FiiO M3 - Digital Portable Music Player


New Head-Fier
Pros: Excellent sound
Good price
Looks well-built physically
Cons: Menu navigation difficult to get used to
Truncated song titles, album names and artist names
Long unsorted lists
Incomplete indexing
Doesn't respect track numbers
I've been on the market for a nice MP3/FLAC player since my beloved Sansa Clip+ with Rockbox firmware gave up the ghost. I had read some good reviews of the M3, so I took the gamble.

When I unpack it, I hold a feather-light sturdy little device in my hands, not bigger than a box of matches, which looks very professionally made.

"Built for music and happy", is what greets me when I boot up the M3, which gives me good hope. 'Built by music freaks', it makes me think. The screen looks usable enough, not beautiful, but usable. The buttons feel workable enough, if a little wobbly and maybe I need to press twice every now and again to make it actually register, but really, as long as they work, I'm really quite OK with them, especially considering the affordable price.

I load up my new 64 GB card half-full with music. I insert the card into the shiny M3. It immediately starts scanning, which is what I want, so, excellent. I navigate the menu; not one option is labeled with text, so it takes some guess-work to get where you need to go. The Asian serif font is not great for the small screen, but still, it works, so it's really OK.

This is where the disappointment starts. The labels in the artist and album lists are truncated at seemingly random places. "Aphex Twi", "Boards o", ... I know what is what, but it really doesn't fill me with happy. What's worse, way worse, is that the list isn't sorted alphabetically, but according to the order in which it was found on disk. This does make it very difficult to find what you want, especially with 64 GB of music.

For some artists, it filed only 3 of the artist's 10 albums under the artist's name, so often times, you'll have to rely on the folder structure, because the album just wasn't indexed at all.

Time to play some music. The sound is really good, even on my cheap Sennheiser MX270 earbuds. I couldn't wish for more, again, especially considering the reasonable price. I'm sure it will sound amazing on better head gear. Although, I find out it doesn't respect the track numbers. It starts at track 3, then track 5, then track 1, and so on. It's random. At this point, regardless of the technical sound quality, this severely reduces the musical quality. Many albums are meant to be enjoyed in one particular order, this is why we record the track number as metadata into the digital audio file.

This is really where I've given up on this promising device...

Sound-wise, considering the reasonable price, this is an excellent music player, but as of firmware version 1.17, it just isn't, because it really needs some usability and outright bug fixes.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Its not a TOTL player but it does perform very well, smooth, warm, pleasurable.
Cons: it has limitations but those are natural in the price point.

FiiO M3 Portable Music Player Review - Expatinjapan

 Head Pie 
FiiO M3​
-A simple review for a simple player by expatinjapan.​

I was chatting with the people from FiiO as I was republishing their article on the history of FiiO
(FiiO is currently finishing writing the article covering the period 2011-2016).
My greedy self was murmuring in my brain `request a FiiO X7 for review! Do it` - but my heart told me to request the FiiO M3 and EX1 earphones.
FiiO EX1 earphones.​


Well I thought of people looking for an entry level and affordable set up, or something they could use at the gym or exercising. An everymans set up or rig so to speak.
Forums and Facebook are full of TOTL rigs, DAP, IEMs and the like these days, where is something for the little guy I thought. Thats when I decided to request the two items as a possible set (To come later).

FiiO graciously acquiesced.

I think most people are familiar with FiiO and their ascent from the little guy to a major player on the portable audio scene. From the early days of affordable portable amps, to dac/amps and then on to cables and eventually entering the world of DAPs they now seem to have produced one for everyones price point with the arrival of the M3.

The Fiio M3 is the smallest in size within the range of FiiO players. It is very lightweight and fits well within the palm of ones hand or slipped into a pocket of meagre size.
I am sure it has been build robust enough to last, but due to its size and casing of plastic one would not stomp ones foot upon it of course.
The screen brightness could do with some tweaking to enable more steps to allow it to be more brighter.
Packaging is beautiful as usual with FiiO.

Is this what most people care about? Usually. One has to take many things into account whilst summarizing the sound. comparing it to other devices, using several varying ear/headphones, different genres of music and always checking the volume.
Also price point, does it fit well within its price point? does it underperform or over perform?
Measurements also have their place, unfortunately as of yet we at Head Pie are not that advanced and with have to reply on our poor brains and ears.

In short the M3 performs well within its price point as I keep mentioning.
 I would describe it as being on the warm side, sound wise.  It plays music with a fairly smooth finish, probably due to the M3 not having an extended treble or extreme detail of more expensive players.
Is it listenable? pleasurable, good enough? I would say yes.

Fiio M3 with the ATH-ESW11. Volume at 36.
Listening to:
Mazzy Star -`Fade into you`. The sound is rich, warm and lush. Vocals are creamy and not too forward of the music.
The Cardigans- `Erase and rewind`. The bass hits hard enough and full, no flabbiness.
Soundstage is acceptable. enough treble to please.
Rammstein -`Du hast`. Rough and ready. Lacking some of the polish on more pricey Daps,..a bit congested at times. but that is to be expected. Still and enjoyment to listen to.
Peter, Bjorn and John -`Young Folks`. A good track for checking treble and mens and womens vocals. fairly smooth and rounded.
Morrissey -`Every day is like Sunday`. Bass a bit flat, vocals very Morrissey, music has a nice dynamism to it.

Although of course not in the same league as mid or high end players, and not wanting to shoot it down or hype it up. The FiiO M3 player is a great purchase. It has a musicality to it. Track playback whilst not being perfect to the original, less soundstage and dynamics etc does perform very well within the under $100 section.

The FiiO M3 being the youngest sibling within the family of FiiO players has perhaps a more minimalistic UI, admittedly I did spend time trying to use it as a touch screen device until I finally saw my error and realized that everything is button operated.
My bad.
Once one gets started it is a fairly easy UI to use.
Loading music is simple as a drag and drop process.
Updating the software is also hassle free.

