FiiO M11 - Reviews
Pros: + Build Quality
+ Streaming / Bluetooth / Wifi Connection stability and reliability
+ Dynamics
+ Wide stage
+ Fluid OS
Cons: - Sparkly treble doesn't pair well with bright IEMs
- Not a lot of driving power for heavy cans
The partabile - FiiO M11 DAP Player Review

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Priced at about 420 USD, FiiO M11 is the next DAP from FiiO, made to compete fiercely in the midrange DAP market, having iBasso DX160, Hiby R6 and FiiO's own X5-3 as direct competitors. This being said, M11 comes with Roon, Tidal and full streaming support, so this will be a rather interesting review, seeing how it stacks when put against competitors worthy of being the best in the market as well.



Introduction

FiiO is quite an unibliquos name by now, and they are known for making some of the most revolutionary changes to the audio market by now, having released some really interesting products throughout the time, including their FiiO X5-3, FiiO M5/M6 as well as FiiO EH3 NC Headphones recently. They were also the ones who opened the headphone and portable market in many parts of the world, including Romania, as after they entered, there have been more and more people passionate about this hobby and about music around those places. This being said, when purchasing FiiO, it is best to purchase locally to get the best support from your local seller, as FiiO is a large company from China now, and it will be much faster to get all issues solved if relying on your local representative rather than relying on FiiO's HQ in China, as you'll also have shipping to consider if you'll be purchasing directly from them. FiiO products are generally reliable and you shouldn't expect to require warranty, but if you do, usually the local agents will replace your product on spot with a new boxed one.

It should be noted that I have no affiliation with FiiO, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank FiiO for providing the sample for the review. This review reflects my personal experience with FiiO M11. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO M11 find their next music companion.



About me

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



What to look in when purchasing a high-end DAP

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

The build quality and style of FiiO M11 is considerably more similar to that of FiiO X5-3 than something like FiiO M6, which was much more rounded and smooth, more ergonomic, compared to X5-3, which also came in a more angular and industrial design. This being said, the DAP is made of glass, both on the front, on the display, and in the back, the frame is made of metal, the jacks are at the bottom, with a Type-C USB Jack, a Single Ended, and two Balanced output ports, and with the power button at the top.

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There is also a volume wheel on the right side of the DAP, and there are navigation buttons right beneath the volume wheel. Single-handed and blind browsing your playlist are both easy and natural, with the volume wheel having a clicky feeling, and the clicks actually corresponding to one increment in the volume.

The good doesn't stop here, as there are two microSD slots, each supporting up to 4TB microSD cards, resulting in a huge storage. For those who encountered issues with slot #1, FiiO has posted a few firmware updates that should fix those entirely, and both slots should be working perfectly now.

The firmware is an Android 7.0, and it is supported by a Samsung Exynos 7872 CPU, along with 3 GB of RAM, enough for you to swap between music apps and between activities on your FiiO M11. FiiO decided to include QC, or quick charge with their M11, which makes its battery life of about 12-13 real hours pretty great. The DAC is a dual AK 4493, paired with a custom version of the OPA926, designed for a true Balanced path.

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FiiO M11 has support for all the current Bluetooth codecs, including LDAC and APT-X HD LL, along with Airplay and full ROON / Tidal support. Now that I have a chance to mention this, FiiO DAPs seem to be the only ones where using Roon with the DAP works well enough for the DAP to control ROON via its hardware buttons, so applause to FiiO for this rather awesome feature. FiiO Link and DLNA are also included with M11, leaving nothing to be desired when it comes to the ways you can enjoy this little DAP.

Of course, with the large 5.15" bright IPS Display, which is fully readable in full sunlight, and which also has beautiful vibrant colors, you can easily watch movies or play games as well, and FiiO M11 won't lag one bit, and without the whitelist app policy, as now the DAP runs a full fledged version of Android, you will have the closest thing to a smartphone that has a really amazing sonic output.

A little feature that many probably won't notice at first is Wifi Music Transfer, which enables you to transfer your music using FiiO's music app, from either your PC or your mobile phone to your M11. The speed isn't quite as fast as using a Type-C USB cable, but it still works really nicely for when you don't want to bother.

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Speaking of the Wifi support and data rates, M11 is actually the fastest DAP I have tested currently, beating even other flagships in terms of how stable its Wifi connection is. This stays the same for Bluetooth and I can surely say, after testing, that it is even more stable than my smartphones, making M11 a really proper DAP if you rely a lot on Streaming and bluetooth.

There's nothing left to be desired for with M11, and I can say it satisfies everyone regardless of the typical usage scenarios.



Sound Quality

The general tuning of M11 is towards a more safe, more balanced overall sound, with good bass depth, but with a more wooly and soft texture, the midrange is softer and lacks grain, but still manages to have good speed, with the treble being a bit on the harder side, with good extension and more sparkle than what I'd call dead neutral. This means that M11 pairs best with meatier, heavier, warmer and thicker sounding IEMs and Headphones, and pairs less well with bright or dead neutral IEMs. FiiO FH5 makes a really good pairing, and so does FiiO FA7, but not FiiO FH7.

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The bass is what you would look for if you were a moderate to slightly heavier music lover, the kind that drops the hits a bit heavier and has a meatier feeling to it than say, a dead neutral source. This also means that the sub bass is a bit lower in quantity than the mid and the upper bass, which makes it more of a safe tuning, as having high amounts of sub-bass may throw some off, especially if the IEMs or headphones connected to it wouldn't keep up. On the other hand, this also gives some weight to each musical note, making listening to classical and orchestral music really enjoyable with M11.

The midrange is what I would call soft and grain-free with good detail and impressive soundstage width, also presenting good speed. The only downside if you could call it that way, would be that it also has softer textures than what would typically be dead-neutral, so it compliments music that you want to sound softer more than music that you'd want to sound hard. For example, a quiet classical piece would be better complimented that a hard bass song would be.

The treble is well extended and a touch bright, at least compared to what would be dead neutral, so most warmer and thicker sounding IEMs are complimented as well more than bright and cold sounding IEMs and headphones. The treble has a good amount of detail and comes through as slightly soft in textures, but the extra sparkle makes M11 pair much better with warmer and thicker sounding IEMs rather than colder ones.

As for the Balanced outputs, this is one of the first times that I noticed the tuning to be slightly different on Balanced, with no noise and no hissing on either outputs, but with the Balanced sounding smoother, warmer, cleaner, more dynamic and more punchy on an overall level. The treble could be said to be more tame and less sparkly on the balanced output. Speaking of the dynamics and punchiness, the single ended output is also pretty dynamic and punchy, although the soundstage is more wide than it is deep. The stage is pretty holographic as well.



Portable Usage

In terms of portability, M11 is pretty portable, with a good battery life, it will stay on for about 12 hours, more than most people will ever need. Of course, this is while just playing music, if you want to turn on the Wifi or even play some games, this time will lower a bit. With Wifi turned on at all times, and playing FLAC files at loud volumes, combined with some TIDAL streaming, I could get about 10 hours of battery life, more than most DAPs in Today's market were able to do. Furthermore, M11 comes with Quick charge and it will replenish its battery life in about two hours, and it will be ready to go again.

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The ergonomics are also pretty much excellent, with good pocketed usage, good blind navigation, good support from FiiO's own music app, as well as other music apps on PlayStore having good randomization algorithms, and since M11 is a full fledged Android DAP, you won't feel like you're missing on anything other apps might had had, like for example, you will also have access to Viper and other effects.

The last part about the portable usage is about matching M11 with hard-to-drive headphones as well as matching it with IEMs. With IEMs, I noticed no hissing and no noise with Campfire Atlas, as well as FiiO FH7, so there have been no issues in enjoying M11. With larger headphones, I have been able to drive Ultrasone Signature DXP, Grado SR80e, as well as Kennerton Thror with M11, but I would say that for harder to drive planars, like Audeze LCD-2C, you will do okay with M11 only if you listen at more moderate volumes. This being said, other planars, like Rosson RAD-0 presented no issue for M11.



Select Pairings

For the pairing part of this review, I have chosen FiiO FH7, FiiO FA7, and FiiO EH3NC. This may sound a bit odd, since I'm going for all-FiiO setups, but I found it to be quite relevant to show what FiiO purposed for us when designing M11 together with their IEMs and Headphones.

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FiiO M11 + FiiO FA7 - With FiiO FA7, M11 really sings, making them more even, and more balanced, and giving them a better overall treble sparkle, making them from a one trick pony, that has a good trick up its sleeve, as I called them in my review, into a more balanced, more pleasing experience that sounds good with a wider selection of music styles. There is no hiss, and no noise, and they sound more detailed and more revealing than when paired with a fully warm source as well.

FiiO M11 + FiiO FH7 - With FiiO FH7, the pairing is not quite as good as with FA7, because FH7 is already a touch cold and bright, making the pairing a bit cold and brittle, but still with excellent detail and a wide soundstage, incredible instrument separation, and a great overall experience. This being said, FH7 is better paired with a warmer, more laid-back DAP, that is smoother, if you don't like a sparkly treble, like FiiO's own X5-3.

FiiO M11 + FiiO EH3NC - Now, FiiO just released a headphone, and it has a nice price point, of just 200 USD, and they come with Bluetooth, and Noise Cancelling, being one of the headphones with the best price / performance ratios out there. This being said, the headphones sound much better without the noise cancelling engaged, but M11 was able to show a very good bluetooth range and signal stability, and the overall sound was actually great when driving them on the wire, because EH3 are quite warm and commercial / fun tuned, and M11 made them more balanced, more revealing and more enjoyable.



Comparisons

The main competitors and comparison DAPs for M11 are FiiO X5-3, or 3rd generation, iBasso DX160, and Hiby R6. All of those are in a similar price segment as FiiO M11, and all of them are interesting to look at when considering getting a FiiO M11.

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FiiO M11 vs FiiO X5-3 - FiiO against FiiO, but a few years later. Given the fact that X5-3 has been on the market for a while now, and that it was also really well received at the launch, this is a very pertinent comparison. X5-3 has a much more limited android interface, with a less capable CPU and with less RAM, but it also had a good display. The sonics of X5-3 were much warmer, smoother, more tame in the treble, and thicker than M11, that you'd think FiiO changed the people who designed the sound and signature of their DAPs. In fact, M11 sounds much closer to the flagship X7mkii in its original configuration, with AM01, rather than X5-3. I also like how FiiO improved the Bluetooth and the Wifi modules with each generation, now M11 being in line with your midrange smartphone, greatly improving on their previous releases.

FiiO M11 vs iBasso DX160 - Comparing these two is probably going to be the most asked question for the following few months, if not year(s). It is understood that most people who will be looking into an upper midrange DAP will be considering either DX160 or M11 as their next companion, and well, it will all come down to what is the most important aspect in a DAP for you. The two companies made sure to refine their products in such a way that they are as competitive as possible, so both have similar abilities and both have excellent hardware, so instead of mentioning what both have, I'll focus more on the differences. Here, we start with the output power, which is higher on DX160, and it has a more dynamic and punchy sound. This being said, M11 sounds wider and brighter, with more top end sparkle. The wifi and bluetooth connection power and stability are both better on M11, and quite a bit better I would say. The default software is rock stable on both DAPs, and both are pretty much Android devices with unlimited abilities. I think that DX160 is slightly more ergonomic thanks to its shape and design, but I like the volume wheels on both. If you plan on using a lot of bluetooth headphones and a lot of wifi and Tidal and such, M11 may be the better option, while if you want the more driving power, and the more natural, punchy and dynamic sound, DX160 should be your choice.

