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The Fiio A5 thread: an upgrade of E12A, MUSES02+LME49600, 800mW, 19Vp-p, 12 hours

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by holypal, Sep 10, 2016.
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  1. Dobrescu George
    I really wish more music was recorded more properly and especially mastered more properly.

    Even metallica realised that after Death Magnetic, they needed to slow down in that loudness, and their latest album, hardwired to self destruct, has much less noise and clipping, and although it isn't perfect by any means, now it is very listenable and enjoyable, compared to how noisy and just poor death magnetic was at release, before the remasters were released.
    Slater likes this.
  2. Spektykles
    Hi, how can I open an A5? My A5 now become a paperweight due to bad battery and the warranty was now expired. I bought some spare battery pack from used E12A and would like to replace it. But mine stuck at bass boost switch, it would prevent the unit to be slide out of the frame.
  3. Slater
    Gently pull the aluminum bass boost switch straight off with pliers.
  4. FiiO
    Dear friend,

    We don't have the instruction about disassembling the A5, you may read the instruction for disassembling the E12 for help still: http://fiio-instruction.fiio.net/Maintenance instructions of Replacing the E12 main board.pdf

    Best regards
    FiiO Stay updated on FiiO at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/FiiOAUDIO https://twitter.com/FiiO_official https://www.instagram.com/fiioofficial/ https://www.fiio.com http://fiio.udesk.cn/im_client/?web_plugin_id=24494&group_id=47899&language=en-us
    Slater likes this.
  5. TheGiantHogweed
    I have just received a FiiO A5 and first impressions is that it is the most disappointing FiiO product I've had. And I've had 7 I think.

    I have the beyerdynamic DT880 premium and yes, they are 600 ohms which probably higher than FiiO would recommend. But as my A3 did pretty much get them to the maximum volume I would listen to them at, I thought this would be more than loud enough. What confuses me is the specifications of the two.

    I am quoting what is on Fiio's site for the A3 here:
    270 mW (32 Ω/THD+N<1%)

    And the A5:
    >800 mW (32 Ω/THD<1%)

    Is that not quite some difference??

    My A3 on most music is just a tiny bit too loud when on maximum volume with these headphones. But it distorts just slightly. And if you have bass boost on (which I certainly do like sometimes), it then distorts pretty badly when the volume dial is past 7. So that is why I wanted something witha lot more power. Just to have the freedom of being able to go much louder than I would need to. On my other headphones That are both around 30ohms, being able to go much louder than you need to seems to make them sound better because the amplifier isn't trying too hard. It also makes the dial more responsive without having to move it so much.

    On to the A5. The difference between max volume on both with high gain on with my DT880s is barley anything at all. The A5 certainly sounds a bit cleaner and is at least a bit louder, but i feel there is something that I'm not understanding about the power difference. I also tried with my AKG K550s. As I didn't want to destroy me hearing, i turned my PC volume right down for these. I had both the A5 and A3 on high gain and max volume. The A5 was a bit louder, but not much at all. So, 530mw difference for that?? I don't understand the maths for measuring these things. But when I used my original FiiO E11, that has a 200mw output at 32ohms. That was really really loud with headphones at that impedance. Surely a difference of over 500mw should me more than a tiny little step?

    Now onto something else. The bass boost. It really is not nice. My DT880s have a very bright sound. Very happy with the mid range, but the bass sometimes lacks a bit of impact. The bass boost on my E11k so long as i was listening not too close to max volume would boost it nicely. It seemed to focus it on the deep bass and barely effected the other frequencies. The A5 bass boost sounds awful to me. It makes the low midrange sound too heavy and muddy. Also, when i tested a quiet track that had very heavy bass, it distorts a little when close to maximum volume. I really wanted an amplifier with a bass boost, but I haven't had one that boosts the upper bass frequencies as much as this and it just messes up to much of the other sound for me to appreciate it. My A3, E11 E10 and X3 DAP all boost it in a way that somehow sounds much more pleasant even if it is boosted by a bigger margin. The output volume for the size and price of this just doesn't impress me at all. My original X3 i believe is basically the FiiO E17 Dac and amplifier if I am correct. Even that is not far off the A5 listening from the headphone socket. I think the X3 has a boosted line output. But even with that, the A5 doesn't seem to be as loud as I expected.

    It does get to the sort of level I shouldn't be listening at for a long time, but if say you were watching a film that happened to be a bit quieter, you couldn't get it any louder. This maybe is my fault for having such hard to drive headphones. But I expected this to have way more power than I would need as for headphone amplifiers, this is pretty expencive. I don't know what it is that my hifi amplifier has in it but that can get them to significantly higher volumes than this. And being a headphone amplifier is not it's purpose. It was barely any more expensive for that matter either. It is a Pioneer A-209R. Getting to just under half way on the dial and it is impossible to go any louder without hurting your ears. But it allows you to go louder if your source is quiet or something. Also, unlike the all my Fiio Amplifiers which all seem to distort when close to max volume with bass boost on, on this you can turn the bass dial up to full as well as putting loudness on which boosts it even further, and there is no distortion at all. It sounds bad because of the quantity it adds. But why does this not have any problems with this and an expensive headphone amplifier does? The main purpose of this amplifier is to drive my speakers, not headphones. The reason why I don't like using this for headphones is because the of the level of inputs I have. So many that it is next to impossible to stop there being interference coming through the outputs. That is far more noticeable on headphones than speakers.