Memory: 8GB built in.
Supports memory cards of up to 64GB. (It has been reported that 128GB cards work).
Output power: 50mW into 16ohms.
DAC: CL42L51 Cirrus logic.
Battery life: 24 hours.
Output impedance 0.4 ohms.
Five band Equalizer.
Up to 24/96 support.
Measurements posted online show a fairly flat response and well balanced on the L/R channels.

The FiiO M3 comes with some earbuds and a USB charge/ data transfer cable, a manual in several languages, lanyard and extra screen protectors.

FiiOs M3 player is a gift within its price point. One definitely can`t complain at the price.
It delivers what it says it will and makes no claim to be anything other than a simple budget player.
Generally priced at around US$55.

The FiiO M3 is a great choice for many types of users, the light traveler, the gym goer or jogger, the commuter desiring a lightweight option and of course the budget conscious shopper.
Adding music and upgrading the Firmware is simple and hassle free.
The UI doesnt take much time at all to master, whilst not Apple grade is easy enough to get the hang of within a short period of time.
Sound whilst not in the high end range as can be expected at the price, the actual experience is well within acceptable realms.

Build:well designed, fairly seamless and robust.​
Sound: Quite acceptable and listenable within its price point.​
Features: Simple yet functional UI with many useful and needed options.​
Value: One can`t complain at $55 for what you get with the magnificent M3.​
Overall: It ticks all the right boxes for a product at this price.​
Thank you again to FiiO for supplying Head Pie with the M3 for review.​

Fiio M3 latest firmware.
FiiO are well known for rolling out regular updates to fix any shortcomings or bugs on their players.

Official firmware version FW1.7 for the M3 is now available!
Download link:
After downloading the file, please expand (unZIP) the zip archive and read "Instructions for updating the M3's firmware" contained within.
The following changes and improvements were made to FW1.7 compared to FW1.5:
1. Added a new UI theme (theme 2);
2. Added options to clear the "favorites", "Playlist1" and "Playlist2" playlists, and to delete individual songs from each playlist;
3. Added "Screen off button response" option in System Settings, to customize the response to the front 6 buttons when screen is off:
a) Direct action (default)--pressing one of the front buttons performs the action of the button directly without turning on the screen;
b) Screen wakeup only--turns on the screen without performing the action of the button (until a second press);
c) Wake+action--turns on the screen at the same time as performing the action of the button;
4. Language selection screen now appears immediately after firmware update / factory reset, before the library scan;
5. Fixed issues with playing certain mp3 files;
6. Fixed issue where switching from an APE High-compression encoded track to other tracks could cause noise to be emitted;
7. Fixed issue where if the M3 is turned off and then plugged in for charging, it turns itself back on when unplugged;
8. Fixed issue where battery icon does not stay lit onscreen even when screen timeout is set to ON (no timeout);
9. Fixed issue where the Hold button does not prevent button response under certain situations;
10. Corrected certain dialog language and fixed other miscellaneous bugs.


New Head-Fier
Pros: Amazing value for the sound quality you receive. Powers most headphones very well without needing an amp. Small footprint. Very easy to use.
Cons: UI could have more options. Some small quirks regarding numbering and order in playlists. Unable to make playlists on PC and copy them over to M3.
**Disclaimer: I received the M3 from FiiO in return for my honest review**

