Having read a few headphone reviews mentioning the use of 'headphone amps' , I googled and did some research as I never knew such a thing existed, so this was all news to me !!
After googling and doing a bit of research /reading reviews etc, I purchased a Fiio E12 'secondhand' on an online auction site, and for those wondering whether to invest yet more money and bulk to their portable audio experience and what benefit would they gain .... believe me it is WELL WORTH investing in !!!
The Fiio E12 is a beautifully engineered and crafted amp with beveled edges, and had a good weight to it, and everything about it oozes quality. It is slightly larger than my ipod touch and comes with a little felt carry pouch for storage when not in use and two heavy duty bands to strap your amp to your ipod/phone and it also comes with self adhesive rubber studs to stop it scratching your phone/ipod, so some very nice thoughtful touches there by Fiio.
The on/off knob and blue LED comes on and off with a nice 'click' so you can see/hear when you have turned it on/off and everything about it feels well made.
Of course the main reason you may be looking at buying a headphone amp could be to get a bit more volume over and above your ipod/phone/tablet, but believe me you get a whole lot more than just 'volume' !!! Every piece of music I listen to is enhanced in tone and quality (as long as its a decent quality recording in the first place !) and you will hear things and instruments you have never heard before, especially if you have a decent set of headphones.
As recommended by other reviewers,, I also purchased the FIIO L3 which takes the signal directly from the Ipod dock connector to the amp with little 'locking lugs' that you have to squeeze together when removing so it can't accidentally be yanked out in your pocket. http://www.amazon.co.uk/FiiO-Line-Dock-Cable-iPhone/dp/B004M172HW/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1452429591&sr=8-16&keywords=fiio+e12 . Again this is worth the extra expense and as long as you are listening through decent earbuds/headphones to good quality recordings, the amp/L3 are definitely worth buying and will greatly increase your listening pleasure.
Sadly , it has spoiled me, and I would never be without a headphone amp now that I've tried it,so if it will help other people wavering as to if it is worth buying, let me say a resounding ' YES ' and I would happily have paid the full asking price for 'new'.
Would i recommend this to people who appreciate and are serious about their music ... ? Is it worth it ? ... ABSOLUTELY !!
Now I read all the reviews before I bought this and as I'm a Grumpy Old Git who abandoned serious Hi-Fi when big speakers no longer fitted in my "downsized" home, much of what's been written went over my head. So, I bought it because I'd invested in a pair of AKG K702 headphones and needed something to drive them. This is a brilliant piece of kit and it's very powerful. Also, if you're using an iPod etc and buy the cable that connects to the 30-pin socket the sound quality is stunning. But it must be remembered that quality in Hi-Fi is determined by the weakest link in the system. So, this piece of kit will never significantly improve the sound quality if you're using it with cheap headphones or your sound source input is ""pre-amplified" by a poor quality sound-card in your PC or other audio device.
I've discovered depth and complexity within my music library that has made me want to just sit and listen to all 13,000 tracks I have on my PC. I play downloads that have been purchased from Amazon and which are therefore available on "Amazon Music" via my Kindle Fire and although that has a built-in amp., the sound quality through this piece of kit is truly outstanding.
One review clearly stated that with good headphones, you will be able to recognise poor quality recordings and that's very true. Despite my age, I'm into Trance music and inferior quality recording show no depth or width to the sound-stage. It wouldn't be fair to blame the amplifier for that.
In summary, probably the best investment I've made after the AKGs.
This is the third Fiio product i have bought and by far the best. The quality throughout the product from the build to the sound is truly wonderful. I have only had the E12 for 3 days now but the step up from the E11 is so vast.
This amp is not about the sound level , although there is plenty - the detail, clarity and warmth of sound is a delight for your ears from the moment you switch on. It has made my Ipod Classic come alive.
The sleek style, luxury feel, quality built and finish is impressive. A true A class portable hi fi amp in your pocket that lives up to the name - Mont Blanc
Note using the FiiO L3 Line Out Dock Cable is a must.
Don't bother getting this item if you don't have expensive headphones / IEMs, you'll be better off with the Fiio E11 instead, for only a third of the cost (but 85% of the value / sound), but - if you do have expensive tastes, then this amp is very easily a stop-gap between rational, and irrational price points - after this, the only way to go is up to the likes of the RSA Predator etc.
Great sound quality, but - the bass boost can be a little on the heavy side, as such if you're looking for a neutral sound, keep that switched off!!
Pairing this with the FiiO X5 1st generation DAP and Philips X2 Fidelio Headphones. To be honest I wasn't sure I needed this I was buying the Phillips X2 headphones at the same time and was pretty sure the X5 would drive them perfectly well, and so proved the case. Also I don't actually use headphones that much mostly run the X5 via a good quality lead thro my Pioneer amplifier and wharfdale speakers, but I only had a cheap set of Sony headphones so decided to get a better set of 'phones for when I do use. Reading the reviews of the E12 tho convinced me to buy that also. Ok to the review, I am so glad I did buy this its made a big difference, yes increased volume not that I really needed it but its nice to have, but its definitely improved an already great sound, given a greater depth and clarity to all my music. In fact with the combination I've now got I've found I'm now using the headphone option a lot more than my Hifi. Tried the set up without the amplifier connected and whilst its very good there is such an improvement with amplifier connected and I think now that's how I will listen to most of my music when I'm on my own. I fully recommend this product and the supplier and Amazon.
I don't listen to much music on the move as I am not an anti-social git on buses and trains. However, all I wanted was volume as some rock has to be loud. THIS IS LOUD! I may have to get bigger headphones. My current ones are the superb AKG K450s. These are more sensitive and have a better frequency range than Beats headphones, but then, I'm not a fashion victim. Also, Dr Dre isn't a real doctor and he knows nothing about headphone design or acoustic science. Very good little amplifier this.
Eventually took the plunge and after much research bought this fantastic portable headphone amp.
I have been using Sennheiser momentum headphones with an IPOD Classic and the difference in both quality and volume can be compared to night and day!!
You can hear sounds you never heard before, it really does enhance the listening experience. Whilst you are spending over £100, it is a fair old chunk of money, however, it is so worth it (don't forget to get a little better sound from top end devices, you will be paying 5-10 times more!)
One pointer mentioned also by others is the benefit (if using an IPOD) to purchase the FiiO L3 line out dock cable for around £10 which enhances the experience still further.