Fiio E11 Review

People spend quite a bit of time and money filling their need to satisfy their music cravings.  Many people will buy the latest headphones to hit the market only to find out that once they receive the prized set of mini-speakers that their audio source is underpowered and thus the listening experience isn’t what they had hoped.  That, amongst other reason, are a good reason to take a look at a quality headphone amplifier.  If you’ve found that you’re in that same situation or you’re looking to get a little more bass out of your existing headphones, the Fiio E11 may be just the ticket.

Check out the Fiio E11 Bundle Here

I picked up the Fiio E11 for a couple of reasons.  One, I wanted to be able to send a bit more power to my Hippo VB’s, and with the multiple levels of bass boost available on the unit, I thought it might be able to sure up some of the other headphones I have that are a bit light in that department.  Let’s not forget that I also wanted to be able to bring you a review of what is one of the more affordable, mass produced, headphone amplifiers on the market. So without further ado, let’s dig on in.

Packaging

Fiio E11 in the Package

I’m not huge on packaging mainly because I’m interested in the product itself and not the wrapper it came in.  But, just to be thorough, the Fiio E11 came packaged rather decently.  It arrived in your standard cardboard box, but once opened, you find a nice aluminum carrying case.  Everything was in good order and I am very pleased with the care that was taken in ensuring the amplifier arrived in good shape.

Design/Build Quality – 7.5

The very first thing I noticed about the E11 was how incredibly light the unit is.  I was almost afraid they’d sent me the case without any of the electronics!  Seriously though, the amplifier is a nice looking unit.  It has a matte black finish on the front and back and a metal casing around the edges.  The layout is fairly simple, as it should be.  The E11 comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that is rated for about ten hours of play time.  On the top of the unit, there are there elements: a 3.5mm line in, a 3.5mm line out, and the volume wheel.

Fiio E11 Output, Input, Volume

On the right side, there’s a mini USB port used for charging the E11 and two additional switches.  There’s an EQ switch which is really just a bass boost with three levels: off, 1 and 2.  Additionally, there’s a gain switch for low and high amplification.  Headphones that just need a slight boost will provide the most control if set to low gain.  The high gain is best used for headphones that really need a lot of juice to drive them.  There’s no harm in turning on the high gain even for more sensitive headphones, but what you lose is the ability to really control the volume.  You’ll basically end up going from very quiet to very loud with little in-between.  On the front there’s an LED indicator that lights blue when in use and lights red while being charged.  There are two things here worth mentioning that keep it from getting a higher score.  One, you cannot charge the unit and use it as an amplifier at the same time.  While this isn’t a huge deal, it’s definitely an annoyance.  Second, I feel like the line in and the line out positions should either be reversed, or better yet, they should be on opposite sides of the device.  The primary reason I feel this way is I purchased the Fiio L9 Line Out Dock (LOD) to use with my iPhone so I could bypass the amplification of the headphone jack and use the pure audio signal from the dock port.

Fiio E11 Gain and EQ Controls

The way the L9 is designed with the wire coming out to the right of the dock port, it overlaps where the headphone jack is. It just seems odd that Fiio would create two items that should seemingly work hand in hand but end up crossing each other up, literally.  It’s not a deal breaker as I can flip the E11 over on it’s back, but the only problem with this is I occasionally forget that it’s on because the LED indicator is face down on the desk.  So, these are minor annoyances, but neither of these are even close to deal breakers for the E11.

Performance – 9

The first thing that I noticed after plugging the unit into my iPhone was the total lack of hiss or noise of any sort.  I’ve used other lower cost amplifiers in the past and they would typically introduce some noise into the audio.  You can turn up the unit quite a ways and the silence will persist.  This is surprising in an amplifier that was right at $65.  When it came to the amplification, this thing did not disappoint.

Fiio E11 Charging and Power LEDs

I have a couple sets of headphones that are a bit on the demanding side when it comes to power.  First up where the Hippo VB headphones.  These are one of my favorite sets of in ear headphones, especially when you consider the price.  Jump over to the Hippo VB review to get my full take on those.  Back to what I was saying – I plugged my iPhone up to the E11 using the L9 cable, and plugged the Hippos in and I was blown away.

Transparent.  If there’s one word I can use to sum up the overall sound characteristics of the E11, it would have to be transparent.  Setting the EQ level at 0, and just turning the volume up provides more of what I was hoping to hear from the Hippos – pure, clean, powerful sound.  As noted in my review, I keep the two-dotted bass tip on the Hippo VB’s.  With that in mind, I set the gain to low and I didn’t really need the EQ option on the Fiio E11 as the Hippos provide plenty in the bass department.  Where I noticed the biggest difference was when you start turning the sound up.  With the Hippos plugged straight into the iPhone, once I got past about the 80% volume, things started to get distorted and unpleasant.  I always thought this was the sign that the amplification was straining rather than the headphones, and the E11’s proved that to be true.  I was able to turn the E11 up to a volume that was near unbearable, and the Hippos were absolutely stunning.  As far as I could tell, there was no coloring to the sound.  Everything was true to the sound signature I’d grown to love in the Hippos.  The bass was accurate, fast, and resounding.  The mids were smooth as glass, one of my favorite traits of the Hippos.

Fiio E11 Case Release Button

The highs were crisp, full and non-fatiguing.  The E11 took the best parts of the VB’s and just made them louder and cleaner at all volumes.  There was no sign of that strained sound present with just the iPhone.  Needless to say, nobody should listen at the levels I was testing out unless they have a real wish to be def within a few short years.  A quick note on that – make sure you start at very low volumes when using an amplifier such as the E11.  This thing can go LOUD.  You could seriously damage your ears if you were to turn up past 4 or 5 and just hit play.  You’ve been warned.

