Customer Reviews: FiiO E7 USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier
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on July 2, 2010
First off, please know that the E7 works BEST as a DAC/AMP combo when connected to a computer via USB or connected to a media player that has a dedicated line out (I'm not talking about the pre-amped 3.5 mm headphone jack on your mp3 player...but instead, a dedicated line out jack that bypasses the built-in amplifier of your media player). Portability wise, the E7 is absolutely perfect when carrying around your laptop and wanting to hear some high quality audio bliss while on the road or at the local coffee shop (or at the kitchen table in my case).Sound quality is truly amazing for the price you are paying, and it uses some near-audiophile grade electronics inside. Considering its price point, FIIO packed in a truly nice selection of options as well.

I consider the DAC/AMP to have a very clean and slightly colored sound quality that is comparable to portable amps in the $150 - $250 price range. Very little hissing is evident when the volume is turned up, leaps and bounds less hissing than if you were to connect your earphones/headphones directly to the headphone jack of a laptop/mp3 player. Besides expected sound qualities found in other high-end DAC/Amps of this class, the E7's trump card is the ability to pump out some pretty clean BASS using the built-in BASS settings **while** maintaining it's excellent sound characteristics. The well controlled BASS doesn't kill the mids and highs commonly seen in cheaper audio setups (just be cautious of maxing out the bass to lvl tends to muffle out the mids and highs just a tad. I found that lvl 1 or 2 on the BASS settings is perfect). I've found that I am easily able to drive my higher-end headphones from the E7, including my Grado 325is, Denon AHD2000's, and is even able to power my Beyerdynamic DT990's and AKG K701's to reasonable volume levels.

The unit has a very bright OLED screen that really is a looker (check it out in my video) and the silicone case makes it look deadly beautiful in my opinion. Build quality is much higher than I expected. The back of the unit is metal, the sides are plastic and the clear face front is also a type of plastic, but of higher quality. Accessing the menu's is easy and straightforward. Size wise, it's about the size of a portable mp3 player.

IMO, this is a no-brainer-buy for those of you just getting into entry-level high-end audio equipment and wanting to make a purchase without having to break the bank. If you are looking to replace your existing audio setup from your laptop, desktop pc or Mac computer, this is an amazing buy!


**Keep in mind the E7 will not work properly when connecting it to the 3.5mm jack of a MP3/Media player. The reason is that the E7's sound quality becomes overly distorted and the sound levels are very low due to 'piggy backing' onto the built in amplifier of the mp3 player. The E7 truly shines when using a direct line out dock from an ipod (or any other player that has a dedicated line out) or from the USB connection of a computer. I bought this strictly as my DAC/AMP for my laptop, and it does it's job with flying colors and then some.
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on October 13, 2010
I don't have any other portable headphone amps to compare this to, but I do own a Nuforce Desktop amp, which runs more than 4x the price of the Fiio E7.

This little box ROCKS. Great build quality, it looks like a high end piece of audio equipment.

Includes a 3.5MM gold-plated cable, a rubber sleeve, a soft case, a black band for the amp and your MP3 player, and a miniUSB to USB cable. Everything you need is there.

Plugged it into my laptop right away to charge the batteries. The "Fiio" logo lights up when it's charging, nice touch.

The screen is a really nice touch. Pretty much all the portable amps in this size and price range do not have any screen. Of course, you don't need it, you plug your input, your `phones and adjust the volume. But the screen is very high quality, and really adds to the unit, in my opinion.

The digital volume control took a bit to get used to, if you move it up/down several steps, it doesn't just ramp the sound up/down instantly like a dial, but changes it slowly to the new setting. Volume changes are smooth and there's no noise.

Sound quality? Oh yeah. At the moment I'm using the analog-in connected to the Nuforce iPod adapter output. The sound is amazingly clear, and gets quite loud with no distortion. I'm just plain amazed at the sound from this tiny amp. I mean, sure, it's only driving 32ohm headphones, and the source material is basically CD quality, but wow.

Rip one of your favorite songs with Lossless quality, listen to it through the headphone jack on your player, then plug it in through the E7 and listen to it again. The difference is shocking. So far I've only been able to use it with my Grado "iGrado" headphones, but the difference is evident immediately. Can't wait to try this out with my SR60's, which is what I really intend to use this with. They're both 32ohm headphones, but the SR60's are quite a bit better.