FiiO M11 vs Hiby R6 - It has been quite a while since R6 has been released, compared to M11 which is a totally new DAP, but R6 has been quite loved at the moment of its release, and although it was released at a higher price than M11, it is similar in price to M11 at the moment of writing this review. This being said, the DAPs are quite different, and although at that moment R6 was one of the best DAPs in terms of CPU and RAM, M11 is better in every way possible, having a larger display, better CPU, and better overall Android integration. In terms of sonics, R6 has hiss with almost every IEM, having a really high output impedance, and this can be heard quite easily. On the other hand, R6 has more driving power than M11, so if you're into hard to drive headphones, R6 may still be a very worthwhile choice.



Value and Conclusion

The value of FiiO M11 is pretty much one of the best I've seen in today's market, with the price being really good for what you're getting, which is a very potent DAP with good wifi, bluetooth, battery life, sonic quality, and CPU/RAM/GPU and Display. Basically, you get a DAP that's better or at least at the level with the average smartphone, but which has the sonic performance of a DAP, for the price of, well, a midrange smartphone.

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FiiO never fails to impress with the package and with the stuff they manage to include with their products, from the case and the high-quality USB cable, to the handy coax cable. What's more interesting is that M11 has two microSD slots, and while having a SIM Tray eject tool isn't something to brag about, the two microSD slots are something that all DAPs should brag about when they have those.

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In terms of build quality, it is a fully metallic DAP, with a larger IPS display, on which you can watch movies, play some games, and have a lot of fun with your music. What's more, balanced outputs, a good bluetooth and wifi module, and a solid overall CPU and RAM makes M11 one of the best DAPs you could get in today's market. This means that it will also be added to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame, as it really offers all you could ask for in a DAP at this price point.

The sound is something a bit more safe, with a softer bass, softer midrange, and with a sparkly treble, making M11 pair well with most of today's IEMs and headphones, especially the thicker and warmer ones, which are the majority of midrange and high-end IEMs and headphones. In the entry-level Chifi market, there are a lot of strongly V-shaped, U-shaped or brighter IEMs, but after you cross a certain threshold, there are many IEMs and headphones that are warm, thick, and which are complemented by M11, like TheCustomArt Fibae Black, Dita Fealty, CTM Da Vinci IX, FiiO FA7, and many others.

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At the end of this review, if you're looking for a very capable smartpho- I mean DAP, M11 should satisfy your needs really well, with a good CPU, good display, good sonic abilities, balanced output, two microSD slots, and good bluetooth / wifi performance, and with a good battery life, making it one of the best midrange DAPs you can look at.


Full Playlist used for this review

While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

Song List

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine
Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet



I hope my review is helpful to you!

PLS Also read it on Audiophile-Heaven for the complete version : https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/02/the-partabile-fiio-m11-dap-player-review.html
Jotaro
Jotaro
So, I am not the only feeling the balanced output with different signature..
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@Jotaro Feels like most DAPs and devices have a different sig for their balanced output nowadays actually :)
Pros: * On par with Fiio Q5 as a source
* Modified Android(*) allows for multiple streaming services and additional use cases
* Outputs for a portable
* USB DAC
* Bluetooth Receiver
* Expandable Storage
Cons: * Battery life
* SoC
* Interface
* Laggy
Amateur Hour
Hey Head-Fi. I am just a regular guy that got into the audio hobby after developing the need to have some kind of noise playing during the day (I try to use white noise/rain sounds but will overlay Lofi off of Youtube). But when I do listen to music, and I will admit I'll really listen to anything, I enjoy the Hi-Fi experience. This review is based off using the Fiio M11 for approximately 40~ hours on Fiio FH5, Tin P1, and Shure SE 215. I played a mixture of Spotify HQ, Youtube Music, FLAC, MP3 320 Kbps, and MP3 192 Kbps. I compared this source to my Pioneer XDP 30R and FiiO Q5S connected to an iPhone 11 Pro.

TL;DR/Summary
I feel that this player does an amazing job at being a source. If your primary goal is to just use the device for music playback, especially locally off of the two SD card slots (tons of expandable storage!), the added features such as a USB DAC, Bluetooth Audio receiver, and range of streaming apps makes this a fantastic player. However, I cannot feel that alternatives can be had for a similar price that provide a better quality of life experience. My only reason for really docking this player is the software and hardware limitations that FiiO implicitly put on themselves for choosing to run Android on it.

However, if you want to get a more feature-filled experience, I highly recommend buying the FiiO Q5S and tethering it to your phone or buying a cheap Android phone in the $200-$300 range. This in total will be slightly more than the FiiO M11 but if you want to have a lag-free, feature rich Android DAP experience, it will be 100x better than what the M11 provides. If you are considering this player because of Android: run away. If you are considering this player for an amazing audio experience without the need for a super fluid UI and the occasional hiccup: this is the player I would choose. I am sadly going to be returning my M11 but hope to return to the DAP scene if FiiO decides to just take a Samsung Galaxy S8 and shove audio into it.


Hardware
Find some pictures of my player below. FiiO's marketing materials on this device are better than anything my iPhone can take so check those out for sure. I will say that my player came with the protective case pre-installed and have not removed it for anything other than inserting my own SD-Card. The device is rather bulky with the case on, about the size of two iPhone's stacked on top of each other. But that edge pushing display and glass body with aluminum trim are undeniably beautiful. Compared to my XDP 30R, this is a premium feeling device and looks great. The 4.4 Pentaconn balanced, 2.5mm balanced, and 3.5mm input are awesome for output capabilities. The device uses USB C for charging and USB DAC. The player supports Bluetooth 4.2 (not the standard 5.0) but has support for LDAC/aptX.

Software
I am a software engineer by profession and I can tell what FiiO did to cut corners on this player. The DAC/AMP chipset is definitely wonderful and will push IEMs to levels that are beyond just enjoyable, however, the real issue is the operating system and the SoC (Exynos 7872) that FiiO put into this device.

Android's optimizations are somewhat poor out of the box, and this box is of course the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The AOSP allows companies to build and run "Android" on their devices but lacks the license agreement needed to install Google Play Services and GMS, two components which will unlock the Android that most people know of. Additionally, the optimizations needed to get this player to play with a slightly modified stock version of Android 7.0 just do not seem to be present. As a result, you are missing out on the Google Play store and are forced to sideload applications from APKPure and FiiO's built in "app store". This is not a fault of FiiO so much as there not really being a need for securing a licensing deal for this player since it is first and foremost a portable DAP and the added benefits of Android are secondary. However, if you are planning on buying this player, I imagine you are somewhat interested in knowing how much of that "Android" can you take advantage of. The lack of Google Play Services means that you will have to also use a "piracy" version of YouTube since YouTube depends on Google specific services.

This, coupled with a lackluster 3 GB of RAM, mean that you are getting a severely laggy device. I'm making an assumption here but arguendo, if you're looking at buying this player you most likely have had some experience with a modern Android phone. And by modern, I do not mean a flagship like a OnePlus 7T or Samsung Note 10+. I mean even the cheap Pocofone, Huawei P30 Lite, Moto Z Play, etc. These phones even with their limitations have amazing performance compared to the FiiO. It's not just a laggy UI that is caused by a lack of RAM, processing power, and optimizations, it's the hang ups. I will be using the player and encounter just random freezing or crashing apps. When trying to skip through a large track (3 hours) I encounter a hang, something that never happened on my Pioneer XDP 30R, a relatively weaker portable. This portable has a subpar UX compared to a "dumb" player that runs a custom operating system.

The worst part is that the FiiO M11 Pro and M15 use the same SoC, and while I have not had the chance to use either, I can imagine the same problems that plague this device in usability will be present on those and feel even more exaggerated for the price. The Exynos 7872 is well known for its use in the budget phone, Meizu M6S. That phone came out in 2018. This device, a device that lacks the cellular radio, telephony components, camera, etc, performs seemingly worse!

To sum it up, this device performs poorly compared to what is possible for Android phones in this price bracket. The fact that FiiO put Android on the device makes me expect at least budget phone performance and this is just laughably bad, especially at the price of some *flagship* products.


Music!
Well that is what the player is for! I had a blast using this player with my IEMs. I took it around for a bit just to see what the experience would be like compared to a phone and Q5S combo and the experience is comparable. I tried a ton of tracks from Tycho, Owl City, Taylor Swift, Iann Dior, Tobu, Juice WRLD, Lofi Remixes, and JPop. All in all, the player handled everything in my library well and only struggled on playback of large mixes that I had compiled -- the player would hang when trying to skip to certain parts of the mix. The FiiO Music app is actually pretty gorgeous for what it is and has tons of customizability with an EQ, Gapless playback, Theming, FiiO link, etc. It is very similar to the FiiO app on the phone. Spotify works flawlessly on the music side but is hindered by the software stutters and lag. YouTube, something that I actually use quite a bit because of the convenience, does not work natively. There is a piracy enabled version of YouTube that *does* work with the player but that does not allow for YouTube sign on -- a feature I miss because of my playlists and the fact that I pay for YouTube premium.

The player supports high-res music files and handled my FLACs of Coldplay no problem. I will say that I found the EQ rather interesting in that it seems to lower the volume as compared to it just being off but it allows for quite a range of customizability and will satisfy most people.

There are music filters! I found no real difference with them on my IEMs but there is the option for those that appreciate tuning the playback. High/low gain present and works flawlessly.

Comfort-review-wise: I loved listening to music on this device. When I got my playlists loaded in and threw in my IEMs for a couple hours of work or reading, I got lost. I really enjoyed using this player when it was just playing music. But the software really hinders it in UX and thus got me thinking that the Q5S+Phone was really enough.


Misc
This might sound strange but I saw that I was able to install Kindle on the player. The player is amazing for music playback but in a strange way was perfect for reading. Since it is so hindered in being used as a regular Android device, I was able to comfortably read and listen to music without feeling the FOMO of a regular phone with notifications pinging every minute. While this is not what the player is meant to be used for, those that want to extract additional functionality out of it for running Android should do some research into the apps that you want to use to see if they require Google Play Services.

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Pros: Best value of any current daps; exceptionally powerful hardware for a smooth, responsive user experience; premium packaging, build quality and industrial design; dual balanced dacs and amps, including 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced outputs, deliver an accurate, resolving and dynamic sound with enough juice to drive full size high-impedance headphones and finesse to power sensitive IEMs without any background noise;
Cons: No Google Play support could limit future versatility; Big
Disclaimer: I would like to thank fiio for sending this product for review in exchange for my honest review. The products can be found on their website.


Design and Build:

The FiiO M11 isn't a small player and doesn't intend to be. Where the FiiO M6/M7/M9 were all true portable devices that could be carried in a tight pocket, the M11 won't. It's 13cm long, 7cm wide an 1.5cm thick, almost like an iPhone X but twice as thick.

That said, this is for the greater good and if longer, the screen also got bigger. Yes, the FiiO M11 takes almost all of the front panel: 86% screen ratio. That's extremely high numbers if you compare to the other FiiO players which kept the bottom free of any pixels.

