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REVIEW: Fiio E7 Headphone DAC + Amp

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Bluu

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A quick review of the new Fiio E7 headphone DAC + amp.

What it is

A lightweight and portable headphone DAC and amp combo. Can also be used as a standalone DAC in the conjunction with the Fiio E9 amp. It's small and light enough to easily carry around.

What's in the box

1. Fiio E7 DAC + amp.
2. USB type A to type B cable.
3. Male to male stereo (3mm) cable for iPod (6").
4. Rubber strap to lash the Fiio to an iPod.
5. Soft carry case.
6. Scratch guard.
7. Instruction manual.

Setup

Under Windows 7, the device is simple plug-and-play. I connected it to my Dell 1720 and Windows immediately recognized it as a USB DAC. The unit takes a few hours to charge but can be used immediately if plugged in via USB.

Controls

The controls available on the E7 are volume, bass boost, key lock, USB charging and sleep timer. There is a line in socket and a proprietary connector for the afore-mentioned E9 amp.

Sound Quality

I am using the E7 with my burnt-in ATH-M50 headphones. The headphones have well over 500 hours on them. I wanted to use only the DAC component of the E7 because the M50s do not need amplification. Using WASAPI in Foobar2000, I have rarely been able to take the volume beyond 50% before getting the Fiio. However, I found out that the only way to bypass the amp section was to pair the E7 with the E9! In short, no way of bypassing the amplification. On the very first song, I noticed slight distortion in the sound. The output in FB2K was set to WASAPI via USB DAC. Google helped me figure out that the optimum volume setting on the Fiio E7 when being used with FB2K is 56. So, I dropped the volume on FB2K and increased it to 56 on the amp. As promised, the distortion vanished and sound was smooth and clean.

My initial impressions were that the E7 added a sense of clarity to the music. There was also greater tangibility, a sense of three dimensional space. After a prolonged listening session, the improvements became more and more apparent. The amplification is not bad but it is the DAC that really allows the M50s to shine.

The headphones already have a solid thump down low, a punchy mid-range and sweet highs and the Fiio only added to the experience. Even after listening for a few hours on the trot, there was no fatigue or feeling of being overwhelmed. For the fun of it, I went back to using the on-board sound-card on my laptop and immediately, the music sounded dull and lifeless. Switching back to the E7 brought back all the good stuff! A particular characteristic I love is the "shape" or "volume" (not SPL, think area occupied by an object) that the DAC provides to the instruments. Everything sounds more rounded and full bodied.

Summary

For 39xx + S&H, the Fiio is a good VFM product. It is not top-of-the-line but you definitely get everything you pay for. The packaging is excellent and has everything you need. The rubber strap, short stereo cable and carry case are very thoughtful additions. The build-quality is top-notch and the device looks stylish. Many co-workers stopped dead in their tracks to ask me what that cool thing was. Some even mistook for a new-gen smartphone. Unfortunately, it has no touch-screen. However, I'm sure addition of that feature would increase the price unnecessarily. One feature I would have liked to see is a screen dimming option. Currently, the OLED screen is always lit brightly.

All in all, a great, portable DAC + amp combination this side of 4000 rupees.
 
D

Deleted member 17547

Guest
Very Nice review Bluu... :)

Just one question.. u tested this DAC with your headphone.. Did you try it with your Amp/AVR ..? Howz the quality then ?

Thanks..
 

Bluu

New Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2009
Messages
811
Points
0
Location
Bangalore
Nice review. Please post pics also.
Thanks! Would you mind if I did not? I'm not a camera-friendly guy :)

Very Nice review Bluu... :)

Just one question.. u tested this DAC with your headphone.. Did you try it with your Amp/AVR ..? Howz the quality then ?

Thanks..
Thanks!

No, I have not tested the DAC with my amp. It has two headphone outputs only.
 
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