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Fiio E17 - Sound Quality, EQ and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


Use with a computer

Using the Fiio E17 with a computer is simple. Plug it in using a miniUSB cable and the two will start talking to each other, the E17 automatically taking over as an audio interface for the computer. No specific drivers need to be installed manually either, which makes the whole thing painless.

Fiio E17 2

There are, naturally, still benefits to having a high-end soundcard rather than a USB DAC like this, though. Without a digital audio output, it's not much use if you want to occasionally connect to a surround system rather than headphones. The E17 is designed for stereo audio, not 7.1. It also has no analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), so is no good if you want to record musical instruments, or other sources, using your computer.

Sound quality and volume improvement

We have dubbed the Fiio E17 "flexible", but it's within fairly narrow constraints. Where it excels beyond the capabilities of most soundcards is in its headphone amp part. However, if the sound output from your computer sounds poor - and it's not down to your using 128kbps MP3s for your music collection - the E17 will increase audio fidelity significantly.

Fiio E17 12

The headphones that benefit most from the E17's help are higher impedance sets designed for studio or home use, rather than earbuds not particularly meant for use with an amp.

The Fiio E17's effect on the sound is pretty neutral - it doesn't up-end the sound with oodles of additional warmth (the Fiio E6 adds more warmth if that is your bag) but it can seriously improve audio fidelity paired with the right set. In particular, it resolves the mid-range extremely well - smooth but well-defined in a manner that increases the soundstage size. We found it also tended to tighten-up the low-end a little, lending it greater impact and power, and helps to shave off errant top-end sharpness.

Fiio E17 23

Stepping back from the minutiae of the sound, the E17 helps to smooth-out sound a little, without losing any definition or detail. It can also make headphones sound that bit more expansive. The only possible complaint we have is that the smoothed-out treble can seem like a step back with earphones that don't have enough treble presence as-is.

EQ and sound customisation

If you want to sculpt the sound output of your headphones a little more proactively, the Fiio E17 also offers some basic equalisation settings. However, they're not particularly impressive in scope.

Fiio E17 14

Bass and treble can be tweaked - up or down - but you have no control over whereabouts in the frequency spectrum each does its thing. If advanced control over music playback is what you're after, you'd be better off with something like the Cowon J3 and its JetEffect 3.0 engine.

Within the same menu, gain and channel balance can also be fiddled with. There are three gain settings - 0dB, 6dB and 12dB. Higher gain settings tend to relay tunes with a little more impact, but you won't need to use them for volume alone. With such power on tap, the E17 will easily blow most eardrums at the max volume of the 0dB setting.


In the audio world, the Fiio E17 seems like a bargain. When DACs and headphone amps spiral into thousand-pound territory with ease, getting such a capable solution for around £100 seems like a small miracle. However, we do wonder how many people out there would be perfectly happy with the E7 - at half the price - or even the cheapo E6, which loses the DAC, functioning as a basic, low-power headphone amp.

Fiio E17 1

However, if you have genuinely demanding headphones, the Fiio E17 has a significant impact on sound that may even surprise the nay sayers out there.


Powerful, portable and with an unmistakeably positive effect on the sound of slightly harder-to-drive headphones and the poor-quality output of some computers, the Fiio E17's worth is indisputable. It's also well-made and pretty versatile, capable of plugging into three sources at once. It is a worthwhile upgrade over the E7, though equally we suspect many of you may be happy with that device at half the price.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8

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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