FiiO E5 Headphone Amplifier - FiiO E5

By Stuart Andrews



  • Recommended by TR
FiiO E5 Headphone Amplifier


Our Score:


In some cases the difference is blinding, in others only just perceptible once you take into account the fact that just increasing the volume often makes the sound better, and you can get a similar effect to plugging in the E5 just by raising the level from, say, halfway to two-thirds. Where the formula works, you get an increase in volume but also an increase in low-end warmth and clarity, and - unlike with the E3 - you can always switch the added bass on and off.

So where does it work? Well, I've always found the output from the iRiver T7 a little thin and weedy, so it's no surprise to find the E5 working wonders there with most in-ear and over-the-ear headphones tried. Move on to the iPod touch and Samsung YP-P3, however, and things get trickier. I liked the way the E5 added body and some low-end drive to the sound emanating from a pair of Sennheiser PX100s, and there wasn't any negative effect on clarity. Yet with a pair of iGrados, the effects weren't so great: the sound became a little muddy and some background hiss - not obvious, but there - came into play.

I expected similar things from the iGrado's stable mates, the SR60s, but in fact there was another, albeit smaller improvement. This surprised me, because the 32 Ohm SR60s are easily sensitive enough to work from the touch without amplification, but with the E5 in play (and not anywhere near full volume) I could hit my preferred listening level at around the halfway mark on the touch, and the output seemed slightly cleaner and brighter, with a pleasant, rich tone in the mid and upper range. It's not what you might call a night and day difference, but it's there, and I had a similar experience with a pair of Audio Technica ATH-AD500s, with the added bonus that the slightly weak bass was thickened up.

With in-ear models results were mixed. With a set of Sennheiser CX300 Mark IIs there was definitely an improvement in terms of overall body, and I wouldn't put this down entirely to the boost in volume, and the extra power also works with a set of Philips SHE9800s, albeit with lesser effects. However, with a set of Denon AH-C551s - canalphones which already triumph when it comes to warmth and power but fall short through a brash top end and slightly compromised definition - the E5 just makes the sound louder and a bit messier. Be warned: the headphone-level connection between player and amp can add noise, and depending on your headphones and the material you listen to, this can have degrading effects on your overall sound.


March 15, 2009, 11:12 am

i vote for an "audiophile" subsection here.


March 15, 2009, 3:02 pm



March 15, 2009, 4:23 pm

Thirded. Even though I'm not an audiophile.

Francesco Mastellone

March 15, 2009, 7:09 pm

Fourthed? I'd call it flac though, seeing how this is the mp3 section =p


March 15, 2009, 11:30 pm




March 16, 2009, 3:49 am

Heh, this was not a review I was expecting to see here today, good work chaps.


March 16, 2009, 1:53 pm

Shouldn't you be dead? But yes, we're trying to up the variety a bit.

Mikko Lahti

March 16, 2009, 2:34 pm

Yes, unexpected but great a review. Based on this, I immediately checked a Finnish auctionsite for FiiO products, and I got very lucky, now I'm waiting for my E5! (I'm thinking it will fit perfectly for my workout rig, with iriver H320 and Sennheiser CX 380 Sport II IEMs)


March 17, 2009, 1:29 pm

It's a great amp for a Sansa Clip and Phonak Audéo combo.

Mark Booth

March 17, 2009, 9:53 pm

Nice but one HUGE problem...... in fact huge is an understatement unless I'm missing something. Read on.

Saw the review and thought a good impulse buy so why not. Arrived today and I now see the recommended retailer is out of stock so well done TrustedReveiws on creating the business.

Plugged it in with my Bose on ear phones and there is a noticable difference. Well pleased! However, there is a HUGE problem.... almost of the gargantuan proportions of the new iPod shuffle having prorietary headphones and no buttons. The retailer says this on their site:

Ultra small, lightweight design for MP3 player, laptop or mobile phone.

So why does my iPhone interfere with it? Almost permanent interference when browsing the web even holding it as far away as the cable will reach. Surely this is a major design flaw? I can't beleive it's not magnetically shielded!


March 18, 2009, 10:19 am

the amp wouldn't be magnetically shielded - most aren't. my graham slee voyager doesn't seem to be, and i paid a lot more for that than you did - even used.


March 18, 2009, 4:26 pm


For all your equipment, I can't believe you're using an iPhone in conjunction.

iPhone's frequency range sucks. While it isn't the worse, there have been much better. Like, the 5800, with that incredibly smooth frequency curve, or the Xperia X1, just to name a few.

Mark Booth

March 18, 2009, 5:49 pm

Why wouldn't an amp be shielded? All decent iPod/iPhone docks are because they "have" to be. I know this is a cheap device but it claims compatibility with mobile phones and to me they have made a false claim.

Having looked on the forums I see people have complained about the E3 hoping the E5 would be better, and even the Voyager is prone to interference. I almost bought a Voyager too so glad i didn't now.

With respect to those complaining about my poor audio source I use an iPhone as a single covenient day to day device especially at work to drown out the open plan noise. At home I listen to a Marantz CD63 KI Signature & Sonos, Audiolab 8000A, and HD600 cans. A little old I know but might try a Vogayer with this setup. The E5 offers slight improvement on HD600 + iPhone but not enough to be good enough.


March 18, 2009, 6:13 pm

The Xperia X1? Are you kidding me? That thing sounds awful. It's plagued by background hiss for a start.


April 25, 2009, 3:27 pm

Perhaps you need to get another Xperia...


October 28, 2010, 10:23 am

Has anyone used this amp with Denon AH-C551's ? I know the author of the above review didn't think the sound was great. Also how about Grado SR80's ? I currently use a little dot micro + but it's a little too bulky for using on the go.


February 24, 2011, 1:19 am

I just received this amp in the mail (payed $25 for it) and I have to say it's great!

This is my frst time using a headphone amp and the sound quality difference is very noticeable.

The bass boost works really well and all of my music just sounds so much more alive.

I'm using a Sansa Clip + with Sony MDR AS50G headphones on the go and then Shure SRH440 at home.

Really well worth the money, wasn't sure I'd go for it, but I'm glad I did.


April 10, 2013, 12:38 pm

can i use this for my razer tiamat 2.2 then connect to pc ? need rep ty

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