Road to Audiophile $28


Audiophile: a person enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction.

How happy are you with the EarPods that came bundled with your shiny new iPhone? Ever wonder if Apple’s signature white ear buds aren’t doing your music justice? Heaven forbid you still own the previous model. In any case, unless you’ve spent a moderate amount of cash on a new set of headphones or in-ear buds it’s possible you’re hearing less detail than a vinyl record.

What to Do?

Ask yourself if the prospect of hearing a more accurate reproduction of your favorite artist’s best album is worth any amount of money. A response other than ‘yes’ warrants some extra thought. If money is tight you don’t need to break the bank to improve your listening experience. There’s no better way to invest $30 in your portable audio setup than what I’m about to lay down, right after I mention one fact: If you own stock earbuds included with nearly any smartphone your $30 is better spent on a new set (#1 Recommendation: Klipsch Image S4 ~$60).


FiiO E06 – $28



The FiiO E06 is the best low-cost upgrade anyone with a mid-range set of headphones will love. The iPod Nano sized amp will power any ear buds or low impedance headphones you can throw at. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery promises up to 10 hours of amplification, although we assume that number will vary between headphones and with volume. The E06 has 3 EQ settings indicated by an LED: Red: +6db Bass, Blue: +3db Bass +3db Treble, and Violet: -3db Bass/Mid/Treble. An additional mode ‘flat-EQ’ has no LED indicator and results in a pure application of the input signal with no changes in EQ.

Quick Specs:

  • Output Power: 150mW (16Ω); 16mW (300Ω)
  • Headphone Impedance Range: 16 Ω ~ 300 Ω
  • Frequency Range: 10Hz ~ 100kHz
  • Power Supply: Internal rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • Recharging: USB 5V DC 500mA
  • Size: 41mm x 40.2mm x 8mm
  • Weight: 16g

“They also often offer functionality not available from bigger names, winning the company a hearty following among audiophiles without bottomless pockets.”


For the price the FiiO E06 is the perfect addition to any budding audiophiles arsenal. With enough power to drive professional studio monitor headphones up to 300Ω it’s a step up in sound quality that offers flexibility should you decide to upgrade headphones down the road. If this is your first tangle with FiiO don’t be alarmed. They’re a reputable Japanese electronics firm specializing in audiophile-grade portable amplifiers and Hi-Fi music players at an incredibly competitive price.

If research is your thing Head-Fi will tell you everything you need to know about the brand and it’s reputation. With a little time you’ll find that even the most serious audiophiles carry a FiiO E17 anytime they’re out of the house.


I received the E06 free with ATH-M50x headphones from Amazon. It does an incredible job rounding out the M50s already stellar sound. I use it almost strictly on flat-EQ unless I notice a need for more bass. As well as it drives 36Ω studio monitors I would imagine this thing would only be useless with $400+ headphones. The E06 doesn’t struggle with my in-ear buds either. At something like 18Ω the little guy barely even breaks a sweat. I’ve noticed an increase in the mids and highs of my S4s to the point that they sound like a new better pair. If that’s not enough to convince you, the E06 is the #1 selling portable amplifier on Amazon to date. Check it out people.

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