I'm not liking the FiiO E9... At All.

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by penguinpaul, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    Just got my FiiO E9 - Been sitting under the tree for a while now!

    Anyway, been using it all morning with my AKG K702s.. and well, I think it sounds pretty bad. Seriously, they sound better connected to the headphone out on the pod of my Bose Companion 5 speakers. In fact, connecting these AKGs directly to the headphone port on my iMac gives me a better sound that this FiiO. :eek:

    I've tried the E9 with my Sennheiser HD 238s to see if it's because the AKGs are hard to drive, and the Sennheisers sound worse than being connected straight to the iMac or iPod.

    What's going on?!?! This headphone amp had such good reviews but I can't get it to sound good on anything.
    Will try my Shure SRH-440s later on, but I just don't understand why all of my headphones sound better connected directly to iMac or Bose Companions.

    Trying to describe the sound... Well the sound becomes hard to listen to, very harsh mids and the treble isn't smooth. Bass is just about lost. Makes my AKGs sound like a pair of £20 cheapies from Asda.

    AKGs aren't fully broken in yet but they've had in excess of 100 hours.

    Permission to cry? :(
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  2. Steven

    Steven
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    Merry Christmas!

    Assume you are not just using the iMac or iPod's headphone output? Your post does not mention the rest of your chain. You should be going:

    iMac -> usb/optical -> dac -> amp -> headphones
    iMac -> usb/optical -> dac + amp combo -> headphones

    iPod -> dock out -> portable dac -> portable amp -> headphones
    iPod -> dock out -> portable dac + amp combo -> headphones
    iPod -> dock out -> portable amp -> headphones

    In terms of portable listening though there should be nothing terribly wrong with the iPod's straight headphone output. If you have money to spare you might as well buy top tier portable headphones and then think about adding the bulk and expense of a portable dac/amp.
     
  3. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    You too! Now all the relies have gone I can get back to some listening :p

    Sorry should have posted to say what I tried. At first I used the line outs of my CD player, then I tried using the line out from my Pioneer receiver (optical into the Pioneer, using the receiver's DAC) - I also tried connecting from the headphone out of the iMac just as another source to try.
    I have tried connecting my Cambridge Audio ID10 iPod dock straight to the amp.

    I know that I should be looking at getting a DAC for the iMac, but at uni I have to use an mbox micro, so I went with an amp with line in.

    I am presuming at this stage that the trouble is I've spent most of my budget on the headphones, and very little on the amp.

    I went for the AKGs as they were "reference headphones" and often raved about for mixing, which is what I will be doing as well as casual listening.
    I'm doing Sound Engineering at uni, and was hoping the AKGs would be suited to mixing as well as casual listening at home.


    Does it all boil down to the fact I am pairing expensive headphones with a budget headphone amp?
    I get the idea that I could have achieved a better sound by purchasing some lesser headphones which would perform well without a hugely expensive amp. :facepalm:
     
  4. Steven

    Steven
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    If you are amplifying the iMac's headphone output so no wonder it sounds bad. In fact looking at the Fiio website and user reviews, it is intended you invest in the E7 + E9 combo for desktop computer listening (the E7 being a dac)

    The mbox micro is just a glorified and overly-expensive audio interface, but hey it's the course (all ino of course). Anyway, back to your own set-up...

    The receiver's dac probably would not compete with a dedicated dac but you have to consider the intended usages of an amp. It's not there to colour the sound. A quality amp will allow the strengths and the signature of a headphone as intended by the manufacturer to shine through and nothing more. My casual google shows people using the E9 with their own home 600ohms headphones so there is plenty of power and it is rated as a neutral amp. So it may be the case either the source is letting it down or you do not like the K702 signature. Or a combination of both

    Sound engineering and personal listening are where you might be looking for different things. Think the K702 might not be considered "fun" enough if you are new to top headphones. In my own demos (so no extended time), found it a bit thin and lacking in weight. Can understand why people rate it for vocals, jazz and natural string instruments. But that is too narrow a sub-sect for me
     
  5. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    SQ is only as good as your worst component. Maxing out on reference quality phones and skimping on the things that feed them is a sure way to find and hear those weak links.

    As Steven says, the 701 isn't the most enjoyable headphnoe around. It's technically brilliant, but I find it as dull as cricket in fog, even when hooked up to $3k worth of gear.
     
  6. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    Yeah I understand that my sources are not particularly upmarket (CA dock, Pio receiver etc), but I did expect it to sound better considering I love how my hifi sounds. I have a pair of B&W DM601 S3 using atm, but also some Quad 11L2s.

    The main surprise for me was how I find the K702s to actually sound better just plugged into the headphone out on my Bose Companion 5s compared with the FiiO on any source.