I have been watching FiiO's product line-up for quite some time.  I've played with the X1 DAP owned by a friend and have been eager to get into FiiO ownership as they seem to offer audiophile quality audio products at a great value.  When I was offered an M3 in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance.
The M3 DAP represents FiiO's new entry-level line-up and was released in 4th quarter 2015.  With an MSRP of $55 USD, it places itself to be very accessible to those who have been playing their music on PC or a Smartphone and are interested in an audiophile listening experience without wanting to break the bank.   As some other reviews here have stated, in order to do this they need to excel in audio quality while being easy to use and no trouble to carry.   Here’s my take on how they achieve these points. 
What’s In The Box?
Within in the box from FiiO you’ll receive:
  1. The M3 Player:
    1. About the size of a cigarette lighter and just as light (honestly this thing is so light I forget it is in my pocket).  It has a 2” TFT display sporting a 320x240 resolution which is more than sufficient for browsing through your music and displaying album art where present.
    2. I received the M3 with Firmware 1.5 onboard, which I immediately updated to 1.7 (very simple to do with instructions on FiiO’s site)
  2. Neck Lanyard
  3. Micro-USB Cable
  4. 2 Screen Protectors (one has already been applied to the device out-of-box, which is great)
  5. White Earbuds
    1. These earbuds exceeded my expectations.  They easily compete with iPhone earbuds and allow you to get started using your M3 right out of the box.  Obviously most of us will quickly swap in a more serious pair of earphones however I still use these more often than I expected when I need a quick pair or don’t want to fuss with IEMs or larger headphones.
  6. Reference Manual (complete manual is available in PDF form online)
I feel FiiO could have included a silicone sleeve/case for the M3, just for some added protection when on-the-go.  Overall I’m very happy with the included accessories in the box.  I added one of my own wrist straps instead of using the neck lanyard, I find it easier to grab and pull out of my pocket with the wrist strap.
It looks like an arm band accessory is available or on the way from FiiO and is pictured on their website.  I can see this being a popular tool for using the M3 while running or at the gym but I’ve personally had no issues just slipping it into a pocket.
Hardware Impressions
The M3 has a plastic shell with square edges.  It fits very well in the hand and is insanely light coming in at 40 grams (without MicroSD card).  The 2” TFT screen does the job, but sometimes washes out when in direct sunlight.  There’s absolutely no issue using it at my desk or on public transit, however when I’m walking outside at mid-day I often have issues reading the display.   You can adjust the brightness but even at max you’re going to be shielding it from the light if trying to read through menus in the sun.
The unit features a 6-way rocker panel in the front with a satisfying “click” for each position.  There is a lock switch on the side to ensure that keypresses in your pocket don’t cause an undesired track or volume adjustment.   On the bottom of the M3 is a Micro-USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and an exposed MicroSD slot (no cover).   I don’t see the lack of cover as a bad thing, however I would be careful using it in very dusty areas for this reason.
Battery life is about 18-24 hours of use.  I tend to charge my devices nightly and haven't had any issues with this getting low or dying on me.  
Overall: It feels very well constructed, nothing creaks or moves in a way it shouldn’t.   It feels almost like a toy since it is so light, but those impressions melt away as soon as you hear the audio quality this entry level unit pumps out.
Audio Impressions
To be honest, I’m rather new to audiophile DAPs (Digital Audio Players).  I have used a friend’s FiiO X1 in the past, and tried out the Sandisk Clip+ but prior to receiving the M3 I was doing most of my listening on smartphones or PC (though I do have a small portable amp, the Topping NX1).    I was quite surprised and blown away after my first listen of the FiiO M3.  I was hearing new nuances in my music that I’ve been listening to for months that got lost in translation on the other devices I was using for music listening.   
The M3 has absolutely no issues powering my Gemini HSR-1000 over-the-ear headphones (60 ohm), and does equally well with my TTPOD T1-E IEMs (12 ohm) and my Xiaomi Piston 3s (32 ohm). I also gave my Koss PortaPros (60 ohm) a try and was impressed how clean everything sounded. As I previously mentioned, the in-box FiiO earbuds are also a pleasure to listen with and do a very solid job but leave me desiring a little more.  I quickly hopped over to my HSR-1000’s and I can’t get over the quality and crisp instrument separation that the M3 provides.  I haven’t needed to use my amp for any of the above headphones where I previously did need them for listening on smartphones.  It’s a relief not needing to carry around my amp (albeit a tiny one) everywhere I go.
There is a 5 band EQ available on the device (62Hz, 250Hz, 1kHz, 6kHz, 16kHz), but I’ve found for my headphones I prefer to leave it turned off 90% of the time.  There’s a couple tracks where I’ll try out one of the presets or fiddle with the custom 5 band sliders, but overall I feel the M3 provides a solid experience with the EQ disabled.   The tone of the music feels very similar to the FiiO X1, being slightly warm but very clear with great instrument separation.  (I’ve been listening to Electronica, Dubstep, Rock, Classical and Jazz).
Overall: I am very impressed with the audio quality offered from this $55 MSRP device.   I would have no issues recommending this unit to friends or family that are looking to get their feet wet in the audiophile world and are looking for consistent quality listening from their digital music library.
UI / User Experience Impressions
This is the only area where I might be a little more critical of the M3.  After using it every day for a week, I have run into a few quirks with the UI.  In every instance I’ve found I was doing something wrong, or there was a workaround required.  Once you get used to how it works, it does what it is designed to do and plays audio beautifully.
Here’s a brief list of the unusual behavior I ran into:
  1. Track order can sometimes be out of expected order if there are spaces in the filename before the digits.  I reported this to FiiO and they are looking into it.
  2. Songs I loaded onto a MicroSD weren’t added to the Media Library and weren’t listed with the other Albums/Songs but could be played directly through the Folder Browse section.   I fixed this by formatting the card with the M3 and then re-transferring my audio files via USB cable (instead of directly on PC with a MicroSD reader).
  3. Albums of FLACs have their album name cut off mid-screen when browsing the media library, but appear full length once you’re listening to audio.   Again, I reported this to FiiO and am awaiting feedback.  This doesn’t impact MP3s or other formats from what I can tell.
  4. You can’t create a playlist on PC and transfer it to the device.  There are 3 playlists available on the M3 which you can add tracks to from the device itself.  If you want more playlists you can make a folder on the device and make a copy of your audio files in there and play the folder through the Folder Browse section.  Wastes a little space having files exist on the device twice, but it does the job.
Overall: The above interaction quirks are evidence of a company new to the UI game.  Some of these issues are likely due to translation, and some of them just due to inexperience with easy to use portable devices.  At the end of the day, none of them impacted my enjoyment of the device, and I don’t feel that any of them get in the way of this being a great entry-level DAP.  It does what it needs to do, and once you get used to the device it works very well.
Final Thoughts
The FiiO M3 is a great entry-level audiophile DAP.  For an MSRP of $55 USD you can’t beat the features and audio quality you get with this device.  I would gladly recommend it to friends and others looking to get into the world of audiophile quality audio without spending too much on their initial purchase.   Of course there are better players both in terms of professional build materials and more UI features, but none of that seems necessary at this level or price point.   
The M3 gets the job done and does it well.  It’s a great little unit for listening on public transit, while reading on the couch or while at the gym or out for a bike ride.  I’m looking forward to continuing to use this device in my day-to-day listening moments in the weeks to come.
I’m rating this 4.5/5 stars as it offers exceptional value for the audio quality offered.  I don’t feel the UI quirks I ran into impact the bottom line as all are easy to work around or live with.  The solid build quality, great listening experience, light weight and small footprint of this product makes it a very solid addition to my listening equipment and one I take with me everywhere!
The M3 is much more portable and easier to hande than a smartphone, I'm starting to have. a habit of just bringing one IEM and the M3 these days:: it saves my smartphone from "earlier that planned" dying battery and full storage too
The M3 is much more portable and easier to hande than a smartphone, I'm starting to have. a habit of just bringing one IEM and the M3 these days:: it saves my smartphone from "earlier that planned" dying battery and full storage too :wink:
Hey Sulbh,
Most of the smartphones I listen with have the same DAC, namely the Qualcomm DAC included with Snapdragon CPU devices.  As such many of them sound the same, these include the Note 4, Nexus 6 and Galaxy S4.   I also have an HTC One M7 which has a slightly more tuned DAC but the hardware is from the same family as the rest.
Overall I feel that these smartphones perform well but as they are performing many other functions than just audio processing they leave much to be desired.  Often audio separation gets muddled, you can't always hear the distinct instruments and sounds as well.   Sometimes I run into stuttering issues when playing high quality FLAC files, especially when the music player app is in the background and I'm doing something else on my phone.
Also many of these phones don't power my headphones as easily and I resort to carrying around a standalone amp (I have a Topping NX1) which although it isn't very large, it does add bulk to the hardware I carry and is one extra cable in use that is accumulating wear and tear.
After using the M3 for a week I'm very happy not to have to always carry around my clunky smartphone+amp combination in my pocket and can tuck the M3 anywhere or just dangle it on a wrist strap or neck lanyard and off I go!
At the end of the day, I feel that smartphones perform admirably given that they're little computers and are busy doing many other things, but if you want better quality out of your portable listening experience you're going to either want a dedicated USB DAC, or a DAP like the M3.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Size, weight, price, value, sound, battery life
Cons: UI, QC, screen
Recently I started looking around for an "ultra portable" music setup to use primarily for when I go cycling. I was looking at geeing one of the Sansa Clips (it's the first one that came to mind, and I was curious to try Rockboxing it), and had completely forgotten about the M3. Actually, I can't remember how I stumbled upon the M3 again, but I'm really glad I did. I became a big Fiio fan ever since I got my first Fiio product, the E6. After that I progressed to the X5, which I later on paired up with an E12. I eventually sold that setup in favour of an E18+E12A setup to use with my phone (which is still my main portable rig). Unfortunately the Fiio distributor in the UAE had decided not to import the M3, and I searched all over the net for anyone else here that had it in stock, but to no avail. Eventually I had to order it from on the 14th of June, and today (a week later) I finally got my hands on it.
First Impressions & Design
Holy damn this thing is tiny, not exactly iPod Shuffle tiny, but tiny nonetheless. I think the closest "high end" competitor ,in terms of the design, to the M3 would be the iPod Nano. The Nano is roughly the same length and width as the M3, but almost half the thickness (5.4mm vs 9.1mm), and the Nano also weighs a bit less (31g vs 40g). The weird thing about the M3, however, is that it actually feels quite solid. So much so, that it almost "feels" heavier than what my brain expected 40g to feel like.
he Nano has double the storage capacity, lnger battery life, and a bigger screen, but both have roughly the same pixel density (albeit the Nano has a touch screen). The Nano does have a better quality screen though, as the M3's screen isn't exactly very nice to look at it, and pretty much useless in sunlight. This doesn't really bother me too much though, as I specifically got the M3 for when I go cycling, so the vast majority of the time the M3 is being used, I won't be looking at it anyways. The Nano is also better put together, but that's partly why the Nano costs nearly 2 TO 3 TIMES as much as the M3 ($105-149.99 vs $55). Speaking of how it's put together, something that really annoys me about the M3 (at least the one I received) is that the screen isn't straight and centred. You can actually see (rather easily) that the screen isn't in the centre, and that is sits at an ever so slight angle. The USB port too isn't quite straight. C'mon Fiio, better QC, please.

