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on October 3, 2012
I've always been one of the people who think that all music playback mediums were created equal until my friend let me use his headphones and I set out to build my own "budget" high fidelity setup, I started with the FiiO E17 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier, 18-pin Docking Interface and the AKG K702 Headphones. That sounded great using my desktop as the player (Foobar2000 and FLAC audio files), but unless I ramped up the gain it sounded like something was missing.

So after a few Google searches I found out that K702 have decently high impedance and need something with a bit more juice, so naturally FiiO E9K High Output Desktop Headphone Amplifier and Dock for E17 (Not E7 Compatible) was the obvious choice. As with the E17 the build quality is tremendous, very pleasing to the senses.

Set up was a breeze, simply dock the E17 into the E9K, plug AC adapter into outlet (or power strip in my case), USB to desktop (again in my case), was automatically detected and set as the output. Plugged in my headphones, started some Sinatra and started to turn the volume knob and wow. With the equalizer set to 0 across the board, software volumes maxed, it didn't take much turning of the knob to reach my maximum acceptable listening level.

The sound is very full, it's something that can't be really put into words, with the E17 and the gain set to 6dB and the volume in the 50s, my K702s had an immense amount of detail that I couldn't hear on my old audio setup, Sony MDR-XB700 Extra Bass Headphones with no amp or DAC, plugged straight into my soundcard's headphone jack. With the E9K in conjunction with the E17, the sound comes alive, it's the same clarity with the E17 and great distinction between instruments (mostly the headphones), but with both the sound just has something that was missing before.

Compared to other desktop amplifier options, this one has many outputs, good power to cost ratio, and of course the ability to use the E17 as a DAC with the dock (this was the deciding factor in buying this amp for me). I would buy it again, and I do recommend it to my friends. I just wish there was a better way to explain the sound difference, but bringing the music alive and making the sound "full" is the best way I can put it into text. This is after having it for two days, being that this is the only review for the product and will likely be taken into consideration for potential buyers, I'll try to remember to update it. According to audiophile forums, it has a 15 hour break-in period, not sure I believe that, but I will update with thoughts after I've spent more than 10 hours with it.
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on March 3, 2013
Let me preface this by saying that I am in a land of diminishing returns - at 53 years old, I am honestly not sure how well I hear detail these days. I have a good ear, but am pretty new to audiophile grade stuff.
I worked my way up to the Sennheiser HD650s and remain very pleased with the sound. I am using Apple Lossless files often, but have a variety of file and genres that I like, and I found the HD650s pleasing in most areas. I originally had them hooked up to a Fiio E17 alone, but would occasionally find that volumes were too low on some older CD rips. So I picked up the E9K to pair with the E17.

As an amplifier, it serves its role well, and made it easier to adjust and supplement the volume. As you can tell from the photo the E9 uses a large wheel to adjust volume. There is also a high gain switch on the back which you could try. I didn't seem to need it.

The arrangement with the E17 is pretty cool. You can do a Line Out bypass if you want so that the amp controls everything, but I rather liked using the E17 not in line out mode. It allows there to be just a little more pre-amping, and theoretically equalization from the E17 passed to the E9. It isn't any better necessarily, just a little different sound, a little brighter perhaps.

But at some point I wanted to see if I could truly hear a difference on most of my tracks. I went back and forth from the E17 to the E17+E9 combo, and for the most part, if I heard any difference at all, the combo flattened the music a bit - it gave it a more controlled and warmer sound, occasionally to the point of dullness.

I then tried going from the iMac out to the RCA jacks on the E9, bypassing the E17 altogether (there's a switch on the front for this). Going between the E17 and RCA'd E9, I really couldn't hear much difference. If I can't appreciate a whole lot of improvement tonally from the amp, why keep it? Though the price is excellent, I'm better off with the 100 bucks in my pocket, and waiting to try something else. I may try the Schiit line next. We'll see.

So I give 4 stars for price and implementation, build quality, and because it certainly amplifies. I took one star off because it didn't add much to the capability of the E17 (to my ear) and may actually have dulled the sound just a bit.
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on June 17, 2013
Pros:

+ Clean, musical sound signature

+ Packing plenty of power for most dynamic headphones, and even some Planars like the HE400. Nearly 1watt at 32ohm and 75mw at 600ohm

+ Sleek, black brushed metal finish, with a dock on top for the E07K or E17, for audiophile DAC use

+ Plenty of versatility with an RCA Line In, Line Out, Pre-amp Out, and USB input for your E07K or E17 (while docked)

Cons:

- 10 ohm output impedance. Most headphones with less than 80ohm may have an altered sound signature due to not enough damping. Some exceptions are Planars and the Q701/K701 which aren't affected. However, you may want to look at another external amp if you plan on using low ohm headphones

- Treble range is very slightly on the brighter side of neutral, so headphones like the DT990 may be a bit harsh off the E09K

Personal notes:

I was seriously impressed with this affordable desktop amp, even next to the Audio-GD SA-31, which is many times more powerful and many times more expensive. Though it may have a less than universal 10ohm output impedance, I didn't find it to really mess up my low ohm headphones, though it's still a possibility to make bass more sloppy or treble more harsh if using headphones with less than 80ohm. I find the E9K and the older E9 to do their best with headphones in the 80-300ohm range.

