Saturday, January 17, 2009

FiiO E5 Headphone Amplifier Review

I never quite understood why you needed a separate amplifier for your MP3 player or cell phone's headphones. Yet when I saw this FiiO E5 amp and it was only $23 I figured I could take a chance and see what I was missing. The E5 came with a short 3.5mm to 3.5mm patch cable, a longer 3.5mm to 3.5mm patch cable, a USB charging cable, and a simple user manual. You can't get much simpler than the design of the E5. One end has a jack for your headphones, a volume control rocker, Power button, and a slide switch to turn on and off the Bass Boost EQ. There is also a small LED status light. The opposite end has an input jack and the USB port for charging.
It's very small. It weighs only 23 grams (.8 ounce). At 1.5" x 1.75" and a tiny bit more than 7/16" thick the E5 is smaller than most MP3 players. Here it is with my Sansa Clip. My iPod Nano dwarfs the E5. Just like the Clip and the iPod Shuffle, the E5 has a built-in metal spring clip to help keep it attached to you. Specifications include:

· Output Power: 150mW (16 ohms loaded) or 16mW (300 ohms loaded).

· Signal to Noise Ratio: ≥95dB (A Weight)

· Distortion: <0.009%>

· Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 100KHz

· Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16ohm ~ 300ohm

· Power Supply: Built-in Rechargeable Li-ion Battery

What is the best excuse for one of these small amplifiers? Your Mp3 player can probably crank up loud enough to do serious hearing damage, but most will start to distort the audio at higher output levels. By keeping the player at it's optimum distortion-free volume setting you can bring the audio up to a full, rich, non-distorted level. The E5 excels at this. I didn't realize how much distortion I was hearing from my players until I passed the audio through the E5. Very crisp, full sound. It warms up my music no matter which player I'm using it with. It brings out the detail with no perceivable noise. There is obviously some noise filtering taking place. It sure sounds so anyway. Static I might have heard using headphones directly from the player is missing when passed through the E5. You can also use higher quality headphones with your player. The more professional headphones require a bit more power to fill up with sound. Low powered players designed for simple earbuds benefit greatly with some amplification on the way to a quality headset.

Value? Amazing. I can think of no better investment to improve your listening experience. The E5 does a remarkable job bringing your audio to your ears. It's also very portable. The only warning I'll extend is to keep an eye on it. The petite E5 is easy to lose sight of.



  1. it is a pretty pro peice of kit.

    almost essential for portable players.

  2. Definetely great price for such abilities.
    Only this little hiss on a background..

  3. just wondering, how does this perform with the samsung p2? also, have you tested the fiio e5 with headphones with impedances of 16 ohms? do you hear any hissing in the background? i currently use a pair of sony MDR-EX75s (16 ohms) with my P2 and i think this would be a great addition to it. but, my concern is the hissing other reviews speak about when using headphones with low impedances. thanks!

  4. It works fine with the P2, although I mainly use bluetooth headphones with mine.

    I haven't noticed any hissing or static using the E5 with any of my headphones or players. It could be that there were some bad production runs. Keep your receipt and check the return policy if you get one.


  5. thank you 4D, for your reply and great reviews!

  6. Very helpful review. Thanks.