    The other thing that I'm not very happy about the A5 is the volume dial. It has a nice ridged surface. But only at the back... It may have a ring that adds some grip but right at the front is a super smooth metal disc. Having it sat on my desk makes it so difficult to turn the dial. It feels just like you are turning it but the volume doesn't change and that was just because i couldn't grip it. Unless you really try to get a firm grip, it is not good to use on a flat surface, which was my plan for it's main use. Although I have tried putting a tiny rubber band round the edge and that has made quite some difference. I'm not sure why FiiO went with this design of dial. On my E10, E11, and A3, they all have a grooved finish right to the edge. meaning that using it on a desk by just sliding your finger on them works perfectly.

    Sadly, I think I'm going to return this. But I really am stuck with what sort of amplifier I need to have the ability to get more volume out of these. I'll see if I can wait for some advice first though.
  6. Xyrium
    Those ratings would indicate to me that the A5 offers higher current while the A3 higher voltage. As you get higher in the impedance range, I believe the higher voltage units tend to perform well. What's their ratings into 600Ohms? I agree on the volume knob of the A5, terrible, wish they kept the e12a knob. However, I never had a prob with my 880/600's when I had them on the A5, though I'll admit, I drove them with high level sources, even a headphone output at one point (not the best).
  7. Slater
    I hated the volume knob as well. Just awful.

    I used an o-ring, which solved all of the knob issues: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...-19vp-p-12-hours.819831/page-48#post-14346913


    As far as the sound, have you considered changing out the opamp? It's inexpensive to do so, and it might give you the improvement you're looking for. You can add a socket, to make opamp rolling easy. Maybe go with the same opamp used in the A3?

    That might be worth trying before getting rid of the A5.
    Xyrium likes this.
  8. TheGiantHogweed
    Here are some specs on the site. Mine are the 600ohm premium edition. https://europe.beyerdynamic.com/dt-880-edition.html

    I'm not saying that it doesn't get them loud. It does. But barely any louder than my A3. And As I said, I tried with 32 ohm headphones and turned the input volume down, put both the A3 and A5 at maximum volume and there still was only a marginal difference. This was with my AKG K550s which are very easy to drive. I got this amp as many seemed to indicate it had too much power for IEMs and many other headphones. I do wonder if my DT880s could do with something even more powerful.
  9. TheGiantHogweed
    I don't know anything about opamps or things like that. I'm not sure what I would have to do. I'm also just not that happy that there are several things which I fine a bit poor about the A5. I feel there are too many to make it worth spending any more on sorting one of them. The dial may be a simple fix, but I like to have an option to boost the bass by a simple switch but this just seems to make everything in the lower end sound so muddy and boomy.

    Thanks for the advice though. If there had just been one think that I didn't like about the A5, it probably would have been worth sorting out.
    Slater likes this.
  10. Xyrium
    THanks, I've owned the 880/600's, and one thing interesting about those cans is that though they are high impedance, I recall reading that their phase angle isn't difficult to drive. However, they aren't considered inefficient. So, it may still not take much power to get them going, and the reason why I had no problem with them on my A5. Keep in mind, they also aren't powerful. The power rating on them is only something like 150mW or less, from what I recall.


    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
  11. TheGiantHogweed
    I'm starting to wonder if i could get a DAC for my PC with a boosted line out. I currently use this: http://www.smsl-audio.com/productshow.asp?id=103

    I use the phono output with a phono to 3.5mm cable to my A3. Maybe my A3 could be perfect if the output of the DAC was louder. So i could quite possibly be after a much better DAC rather than an amplifier. if I was getting a replacement DAC, I would want at least as many inputs as my current one, but if the output was louder, I wouldn't need an amplifier built in. I'm looking into this one: https://www.richersounds.com/hi-fi/dacs/cambridge-dac-magic-100-blk.html

    A bit of a step up in price though. But I don't know what specs to look for to know how loud the output is. I should maybe consider starting a thread for this.
  12. Shane D
    I have been looking at this amp for at least a year and probably longer. I finally decided to press the buy button today.

    I was thinking HARD About a big strong desktop amp, but I don't really need it with the 'phones I have.
    I used to have an iFi amp with tons of power, but it never really impressed me. Except for the bass boost and 3D sound. I loved that bass boost on my Grado's. When I got rid of the HD6XX's, I also sold the amp as I figured I didn't NEED it for my other 'phones.

    Going back around I was looking at various Schiit amps, JDS Atom and Monoprice Liquid Spark. But none of these have bass boost. While I was thinking about it, I ordered a Topping NX3s. Not bad, but you do get what you pay for.

    The New Year brings an A5 and a new-to-me T5p.2 set of 'phones.

    And a promise to not buy anything else audio in 2019...

    Shane D
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
    Slater likes this.
  13. Xyrium
    Congrats on the new gear. The A5 seems dead neutral to my ears, and with my current set of cans (Senn 58xxx, AT 40x, and Massdrop EDC3's,). I get a full spectrum of sounds. The 40x's have a little more bass, but better quality than the 50x to my ears, the 58xx are warm-neutral, and the EDC3's, really flat. I believe your cans will dictate the sonic signature more than the amp. Go 300 Ohms or less, and the A5 will deliver the goods.
    Slater likes this.
  14. Shane D
    Thanks for the reply. Do you find yourself using bass boost much?

    Shane D
  15. Xyrium
    To be honest, not at all.
    Slater likes this.
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