Per Fiio, the best area of the volume knob is betweek 9-12 o' clock, so adjust gain accordingly to try to land between that sweet spot. I did feel that both low and high gain tended to land between that anyway, so I used low gain for the peace of mind.
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on October 14, 2012
I bought this and the Fiio E17 after reading numerous reviews and doing a cost analysis.

So far, I've only paired this with my Sennheiser 555 headphones that I've had for years. Previously, I only listened to those headphones using the Total Airhead while traveling or with my Sony stereo receiver at home. I thought I was experiencing a pretty good listening experience as I'm a more budget-minded avid music listener.

Well, that all changed with this purchase. I've only logged in about 50 hours of listening, but that is enough. I have this dynamic duo connected via USB to my computer tower I built and it has made being on the computer a much more satisfying experience. I thought it would help me be more productive, but I've just been sitting marveling at the sound quality.

At first, I was listening to some newly purchased mp3's and was pleased with the results. I wasn't completely won over until I started playing some CD's and DVD audio recordings that I had listened to hundreds of times prior through this new system. My music came alive and the sound stage was pretty much spot on with so much detail. Accurate bass, treble, and mids with a touch of warmth. I'm in love again.

The clincher is when I let my wife listen to it. She said she was getting chills from listening to the Bob Marley album she was listening to and asked me if I had bought a new remastered version. I told her, "Nope, that's the same Bob album you've owned for years." Yeah.
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on March 2, 2013
Bought these to drive my 250 ohm Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros and they do a great job. Sound reproduction at all frequencies is accurate. Distortion is not perceivable (at least up to the max volume that I can push myself to listen to) - and with these, I really can't exceed the half way mark on the volume knob without ruining my ears. Up to that point, the sound is beautiful. I would definitely recommend this product. Also, for those of you who want to know the output impedance for these, I believe it's quoted on their website as being less than 10 ohms. So they should, in general, be suitable for driving headphones with an input impedance of 64 ohms or higher.
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on December 7, 2012
Pros:
Dead Silent even under high gain and max volume
Can power the modded Fostex T50RP with zero issues and give it some needed bass slam
Build quality is great
CHEAP for what you get
Transparent with a little added bass and slightly dark overtones (FiiO house sound)

Cons: can't really think of any other than maybe not sounding as good as amps that are 4-5 times the price. But again, all of this is subjective and a matter of preference.

I bought this for my E17 as a dock and desktop amp for work. I use it to drive Fostex "Mad Dog" T50RP, which are modified and require some juice to sound their best. The E9K works wonderfully for this purpose. It can drive 90% of headphones out there to their full potential. The E17 dock works great as well with no issues in docking or charging.

Audiophiles like to check the stats on paper and then debate endlessly about how the $500 piece of hardware is better sounding or drives headphones to their full potential. Do yourself a favor and if you need a cheap desktop amp, buy this. It will work well for your needs and save you hundreds of dollars.
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on May 11, 2013
I also have the E12 MontBlanc portable amp which I use with an Ipod. Remember, you need to use the E17 Dac if you want to stream digital files via usb. It can be used as a standalone headphone amp if you wish to do so. The instructions show that you can also hook up PC Speakers to these but I have not tried that. Don't know how Fiio sells these devices at such low prices but I'm glad they do. They sound terrific. As great as the E12 MontBlanc sounds, this combo sounds even better. Way more power and more flexibility in adjusting the sound (via the E17 Dac Controls) by using the Bass & Treble Adjustments.
Make sure you get the "K" version. This one has rca outputs and a nice feature where turning off the base unit also powers down the Dac .I use this setup with my Sennheiser HD600, Sennheiser HD380 Pro, and Audio Technica ATH-M50 Headphones.. I highly recommend these products.
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on August 24, 2013
This thing is awesome. It looks great and and feels great. It does not look cheap at all. Having the aux in and extra outputs on the back are incredibly useful. I use this with my desktop, laptop, tv, and my phone. On all of them there is a noticeable jump in quality. Before this I was only using a FiiO E7 which was not enough for my Q701. These things really widen out the soundstage and make the headphones sound far more impressive than what I had been hearing before. If you are on a tight budget, these are simply one of the best bargains out there. I haven't been disappointed in anything with these.
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on April 22, 2013
Coupled with the E17, this brought my headphone setup (Sennheiser 598) to a whole new level. Sounds incredible, and love the features and DAC quality.

Even beats my Cambridge DACMagic and Cambridge 840A Amplifier in terms of sound quality with cans.

EDIT: 3 months later, the headphone amp no longer works at all, no sound output. And FiiO's support is non-existent, telling you to deal with a dealer only for support. Don't get burned like I did.
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on February 10, 2013
I recently paired my AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones - Black with a Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D THX USB External Sound Enhancer for PC, PS3, XBOX 360 and Mac - SB1300 on my PS3 but was not receiving enough power. This device did the trick. I am very impressed.

P.S. I included an image of my setup for everyone to see
review image
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