Manufacture quality is sublime. The brand took what dealt with the FiiO X7 Mark II – aluminium packaging, glass boards front and back – and improved it somewhat more. For instance, the wedges are littler and the glass boards are considerably more consistently incorporated. So much you can swipe your fingers from through the fringes and miss the hole.

Another peculiarity you won't miss when you hold the FiiO M11: the volume wheel offers a little obstruction. It's light yet that really gives a very good quality impression to the entire experience, similar to those Alcantara rooftops in extravagance autos. You won't know until you attempt

You needn't bother with a hawk eye to perceive the amount of an overhaul the FiiO M11 screen is from the past forms.

The definition is extraordinary and the FiiO M11 is evaluated at 312ppi and the goals at 1440*720. Hues are distinctive, backdrop illumination even and, for the individuals who may be concerned, seeing edges are really enormous. In reality, this is critical to state in light of the fact that just because, you can genuinely utilize Google Chrome on the player and watch recordings! Not slideshows at 10fps, genuine recordings from YouTube and such.

For a 500$ player, this is a major shock. Of course, even a 100$ cell phone could do likewise… yet does it conveys a twofold AKM DAC? Murmur? That is the thing that I thought.

No doubt about it the FiiO M11 is, for the time being, the new top decision on the off chance that you need a genuinely flexible audiophile player, with a 5.5inch screen

UI:

Where the other FiiO M players utilize a custom-fitted form of Android, the FiiO M11 appreciates a practically complete variant of Android 7.0. I state "nearly" in light of the fact that FiiO didn't get the Google Play Store endorsement, rather, they are offering their own FiiO Market.

There is a great deal of perfect, and accessible, applications that could be downloaded straightforwardly from the FiiO showcase. The best of them is, obviously, APK Pure which replaces the Google Play store and gives you practically boundless access to all the conceivable APKs accessible.

Since the first FiiO X7, the brand started to move from its old UI to an advanced one: FiiO Music. It's an android application, accessible on the AppStore and Play Store however on the most recent players, the incorporation goes further past a straightforward application.

Sure you can utilize any android music player application you need, however, the FiiO Music application is presently exceptionally skilful and matches the FiiO M11 splendidly. It's quick, solid, simple to utilize and in the event that it crashed once with a 200Gb miniaturized scale SD-card, once refreshed it never happened again.

Setting:

  • Off timer: choose if the player goes off after a specified time, this work with the FiiO Music app only.
  • Scan for songs: if you need to scan your SD Cards, you can choose to scan the whole card or just a specified folder
  • Resume: choose if the player resume to your latest track or the latest position in the track
  • Gapless playback: if you listen to a concert or live performances, be sure to check it out
  • Play through folder: this option enables the continuous play if you began to play your music from a folder
  • Auto-update: enable it if you change your sd card frequently, this will be easier than do the manual scan each time
  • Fixed volume settings: if you want your player to launch at the same volume each time
  • Replay Gain: this mode automatically augment or lower the gain depending on the track you’re playing to avoid wide volume range
  • USB Output mode: if you want to plug a USB DAC to your FiiO M9, you can either choose DoP or D2P
  • HWA: an option for enable high definition streaming through Bluetooth headphones, once this mode is enabled you won’t be able to select the volume from the M9 anymore, in Bluetooth
  • WiFi song transfer: a very quirky option, enabling music transfer from your local wifi
  • DNLA: the basic of local storage playback, once connected to the local WiFi
  • Theme: choose the theme of your FiiO M9, white or black, your call
  • Lockscreen album art: if you like to see your album art when the player is
  • FiiO Link: this option allows you to control the player directly from your smartphone
  • Reset database: it clears all the music you have, simple as that

Streaming:

The FiiO M11 doesn't bolster google play store yet supports gushing applications. Everything necessary is a WiFi association and you can straightforwardly introduce them from the FiiO Marketplace or APK Pure. Starting today, you'll discover all the real applications: Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, Spotify, Qobuz, Moov, KKbox or NetEase Music.

The establishment is extremely simple and contrasted with the FiiO M6/M9 which required a PC, all you'll ever need is a WiFi switch. Airplay is as yet bolstered so you can stream your music from your iPhone/iPad legitimately through the FiiO M11, remotely.

FiiO Link is another expansion to the M11, with Bluetooth blending you can control your player legitimately through your telephone. It functions admirably and by one way or another gives the equivalent consistent experience than the Hiby interface on Hiby and Cayin player. The main catch is that is accessible for Android.

Battery Life:

The FiiO M11 conveys a 3800 mAh battery and is promoted for 13h of ceaseless playback. All things considered, utilization was more around 11h, with WiFi and Bluetooth consistently on, so on the off chance that you switch it off, you may adhere to the promoted qualities.

The profound rest capacity appears to be considerably progressively amazing. FiiO publicizes 50 days of standby for its M11, and from individual experience, this may be valid. Certainly, I couldn't attempt it for 50 days yet even after 48h, the player didn't lose a lot of its battery.

Additionally, the FiiO M11 is the main player of the M arrangement to be perfect with USB-C PD. A major in addition to as I would see it as I would now be able to utilize a similar charger for every one of my gadgets!

Sd card and USB C:

The FiiO M11 utilizes a USB Type-C port. It's the best alternative accessible yet, with a reversible plan, quick information move, and Quickcharge to fill the 3800mAh battery. Truly, that is a great deal of juice, however you need a ton of capacity to encourage those amps.

The USB port functions as a passage and an entryway: you can either plug the M11 to your PC and use it as a DAC, or associate a DAC, and utilize the M11 as a source. A cool alternative we are seeing increasingly more on DAP.

You don't get one, however, two small scale SD openings. This is incredible in the event that you claim an extremely enormous index of High Definition Tracks. Hypothetically, you are as yet stuck at 2Tb max, yet that is in the event that you discover two 1Tb cards, which probably won't be conceivable before one more year. All things considered, 1Tb is as of now colossal on a DAP.

Bluetooth:

The FiiO M11 does everything, Bluetooth talking.

SBC, aptX, well-suited X HD, LDAC, LHCD/HWA… It's Hi-Res Audio Wireless Certified so you can be certain that it associates with anything, at the most ideal transmission rate.

Fundamentally, with a perfect earphone or recipient, you'll generally get the best quality accessible. Obviously, on the off chance that you have a TOTL IEM or a monstrous can, a wired association will consistently be the best one.

Another uplifting news, similar to the Shanling M2X and FiiO M6, the M11 supports duplex Bluetooth. You can utilize the player as a Bluetooth beneficiary with a cell phone, PC or any Bluetooth producer. Since the M11 as of now approaches a WiFi association this was a bit much, yet it's a decent expansion from FiiO.


Specs:

  • Type : Digital Audio Player
  • OS : FiiO OS
  • CPU : Exynos 7872
  • RAM : 3 Gb LPDDR5
  • Rom : 32 Gb (2Gb for the system)
  • DAC : 2x AK4493EQ
  • Sample rate : PCM : 8Hz – 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits) native – DSD64/128
  • System clock : Full synchronization technology with FPGA processor
  • Outputs : 3.5mm headphone out – line out – coax out / 2.5mm TRRS / 4.4mm Pentaconn
  • Input : USB Type-C
  • Screen : 5.5″ 1440×720 IPS Screen from LG
  • Micro SD : SDHC / SDXC (dual slot)
  • WiFi : 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz support
  • Streaming supported directly
  • Bluetooth support : SBC, apt-X, apt-X HD, LDAC, HWA
  • Duplex Bluetooth : player can emits and receive music
  • Battery : 3.8V 3800mAh Li-Polymer
  • Quick Charge : yes, QC2.0/3.0, PD2.0, DC12V/1.5Ah, 9V/2A, 5V/2A
  • Battery life : 12h with wired headphone, 30h with a Bluetooth headphone
  • Charging time : around 2h
  • Size : 70,5mm*130mm*13,5mm
  • Weight : 211g
Line Out
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : 0.001%
  • SNR : 115 dB
  • Crosstalk : 108dB
  • Line Level : 1.95V
3.5 mm Headphone out
  • Output power : 225mW @16ohm / 195mW @32ohm / 22mW @300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : > 0.002%
  • SNR : > 118 dB
  • Crosstalk : >72 dB
  • Output impedance : < 1 ohms (32ohms)
2.5mm / 4.4mm Headphone out
  • Output power : 480mW @16ohm / 550mW @32ohm / 88,5mW @300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : > 0.002%
  • SNR : > 118 dB
  • Crosstalk : > 107 dB
  • Output impedance : < 2 ohms (32ohms)
Sound:

For the purpose of this review, I used a various set of IEMs and headphones. For the IEMs, I kept my good old Onkyo IE-C3, the Fiio fh7, Campfire Andromeda, Fearless Audio S8F and the BGVP DM7. The headphones i used was the Sennheiser HD800S, Audeze LCD-X and a simple, but trusty, MSR7 from Audio-Technica.

Signature:


Sound-wise, the FiiO M6 was generally excellent and the M9 extraordinary. So the FiiO M11 ought to be sublime, no?

Luckily, it is! I won't state it's the better DAP out there, as far as sound quality, yet it effectively outflanks anything in this value extend. Through the decent yield, the sound stage is gigantic, so much it could equal A&K on this point. The layering is on par and symphonic tracks are a delight to tune in to.

This is all gratitude to the new circuit intensification, which conveys control with delicacy and control, even at high volume. It's superior to the FiiO X7 Mark II, without a doubt, regardless of whether I favored the ESS Saber sound mark: increasingly direct, and some way or another progressively… star.

All things considered, the FiiO sound mark gets on right away. Mids are onwards and give voices an inconspicuous, sweet, accentuation. Some will say, that is the thing that makes the FiiO players so mainstream, and they'd be correct. However, this is on point with the various M players and I like strong arrangement, similar to a Panini deck.

The unequal yield doesn't miss the mark. I've driven the Audeze LCD-X and could get the bass hammer, regardless of whether returning to adjusted mode has a delicate effect. Notwithstanding when I associated my iPhone in Bluetooth to the FiiO M11, sustaining the DAP with Spotify through SBC transmit, the unequal - > adjusted switch has been obviously discernible. Indeed remain in adjusted mode.

Getting a smart player has an immense effect, notwithstanding when it's only for music tuning in. Going from 16/44 tracks, to 24/96 and afterward returning to some AAC 256 (Spotify) appeared to be consistent. There was no jitter, no "pop", no snap. Also, you realize what's best ? Notwithstanding when you stream music from the web, there are no

parasites ! At any rate !

In this way, we should get straight to the point.

Is the FiiO M11 superior to the M9 ? Obviously.

Is it superior to the FiiO X7 Mark II ? Sorry… however yes !

Indeed, even with the new AM3D module ? That will be affirmed, yet I regardless of whether I lean toward the Saber contact, 99% of audience members will incline toward the double AKM from the M11.

Is it the best player existing apart from everything else ? Sound-wise just ? No, however it's almost fantastic at 500$


Tone:

Highs : easy. The FiiO M11's introduction is about nuance. You hear everything about even miniaturized scale subtleties that could be heard distinctly on top-level players, without the pomposity. It gives a ton, sure, yet the DAP doesn't shout like some TOTL models. It's a decent blend of well known tuning and extraordinary qualities. I like that.