The second pair of headphones I was extremely excited to try out was my Grado SR-80’s.  Price/Performance, these are currently my favorite pair of headphones I’ve ever heard.  If you’d like, check out the Grado SR80 review.  The Grado’s aren’t the most efficient headphones so they could definitely use a bit of amplification, but that’s not the real reason I was excited to pair the E11 with them.  The one thing that has always bugged me about the Grado’s is they just needed a slight bass boost to make them a true love of mine.  So in these went with an EQ setting of 1.  Wow.  These opened up and turned into a mobile concert venue.  Paired with the E11, I almost forgot I was trying them out so I could write a review.  I started finding some of my favorite tracks just so I could experience them all over again.  I bumped the EQ up to 2 at one point just to see how they would react to the extra boost, and while it wasn’t bad, it did tend to muddy some of the music on the Grado’s.  So, I dropped it back down to 1 and got lost in the music.  The Grado SR-80’s paired with the E11 is an experience I am thrilled to have  In the right environment (nobody around to disturb), this would be one of my top choices any time.

Fiio E11 Mini USB Charging Port

The last set of headphones I really wanted to run through the E11 were the A151’s by MeElectronics.  I received these at the same time I got the E11’s and I ran them through a series of auditions before I decided to hook them up to the amplifier.  I was both extremely excited and disheartened with the A151’s.  The mids and highs were so alive, but the bass was literally missing.  It was like watching a lightning storm a mile away without the cracks of thunder.  Beautiful, but lacking.  EQ level one was the first shot.  This actually did a tremendous job shaping up the sound of the A151’s.  Level 1 only seems to touch the true bass regions of the soundwave which is all they needed.  This combination actually turned the A151’s into an incredible sounding pair of in ear monitors.  Bumping the EQ to level 2 actually didn’t hurt these like they did the Grado’s.  While I feel level 2 was still a bit of overkill, somewhere inbetween 1 and 2 would have been ideal.  Nevertheless, the E11 succeeded perfectly on both fronts – amplification and bass boost.

Value – 9

I may have to come back and revise the score on the value portion.  The only reason I’m not giving this a 10 right off the bat is because I’ve not tried their other, less expensive offerings like the E5.  Rest assured I will give those an audition and let you know my thoughts there as well.  Even without those to compare against, the E11’s at $65 street price are an absolute steal.  If you are passionate about your personal audio experience and you have some quality sets of headphones, these can really open them up.  With the number of high priced amplifiers on the market, these are bargain at their current street prices.

Conclusion/Overall – 9

Fiio E11 and L9 iPhone/iPod/iPad Connector

There are products that you come across once in a great while that you would absolutely purchase again – this is unquestionably one of them.  If you happen to have headphones that are a little underpowered these are a no-brainer.  For the price, I think you’d have a hard time beating their value for performance.  These fall into the category of diminishing returns – you could buy an amplifier for hundreds more, but you’re not going to get 2 or 3 times the sound quality out of them.  If you are happy with the sound signature of your headphones in the mids and highs (or even the lows un-EQ’d) and you need a little more power – go buy these now and thank me when you do.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

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About Allen Underwood

85 Responses to “Fiio E11 Review”

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  1. Richard Jones says:

    Hi any Idea how this compares to the Fiio E7 ?
    I’m not sure if the E11 is just an amp with EQ or whether it has a DAC built in.
    Thanks Rich
    PS Thanks for the heads up on heaphones, my Sennheisers are not working, killed my sony in ears and I’m very dissapointed with the 2 pairs of scullcandies.

    • Rich,

      The E11 is not a DAC – there is no USB conversion. This is just a high quality headphone amplifier. I’ve not tried out the E7 so I cannot give you any comparison there, but I just recently purchases the E6 for review, and the E11 just blows it out of the water. I’m glad you found the headphone reviews helpful. I actually have a number of others I need to write as I’ve reviewed several other pairs. If you have any questions I’d be glad to answer.

  2. Matt Noel says:

    Hello.

    Will this amp make any difference if I use it with my laptop and portable gadgets and a Sennheiser HD215 headphones?

    • I’ve not had the opportunity to listen to the HD215’s, but here’s what I can tell you for the Fiio E11. If you like the way your music sounds coming from your source in your Sennheiser HD215, whether it’s your laptop or other portable media player, then yes, the E11 can make a difference – and by a difference, I mean one of a couple of things:
      1. Volume – if your source is lacking for volume, then the E11 will have it in spades
      2. Bass boost – if you’re listening to something like an iPod or an iPhone which won’t allow you to EQ anything other than music stored on your device (like say Pandora or Slacker), then this might be the answer you were looking for as it will give you a boost on the low end

      The thing that I love about the Fiio the most is the fact that it is true to the source – if you like the way your headphones sound through the source, they will sound the same, except louder and clearer with the E11 – it doesn’t alter the sound signature unless you turn on the EQ, and at that point, if you set it to 1, it’s truly only touching the lower end of the frequency range. If you change it to 2, then you’re adding more oomph and bleeding into the lower mids a bit.

      So, all that being said, the only time I couldn’t recommend the E11 is if you experience any type of noise from your source – the E11 doesn’t introduce any itself as far as I can tell, but it will definitely amplify any that’s there. So as long as your source connections are clean and free of noise, then yes, I would recommend picking this up. I can tell you this – I purchased the E6, and the E11 blows it out of the water – the E11 is just a very well done product.

  3. GABBVAL says:

    Sony ericcson Xperia arc S 600$ + Poweramp aplication from Market 5$ + Fiio E11 65$ + Audio Technica ATH-A700 175$ = waaaaoooooooooo!!!! the best purchase that i ever try, when im listening music, i forget the 845$ that i pay before.

