Every audiophiles just love Fiio a3 amp, and you?
When you check their Facebook page or just log on to Head-Fi, you will get to know what I am talking about. People just love the highly affordable audio setups that this Chinese company offers. A major USP of the brand is the fact that they actually listen to the users and the FiiO amp offered by the brand generally have several features demanded by the users.
The Advanced A3
If you have at least seen E11, you might know that it was quite a basic headphone amp. It had a single gain switch along with two different EQ settings. If you ask me, I used to find its plastic body very cheap. But on the plus side, it had a replaceable battery. It was light in weight and once fully charged used to work for at least 10 hours.
As most of the users also believed that the plastic body of E11 used to look cheap, FiiO as always listened to the users and in this A3 has made a classy body from aluminium with just a bit of plastic. There is no denying the fact that A3 looks way better than E11. It weighs 92 grams and measures 91.2 x 56 x 13mm. So, it is quite light and weight and portable too.
Apart from the looks, FiiO has also worked on the build quality of this best portable headphone amp. The amp has a gain switch (-3.8dB to +11.7dB) and the world-renowned Bass Boost (+4dB) of FiiO. A3 features a 1400mAh battery which can be charged completely in just 4 hours. Once fully charged, the new A3 can be used for up to 16 hours. However, there is no option for the users to replace the battery which is bit of a letdown.
The device features a small blue LED which blinks when the device is being charged and remains on when it is being used. A small problem with the curved design of A3 is that fact that it doesn’t feature rubber feet and can be difficult if you want to stack it with DAP or mobile phone. You’ll have to look for removable rubber feet to ensure that the device stays in place and doesn’t scratch another device.
With A3, FiiO went with OPA1642 voltage amp and AD8397 for current amp. The company recommends you to use this portable amplifier with headphones that range between 16 and 150Ohm. However, I tried to use it with a 300Ohm Sennheiser and it worked just fine. However, the output did suffer quite a bit. The output power of the amplifier is 270mW@32Ohm and 450mW@16Ohm. The output impedance always remains under 0.2.
One thing I readily noticed is the fact that the device is very loud. It has two volume settings and even the Low Gain is very loud. As soon as I started listening to a track, the bad hissing background sound could be heard easily. Unfortunately, the sound increases when you are using the device when it is being charged.
Also, with most of the IEMs, the volume with this FiiO amp is never 0%. In the background, you will always hear the music playing very softly. There is also a bit of channel imbalance problem which is readily noticeable with IEMs. However, the problem was not that bad in all the IEMs I tested. For instance, when I used FiiO A3 with my Eternas Rev 1, there was no bad background sound at all. I then tested it with RHA 750, custom 4 driver, and Brainwavz S5, the problem was really very hard to notice in most cases.
So, I guess it is safe to say that FiiO A3 is definitely an excellent headphone amp if you are an audiophile. But if you are into music professionally, it is better to look for something better.
Pros and Cons
Let us have a look at some of the most common pros and cons of this portable amplifier.
√ Aluminium body looks classy and also shields from EM
√ Easy controls
√ Works for up to 16 hours when fully charged
√ Excellent sound quality in most cases
√ Can be used with many different types of devices
√ Highly affordable
⊙ Curved design can be troublesome for stacking with another device
⊙ No user-replaceable battery option
⊙ Very loud
⊙ Hissing sound with some IEMs, especially when the device is being used when charging
FiiO A3 is definitely a great device is you are looking for an inexpensive portable amplifier. If you are an audiophile who just wants to upgrade your music listening experience without spending a lot of money, A3 is definitely the product for you. It has longer battery life, aluminium body, is compatible with several devices and has good audio performance too.
However, the device is not someone who is professionally into music. This is not a high-end amplifier and do not expect a premium performance from it. Also, if you are someone who generally likes to listen to your favourite music at a low volume, A3 might not be the best choice for you as it is very loud. FiiO has a number of other amplifiers which you can try. But if you are looking for something inexpensive that offers an acceptable performance, A3 is a good option.