Mids : smooth. Be it Saber, Wolfson, Burr-Brown or AKM chips, FiiO consistently nailed it. Mids are sharp with wonderful homeless people, on each earphone/headphone I attempted. That makes the M11 extremely adaptable, regardless of whether some will locate the sound mark a piece excessively "well known". In the event that you need insane sharp mids, go fo Cayin or Astell&Kern, at the same time, generally, this is the to-go DAP.

Lows : more tightly than at any other time. In the event that you contrast the FiiO M11 with the M9, that may be the principal thing that will you see: the M11 has better bass control. It never felt like it, yet now I saw the FiiO M9 lows as lacking, both in definition and profundity. The M11 dives deep down with the LCD-X, even without a committed module.

Clamour: nothing to stress over, the leftover commotion is missing. Notwithstanding when you keep WiFi and Bluetooth on.


Conclusion:

It's winding up difficult to compose awful things about FiiO players, significantly more with models like the M11. The $450 FiiO M11 is very much structured, got extraordinary specs, sounds brilliant and… cost under 500 bucks.

With its most recent player, FiiO is pushing the last nail in the box, accepting the crown as the best DAP in the mid-level segment. Right now, I can't think of another player that can rival the M11: liquid UI, twofold smaller scale SD space, strong WiFi association with apk unadulterated and the total adjusted format.

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M11-.jpg
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Once more, there are better players out there, in the event that you centre around melodic execution as it were. Yet, on the off chance that you need a player, that does everything without costing an arm, the FiiO M11 is the one to go for. So simply envision if a FiiO M15/M17 were to come…
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iBo0m
Great review, awesome DAP!
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chillearphonehub
Thank you!
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Pros: Lots of power, big screen, responsive UI, looks, build quality, both 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced out, Android versatility
Cons: No Google Play store support, reduced speed of SD card slot 1
FiiO M11

Disclaimer
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me with the M11 in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

M11 Specifications at a glance
  • Screen: 5.15", 18:9, 720p
  • Dimensions: 130 x 70 x 16mm
  • Weight: 223g
  • Memory: 25GB internal (of 32GB ROM), dual micro-SD card slots
  • Dual band 2.4/5G WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2 (LDAC/aptX/aptX HD/SBC)
  • OS: Custom Android 7.0
  • CPU: Samsung Exynos 7872
  • DAC: 2 x AK4493EQ
  • Amp: 2 x OPA926
  • Low-pass filter: 2 x OPA1642
  • Decoding: PCM up to 32bit/384kHz, native DSD256
  • Battery: 3800 mAh, fully charged in 2.5 hour
  • Playback: 13 hours (SE, 'all to DSD' disabled)
  • Output 3.5mm: 255mW(16Ω)/195mW(32Ω)/22mW(300Ω)
  • Output 2.5/4.4mm: 480mW(16Ω)/550mW(32Ω)/88.5mW(300Ω)
  • Output impedance: 1Ω (3.5mm), 2Ω (2.5/4.4mm)
  • SNR: 118 dB (3.5mm), 118 dB (2.5/4.4mm)
  • Channel separation: 72dB (1kHz/32Ω/3.5mm), 107dB (1kHz/32Ω/2.5-4.4mm)
  • Price: US$449.99

Links:
https://www.fiio.com/Home
https://www.facebook.com/FiiOAUDIO

Preamble
As I mentioned in my review of the FH7 and LC-2.5D, FiiO announced 7 new products on one day back in March during its 2019 Spring Launch Event held in Guangzhou, China. One of those new products was the M11, FiiO's first Android-based "smart DAP", and before moving on to the M11 proper it might be useful to consider what FiiO has been doing in terms of the nomenclature that they have been using. I think that, like me, a lot of people have grown used to FiiO's players having the 'X'-name like the very popular X3 and X5 models that came in different iterations over the years. Recently FiiO switched to giving their players a name starting with 'M', such as the M6 and M9. I naturally assumed that because 9 was higher than 7, the M9 was the replacement for the X7-II, but that did not make sense based on the price and the specs. So I looked around and found that FiiO had deliberately switched from X to M because the newer models were not directly comparable to the previous lines. So we say goodbye to the venerable X1, X3, X5 and X7, and welcome the new M-line where the models up to the M9 can be seen as hors d'oeuvres to the launch of the M11 and later this year two or three more high-end models.

The M11 really does show that FiiO is looking in a new direction, as it runs a custom Android 7.0 OS that provides a very different experience from the straightforward Digital Audio Players (DAPs) of the past. That was also the main reason I was really looking forward to reviewing the M11 because I have absolutely no affinity with Android and wanted to see if it could open up new ways for me to enjoy my music and how I use my DAP in general. Sure I have an Android phone, but people who know me also know that my number is confidential information and I try actively to avoid using it whenever I can. My most used apps are Solitaire and the local council's garbage collection app. So my challenge to FiiO was simple... See if the M11 could drag my analogue backside into the digital age.

Unboxing
The unboxing experience is a fairly standard affair that still works very well. You remove the sleeve from the classy black box and as you open it up your new prize possession is revealed: There, seated snugly in black foam, sits the M11. (I removed the plastic and protective foil for the pictures. Nobody likes to see plastic in pictures.) Underneath the M11 was another layer with a box containing the SD card slot poky-thingamajig and a couple of booklets, and another small box with the USB charger cable and a coaxial adapter cable. That was pretty much it. A very simple selection of accessories and I am not sure what else I would expect here.

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The M11 does come with a clear TPU protective case and (already pre-installed) a 7H tempered glass screen protector. The case I removed immediately because I did not like it one bit and the M11 is just too pretty to cover with something like that. Still, I imagine that there are plenty of people who will appreciate the added protection to keep their M11 in pristine condition. The screen protector is great and you don't really notice that it is there.

Design and build quality
As I indicated above, I think the M11 looks really pretty. It is a sleek yet angular design that looks nice and clean, and feels great when holding it. The M11 is still a substantial DAP and I think that is a very good choice considering that it is meant to function as an Android-based smart DAP. The 5.15" screen is nice and big, making it easy to use for everything that the M11's custom Android OS can deliver (more on that later). Along the outside, starting on the top, there is a single on/off button with a blue LED ring around it. The button can be pushed a single time for the screen to come on or switch off and if held it will switch the device on or off. On the left side there is a play/pause button, a volume wheel and a back/forward rocker button. The volume wheel feels great and is positioned in such a way that it can't be turned by accident and yet is still easy to use.

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On the right side there are two micro SD card slots neatly hidden away. FiiO have included a tool that you can use to pop out the cardholders and theoretically you could add two 2TB cards here to expand the memory by 4TB in total. However, FiiO have acknowledged that there are some issues with high speed, high capacity cards. In particular the Lexar 512GB micro SD card has proven problematic and as a solution FiiO have slowed down the speed of slot 1 (the top one) and recommended for single card users to use slot 2 (the bottom one) as their primary. From what I understand FiiO are considering removing one slot from future batches of the M11.

Finally, on the bottom we find something that is quite notable. Alongside the central USB port there are not two, but three headphone outs. One 3.5mm Single Ended on the right side and on the left can be found the lovely chunky 4.4mm balanced out with a tiny 2.5mm balanced out alongside. My first reaction was to consider it overkill, but it is pretty handy nonetheless considering there is still no industry standard and it does not look like it will happen anytime soon either. Now I was able to use the Dita Fealty with the 4.4mm plug attached and that did feel like a much more solid connector. So credit where it is due, good job FiiO!

Under the Hood
A feature that FiiO has been keen to point out is that the M11 has been built around the Samsung Exynos 7872 CPU. This is a six-core processor that has a separate core for audio and so... I am not even going to pretend I know what it all means, as I am not a phone geek and enjoy this hobby for the music rather than the technical aspects. One thing is for sure, performance-wise this CPU works very well and it gives the M11 a really smooth and fast interface that feels no different from my Sony XA2 phone. Start-up times are quick (a few seconds) and everything runs without any noticeable delays. The scanning of music is a little on the slow side when using the FiiO Music app, but that is due to the app itself, as the Hiby Music app is much faster.

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For the DAC FiiO went with dual AK4493EQ DACs, such as also used by Shanling in their M5s and so there is nothing too special there, however, looking at the power output of the M11 is a different story. The specs as FiiO gives them on their website are very decent for the 3.5mm SE out: 255mW, at 16Ω, 195mW at 32Ω and 22mW at 300Ω. But for balanced it is really impressively powerful with 480mW at 16Ω, 550mW at 32Ω (not sure if those numbers might have to be the other way around, but that is how FiiO has it on their website) and 88.5mW at 300Ω. That is a lot of power and FiiO do indeed include 300Ω headphones in their recommended range for the balanced out (max 150Ω for the SE out). I don't have 300Ω full sized headphones, but when I asked around some people responded that they were quite happy to drive their HD800 from the M11 and felt the result was acceptable. That adds a lot of versatility, as it means the M11 should be more than adequate for a wide range of headphones.

When in use, the M11 can get a little warm, especially on high gain and when 'All to DSD' is enabled, but it is nothing to worry about. FiiO have explained this is normal and within acceptable limits for the player. I also never found the player to get hot. (I mention this because I saw some comments where people were a little worried about it. No need. It is all good.)

GUI
The M11 is an Android-based DAP and as such booting up the player can feel a little different from traditional players and a lot more like booting up a phone. You don't go straight into a music player, but instead you get the familiar Android environment. A few apps have been pre-installed of which the FiiO Music app is of course the most important one. This is a fairly basic app that has some neat features such as changing background colours based on the colour of the album art, but it is not fully refined yet, as (for instance) album art loads inconsistently. I have had times where only a few songs from the same album showed the album art and other times where it was only shown for the main album, but not individual songs. Of course because the M11 is Android-based there is always the option of using a different music player app. I installed the Hiby Music app, which is not significantly better, but I found it a little more intuitive to use.

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In either case it was less than optimal and did not feel as intuitive as using traditional DAPs like the AK70 or Plenue 2. For all the versatility that Android brings, it feels like the music player apps focus too much on looking flashy and adding non-essential features while neglecting their core task of managing music libraries and playback, which is what you buy a DAP for in the first place. Using an app for playback also means that some settings are integrated in the app, while others are found in the settings menu of the M11 itself. The settings menu has various options that will be familiar from your Android phone (if you have one) such as connection, storage and security, but there is also a specific Audio menu where you can find DAC filter settings and the 'All to DSD' function. I feel this creates the risk of the M11 getting cluttered with too many apps and losing the simplicity of a pure DAP. As such, I can imagine that some people might like the option of booting the M11 up in a pure music player mode. Sure that would defeat the purpose of having a smart-DAP in the first place, but the M11 offers enough performance and value outside of Android that it might still be interesting for some users. I would quite like the option of switching between two modes in order to have a clean and simple interface when I only use it for music and going back to Android mode for enjoying all the benefits that offers. And let's be clear here, it offers an awful lot.