  4. Cody says:

    Would you say the E6 is still useful? I dont have alot of money right now(spent ALOT on music stuff!) and i want to know if it will still deliver a good quality compared to E11s

    • Hi Cody,

      I appreciate what you’re saying when it comes to money, but I think I’d be doing you a disservice if I told you to get the E6. In my opinion, the E11 is WAYYYY better than the E6. Considering the E6 can be had for roughly $30 and the E11 for $65 with an accessory kit on amazon (which includes an extra battery, wall charger and some other things), I would save up the extra $35 and get the E11. Here’s a link to the E11 bundle on Amazon if you’d like to check it out. I know you were hoping to get a “E6 is perfect” answer, but I feel like you’d be upset that you got the E6 and will have wasted your $30 rather than spending $65 and being happy with your purchase.
      Fiio E11 Bundle on Amazon

  5. bill says:

    Thanks for this. I just bought an E11 for my Grado 80’s and ipod touch.

    • Excellent – you’ll be very happy with this pairing. The ability to boost the 80’s bass a tad with the EQ setting on the E11 paired with the extra power takes these headphones to another level. Let me know what you think after you try it out.

  6. andrew doan says:

    I am a fan of FiiO, period. I also have the Audengine D1 which I like a lot as USB DAC however FiiO products are hard to beat in term of return of an investment. I own 4 D3, an E6, a E9/E7 combo. Franky, I am not much a fan of the E7 by itself. Now, the E10 is a giant killer and I am really in love with it.

    I sold my Schiitt Lyr since I don’t want to buy a compatible DAC so I settle for the low-end gear.

    I am looking at the E11 for my Toshiba Thrive tablet however I also own couple of Cmoy amp and I really get a kick out of the 2277 chip.

    If you have to choose between a Cmoy amp and the E11, what would be your choice and why?

    • Man, I really wish I could give a comparison. I’ve not had a chance to check out the Cmoy amps. I just recently picked up the E10 and will be giving it the full run through in the next week. I’m excited to hear that you think it’s such a quality product given the amount of experience you have with amps as well. I wil try to get my hands on a Cmoy in the near future and see if I can do a full comparison.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Mike Siciliano says:

    Will the E11 be suitable to power the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro80 & the Senn 590’s?

    • I would think that it can. I’m working on getting aset of the DT770 Pro’s so hopefully I’ll be able to answer that question directly. But, just as an FYI, I’ve yet to have a set of headphones that the E11’s couldn’t drive with room to spare.

  8. Bob Montgomery says:

    I just bought a FiiO E11 and am using it with some Scosche HP155m ear buds. Should I be using the low gain or high gain setting on the E11? (Audiophile newbie, sorry if this is a dumb question).

    • Depends on what you prefer – the only difference is the amount of power being sent to the headphones. If your headphones are already fairly loud and you can’t turn your amp up past 4 or so on low gain, leave it there. If you find that you have to turn your amp way up on low, then bump it to the high gain setting and you won’t have to turn the dial so much to control the volume. That’s really the only difference. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Bob Montgomery says:

        Thank you Allen!

        • Anytime – glad to help out.

          • Bob Montgomery says:

            Actually, I guess I do have one more question: can I also use my E11 with my home stereo? I currently connect my iPod to my receiver via a headphone jack cable (3.5mm cable), and I’m thinking the E11 would make my iPod sound better when I’m playing it on my home stereo. In this case, would I want to use high gain instead of low gain, since the sound is going to a big pair of speakers instead of headphones?

            Thank you in advance for any insight!

            • Actually, your best bet would be to not use the 3.5mm connector at all. If you want the best possible sound, I would get a cable that has the LOD (the i-device dock connector) on one end and RCA left + right cables on the other side like this product:
              iPod Line Out to RCA Cable – 3ft

              That will give you a line level output from your iPod to your stereo receiver – just plug the RCA cables into the back of your receiver and leave the LOD connector where you can quickly attach your iPod – that will give you the best possible sound.

              As far as using the E11, I would recommend not doing that because then you’re amping a signal twice (assuming you’re using a port connector to connect to the E11), otherwise you’re likely going to be amping the same signal up to 3 times. Every amp has their own colorations and this would alter your music several times. So I would definitely recommend picking up a dedicated cable for your iPod to your receiver like I mention above.

              • Bob Montgomery says:

                Thank you, Allen. I’m using a FiiO L9 LOD cable to connect my iPod to the E11, and then a 3.5mm/RCA cable to connect the E11 to my receiver. Does that change anything, or should I still take the E11 out of the equation and get the LOD to RCA cable?

                Thanks – sorry for all the questions!

              • Personally, I would just take the E11 out of the equation and get a dedicated cable – gives you the best sound quality plus the quickest and easiest hookup solution.

  9. henrymil anderson says:

    hello sir will you help me to decide between e6 and fiio e11. im using sennheiser hd-419 and a nokia n8 12 megapixel smartphone.. im having a hard time deciding and reading reviews and choosing between the two amplifiers. im looking for a more balanced sound and yet powerful amplifier to drive my sennheiser hd-419.. im not looking for skullcrushing bass as the 419′s bass is good enough and needed just a little more..so im wondering which of these two amplifiers will you reccomend that have a more balanced sound and gives more power, clarity or soundstage to sennheiser 419..is the equalizer of these 2 amplifier just gives bass boost or it gives treble as well….which one will you reccomend the e6 or the e11? and lastly im confused..a smartphone has an equalizer and a portable amp has an equalizer, when playing the headphones which equalizer that the headphones uses , is it the eq of the amp or eq of the smartphone or both (if the headphone bypasses or uses the eq of the ampli then the eq of the phone will be useless)im confused.. thanks and more power. sorry for the many questions and the inconvenience, i just want to be sure on my purchase and will not make a mistake on which portable amplifier im going to pair with my hd 419…the hd-419 is 32 ohm 108 db headphone…

    • Hello Henrymil,

      To answer your first question – which would I choose: there’s no question I would get the E11. It’s a far more natural sounding amplifier as it doesn’t really change the sound signature of what you’re already hearing from your headphones through your Nokia n8. I’ve not yet done a review on the E6 (I need to get on that), but it’s really the only amplifier that I’ve used from Fiio that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend. It changes the sound far too much to be able to recommend to others – not that it sounds bad, but you have to pair it with the right set of headphones for it to be effective. You’ll be MUCH happier with the E11.

