by EMI but even the really nasty cheap card I'd used before 5.1 PCI External USB Sound Card for PC didn't have this problem so I thought I'd risk a few pennies. I did read reviews and didn't recall anyone reporting noise with the FiiO. I think the few bad reviews were from products received D.O.A. or failing quickly and from people who found no improvement over the integrated sound on their expensive MacBook Pro or similar high quality PC.

      It is really quiet. There is zero noise interference coming from the PC whether sound passes through the system mixer or bypasses it.

      I did use it as a portable amp last night, hooked up to the line out of my iRiver H140 with the iRiver's level set to 0 dB. The iRiver headphone out has an obvious hiss even with less sensitive headphones and is very hissy with my SuperFi 5vi. The FiiO amplifying the line out is a huge improvement and also sounds much nicer than the iRiver amp. I am really surprised at the difference.

      So far this device is better than I had expected and does seem to deserve all the praise it gets. I can't find anything negative to say about it except wish list stuff which isn't fair criticism (I would like SPDIF input, RCA line out, remote control, the same power output as my Yamaha receiver, wireless charging, also a coffee maker accessory, but all in a slightly smaller package, ideally to be presented as a gift from the grateful nation).
      julian67, Oct 4, 2013
  3. DolbyDan
    E7 with AKG K550
    Written by DolbyDan
    Published Jan 22, 2013
    Pros - Cheap, good volume, no hiss(32ohm), nice eq & really good upgrade from Laptop
    Cons - Could do with a better gain when plugged into MP3, no quick lock
    Wanted an improvement over my onboard laptop mess.
    No interference, hiss (from 32ohm), very quick connection, good volume.
    Bass reproduction on EQ Bass1 is spot on with my AKG K550.  Stereo seperation seems spot on and the general tone is much more appealing through the E7 in comparison to onboard laptop sound.
    The bass and quality of sound is the most promonent improvement over laptop on board sound.
    1. micky51
      Hello to DolbyDan,
      Just came across your thoughts on the Fio E7 and would say that this great little portable usb dac
      Is without doubt the most cost effective way to achieve a very noticable improvement to the sound heard through your headphones.I have been using one since it first came to market with a wide and varied selection of both over ear and in ear including Grado SR125 big Sennheisers and currently with
      Klipsh X10 and the soundstage is wide instruments are given space.and as you say bass is full and has that tautness to give the music real body.I use mine currently with a Zune 30gb player with mp3 -320 files and wav and listen to blues funk rock actually anything and all benefit from this lovely well made dac lastly it is great on battery when out and about lasting for ages.
      micky51, Jan 22, 2013
    2. ayaflo
      oh come ON!!
      ayaflo, Jan 23, 2013
  4. takato14
    First dedicated headphone amp; VERY impressed
    Written by takato14
    Published Oct 7, 2012
    Pros - Awesome build quality, stylish, small, loud, great battery life, OLED display, dual headphone outputs
    Cons - Poor EQ
    The FiiO E7 is a wonderful device. 
    It is a combo USB DAC and portable headphone amplifier unit. It has a 1-inch OLED display and a simple but good menu system. The screen is bright and vibrant, and looks very nice.
    It has a high-end Wolfson DAC chip, and the audio sounds much cleaner than out of my laptop.
    The amp has quite a bit of power behind it: 150mW/channel into 16 ohms. It drives my AKG K240 Studios very well without breaking a sweat. It even has the balls to drive my Pioneer SE-700s to listenable volumes with no distortion. That's extremely impressive; these headphones were designed to be driven from speaker taps.
    The only thing about this product I can say is bad is the equalizer. It doesn't have bands, first off: It's only a bass boost. Second, even the 1st boost setting causes heavy distortion, making the whole thing entirely useless. Another thing that's less of a flaw and more of a nit-picky thing, is that you can't <just> charge the unit through a USB port on your computer. If it is plugged in, your computer will send all audio to it even if it is switched off. Not sure why FiiO did this, but they did.
    Definitely go for this. FiiO is a great brand. I'm definitely considering some of their other products after this experience.
    1. GL1TCH3D
      Umm... the reason it sends the audio to the unit is probably because you have it set as the default audio output on your computer.
      GL1TCH3D, Oct 7, 2012
    2. takato14
      Nope. Tried changing that and it still sends the audio to the E7.
      takato14, Oct 8, 2012
  5. cleg
    Perfect multi-purpose device
    Written by cleg
    Published Nov 11, 2011
    Pros - quality, price, design, controls, durability
    Cons - none
    Main feature of Fiio E7 - it's multi-purpose usage possibilities. USB DAC and portable headphone amp in one compact and small body.

