FiiO E17 DAC/Amp + FiiO E09K Desktop Amp mini review (with HD600, Image ONE and X10i)

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by Phatboy69, May 8, 2014.

  1. Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    I had been looking at USB DACs and Headphone AMPs with a budget up to AU$500 on and off for a few months and couldn't decide what to get.

    There are so many out there and none of them had all the features I wanted until I stumbled across the FiiO E09K/E17 combo.

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    Within half an hour of reading a few reviews, particularly one detailed review at head-fi, I had picked up the kit from minidisc.com.au in Chatswood, Sydney that had them in stock at their office!

    I know I could have picked up better individual components for that price range but the integrated features and overall feature set are pretty hard to beat for how I intend to use it and at 45 im not sure I would have heard the difference anyway.

    How am I using it?
    At work with a MS Surface Pro 2 and iPhone 5S dock with line out, using Spotify 320k local/streamed;
    plus using E17 on the go;
    and on my Home PC and HTPC with FLAC and DSD streaming via Jriver Media Centre 19, or Spotify.

    A mixture of tragic 80's Pop, 80's and revival Hair/Glam Metal, Classic Rock, Jazz, Soul/R&B and Dance. (a tiny bit of country)

    A bit of everything with a penchant for soaring vocals, singing guitars, ballads and intimate Jazz singers.

    I bought the combo E09K/E17 and an extra E09K dock to use at work as a desktop AMP and to charge the E17. ( I just love things that dock!)

    Im using;

    Klipsch Image Ones' in the office.

    Klipsch X10i on the go and in the office when the Image Ones start to hurt ye old ears from the firm pressure; and

    Original HD600s' at home

    The Image Ones' sound great off either the E17 or E09K with 6db boost and no EQ. A bit punchy on the bass as they are known to be, but the E17 and E09K both do a good job of tightening the bass up a bit and have lots of detail in the highs without being harsh, midrange is nice and full but probably a little laid back which is perfect for in the office. Both Amps have nice control of complex bass pieces and don't raise a sweat with the Image Ones'.

    The X10i don't really need the AMP but they too sound great with 6db boost and no EQ. Maybe a little tighter and punchier compared to direct from the iPhone 5s.

    The HD600s' sound far better with either AMP compared to the logitech Z5500 amp for the desktop, which is running off optical on the Asus Rampage IV Black.
    (Don't even think about driving the HD600 straight off the iPhone, they sound thin and horrible!)

    The onboard SupremeFX Black on my Asus Rampage IV Black has no problems as far as quality goes driving the HD600 but volume is very low compared to the FiiO AMPs'.

    Max volume on the Z5500 AMP is also no where near loud enough for my taste.

    The E17 and E09K still both need the 6db gain and the HD600s' go far louder and are much tighter and fuller with either of the FiiOs'
    At home Im using the E09K with E17 lo-passthrough with USB @ 96K/24bit which is plenty for most of my stuff. I switch the optical over from the Z5500 for the occassional 192K/24bit.

    Most of my HD audio is 96K anyway apart from a few DVD-A converted to FLAC and few SACDs' streamed from DSD 384K Rips and the occasional HDtracks' downloads at 192/24.


    With the HD600s' for some music I add 4db bass and -2db treble as they are a bit thin down low and just a touch too bright at times with the FiiOs',
    but they are well controlled with excellent imaging and the FiiOs' AMPs have no problems handling the extra 4db boost even at ear smashing levels.

    To sum-up, I'm extremely impressed by the build quality, sound quality and flexibility of the FiiO AMPS, with the cool integration with dock and the desktop AMP features I'm so glad I chose the integrated kit!

    They work equally well for 3 different types of gear and 3 different use scenarios, you cant ask for much more than that!

    $245 for E09K/E17 + $125 for extra E09K Desktop Amp ($370 total) from www.minidisc.com.au

    FiiO E09K

    FiiO E17
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  2. OP
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    Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    Just tried going optical from my Asus Rampage IV Black to the E17 docked and the top end is definitely cleaner than using the E09K USB E17 DAC.

    A good album for testing brittle top end is Mariah Carey Daydream, particularly One Sweet Day and I Am Free. Much smoother with optical via E17 than E09K USB.

    The E17/E09K is perfect for the HD600. As using the E17 on its own doesn't have the power to drive them properly! :) (E17 as Optical DAC @ 192/24 and E09K as Headphone Amp)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  3. Radley

    Radley Member

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    You need more stuff :rolleyes:

    I'm after a DAC+headphone amp to use at work, but I don't trust the tiny ones. I also don't trust leaving a $500 gadget on my desk overnight every night, so I've got some research to do.

    I'm a bit confused as to what the thing you put in the dock is. Is it a portable amp? Why do you plug it into the desktop amp?
     
  4. OP
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    Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    You should see my work desk! ;)

    The thing that goes in the dock is the E17 DAC/Amp. It works as a DAC for the desktop E09K when docked, and a DAC and portable Amp when mobile.

    Without the E17 the E09K can only take Analogue-in via RCA on the back.
    So they are complimentary devices. The E09K dock also charges the E17.

    There's nothing wrong with the portable Amps as long as you don't have difficult high impedance headphones.

    I have changed my setup at work a bit now.

    The surface pro 2 connects to the E09K dock via a USB port replicator.
    So the E09K is permanently connected to the USB port replicator.
    (when the E17 is docked it connects the E17 onboard DAC to the surface for digital audio @ 96/24.
    A 26" monitor is also connected via the port replicator which has VGA/HDMI video.
    Mouse and keyboard also connect via Logitech wireless plugged into the port replicator.