      Your second question – EQ:
      Both the E11 and the E6’s built in EQ is really for bass – there’s nothing in there specifically for tweaking the treble. However, the E6 has four different modes which change the sound of your music in bass, mids and treble – these aren’t controllable settings, they’re predefined. So, that being said, really it’s the bass that both those amps focus on. If you want something that will allow you to control the treble and the bass independently and to be able to fine-tune those settings, you’d need to look at something like the E17 – Fiio E17 Review here.

      And, to finish off with the EQ – if you are EQ’ing both the n8 and the amplifier, you’ll get double the EQ effect. One of the biggest reasons to have the EQ on the amplifier is that some phones/media players will only EQ the music stored on the device. For instance, on my iPhone, I can only use the built in EQ for listening to music stored on my phone – if I’m listening to Pandora or Slacker, then the EQ isn’t used and I have to fall back to the EQ on my amplifier.

      Hopefully that answered your questions. Let me know if you need any more information.

  10. henrymil anderson says:

    so you mean sir when listening to my headphone and playing mp3s on my phone im using both the eq of the phone and the amplifier of the fiio??? thanks for the info sir i really appreciate it.

  11. henrymil anderson says:

    last question sir, so the right choice is the e11 fiio, will it give more volume power to achieve let say 118 to 120 db… im used to listening to my earbuds which is 119 db so my main concern will the e11 give enough volume power to achieve a gain from 108 db to 118-120 db.. im using a sennheiser hd-419 which is 108db and 32 ohm… thanks very much and sorry for the inconvenience and for the many questions im asking you…thanks and godbless.

    • So to answer your previous question first, yes, both EQ’s will be active if you have them turned on. I typically don’t EQ on my phone itself because I like the flat response, and if I want a bass boost then I’ll turn on the EQ on my amp.

      And yes, the E11 will push your Senn’s much louder than what your n8 will do by themselves. I don’t have the precise figures because I’ve not used those particular headphones, but I will say this – I have NEVER been disappointed with the output on my E11’s on any set of headphones I’ve used. They are absolutely outstanding, especially considering their price.

      One last thing – you don’t need to apologize for asking questions, that’s why I have the comment form!

  12. pablo says:

    Hi, very thanks for your review. I´m planning to buy the e11 and another pair of cans: Actually the one I use most is PX 100II which paired with my iphone 4. It is clear that I need more power!
    My questions:
    1) What you recomend to pair with the E11: hd 25 1 II or grado sr80i?
    2) I also have an HF 3 ethimotics but i used them 2 and not anymore because there is no bass (should the E11 solve that problem)?
    3) Have your ever tried the go dap unit 4 in terms of audio quality, and if it so, is better than the e11 in terms of audio quality?
    4) Have you ever tried a balanced headphone amp with a recable pair of for example hd 600 or similar? Does the difference really worth the money to spend on them, or pairing the hd 600 with an E9 would be enough and a “far” better experience than what I´will achieve with the E11+iphone 4 + Grado sr85i/hd 25 1 II?
    5) E9 vs E11 to drive the grado sr85i?

    Excuse me for asking you such a long issues?
    Thank you very much!

    • Nice set of headphones – the first set of “quality” headphones I purchased way back in the day was the first edition of the PX-100’s, and for the price they were just awesome. Alright, let me see if I can answer your questions…

      1. I’ve not had a chance to listen to either the HD 25-1 II’s or the Grado SR80i, but I do have the original SR80’s, and here’s what I can tell you. If the Grado’s still have the same sound, the E11 does wonders on boosting their bass enough to where it sounds “right” to me. I always thought my SR80’s were a little light on the bass when played through a portable media player such as the iPhone and the E11 really brings them to life. I wish I could tell you something about the HD 25-1 II’s but I’ve not heard them yet – I will see if I can get my hands on a set.

      2. I’ve tried a couple of pairs of the Etymotics and unless you get into some of their higher end stuff, they really are light on the bass. My guess is that the E11 could definitely help them out – will it get them where you want it to be in the bass, I don’t know. But, if you plan on getting the E11 for your PX 100’s, then you’ll be able to give it a shot anyways.

      3. I had never even heard of the Go Dap Unit 4 until now. I’ll be investigating.

      4. So, this question is actually several rolled into one. I’ve never gone the balanced route. Will it produce better results? Technically, I believe it will but there is such a small percentage of people out there who PROBABLY even attempt this route that it might be a while before I venture into it.
      Now, going back to the rest of your question – it’s not really fair to try and compare what the HD 600 with a balanced amp would do comparing to the Grado or the HD25-1 II’s. I would be surprised if the HD600’s didn’t sound better than both of the other sets of headphones on their own, or even with the E11. The E11 really is good enough to pair with just about any sets of headphones I’ve listened to. It’s a quality product. And, to be honest, most of Sennheiser’s products I’ve listened to (minus their dirt cheap stuff) are great sounding headphones. I’ve not heard the 600’s, but my guess is they would be better than the other two you mention and the E11 would be fine, but if you wanted even more power then the E9 would do the job. For what you own already and what you’re looking for, I would start with the E11, try it out with your existing headphones, and then decide what you want to get as far has headphones are concerned after you see what it can do for your existing collection.

      5. I prefer the E11 over the E9 for the following reasons:
      – Portability
      – The bass EQ settings (the E9 has no EQ’ing at all)

      That being said though, if you don’t need a portable amp and you’ll always be listening in the same spot, the E9 is a quality amplifier with just loads of clean power. The E11 hasn’t failed me yet in the power department – I’ve not used a set of headphones it wouldn’t drive to ear bleeding levels, but the E9 is definitely more powerful. Personally I would go after the E11, but again, it ultimately boils down to how and where you plan to listen.

  13. D-RO says:

    Excellent site! Great in-depth review. Thanks man….

