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FiiO E6 - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
FiiO E6 4


Our Score:


The FiiO E6 is a low-cost product. Like the E5 before it, this sub-£20 headphone amplifier is far, far cheaper than almost all of the competition. Its capabilities are also less than a desktop headphone amp. It outputs 16mW when under a 300Ohm load (a common impedance for big, on-ear headphones), where FiiO's own E9 desktop amp outputs more than 80mW under the same strain.

This diddy amp doesn't have oodles of power at its disposal, but the reasons why are obvious. The E6 is powered by a tiny, light lithium battery, and if it was to attempt to recreate the power of a home amp, that juice wouldn't last long. For most uses, it wouldn't need such power anyway - this is an on-the-go device, and very few people use truly high impedance hi-fi headphones when out and about. Even fewer sensible ones.

FiiO E6 2

What the FiiO E6 does supply is that little extra bit of power the average headphone amplifier, and, yes, it'll boost the volume beyond the capabilities of most media players if necessary. The effect upon the subtler sonic qualities of whatever you're playing varies a little between headphones used, but having tested the E6 with around 10 sets, trends to emerge.

It doesn't send to have the soundstage-enhancing effect of a more powerful amplifier, but does tighten-up the bottom end a bit. This can improve coherence in music, and naturally gives bass response a quality boost. Some sets also showed an increase in dynamics, giving the impression of an overall more "vivid" sound.

This is what it sounds like without any of the EQ settings engaged, using the FiiO E6's vanilla mode if you will. With a prod or three on the power slider you can access the unit's three additional modes, -3dB, 3dB and 6dB. The original FiiO E5 only had the single 3dB setting.

FiiO E6 1

The two signal-boosting modes can roughly be described as bass boosts. They aren't hugely invasive, instead adding a little warmth to the low-end and low mids. We found that the 3dB setting muddied the sound ever-so slightly, making the treble sound a little recessed, but the 6dB setting pumps-up the high-end as well as the bass - although the figure is doubled, the bass doesn't. The sound scales-up naturally, leaving no bass bloat, as long as there wasn't any originally.

What the FiiO E6 does better than a media player here is equalisation without colouring the sound in an unnatural way. That's not to say some headphones don't sound better on the EQ-free setting, but there's none of the ugliness many digital EQ systems introduce.

FiiO E6 3

The big surprise of the FiiO E6, though, is that we found the -3dB setting to be the most useful. You might assume robbing the sound signal of power would leave it sounding weak and brittle, but it comes in very handy when trying to tame a pair of earphones with just too much bass - commonplace in affordable 'phones. This setting can also help relax treble frequencies with too much fatiguing "zing" or harshness.

The setting to employ all depends on the sonic personality of your earphone of choice, but they can all benefit in some way from the FiiO E6. And experimenting with the various EQ modes is in itself fun.

As an introduction to headphone amplifiers, or as an affordable partner to a more expensive at-home unit, the FiiO E6 is perfect. It's cheaper than the SoundMagic A10 and NuForce Icon, and while it may not have all the benefits of a more powerful amp, it's much more convenient. For existing FiiO E5 owners, the extra two EQ settings are enough to justify a purchase if you're not satisfied with the current bass boost. When testing the E5 we also heard hiss in some setups, but there was none at all here. The sound quality and feature niggles of the original are all-but eradicated.


An update to the popular FiiO E5, the E6 offers a very affordable and portable headphone amp solution that offers some of the sonic benefits of its more expensive rivals. It's not clad in metal like its predecessor, but it's smaller, lighter and altogether more stylish. This is the perfect product for those new to headphone amps, or those with a cynical view about them. And even if you're not convinced by its standard setting's benefits, the EQ modes alone justify its cost.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 9

Hamish Campbell

August 22, 2011, 12:37 pm

I use a penguin amp (cmoy) which I enjoy, but it ain't thaaat small and the 9v batteries are a bit annoying with slow trickle charging.

Would I be right in thinking the sound quality out of this would be on a similar level? I'd love to have this smaller footprint and usb lithium charging.


August 22, 2011, 2:20 pm

Hi Haim,

Yes that's about right. FiiO's E5/E6/E11 are all good alternatives to a Cmoy.


May 29, 2013, 3:18 pm

this review sold this to me.. now fiio shld pay u :D

Sudip Gadwal

September 13, 2013, 11:07 am

well said...me tooo


September 17, 2013, 8:58 am

Alright, i'm buying one. Good review, thanks!

Ringkai Shinoda

October 11, 2013, 7:05 am

i buy it, and awesome, i used vsonic GR06 IEM


November 24, 2013, 8:03 pm

Can this be used to listen to the tv through my surround sound system as hubby deaf and thought this would boost the sound from his headphones.


April 26, 2014, 11:00 am

is this compatible with sennheiser hd 518 ?


April 26, 2014, 11:01 am

is it really worth it?

Derek Lewinson

July 11, 2014, 7:29 am

Me too! Using this with a blackberry z30 and a pair of JVC HA-FX3Xs...Best $30 I've spent in a long time! There is a significant increase in sound quality and volume...I can reduce the volume on the phone by almost 50% and still get clear, vivid sound! #loveit


July 31, 2014, 1:53 pm

I see most of the users using this amp for in the ear headphones.
Will the work well with over the ear head phones? Say ath m50?if no,
Which amp should be used for ath m50

Prechaya Ford

August 9, 2014, 9:49 am

I have an adroid phone. Can I just use the 3.5mm out from phone to the input?


August 16, 2014, 5:18 pm

yeah with an aux cable


August 16, 2014, 5:19 pm

does anyone know about power outputs for a 16ohm load?


August 30, 2014, 3:01 pm

How will this go as a pre-amp when fitted between a SESCOM miniUSB for a canon 70D to do record mode monitoring?


August 30, 2014, 5:43 pm

I just got this and love it! It really makes a difference


June 29, 2015, 4:28 pm

The only useful thing about these cheap amps is that they increase the volume, period. They do not improve the quality of the sound.


July 5, 2015, 4:49 pm

It'll work. I just ordered it along with ath m50x DG.


July 5, 2015, 4:55 pm

He used the word 'awesome', that means totally worth it... :)

Altex lan

August 18, 2015, 3:21 pm

Actually what Fiio E6 does? it perfect your analog signal from your phone?
I got X1, it sound great and just bought the E10K Olympus 2 and hook up to my PC and
listen to internet song & music. Actually I went to buy the X5 but the X1 sound better. So I grap the X1. In fact I ever came across a review which say the X1 sound better then the X5.


July 14, 2016, 8:00 am


I am listening sound from my tv. When I connect headphones directly sound is week and all together bad. But when I connect to laptop sound is great.

So I was wondering is this good for connecting between tv and this headphones SENNHEISER HD 201

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