So on paper, yes, the Nano seems to be a better device (not taking price into account), and in some cases it is; but the M3 offers you something the Nano simply couldn't....FREEDOM. With any Apple device, you're locked down to the Apple system, but with the M3 you don't need to install an app on your PC to copy over music files to the DAP. And speaking of files, the M3 supports more formats than the Nano, namely FLAC.
The other thing I'm not so sure of is the glossy button panel. That thing is such a fingerprint magnet, and I feel it might have been better if this had a matte finish instead....but that's minor.
I guess my only real complaint in terms of the design itself is the screen and Fiio's QC; the rest of it I can easily accept due to the price of the unit. 

There isn't much to say here to be honest. As I mentioned, this thing is tiny, and about as portable as it's gonna get. What I particularly like is the fact that it fits so nicely in the case along with my MEE M6 Pros (see pics at the end). I suppose the other thing to note would be the battery life. Fiio says it'll last for 24 hours...which for me is great, as it means that I wouldn't have to charge it more than perhaps 3 times a month. 

User Interface
Oh dear. The UI is something that has always bugged me about Fiio's products. I have never used any of their devices and though to myself, "oh yeah, this is well thought-out and intuitive UI design". I do like the fact that Fiio will (apparently) offer a number of themes for the device, but as it stands right now Theme 1 is the only usable one in my opinion. The firmware version that my M3 came with is the latest version (1.7) which also has a 2nd theme. But I find this theme to be almost totally unusable (in comparison to Theme 1) due to the red text on the blue background on the Now Playing screen and some other menus. Actually, now that I think about it, Theme 2 has a bit of a Windows XP feel to it.

The only headphones I'll be using with the M3 is the M6 Pro, and I'm happy to report that it makes for a wonderful listening experience. The M6 Pro has a very slight v-curve signature, but due to the rolloffs in the FR of the M3 you get a fairly balanced sound coming out of the M6 Pros. I can hear a little bit of hiss when music isn't playing, but really nothing worth protesting about.

This is definitely the saving grace for the M3. I've read and watched a number of reviews, but the M3's sound still surprised me. For such a tiny, inexpensive device, the sound is certainly better than what I expected. But heck, this is Fiio, they always do the most important thing well...not always brilliant, but never terrible or even mediocre. What I did find quite interesting is that the M3 sounded better, more balanced and detailed than my LG G3. It's obviously not as good as my E18+E12A setup, but I'm totally ok with that. Remember, I'm going to be using the M3 almost exclusively when I go cycling...hardly a critical listening session. So for my use, I honestly don't have a single complaint about the sound; for me it's perfect.

The M3 does come with 2 extra screen protectors (one already installed) which I quite like. Also included is a grey linyard and some earbuds. I don't particularly care for the linyard or earbuds, so don't really have anything to say about those. I did, however, also order the armband at the same time, and I quite like it. There's nothing fancy about it, but it seems well constructed and fairly unobtrusive. Something I am unsure of, however, is how well the finish of the M3 will hold up from taking it in and out of the armband...but I guess only time will tell.

