The FiiO Alpen 2 E17K, the successor to the popular Alpen E17, is, to put it simply, a portable USB DAC. Anindra Siqueira takes a look (and a listen) to give you his impressions of the device
USB DACs have been around for quite a while, and you could argue with a purist until the end of time that a PC’s sound card would perform just about the same task, but you’d get nowhere. The FiiO Alpen 2 E17K is the successor to the popular Alpen E17 DAC and, it converts high-quality digital music (mostly stored on a PC) to analog audio output that you can play on high-end speakers and headphones.
It targets those who love their sound full-bodied and tones that are brought out as much as possible. And, it does deliver stronger bass notes. However, in terms of beefing up your audio, the Alpen 2 fell quite short. When I listened to both FLAC and MP3 audio, through my PC’s in-built sound card as well as through the Alpen 2 via USB, I was disappointed. There wasn’t much difference in audio quality, although the DAC does pick up and clean the sound ever so slightly. However, I don’t feel as though the difference is justified by its price tag.
It works very well as an amplifier though — you can control the gain to some extent — and the in-built battery should give you a great extension for on-the-go listening, especially if you like to get lost in your music. And, you can’t fault the makers for its build quality — its compact, minimalist design complements its rugged look and feel. Whether it really is as rugged as it seems though, is beyond the scope of this review.
In terms of usability too, the Alpen 2 scores well. Its operation isn’t difficult to grasp. Simple controls and basic functions help you get to your music quickly and without hassle. However, I wasn’t too happy with the supplied cables. What I liked about the FiiO Alpen 2 was its build quality, portability and ease of use, and audiophiles might swear by it because it gives their sound a bit more volume. However, with its unattractive price point, the Alpen 2 seems like it is a little too expensive for what it delivers.
Price Rs 9,999