172 of 181 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2009
For years I enjoyed listening to CDs at the gym with a pair of 32Ohm Sennheiser EH-150's and a 15mW Sony DNE-330 Walkman (with customizable paremetric EQ). But, alas, the Walkman died and the current lineup of portable CD players all boasted only 5mW of output power (albeit the same EQ and bass boost features) ... and what a sonic difference those missing 10 milliWatts made! I nearly cried each time I put on the headphones, knowing how good they could sound if only ... . And headphone amplifiers were either AC-powered or outlandishly high-priced -- or both!
Until the Fiio E5! Finally, a 150mW, portable, high-fidelity headphone amplifier that -- connected to the right components -- returns your music to it's full dynamic range and frequency spectrum. My Sennheisers roar! Thumping bass! Sizzling treble! Quiet soft passages and deafening loud passages ... all from a rechargable gizmo about the size of a matchbook!
But it is what it is. The Fiio E5 does not have nearly the amp to drive my full-size 150Ohm Sennheiser HD-525s to their abilities; alternately, hooked up to my son's Ipod Touch (which apparently has quite a bit of output power to begin with) and his preferred earbuds I could not notice a distingushable improvement in sound. But for an underpowered portable CD or MP3 player and a mid-sized set of high-fidelity headphones ... the Fiio E5 is a godsend. Hear what you've been missing! And for under $25? It's a no-brainer.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2010
I give this little amp 4 stars -- I bought it for use with my iPod Nano 5g and Sennheiser HD600 headphones. The built-in amp in the iPod is **just** a bit inadequate to drive these headphones well -- on some albums I needed to crank the volume up all the way, and sometimes that still didn't give me enough volume.
For $20 plus shipping, I figured I'd give the FiiO a try. If it didn't work, just return it, right? So it came today, and I gave it a try with some of the problematic tracks on my iPod. First reactions: enough volume boost (barely, but enough) to make the problem tracks listenable, and to drive the HD600's to more than comfortable levels on most music. I have the volume on the E5 turned up all the way, and use the touch-wheel on the iPod for volume control.
Second, despite some other reviews here and elsewhere, there is NO discernable hiss or noise from the FiiO E5, either idle or with music playing.
Third: Bass boost works as advertised. If you have phones that don't give you good bass response, this will probably fix your problem. The HD600's have great low-end, so I'm running the E5 set to the OFF position.
Summary: well worth the money, and worth a try if your music player is working too hard to drive your particular headphones, or if you need the bass boost. I detect no degredation of the sound with my iPod. Just for fun, I hooked it up in series with my Home Headroom amp, to see if I could hear a difference...yep, the E5 blurs the extraordinarily good sound from the Headroom just a bit. But, then, that's not what it's for, is it? It's NOT a high-end, multi-$$$ amp, just a way to get a bit more performance from your portable music player. For that, it works just fine! The only alternatives would be a CMOY amp from one of the builders on eBay, at two to 3 times the price, or a commercial amp at much greater cost. The E5 is good value for the money, in my book.
- 1/2 star for the flimsy interconnect cables, - 1/2 star for not having a bit more gain. However, overall, I'm very satisfied. Build quality looks fine. The battery even came charged!
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
I really didn't have high hopes for this little amp, but for the past year or three I've read enough glowing comments about this little guy that cemented the notion that I had to sample one.
The reality is that the FiiO E5 fits in with only a select grouping of headphones, ones that have relatively high impedance ratings. I didn't know that going in, but after dogged listening sessions with all sorts of cans from my own stash--from basic OE units for the Zune HD and iPod Touch to my usual portable-use Sennheiser IE-8 and Koss PortaPros to my in-home use Senn HD-650 and HD-800 and many units in-between, it was clear to me that the E5 doesn't have enough power within it diminutive chassis to do the usual low impedance portable head and earphones any tangible favors. Using either a Touch or Zune HD as the source, the E5 struggled with pretty much every set of cans that had a rating of under 100 ohms or thereabouts. It wasn't until I hooked up my HD-650 (300 ohms) with its own set of aftermarket cables (Stefan Audio Art Equinox)--one of the few high impedance units I have left in this world of low impedance portability--that there was any measure of uptick in SQ. Here at least the E5 was making a positive difference, where as with the Shure SE530, Senn PX-100 and others it just sounded wretchedly overmatched and severely underpowered.
With the HD-650 (and later the HD-800, what I consider the best set of cans I currently own), the E5 perceptively improved low-end depth and punch, while also smoothing out midrange sound and adding enough power to heighten sonic detail into the upper frequencies (well, at least as high as my near five decade-old ears will go these days). Vocals sound more lush and full, horns have a deeper, more complete timbre than was ever capable when relying solely on the base amplification circuitry housed within the Touch or Zune HD. It's not to say that the E5 is sonically perfect, only that it's BETTER. The E5 still doesn't have enough juice to really make either of the big Sennheisers truly sing, but for a shade north of twenty bucks it does account for itself quite well within the confines of this company of equipment.
