Welcome to XDA

Search to go directly to your device's forum

Register an account

Unlock full posting privileges

Ask a question

No registration required
Post Reply

Review of FiiO E10k usb DAC and headphone Amplifier w/lots of pics!!!

OP vectron

4th August 2014, 05:15 AM   |  #1  
OP Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 2,219
 
2,954 posts
Join Date:Joined: Apr 2011
This is a review of FiiO E10k usb DAC and headphone Amplifier. http://www.fiio.com.cn/products/inde...nuID=105026003 , available now from FiiO's US distributor Micca Store (http://www.miccastore.com/fiio-e10k-...db51f948b5bdbb) and also from Amazon.

Not too long ago I reviewed FiiO E18 usb DAC/Amp with OTG connection to Smartphone. It was a jack of all trades, including being able to connect to laptop/PC usb port to function as an external sound card. I actually found myself reaching out quite often to use it with my laptop when watching movies or doing some music production. That made me wish for something more portable and lighter with an easier access to a volume knob. When I got A200p, I also ended up using it more as an external laptop sound card rather than smartphone DAC/amp since it's footprint was a bit awkward for pair up with my Note 2, where I actually find E18 to be more convenient. With A200p, I had an easy access to a large volume knob but proprietary cable with a finicky connector that often gets loose and Windows system volume jumping every time I have to replug it again, was a turn off. Finally, my prayers have been answered, and I got exactly what I've been looking for - E10k. Let me tell you more about it.

Arrived in a compact square flat box with an approximate size of a double-stack CD case (remember those?), I liked how the focus of the art on the cover and the back was around a circle, perhaps with a significance of analog volume dial?. Out of the box, very typical for all FiiO products, you'll find a neat packaging with a form fitting cutout holding E10k securely in place and accessories box which contained usb to micro usb cable and 6-rubber stick on feet. Also included was a warranty card and users guide. While picking it up, you can't help but to notice how small and lightweight this gadget is. With dimensions of only 79mm x 49mm x 21mm and weight of about 78g, it fits in a palm of your hand. With all brushed metal body design, it felt very solid. The front side of E10k has headphone output, on/off bass boost switch, and a large volume dial with numbering of 0 to 8. The volume dial movement has a nice tight precision and felt truly analog. On the back of E10k, you have a standard micro-usb port, L/H gain switch, and digital Coaxial and Analog Line out ports. These ports are very convenient if you want to connect E10k output for external processing with other audio equipment, basically to bypass E10k output amp.

I know a lot of people are very particular about DAC and OpAmp chipsets used in a design which usually contributes to a sound characteristics. As you can see from FiiO webpage, new E10k has been updated with a number of improvements in comparison to the original E10, and that included new DAC chip, optimization of low pass filter and bass boost, and new OpAmp selection. Since I don't have the original E10, it's a bit irrelevant for me because I can't compare these. Instead, I will use E18 and A200p as a point of reference for comparison. But to begin, in comparison to using my headphones (doesn't matter which one) from headphones jack of my laptop and with E10k - its a Night and Day difference. The change is so drastic that it's impossible to go back using any of my headphones connected directly to laptop where the sound is noisy, dull, veiled, and has very limited extension in both low and high ends of the spectrum.

Connecting E10k, which got recognized by my laptop within a minute with Windows drivers installed right away, opened up a new dimension to the sound like going between $20 mp3 player and $350 DAP The sound gets brighter, more dynamic, you get bass extended down to a sub-bass frequencies with rumble and texture, vocals comes alive with clarity, and treble gets crispy and detailed. Of course, the overall sound signature will depend on the drivers of your headphones, but relatively speaking while using the same pair of quality headphones (for example, ATH-IM03 used in my testing) - the change was drastic. I didn't require a high gain boost, and was comfortable at low gain without pushing a volume. But if you need to drive more demanding higher power phones (E10k can drive up to 150 ohm impedance), you have plenty of headroom. And if basshead inside of you wants to come out, bass boost switch will be a precise adjustment of well controlled boost without spilling into the rest of the frequency spectrum.

