If you are wondering about what are the differences between Fiio a3 vs a5, then this article is for you. It is really hard to find meaning articles comparing this two headphone amps. I know because I was searching for this info before I made my purchase!
The good news is I have done the work for you. I have been a fan of the filo brand for quite some time now. I happen to have a a3 for a couple of years and have recently upgraded to the a5. Do I regret making the switch? Read on to find out.
Before giving you my opinions, it is best that you understand my set up so as to make a meaning conclusion or comparison. The opinion pressed below is based on the 2 headphones that I owned. My current model is the Seinheiser HD600. It is an awesome headphone that is worth the price. Although it is more pricey than my previous model, the sound quality is just out of this world. The HD600 has been in use for more than a year.
My older model is the Beyerdynamic DT 990. It was replaced by the HD600 because of the harshness in the high notes. I will do a separate write to compare the Beyerdynamic DT 990 vs Seinhesier. For now, just know that I have the tested the Fiio A3 and A5 on these 2 hearphones. I wish I can test them on more models but hey, I am not a professional reviewer like the CNET guys.
To conclude, when I say which model is the better one, I am referring to the results for these 2 models. In other words, you can read this article as the best headphone amp for Seinheiser HD600 or Beyerdynamic DT 990, rather than being the absolute best.
Which headphone amp is the most powerful: A3 or A5
At the absolute level, A5 is the clear winner but you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you don’t own a high resistance headphone. For normal headphones, the increase in the sound clarify is marginal. In other words, if you are a casual user of headphones, there is no significant advantage in getting a A5, which is more costly. However, if you are into mixing, then it is another story.
For those who have never use an headphone amp before, both models will give you an increase in volume and sound clarify over the current headphone sound. It is definitely a worthwhile accessory even for beginners or casual listeners.
Winner: Fiio A5
Which is the best headphone amp for mixing: A3 or A5?
For readers who are in the sound mixing, A5 offers a sharper sound definition than A3. You can hear the eqs across the different settings that allows a cleaner image of what the sounds ‘looks’ like. However a note of warning. A5 gives you so much sound details that you might miss the forest for the trees. It is always advisable to use a headphone amp, together with a studio monitor to let see the entire ‘shape’ of the music or sound.
Winner: Fiio A5
Which headphone amp is best value for money?
For casual listeners, I would definitely say it is the Fiio A3. It costs around USD50+ compared to the A5, which is priced at USD125. That is more than double you are paying. To me, the improvement in the sound quality from A3, relative to not using it, is already sufficient for those who simply wants better music, be it for gaming or relaxing purposes. To pay the additional USD75, you have to be a serious audiophile, who focuses on every single note and beat, while noting the eq and such. If the latter doesn’t sound like you, get the A3.
Winner: Fiio A3
Other key differences between the Fiio A3 and A5
Here are other differences you might want to know
- Battery life: The A5 will last me about 12-13 hours continuous play time. If used with breaks, it can last for weeks. For A3, the advertised duration is about 14 hours of non stop play. However, I could never get that kind of battery life. For me, the A3 last about 10-11 hours. So advantage goes to the A5 for longer battery life.
- Weight: If you are intending to bring the headphone amp around, this will probably be something you want to know. Officially, the A5 weights a bit more. However, when I lift them in both of my hands, they don’t feel that much of a difference. I would say this is a draw.
Since I am writing the review, here are a bunch of additional questions you might have before buying the product
- Can the Fiio A3 be used on an iphone: Yes is the answer. It sounds great by the way. I tried it with my phone and the increase in sound quality is very nice, although not as nice as if you are using a headphone like my HD600 🙂 The way to do this is very simple. You can the 4″ cable provided in the packaging and link the phone with the amp. Then, use the heavy duty rubber band to tie the phone and the amp together for easy portability.
- Can I replace the battery of the A3 or A5: No you can’t. Of course, if you are the engineering type, you can always take it apart but that means destroying some of the beautiful casing this amplifier have.
- Can the A3 drive the HD650? I don’t have one but from the forums I hang out in, you can do it with the A5 for sure. That is enough power in that to let you hear the high notes with clarify. As for the A3, normal pitch should be fine but the high notes might not have the best hearing result.
Hopefully, my article has shed some light on which headphone amp is best suited for your needs. For the casual listener, the Fiio A3 is a better choice as it is more affordable while maintaining a good sound experience. For the audiophile, A5 will be the better pick as every note is amplified with much clarity.