FiiO A3 Review, A Headphone Amplifier

Does your headphone lack the performance you desire from it? This can happen to any headphone, no matter how high-end they are. And the best way to fix that is to get a headphone amplifier.

I am a recording engineer, so it’s almost part of my job to use the best audio equipment I can find. So, my recent search for a quality headphone amplifier led me to Fiio A3. I dug deep into the internet, did a lot of research about the amplifier, and then tried it myself.

I am going to share my findings from the research and my experience with the headphone amplifier. Without wasting too much of your time, let’s get digging.

FiiO A3 Specifications

 First of all, I suggest taking a quick look at the technical specs of the amplifier. You may find what you are looking for right here
 FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier

Click here for more details

  • Power: 270-450mW
  • Headphone driver: 16-150ohms
  • Gain: -3.8dB (Low), 11.7dB (High)
  • Frequency response: 20hz to 20000hz
  • Input and output ports: 3.5mm jack, Aux port
  • Battery backup: 16 hours
  • Weight: 0.2lbs
  • Dimensions: 3.58 x 2.2 x 0.51 inches 

The benefits and drawbacks of Fiio A3 

Well, if you want to buy something you must know the benefits of buying it, right? So, before I take you through all the detailed aspects of this amplifier, let's take a look at all the benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of FiiO A3 

  • This headphone amplifier is extremely compact and lightweight, which makes it great for portability.
  • It brings excellent sound quality out of your headphone with accurate frequencies.
  • The battery backup is 16 hours which is more than enough for your outdoor needs. And you have to charge it just for 4 hours to get that.
  • You get great gain power in your headphone using this amplifier
  • It has got simple and universal connections for headphones, so there is no need to worry about that at all
  • It doesn’t impact the signature sound of your headphone, which is a plus to this amp

Drawbacks of FiiO A3 

  • It has a curvy design that makes it look a bit bulky and not good for stacking.
  • With IEMs on, it may produce a loud noise when you turn it on or off 

I will be very honest here, the drawbacks of these amplifiers are hardly any drawback at all. So, in a way, all you get from this amplifier is benefits. And that says a lot about the quality.

Still, I would say going through the details of the amplifier. As you will be making a buying decision, you should know all about it before buying, right? So, let’s get going with the details.

FiiO A3 Overviews

Here, I will be going through all the necessary details you need to know about the amplifier. These are my experiences of using it and the experiences of others that I collected in my research. So, let’s go through them one by one.

Related: Best Headphone Amp Under 100

What is the headphone amplifier like physically?

The physical aspect of this headphone amplifier is a huge selling point for this. I never had a headphone amplifier as compact as this one. It's compact and very lightweight, which makes me think about where all the parts fit inside it.

At first glance, this looks pretty solid, and you can see the premium finish on the surface of it. It has that glossy black finish with a texture all over. On top of the amp, there is a knob that controls all the gain and settings. On both sides of the knob, there are other buttons to select where you want the gain and whether you want to have bass or not.

The basic shape is a bit curvy, so it may not suit everyone’s tastes. Because of the curvy front and back, it appears to be a bit bulky too.

Coming the build quality, I don’t think you can complain about it. The body is made of aluminum and has a sturdy shielding on top. This gives it the kind of durability you would expect from portable audio equipment.

All in all, this headphone amplifier is physically quite impressive for sure. There is nothing to complain about whatsoever.

How is the amplifier used?

The whole purpose of getting a headphone amplifier is to power up your headphone and amplify the sound. It elevates the performance you get from your headphone and gives it a new height of performance that you will love to have. Since you spend a good deal of money buying a high-end headphones, you should get the most out of it, right?

To get the most out of your headphone, you plug them in the amplifier. And you connect the audio source into the amp as well. It can be your smartphone, laptop, or PC. Then, all you have to do is change the settings to your personal preferences and enjoy high-quality music from your device.

I think the goal of a headphone amplifier is to bring out the best performance from your headphone. And, modern headphones have a lot of potentials that go to waste. A headphone amplifier can help you from getting the most potential.

What sets it apart from the competition?

First of all, there aren't many portable high-quality headphone amplifiers you can find out there. So, being a compact and portable headphone amplifier is already a unique trait. Adding to that comes the affordability factor.

Surely, you won’t get power like other amplifiers that are used for speakers. But the kind of output you get from this small device is more than anything you will ever need. And it can bring the best out of your high-end headphone.

So, considering everything, it’s a complete package you get at a reasonable price. And there is hardly anything to complain about this, which is just another bonus.