    I think it may be down to me not liking these headphones... They do lack any sort of weight.
    Previously I always found any mixes I did always sounded best when I used some everyday headphones such as the Sennheisers or Bose QC, maybe it's because I've done so much listening I mix to how I think it should sound of them.
    The AKGs are detailed, have to give them that, but I find them so harsh.. I'm quite disappointed.

    In regards to the E7, unfortunately I'll have to often use them with the Mbox because it acts as the iLok key for Pro Tools...

    Very tempted to get rid of them and try something else... but then I'll end up getting the B&W P5s which I'm sure are nothing like I really should get :facepalm:
     
  7. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    The Bose unit (and using such jacks is not recommended with any decent phone) is very probably adding colour to them that shouldn't be there, that's why you probably prefer them on it.

    Honestly, unless you listen to just classical or similar, I think they suck.
     
  8. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    Hmm yes that's quite probable - the Bose speakers are USB and have their own sound card, so no doubt the headphone out has passed some circuitry.

    Actually to be honest, you've pretty much summed it up in simple terms... I don't listen to hardly any classical music... so for me, they suck :facepalm:

    Perhaps I should have gone for the HD650s... I was choosing between the K702, HD650, and DT880 pro...

    I've probs made the wrong choice :facepalm:
     
  9. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    For mixing and listening, the 880. Still lean sounding, but not as much as the 702. I can enjoy the Foo Fighters on 880s. The 702 would suck all the life out of them.

    The 650 would likely suit your listening far better, having far warmer presentation and bottom end, but may not offer the mixing requirements as well.
     
  10. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    When I was looking around I was put of the 880s by supposed lack of build quality, but I'd rather have a good sounding pair than a slightly better made pair.

    The 702 pretty much suck the life out of anything. Listening to Steely Dan atm, and have been listening to a mix of stuff.. Acoustic, country etc etc.. I find that as soon as there is a lot going on they just start to sound pathetic.

    The 650 sound a possible better choice for me... As for mixing, I find it easier to mix with a pair that I know the sound of, and maybe reflect more of mainstream headphones... Last assignment I mixed a piece of my hifi and it came out great :clap:

    Although I try not to believe it, I can't help believe that this amp is sounding better now than it did out of the box. But it's a solid state piece of equipment, surely not possible! :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I'll spend a few days listening to these through this amp and see if I can get to like it. They've had about 100 hours I'd recon, so they still have more time to go before they're "officially" broken in.
     
  11. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    Personally I think the 880 is better built than the 650, which looks and feels cheap and plasticky. They appear to be without issue, but the aesthetics are lacking IMO.

    I don't hold with burn in either. If you really really don't like the sound of a phone to begin with, no amount of getting used to its sound will see it change dramatically. If you find some music just sounds complete arse, that's not going to go away.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  12. Steven

    Steven
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    Drubbing you've expressed that opinion before but frankly the HD600/HD650 are bestsellers worldwide and there are zero reports of them lacking in build quality in any way. Looking cheap in your opinion should not be expressed as passing comment on their actual inherent build quality. A distinction, which in your failure to make clear, means you let people down when you are "advising" them because it risks the wrong impression

    The HD600/HD650 scale up beautifully up to four figure sources and when people buy them, they keep them for years. You can say they look cheap in your own opinion but have zero concerns with Sennheiser's build quality myself
    That is what I have tried explaining.... the E9 is not the source. Your iMac's headphone output is the source. The E9 is merely amplifying the sub-standard signal being fed to it! The E9 is an amp, not a dac or sound card. Thought you study sound engineering?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  13. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    I don't see why I shouldn't express an opinion that I think they look and feel cheap, so long as I make clear that's what it is. I fail to see the issue here. There's no tub thumping, no fanboism toward anything else, no strident pleas to consider something 'better'.

    Their reputation can speak for themselves. I fail to see why this is an issue.


    We got off track on the 701, but yes. You are amping an onboard card with a revealing headphone. As I said before SQ is only as good as your worst component. Your Mac onboard card is it. It should come as no surprise the AKGs sound better on the other gear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  14. penguinpaul

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    The iMac was one of many sources I was comparing to. The 2 sources I have been using most have been the dock out on my Cambridge audio id10 and the line out of my cd player.
    What I was getting at was I felt that the bose unit was driving them better, but as I was reminded of, was that the headphone out is probably passing through the bose eq.
    I also have been using the line out of my pioneer receiver using its DAC.
    Just because I have been using different sources doesn't mean I was planning on using them all, ie imac out. It was merely just another source I tried.

    As drubbing has already concluded, a few posts before, is that the problem is the sound signiture of the k702 not suiting me.
    Last night I played them to my dad (id10 to e9) and he thought they sounded fantastic.