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Apps/Streaming
Before looking at apps there is something that needs to be clearly stated here: The M11 does not offer Google Play store support at this point in time. This is something that is very important to be aware of because it means apps need to be side-loaded and not all apps will work optimally. As such the user experience will feel different compared to an Android phone with full Google Play store support. I think that this is easy to underestimate and has led to some users being disappointed with the M11. FiiO have clearly been working on ways to make it easier, such as the FiiO Market, where some of the most popular apps such as Tidal and Spotify can be found, as well as third-party app markets such as APK Pure. This helps to make it easier, but can still feel cumbersome for people less well versed in the Android environment. Remember, I am strictly analogue when it comes to this and so I will admit that for me there was a learning curve, although definitely rewarding once I got the hang of it. Mind you, I have not emerged as the "Grand Wizard of all things Android" either.

Another thing that is good to be aware of is that the M11 comes standard with ES File Explorer installed. This app might not be secure and has recently been removed from the Google Play store as a result of various problems. It might be good to look at an alternative instead.

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Although I will say that the Android platform is not yet running seamlessly on the M11, it does offer a lot of extras and I had a great deal of fun trying out different things (yes, Solitaire works too!). One of the Apps I really enjoyed using was SoundCloud. The app gave an error, warning me that it would not work without Google Play store support, but being the rebel that I am I just ignored it and contrary to the dire warning it worked just fine. Here the M11 was definitely able to give me more use out of my DAP because SoundCloud allowed me to explore new music more easily. For instance, I was finally able to listen to one of Stormzy's albums that was freely available on SoundCloud. Having lived in London for a few years, I was curious about it, but I generally don't listen to grime and so I was not immediately going to blind buy the album. This was a great way to give it a try. I strongly support this type of platform with decent free access because it does help to explore new music, after which you can support your favourite artists by buying their album. Sure, SoundCloud still injects ads to "stimulate" (read: pressure) you to go for the paid Go+ subscription, but it beats free Spotify as that was completely useless when I tried it.

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Not all apps I tried would work well and for instance the YouTube app immediately closed every time I tried to start it up. Watching YouTube through the Chrome browser would work and going full screen would rotate the picture to fill the M11's screen (the M11 does not have the ability to automatically rotate the picture based on how you hold it), but there were serious issues with synchronisation. The delay was in the order of several seconds, making it unacceptable to watch.

Sound
All the versatility in the world is not going to make a DAP an interesting proposition unless it sounds good and the M11 does sound good. For my sound analysis I used a wide variety of IEMs. These included FiiO's new hybrid flagship FH7, the TP Audio Aurora, Custom Art FIBAE Black, Dita Audio Fealty, 64 Audio Tia Trio and the Empire Ears Phantom. For music I used a very wide variety from my favourite classical music such as Beethoven and Paganini, to Dire Straits, Marvin Gaye, Aurora, Tuba Skinny (great jazz!) and of course Stormzy, among many others. Basically I just used this DAP extensively with everything I have. Unfortunately I do not have current DAPs from a similar price range available for a comparison and my impressions are relative to my usual DAPs, the slightly older Astell & Kern AK70 (mkI) and the Cowon Plenue 2.

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In terms of tonality the M11 has a slightly brighter tone, leaning more towards a technical rather than a natural sound. Straight away I noticed that with all my pairings the bass impact was a little less pronounced than I am used to and the treble was a bit more prominent. In terms of overall quality I feel M11 offers good sound for its price point and sits comfortably in the 'value for money' category. It does not quite get the transparency and natural tone I hear with the AK70, in part due to a tuning difference, and the imaging compared to the (much more expensive) P2 does not have the same precision or level of refinement, but considering the price the M11 performs well. The stage also has a good size, although not especially large, and the sound is detailed and articulate.

Despite its powerful amp, the M11 stays pretty clean. I used my Phantom to test for any background noise and was surprised that even from balanced on high gain the noise was well within acceptable limits. It was certainly there, but not that noticeable while the music was playing. Of course high gain for such sensitive IEMs is complete nonsense and on low gain noise levels were very low to inaudible.

For testing the difference between the SE and balanced out I used the Fealty with the very convenient Awesome plug that allowed me to switch between the two without the need for an additional adapter. The balanced out resulted in a larger stage with a slightly more balanced tonality because the treble was a little less bright. Transparency seemed to improve as well and I felt the image become a bit more stable and precise. Overall I considered it a notable improvement and would recommend using the balanced out if possible.

The M11 also offers another feature to improve the sound quality, namely through the 'All to DSD' setting. This is a function whereby the M11 scales up the PCM signal to DSD format during the digital to analogue conversion and as such will work natively on the M11 (thus also affecting third party apps). It seemed to me to make a small difference, but also came at a cost of battery life. Where I have been able to get the reported 13-hour battery life (SE, low gain), with 'All to DSD' activated that reduced significantly. Combined with using the balanced out, I got the impression I was burning through the battery in a matter of 5 hours or so, but did not time it precisely. It is therefore a feature that depends on your personal priorities whether or not it is worth using.

Connections
The M11 offers a whole host of connection options that I personally never use outside of WiFi, but are certainly going to be interesting for different users. One I have often seen people ask for is through the FiiO Link app that allows you to control the M11 from your phone. It is currently only supported for Android phones, but I am sure a lot of people will welcome this feature with open arms.

The M11 also offers DLNA/AirPlay, WiFi file transfer and 2-way Bluetooth. Although I don't use these myself, I have seen people use (for instance) the 2-way Bluetooth to work around the Google Play store restrictions by using their phone to run the apps and the M11 to provide the sound.

The M11 can also function as a USB DAC, which works intuitively (basically plug-and-play) and I had no issues while using it as such while connected to my MacBook Pro.

Conclusions
So did the M11 manage to hypnotise digitise me? Yes, I think it did. It certainly opened up more possibilities that I would more naturally use on my DAP rather than my phone, such as streaming services, podcasts and audiobooks. So, well done FiiO for modernising my antiquated backside.

The FiiO M11 is a highly versatile and good sounding DAP that sits firmly in the 'value for money' category. Its main downside is the lack of Google Play store support, which is not uncommon among Android-based DAPs. Its main strength is that the M11 is a very powerful, yet clean sounding DAP. So even if you don't care for additional apps, the M11 is well worth a serious look as a pure DAP. Stylish looks, a large 720p screen and a responsive and smooth UI make it a pleasure to use. I can highly recommend checking it out if you have the opportunity.
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fablestruck
fablestruck
I think you are absolutely right.
But using the Mackies for almost a year I came to feel their midrage lacks a little weight and presence. I guessed that that was because of the quality of my sources, but it seems not now. Still a very good all rounder though.
fablestruck
fablestruck
Another question: I purchased and installed the Neutron app from their site. But after a few days, it deactivated as if not recognizing my registration. When I try to add an account in the Settings/Accounts/Add Account section from the M11 OS it just doesn't do anything. It does not let me add an email account. Any ideas?
Wyville
Wyville
@fablestruck I highly recommend asking that question in the M11 thread. I have no experience with Neutron, but I know several people are very happy with it on their M11 and so they are much better placed to help you figure out what happened.
Pros: Well built, fast UI, multiple output options, great sound.
Cons: Removing SD card requires tool or paperclip.
I currently use a Shanling M0 and M2X. The M0 is usually used when I'm out mowing the lawn or just want an extremely small form-factor DAP. The M2X has been my primary DAC when out and about.

I wanted to step up to a mid-tier DAP to see if there was really much difference. I was originally deciding between the Fiio M11 and the iBasso DX220. After reading many reviews of the Fiio M11, I decided to purchase one. I had previous experience with Fiio products such as the E7, E9, and E17. This was my first Fiio DAP and I'm very pleased with my purchase.

I previously have had a Sony NWZ-F806 that was also Android based and the slow interface caused me to stop using it after a while from sheer frustration. I was hesitant to purchase another Android based DAP, but after seeing multiple Youtube reviews showing the smooth and fast interface, I decided to give it another go.

The unit is solidly built and feels good in your hands. It has a high quality feel to it with solid button activation and a nice volume wheel with good feedback via individual clicks. The unit came with a nice clear soft case and screen protector already applied. I was able to insert a 128GB Sandisk SD card and get the unit up and running within minutes.

My first test was with a pair of AKG K7XX headphones. The M11 was able to drive them without issue and sounded really good. My second test was with a set of Westone W60 IEMs with a 2.5mm balanced cable. Absolutely no issues and exceptional sound quality. The W60's seemed to really sound lively and fun.

For the money (great bang for your buck), I am extremely pleased with the M11 and look forward to many hours of music enjoyment from the unit. Hopefully this helps others that are also looking for a great mid-tier DAP.

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RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@cnk15 Im taking it as this is better than the m2x?
cnk15
cnk15
I do like it better than the M2x. It is more neutral to my ears than the M2x. But the SQ of the M2x is more "fun". However, when I'm out and about, I find myself taking the M2x as it's smaller and lighter. I have 4 DAPs that I use. M0 is used when I'm out mowing the lawn as it's small and clips to my shorts easily. M2x is used when I am out with the family. I switch between the M11 and Kann Cube when I'm at home.
Pros: Screen, Sound Quality, Balanced Output, Looks
Cons: Battery life, Android-laggynes compared to iOS
The Fiio M11 is my fourth Fiio product and my second DAP after the M6. I disliked the M6 because of its laggy interface and tiny screen.


The M11 is in use with a Sony MDR-Z1R, the top of the line headphone Sony has to offer. It can connect through the balanced output of the M11.


My music collection is on SD card (about 15.000 titles) plus I use Spotify with the download-function.


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Overall, I have to say, the Fiio M11 really surprised me in a positive way. The device has a gorgeous screen, Android runs relatively smoothly with very limited speed-drops. The Spotify app is definitely not as smooth as using on an iPhone XS, but it works more than fine. Battery life is okay – for the thickness of the device, I would have expected more like 30 hours instead of the 10 hours it really can achieve. However, this is fine as USB-C cables are everywhere nowadays.


My hope was to be able to use high-end headphones on the go and around my apartment – almost like 15 years ago with the iPod. And I have to say, it works very well. Sound-quality wise, the M11 achieves everything I wanted it to – the sound is almost indistinguishable from the high-end headphone amplifier I use in my home stereo.

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The only real downside of the device? No Apple Music. I would love to be able to play M4A from Apple Music. The app boots, but it doesn’t let me sign in. I really hope Fiio fixes this. Apart from that: I am super happy.

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audiophilefan
audiophilefan
I'm curious, do you have music ripped in m4a format? Can confirm that the Fiio Music App (and M11) supports this format as well. Sorry, not familiar with Apple products or services. Just hope this helps. :)
Pros: > Best value of any current daps; exceptionally powerful hardware for a smooth, responsive user experience; premium packaging, build quality and industrial design; dual balanced dacs and amps, including 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced outputs, deliver an accurate, resolving and dynamic sound with enough juice to drive full size high-impedance headphones and finesse to power sensitive IEMs without any background noise; dual band Wi-Fi, bi-directional hi-res Bluetooth and Airplay, with support for wireless file transfer and OTA updates; ample capacity with dual card slots and 32GB onboard storage.
Cons: > No Google Play support could limit future versatility; some reported compatibility issues with dual card slots; FiiO Music is basic at best; no gyroscope (come on, I'm trying here).
When FiiO first teased a new DAP in the lead-up to their ‘Spring Launch’ event in March this year, it seemed as if we were about to witness the world’s first submergible music player with phone functionality and some sort of otherworldly power source.