So how does it stacks up against E18 and A200p? Each of these DAC/amps is great on it's own, and this is just a comparison relative to E10k. In comparison to E18, E10k sounds brighter and more detailed. Between E18 and E10k, I actually found E18 to be warmer and a little bit bloated in low end, not as tight and well controlled as E10k. Also, I felt that E10k extended further in treble. A200p was a closer match, but still E10k had an advantage in being a bit more detailed and brighter. Also, A200p doesn't have low/high gain switch and no bass boost or line out output. The disadvantage, E10k has no internal battery and it's not recognized when connected to smartphone.

Overall, if you are looking for a flexible external sound card solution for your laptop or PC, and don't want to compromise on sound quality or build quality - E10k usd DAC/amp will be hard to beat at $75. With a convenience of standard usb to micro-usb cable connection, selection of high/low gain and bass boost, headphone output and Coaxial and Line out outputs, and a very solid build quality with an excellent sound quality, I would highly recommend E10k as an effective solution to update your laptop to Hi-Fi sound!

Here are the pictures.































The Following User Says Thank You to vectron For This Useful Post: [ View ]
4th August 2014, 08:10 AM   |  #2  
djscopesofm's Avatar
Senior Member
Flag Merrylands
Thanks Meter: 58
 
291 posts
Join Date:Joined: Nov 2009
More
Awesome review, mate!
1st December 2014, 05:13 AM   |  #3  
Member
Thanks Meter: 3
 
52 posts
Join Date:Joined: Feb 2006
Thanks for this review. On the basis of this and a few other reviews, I have ordered one. I was looking at the E18 but I will be using it primarily for my laptop and it is half the price, so there you go.

However, I did see some comments on another review that suggested you could use this with an Android phone by installing Viper4Android, and using a USB Hub and an external battery pack. I already have a decent sized external battery, just wondering if anyone has used the E10K in this manner yet?
1st December 2014, 06:23 PM   |  #4  
OP Senior Member
Thanks Meter: 2,219
 
2,954 posts
Join Date:Joined: Apr 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by zan5hin

Thanks for this review. On the basis of this and a few other reviews, I have ordered one. I was looking at the E18 but I will be using it primarily for my laptop and it is half the price, so there you go.

However, I did see some comments on another review that suggested you could use this with an Android phone by installing Viper4Android, and using a USB Hub and an external battery pack. I already have a decent sized external battery, just wondering if anyone has used the E10K in this manner yet?

V4A is not necessary to use it, as long as your phone supports OTG. Connecting it directly to phone will not work because it needs extra power, thus a requirement for usb hub cable. It was confirmed on Head-fi, actually by almighty ClieOS himself I got that usb power cable, it was a few bucks from ebay, but completely forgot about it. To be honest, it's a bit of an overkill to use E10k, extra usb power cables, and external battery together with your phone. Just too much and too bulky. Instead I would suggest getting this $30 HiFimeDIY otg dac I reviewed here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2758213 and picking up E11k or E12A headphones amp. No need for extra power cables, external supply, and you will get a top class sound! Leave E10k as usb sound card - that's what it best at!
2nd December 2014, 02:45 AM   |  #5  
Member
Thanks Meter: 3
 
52 posts
Join Date:Joined: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by vectron

V4A is not necessary to use it, as long as your phone supports OTG. Connecting it directly to phone will not work because it needs extra power, thus a requirement for usb hub cable. It was confirmed on Head-fi, actually by almighty ClieOS himself I got that usb power cable, it was a few bucks from ebay, but completely forgot about it. To be honest, it's a bit of an overkill to use E10k, extra usb power cables, and external battery together with your phone. Just too much and too bulky. Instead I would suggest getting this $30 HiFimeDIY otg dac I reviewed here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2758213 and picking up E11k or E12A headphones amp. No need for extra power cables, external supply, and you will get a top class sound! Leave E10k as usb sound card - that's what it best at!

Thanks for the reply. If I could I would purchase the HiFimeDIY but I am living in Manila, Philippines and the hassle I went through to get a package shipped recently makes it a real headache to rely on the postal service here, even just from HKG to Manila.

I can't specifically see where ClieOS confirmed it, just

Quote:

"There is the possibility that the E10K might work with Android devices over OTG, but I have neither confirmed this functionality with FiiO, nor have I tested it myself."

Post Reply Subscribe to Thread
Previous Thread Next Thread
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes