Amplifier Round Up Part 1 – Fiio E6 Westone Edition

Fiio E6 3

The evolution of the E5 portable amplifier that served as my very first portable amplifier before I eventually returned it in favor of the CMoyBB (and because the volume rocker broke), the Fiio E6 is, in some ways, little more than a sidegrade or de-evolution from the E5 as a total product. For instance, the E6 is now clad in shiny black plastic rather than the metal and plastic housing of the E5 and also lacks the sturdy metal clip of the E5, instead opting for a transparent plastic clip which, frankly, isn’t as good.

In terms of sound quality, it actually sounds rather good for an amplifier as inexpensive as it is. It has a warm, smooth sound that, while prone to smoothing over some micro detailing, sounds good nonetheless. Though the E6 is prone to mild hissing, you probably won’t notice it once the music gets going.

Two of the E6’s three EQ settings focus on boosting the low end, a feature present on just about every Fiio amplifier I’ve come across. The E6’s implementation isn’t as good as I’d like, however and ends up boosting more than just low end frequencies. EQ1 provides a massive bass boost that can end up muddying up the sound on all but the most bass-anemic of headphones/earphones. EQ2 provides a more sensible boost that doesn’t introduce anywhere near as much mud and is quite enjoyable. The third EQ option is made to accommodate line level inputs from powerful portable players.

The sound overall is warm and smooth and, with the added bass boost, one that will likely appeal to consumers looking for a bit more power than their smartphone or MP3 player alone can provide. With the bass boost off, the sound is mostly clean with a decent level of transparency but nothing to write home about, frankly.

The E6 provides what should be ample power for common loads but simply doesn’t have the output power or current for high impedance loads. In most cases, this isn’t going to be much of an issue since many consumer focused earphones and headphones on the market today don’t need much driving power but the E6 will likely clip before you reach listening levels on heavy loads.

All things considered, the E6 isn’t a bad amplifier, more a versatile but still merely adequate amplifier. But for about $30 or so, adequate more or less comes with the territory. It’s certainly one of the better amplifiers I’ve heard in its price range though, and the bass boost feature is likely to be quite favorable to casual listeners and bassheads who just can’t get enough.

About Justin McBride

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