    Specially I'd like to mention following:
    1. Design. It's really nice and stylish
    2. Long operation on one charge
    3. Perfect sound (really like it)
    4. Good control

    I'm actually using E7 in two ways. First, like a portable amp for my iPod Nano, together with Mee A151 and Grado SR125i. But I think I'll use Fiio E6 now for that, it's much more portable, but sound really good (little worth then E7).
    Second usage - I'm using it together with my MacBook Pro with perfect player Decibel. When used in hog mode - E7 sounds much better then built-in audio-card, especially with Grados.

    Also E7 gives nice bass boost with EQ. It doesn't trash sound like all software EQ does, but gives very nice and soft impact for bass and lower mids. It's especially noticeable on brass.

    So cost-wise, this DAC/amp is outstanding.
    Few photos (cant's embed them, so just links):
    1. View previous replies...
    2. cleg
      bcasey25raptor, thank you for comment, I'll update my review a little bit, describing what and how I'm listening to.
      cleg, Nov 12, 2011
    3. jaqueh
      why do you use them with the A151, does it help bring out the treble?
      jaqueh, Dec 18, 2011
    4. cleg
      I've used it with A151 mainly for test purposes. Yes, it's normalizing treble a bit, but for me A151's treble was good even without it.
      cleg, Dec 19, 2011
  6. lee730
    Amazing Fiio E7
    Written by lee730
    Published Jan 13, 2011
    Pros - Music is fuller, crisp, instruments are clearly seperated and represented. Great overall value.
    Cons - Non so far.
    What can I say about this device. It is simply fantastic and for the price you can't beat it I say. I currently use this with my Sennheiser IE8's, Bose IE2's and in my car connected to my stereo and it makes all the difference in the world with all 3 of these devices. I haven't figured out how to use it to bypass my sound card in my computer but I will soon. I know for sure its better than my Xi-Fi card from creative and that alone is a very high end card for a computer. I notice when using the Fiio with all my devices my music sounds fuller, more detailed, crisp in all aspects, highs, mids,lows, bass.
    Things that I didn't notice before are clearly apparent now and the clarity of your music is unbelievable. I've been showing friends and coworkers how this sounds with my Bose IE2's and they are blown away with the clarity and sound stage. The Bose IE2's are a great improvement from the last gene but man with the Fiio and my Sansa Fuze it really makes them enjoyable to listen to even though I have a pair of Sennheiser IE8's (which are still far superior to the Bose) I still enjoy listening to my Bose IE2's with the Fiio, go figure :wink:
    One nice feature on the Fiio is the bass equalizer. Very simple 0 to 3, I only take it up to 1 though as it seems to interfere with the mids with too much bass but 1 is perfect. 0 sounds great too but its more analytical. I prefer some spice in my music opposed to a more straightforward boring sound. As I said earlier you can plug this into your computer to bypass your sound card which is another great feature and gives your more versatility and overall value. I like how the device isn't overly complicated and pretty much idiot proof.
    If you are mainly using this with your mp3 player you definitely want to make sure you don't use the 3.5 jack for you headphones to connect this baby to your mp3 as that will cause the amps in the Fiio and the mp3 player to conflict. You'll have to max the volume on the Fiio while also suffering sound quality lose due to the 2 amps conflicting. Get a Line out Dock (LOD) for your device unless your mp3 has that extra port connection for the amplifier then you're set. Fiio sells (LOD)'s for Sansa, Ipod (Eww lol) and Sony Walkman. Basically the (LOD) connects to where your would normally connect your charger/music loader cable to your Sansa/Ipod and the other end connects to the amplifier; while you plug your headphones to the 2 available 3.5 jacks on the Fiio (that's another great feature).
