Like so many who bought the E9, I started with the portable E7, a natty little item that enabled me to listen to decent analogue sounds, instead of the low-grade digital fuzz that came from my cheapo Acer laptop. Browsing around, I read that you can get even better if you add an E9. Well, it was a bit of a wino night - bad time to be browsing on Amazon - and decided I would go for it. No regrets on assembling the merchandise when it arrived, it definitely enhanced the listening both in detail and punch. I use Etymotic ear-canal phones and ATH M50 open-backs variously, depending on type of music. On the whole, I would say the Etymotics have the edge on detail and intimacy, but lose out on bass and space. The bass extension on the E7, it must be said, cannot be used with the two in tandem: this may put off the freaks who like whacking up the bass. But for those who who prefer to take the sound as it comes, they make a nice pair, very neatly constructed, pleasing to look at and use. Beware however: the docking is slightly precarious - a careless elbow could bend a tine or two, so watch out. If you already own an E7, the E9 is a definite step up: but if you're in for the first time, and don't need the portable, the FiiO E10 is a better bet.