  14. gremlin says:

    hello, planning to pick up an e11 to use it as portable amp with e17 as the dac by way of an L7 connector:

    pc/usb source–> usb input of L7–> L7 connected to e17—> 3.5 jack out of L7 —> 3.5 to 3.5 jacks –> input of E11–> headphone (i.e. AKG 550) from the out of E11.

    will this make sense? What im trying to do is bypass the amp of E17 and use e11’s superior amp capability .. but will this mean ill lose some mids quality?

    TIA

    • Well….I wouldn’t suggest doing that simply because I don’t know how well that’s going to sound simply because I’ve never tried it – I mean I guess I could give it a shot and see what happens, but it seems like a lot of overkill. Here’s the deal, the E17 doesn’t sound bad, it’s just that the bass boost on the E11 is better than the E17’s bass EQ. Here’s what I would do if you’re considering getting a DAC. I’m assuming you don’t have either yet…if that’s the case, just get the E17 and see if the sound is what you want. If you yearn for more then you might consider doing what you suggested above. I’ll try out the E17/E11 combo tomorrow and see what it comes out like and report back to you, but I think buying two amps to be connected at the same time is a bit of overkill…either which way, I’ll let you know what I find.

  15. henrymil anderson says:

    sir what is the difference between warm dark sound and bright sound, which is better of the two?? thanks…

    • Hello Henrymil,

      The cool sound is usually associated with a more bassy sound with the highs being a little more recessed and a bright sound is the opposite – you’ll typically get a more airy sound with upper midrange and treble being a little more prominent. Usually when referring to the two different types of sounds it’s a subtle difference. So saying that something sounds cool doesn’t mean it’s boomy, it just means that it leans slightly towards to the bass and lower midrange realm of things. I hope this helps.

  16. henrymil anderson says:

    and sir which is better a open back headphone or closed circumaural headphone, which sounds better and have a better soundstage, live effect. i will just use it for private listening at home.. thanks and godbless.

    • Hello again,

      It’s really a matter of opinion and what you’re looking for. GENERALLY speaking, open air headphones have a better soundstage so it gives you that sense of being there a bit more than a circumaural set of cans. However, that’s just generally speaking – for instance, the Audio Technica M50’s have a very good soundstage along with incredible sound in a circumaural set of headphones. If you’re going to be around people while listening, the circumaural is a bit more “considerate” whereas if you’ll be listening alone you might want to explore some open back headphones – I’m currently evaluating a set of Beyerdynamic DT990’s and they’re absolutely a pleasure to listen to – that review is coming soon.
      If you want to check out the M50 review, look here:
      http://www.headphonereviewhq.com/reviews/ath-m50/

      Let me know if you need any more info, I’ll be glad to help out.

  17. pablo says:

    Hi, I recently bought the e11 and pair it with senheisser px 100 II. It was my first experience ever with a head amp. I expected that was going to be a shock in terms of the kind of experience achieved, but was not a shock at all. I agree that at higher volume the sound remains clear (though a dangerous experience in terms of health), but at acceptable volume level there is no radical difference between comparing fiio + L9 dock connector versus regular iphone 4 headphone output. I listen various tracks from different artists and genres encoded in mp3, apple losless, wav and AIFF.
    I have to pair the e11 with my ethymotic hf3 to see what happens.
    By the way, I am anxious waiting the arrival of a Senheisser HD 25 1 II which i recently bought.
    So far, my reference audio experience in a portable configuration has been: ipod shuffle 1 Gen + senheisser cx 300

    • Hi Pablo,

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experience. The very first pair of decent headphones I purchased was the first revision of the PX 100’s and I’m assuming the II’s are similar in design/sound. You’re correct in what you say regarding the PX 100’s – these headphones are already driven perfectly fine by your iPhone and the need for an amp is pretty much non-existent. You have to keep in mind the real purpose of an amp is to drive headphones that have a higher impedance or lower sensitivity, neither of which the PX 100’s suffer from. So you’re lack of enthusiasm is completely understood.

      However, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you hook them up to the HD 25’s. The HD 25’s are a 70 ohm speaker meaning they need more power to drive while your PX 100’s are 32 ohm (pretty standard for portable headphones).

      The other reason I recommend the E11 to people is for those looking for that extra bit of bass kick as the E11’s bass EQ works very well for a wide range of headphones.

      Please, when you get your new Sennheisers, drop back by and leave your opinion of how those sound as well as how the E11’s paired with them. I really do appreciate you coming by and leaving a comment. Can’t wait to hear your opinion on the HD 25’s – I’ve heard that they’re great cans.

  18. ruben garcia says:

    good afternoon, I would like to know which product to official FiiO pro hd sony ericcson or walkman, headphones possess fidelio L1. Thanks for your attention.

    buenas tardes,
    me gustaria saber cual producto de fiio funcionaria con sony ericcson pro hd o walkman, poseo auriculares fidelio L1 . gracias por su atención

  19. Stuart says:

    Hi Allen,

    First of all, thanks very much for such a good review, and for taking the time to answer all the questions!

    I’m using a pair of Sony MDR-XB700 headphones running off an iPod Classic 180GB.

    These are pretty big, bassy sounding headphones, and I really enjoy them both in terms of sound quality and comfort. I’ve been interested in investing in a headphone amp to see if I can improve the sound quality further, as I understand that an iPod is a bit underpowered to run them.

    Would you recommend just going with the E11, or should I go whole hog and invest in the E17 (which I could also use as a DAC from my Macbook Pro on my home system)? Is the difference in price worth the spend?

    On a related note, if you connect either via the L9 LOD, does this negate the iPod’s internal EQ? I listen to a very varied range of music, so I end up using the EQ a lot, especially with such bass heavy cans. If it does negate the internal EQ, I’d likely go for the E17 just because it gives you that much more control over treble and bass.

    Thanks again for advice.

    • First, I want to apologize – I didn’t realize this comment was in here awaiting my approval.

