Fiio E17 review

Andrew Williams




  • Recommended by TR

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Our Score:



  • Great build
  • Excellent sound quality


  • Relatively low battery stamina

Key Features

  • Integrated headphone amplifier
  • Up to 24bit/192k input
  • SPDIF input
  • Manufacturer: FiiO
  • Review Price: £99.00

Headphone amps are still considered the preserve of audio nutters by many, the music equivalent of people willing to spend hundreds of pounds on HDMI cables and special power plugs that remove midichloreans from the signal. Or something. Fiio is here to change all that with products like the Fiio E17. It's a portable headphone amp and Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) that can also act as a computer sound card. And it costs less than a hundred pounds.


Although fairly low-cost, the Fiio E17 is built to last. Its bod is made up of three main metal sections - a slab each for the front and back and a single strip that curves all the way round the edges. All decked out in the same black, brushed finish, the E17 looks and feels great. Fiio E17 17

It's extremely solid - and while the finish won't look so impressive if it gets scratched, we can't see it biting the dust unless you treat it with real harshness. A little bit smaller and thicker than an iPod Classic, people are bound to assume it's an MP3 player - it's much smaller than virtually all desktop amps.

It isn't an MP3 player, though. While there's a menu layer and some sound customisation on offer, the Fiio E17 wouldn't know what to do with an MP3 file - and has no place to put them anyway, with no accessible internal memory.


The Fiio E17 accepts four types of input. There's a miniUSB port on its bottom, letting you connect to a computer and effectively use the little metal box as a sound card, a 3.5mm jack for standard stereo analogue input and an SPDIF jack up top for optical/coaxial digital entry. On its underside the E17 also features a Fiio dock socket, which plugs into the E9 - a Fiio desktop amp. Doing so blocks the USB socket, but the E9 has its own, making this potentially the perfect pairing.

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To make full use of the E17, you'll need to use the digital inputs, but the flexibility of the device makes it worthwhile when used with a portable media player too. We hooked it up to an iPod Classic using Fiio's LOD cable, which bypasses the Classic's own headphone circuitry, and found it works well as a portable headphone amp - if not quite as convenient as something like the lesser Fiio E6. The E17 has an internal 1500mAh battery, letting you take it out and about with you.

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This isn't Fiio's first take on the portable DAC-plus-amp combo, though. The E17 is remarkably similar in most respects to last year's E7. They're of similar size, claim to be able to take on headphones of 16-300Ohm impedance and have similar screens. However, the E17 is much more powerful.

Fiio E17 7

The positive aspect of this is much-improved output. At 300Ohm impedance, the E17 outputs 30 mW, where the E7 manages just 16mW. Fiio also says that overall performance is much better. The price is battery life.

The E7 has a 1050mAh battery that lasts up to 80 hours off a charge. The E17 has a larger 1500mAh battery that lasts just 15 hours, max. In normal use, you can expect to get around 6-8 hours out of it - significantly less than the claimed figure. This makes the new model much less convenient, but if sound quality is all you care about, maybe that won’t be a problem.

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Used with an SPDIF connection, the Fiio E17 can accept a true high-end signal - up to 24-bit, 192k. Rarely do we have to crack out such high-end files in our testing. With a USB connection, the limit is 96K/24-bit - but if you're honestly noticing all that much difference between the two, there's a good chance it's in your head. If you're not so obsessed with bits and kHz, the E17 is also more than happy to take on "standard" 48K 16-bit signals. The quality of the signal being piped through it is displayed on the dinky screen on the front.

It's a simple, two-tone display, but is very clear and more-than up to the task of displaying the basic info involved - there's no need for album art here, folks. The screen is of the OLED type, which provides excellent contrast and viewing angles.


The Fiio E17 comes with everything you need to get going. There's a short stereo jack connector, letting you plug in an MP3 player easily, a little miniUSB cable and a felt carry case. You'll ideally want to get hold of a digital cable too, but we can understand why Fiio hasn't included one. Other than the costs involved, the length of digital cable needed is likely to vary much more - if, say, you want to plug it into a Hi-Fi separate halfway across the room.

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Other little bits bundled include some thick rubber bands, to let you attach he E17 to your media player in lo-fi fashion, and optical/coaxial converters.