But that's were I really have a problem with the whole purpose of the E5. As positive an effect that it had with my big Sennheiser cans, those are EXACTLY the sort of headphones that I WOULDN'T USE on the go. The clip-on nature of this FiiO amp makes it abundantly clear that it's intended for portable use, yet most headphone sets designed specifically for that use don't have the sort of high impedance rating that allows them to benefit from the E5. This paradox makes owning an E5 rather pointless for most DAP and PMP owners, unless of course they happen to be running around with a fairly inefficient headphone set. It's not to say that those sorts of portable cans don't exist, but headphone makers as a whole know full well that they're catering to all the iPods, Walkmans, Zens, Zunes and Sansas (and all the rest) of the world; they're going to make their products WORK within that environment and function from the word go, and that makes the usefulness of this little FiiO E5 more than a bit superfluous.
So despite my discovery that the E5 really does make certain headphones sound better, it's not an add-on amp that I can recommend to most users of portable MP3 devices. Even amongst my big, inefficient cans I have significant better sounding headphone amps to choose from that have superior power and last longer on a charge, and several that--relatively speaking--didn't cost all that much more than the FiiO E5. And I suspect that most people with similar gear will be thinking--and doing--the same.
2 1/2 stars.
218 of 269 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2009
I truly have to respect the E5 and the good people who made it available in the US at such a low price. You get better-than-average build quality and ergonomics (though the accessory cables are a bit cheap). The one thing that you don't get is much improvement in sound quality. While I don't have the software and instrumentation to verify my suspicions, some other purchasers and reviewers have put this amp to the test and report a somewhat-startling rise in gain above 500 Hz. Anybody who has ever sold hi-fi equipment knows that adding a few dB of volume in that range will make ANY piece of equipment (cough, cough) sound more attractive in an "A-B" demonstration. (How do you think I made my quota each month?) And herein lies the problem...the E5 is not really so much a headphone amplifier as it is an active tone control. Frankly, the gain (volume increase) on the unit is pretty limited and it does nothing for my better-quality headphones. It just doesn't have any guts. What's more, it has a noticeable hiss from the electronic circuit. Now, you may not notice this right away, but it's there. There are also any number of other nice CMOY amplifiers out there that will exhibit virtually NO hiss at any volume level, and they're priced about the same as the E5 (at the price shown on this website). In summary, the E5 can make your headphones sound a bit more attractive, if you have the right "taste" and happen to have a set of compatible headphones. I just think that you could spend a few $$$ more and get a very-good to excellent headphone amplifier instead.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
So many reviews here speak of using this for music etc but I actually bought this due to my nerve deafness. I can hear many sounds, but often with movies, the speaking parts are too low so that it is not enjoyable to watch movies or tv shows as I can hear them speaking but cannot make out the majority of the words.
I actually bought this for use with Amazon Prime since they do not have CC (Closed Captioning). This unit is the only amp I have ever bought for use with my headsets so I cannot make comparisons, but for amplifying volume so that I can actually hear the dialogue, this unit is FANTASTIC! In fact, for Prime shows, it is so loud, I have it on the lowest setting to hear comfortably! For movies elsewhere on the Net, I've had to crank it up a few notches for those that were ranked a low score due to low volume but I hear everything!
I do not hear any hissing, pops or anything that some other reviewers have complained about but then again, maybe their better hearing picks up these imperfections. I do not hear them however. The unit normally goes for $30 but w prime it is discounted about $10. I bought it before I had Prime back in June 2011 and it was worth all $30! One thing I do notice is that it works best with a headset with one jack and can be a little glitchy with headsets with mic/headphone dual jacks - sometimes it works with duals and sometimes it doesn't so be aware of this.
The unit is small- about the size of a paper matchbook, is very light in weight but made of high quality material. The surface is slippery and the clip is sturdy but slippery also so it may have trouble actually staying in place. My advice is to clip it on the inside of a pocket so that the clip is on the outside and the unit in. A small strip of velcro taped to a backpack pocket would make it more secure. It charges via USB within an hour if fully drained and lasts quite a few hours of constant use.
I highly recommend this unit if you have nerve deafness or are hard of hearing for whatever reason.