They say this amp is useable up to 300ohm headphones, so I will have to try them with my Sennheiser HD650's. It will be interesting to see how this little unit drives the 650's. I'm sure the output will be a bit lower, but if the E7 sounds as good as my Icon HDP, I'll be shocked. Then I'll wonder why I didn't buy this first and save the $450...

As far as shipping, they sent it out the same day I placed my Amazon order, and sent me the tracking number. Not a complaint, more of an FYI, my package was sent "signature required" via USPS, so make sure you have someone to sign for it when it comes.

UPDATE: Tested the E7 with my Grado SR60's and Sennheiser HD650's.

The higher quality of the SR60's was heard immediately, compared to listening with the iGrado's. The little Grado's are nice, but the SR60's just sound "larger", I guess would be the way I'd explain it. Same impedance on both models same output levels.

Next I tried the 650's. As I expected, I had to crank the digital volume a bit to drive the 300ohm headphones, but not a whole lot. A comfortable volume setting for the Grado's was about 20-25, with the 650's, I was listening at about 30-35. Cranking it up over 45 really gets overly loud for my tastes, but the sound quality still is there.

I still prefer my Icon amp for the HD650's, it's definitely a better DAC and amp, and has the digital-in which I prefer for the laptop. But for the price, the E7 is really amazing.
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on September 20, 2011
Headphones are not meant to be run from crummy jacks. I realize most people would never consider this, but considering how ubiquitous headphone listening has become, it's an essential fact we should share with others. Furthermore, most good headphone jacks aren't even designed with the ability to properly drive the majority of headphones that are low impedance. That's startling.

I'm astonished at the measurements this headphone amp just produced through RMAA and how good the waveforms look in TrueRTA. At the price this is going for, I recommend the E7 for anyone with good headphones. Everyone. If you own a good pair of headphones (or more than one pair), buy one. Used, new, refurbished. Just buy one. Heck, it even makes cheap bundled earbuds sound better, which tend to suffer from severe bass roll-off (even more than is inherent to them) and unnatural highs directly from most laptops, home receivers, and portable players. As bad as those earbuds are, it's curious how improved they are with this.

Aside from its limited maximum output into low sensitivities AND high impedances, its performance is as-good or better than the Grado RA1, and you get a somewhat decent USB DAC and two whole separate headphone amps in the E7. The digital volume control also has no significant channel imbalance at ANY SETTING. Fantastic. Like most headphone amps that have AC/USB and battery options, its performance is slightly better on battery power. Both the jacks on top are independent, with only a slight reduction in some performance as they share a common power supply section. That reduction in performance when both jacks are used is mostly less than when you're on USB power, by the way. Even on USB power and with both jacks in use (which might be a good idea for some headphone pairs since the batteries can only supply so much current & swing at a time at high volumes), the performance still beats any other mass-produced competitor at this price level... and that's just comparing the amp section. Seems like a no-brainer.

The analog input apparently wants Pro Nominal (1.25V) or less to perform optimally, which is probably above 50% on Windows volume control with the Emu 0204 line output that is itself a little over 2V at 0dBFS, but I haven't tried boosting it in tiny increments to determine what the best level is yet. 82% on the Windows volume is the maximum for me to prevent overt distortion with a normalized signal, but the E7 surprisingly soft-distorts in the areas between 82% and 50% (1.25V is somewhere right above 50%, I think). That's really good distortion characteristics for the aux analog input if you do accidentally go over Pro Nominal. Try not to, but it's interesting to note it's a bit forgiving in that regard. You still get significantly better measurements at or below Pro Nominal, it just doesn't distort quickly or terribly like, say, my old Biamp DJ mixers did when pushed marginally beyond that.

This gets to my one criticism: the firmware could use an upgrade to add an input meter or clipping indicator.