Overall the M3 is a device that holds fantastic value. Yes, I feel like Fiio compromised (and to some degree perhaps even overlooked) on a few things, but the portability and sonic performance totally makes up for. If you're in the market for an audio setup to use while doing exercise or pretty much any other kind of non-critical listening session, I highly recommend the M3. In fact, my entire "exercise setup" (DAP, armband, and headphones) comes to a grand total of $120, which to me is a superb bang-for-buck value setup. 

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Pros: Thing is cray cray tiny. Great battery life. Real hardware buttons!!!
Cons: Id rather swap a smaller screen for bigger buttons.
FiiO M3 Quick Review by mark2410
Thanks to FiiO for the sample.
Full review here
Brief:  Itty bitty DAP.
Price:  US$55 or £50
Specifications:  You name it, they list it.  See here for full details.
Accessories:  A micro USB cable, a pair of earbuds and a neck length lanyard.
Build Quality:  It would all seem to be pretty reasonably constructed.  It’s all very light though which some people think means lacking, the thing weighs almost nothing which I see as a boon myself.
Aesthetics:  I have the black one and its looks alright.  However there is a part of me that’s kicking myself for not having asked for the blue one.  I know I know, the grass is always greener but that blue looks so different.  Anyway, the black, yeah its looks fine nothing wildly eye-catching though.
Power:  While harder to drive things I felt it was struggling in the lower end but in terms of volume, my god it can scream when it wants too.  The dial goes to 60 but I couldn’t push it beyond 40 before it was uncomfortably loud.  So if you want to blast stuff out of maybe you have a hearing problem this can go stupidly loud.
Sound:  The little M3 is a tiny little thing and its super cheap so I didn’t have the highest of expectations.  Acoustically it is very pleasantly warmed, smoothed and with a little dash of cream.  It’s a very pleasant rendition and it worked extremely well when paired with the Sony EX500’s.  Both sharing that Far East / Sony sound.  Big, warm, slightly diffuse bottom, somewhat creamy mids and a mostly muted, dampened treble except for a little peak in there to keep things on track.  It’s been a highly popular sound signature for years so I’d expect it to be popular with likely buyers too.  It’s a gently warming, adding a dash of chocolatey brownness to things.  For me it turns more fast paced, powerful tracks into ones a little too heavy and too impactful.  The initial impact is calmed but there is such a weight behind it.   Never the less its one I know the masses like.
Overall the tiny little thing does a really rather capable job of everything you ask of it acoustically.  It’s a little bit flavoured but oh noes, it’s got a bit boosted bass, that enhances its expansion and weighty follow through.  Its target user isn’t exactly going to see that as an issue, they are much more likely to see it as a great big plus!
Value:  Has FiiO ever made anything that wasn’t great value?  FiiO are arguably the kings of high value DAP’s and the little M3 slotting in at the bottom end of their range does nothing to change that perception.  Its great value for its US$55 price tag.
Pros:  Thing is cray cray tiny.  Great battery life.  Real hardware buttons!!!
Con’s:  Id rather swap a smaller screen for bigger buttons.

d marc0

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Size & Weight, Sound Quality, Price
Cons: UI still has room for improvement, Audible hiss when paired with sensitive IEMs
FiiO has come up with a new portable digital player. Surprisingly, it's not the usual progression that we expect like the X-series of late. This time, it's their smallest and most basic digital audio player. It'll be interesting to see how this DAP stacks up to the Sandisk Clip+. I believe the M3 is marketed as a starter kit for those who'd like to experience high resolution audio for the first time. To be successful in this category, this DAP must be affordable and functional. Let's take a look if FiiO's new DAP is worth considering...

The FiiO M3 is quite small, about the size of your average cigarette lighter. Obviously, this DAP is as light as a matchbox making it a strong contender for the portability title. Another thing that's light is the price, for $55 you get a HI-RES digital audio player with a 2" TFT screen and can last you a full-day of music playback. It can play most types of music files including FLAC and WAV but unfortunately, 96kHz FLAC and DSD are out of the menu. A big plus in my books is the 8GB onboard memory coupled with expandable storage via micro SD card slot with support of up to 64GB. I've read reports from other users being able to use 128GB micro SD cards, unfortunately this is not the case for me. Nevertheless, over 70GB of storage at your disposal is a decent feature for its intended use. According to the official website specifications (photo below), the M3 is capable of driving most headphones and I can tell you right now - it handles the VE Zen 2.0 (320 ohm) just fine. Please don't expect the M3 to properly drive power hungry full sized headphones. It is not designed to do extreme tasks. For it's intended purpose, the FiiO M3 seems to be delivering the goods. Now it's time to investigate further...

Where to find:  FiiO (Amazon)
Disclaimer: This review unit was provided free of charge by FiiO in exchange for this review.

For a starter kit, I expect the M3 to come with all the necessary goodies. It should be a complete experience straight out of the box. Well I am glad that FiiO did not cut corners in the packaging. Included is a pair of earbud earphones so you can play with the M3 as soon as you open the box! There's a couple of screen protectors to prevent unwanted scratches on the TFT screen which I really appreciate. You also get a nice lanyard, giving you the option to hang the M3 around your neck. The rest are the standard usb cable for data transfer and charging then, the usual paperwork for reference. All-in-all, a decent starter kit especially for the price!
A clip on the back of the M3 would've been nice but using the included lanyard is just as effective for portability. A part of me is actually happy that FiiO did not feature fixed clip like the Clip+ because having a plain back makes the M3 more stable when stacking it with amplifiers. However, I do hope FiiO releases an accessory that'll feature a clip to accommodate those who prefer to attach the M3 to their clothing. This is quite feasible considering there's already an armband accessory available for the M3.