UPDATE: June 27, 2012
I bought a used 8GB iPod 4th gen and some of the music files already on the iPod were transferred in low volume. I added this amp in between the iPod and the headset and was able to hear even the faintest of songs in great volume so the only songs I took off the iPod were the ones not of my taste and not due to an inability of hearing thanks to this item! I also bought the latest FiiO E6 to have the FiiO E5 as a backup and the E6 is better than this one due to more sound selections (i.e. more bass etc) but both work great. :)
UPDATE: December 10, 2013
I still use both the E5 & E6 with my iPod 4th Gen. They work just as they did on day one. However, I do not use them for my Samsung G3 phone due to the quirkiness of its headphone jack based on so many reviews. I opted instead to use a Bluetooth headset with my phone. To help with my nerve deafness, I purchased the Equalizer app from the Playstore and it acts as if I was using this physical amp. This update doesn't exactly refer to this product but I wanted to add it for those that are hard of hearing and are finding it difficult to hear via Bluetooth headsets.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2011
I watch netflix on my netbook. even with a headset it is hard to hear the audio (admittedly my 70-year old ears ain't their best right now!)
this little thing allows me to turn the volume down!
great $20 gadget
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2012
I've never used headphone amplifiers before and didn't want to break the bank to satisfy my curiosity. I use the FiiO E5 with a pair of Sennheiser HD201 and Shure SRH440 headphones. They make a huge difference on the cheaper HD201s but bring nothing to the table for the slightly pricier SRH440s. I'm sure there are better products out there, but overall I am satisfied with the E5 and would recommend it.
I primarily use the E5 and my Shure SRH440's with my iPod Nano, iPhone 4s and Gateway NV79 laptop
-Noticable volume difference/increase, great improvement on Bass boost
-Really adds depth to Hip-Hop, Metal and Electronica types of songs
-Small Compact, light weight
-Light notifies you when device is charged
-Excellent battery life
-Does not improve clarity for all signal levels, especially noticable on certain acoustic guitar songs, symphony scores and classical music
-Does not come with a wall charger
-Doesn't always play nice with device EQ
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
UPDATE 4/12/11: Forget about build quality: after only a few months, this unit now emits a loud, annoying hum regardless of the input source. Can't recommend this now -- you're better served getting a high-quality CMOY headphone amp or professional grade amp if you can afford one.
My original review follows -- I took out the "solid construction" bullet point.
I'd been debating for a while on what headphone amp to buy: I was considering a CMOY amp or a commercial solution like the E5. My requirements were:
* on-off switch
* power indication light
* volume control
The E5 meets all those.
On top of that it's rechargeable, but the downside with this is the unit has a built-in lifespan (when the internal nicad battery dies, you'll have throw this away and get a new amp). But for ~$20 this is a great deal and it does what it promises -- to a point.
For my iPod I use Sony MDR-EX33LP - these have a stated freq. response of 6-23,000 Hz. With my iPod hooked to the E5, the volume is not noticeably louder (FYI: my ipod 2nd gen nano is 4 years old though) but the sound is clearer, instruments are more easily discerned in the mix, and overall there's a warmer sound.
Using the same Sony earbuds, and with the E5 between them and my old Panasonic portable CD player from 1993, OK sound becomes incredible (note: the CD player has a line out though; with the Ipod I'm using the headphone jack -- could be a substantial difference in the outputs). Frankly, the sound from this old relic becomes just as good as if the CD player is going thru my Yamaha home receiver!
At work I have a pair of old Creative Lab speakers (very basic) hooked to a Lenovo T62 laptop: these speakers on their own are tinny and flat sounding - but when the E5 is added between them and the laptop - WOW! - better definition and louder, and the bass is more defined. And there's no need to crank up the sound on the laptop or speakers themselves. Suddenly these cheap old Creative Lab speakers sound much, much better. The minor investment in the E5 is worth it for this alone.
I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD-555 headphones that I haven't had time to try out with the E5 hooked to my various audio devices -- I'll update this review when I do.
So in sum, a little disappointed that there's not a huge difference in sound when used with my Ipod Nano, but for my portable CD player and laptop speakers - YES - this was definitely worth the price.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
When I left my beat-up, loyal, and long-suffering Boostaroos on a plane, I seized the opportunity to see if I could match the force-multiplying role they played so well for this long-suffering long-haul traveler and his beloved Sennheiser PXC 450s at a small size and weight.
The tiny, Chinese-made FiiO E5 headphone amplifier measurably improves the quality of sound I hear when I play tunes on my iPod or iPhone through the Sennheisers. That's news enough. What truly astonishes is the minute size and weight of the E5, even when you factor in the handy little clip that sturdies the whole deal by latching it onto a shirt pocket while the airplane meals come and go. Spaghetti sauce never did the old Boostaroos much good whenever they did their slow role into the soup du jour.
Next up in the Pleasant Surprise Category is another little thing: the price. Twenty clams get this gizmo from Amazon to your door.
I note the opinion voiced my some reviewers that you can do better elsewhere. I suspect they're right. But for $20 it's hard to imagine going wrong with the E5.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2011
I bought this beautiful little amplifier (*Fiio E5 headphone Amplifier*) just about a month ago and have been very happy with it ever since! It has a tiny slide switch for extra Bass which I most definitely use. This little gem will increase your total volume x2 which should be sufficient for most users. If you are someone who wants to absolutely blast out your ear drums you might want to try the FiiO E7 USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier. If you just need a good clean sound boost then the Fiio E5 headphone Amplifier is for you...