      What you asked is a tough question – it really depends on what you’re looking for. Let me start with your LOD question first – using the LOD connector will not bypass your built in EQ on the iPod – so you don’t need to worry about that – whatever EQ’ing you do on the iPod will be passed onto your amp.

      As far as the E11 vs the E17 – that’s a tough one. Seeing as how you’re using a Macbook Pro, I will say that the soundcard isn’t too bad. I’m also using a Macbook Pro (2011 model) and the sound that comes out of the headphone jack isn’t bad at all. So, if you want to save some cash, the E11 would be just fine although you’ll see a lot of places people telling you that you shouldn’t amp and already amped signal – and while that’s true, it actually sounds pretty good through my own Macbook Pro. Obviously using the E17 would allow you to bypass this double-amping of the same signal and use the DAC on the E17 (which is also very good).

      I would look at it from a type of use perspective though. Maybe this will help you with your decision (if you haven’t already made one seeing as how this comment is now 2+ weeks old) – if you plan on using the amplifier in any other way, such as hooking it up to a PS3 or an Xbox 360, or maybe even a home receiver, you could use the optical outputs on those devices to plug straight into your E17 and use the built in amp to drive your headphones. The other reason to consider the E17 over the E11 would be if you would like to be able to adjust your bass and your treble independently of each other. The ability to do this on the E17 is lovely and can really help tweak a set of headphones to a sweet spot.

      All that being said, I absolutely love my E11 and it’s one of my favorite amps to pull out at any given time in conjunction with most sets of headphones I have. I prefer the analog dial control for the volume and the simplicity of it is just beautiful – I still feel it’s one of the best values on the market for a quality amplifier at a very inexpensive price point.

      Hopefully this helped out and again, I apologize for not seeing this sooner.

      • Stuart says:

        Thanks very much Allen, no worries at all on the delay! So I went for the E17 in the end, just for the added flexibility and the ability to fully EQ the sound and I’ve really pleased with it – great bit of kit, excellent price and does wonders for powering my headphones, especially for bass heavy electronic music. Thanks again for all the advice!

  20. Harris says:

    Hey Allen, nice review.
    I will be using this amp using ATH M50’s, along with a desktop and perhaps an Android phone. WIll this amp make a noticeable difference? Do the M50’s even need an amp? Thanks.

    • I’m going to answer these in a different order!

      If you’re planning on getting the M50’s, I’d say just buy those first as they do pretty well without an amp. That being said, yes, the M50’s can sound even better with the E11 and if you like a little more of a boost to the bass, then the E11’s are just about the best ticket in town! As far as whether the M50’s actually need an amp, it really depends on which Android device you have – all phones have different amps in them and I’ve only had experience with a few so it’d be really hard to say. But, honestly, I’d get the M50’s first and if you feel you need more power, pick up the amp shortly after.

  21. Jeremy says:

    Nice review, I have the E11 coming next week but I already have the E6 so is the E11 that much better? I find the E6 to be a great little amp for what its designed for and the SQ isn’t bad either.

    The reason I got the E11 is to get a bit more power to my TF10, Rockit Sounds R-50 and Atrio MG7. All of them only have a 32ohm impedance but with my E6 they all sound quite good so I’m hoping the E11 will do even better.

    • I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I too have the E6, and for the price it’s an amazing little unit. What I can tell you, and I’m sure you’ve noticed, is that some of the settings on the E6 have a tendency to really color the sound – the E11 is much more neutral in it’s approach but the EQ (bass boost) selections on the E11 are just so very good. If you love the sound of your headphones on a flat eq out of your listening device then you are going to be extremely happy with the E11 – and if you want to boost the bass, the E11 does an awesome job of boosting the bass without coloring the rest of the frequency range (EQ 2 does bleed into the midrange a bit, but not horribly).

  22. George says:

    Hi Allen. I just bought a Beyerdynamic DT880 250 ohms (yesterday in fact) and this is my first high impedance cans, the others being Grado SR325iS, AKG K550, ATH M50, etc. I find that for my e11, I have to switch to High Gain when I want to listen loud. (For my e10 too – I also have the e1 and e6). I have several questions:
    1. Does High Gain actually affect the sound quality or is it merely making it louder with minimal or no impact on sound quality? I presume battery life is reduced when using High Gain.
    2. I believe the Nokia BL-5B battery comes in higher mAH options. What’s your opinion on using these?
    On a separate note, I like my e11 so much, I’d consider buying a spare to guard against obsolescence!
    Thanks,
    George

    • Hello George,

      Yes, higher impedance headphones require that you bump up to the high gain setting. As far as sound quality, there should be no difference when switching between the two – as long as it sounds good to you, that’s all that really matters anyways! :-) As far as draining the battery quicker, absolutely – it’s pushing out more wattage to drive the headphones so it’s going to use a bit more battery – obviously, that’s only if you’re cranking it up. In other words, switching to High and listening at the same level as putting it on low and turning it up to equal the level would in theory drain the battery exactly the same. It really has to do with how much power is being pulled from the battery and sent to the headphones. So, to sum that up, switching to high really only drains the battery more if you’re turning up the music louder.

      As far as using the higher mAH battery, as long as it’s compatible (meaning don’t mix nicadmiums with some other type) then I see no problem with it – that just means you’ll get a longer charge out of your battery, but not necessarily any more power – more than likely the electronics in the amp dicate the flow of power.

      And yeah, I love my E11 too – the analog controls are the reason it’s my favorite, even though I have plenty of love for my E17 as well! Thanks for stopping by man.

      • George says:

        Wow Allen, thanks so much for the very prompt reply, very informative reply, and sharing your love of Fiio products. I love reading of esoteric products and even though I could afford them I don’t want to. Fiio in particular is real value for money for amps etc. Just to digress onto headphones, I’d rather have my 10 headphones (USD80 – USD 350) than a Stax or Audeze as variety is the spice of life. Different cans for different genres and different occasions eg lying on bed or sitting upright listening intently or sitting upright but with one eye on the surroundings. Keep the reviews coming.