Related: Harman Curve: A Frequency Response Standard for Headphones

FiiO A3 Key features and ratings

Still not convinced, right? Well, knowing about the details of the features and performance will convince you for sure. Because throughout my research, I just got to know how great this amp is and the result is, I couldn't resist getting this.

Here are the features you should be looking out for-

Sound quality 

The most important part is, of course, the sound quality. And this one will satisfy all the expectations you hold from any headphone amplifier. It amplifies the audio from the source so that it doesn’t distort in any frequencies, which is what you want from an amp.

The boost is typically around 10 to 15dB. This is the kind of gain that you will never even need, but you still have the option to get that. I can ascertain you about the sound on this because you will see an improvement in the sound no matter what.

What I loved the most about this headphone amplifier is its ability to retain the sound signature of your headphone. When you have a high-end headphone, you most probably got it for its unique sound design. So, you don’t want an amp ruining that signature sound design, which is what you get from this amplifier.

All in all, you get a great balance of sound amplification with this amplifier. And there is no sort of distortion or breaking; you get clarity throughout the usage of this.

Rating: 4.5/5

Ease of Control

You don’t need to be an expert to use this amplifier. That’s my first impression of this amp’s controls. There are only three controls that you will need to know about.

It has got a volume knob for getting gain or lowering the gain. Then there is again a button to switch between high gain and low gain. Lastly, you get to see a bass boost button that decides whether you want to have boosted bass or not.

Knowing these three settings is enough to use the headphone amplifier. So, you don’t need to go through many complicated settings to use this one for your needs. Even as a beginner, you can get used to it.

Rating: 4.5/5

Battery backup 

Well, I already talked about the impressive battery backup of this headphone amplifier. It gives you 16 hours of battery life with just 4 hours of charging. Now, that’s a great advantage if you move around a lot.

Even outdoors, you will be able to enjoy top-quality music using this headphone amplifier. And that battery backup lasts longer than you will ever need. So, it all plays out very well for you.

Rating: 4/5

Looks and build 

I was pretty impressed with both the looks and build of this amplifier. First of all, the looks are very smooth and premium. It has got that glossy finish of metal, added with some textures on the front and back.

And for the build quality, it's an aluminum chassis and has shielding for better sturdiness. There is no doubt in my mind that this thing is going to last for a long time in terms of durability.

Even the different components used in these headphones are of very high quality: the volume knob, the buttons, the ports. You can't complain about anything on this in terms of build quality.

Also, the fact that it’s lightweight and compact makes it a great option for portability. So, if you move around a lot and want to have the best music experience, this is the thing you will love the most.

Rating: 4/5

Compatibility 

There are no complicated connections involved in these headphone amplifiers. It has a simple 3.5mm jack and an AUX port for the connections. You connect your device and headphone to these ports and use them.

Now, the compatibility factor doesn’t stop only at the connectivity level. It works on the frequency level as well. You have to make sure that this one can cope up with the frequency level of your headphone.

And the good news is, it’s compatible with most modern headphones and their frequency ranges. So, there is nothing to worry about compatibility when you have got this amplifier.

Rating: 4/5

Value for money 

While it comes with so many great features and quality, it also comes at an affordable price. To enhance the performance of your headphone, you don’t need to pay a whole lot. This amplifier can elevate a mid-range headphone to the level that it sounds like a high-end option.

All I am saying here is that it's completely worth the money you pay. And you will never question your decision once you get this. It brings out the best from your expensive headphone, and that’s where the value lies.

Rating: 4.5/5

FiiO A3 alternatives

Well, if you are still confused about whether you should get this one or not, then I have some alternatives for you. You can check them out and see for yourselves which one suits your needs the most.

  • AudioQuest Dragonfly v1.5:
    You can consider this as a quality headphone amplifier within a budget. It’s even more compact and lightweight than the FiiO A3. It’s also very easy to use and comes with decent performance.

However, it lacks the kind of power FiiO A3 offers. It doesn’t pack up as much power as the FiiO A3. Although it still does the job of improving your headphone sound.

  • iFi hip-DAC:
    If you don't mind paying a little extra money, then you can go for this one. It comes with good engaging sound quality and a great battery backup. The finishing and build quality are also top-notch.

So, the only thing you have to sacrifice here with FiiO A3 is the higher price tag of the iFi hip-DAC.

Verdict 

In short, FiiO A3 is a great headphone amplifier you can get for your mid to high-end headphones. Remember, this doesn’t have any significant impact if your headphone doesn’t come with quality. A headphone amplifier can only help the headphones with potential, not the cheap quality headphones.

And among many other choices, this amplifier is a great choice. Because of its performance, affordability, and portability, I would say it's one of the best out there.

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