Saturday, December 13, 2008

FiiO E5, the BIG little amp.

Normally I am not too much into amp. Lets face it, amp is really something you want to avoid in a portable setup. They are generally bulky, heavy and difficult to carry around. (not to mention most decent portable amps are quite pricey). More than often, if you open an expensive amp and have a look inside, you will be totally turned off by it and start questioning yourself why you paid so much money for it. Well, amp, like every things in the audiophiles' world, has an bigger than life value price tag. After all, you are paying for the SQ (which is hard to judge for its value) rather than the actual manufacturing cost. It is totally understandable if you want to carry a brick size portable rig with you all the time on-the-go to get the absolute best SQ all the way, but I am more interested in being lighter/smaller even if the setup might not be the best sounding of all. My philosophy is simple - I am not listening to the gears but the music. As long as my setup has decent sound, I am more than happy to exchange the extra weight for convenience. That is why I always keep an interest in cheaper, smaller amp in the market. Surprisingly, there really ain't that many choices out there.

Early this year, FiiO, a small Chinese electronic company that specializes in making accessories for portable music player, released a small amp (or volume booster if you like) called E3. Although the sale figure in main land China was never particularly good (due to various reasons), E3 soon made its way to eBay and speared like wild fire. The absent of competitor in the same price range makes E3 the king of its domain. The three things that make E3 a really good accessory to have are 1) it is cheap, often less than US$10. 2) it is small, no bigger than a pack of gum. 3) it has a permanent bass boost function, bigger bass is almost always better in the general consumers' ears. With the success of E3, FiiO soon realized that the overseas portable amp market is much bigger than they previously thought. Not too long after that, a newer, better amp debuted the E5 was in development.

I first learned about E5 development on FiiO forum. As my interest on E5 grew, I got into contact with FiiO and started to provide feedback from an user's standpoint (as part of the early E5 sampling group). Now as E5 was finally released into the market since last week, I can honestly say it is really a wonderful gadget to have.

E5 isn't really an audiophiles' gear - It is meant for practicality. It will not be the best sounding amp you will ever try (perhaps even far from it), but what it provides is an BIG price / performance ratio in a tiny package that is hard to beat. For US$25 (or less) each, I doubt you can find anything able to match its features. Whether you are a newbie looking for an beginner amp or an old bird looking for a more portable solution, take a look at E5 - you might be surprised as well.

Features
●Power switch
●Electronic volume control
●Selectable Flat and bass boost mode
●Built-in Rechargeable battery (20 hours playtime at normal volume)
●Mini USB charger port
●With a built-in metal clip


Specifications
Output Power: 150 mW (16 ohms Loaded) / 12 mW (300 ohms Loaded)
Signal to Noise Ratio: >= 95 dB (A Weight)
Distortion: < 0.009% (10 mW) Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 100 kHz Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms - 300 ohms Weight: 30g Power Supply: build-in 200mAh rechargeable battery Dimensions: 44.2mm x 38 mm x 12.6 mm



Sound solution:
Pre-amp: OPA2338UA From Texas Instruments
Power-amp: TPA6130A From Texas Instruments


Main Accessory
1 x 15cm 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable

1 x 80cm 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable
1 x 60cm USB-A to mini USB cable

Disclaimer: All trademarks and logos in the website belong to their respective owners. Beside getting free review samples, I don't work for or get paid by anyone to write anything on this website, or anywhere else in that matter. Also, free review samples are never sold for any financial gain. I do buy gears and review them, but for simplicity you (the reader) should always assume what I review is free sample in nature (and thus comes with all the bias). The website does have Google Ads and Amazon Associates enabled (which I have no direct control over their content) - though I don't write review for a living, nor does the ads generates enough money to cover my breakfast (in fact, not even one breakfast per week). Listening to music and playing with audio gears are purely hobby for me. In short, I am just an audiophiles who happens to have his own blog. Not a journalist who happens to be an audiophile. Oh, and excuse my writing as I am not a native English speaker and can't afford a proofreader. Also, just because I don't write in a negative tone doesn't mean I don't write down the negative aspect of a gear. Please read them carefully. Last but not least, please note that this site uses cookies to track visitors' number and page view.

Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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