The M3 is available in ivory, black, blue or cyan. Unlike other FiiO DAPs, there is no silicon case included in the retail package. I would've preferred it to be there for the times when extra protection is needed. Simply to protect plastic construction from scratches and random bumps/falls along the way. Don't get me wrong, the construction is decent but I'm not confident it can handle rough treatment.
The 2" TFT screen has a decent light and colour intensity but legibility can be a problem for some. Under the right conditions, I can read the information on the screen. In most cases however, I have difficulty in doing the same because the theme colours don't encourage legibility. Another contributing factor is the font type/size - an option to adjust or change them could greatly improve the user experience. Fortunately, album art covers are rendered well on the screen - an obvious advantage over the Sandisk players.
File management is basic which is a good thing. Music files can be transferred directly to the onboard memory via the data cable or to a micro SD card. The files are then sorted alphabetically with the hierarchy of folders first then music files next. If you prefer an album track list order per folder, make sure to put numbers on the filenames. Otherwise, the M3 UI will always default to alphabetical order.
Navigation is facilitated by actual buttons. I prefer this over primitive touch sensitive navigation like the ones employed on the Colorfly C3. The power button on the left side also serves as a wake up button to activate the screen. The main navigation buttons are located at the bottom of the screen. Three upper row buttons  and three lower row buttons, 6 in total. The upper left button reverts you to the previous screen. Press and hold it for couple of seconds and the configuration page comes up. This is where you can change your playback modes (list,repeat once, repeat all, shuffle), add tracks to playlist, set or customise EQ settings, view track information, delete files, and player settings. The upper right button is for Play/Pause function. The upper and lower buttons in the middle toggles Volume Up and Down. The lower left and right buttons lets you skip tracks forward and backwards, press and hold does the classic rewind and forward. These buttons have decent feedback, the only downside is the lack of surface protrusions to assist in identifying the right buttons to press without looking. Fortunately, I was able to familiarise myself of the button layout after a few days use. Your mileage may vary but can prove difficult if your thumb is of the larger size, but it is doable.

During music playback, all basic functionalities of a decent audio player are available at your disposal. Using the included earbud earphones with remote also features the ability to control the M3 without touching the player itself. The only problem I encountered is when I'm on the playing now screen and I press the upper left button, it takes me directly to the main page. This becomes the unnecessary step when all I wanted was to go back to the list of songs on queue. It would've been more intuitive if it goes back to the queue list, whether it's the playlist or the folder list. If FiiO implements this through a firmware update, I'd be more than pleased.
FiiO claims over 24 hours of continuous playback with the screen off. I'm happy to report that the M3 performs as advertised. In the three weeks that I've used the M3 on a regular basis, I've never recharged the unit on the same day. Really impressive for a budget DAP.
Now for the most important question... how's the sound?

The FiiO M3 sounds great straight from the headphone out. Like most FiiO products may they be DAPs or AMPs, the M3 shares the same house sound. It's slightly warm yet clean and musical. Not necessarily as clear and detailed as the FiiO X3 2nd Gen, but definitely comparable to the next model - X1. The M3 sounds smoother in the highs and has a slight softness in bass texture but it doesn't sacrifice clarity or detail in the midrange. There's also a decent "airiness" in its presentation and that includes good dynamics. As a standalone player, I find the M3 to be more refined and controlled compared to the X1. I remember only using the X1 when paired to a decent amplifier because it just sounded better from the LINE OUT. I don't have the same reservation with the M3. I completely enjoy listening to this little DAP without feeling the need to hook it up to an amp. However, I did try stacking the M3 with the OPPO HA-2. The result may be favourable power-wise, but I prefer the sound coming straight from the M3. I'm not saying the HA-2 sounds worse, there's just no synergy between the two. I can attribute this to the fact that I was double-amping in that exercise. It is still possible that the M3 can benefit from other amplifiers sound wise, but if extra power is not needed, why bother! Adding an amplifier just defeats the purpose of this DAP which is portability. In terms of driving capability, I've tested the M3 with the Sony MH1, Brainwavz R3, T-PEOS Altone 200, VE Monk, FiiO EM3, Inear Stagediver 2, Noble Savant, Brainwavz HM2, Philips Fidelio X2 , VE Asura 2, and VE Zen 2 (320 Ohm). The FiiO M3 handled all of them with ease. My only gripe is the audible hiss when pairing this DAP with sensitive balanced armature IEMs, such as the Noble Savant and Inear Stagediver 2. Other pairings seem to be silent especially with full-sized headphones.

Compared to the Sandisk Clip+, the M3 can actually stand toe-to-toe and at times out match the Clip+ in some aspects such as sound quality and power. It is when the Clip+ is upgraded with RockBox firmware that the advantage can go either way. It also has the lowest noise floor between the two, making the Clip+ an excellent source for sensitive IEMs. If a fully fledged audiophile dap is preferred, a RockBoxed Clip+ is more capable due to the added customisation features. But if you're a simple individual with simple needs, the FiiO M3 can be a more desirable package. Personally, I like both of them.

So did FiiO bring us the complete audiophile starter kit? I'd say it's pretty close...
The FiiO M3 is an excellent portable music player that I'd be more than happy to use for outdoor activities. With the armband accessory (sold separately) the M3 becomes the perfect companion when you're hiking, jogging or working out in the gym! Sound quality is quite good for a budget DAP, better than most players in the under-$100 price range. The User Interface is not the best but certainly usable and more than enough for a budget DAP - I've seen worse user interfaces from devices five to ten times more expensive than the M3. For serious listeners this DAP may not be for you. If only the M3 features a true LINE OUT, it could've been a serious contender in the budget audiophile category.
I wonder if SanDisk will start upping their game.. they have a loyal following. I hope they start expanding their horizons and work towards the mid or upper range of DAPs. 
h1f1add1cted wrote "The firmware of the FiiO M3 may not support FLAC 96 kHz playback, but the used Cirrus Logic CS42L5 dac inside of the FiiO M3 support the output up to 24/96."

That is why the M3 can play WAV up to 24/96. FLAC must first be converted to WAV and that is the job of the CPU, not the DAC. The CPU in the M3 is not fast enough to convert FLAC at 96k.
Why do you consider the internal memory to be useful? It is not integrated into the same database as the contents of card memory. The internal memory on my M3 goes unused. I would have preferred that they left out the internal storage(like on the X1), and used the money saved to make better buttons that are much more ergonomic, and to include a skin with a clip on the back of it. 