    Basically connecting your mp3 to the (LOD) completely bypasses the amplifier in your mp3 player and instead exclusively uses the amp on the Fiio. So the mp3 player is only transmitting the music to the amp, I think that will also extend the batter life of your mp3 player so you don't have to charge it as often another plus :). And as the amp on the mp3 is completely being bypassed, even if your using an mp3 player with crappy sound quality (Ipod) you will still get spectacular sound due to the Fiio.
    The Fiio goes all the way up to 60 max volume and has a memory feature for the volume control. The device also has a sleep timer on it which is quite helpful in extending batter life between charges. I heard the battery can last up to 80 hours on each charge, haven't tested that yet. Finally but not least there is a key lock feature and a USB on off charge feature.
    Overall I would highly recommend this to the beginner audiophile or to someone who just enjoys music and wants a cheap alternative to the higher priced amps out there. Fiio has a great reputation for sound quality and overall durability from their products, even though its made in China lol. I got mine from amazon from Micca and I've heard of them going as low as the mid $80 range. So if your looking to immerse yourself in the pure exhilaration of music then get this product, you won't be disappointed. Good luck guys and gals :). 100_0101.jpg
    1. PomPWNius
      Hey, I use a droid x for my music listening. I can't seem to find an LOD anywhere... does this mean I will have to get myself a new source? :frowning2:
      PomPWNius, Jan 1, 2012
    2. lee730
      No it means you are limited to your droids headphone out. So you are double amping. Sorry for responding so late lol. If I wasn't about to do some more reviews I'd never have come across this post :).
      lee730, Feb 16, 2012
  7. sdhobbs
    Fiio E7 Review
    Written by sdhobbs
    Published Dec 16, 2010
    Pros - Price, quality, sound, versatility,long battery life,small size
    Cons - None
    I Love this product!  I currently use it at work and home as a USB DAC for my computer. I aslo use it on the go with my iphone via a Fiio's LOD3 cable.  It sounds great from all my sources!  I currently only use it with my Earsonic SM3's IEM's. But what's so cool is that in the future if I want to get power hungry full size cans for home use all I have to do is get Fiio's E9 desktop amp which has a port for the E7 and i'm all set!
    The E7 is completely silent, no hiss whatsover.  It has a smooth non-colored high end sound, I don't even find the need to EQ my source when i'm plugged into the E7.  The bass boost is cool, although I don't use it with my SM3's, but it's nice to know it's there in case I get bass light phones.  The build quality is top notch, works on any computer I connect it to, never had a problem with it.  Battery life is insane.  Great job Fiio!!
    1. willyvlyminck
      I ordered one, but I wonder if it is possible to use the DAC with a portable cd drive and if this bring advantage over an ordinary cd player like say a Sony D-NE241? I hope that FiiO will build a cd drive or player to high end standards in alu and not plastic like all todays players( at least those still on the market) but I think there will always remain a market for these players just as there is one for turntables. I have a collection of almost 2000 cd´s, so I won´t change to any other system,so I hope one day...
      willyvlyminck, Jul 30, 2012
  8. pocketrocket
    It's the E7, what can I say?
    Written by pocketrocket
    Published Nov 18, 2010
    Pros - Build quality, display, two headphone connections, accessories, sound quality, power, clarity, bass boost, battery life
    Cons - Distortion as a DAC with multiple audio sources, has to be rebooted. Charging while used causes slight whining on high effinency 'phones
    I'll be comparing it with the intergrated chipset in my laptop (Realtek AC'97) and the Nokia X6 phone with and without E7 as an amp, using AKG K 272 HD, Sony XB-500 and Sennheiser CX-300 and Audio Pro Addon One active speakers with a Tangent Evo E8 active subwoofer. Although I was skeptic whether something from DealExtreme could sound nice or not, I was quite pleasantly surprised.