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As it turned out, the DAP in question – the FiiO M11 – wasn’t quite all that, but in a market split between inexpensive barebones music players and a number of increasingly pricey, premium devices, it somehow still managed to be different enough and affordable enough to make many people rethink the meaning of value.

My DAP Journey

This review is intentionally going to be a little different to your run-of-the-mill product review. There are already a few of those on the M11 online, and @audiophilefan's excellently comprehensive review is a great starting point if you’re mainly interested in the nuts-and-bolts. You can also get the official marketing fluff and specs directly from www.fiio.com/M11.

Instead this review is written from a user’s perspective – my perspective – based on my own DAP journey and the decisions that lead me to the M11 after many years of denying the need for a dedicated music player in the first place. If that doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip over this section.

For the last two years I’ve been happily using Cayin’s excellent entry-level N3, the first DAP I bought having previously been mostly satisfied with cheap IEMs and my iPhone. However, like many iPhone users who’ve come around to the sonic benefits of better audio gear and, importantly, better (lossless) audio files, I found my options with Apple’s hardware quite limited. Apple’s insistence on doing away with physical cables was another nail in the iPhone’s coffin, at least as a serious music player, and so I hesitantly dipped my toes into the DAP market.

Fast forward two years, and my immersion in higher-end head-fi started piquing my interest in mobile audio quality, and while the $150 N3 paired with a cheaply delicious pair of $15 Rock Zircon IEMs was a whole lot of goodness for the price, it just wasn’t cutting it when I switched back to my desktop gear.

At about the same time, FiiO was coming out with a new family of DAPs (the M-series), and a new range of advanced multi-BA and hybrid IEMs to match, all priced not too far from what I still considered very good value for a part-time mobile rig. With its balanced output, touch screen, high-res Bluetooth support and customised Android OS, the M9 – at double the original cost of the N3 – looked to be exactly what I wanted from the ‘next step up’ in DAP technology. Paired with the FH5 IEMs, it seemed like an ideal package that, for $500, would give me the quality I wanted without going overboard.

For a short while at least, it was. After all, I mainly used my mobile rig to occasionally listen to music around the house, and for travel (for business and holidays). For everything else I had far better (and far more expensive) desktop gear. But the M9 started to change how I viewed mobile audio. With on board Wi-Fi, suddenly I was potentially able to disconnect from the desktop and listen to my main music library from anywhere. As a Tidal user I was also able to stream lossless music on the go, without having to piggyback off my phone. I found myself using the mobile rig more and more; the quality was there to the point that I didn’t miss my desktop gear as much, and the convenience factor was palpable.

It was almost the perfect setup – almost. For all its potential, the M9 fell disappointingly short in some very important areas. Equipped with an underpowered smartwatch CPU and barely a gigabyte of RAM, the UI was slow if not sluggish, available Android apps were limited to a very short whitelist, and the single-band Wi-Fi was too weak to survive moving more than a room or two away from the router. It was still an excellent standalone player for local music files, but then so was the N3. I wanted – and now needed – more than it gave me.

Which is why I was so excited when I saw that first teaser back in March, and even more so when FiiO finally took the covers off the M11, barely two months after the M9 showed up at my door.

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What You Get

If you read through my journey above, thank you. I think it’s important to understand what I was looking for in a DAP, and how those needs changed, because it says a lot about what I personally found valuable and necessary. If you didn’t, that’s fine too. Either way, let’s get straight to the point: the FiiO M11 is probably the most-feature packed DAP you can buy for less than $500 today, and will likely stay that way for what remains of 2019, maybe even longer.

If that sounds like a bold statement, consider the shopping list of hardware features that come standard:

  • A pair of AK4493EQ dacs configured in a balanced array along with separate amps for each channel, but also used concurrently to improve single-ended playback.
  • A 6-core Samsung Exynos 7872 CPU with 3GB RAM, giving you a previously unseen level of raw performance in a music player.
  • A cinematic 5.15-inch bezel-less IPS touchscreen with a movie-friendly 1440x720 display resolution.
  • A choice of three headphone outputs, including 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced options, and a 3.5mm single-ended output that doubles as a digital SPDIF source for external dacs.
  • Dual MicroSD sim-type slots with support for next-generation 2TB cards for a total of 4TB of additional storage over and above 32GB of included internal storage.
  • Dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi with a larger antenna array for improved range and connection stability – at least compared to smaller DAPs like the M9.
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Out of the box, the M11 is both substantial and robust, if a little thick compared to the marvel of modern slimline smartphones. That’s understandable given the bulky digital audio and amplification components stuffed inside, but despite the weight it feels well balanced and reassuringly angular in hand. With glass on both front and rear panels, it’s understandable that FiiO saw fit to fit a clear silicone cover and tempered glass screen protector as standard, though I immediately put mine into a leather-bound sleeve ‘borrowed’ from a portable hard drive to give it more protection against accidental knocks.

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Also included and probably worth a mention is the USB-C cable for fast charging, file transfer (unfortunately limited to USB 2.0), and digital audio out, and a 3.5mm to SPDIF adapter. The M11 doubles as a balanced dac for your PC, Mac or phone with 32-bit 384KHz support, or as a digital coax source, but since I won’t be using it for either, I didn’t test this functionality.

On the software front, the M11 sports a highly-customised version of Android 7 Nougat that allows for multitasking and does away with whitelisting to give you access to thousands of potentially useful apps.

Due to licensing issues more to do with Google than FiiO, the M11 is not Google Android-certified and therefore doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store for the full-blown Android experience. On the one hand this limits your choices of apps that are only available on the Google Play Store and require Google Play services to run properly, but on the other it makes for a more streamlined user experience with less clutter and background processes eating up valuable CPU cycles.

Whether or not the lack of Google Play is detrimental to your experience of the M11 largely depends on what you want from a DAP. From a hardware perspective it has all the raw power you’ll need from today’s and future apps, but could be hamstrung if those apps are tethered exclusively to the Play Store.

From my perspective, it effortlessly supports all the current streaming apps – including Tidal with offline functionality – and even more importantly supports apps like Plex and Netflix that allow me to make full use of my personal high-res audio library and gives me access to high-res video streaming from the same device, anywhere in the world.

Couple all that with a doubling of the balanced power output of the M9, and the M11 gives you all of this with some of the meanest audio capabilities ever seen at this price point, not only with IEMs but also with full-size desktop headphones and LDAC-capable Hi-Res Wireless headphones and IEMs as well.

Other software highlights include FiiO Link, which lets you control the M11 with your phone via Bluetooth (or your phone via the M11, though I’m not quite sure why you’d want to do this). FiiO Link only works with the FiiO Music app, and at the time of this writing is only available for Android devices, so again it’s not something I personally tested.

That said, the Cayin N3 had similar functionality, and aside from the initial novelty value, I didn’t see the point of connecting my phone to the DAP when the whole point of the DAP was to untether from the phone.

Ready Player One

With such a vast smorgasbord of features (I just touched on the big ones above), you’d be excused for thinking the M11 is much more than your average music player. Still, there are many people that are interested in a DAP for one reason only – music playback. If you’re one of those people you might want to skim over this next section, or jump straight to the next one, where I’ll specifically talk about sound quality.

One of the first indications of the processing power and software agility of a modern DAP is bootup time. Whereas my first impression of the M9 was somewhat clouded by the laborious (40 second-plus) boot sequence, the M11 is ready to use in less than 10 seconds, from power on to playback. By comparison that’s faster than my iPhone 7, which has a more powerful processor, and vindicates the first reason I switched from the M9 to the M11: to get performance parity with my smartphone.

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Before you start using the DAP you get to choose your preferred language (unlike some very expensive DAPs that limit your language choice to the sales region – I’m looking at you Lotoo and Sony). You can then choose whether you want to use the traditional Android button-based navigation bar or a series of smart gestures (I chose the latter), complete with a short interactive tutorial on which gestures do what.

As a side note, whereas the M9 was my first-ever Android device, the M11 is the first I’ve used extensively, to the point where I now miss some of the smart gestures used to navigate around the M11’s UI. No amount of upward swipes on the iPhone will take me to the home screen, and side-swiping my iPhone doesn’t take me back a step – very disappointing!

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Once you’re up and running, the M11 gives you an initial selection of three apps (FiiO Music, ES Explorer and Google Chrome) in a dock-like array, with a status bar at the top of the screen and smaller icons for indicators such as volume level, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth status, battery level and the current time.

Depending on your settings, you’ll also have a larger digital clock showing time and date on the main screen. A side-swipe or press of the middle dock icon reveals a second page with the rest of the preloaded apps, which in my case (my M11 was imported directly from China) contained repeats of the dock apps and a few Asian music streaming services.

What you won’t see is the very different array of icons, wallpaper and colourful apps in the screenshots above and below, because almost as soon as I fired up the M11, I began customising it to my liking.

Without Google Play, there are two ways to load apps onto the M11: sideload them by downloading the .apk files from various sources (direct from FiiO or from apk resource websites like apkpure.com), and by using third-party app stores like Amazon, Aurora and APKPure. With the latest iteration (1.0.4) of the M11 firmware, FiiO have also provided their own app store ‘app’ called FiiO Applications, although for now this is limited to a few streaming services like Tidal and other apps you’re better off sourcing elsewhere.

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Speaking of firmware, the M11 makes full use of its Wi-Fi capabilities for ‘over the air’ (OTA) downloads. A popup notification lets you know when a new firmware version is available, and a few clicks gets the download process underway. In my experience this is seamless and relatively fast, although a weak Wi-Fi signal or slow Internet access could stall the upgrade process and make you start from scratch. Best be prepared to leave your M11 in a strong signal area and enjoy some coffee and biscuits in the 20 minutes you have to wait for the update to complete. Annoyingly, the M11 won’t update to the latest firmware in one step, but instead forces you to upgrade to every next version until you’re current. I was three versions behind, so do the math.

But again I digress. The first thing I changed was the launcher. A fellow forum member and M11 user suggested to try Nova Launcher from the Aurora store, and sure enough, it noticeably improved how I was able to configure and use the M11. Not only could I select the layout of icons, I was also able to change the icons of individual apps that weren’t to my liking, and hide apps I couldn’t uninstall but didn’t need (like ES Explorer).

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Finding and loading new apps was a simple process, with Tidal, Plex, Netflix, Solid Explorer and TuneIn Radio quickly joining the list of pre-installed apps. I then spent several days finding, testing and discarding numerous music apps, looking for an alternative to FiiO Music (more on that later). Currently Poweramp is the best of the rest, despite some reservations on its ability to make the most of the M11’s advanced audio hardware (again, more on that later).

I’ve always been very big on UI cohesiveness, simplicity and cleanliness, and in my experience, stock Android isn’t quite as polished or consistent as iOS. A few clicks and switches in Nova, and I quickly got the M11 looking and working just the way I wanted.

Sound impressions

The M11 is first and foremost a music player. From the precision-machined volume dial, the play/skip buttons, array of output options, and fatter-than-a-smartphone heft, you’re unlikely going to mistake it for anything else. While it doesn’t ship with a music-only mode like its predecessors (the FiiO X5 Mk III and FiiO X7 Mk II), FiiO Music is your first-choice app.