Reviewer: PMR Audio
Pros: Size, Battery Life, Solid Price-point SQ
Cons: Weak Screen, SQ Refinement

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Okay –let’s talk Fiio.  It’s a fast growing Chinese audio company that seems intent on dominating the portable market.  Whether it’s the X7 or the budget X1, Fiio’s got something for everyone.  Cue General Motors of the audio world.   My last run-in with Fiio came in the form of the E11K, which left me fairly impressed with what the company was able to achieve with a hundred dollars (street prices float around sixty nowadays).  Fiio’s latest release is the M3 DAP with a casual fifty-five dollar price tag –for the record I did double check the price on Amazon.  Decent chipset set, color screen, backlit buttons, and even earphones included.  Skip a moderately expensive meal or two, and you too could be the proud owner of a new M3.  Color me intrigued –very intrigued for that matter.
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank Sunny @ Fiio for setting up this review.  Roll the usual disclaimers.  I’m neither an employee nor an affiliate of Fiio.  The photos in this review were taken by me and I do reserve the rights to them.  If you would like to reproduce them, please do send me a PM.   

Just a couple...haha!
DIMENSIONS: 74 mm × 39.7 mm × 9.1 mm    
DISPLAY: 2.0", TFT screen with 240 x 320 pixels    
OUTPUT POWER:  50 mW @ 16 ohms
MEMORY: 8 GB, with 64 GB expandable 
DAC:  CS42L51 from Cirrus Logic

MSRP: $55.00 USD
WEIGHT: 40 grams

M3 comes in a very simple cardboard box with plastic blister packaging.  A bit Spartan –but good to know that the money was spent mostly on hardware.  There are the included earphones (more on that later), a charging cable, a couple of screen protectors, the player itself, and a carrying strap.   Overall, a very coherent package, with the exception of the rather confused carrying strap.  The strap itself is large enough to be worn around the neck, which makes its purpose questionable and use utterly impractical.  Unless you intend on wearing the M3 as a piece of jewelry.  Which wouldn’t be unjustified by Head-Fi standards.
EDIT: Fellow Head-Fier Brooko has pointed out that the M3 strap is actually meant to be used for wearing around the neck.  Thanks!

The first thing that I noticed out of the box was just how light the M3 was.  Compared to my DX50, the M3 felt like a feather.  The overall design of the M3 is very nice.  As one member mentioned, the M3 with its red backlit buttons did indeed seem reminiscent of older Bang & Olufsen gear.  But design is one thing and an execution another.  The plastic body has a cream tinge and is not the snow-white IPod finish that the packaging would have you believe. The white M3 will probably experience yellowing as it gets older.  Some have said that the plastic is high quality, but I do politely beg to differ. The back plate is a yellowish gray and only emphasizes the off-white color of the player.  On the upside, the M3 does come with various color options –and if I were buying one myself I’d definitely go with the black option. 
The buttons are tactile and nice to the touch, but I did find that sometimes my clicks didn’t quite register.  The power button is tucked away on the left side and the lock button on the right.  On the bottom of the player is the headphone out, MicroSD slot, and charging port.  You’ve really got to use your fingernails to insert the MicroSD as the locking mechanism is pretty far into the player.  A minor annoyance but one that will probably be sorted out in later models.
A bit on the internals (information mostly from Cirrus’ website).  The DAP comes with 8 GB internal storage and is expandable up to 64 GB.  The DAC is a Cirrus Logic CS42L51, which is unsurprisingly aimed at reducing power consumption and minimizing device form factors.  For 16 ohm headphones, the CS42L51 is rated to deliver 46mW of power (Fiio's official specs put this at 50).  Battery life of the M3 is rated at 24 hours, which is very good compared to the power consuming monsters that are most DAPs nowadays.  Overall, a decent chipset configuration that’s focused more on form and overall design balance than purely no holds barred performance. 
Turning on the unit, I was greeted by a pleasant startup animation.  However, I did immediately notice that the screen was rather dim.  For active use outside in the sun, I do suspect that there’ll be more than a good amount of squinting done.  The UI itself is fairly simple and unobtrusive.  Those familiar with audiophile DAPs should have no problem navigating it.  The only thing that bugs me is the font, which is unsightly to say the least.  A little note – you do need to be on the music screen to access the settings (which is done by pressing and holding the upper left button).  Updating the player is easily done through the settings manual and can be completed in less than a minute.  Much faster than my iBasso DX50, which seems to struggle with updates (sometimes up to three minutes).  Not to mention that the DX50 has weird little stutters after fresh updates.  The M3 does have a bit of an organization problem though. Hopefully this'll be fixed in future firmware.   The player automatically has a fade-in and out between tracks, which can be turned off by once again accessing the settings menu.  
Basic functionality is excellent, and the M3 achieves admirably in this regard.  Very simply, it plays music –and that’s a good thing.  Far too many self-declared “audiophile” players have weird quirks or awkward designs that seriously hamper their ability to do even that.  On a small aside - the earphones are pretty good.  Nothing to write home about, but if you haven't got much lying around or need an expendable piece of listening gear, it'll do the job more than competently.

I’ll start by saying that the M3 sounds very good for its price.  It does a lot for very little.  Much more than something like the IPod Shuffle.  To put my following observations into perspective, I’m currently coming off the DX50, which is substantially higher priced than the M3.  To start, the M3 does have some grain when turned on and at rest.  It’s a far cry from the black background of my DX50.  Having said that, the grain goes away for the most part once music is played and is effectively covered up.  Not an ideal situation, but definitely not a deal breaker by any means.
In the bass department, the M3 definitely struggles a bit with extension and control.  Lower frequency micro details aren’t exactly present and this becomes increasingly obvious with headphones, where the M3 begins to lose control of the lower frequencies.  For fun, I did plug in my 470 ohm R70x, and the above issues were only magnified.  
The mids and the highs are slightly forward and this lends itself to a more immediately engaging sound, and I do have to say that the performance in the midrange is very impressive.  Slightly warm and sweet, I found this aspect of the M3 to be very agreeable to my ears.  The highs were at times a little too tinny and emphasized in my opinion.  Detail retrieval and clarity are good, and the so-called Cirrus house sound (and its existence is debated) is definitely there.    Soundstage is definitely moderately sized, which when combined with the mid and high characteristics can make for a somewhat tiring experience when sessions get longer.   Compared to the DX50, the M3 is more of an exciting listen, but one that is rough around the corners at times and overall not as smooth. 

