Monday, September 1, 2008

FiiO E3 Headphone Amplifier: Smallest Headphone Amplifier For Portable Audio

The FiiO E3 Headphone Amplifier is without doubt presently the smallest headphone amplifier for use with portable audio such as MP3 players and CD players.

I must say that my expectations weren't exactly high when I purchased it, but after testing it with several cans I must say the Chinese FiiO company managed to design a really fine product. I did not have many illusions about this product as it was selling well under US$10.00. The only reason I purchased it was because of the various good reviews I had read about it.

The construction is very simple and straight forward. It's powered by one AAA battery and sporting only a 3.5mm input jack that connects to the headphone output of an MP3 player or a CD player and another 3.5mm output jack where the headphones plug in. The output also acts as the power switch. A red LED lights up when phones are plugged in, indicating that the amp is active. It has been said that a National Semiconductor LM4917 op-amp works at the center of the amp. However I have not opened it up to see what is used for the op amp. Maybe I should spend another UD$8.50 to get another one to open up and take a look.

The FiiO E3 has no volume control so you will need to use the volume control of your at quite low levels. The synergy of the FiiO E3 with source and headphones is complete when you first test it, bass is much tighter, image is better and lots more clarity on highs. Of course you will need to marry the E3 with various cans to see what the best combination is. Generally I have had good results.

But for US$8.50 what do you expect, I got more then I expected. Probably the best US$8.50 spent. OK it is not a CMOY headamp or one of the better quality headamps with built in DAC and volume. But there is nothing on the market at this price and such a small size.

The FiiO E3 Headphone Amplifier Specs:-

Output power: 70mW(32 ohms), 12mW (300 ohms);
SNR: > or = 90 dB (A weighting);
Distortion: <0.05% (10mW);
Frequency Bandwidth: 10Hz to 40KHz;
Impedance Range: 16 ohms ~ 300 ohms;
Weight: 11 grams ( no battery);
Power Supply: 1 piece AAA size battery;
Size: 55mm x 23mm x 14.5mm

Conclusion: Best bang for the buck, well made, very good sonic quality, smallest size. You need your head examined if you pass up buying one. I have one in white, now I'm ordering one in Black!

Visit the FiiO site:

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