Is an upgrade to Fiio E10K worth it?

I’ve been searching the forum for an answer, but couldn’t really find anything very detailed.
I’d love to hear anyone who’ve had experience with the Fiio E10k, and I’d appreciate if this question was answered as objectively as possible.

I currently own a pair of DT880 250Ohm, and a Fiio E10k that were suggested to me a while back.
I am satisfied with how the Fiio powers up the 880, I’m using it on low-gain and around half or less of the volume wheel. I really do love this setup, especially after years of using only gaming headsets. They are mainly used for gaming.

I am currently considering the Schiit Heresy + Modi as an upgrade. I also don’t plan on getting new headphones for a long time now.

The thing is, I am very skeptical about it being worth the money. Will there be any noticeable sound improvements? I compared the Fiio to my motherboard DAC and I did hear a difference (maybe placebo? I have no idea). It sounded more open and detailed to me (but again, it might be placebo).

Is upgrading worth the 300$? (including shipping and taxes). I would not upgrade if the difference is negligible, and/or won’t help me pick up footsteps and such from a better distance (I am very pleased with the imaging though).

Thanks for reading!

I’ve never heard the E10k, but from what I’m reading I’d estimate that it’s possible to hear an improvement (especially for music) if you make a good choice of upgrade for 200-300 USD.


For footsteps in games, or for imaging precision in general, I would say you could get a bigger improvement by spending those 300 on some planar like a 400i or Sundara. My experience moving from the 880/250 to the 400i was that the left-right imaging got more crisp and I even started to discern “depth” imaging in music, which I had never noticed with the 880. (I never played videogames much with either headphone though, can’t address that directly.)

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The amp makes the most difference in terms of your signal chain currently m the e10k has a ok dac but pretty sucky amp especially for 250 ohm beyers. If your skeptical I would suggest getting something like a monoprice liquid spark pairs really well with the DT 880 but you should also be able to get it through amazon if your not satisfied with the upgrade simply return it. You would just need a 3.5 mm to RCA cable to connect the e10k to the liquid spark.

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I have a DT880 250 Ohm with the E10K and the Liquid Spark. I haven’t had much time with it yet, but so far I can say that for the difference between E10K or motherboard audio is night and day while the difference between E10K as amp and dac or E10K plus LS is very hard to hear for me at least.
Different people hear different things so I you could try it, for me I think the journey into AMPs and DACs stops here, guess my hearing is just not that good.

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well you will get a difference but that difference could be based on your hearing. Granted you definitely will get a cleaner more powerful sound perhaps even more detailed. Heresy is a much better amplifier and most of the sound changes will come from the change in your amp. With that much power you could also upgrade the headphone to the subjectively better 600 ohm variation of the dt 880.

this sounds about right for the E10k it won’t be a massive difference as it’s extremely budget but you should definitely hear a good difference between this and on board.

hmm I never had this issue with the dt 880. 880s while not the biggest soundstage definitely can pinpoint targets diagonally, left to right, and even above or below quite easily as their imaging is superb. Sundara is nice but in terms of competitive gaming I wouldn’t rate it as “better” if anything more of a side grade with a subjectively more comfortable sound presentation as they share a signature. I liked the bass and smoother highs on the sundara but I liked the vocality of the 880. Sundara definitely wins on depth and soundstage though and sounds great. Then again 880s can be picked up much cheaper than a Sundara and you don’t really need to be all that concerned with the horrendous quality control issues that hifiman has considering beyerdynamic has good quality control and are built like tanks.


+1 over the heresy. Adds that much needed warmth I think the 880 could use to fill it out a bit more as normally it sounds a bit thin or hollow. Granted tubes sound a hell of a lot better on it those are more expensive.

it’s just that the dac isn’t all that great in the E10k to begin with. It’s super budget friendly. Granted it doesn’t hurt to just stop there. Spark is fantastic for an amp especially for bright headphones. Some people really can’t hear differences while others can hear huge differences in sound performance. For me switching from say the E10k here to something such as spark + D10 is a pretty large difference.

I think I agree with @RiceGuru here though, use return policies here to your advantage. Pick up a seperate unit like the spark + a dac like Topping’s D10 and see for yourself. You can gauge for yourself whether you feel it’s worth that upgrade. However, I wouldn’t particularly say I find the Heresy + modi a good combination for a bright beyer(just my opinion though I don’t like combinations that can make my headphones appear brighter)

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I’ve seen reviews where others didn’t hear a difference in imaging between the 880/600 and the 400i, but I did with the 250-ohm version, so there it is - I said something about it. It shouldn’t be such a surprise really, we’re talking planar vs. dynamic here, around the same price point. And even if he could get the 880/600 for the same price increment, it would be held back a lot by the power limits of the E10k, but the 400i would not (E10k is recommended down to 16-ohm headphones, so it can definitely source the current needed for the 35-ohm 400i).

People talk a lot about “the build quality problems” of the likes of the KSC75, 400i or Verum 1, but I have all 3 and not a single build problem with any of them. I take care of my gear and it doesn’t break. Anyway, the newer 400i-2020 might have solved this issue even for careless users. :slight_smile:

If this was the issue I wouldn’t really say much. Channel imbalances, driver rattling, bad sodering, one side of the headphone just killing itself, outright dieing for no reasoning, among other issues. Hifiman makes a great sounding product but their quality control is god awful.

