FIIO E12 Mont Blanc Portable Headphone Amplifier Review

Here at ProAudioLand, we’re always excited to bring our customers the latest and greatest of the pro audio world along with the best prices in town! And with all of the new products that seem to hit the streets on a daily basis, it can get downright overwhelming trying to figure out which of the latest and greatest is worth your time. This is where our PAL Blog comes in – highlighting the gear that we feel deserving of some extra spotlight in the music world. Today we’re going to take a look at the FIIO e12 Mont Blanc headphone amplifier. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, FIIO is a specialty audio company known for their high-quality audio accessories and are well known in pro-audio circles for making great value gear with incredible sound.

The E12 Mont Blanc is essentially a high performance portable headphone amplifier which comes with a high-quality built-in processor and power amplifier all in a very slim package. Here are a few of the notable specs:

Power Supply – DC5V, 2A , Frequency Response 20hz-20hz, SNR > 110db, Crosstalk Attenuation >65db, Gain >16db high or 0db low, Max Output Power 600mW at 16 ohms, 880mW at 32 ohms, 160mW at 300 ohms.

Battery Charge time approx 1.7 hours , with a 12 hour runtime

Suitable for headphones 16-300 ohms. Dimensions 123mm x 65mm x 14mm. Weight 158g

I’m sure most of you out there have never ran into a product quite like this, so – what does the Mont Blanc headphone amp actually do? To put it as simple as possible, it takes the audio signal from your portable music player and/or smartphone and amplifies it.

Inside the packaging you’ll find a warranty card, instructions, a micro USB cable for charging from a computer, 2 FIIO bands for holding the amp and portable music player together and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm auxiliary cable for transferring the audio signal from the headphone socket to the amp. If you happen to be one of the millions of iPhone or iPod owners out there, you can get yourself an iPod line-out cable as shown in the instructions. If you happen to have a lightning connector for your device, you will need a 30 pin adapter or adapter cable – also sold separately. Why not just use the standard headphone jack on your iPhone or iPod? Taking the signal through the line out will get you much better sound quality, that’s why.

So, what compelling argument does the Mont Blanc have that makes the price tag worthy of upgraded sound? First off, the thing looks great – better even than any of the images. Next – and more importantly – it instantly gives your portable device’s sound tons more energy and oomph like you wouldn’t think possible from simply adding a portable amplifier. You might think your player sounds great as it is but once you hook it up to the Mont Blanc, you will hear so much more detail and information in each song that you probably never noticed before. And best of all, the Mont Blanc does this with almost little effort from you. Seeing as how this is such a powerful portable amp, you can also plug larger, more demanding, professional quality headphones from 16 ohms all the way up to 300 ohms. The added crispness and energy makes the same old song come alive with plenty of energy – leaps and bounds beyond what the tiny amp in your phone or iPod can do.

Another benefit – and one that might interest plenty more customers – is the added volume levels. I can’t speak for everyone but I often find the max volume setting on my phone slightly too low, especially during those moments when I really want to rock out. Anyway, the Mont Blanc can go much louder than your phone or iPod. I tried the Mont Blanc with my old iPod Classic and iPod Touch 5th Gen. After trying a variety of genres from rock to pop, blues and even come classical orchestrations, the results were amazing. The instruments and vocals took on much more depth. The speed, attack and depth of the sound felt much more vibrant. The only thing I can think of to compare the amount of improvement in sound after using the Mont Blanc was the first time I heard a FLAC track of a Bob Dylan tune after years of settling for MP3. It should be noted that I was using a pair of Senheiser HD650s but the marked improvement rang true with my stock iPhone “ear pods.”

The Mont Blanc also features a bass boost which adds plenty of depth while still being subtle. It also won’t distort your music like some of the built in bass boosters on phones and music players. It also features crosstalk and gain controls for added trouble shooting if you ever need them.

All in all, although I’m pretty sure like myself, most of you out there never really felt compelled enough to purchase a portable amplifier for your music player. Heck, odds are you probably never knew these things existed, but trust me – if you want to start listening to music on a whole different level, the FIIO E12 Mont Blanc has the goods and you’ll probably never want to go back. I know I don’t!

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