* Schiit did send us a Fulla model to review.
The Schiit Fulla E DAC/AMP has made a name for itself as the king of the budget-friendly DAC/AMP hardware. When Schiit sent us our very own review copy, we knew we had become well acquainted with the Fulla, both for accurate review purposes and for our own enjoyment.
Before beginning, some notes for those unversed in audio hardware technicalities: The Fulla E is a DAC/AMP. This means that it’s a digital analogue converter (DAC) and an amplifier (AMP) all in one. The DAC portion of this hardware takes a digital audio data and converts it into analogue data, which is then output through whatever peripherals you may have on hand, such as speakers or a headset.
The reasons one would want a DAC/AMP are fairly straightforward: external DACs, that is to say, DACs that aren’t the ones included with motherboards, are often much, much higher performers in terms of audio quality. If you’ve ever gotten a new pair of headphones that seemed sub-par compared to their reviews on the internet, its likely due to your using of a sub-standard DAC, and not because of the headphones themselves. Likewise, a high-performing DAC that seems underwhelming is likely being used in tandem with a poor headset!
The reasons one would want an AMP are also very simple: Without an AMP, you cannot amplify the data that’s being processed by the DAC. AKA, you can’t hear anything! This makes DAC/AMPs particularly convenient, since you get both functionalities in one piece of hardware, and in the Fulla E case, at a cheaper price, to boot.
Without further ado, here’s the review.
For this review, we tested the Fulla E with a Sennheiser PC37x so that our results would be applicable to the average viewer. The PC37x scales relatively well, without being an over-the-top headset that you’d need to shell out 500 dollars for just to get the same results that we did.
The Fulla E features a max frequency response of 20Khz and a power cap of 300ohms, with an output of 200mW at 32ohms. Obviously, given that this product is marketed (and priced) as a budget DAC/AMP, the fact that you can get the digital to analog conversion function alongside the amplification in one piece of hardware for under $200 is going to be the main selling point.
Despite this insistence on the “budget” mentality that the Fulla E demonstrates, it performed more like a mid-ranged dedicated DAC, but for cheaper and with the amplification included. We couldn’t really crank the Db level of our headphones much higher than 60% due to the sheer power the Fulla E was capable of handling. If you have a headset that scales very well, you’ll likely be able to make the most of it with the Fulla E.
All of this to say, you’re not losing out on anything by choosing the Fulla E unless you really intend to go high-end, like with a 600ohms headset, for example. For anyone who’s either new to audio hardware or is on a strict budget, the Fulla E not only saves you money, but is the best performer moving $150 in either direction, and is convenient on top of that.
The microphone output, which is an included feature of the amplifier via ⅛” jack connectivity, provided a far, far clearer and fuller recording than the included DAC on our motherboard was ever going to be able to. For users who plan on making videos for YouTube or streaming on twitch, having that extra microphone quality is a nice boost, especially because it comes complimentary with what is already and high-value DAC/AMP combo.
Additionally, it worth mentioning that the quality this DAC/AMP output for our microphone wasn’t even comparable to other DAC/AMPS at this price range: It was noticeably clearer and gave our recordings a much more “crystallized” aesthetic that you’d expect from upgrading the microphone itself instead of its DAC.
Given how straightforward this product is designed to be, the aesthetic decisions that Schiit opted for in the Fulla E are equally simple. The red and black metal finish complemented our black desk well enough, and was small enough to be out of the way, both visually and physically, while also still acting as a strong accent piece to our workstation.
For brighter, whiter aesthetics that some gaming rigs often come with, the Red and Black finish will act as an accent piece that definitely pops out, but is sleek enough to not disturb the rest of the peripheral and hardware aesthetics to any significant degree. Like we said: Simple.
I suppose we’ve already tipped our hand at this point, given how many good things we have to say about the Fulla E, but at $150, this thing is an absolute must have for audiophile experts and newcomers alike. In fact, we’re going to go as far as to say that the Fulla E, in 2022, is likely going to be the best budget DAC/AMP in the market space all year.
For greater performance, you’ll need to shell out 100-200 dollars extra, and that price will likely only get you access to a DAC, so a secondary amplified will need to be added into the extra cost. As we’ve said, the sheer quality of this DAC/AMP is only matched by the convenience of its power being paired with a quality AMP to boot.
The only way we can see the Fulla E to be ousted as the king of the budget DAC/AMPS is if Schiit puts out a cheaper, better DAC/AMP, which apparently isn’t an impossibility.
Not every piece of hardware is without faults, so in the name of fairness, here’s the Fulla E’s faults, and reasons you might want to avoid picking it up.
For those who want the highest performing DACs/AMPS, you may need to look at other Schiit products and elsewhere, since the Fulla E won’t be able to make the most out of headsets or speakers that scale very, very highly. The quality might be incredible for $150, but it won’t match the quality of dedicated DACs and AMPS that run for 300 dollars or more.
Additionally, the Fulla E doesn’t come with any software for detailed customization. This may or may not be a downside, depending on how experienced you are with audio hardware. Experts may be found wanting for software, and newcomers may or may not even know the difference in the first place. All the same, it’s worth keeping in mind.
High quality audio output, high quality microphone input / output, convenient DAC/AMP combination, sleek aesthetics, sturdy construction, and a budget price that’s half that of many dedicated DACs that come without AMPs altogether: The Fulla 4 is a newbie audio enthusiast’s dream first piece of hardware, and an expert’s tool for absorbing (and creating) various forms of media, from music and movies, to videos and live streams. If you interested in buying the Fulla E, check out Schiits website!