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Amp/DACs item created by Hung0702, May 27, 2010
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:
Design. It's really nice and stylish
Long operation on one charge
Perfect sound (really like it)
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):
Pros - Silent, Step up in SQ over my Pioneer VSX-918V
Cons - Price, Volume/Power, Shelf-Battery Life
I'm happy with this for my purposes. I use a LOD as well, which may account for some SQ improvements. When I listen to music from my Desktops HD Audio out (Gigabyte UD3R) it is more silent with better clarity coming through this (E7) than my Pioneer VSX-918V(Receiver). This was a surprise to me. Of course my receiver can put out much more volume, than this but my headphones (Senn. HD 280) can't take that much power so they sound best through the E7. Of course the E7 also seems to remove so bass as well; it cleans up the bass as well but reduces it.
**I use a headphone jack from my desktop to the E7, and an optical cable from my desktop to the Pioneer. I also have a Radeon 5870 graphics card that has hdmi out that carries hd audio. This has a closer SQ level when compared with the E7 but it still is not as silent.
Pros - Powerful amp, Well built
Cons - Interface
This little amp has plenty of juice and is a good replacement for dodgy laptop sound. Just don't expect it to outperform more expensive DACs, soundcards and amps because it won't.
The interface is a bit irritating and I find myself wishing it had a volume knob, not just buttons. I find it hard to figure out which button is which without looking at it.
Generally though, it seems pretty solidly built, so no complaints there, although one of the jacks on mine has always been a bit iffy.
Sound is reasonable, a little bit of extra bass and a lot more clarity when compared with my onboard sound. I'd also probably say it sounds better than my Sansa Clip+. Clearly outperformed by a better DAC or something like an Asus STX though.
Amp is quite powerful and can go loud. I rarely push it past 20.
Certainly not the giant killer that it is sometimes made out to be, but nevertheless a good entry level product that pairs particularly well with low impedance/sensitivity phones like lower model Grados and canalphones (really good with RE0). Anything that is harder to drive or has higher quality sound really deserves better than the E7 though.
Pros - durable, has an amp
Cons - sounds worse then my onboard and ipod.
ok everyone i am probably going to get hate for this but i should have ordered the grado sr60s instead. my conexant hd audio sound on my laptop is obviously onboard. from the opinion and belief of people on head-fi is that onboard is terrible. they recommended i buy the fiio e7. so i got $200 for a graduation present and decided to get a fiio e7. i was certain it would make a difference as everyone has been praising it. so after 8 days it arrives. i am so excited to hear what i have been missing. i quickly plug it in and let it charge a bit. i plug my shure srh840 in and at first (placebo effect) i think they sound phenomenal. then after a few songs i plugged my shure srh840 into my computers audio input. and guess what? it is actually clearer and sounds fuller. correct me if i am wrong but i thought there was supposed to be a difference with the fiio e7. i was under the impression it was better then on board sound. i give it an overall 2.5/5 because it has an amp. but other then that this thing is not worth it. i am sorry but maybe this is really just snake oil. if anyone of you guys are new here. avoid at all costs. none of this improves anything. and the higher up you go the less of an improvement you achieve. i am done with dacs. my on board seems really good in comparison.
Pros - Clean SQ (dac), good build quality, value, versatility
Cons - Bass boost can be boomy, tends to be cold/analytical, can sound a little 'thin'
This is my first AMP/DAC, so unfortunately I don't have anything to compare it with. I'm also using a mid-range set of Shure IEM's (SE420) and a lower range set of Sennheiser eh250 cans. For a source, I have a Cowon iAudio7, an iPod Touch 4G, and the PC just has a Realtek onboard sound chip.
It didn't make a huge difference as an amp - but the dac is quite clean and better than my netbook's integrated audio. To be honest, there isn't a great deal of difference with my main PC's integrated onboard though.
The design of the E7 is very simple. It matches up with my iPod Touch 4G really well for size (I also bought the L3 LOD). The controls are very simply and easy to use. The tactile buttons for volume are well placed and easy to locate and use. I really like the dual 3.5mm h/p outs.
The included extras are good as well. I did buy the LOD separate - but included in the pack is a 3.5-3.5mm LO/LI cable, a free L2 3.5mm cable, a plush 'velour' carry case, a well fitting silicone cover, a fitted screen protector and a spare, and a band for keeping your DAP and AMP together.
On to the SQ. After charging the E7, I plugged it into my iPod using the LOD, and then (in turn) my SE420 and after the eh250. All my files are ALAC (lossless). The first thing I noticed was a slight increase in clarity - everything just seemed to be a little crisper. I'm not sure I this is just the E7 or the LOD, placebo (not properly volume matched) or a combination of everything. But I am enjoying the new sound for now.
EDIT - after a lot more experience with other amps (and other cans) - I now suspect any improvement from the iPod was likely to be expectation bias (placebo).
Anyway - where the E7 shows an improvement is as a DAC - if you have issues with onboard sound. I use Linux at home, I plugged the E7 into a USB port, and it was immediately recognised and usable. I then started to play a few of my favourite songs (again all lossless - FLAC). Improvements were negligible with the main PC - but the sound was cleaner on the netbook (no interference/noise).
The E7 does have a bass boost option - and while it seemed to work well on the first level (quite subtly) - the level 2 and 3 bass boosts became a little boomy, I ended up not using it as the bass punch already present was enough for me.
Now I'm just waiting to pick up my next cans (Shure SRH 840's) in a few weeks time. I'm interested to see what the E7 does with these!
For a beginner's first DAC - I'd recommend the E7 as a value for money option - IF you are having issues (noise) with current onboard sound. The amp section is really a bonus. Anoter bonus is being able to pair the E7 with the E9 for a desktop solution.
EDIT >> After being able to compare to other amps
As an update to my initial review - while I still agree with everything I initially wrote, I'd like to comment that compared to subsequent amps I've owned (E11, PortaTube and Audio-gd NFB-12) the E7 - even in combo with the E9 - sounds a little cold and thin. I know I do prefer a slightly warm signature (definitely a mid-range fan), so this may have a bearing. After comparing the E7+E9 to the Audio-gd, I definitely prefer the NFB-12. It has more body. Subsequently I've altered my rating slightly - but still consider it good entry level for what the E7 does offer at the price.
Please note - it's value is very dependent on your onboard sound - improvement if your onboard is inherently noisy - not much if onboard sound is clean.
Pros - Great for portable use!
Cons - Not the Greatest amp that can be used
This is a great little powerful amp for powering headphones that need a little extra boost. This has a built in DAC which is really useful and increases the sound quality of music. For being a portable amp, it is one of the most user-friendly and best amps for traveling without alot of connections and setup. Especially for those who dont know much about audio set-ups this is a great device.
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
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 .
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!!
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.
Pros - Sounds great
The most obvious use of cheap parts is the screen, In fact it was scratched before I got it and running it across my sleeve only made it worse (oops, photo attached really doesn't do justice).
* I should have read the above review about the protective film, its kinda hard to notice on the device actually *
Sounds pretty good however I'm a new to the hifi scene, thus my judgement may not be the best.