    Guess its all subjective...
     
  15. Steven

    Steven
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    A source is a source
    An amp is an amp

    It matters because they are different things and so using them interchangeably as you have been doing is just confusing

    It does simply sound like you prefer the headphone output built into the Bose speakers vs the E9 coupled with the second factor that you do not seem to like the signature of the K702.

    Though I would hold onto both thoughts until (a) you have listened to more systems and (b) more headphones

    I think with something like studio monitoring, it is not a strict rule to get neutral headphone. You are allowed to have something exhibiting curves in the graph so long as you know how to compensate in post-production and mixing
     
  16. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    When I was buying the e9 there were lots of opinions on matching the k702 and the e9... Maybe they don't pair well, maybe I like the sound of the bose output, I guess it could be anything.
    My other headphones are all of much lesser quality, so I will try and borrow some 880 pro to have a listen to.
    I have: shure srh 440, goldring Dr 150, sennheiser hd 238, bose qc2, denon d310.

    To be honest I was hoping I'd be able to use the akgs with my hifi for a lot of the time just for listening in the evenings... And I saw all these rave reviews of the 701 as a hifi headphone...

    I can certainly take one thing from this - I MUST demo before buying in the future, even though the nearest place is a sevenoaks about a 2 hours drive away.
     
  17. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    You can't take anything useful from reviews. I don't get the widespread love for the 701, never did. Luckily, I live around the corner from a dedicated headphone store and can try pretty much anything, and I have. The 701 has been the biggest meh headphone I've ever listened to.

    you may like it given time. But as your initial reaction is so divided, I doubt it.
     
  18. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    So as a follow up, today when I fired up the fiio, just connected from my Sony blu ray player to quickly listen to a cd on headphones.
    As I brought the volume up, when I got to about 9 o clock the sound suddenly had a huge boost in volume and sound quality.
    Ever since then the fiio is now a different beast.


    Anyway, I've listened to a few cds tonight, and everythings changed. They're sounding a lot better, a lot more bass and all of the harshness has gone.
    In fact, I'm pretty pleased with them now.

    :D
     
  19. penguinpaul

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    In fact, so much that I'm now happy to go and spend some money on something like a dacmagic now I don't need to change headphones.
     
  20. jhparts

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    I can understand why you do not like the K702/E9 combination as I have a similar set up. My set up is the older K701 with a E9/E7 feed. The K701 seemed to take ages before it settled down into a smooth signature. I eventually tamed the beast by feeding it some loud drum music for a few hours. The E9 seemed to bed in after about 24 hours but it still sounds a bit grainy to this day.
    I have a few amplifiers and I do not think the E9 is anything special. The output of the E9 has been tested on Shure headphones and it still sounds grainy. The output from the E7 sounds better even though it does not really provide enough power to drive the K701. The K701 is a fantastic headphone and it sounds great out of a good amplifier. The K701 is not very sensitive and it is hyper revealing. You will be able to hear all the weaknesses in your audio chain as the K701 and K702 are virtually identical. I suspect you are hearing the same harsh grainy sound I heard when I wired up my system. The synergy does seem to improve with time as components start to bed in but the grain will still be there. I even changed from ASIO to WASAPI to see if I could reduce the grain but this failed. I am saving up for a good class A amplifier and I suggest you do the same.
    I hope this helps you.
     
  21. paulg1979

    paulg1979
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    New hifi equipment can normally sound bright when new and can take time to run in. I have just bought a pair of Grado RS1i's and out my Macbook pro jack listening to Spotify sounds pretty amazing.

    I have just ordered a Fiio E10 as I know the DAC isn't going to be up to much in the Macbook Pro. Will keep you informed on how the Fiio E10 sounds. Its meant to have the best of Fiio dacs. Same as the E17.

    If thats improves the sound I will be looking into the E9.

    Macbook Pro USB out > E10 3.5mm to 3.5mm > E9 1/4" jack >RS1i's
     
  22. penguinpaul

    penguinpaul
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    Well the headphones have had around 100 hours now, perhaps more, so they should be sounding somewhat as they should.

    The e10 is meant to be a goodun. I doubt you'd need to get the e9 tbh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but grados are not too hard to drive?
    The e9 is mighty powerful btw. Not that loudness is important, but I use it on 9 o clock - 10 o clock on the volume is getting loud, and 11 o clock.. well you can't put them on your ears! This is with my akgs.
    Spec wise I think it puts put up to 1 watt into 16 ohms.
     
  23. Rogan

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    if you have the e9 already grab an e10 or an e7, i use the e7 on its own and it improves my macbook quite a bit and my ipod vastly
     

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