FiiO E07K 'Andes' DAC plus Headphone Amp review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, May 22, 2013.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Youtube review: FiiO E07K portable DAC and Headphone Amp for Computers and Music Players review by Dale - YouTube

    This new FiiO 'Andes' headphone amp that I purchased from HiFiHeadphones is about one inch shorter than the iPhone 4s, about the same width, and just slightly thicker, which makes its size nearly ideal for portable use. Given the expected battery life (20 or more hours on a charge) and the amount of power output this amp has (220 mw at 32 ohms), the overall size is respectably small. But before I describe the build and features I want to describe the sound.

    I connected an iPod Touch 5th gen. to the E07K using a 5-inch FiiO LOD cable with the Apple DAC adapter, and an identical iPod Touch to my FiiO E12 amp using an identical cable and adapter, playing WAV-format tracks on both iPods. When playing through the E12 amp, the sound seemed to have better highs and sense of space or air than the E07K amp. The difference between the two amps (in this analog connection, bypassing the E07K DAC) wasn't big or dramatic, but it was not subtle either. Still, listening to the E07K alone with a variety of music tracks, I'd judge the sound quality to be excellent, with a solid tight bass, very clean mids, and highs that are very high fidelity, albeit a bit dark.

    I connected the E07K to a desktop computer as a USB DAC and headphone amp, using Foobar2000 and the same WAV tracks I used with the iPods. The sound seemed slightly better, so I compared it to the v-moda verza DAC and amp on the same computer. Like the comparison between the E07K and E12 amps, the difference between the E07K and the verza was easy to hear, but not something that would make a significant difference in outdoor use, in my opinion. I used the Phiaton MS400, v-moda M100, Beyer DT770LE, and Soundmagic HP200 headphones to evaluate the E07K, and the way I see it, if all I had between my headphones and my iPods for the next year or so was the E07K, I could be happy with it. The sound is absolutely clean from top to bottom, and if I felt like I needed a bass or treble tweak, a small adjustment of the E07K's tone controls would do the job, and those tone controls are very effective.

    I'm finding that all of my common dynamic headphones get plenty of volume within the default gain setting, with no background amp noise at maximum volume. I'd guess that the amp noise is 20 to 30 db below my listening level, which is certainly adequate for listening at home with average-volume music tracks, and well beyond what's needed for portable use. The E07K is the typical FiiO black-anodized aluminum box (size described above), but it has a transparent glass-like cover on its face, and I don't have any idea whether that cover (or screen) is particularly fragile. I also don't know why they couldn't just use the same small screen that's on the E17. The E07K does not have a volume knob, and uses the less-convenient digital volume buttons just like the E17.

    There are 4 ports on the E07K: Two headphone jacks, a mini-USB charging and DAC port, and the 'Aux' Line In port. I plugged in a second headphone while listening to the first headphone, and there was no change in sound quality or volume. Unfortunately, if the efficiency of the two headphones are very different, the second listener is going to suffer with sound that's too loud or too soft, and if one headphone is using EQ of any kind, i.e. via the bass or treble settings, the second listener's headphone will be disadvantaged by those differences.

    The FiiO E07K Andes comes with the following accessories: A protective rubber shell, two plastic bands for attaching to a music player or phone, 6 plastic "button" feet, a felt-lined carry bag, transparent screen protectors, USB cable, and a 4-inch cable with 3.5 mm miniplugs on both ends. For analog use via the 'Aux' input, I prefer using the Line Output (LOD) port on my iPods and other Apple devices, so I use a FiiO LOD cable instead of the double-miniplug cable.
     
  2. slipudatung

    slipudatung New Member

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    Fiio E07K + V-Moda M-100 for "bass shake"

    Hi Dale,
    I have been reading a few of your reviews and thank you for being so thorough!
    Reviews are ok regarding treble/mids but I was wondering if you could comment on the "Bass shake" you could get from the e07k and M100 combo.

    I use "Bass Shake" because thats how much bass I like in my music (Electronic mostly) and the headphone literally vibrate on my head. I already own the M-100s and currently use 95% for portable applications paired with my HTC One - so now I am looking for a Portable DAC to really drive the bass.

    My HTC One has been customized with Kernel upgrade and DSP type apps combined with PowerAmp (a decent player for Android) and I can generate bass shake, but I am looking for MORE! The Fiio uses Wolfson, and I came from a Samsung device (also using wolfson) that was heavily configured for audio and sounded way louder/heavier than my HTC One (more bass shake).

    I guess Im wondering if the Fiio will actually increase the overall sound over what I get with the HTC One. I know this is an impossible comparison for you to make so I guess I can base it on your take on "Bass shake" haha

    Thanks for your time (and patience)
     
  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    I think most of us who want the really strong impact understand, even if there aren't official terms in hi-fi audio (i.e. audio perfectionists generally frown on too much EQ, but that's not our concern here).

    The E07k is excellent as an analog amp or DAC-plus-amp, but it may not have enough power for what you want, because when the power runs low the bass usually gets muddy and loses impact rather than make an obvious distortion. The E17 is very much the same as the E07k but has more power. Even that may not be enough though - don't really know. If you give up the DAC and connect the Line Out signal from the music player to an analog amp like the E12, that gives much more power than the E17, plus a better bass boost curve, but again it's just a guess whether it will provide enough impact. Every doubling of power, for example from 100 mw to 200 mw, goves 3 db more sound, which isn't much. A 10 db increase requires 10 times more power.

    About the only thing you can do is try out one of the small FiiO amps and try to get an idea how much more power you need. If you're not hearing something close to the impact you want with the little amps, then you're going to need a LOT more power. Amps with a lot more power get into the hundreds of dollars or pounds, but some are battery operated and portable.
     
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