Fiio E09k Headphone Amp Review: The Best Cheap Audiophile Headphone Amp

I have a pair of Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla headphones which I’m very happy with. I got a great deal on them and I’ve been using them with an Apogee Duet audio interface. It seemed to power the headphones ok and I was happy with the results, so I’ve never bothered to get a proper amp. Well, I now upgraded my audio interface and face a new problem. The new interface cannot power the T1 headphones. It turns out the T1′s are very power hungry, 600 ohm headphones that need a lot of gain to get the most out of it. Looking at many available headphone amps, I’ve noticed that there were not many at an affordable price bracket that could power them. So off I went to Headfoneshop.com in downtown Toronto. I met with the owner Charles who happened to have a set of T1′s and various headphone amps to try.

Fiio eo9k headphone amp

In Use

I powered up the Fiio E09k and began listening to classic Bob Marley tunes. It certainly sounded so much better than the Apogee Duet’s built in headphone amp I was used to. The bass sounded tight, the highs are fairly smooth and the soundstage very open. I was really happy to hear this because for under $130, that’s a fantastic price for an audiophile headphone amp.

 

Connections

The E09k  has a 1/4 inch headphone input in the front. In the back, you can plugin your external audio source through a stereo rca connections. You can even use it as a preamplifier to power your speakers. That is a nice little bonus. If you are using power hungry headphones such as mine, be sure to put the gain switch in the up position.

Fiio eo9k back view connections

E09k VS Expensive Amps

Charles at the Headfoneshop was a fantastic and knowledgeable person to deal with. He let me audition various expensive amps (upwards of $1000 each) right next to the Fiio E09k. This was a nice opportunity to compare the cheap vs expensive models. I’m not an audiophile fanatic, but this is what I can tell you. I couldn’t hear that much, if any difference in a few models, especially when the difference is over $1000 in price. With a few of the expensive models, the soundstage seemed a little bit wider. On a tube headphone amp I listened to, the high range was a little smoother or silkier sounding. It all depends on your needs. Since I’m mainly mixing music and want something clean and fairly accurate, the Fiio seems great for my needs.

Conclusion

For the price, I don’t think there is even any headphone amp comparable out there to what the Fiio E09k offers. You get clean amplification, with more power than you will ever need. If you want to use it as a DAC from your computer, you have the option to purchase the E17 and once in the dock, you can listen to computer music library digitally.

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