Review: FiiO E5 Headphone Amp

Personal audio is a great thing, and with inventions like the iPod it’s getting even easier to obtain songs and to lug them around – that’s all well and good but the audio quality never quite matches what you put out on your home equipment, which is quite sad when you think about it – an entire generation of people are not doing their music enough justice by using tiny earphones and rubbish speakers. This is especially true with iPod and iPhone owners, as the earphones you get with those products are notoriously poor, yet you still see people wearing them every day.

Enter the FiiO E5 – it boosts the output of your earphones. This is a really smart bit of kit, and it works quite well – depending on your current equipment. If you have some rubbish earphones like the iPod ones, or some decent earphones that lack warmth or bass like some Head-Gear RE0’s (review of these coming up soon), using these will definitely give an improvement – in fact this thing should be required.

It’s a small and light device, you can clip it onto either your MP3 player or your clothing, but you do need to run an extra audio cable from the E5 to your MP3 player, which makes things seem a bit messy and tangled – but it’s a sacrifice worth making in my opinion. The build quality is… not so great. The clip is in reality an exposed spring, nothing like the clips you see on iPod Shuffles and the new Nano’s, and there are gaps around the top and bottom of the device. There probably isn’t a whole lot to the insides, it feels a lot lighter than it looks.

The device is powered by an internal Li-ion battery, which lasts a good number of hours on a single charge (I’ve been testing it for a number of days on a single charge and it hasn’t died on me yet, roughly about 6 hours worth) – the device is charged by USB – you get an extremely short USB-Mini USB cable with it.

There is a switch on the top of the device which allows you to select a bass boost or a treble boost – or a sweet spot in the middle. Where you set this depends entirely on the song. There’s also a volume rocker because usually the max volume of your device won’t give you the volume you’re after when you run it through this, so it needs to be increased further.

I am no audiophile, I don’t talk in decibels or anything – I’m just a real everyday person listening to everyday music – I’ve put this device through a range of differnt artists such as deadmau5, Daft Punk, Metallica, Faith No More, Green Day, The Prodigy, The Go! Team, AC/DC and more. Using the E5 made me smile, it really did. The extra clarity it gives you in some songs just makes you feel really happy

Any other downsides apart from the messy cables and build quality? Yes, it doesn’t appear to be shielded very well. If you have a cellular device near the E5 you will get some loud interference – and as we all know a lot of people use their cellular device as an MP3 player, so you can’t really avoid it.

Bottom Line

This product is very good value, it has a definite benefit as long as you’re willing to put up with the extra bulk and extra cables to look after.

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