Haven’t seen those but I wouldn’t say the hifimans have bad imaging so I guess I can see that. Granted 400i to me sounds pretty different in comparison.

True but why would you side grade yourself or even if it did something slightly better I think you’d stand to gain more results from upgrading the source equipment. If he upgrades his gear he can buy better headphones down the way that are more demanding as well but also gain better sound out of his current headphones. Just in general you get a better sound from better equipment and hes at the extreme bare minimum. I would say get the dedicated setup before considering alternative headphones as I just think he would get more out of it.

That’s the long-term “I’m gonna be a big spender in this hobby” type of thinking. :slight_smile: If you’re evaluating a single purchase for a fixed sum of money and your starting point is that you already have well-matched gear, usually investing in the transducer device (headphones/speakers) is going to give you the most improvement.

I personally find certain frequencies on the he 400i and 4xx a bit more forward than the rest of the frequencies particularly the lower mids not in the way of a particular forward sound on a headphone where it sounds boosted rather closer to the ears in terms of presentation.

Unfortunately this is not possible for me as I’m from Israel, and even with the absolute best return policies, it’d either cost me big bucks for shipping back and import taxes (like, literally the cost of a new decent amp), or simply not being able to send it back within the 30-day return/refund window due to shipping abroad / coronavirus / etc. No market for used either, basically all I can get as ‘used’ is the XM3 haha. We also have very limited ‘brand-new’ options, which are overpriced at least 80% over the US retail price, so generally I try to get everything from Amazon, unless it really is expensive and not worth the risk.

That’s very helpful, thanks!

That’s nice to hear, thanks!

I agree with this. I’ve been playing Battlefield V and could really hear the exact location of enemies in a radius of 30-50 meters. Extremely pleasing imaging.

I actually really enjoy the sound signature of the 880, I even use it as is, with no EQ. I found boosting the lows/reducing the highs to really hurt the performance in games, and I could barely notice any difference for music (tried various EQ settings from the Git published on Reddit).

I heard Schiit are great at not altering the sound signature and keeping it as originally intended as possible. If this is false then I’ll reconsider it. Also thought about Topping E30/L30 or an Atom stack. Just thought the extra power as well as the clean amplifier would be great for future purchases (maybe HD660S in a year or so, who knows).

Due to the reasons stated on top, I’m really afraid of getting planars. I can take care of my stuff, but if it breaks one day, then it’ll go straight into the trash can unless a DIY solution works.

Based on the answers here, I’m considering:

  • Trying to overcome the curiosity of what my gear could sound with proper amplification (we all know how that’s gonna go hahaha).
  • Keeping my setup as is for a while, until I can really spare around 300$ for upgrades.
  • Getting only an amplifier, use the E10k as a DAC, and call it a day until I really really really want to upgrade it alongside new headphones.

Man, I wish I had a way to test stuff without spending tons of money… :joy:

well it’s not so much as boosting up your bass as much as filling it in a bit more. The thing about the 880 is that the bass isn’t very weighty and sounds rather thin… not “full” so to speak. Adding a warm amp or tubes really helps that out. The lacking body portion of the sound is, in my opinion, the weakest point in the sound signature for the 880 and is shared across a lot of beyers where the bass just isn’t quite there if you were to compare it to something like an Audeze or Nighthawk the difference in bass is night and day, at least it is to me.

Well, yes and no. Depends on which your going with. I wouldn’t say something such as their Asgard is particularly the most Natural sounding amp considering how colored in sound it is. I would say Atom(or el stack) is the more neutral clean stack as well as topping like you mentioned. Granted I really like what schiit products do to the sound. It’s a manner of preference really.

All of those would work well I just think a Tube amp works best for both those and the 880s. Just my opinion on it though.

hmm, just a quick remark on this. I wouldn’t toss -all- planars into that risk of breaking area. Something such as Dan Clarks Aeons or Audeze’s planar don’t just up and break easily and they sound really nice. It’s just a HIfiman issue really. All companies will have some sort of quality control issue from time to time it’s just that with HIfiman it’s extremely consistent with a lot of people. Some you get lucky and it lasts forever others can break in a week with them. It’s hard to recommend a Sundara(despite how amazing they actually are in sound) due to the issues with the company.

This seems a bit more feasible. If your that heavy on budget though. Just wait it out until you can properly afford your upgrades. Not worth shooting yourself in the foot over it. Take it in steps.

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Looks like they are a few pricing tiers above what I’d let myself spend on audio, but that’s nice to know that the possibilities exist.

It’s not really a matter of budget, more of buyer’s guilt. I’m 23, in the university, and I don’t really spend that much money, so I allow myself to dip my toe in the rabbit hole. It’s just that the timing is kind of weird for audio upgrades, since I’d like to upgrade my PC with the new GPUs, so I’m not rushing into upgrading.
That’s why I was looking for opinions on whether the upgrade is worth it or not.

If I had to choose between better gaming and graphics over my audio. As a gamer? Graphics card comes first lol. The audio will be better yes but not something thats so drastic its going to completely blow you away.

Oh, that’s not really a dilemma on choosing, I am definitely getting the GPU. Just researching and considering my future purchases.

Well, anyway, I think my title question was answered. Thanks for all the helpers!