  23. Victor Arimado says:

    Just bought my E11 today and I’m loving the sound quality… My Creative Fatal1ty headset never sounded this good. I’m just wondering if the E11 can be paired with the Marshall Major? I tried the Marshall Major in an apple store and I liked the build and sound quality.

  24. Francois says:

    Hi

    Thanks for the great reviews and info. I was trying to find a solution to increase the volume through my Samsung SIII when I came across your site. My problem is that I want to buy a decent set of Around Ear Headphones but when trying them out with my phone the volume is way too low.

    Currently I am looking at the Bose AE2i’s. (320 Ohm) or the Sennheiser HD 558’s (50 Ohm) which are more expensive.

    Just a few questions if you have the time:

    1. Will the E11 amplifier work fine with my Samsung Galaxy SIII and iPhone 4? I ask as it would appear the E17 model (which I was originally contemplating) will not work with the SIII.

    2. Which is better, high impedance or lower? I would have thought higher is better, but the Sennheiser headphones are pretty low compared to the Bose AE2’s, yet much more expensive.

    3. Should I consider getting Noise cancelling headphones? Bose Quiet Comfort 15’s maybe? From what I can ascertain the downside is they are battery operated. i.e. no sound if batteries are flat, could have interference/hissing sound, noise cancelling works better for constant background noise as opposed to chatter etc.

    Thanks in advance

    • Francois says:

      Ok, scrap the questions regarding the headphones. I looked at your review on the ATH-M50’s and will be getting me a pair of those.

      Just need to know if they will run ok through the E11 on my Samsung Galaxy SIII. (Which I think they will – just the E17 which will not work)

      Thanks for the great reviews.

      • Yes, the E11 will work perfectly with your SIII. Just as a heads up – the E17 will also work fine with your phone – it just won’t be a DAC for your phone (yet). There’s a lot of work being done on Android to try and be able to make the devices work with external DACs. Either way you choose to go, you’ll absolutely love the results. Also, just to answer the previous question regarding impedance, higher TYPICALLY means better, but that also requires that you have more power to drive. But, I’ve listened to PLENTY of lower impedance headphones that anyone would be happy to call their own!

        • Francois says:

          Cool, thanks for clearing that up.

          I’ve ordered the E11 and the ATH-M50′s headphones. Now the long (7 days) wait. :-(

          Thanks again for a great site an all the help.

  25. henrymil f. anderson says:

    i have a question sir, if your portable amp is underpowered will it affect the sound reproduction, or if the amp is powerful like say the fiio e11 will the sound produced in the headphone will be much better than an average amp or underpowered amp..and let say i have a good source..

    • Hello,

      Absolutely, if your portable amp is underpowered for the headphones you’re using, you will definitely hear that in the reproduction. Usually when amps don’t have enough power to drive the headphones you’ll actually hear the amplifier straining to drive your headphones. So, having an amplifier with more power than you need is actually preferable to having one that is underpowered. The same holds true for any type of audio – having power to spare is always a positive thing.

    • Massimo says:

      DT880 are overally betetr than DT990 in most applications. I think you should rather treat semi-open hp like fully open in terms of isolation and sound leaking though I listen always in my quiet room alone so did not do comparisons on that. If you have a roommate I would recommend DT770, they are also much cheaper than DT880. I never had 600 ohm DT770, I had 80 ohm that have mainly bass, I found 250 ohm version much betetr. My guess is that 600 ohm would sound very good with a Xonar Essence card

  26. Richard says:

    One quick noob question: Is it possible to use E11 on headphones with an inline microphone?

  27. Pat Aiken says:

    I apologize in advance for being a bit thick. I have just ordered (but not yet received) the FiiO E11+L9 in hopes of being able to use my vintage (circa 1995) Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation II’s (impedance 300 ohm, sensitivity 94 dB) with my iPod Touch. Should I be looking forward with great anticipation to an audio success, or have I just pissed away $60? May also want to try with my Sennheiser HD 414 SL’s (impedance 600 ohm, sensitivity 94 dB) as well. Your thoughts?

    • Pat Aiken says:

      Received the E11+L9 yesterday. With my Sennheiser HD 560 Ovation II’s and my iPod Touch, works like a champ. With the internal switch set to high power, and the gain also set to high, I only needed a setting of around 4 on the volume dial to get impressive punch on these high impedance (300 ohm) phones. With the Sennheiser HD 414 SL’s (impedance 600 ohm) the volume setting needed to be higher (around a 6+) and I felt things were straining a bit. Bottom line: This met my primary expressed need (desire), which was to be able to use my HD 560’s with the iPod.

      • Hi Pat,

        Sorry I’m just now getting back on these. I just approved both your comments – and yes, I was actually going to tell you that the 600 ohm would probably only be able to be driven to moderate levels. Really the E11 along with most portable amps probably reach their limit when hitting the 300 ohm mark for most headphones. When you step up into the 600 ohm realm you should be looking at desktop headphone amplifiers. I’m sure there are some portables out there that will work, but they’re probably going to be quite a bit more pricey. Thanks for sharing your experience with your two different sets of headphones as this will undoubtedly help others out.

  28. Shane says:

    Hi

    I just bought shure’s srh440 and the fiio e11 and was wondering what and how the fiio amp would effect them. I am new to this whole headphone experience so i would like to know what settings on the amp would be good for them. i also have some kicker hp541 and dont knw what would be best for them when it comes to the gain/eq

    • Honestly when it comes to the EQ, just do 0 if you don’t want any bass boost, 1 if you want a decent amount of punch, and 2 if you want insanely boosted bass…As far as the High/Low setting, I typically set it on whichever one allows me the most control over the volume – for instance, if you’re using a lower impedance set of headphones like the M50’s for instance (38 ohms), I keep it on low so that I can turn the volume from 0-7 or 8 whereas if I put it on High I could only go from 0-4ish – so I have less control over the volume on the High gain setting.