Fly High

January 19, 2013, 4:17 pm

why when i use E17 on my laptop, usb the sound very nice but when i use aux on my samsung galaxy s3 phone the sound seem poor abit? the song is same file's, but when i use my old E11 on my phone the sound good, really don't understand, is there any way can make the sound good on my sgs3 phone?, please helpp..

Fly High

January 20, 2013, 12:35 pm

who can helppp me ??

Daniel Nebdal

February 5, 2013, 2:56 pm

I don't know if I can help you much, but I can at least guess at why this happens: On USB, the E17 does the DA-conversion itself (going from digital sound to an analog signal). With the S3, the phone does that conversion, and then sends the output to the E17 - and then you're limited by the quality of the DAC in the phone.

It can sometimes help to play with the volume of the source: See if the sound quality is notable better/worse when the phone is set to a low or high volume.

You might also be able to connect it with a suitable USB cable (USB micro to USB B OTG/On the go), though the stock software of the S3 does apparently not support the E17. It does support the E7, though... (Apparently, it should work if you root your phone and install cyanogenmod - though that's its own can of worms. )



June 9, 2013, 9:59 pm

I use my E17 While flying from work site to site. I plug into the aircraft soundport and use a pair of Ultrasone Pro 900 Headphones. WOW!! This product makes the time "Fly" by. Love this product not only for the great sound but for the build quality also.


February 16, 2014, 3:39 am

I can't help it. We Americans can't leave 'well enough' alone. Its a disease known at the World Health Organization as 'Bloody Yank' Syndrome. Whattaya goin' to do?
I was FORCED to purchase my FIIO E17 when I went back to college on my GI Bill. I was perfectly happy listening to music on my iPhone 4S with my free iPlugs when I noticed all the little GEN Xers and GEN M types sporting HighEnd Headphones around their necks like fossilized Nazi Tiger Tank Commanders. Wanting to remain 'Low Drag/Hi Throughput', I bought a pair of Bose AOE2 so that I would fit in.
There I was, all HIPPER THAN THOU when I noticed a bunch of GEN M'ers in my Accounting 1A class sporting OUTBOARD Headphone Amps/DACs that I didn't have. Stricken GREEN WITH ENVY, I bolted out of the class and ordered the FIIO E17 in the hallway. Everything written about this little wanker is TRUE, it is a night & day improvement in sound quality over jacking in 'Au Natural' ,as you YABBOs are wont to say.
OK, So, I am sitting in my RACE READY '99 Madza Miata (I can't leave well enough alone, as I told you) and I am playing 80s POST PUNK Music Videos via my LINE OUT adapter to my Apline IDA X001 Receiver/Massive Audio NX5 amp. Then I started hearing voices with the radio off. It was SATAN whispering into my ear "I wonder what would happen if you patched your Fiio L10 cable (the 30 pin to 3.5mm mini) into the bottom of your Fiio E17 and the Alpine IDA X001's Line Out to the top of the headphone jack of the Fiio E17. I responded: I'd blow up the car? I'd short out the AMP? I'd cook all of the electronics and possibly start a fire? I'd blow a fuse. However, I'm an American, right? Birds gotta swim & fish gotta fry!!! I hooked the puppy up and is was STUNNING!!! The bass now has heft AT LOW VOLUME and the Treble now SIZZLES. The MIDS now totally suck, but hey, 2 out of 3 is what we Americans call 'Close Enough for Government Work'.
SERIOUSLY, you've GOT TO TRY THIS APPLICATION SANS HEADPHONES. Most car radio suck. Because car audio can never be truly 'HI-END', little though is given to the electronics of car radios. This adaptation just STEPS UP the game---it's like a $1,000.00 upgrade for the price a dinner & a movie for two with a six pack of hooch for you and that little HOOCHIE of yours. Or a night at the PUB, same difference. Who cares if my dash board now looks like the inside of a Boeing 767, now I have a sound system I can LIVE WITH---Thank You, Fiio!!!


March 6, 2014, 12:26 am

Accouting 1A? You better forget about music and focus. Good luck with college tiger.


January 13, 2016, 9:47 pm

i can pretty much guarantee you wearn't cool buying bose lol, i don't get it why don't new comers go to online forums and ask questions

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