There is much to be said about how the E12DIY edition shaped FiiO’s understanding of the needs of IEM’s users and what makes for a more refined and pleasurable sound. The addition of the MUSE02 chip is a very welcome tweak to their lineup of amps, particularly so when there is a ton of fake MUSE02’sonline for sale making the DIY edition such as risky proposition for those looking for the MUSE02 alone. For the casual user, the budget enthusiast and the cheap audiophile the E12a really is a much better choice than the E12 for earphones, IEM’s and generally highly sensitive headphones.
I must caution you though do not expect a totally different sounding amp. The core tonality of the E12 is still there and in some cases you might not initially appreciate the difference on low sensitivity earphones or cans. Do not buy the E12a if you want a different sound, but a different amp if that is your need. Otherwise the tuning down of the bass, the increased sense of space and presence on the mids and vocals as well as the slightly more forward treble performance and extension really suits my listening style and preferences.
Price wise there is small premium over the older E12 but nothing heavy, maybe around $30 at the most and it is a much higher step up than the darker, more closed in sounding E11K. The old adage of you get what you pay for might be a bit of an underestimation of the E12a sense of value compared to higher end amps but in reality the E11k is cheaper for a reason and my money is on the E12a if I had a choice.
Price (UK): £129.99
Fiio E12a website link