Not only that, the M11 has very obviously been musically upgraded from its current and previous-generation siblings, both in hardware and software. With a far more powerful processor and more onboard RAM than all the X-series DAPs (including the X7 flagship), FiiO Music is quicker to load, smoother to run, and visibly nimbler. Inserting an mSD card with more than 100 lossless albums (many of them high-res rips), the M11 scanned and populated the FiiO Music library in minutes. I could even switch apps and surf the web or play a trailer in Netflix while this was happening, and it didn’t skip a beat or slow down at any point.

Once loaded, navigating the various categories in FiiO Music – tracks, artists, albums, genres, folders – is almost instantaneous, as is scrolling through long lists of songs. One click, and the chosen track begins to play without pause, clicks or skips.

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FiiO Music is a simple, spartan app with a fairly limited menu of configuration options, so aside from a tweak here or there, there’s not much you can do to change how it looks or behaves. That’s a pity really, because as-is the app is sometimes clumsy, often restrictive, all depending on how demanding you are of your music software. For example, the home page of the app is oddly split into three sections, with a gallery-like display of current album tracks up top, a midsection of source choice (local, playlist or DLNA), and a bottom section that lets you toggle between Recently Played, Most Played, and Recently Added tracks.

You can’t swap out one section for another, assign any other category or function to the home page, or change the type of list in the bottom third. What you see is what you get, like it or leave it.

The single biggest advantage of FiiO Music, however, is that for all its quirks, it’s currently the only app that I’m aware of that can bypass the default Android music stack and play high-res music at native bitrates without upsampling. That means that for now, FiiO Music is your best option for getting the best possible sound quality from your high-res music files on the M11.

The good news is that the quality is there in spades. Straight out the box without any ‘burn in’ (if you believe in that pseudoscience), the M11 is immediately more neutral sounding and more resolving than the M9 I used before and the Cayin N3 I used before that. I’m no engineer or expert, so whether that’s because the M11 sports twin dacs and newer generation AK dacs than the AK4490EQ in both my previous DAPs, I can’t really say. It’s likely a sum of its parts – newer dacs, more and better amps, better audio circuit components (if you believe the marketing specs), a more powerful and efficient CPU, more RAM headroom, better power management. Whatever it is, the M11 just plain sounds better, using the same IEMs (the FiiO FH5), than does the M9 or N3.

M11_FH5.jpg

Better still, the M11 is powerful enough to drive my high-impedance desktop headphones – the 300-ohm Sennheiser HD800 and ZMF Auteur – not only loud enough (90 out of 120 on the volume dial and both headphones are louder than I’d usually listen to them), but also with enough control that I’m not left wanting. Does it drive them as well as $1200 4-watt desktop amp/dac? Of course not, but you wouldn’t expect it to. The HD800 choked on the M9, and I didn’t even bother trying it with the N3.

The point here is that the M11 will comfortably drive lower impedance and more sensitive desktop headphones, of which there are many (including the likes of Focal’s Utopia and Meze’s Empyrean), as well if not better than some similar-spec desktop amps. Remind yourself that this is a $450 do-it-all DAP and you’ll get where I’m going with this. The M11 can, if you want it to, serve as a desktop replacement. I don’t want it to, but the option is there if I ever did.
Want specific examples? Let’s see: Heidi Talbot’s hauntingly beautiful ‘If You Stay’ from her Love + Light album. The opening sequence of guitar riffs tells me everything I need to know about the bass response of my headphones – and by extension how well they’re being driven. That’s followed by the first passages of Heidi almost whispering into the microphone, so close you can hear the nuances in her breathing. Or at least you should, and it shouldn’t sound sticky or sibilant. The detail the M11 pulls out of this sequence, and the control it has over the FH5’s variable bass response (it can sound slow or muddy with the wrong source) is exceptional. Tight and controlled is how I’d describe it, the vocals soft and far less forward than the FH5 is often inclined to render the upper mids.

One reason I really enjoy the FH5 is its ability to project a stage far wider than you’d think possible with IEMs. On some tracks you’d swear you’re wearing open headphones. Angels of Venice’s ‘Trotto’ from their ‘Angels of Venice’ CD is a perfect test for staging width, layering, imaging and separation. The various mediaeval instruments jostle for position across a wide stage, appearing first here, then there, then everywhere at once. The drums, when they hit, should sound and feel deep and textured, and project a sound consistent with their size. The highs of the whistles should be crisp, clear and easily identified in their space. The M11 renders the soundscape of this track perfectly. I don’t hear any sense of soundstage restriction, or rolloff at either end of the spectrum. The bass is big when it needs to be, but never boomy. Again, the word control comes to mind. With only 40 points on the volume dial – a third of its full range – the FH5 is more than loud enough and perfectly clear. The power here is visceral, but the control of that power is what’s most impressive.

I could go on – I have notes on at least a dozen more tracks, including Rosie Thomas’s quirky ‘Why Waste More Time’, Katie Melua’s ‘The Love I’m Frightened Of’, Def Leppard’s ‘Love Bites’, AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’, Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’, Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Story’, Neil Diamond’s ‘Hello Again’, Allen Toussaint’s ‘St James Infirmary’, Anna Nalick’s ‘Wreck of the Day’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘The Final Cut’ – but we’ll be here all day if I had to review them here.

The takeaway is this: the M11’s sound profile is, for want of a better word, accurate. With a reference headphone like the HD800, everything sounds like I know it should, perhaps missing only the last few percentage points of speed and verve of a far more powerful amp and the smoothness of a NOS R2R dac (my desktop setup of choice). It drives the FH5 IEMs with the power and authority the spec sheet suggests, perhaps with a little less of the ‘fun factor’ I found when using them with the slightly thicker sounding M9, but truer to the reference sound of the tracks (which to me means more neutral). That’s not to say the M11 will turn your fun headphones into reference headphones, but it may sacrifice some thump for finesse, so keep that in mind when pairing.

Is this consistent with FiiO’s ‘house sound’? Honestly, I don’t know, nor can I tell you how it compares to the ‘house sound’ of its competitors like HiBy, Cayin, Cowon and iBasso. But I’d venture that any differences in the sound between the M11 and its peers, some of which cost up to twice as much, is more a difference in the tuning of those players rather than the raw sound quality as an objective measurement.

As a source, is it comparable to a good desktop-grade amp and dac? Of the ones I’ve personally owned – ifi’s Micro iDSD, and Audio-gd’s R2R-11 and NFB-11 – I’d say very much so, albeit with less amping power to drive more demanding headphones like LCDs.

It’s easily better – more refined, resolving and powerful – than the two less advanced DAPs I previously used, as it should be, best demonstrated by how far the same IEMs and headphones scaled upward with the M11. If you’re wondering whether upgrading to the M11 from one of the lower-end FiiOs is worth it purely from a sound quality basis, then yes, it is. Throw in all the other features and functionality, and it’s a no brainer.

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The other stuff

The M11 represents good value at the current asking price of $450 (give or take a few bucks depending where in the world you buy it) even if you just bought it to play music with FiiO Music. Except you’d be wasting so much of the M11’s potential if that’s all you bought it for.

That’s because a modern marvel like the M11 is not just a DAP, just like a modern SUV is not just a car. It’ll play your music as beautifully as any DAP at this level and price point should, but what sets it apart from all those other DAPs – and many that cost significantly more – is all the other things it can do.

As a full-featured Android device (minus Google Play, of course), you can almost infinitely tweak how you play your music. Want an app with a slicker, sharper UI, dozens more features, and far better library management than FiiO Music: get Poweramp. Try before you buy for 15 days, or buy it for small change, but either way, it’s what I now use as my daily music software despite the claims by some that playback quality suffers and that it can’t play high-res files at their true bitrate (the second part is fact, at least until Poweramp’s developer releases high-res support for the M11, while the jury is out on the first part).

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Or use any number of alternative music players: Neutron (which does reportedly support high-res playback, but the interface leaves much to be desired), Rocket Player, AIMP. The only recognised player you can’t currently use is USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) because it’s only available on the Google Play Store and won’t run without it, nor will its developers cede to the requests of many on this forum to make it available independently.

I use two other music apps alongside Poweramp: Plex and Tidal. Both let me stream my high-res music through the M11, Plex from my local network, Tidal from the cloud. Whether or not the music I’m hearing is downsampled to 16/44.1 as many suggest is par for the course on Android devices, I can’t say. Do I hear a significant difference listening to music with these apps on the M11 compared to my Mac? No, I don’t. Make of that what you will.

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Then there’s all the other stuff, the non-music stuff. With no accelerometer or gyroscope, the M11 won’t automatically switch from portrait to landscape mode by rotating it. Play a movie and the display switches to landscape. Stop the movie and the display stays in landscape until you switch apps or gesture back to the home screen. Awkward, but not a train smash. The fact that you can even play movies at an enjoyable resolution on a retina screen with all the benefit of dedicated audio hardware already makes the M11 more useful as a media player than many smartphones. The same goes for games, but I’m not a gamer, so I’ll leave it there.

Multitasking and apps that continue to run in the background is another big plus – especially compared to DAPs like the M9 that tease it but can’t offer it. One of the shortcomings of the M9, for example, was the inability to run a system-wide EQ, so that tweaks made to the sound in one app would carry over to others. Another Aurora Store find – RE EQ – does just that, sounds great, is highly configurable, and works seamlessly in the background, whether I’m listening to music in Tidal or watching a Netflix movie. It’s even configurable per-app.

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Then there’s the simple stuff, like web browsing, that is par for the course on a smart device, but not always on a DAP. With the M11, you can do all the surfing you like while your favourite tracks play flawlessly in the background. You can even control playback using the side buttons and volume wheel without leaving the browser.

This review is fast approaching 5,000 words and I haven’t even touched on features like Bluetooth. The M11 can receive and transmit high-res wireless audio using LDAC and HWA (for now it can transmit, with an upcoming firmware update it’ll also receive), one of the only DAPs to offer this functionality at the price. It can also receive Airplay from an iPhone or other Apple devices for true lossless playback, and that’s before we get to its Wi-Fi features that enable full high-res wireless support via UPnP and DLNA.

I feel like I’m saying my thank-yous at a wedding, but let’s not forget fast charging, all-to-DSD upsampling, Wi-Fi file transfer, and QC fast charging. For sure I’ve forgotten something that’s going to be important to someone, so like at a wedding, I’ll just say to the features I haven’t mentioned in this review, you know who you are, and thank you.

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Faults? I’ve mentioned a few along the way, but they bear repeating here. FiiO Music is basic at best. The lack of Google Play will irk some. A gyroscope – or at least a software switch for screen orientation would have been useful, especially with such a great screen asking to be swiveled. There are some typos scattered across the UI, though far fewer than those on other Chinese-made daps (at least I don’t feel obliged to rewrite the English language firmware like I did for the Cayin N3). AAC Bluetooth support is conspicuous by its absence, and for no apparent reason either. Some compatibility issues have been reported with the first mSD slot and a small number of cards (if in doubt, use slot 2, but I use both slots with Adata 128GB cards without any issues).

I’m really nitpicking for negatives, but even the ones I’ve mentioned are frivolous at best. Guys, we’re talking about a $450 DAP that can do ALL THAT. This level of quality and feature blowout was frankly inconceivable before the M11, and now that we have the M11, it’s still inconceivable. Goodness knows what treats we’re in for at this price range in the future when the M11 exists today.