    E7 USB DAC vs. Realtek AC'97: Hands down, pants down, the winner is E7. No noise (don't own any really high effinency IEMs or the such but anyway), faster, more detailed lows and very clear and well extending highs in comparison. Compared to the headphone jack in my laptop there just seems to be way more separation to the instruments and music isn't some sort of a blur anymore. Then again I'm comparing it to a really low-end chipset so the difference is quite expectable

    E7 as an amp for Nokia X6: overall faster, extends lower and higher, and less muddy. All in all it doesn't sound like the device is struggling to reproduce music with the E7 anymore, and the veiled muddy feeling is grealty reduced. It went three days without a charge, and that's quite good IMO. Anyway, I won't be using any power hungry cans or IEM on the go as of now, so this feature isn't too important for me. Still, it adds to the versatility and value so it's definitely a plus.

    Bass Boost: I'm having difficulty deciding whether I like it or not, the sound stage seems to suffer from levels two and three, no matter am I using the speakers or headphones. It's a fun feature, but I'll have to do a lot more testing before I can say anything concrete about it.

    Notes: Huge distortion and hiss under Windows 7 and Linux Mint 9/10 when running YouTube, Spotify or any flash applications. Hasa been getting quite annoying lately and I'll stop using this product because of it. Nobody else is complaining so I guess I just got a bad one, but I've lowered the SQ rating to three stars although it's really good when it does actually work.
      gevorg likes this.
  9. TomT
    New today - couldn't be more pleased!
    Written by TomT
    Published Oct 9, 2010
    Pros - Reasonable - works as advertised - no hassle setup!
    Cons - Scratched plastic over display (corrected - see text)
    Received new FiiO E7 today from Micca in Fairfax, Va (hi ex-neighbor - used to live in Arlington.)
    Did much reading on this forum and other reviews and truly appreciate the candid and (sometimes) brutal thoughts of recent purchasers.  After just a few hours experience, can only share my first impressions - all of which are positive.
    Unpacked, reviewed instruction sheet, plugged in USB connector to a Sony notebook running W7.  The Sony found the E7 and loaded its driver, all on its own.  Then, put in classical CD and connected my recentlly acquired Senn HD 650's.  Results:  Wow Wow and Wow!  Maybe a $1000 amp could sound better, but to my older (74) ears, the sound was the best I've ever heard through earphones. 
    The E7 is very intuitive and just needed the pictorial on which hole to plug each device into to get it up and working.  Was a little confused at first - each time I powered up, it immediately came on then powered down.  Then, needed to read the instruction sheet:  just touch the switch to turn on; touch and hold for a second or two to turn it off!  So easy a caveman could do it (if they read the instructions, that is!)
    Played around with the bass setting and have found setting #1 and #2 sound best with CD's - #1 for Pop and #2 for classical.  The HD 650's had great presence and I'm hearing sounds that never came out of my modest AV setup with some older Infinity speakers.  Also, tried direct connection to a Sirius Stiletto.  The Stiiletto drives the 650's good - with the E7 it drives the 650's noticeably better!
    Only complaint and it's minor:  when unwrapping (and it was packed beautifully by Micca, noticed a few scratches on the plastic cover over the display.  Nothing I can't live with, but am wondering what it will look like after several road trips.  But, bought the E7 to listen to, not to look at so no big deal.  At first thought perhaps the plastic was a temporary protector but it appears to be glued in place and not readily removable.  
    Another not-quite-sure finding:  Does the E7 charge via USB when the computer - but not the E7 - is turned on?   I turned off the E7 to have some lounch and when I checked it out an hour later, the charge had not increased.  Right now, am charging with the E7 turned on and will 'discover' whether this was a solution or not.
    An earlier post of some time ago was apparently never answered:  how does the E7 work with the Senn HD 650's?  My answer:  Great!   If I'm ever in a high-end store will try out my 650's with a $1K  amp to see what improvement $900 more can make.  In the meantime, I'm quite happy.,
    My thanks again to the posters in this forum whose comments led me to order and receive the E7.   And,  to Jack of Micca who often contributes to this forum and shipped it packed so well.  BTW Jack, do not believe the E7 package had been opened since leaving the factory, so the scratches were probably done with a chopstick!
    Regards to all and Thank You.
    Tom T
    North Augusta, SC
    Correction (the day after):  My dumb error - a kind person sent me a private message suggesting check whether or not a protective film is on the display.  Took me a minute or two to confirm that there IS a protective film in place; thus NO scratch.  My apologies for not recognizing the film and thanks for the kind info.  Will leave the film in place until a proper screen protector is available. 
      rhubarb575 likes this.
    1. tpqueenan
      I totally with TomT on his assessment. I just purchased the E7 for my Senn HD650 and it is a totally different, better experience. Seriously, you should not be listening without this unit. Also, if you are not on an iPod and fancy Android devices which have micro-USB you will need to pick up a micro-b USB host OTG cable to be an adapter for the full USB to micro USB. Fiio makes LODs but only for iOS and Sony devices.
      tpqueenan, Aug 12, 2012
  10. tinamou62
    Substantially changed the way I listened to music
    Written by tinamou62
    Published Jun 5, 2013
    Pros - Deep, rich music. Truly changes the way I experience sound
    Cons - USB cord is slightly bulky, manual and controls are poorly written/have bad interface
    When looking for a dac/amp, everyone recommended the Fiio E7. It's a small, compact combo, and is extremely good. So far, I have found it to be stellar. When using my ATH M50's, the sounds truly change. Coming from a computer without a sound card (only a measly sound chip), the difference was stunning. I repeatedly compared my music without the dac/amp and with it, and I can say it is absolutely worth the 50 dollars I spent on it. 

    Extremely satisfied with my purchase, the only confusing thing is the poorly translated manual.