    I also got a Seagate Wireless plus 1TB drive going today as well.
    This connects wirelessly to the surface pro and iPhone when out and about and in the car for access to my whole music library including FLAC files and SACDs ISOs. (will have my movies too when I finish down-converting them to 480p M4Vs so they fit.)
    For simplicity when I'm in the office the Seagate just connects via USB to the port replicator so I don't have to fiddle with works wireless proxy.

    So when I come into the office I just have power, 1 USB for the port replicator to connect to the Surface, connect the Seagate to the port replicator, and everything else stays put.
    I run Jriver MC19 to get bit perfect playback via the E09K/E17.

    I also tested the setup in the car (without the E17/E09k) using surface pro 2 / Seagate wireless drive and Bluetooth streaming with Jriver MC19 running in touch friendly theatre view. My car kit has AVRCP BT integration with satnav and driver info display and steering wheel controls. Very cool setup. I may have to invest in a Brodit surface pro mount to mount the surface in front of the nav headunit when on longer trips. Much nicer and faster to navigate than the iPhone.... anyway I digress...

    As I'm posting this now, I'm in my local café across from work testing out the new rig with the surface pro 2 connected to my pocket sized Telstra 4G wireless router, connected wirelessly to my Seagate wireless drive playing music wirelessly to my iPhone with 8player on the iPhone connected to my FiiO E17 Amp playing bit perfect FLAC from the Seagate.

    Another time I'll take a few pics. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014
  5. Radley

    Radley Member

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    That sounds amazingly complicated just to listen to music and watch some movies. Are you streaming over 4G? Isn't that just chewing through data?
    I'm after an all in 1 DAC/amp rather than this sort of thing, but looks ok nonetheless.
     
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    Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    It sounds more complicated than it actually is. :)

    The 4G modem is just being used as a router between the iPhone and wireless hard drive, no data goes out onto the 4G network except for internet access and email.

    Without the mobile 4G mobile modem/router the iPhone and Surface Pro cant get internet when they're connected directly to the wireless hard drive. So I need a router to join them all up and still enable internet access. I have the 4G modem router for work for Surface Pro anyway as data plans were cheaper on the 4G modem than adding it to the Telstra iPhone plan.

    I do stream Spotify over 4G sometimes though and I used to stream from my media server at home as well. With the portable wireless setup I don't need to stream over 4G anymore though, except for Spotify if I haven't synced a playlist up to the iPhone.

    The E17 is an all in one Amp/Dac but its portable. It struggles to drive my HD600 headphones at louder volumes but its fine with all my other headphones and at 50% volume with the HD600. If you want something tidy and to stay on your desktop there are heaps of options out there that will drive headphones like the HD600 without a problem.

    The headphone DAC/Amp in the surface pro 2 actually isn't too bad either, (it's a Wolfson) it does 192/24 too so I could technically go without the portable E17 DAC/Amp and simplify the setup. The E17 actually works better off the Surface than the iPhone too, at the moment 96/24 on the e17 with iPhone has a clicking noise because of timing issues of the signal.

    Having said all that, who said being a music/tech geek was meant to be simple? Where's all the fun in that! ;)

    Pictures would make more sense and you'd see how simple it really is. :) I'll get to some pics soon.

    PS: I managed to install ipkg, SSH and SFTP on the Seagate Wireless last night and am going to have a go at installing some other free opensource ARM apps and a later version of minidlna that's got a few more features and supported formats.
    If I can find the right packages and test them out I should be able to add most of the features from the ReadyNas and FreeNas as the minidlna opensource was written by a Netgear employee and put into their Readynas products.
    Things to install:
    iTunes server
    Auto Join for wireless
    Eye Fi Pro wireless capture for streaming from camera
    Perl
    Webmin for web administration
    PhP
    Cron
    WebDav
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  7. OP
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    Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    I got everything installed and running on the Seagate wireless.

    I now have better visibility of what its doing and more control, and I got iTunes server running. Its now more of a little NAS box. ;)

    Ill start another thread when I have some more time about the addins I've installed on it.
     
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    Phatboy69

    Phatboy69 Member

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    Here's some pics of my current portable setup.

    This was the best I could come up with after experimenting with several USB hubs and cables.

    I have a 20cm curly cord USB to Mini-USB cable on the way to replace the 40cm one in the pics below.

    I found this setup is the most user friendly as I can put the FiiO E17 in my pocket and still handle the iPhone.

    Also good for when just lounging around the house as I don't have to fumble to pick up 2 devices and dont have to worry about all the cables, hubs etc dangling.

    4 Port USB Hub, USB to mini USB and CCK all glued to the back of a Cygnett iPhone 5S case.

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    Plugged in...

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    Faith Hill Cry - DVD-A Rip to 96/24 Flac ready to go in Ampliflac.

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    Plugged in ready to go... Backside...

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    Front side..

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    Close up showing 96kHz / 24 Bit output on AmpliFlac and 96kHz/24bit input on the FiiO E17.

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    Fleetwood Mac Rumours - Dreams DVD-A rip to 96/24 Flac output from JRiver MC19 streaming to JRemote.

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    As I've mentioned earlier this all works great except for the clicking with 96/24 material.

    Until Apple or FiiO release a patch/update to fix the clicking I just down-sample in AmpliFlac or with JRiver MC19 down to 48/16.
     

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