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Customer Review

on 29 December 2013
Well, I'm writing this review a little by accident really.
I ordered an E05 (With the metal case) However, Amazon sent me one of these, with a paper label stuck on the box that read "E05" when it's clearly an 06.
Anyway, overcoming my initial temptation to return it, I figured I may as well at least give it a try.

First impressions are not exactly favourable. The plastic body and ill-fitting sliding switches impart an air of general cheapness. It looks like something that's fallen out of a Christmas cracker. Hard, shiny plastic with rough edges where both halves of the body meet indicate that no-one's even thought of de-burring the mouldings. Okay, it's only twenty quid, but even so. Not looking good so far...

Upon plugging it in, however, it redeems itself in no uncertain terms.
My hearing is not terribly good thanks to a past that featured lots of motorbikes, concerts and electric guitars. On most MP3 players I have to crank the things up as loud as they'll go just to get a reasonable listening volume. The trouble with this of course is that it then runs into huge distortion, so I have to back off and get as loud as I can without too much loss of sound quality.

A decent pair of earbuds help here. I've been using the outstandingly good Creative EP-630 Noise Isolating Earphones - Black for years. So much so that I "Bulk buy" three pairs or so whenever the price drops below a tenner. When I kill a pair, I bin them, then take a new set out of the drawer and carry on.
(Tip of the day: Only buy EP630's that are "Sold by Amazon". There are so many Amazon Partners out there selling fakes).

This device won't turn your player into some sort of output monster, but what it does do is to provide a very worthwhile jump in available grunt. Consequently, you need a far lower volume setting on your player, with the resultant improvement in sound quality that this brings.
Well, technically it's not an improvement, is it? It's just a lack of degradation caused by excessively working the inbuilt amp. If you run at a lower power setting then you don't have so much compression and distortion.
Turn the player down a bit, crank the E06 up and you will notice an enormous improvement in the quality of your music. As I write this I'm listening to Propaganda's "P-Machinery (Beta mix)" from here: Noise And Girls Come Out To Play:A Compact Introduction To Propaganda and I can hear elements of the track that I have never heard before on a portable player. Things like Claudia Brucken breathing between singing lines, for instance. Amazing.

What using this device has taught me is that the Creative EP630's (And, by extension, most likely many other earbuds) can handle far higher volumes than most personal MP3 players can produce. My feeling is that I've wrecked several pairs simply by under-driving them into distortion and forcing them to handle square-wave signals.
I honestly believe that a headphone amplifier such as this (or any similar model) and a decent set of earbuds is probably the biggest improvement you can make to the sound of your MP3 player.

So yes, after an unfavourable start, I'm pleased I bought it. Would I buy another if this one was lost? Quite possibly. I've no complaints with how it works or the outstanding audible results, but I would most likely be tempted to find a model from higher up the range with a bit more metal in the construction. But that's just my personal feeling.

If you want something that just does the job that it was designed for very well, if you're not bothered about the plastic casing and if you don't want to invest a larger outlay then yes, I'd recommend this unreservedly.

UPDATE: This review was written when the price was around the £20 point. As it's now double that, I'd opt for the excellent TOPPING NX1 Portable Audio Amplifier Headphone Earphone Amplifier, 3.5mm USB Rechargeable Battery which is far better made, a bit louder and has a nice rotary volume control rather than a rocker switch.
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