TL;DR

The FiiO M11 is the best sounding, best featured DAP you can buy for $500 or less. It is better built, better specked and more powerful than some DAPs costing twice as much or more, and raises more questions than answers for so-called ‘premium’ daps that deliver far less for more money. That said, it’s not a DAP for everyone. It’s thicker and heavier than a large smartphone, and nowhere near as pocketable. It’s based on Android but won’t give you the full Google Play experience. It’ll last all day on a fast charge but not all week like some DAPs. Yet despite the downsides, the M11 is easily, unequivocally, and inarguably the best value DAP on the market today, this year, and for who knows how much longer beyond that. Highly recommended.

Edit:
as luck would have it, at around the same time I posted this review, FiiO posted Firmware 1.0.5 for the M11, which adds LDAC receive capabilities, fixes some of the typos I pointed out, improves the boot up animation, and squashed numerous small playback and display bugs. That’s four full firmware updates in the three weeks I’ve had the M11 - and it hasn’t even been officially released in the US and Europe yet (current ETA has been pushed back to early June for some reason - probably because they can’t make enough to meet demand). Hats off to FiiO for the ongoing product support and refinement, and for listening to their customers (though I know a few sour X5iii and X7ii users that may not share the sentiment).
RikudouGoku
RikudouGoku
@audiophilefan Agree with you, own the LG G7 and it has the same dac as the Shanling M0 and the Hidizs AP80 except it is in Quad Dac Configuration. Best Sound in the market ( smartphone). ( LG has Quad dac on nearly all their phones like the G7,G8, V30,V40)
5
522009
Quote: (unlike some very expensive DAPs that limit your language choice to the sales region – I’m looking at you Lotoo and Sony), obviously a disgruntled reviewer, i would not advise you bad mouth how Infomedia & Sony Corp conduct business - this statement should be removed from the review, has nothing to do with the review - not relevant.
WitzyZed
WitzyZed
@I See You what’s the matter, you own Sony stock or something? It’s a totally justified complaint. Region locking is anti-consumer. And at odds with their own region free hardware like the PS4.
Pros: Feature-packed, responsive UI, great build, beautiful design, Android based, balance of clean and rich sound, powerful output power (balanced not tested in this review)
Cons: Google Play Store not available for current firmware, Fiio Music App EQ not so effective, slow to connect to wi-fi network
BACKGROUND

It is Fiio’s 12th Anniversary and they were giving away prizes for everyone. Yey! Being the unlucky person that I am when it comes to raffle prizes, I decided to join not expecting anything. I shared my public greeting to Fiio in Facebook and voila! A few days later, I received a message from Lily at Fiio telling me that I won grand prize! It is the Fiio M11. Yes, I am that “lucky” guy.

As I told Lily, I’ve been supporting Fiio for years now, having owned and reviewed the E11K (A3), X1, E12, EM3, K1, and now the M11. They are a company that I believe in. I love how they continue to improve and push price-to-performance ratio in a whole new level every time. Yes, I believe they deliver the overall best value products in the portable audio industry, bar none. With continuous firmware updates and reliable customer support, they are now one of the most respected brands in the industry.


The Fiio M11 is a pleasant surprise. But am I going to give it a good review just because it was given to me for free? Before anyone thinks that this will be a biased review, I’d like to remind everyone that every Fiio that I ever owned I purchased with my own money. No freebies until this one. And besides, I was told to “Tell the truth. It’s ok.” when I asked for review guidelines. So it begs the question, is this The Truth? Read on to find out.


ABOUT ME

I listen to almost all genres of music but my favorites are rock, blues, and jazz.

I am a music lover. I love music more than the equipment to play music with. I recognize that decent equipment is important but decent is good enough. Expensive is not necessary. I firmly believe in the law of diminishing returns.

I believe in burn-in but it depends on the equipment. Some do not need much. Some do not need any at all.

I believe in measurements but I never relied on them. I solely rely on my ears.

I believe that blind test is the only real test, without any visual influence or biases, without placebo.

Audio nirvana for me is a state of mind, not a state of equipment.

Regardless of my beliefs, I respect all audiophiles and music lovers for their passion and dedication.


PACKAGING

Unboxing

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View from all sides (with and without a case)

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Beauty shots

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SPECS AND FEATURES

For complete specs and features, please check here - https://www.fiio.com/m11


BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN

Did you see the pictures? Most likely but they may not be giving justice to how beautiful this device really looks in person. It is solid and hefty. There are no curves to it, just straight lines, which I love. It has an authoritative, powerful look, only tamed by the beautiful golden volume wheel. Buttons are tightly tactile and very responsive, no loose feeling at all. Headphone ports are gold lined and reinforced. Headphone jacks plug in real tight and secure. Notice the thread here? There are no “loose ends” to the build. It is as solid and tight as they come.


SOUND

Burn-in: It is a DAP, not a headphone where the driver needs to loosen up so I do not expect a lot of changes after burn-in. Approximately 10 hours in and the sound remained consistent, if a little richer out of the box. No other changes noted thereafter.

Set-up:
  • Fiio Music App EQ is off.
  • 3.5mm headphone out (I have no balanced headphones to test)
  • Gain is set to HIGH
  • Filter is set at Short delay Sharp Roll-Off (default)
I would like to preface this section by saying that headphones produce what you hear. The quality of bass, mids, highs, soundstage, and imaging are mostly dependent on the headphones. What a DAP could lend is its inherent leanness or warmth (dependent on the DAC), lower noise, and clean, abundant power, among other features. The role of a DAP is to output as linear a sound as possible to the headphones and let the headphones do the trick. Improvements to the headphone’s inherent qualities may be noticeable due to a better DAC and the added power (vs a phone or other DAPs).

The M11 sound is neither too lean (others may refer to this as thin or neutral) nor too warm (thick or dark). It hits the sweet spot at being lean and detailed with just the right warmth and richness so bass notes come off clean and clear.

I don’t find the need to EQ the default sound of the DAP. It is just right. And if you ever want to EQ it, the equalizer in the Fiio Music App isn’t too invasive, but some may find it as ineffective since some EQs apply an immediate change to sound with a few DBs of adjustment. I think this is intentional to avoid distortion but Fiio could make it a touch more effective.

What it lends to the headphone is better detail in bass notes, mid-range, and treble. Differentiating notes in a bass guitar for example is easier, as well as differentiating vocal types from singers. It’s easier to recognize that a particular singer sings in a particular range or pitch, etc. Vocal uniqueness among singers come in more distinctively. The decay in cymbals and other high frequency instruments are much improved and you wouldn’t normally associate notes with cymbals but a simple mild crash can be very detailed and tingling.

As I prefaced, a better DAC (two DACs in this case), and the added clean power brings about these significant improvements to sound.


OTHER FEATURES

Pairing with an amp

Sumptuous. Very sumptuous. Paired it with my favorite portable amp, the Fiio E12, and the added meat to the sound, especially when you flick that bass boost on is just a magnificent experience altogether. If you’re craving for a richer, meatier sound, it is good to pair it with a capable amp.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the stack may not appeal to some. And since it’s already a 5-inch, thick, metal clad player, not having an amp will be more practical for portable use. Besides, I like the balanced sound as it is and don’t find the need for an amp, unless I’m driving 600ohm headphones and above. At high gain, I’m confident it could drive 300ohm headphones at satisfying volume levels.

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Bluetooth receiver mode


Using the Bluetooth receiver mode (M11 used as a Bluetooth amp) is a breeze. It’s easy to pair and sound quality at the default codec (SBC) is great, albeit being less clean than wired output. I do not have Bluetooth headphones to test transmission but I imagine it to be as convenient. It supports all the major codecs, including LDAC if that’s what you’re looking for. It is, in fact, the first DAP to be HI-RES AUDIO WIRELESS certified. Impressive Bluetooth connectivity.

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USB DAC mode


Works well and sound quality is similar to regular headphone out, if a touch louder (dependent on the laptop. Mine has a powerful Bang and Olufsen audio set up inside.)

Important reminder is to set the right settings. The images below are for Windows 10 and Foobar2000 respectively but I imagine the settings to be similar to Windows 7 and above. And remember to change the Output Selection to PO (headphone out), else there will be no audio coming out of your headphones (if set to LO or line out).

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USER INTERFACE

I will simply put pictures so you’ll know what to expect but would not discuss navigation in detail. It is basically a stripped down version of Android 7. I am running the latest firmware installed via wi-fi (1.0.4). The UI is responsive and navigation speed is comparable to a decent mid-range phone (e.g. Samsung Galaxy J7 or higher). 3GB of RAM does the trick quite well and there have been no lags so far.

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OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
  • Connecting to wi-fi is slower compared to a phone. Initial connection if off for a long time takes about 10 seconds average.
  • Connecting to Bluetooth is as good as any mid-range phone, especially when already paired.
  • Wi-fi firmware update takes as long as any mid-range phone, about 10-15 minutes, inclusive of download time, installation, and auto-restart. Reasonably fast in my opinion, typical of Android updates.
  • Song scanning is as good as any mid-range phone. It took about 1-2 minutes to scan my 2443 songs, which is a combination of hi-res flacs, standard-res flacs, and MP3s. It may take longer to scan DSDs and MQAs.
  • Battery life is 10-13 hours. I’d like to have my screen on for the max setting of 30 mins so it would’ve depleted faster than normal (5 hours at 50% factory charge). I expect the battery to perform better after several charge cycles.
  • Charging time is 2.5-3 hours (screen and wi-fi is off). If you’re using a fast charger, I imagine it to be just around 1.5-2 hours.

CONCLUSION

I am quite baffled not seeing a detailed review for the M11 yet. I’m sure I’m not the first one but even reviews in Youtube seem somewhat lacking. I understand that it has been recently released but in my opinion, it needs more respect and attention than it already has.

Feature-wise, it is the best player in the market today. Point me to another player that supports all the hi-res formats, wireless or otherwise and that supports 3.5mm, 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced output all at the same time. In that sense alone, it is a worthy recommendation.

Is it worth the price? It comes down to your passion really. If you’re an audiophile or an avid music lover looking for the convenience of Android and a stellar sound, absolutely! If you have a wireless headphone with LDAC or are a fan of wireless gear in general, definitely! If you’re looking for a feature-packed, play-what-you-want, plug-what-you-want device, this is for you! Currently, there is nothing like it on earth. All features considered, this is not an exaggeration.

Fiio M11 is The Truth. And I hope a lot more people enjoy it as much as I do now.

Happy listening, everyone!
B
behemothkat
Another sad fact about M11: it is unable to drive low sensitive IEM (like RHA CL2 planar).
audiophilefan
audiophilefan
audiophilefan
audiophilefan
@behemothkat Not sure I follow. As to "drive", I'm sure it can drive any IEM. Are you pertaining to noise? My Faaeal Iris 2.0 is a 32ohm earbud, no noise nor hiss. I have stock IEMs from Samsung, which are probably 16ohms, dead silent. How sensitive is your IEM? If it's below 16ohms with 100+ sensitivity, then LOW GAIN will do the trick. Otherwise, try IFI IEMatch. They say it works but I don't have one. :)
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