When using the USB DAC, just put the Windows volume control at max (if it's not bypassed automatically like on mine) and make sure the program you're using doesn't clip in the digital domain. The non-ASIO 16bit/44.1-48khz Wolfson DAC in the E7 is not the last degree of detail or refinement and is maybe a touch warm over neutral, but it's got welcome intimations of the ever-mysterious PRaT and does the job better than those on most (probably nearly all) built into laptops and cheap sound cards. It's a distinct and welcome difference from the Emu for some content and headphones in spite of its crudeness and lack of pedigree. Hey, it's a sub-$100 amp & DAC combo. Think of it as a bonus. Since few laptops have dedicated line outputs, using the USB DAC does become a requirement to get the most out of the E7 amplifier if you do not have a better DAC, as otherwise you will be limited to the performance of not only the laptop's DAC, but the headphone amp in there, too.

The E7 can drive any impedance headphone properly, even the lowest impedance ones. If you need more volume on very insensitive AND high impedance headphones, the E9 (or E7 + E9 docked combo if you want to use the Wolfson DAC) is a solution for more brute output at a reduced performance. Start with the E7, though. It is true that for lower sensitivity and/or high impedance headphones at a higher price point, the playing field opens up and the E9, though competitive, isn't the automatic option. And do not buy or use the E9 for low impedance headphones, as it's not designed for that. If you have one of those expensive, hard-drive-based mega-capacity iPods in a similar form factor, then an E7 and an iPod line-out to 3.5mm dongle could be the easiest purchase decision you've ever made.
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on July 15, 2013
Worked great for 31 days, then stopped dead. I contacted Amazon but I was past their new policy of 30 day returns. So I contacted the manufacturer, and after sending proof of who I was...which was really weird ( they had me take a picture of the unit with the box it came in, and my drivers license which I then emailed to them). After being "OK'd" they gave me an address in China (which I copied exactly). I mailed the package, it wasn't cheap, and I waited.

I waited for about 7 weeks and had not received any correspondence from FiiO so I emailed the gentleman I'd been dealing with and was informed they had not received the package. So I figured that was the end of it. Fast forward 9 months...that's right, 9 months, and I find the package on my doorstep in disastrous shape. It was the same package with every kind of Chinese stamp imaginable. Apparently it never arrived, so it was shipped back to me.

And that's it. I've spent close to $170.00 on an item that originally cost me $99.00. It really soured my relationship with Amazon because they could not and would not take the item back without my paying 15% of some fee associated with shipping and handling because of the one day difference. That's right one day. Obviously I shot my own foot and tried to deal with it myself because of principle. I've been with Amazon from the beginning, but in todays America loyalty means nothing.

Buyer beware of this company FiiO (they should have just sent a new one) and weigh your options when dealing with Amazon. I clearly made the chump move got me?
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on December 10, 2010
I got this head phones amp and it rocks
I got the klipsch image s4 head phones and a ipod classic 7G 160GB
when I use this Amp with these headphones and Ipod classic it sounds
like as if the band is singing in front of you.
The sound is really that good.
The bass, highs and mids sound like music heaven.
a word of warning.
you have to use it with a line out dock connector in order
to get the best sound out of it.
if you plug it in the head phones jack then it won't sound right
the reason why is because the mp3 players like a Ipod already have
a build in Amp and we all know that two Amps together won't do any good
it just won't work.
trust me use a fiio line 3 LOD with this amp and Ipod or mp3 player of your
choice and it will be like music heaven
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on December 6, 2010
I have never written a review for amazon before, although I have used amazon for years. I have an extensive CD and DVD collection. I have five sets of earphones including: Sennhauser HD 580, two Bose triports and Bose QC15. I also have played classical and jazz piano for over 50 years and have been listening to all kinds of music; live, with speakers and headphones most of this time. I never had one product that has excited me so much in making the quality of my collection sound markedly better. Try it for yourself. We all have different tastes. But in my opinion you get, for less than $100.00, a major positive difference in you're headphone listening quality. You might even find that headphones you did not like but you kept will work much better with this product.

If you look at all aspects of the E7 together in my opinion I give it a definite five star!!!!!!!!!

I am not connected in any way with the manufacturer or distributor of this product other than buying their product.

