I sure did take my time getting to this review. My apologies. Nevertheless, here we go. A review of the FiiO E6 Portable Headphone Amplifier, $28 on Amazon.com and worth every penny if you have larger headphones or want to squeeze a little more sound quality out of your devices. You’re using an iDevice with a 30-pin dock, add on the FiiO line out dock adapter for just $7-10 more.
Apple Nano with FiiO E6 Amplifier
Right now you might be asking, “Justin, why would I buy the a headphone amplifier and line out dock connector?” Basically, everything sounds a little bit better and a lot louder and the benefits can be heard with even cheaper headphones. Here’s why.
I heard about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 almost by accident one day. A friend was asking me for suggestions for a great set of affordable studio monitors and said he was interested in said headphones. My studio headphone experience was, and still is, pretty limited. Historically I have suggested people check out whatever Sennheiser studio headphone they could afford, namely the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro and HD-380 Pro, and of course the Sony MDR-7506. So I decided to give these a try.
Two months ago I purchased the Headroom Total BitHead with the intention of both enjoying the sonic benefits it would provide me and to review right here. It is a device I have been dying to play with for years. That being said, unless you found this post by Googling the gadget, chances are you have no idea what this $149 device is or does.
The Headroom Total BitHead is a portable headphone amplifier and digital audio converter. It plugs into your portable music device using a headphone jack or into your computer via USB to provide you with a superior audio experience.
When plugged into a computer it uses the USB port for power, otherwise it runs on three AAA batteries. It’s important not to use rechargeable batteries or cheap batteries. That is covered in the Clipping section.
So you ask yourself, “Why would I need or want one of these?”
You have some fancy, high-impedance headphones that can’t quite get to the level of loudness or fullness you’d like and expect after spending hundreds.
Your portable music player’s audio output is weak and you want more oomph.
You listen to audio through your computer but hear interference from things like the hard drive or motherboard and need something to rid you of this annoyance.
This audio gadget resolves these issues. The high quality Burr-Brown digital audio converter (DAC) bypasses the noisy sound card in your computer. Onboard sound cards (like those found in cheap computers and laptops) are the most prolific offenders. Meanwhile, the (also Burr-Brown) amplifier boosts output signal; helpful for bigger headphones like my Sennheiser HD600s which simply can’t run off an iPhone with much gusto.
For those of you who want a quick answer on whether they should buy the Total BitHead. Yes, it is worth purchasing, especially if you have any of the three problems listed above. In some cases, however, it is a waste of money. To learn if it meets all its claims of magically better audio, my pet peeves on its design, when it is a waste of money and why it’s worth every penny, I suggest you keep reading. Continue reading →