  29. MH says:

    Hi Allen. What’s your opinion about the High/Low Power setting beneath the battery compartment? Low Power mode can reduce the power output to less than half – is there any sound quality effect or advantage especially when using low impedance headphone such as 32 ohm sennheiser hd215 and 28.5 ohm v-moda m80? Appreciate very much your response on this matter :)

    • When using low impedance headphones, I would just keep it on low. Really the only difference is how far you have to turn the volume to get the level of sound you’re looking for. I’ve not found any sound quality difference between the High/Low setting…I like using low simply so I have better control of the volume levels on lower impedance headphones (or higher sensitivity headphones). But, keep in mind, in theory, if you have it on the low setting and turn it all the way up, it’d basically be using the same power as if you turned it on High and turned the volume to the same level – so I would just choose the one that gives you the most control over your sound and you’ll be good to go.

  30. Allan says:

    Hi Allen. I’m the 17 year old filipino guy who asks you in your review of the ath pro700mk2’s on youtube… I took your advice and ordered the ath m50’s… Do you think that the fiio e11 will work well with my old 2nd gen ipod shuffle and the ath m50’s? Thanks in advance… :)

  31. TeRRyZx says:

    Would it be a problem to be out walking using the e12 and have to answer a phone call? Are there any earphone cords that have a built in mic that will allow this? I think I want to get it no matter what but this phone call thing could be annoying. Thanx for your review.

    • I don’t think you’d be able to answer a phone call because the input and output on the E12 is stereo. The connections for phone cables that support the stereo + voice would all need to be plugged directly into the phone and not have an amp in the middle.

      • TeRRyZx says:

        Do you think it would be a problem to manually answer a call by grabbing the phone then?

        • No, as long as you are using a stereo cable, then the phone knows that a “speaker” cable isn’t plugged in and answering the phone isn’t a problem – it will play through the regular speaker as if you didn’t have anything plugged in.

          • TeRRyZx says:

            Sounds good. Now then if I need to talk to the call, am I correct that they won’t hear me on the Shure MPA-3C Music Phone Adapter for iPhone I would be using. That has mic that stops the music and let’s you talk back through THAT mic. I am thinking that I will have to raise the iPhone from the case and speak into the bottom built in mic instead of the MPA-3C. But I think I will be able to keep my Shure SE530’s in my ears and still hear their side of the call (I Hope). I have custom molds made to fit them in my ears and removing them for a call would be annoying and time consuming also. Thanks for you help. I want to get everything I need and be all ready when the new iPhone is released in a couple weeks.

  32. stephen lumsden says:

    Hi

    I am wondering about this, but I am wondering is the E12 is worth the extra money or may be get everthing in a E07K/E09K combo. I intend on listening to rock and classical on an Ipod/Iphone and sometimes on Nexus 7 (do not like the look of E18).
    While commuting now I use AKG 420 and use AKG K530 at home, but can get a good deal on Philips L1 or M1 for commuting and wonder if I really need a DAC function for coomuting (my iphone and Nexus 7 is not too loud and I really want to listern to classical on the train).

    I do listen to Itunes on the PC (soon all to be lossless) and intend, over the next year or two to upgrade the pair of Creative Gigaworks T40 speakers I have to something like A5+. Would a E07/E09K make any difference to the output there as I know they are good PC speakers but not in same league as my main stereo Arcam and Regas, but thats another matter.

    I have looked at your Youtube channel and get good info , but cannot make my mind up. I keep thinking the E11 may be all I need (with the L1s) and later I can upgrade my PC setup with something better down the track.

    • Hi Stephen,

      The E11 is a wonderful little amp, and for the price it’s hard to beat. However, I’m a big fan of the E07K on it’s own, and paired with the E09K there hasn’t been a set of cans I couldn’t power properly. For the headphones you mentioned, any of the amps you mentioned would work perfectly well. The E12 is a bigger device than the other two, and it can output more power as well – but, the headphones you mentioned don’t need the type of output that the E12 can deliver. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a stellar amplifier, but, in your case, I’d probably start with the E07K (love this amp/DAC), and later, purchase the E09K and you have a killer combo. The reason I’m such a fan of the E07K is it has a clearer presentation than the E11, and the bass and treble are fully EQ’able. Then, if you pick up the E09K, you’ve got the DAC portion in the E07K ready to plug in! And no, the E09K won’t affect your PC speakers at all, unless you’re talking about using the E07K as an EQ to your speakers…then maybe. But the E09K doesn’t have enough power for speakers, it only has enough power for driving headphones.

      I hope this all helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • stephen lumsden says:

        Thanks Allen
        I got the E17/E09K and together they give some flexibility to the T40 speakers until I upgrade. The E17 is also quite good with my iphone and AKG 530 and Phlips M1 headphones.

  33. Phil says:

    I love your reviews. I have the samsung galaxy note 2. Do you think the fiio e11 will work well with my phone? I am also purchaseing ath-m50s. Cant wait!!!:)

  34. Absolutely – it’ll put a huge smile on your face if you pair those three!

  35. Phil says:

    It sure did Allen!!!:) Im sure glad i listened to you. That would be great if you could do a review on that headphone amp PA2v2.

  36. The PA2V2 is coming very soon…I know I said that a while back but I need to buckle down and get about 5-10 reviews out the door! Thanks for stopping back by!

  37. Farel says:

    I must say I did not listen to DT770 600 ohm. They are no lonegr produced as PRO but are as premium. I have 250 om and 80 ohm pro models. They are crispier tightier sounding than their dt990 counterparts, they have very good soundstage, don’t react as good to dolby headphone as open backed phones though. They isolate very well. For long sessions at home not that good. I use them on the go. At home you take them off after an hour and you feel deafened, stunned, like a fish taken out of water.

  38. Phil says:

    I hate to bother you again Allen. I see fiio is comeing out with the e12. Do you know anything about it? Do you know when it might be available?

  39. Not sure when it’s coming out, but I’ll definitely be getting one for review -that thing looks gorgeous.

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