This review is my opinion only. Larry
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on June 25, 2012
Where to start with the FiiO E7? Let me start by saying that I use this to properly drive my AKG Q701 Headphones. And my goodness, do they do a wonderful job. The bass booster function works marvelously, a very noticeable difference in more bass heavy music such as hip-hop. The long battery life is a huge plus. The fact it is portable is also an advantage. Even when I plug some sub 20 dollar headphones in, there is a significant difference in sound quality and volume compared to just a standard laptop or iPod jack. The screen is well lit, and the user interface is easy to understand and figure out, even without instructions. Who would I recommend this to? Anyone who wants more from their music. Simple as that. If you are going to invest in a nice set of headphones, do yourself a favor and buy this amp. Also, for iPod users, get the FiiO LOD connector. It will bypass your iPods amp and will give you even more sound quality. If you are on the fence, I want this review to push you over. If you buy, you won't regret it. An excellent value, and a 5 out of 5 stars as well.
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on December 4, 2011
I purchased this after much consideration and being new to the world of audiophile, the price of the FiiO E7 was the deciding factor in sealing the deal. The package was nice and effective: a box with all the goodies inside. I liked that it came with a cloth cover for the E7, as well as a rubber outer lining to keep the edges of the E7 from getting all scuffed up. As for the actual sound quality, using it as a DAC from my Macbook Pro and hooking a pair of AKG K240 (and later a pair of K241's and Sennheiser HD380) I was really pleased with the outcome. The most noticeable difference when using the E7 with some decent headphones and FLAC audio is that the music is...more there, with more presence. It's not necessarily louder, though it can be, it's just fuller.

I know that listening to music through the E7 fatigues my ears less than it does coming straight out of the laptop, probably because I don't have to blast the music as loud to hear details in's been reviewed and raved at long enough, I've added my two cents. The E7 works. It was under $100. Awesome.
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on April 19, 2011
I bought this for use with an FIIO E9.
The DAC is an improvement over the Intel "SRS Premium sound" of my Dell Studio laptop.
Depending on the quality of the DAC on your sound card, the improvement may or
may not be worth it.
It works well. No background hiss or noise. Worked easily with Linux with no compatibility issues or sound dropouts (unlike the Nuforce uDAC I tried).

Without the E9, it struggles to power my Beyerdynamic DT990s (250 Ohm).
It has enough power for use with my Grado SR220.

With the E9 it works fine with all headphones I tried.
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on April 24, 2012
Received this unit a few months ago, so I've thoroughly vetted it at this point.

For the most part, this amp does what it says it does. It does sound very good, I use it to power my Senn HD595's and it makes them sing. I also use it on my Klipsch X10 in ear headphones too, after driving the bigger and more capable HD595's driving the smalled X10's are like a walk in the park. The bass boost can be changed from 0-3 and it's a nice feature if you want to get that extra oomph out of some recordings that could use it.

Fit and finish on the unit itself is fantastic. The presentation was also awesome. It comes in a small white box, clearly styled after the iPhone packaging. But unlike Apple's products, Fio sees fit to include a couple of awesome extras: a rubber case for everyday use, a small velvet drawstring carrying case, and an absolutely vital, you-didn't-even-know-how-much-you-really-needed-it-until-you-use-it thick black rubber band so that you can mate together the amp and your portable source device (in my case, my iPod touch or my iPhone). If you're having trouble picturing the rubber band, think of a Livestrong bracelet but in black instead of yellow.

There's only 4 buttons, and it's easy to navigate the menus. I do like the OLED display a lot, although there's no way to shut off the display when it's not in use. This shouldn't be a battery drain problem though, since I believe OLED tech consumes very little power.

But that brings me back to my only drawback on this unit, and it's a big one for me. The specs say that the internal lithium ion battery will provide 80 hours of use, and I have to wonder what kind of crack was being smoked when this spec was provided. I get about 5 hours of continuous use out of this unit, at an average volume of only about half of max volume. It also takes many hours to recharge fully, even when charging the unit off the wall instead of a trickle charge through a PC USB port.

It's overall a fantastic unit, but the battery life and poor recharging is solely responsible for killing a star on this unit. It really irritates me that Fio promises 80 hours of continuous use, when in reality there's only about 4-5 hours. I don't know whether it's possibly a defective unit or if everybody at Fio just doesn't know how to use a stopwatch, but either way it's past the return window at this point.
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