Most helpful positive review
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Great Value, Great Product
on September 25, 2011
First of all, I'm frankly surprised at people complaining about the price of this item. The next cheapest non-FiiO LOD I could find was $30 (the ZN7II from Zycable), and they continue to upwards of ten times the SRP of the FiiO L9. Not to mention that if you're purchasing an LOD for you iPod it means you've (presumably) already spent some money on an amp. In the audiophile community, FiiO has the reputation of making very decent products at VERY AFFORDABLE prices.
It's probably somewhat pertinent that I don't have a lot of money, so I haven't done any A-B testing with any other cables and can't compare it in that way.
Value is 5 out of 5. While I do care about sound, I'm skeptical about what effect the quality of 2.5 inches of cable is going to have on overall sound, and therefor I'm not willing to spend a lot of money on an LOD. There's a lot of argument on the subject, and given the price of LODs (and cables in general) there's a lot of evidence that a lot of people do believe there is a difference and are willing to pay for it. Perhaps if you have "Golden Ears" and a lot of high end equipment you'd be able to notice the difference, but I don't have any of those things. For that reason I'd rate this as a really great bargain.
Build Quality I rate at 4.5 out of 5. The cable is of much higher quality that the 3.5-3.5 connectors that come with the FiiO amps, with much more robust connectors and strain relief. Under normal use I don't foresee the L9 wearing out any time soon. As I said, I'm not of the opinion that the quality of 2.5 inches of wire really matters, so I'm not going to comment on that (plus, I don't have any real way of knowing without dissecting the cable). The points deduction is only because the cable seems stiffer than would be ideal, making it somewhat difficult to pair amp and iPod.
Using a FiiO E5, switching from using the headphone out to LO the difference was immediately apparent. Treble is more detailed and brighter, and the bass reaches deeper and has more impact than before and is also more controlled. The mids also have more body and are clearer. Plugging headphones directly into the headphone out on the iPod everything is muddy, and really there is no comparison to using the L9 and an amp. However, using this with a cheap amp like the E5 there are going to be some drawbacks, like the amp's ability to handle the current and drive your headphones without clipping. I did notice using the L9 with the E5 that there was a significant amount of clipping with some (but not all) tracks. Switching to the E11 the problem has been alleviated. This has to do with the amp, not the cable, but it's something people should be aware of.
Overall I rate the FiiO L9 5 out of 5 for it's value, decent quality, and immediate and obvious improvement in sound quality. Definitely recommended if you're looking for an inexpensive way to connect your iPod with a portable amp.