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Is a Fiio even worth it for me?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Got some Sennheiser 518's a while back and they sound fantastic. I keep hearing all this talk about Amps and whatnot and started looking into them. I know it doesn't take alot to drive the 518's but people say there's not really a reason to not have an amp. I've been looking at the Fiio's and am a little confused. What's the different between the e10 and e11? I know the e11 is portable, but does it suffer in power because of that? Would I benefit from the DAC that the e10 has? Why go for the e11 instead of the cheaper e6? I'd prefer to get the cheapest option unless the others are worth the ~$40 or so extra dollars. I mainly use my 518s on my PC, but occasionally use them with my iPod around the house for certain things.

Thanks for the help.
post #2 of 3
Let's start more specific and then get more general.

FiiO E10 is a USB combo DAC / headphone amplifier. It runs powered off USB only. Capable of up to 24-bits / 96 kHz operation. FiiO E11 is a portable amp (no DAC) that runs off of battery; unlike many others (including cheaper FiiO portable amps and the more expensive E12), it cannot be operated while charging.

Mostly by coincidence output power levels for both devices are very comparable and enough to drive them way too loud. E6 is portable and runs off battery but charges through USB and can be operated while charging (indefinitely). Its power output levels are lower but still enough for HD 518. In practice this stuff depends on the design of the electronics and the power supply.

To get sound, you need to pass the digital audio data to a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC), which creates a voltage waveform (well, one per channel) that changes over time in accordance to what the digital data says it should be. An amplifier takes this signal, scales it up or down, and applies it to the headphones. Both these are analog processes that in the real world cannot be done perfectly. You can just hope for "good" or "good enough" or "flawed (intentionally or not) in some quirky way I like" or some such.

Some people swear by amps, etc. Others don't. The deal is that your computer and iPod have integrated electronics that fill the role of DAC and amp; it's just that something else might do a better job in some way. People have arguments over the what the "some way" is, how much that is, and in many cases whether or not that's even something that can be reliably discerned by any listener, yet alone you, yet alone for you in a way that matters to you.

I have a few questions for you then:
(1) Do you notice a difference in sound quality between the computer and iPod?
(2) If yes, what are the differences? Problems such as hiss or weird clicks? Or something else?
Edited by mikeaj - 7/1/13 at 7:42pm
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the very informative post.

Only time I ever noticed hissing was when I was playing BL2 and there was no audio playing at the time.

Anyways, listening to this song @320 Kbps, I noticed the bass is more defined on my computer, and when the song really gets going with all the instruments it's more clear than on my iPod. The highs in general seem to be pretty loud on both, though moreso on my iPod.
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