Given the fifty-five dollar asking price for the M3, the SQ is definitely where it should be.  And while it doesn’t stack that well against more expensive players, the overall form and utility of the M3 makes it an extremely compelling purchase.  I'd say the M3 excels in its amazing blend of function and form.  I could see this being a great player for those who'd rather not lug around an audiophile power-brick but still need good sound on the go (think exercise).  If you’re in the market for a tiny DAP with awesome battery life and a solid SQ, and don’t want to break the bank, then the M3 is definitely the choice for you.   

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"The buttons are tactile and nice to the touch,"
Huh???? imo the worst thing about the player is the buttons. The Sandisk Clip players for example have ergonomically shaped and placed buttons that are very tactile.
As for the Sandisk Sport vs the the Fiio M3, the Sport puts out much less power. The Sport also has a 2,000 song limit for the card memory, and a 2,000 song limit for internal memory. These databases are separate. There is an experimental firmware for the Clip Sport that allows up to 4,000 songs in each. Aside from the higher power output of the M3, I think the M3 does sound better than the Clip Sport, even when using very efficient earphones or headphones. The lack of FM radio in the M3, lack of a built in clip,  buttons that are not ergonomic, as well as firmware glitches in the M3(some songs still play out of order, and other glitches) , and considering that a 4GB Clip Sport is only $35 now, seems to give the Clip Sport the advantage for now. If the firmware on the M3 is greatly improved, and the M3 gets to  $35, then the M3 might have a slight advantage. I don't like the idea of a player without FM radio.
Hey man, thanks for replying.  Yes, Sandisk players' buttons are ergonomically shaped and placed, and are indeed better than those on the M3.  But having said that, the M3's buttons aren't bad.  You've also got to consider that they have also have to fit the form factor of the M3, which is without a doubt better than  that of most Sandisk players.
Agree, the 2.0" full color TFT screen too is a feature some sought out..


twister6 Reviews
Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: very compact, cheap, lots of configuration settings, clear smooth sound, pairs up well with many headphones, supports in-line headphone remote.
Cons: no attachment clip, fw still work in progress, control buttons could be hit or miss.

I would like to Thank FiiO for providing me with a review sample of M3.
Manufacturer website:

It's not often you see a company expanding their product portfolio in both flagship and entree level directions, and I’m talking about the expansion with brand new products rather than refresh or update.  I can understand the need for a new flagship (FiiO was overdue for a summit-fi DAP), but their entree level $55 portable music player caught me by surprise.  Is there really a market for it?  Apparently, there is, if you consider a cult-like following of now discontinued original Clip+ mp3 player and its Clip Sport replacement.  Using a dedicated DAP for audio listening is reasonable for those who want a better audio quality or need to drive demanding headphone.  But when we want a basic music listening functionality during exercising or other outdoor activities, we might look into something smaller, lightweight, and minimalistic.  In my opinion, this is a niche market for M3 which FiiO probably had in mind.  So, was it able to accomplish this goal?  Let’s find out!
Arrived in a small box, I’m glad the cover artwork includes a picture of M3 with earbuds next to it, putting its size in a better perspective and providing you with a teaser of what to expect.  On the back you get a very detailed specification list which I found to be impressive for $55 audio player.
Inside you will find a plastic tray with M3 surrounded by included earbuds (the same one as on the cover picture), and other accessories in the tray and inside of the included envelope.
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Even for such a budget priced product, I think it was very thoughtful of FiiO to include earbuds with accessories, especially the ones with in-line remote since M3 actually supports remote transport control.  I'm not sure why earbuds rather than traditional IEMs were included, maybe because earbuds have a more universal appeal/fitment?  To be honest, they are not bad, have some bass and open clear sound with a nice soundstage, but if you're into earbuds - get yourself $5 VE Monks which is out-of-this-world bang for the buck! 
Furthermore, you will also find a nice lanyard, a pair of screen protectors, a quality usb to micro-usb charging/data cable, and a user guide.  The only other thing I would have loved to see is a clip, maybe something similar to the one used in FiiO K1 usb dac.  Coincidentally, I found that removable clip useless with K1, while I think it would have been a great addition to M3 to clip it to your belt or shirt pocket or maybe armband.
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For such a small portable audio player, with dimensions of 74mm x 40mm x 9mm and weight of 40g, I found M3 to feel quite solid in my hand.  Its unibody injection-molded construction features a quality plastic material shell with a front facing 2" 240x320 TFT color LCD.  There is nothing at the top of M3, the left side has flush mounted power (long press) and screen on/off (short press) buttons and a loop for lanyard attachment.   Right side has lock switch to disable front buttons control from accidental pressing.  The bottom has micro-usb connector for charging and data transfer, metal reinforced 3.5mm headphone jack, and micro-SD card slot for up to 64GB (as recommended by FiiO) memory expansion.
Front screen doesn’t have the highest resolution or the best color contrast, but the screen is clear and you can see embedded song artwork (if available) without a problem.  Underneath of the screen you have a tilting plate with 6 un-partitioned back-lit buttons.  The idea of such control with physical click buttons while pushing/titling that plate is pretty cool, but it might not work for everybody.  Everything is clearly labeled, and clicking in the upper left corner brings up a menu with either different sorting or settings (short vs long press), clicking in the lower left corner works as skip/scroll back, clicking upper right corner is Play/Pause, while lower right corner is skip/scroll forward, and clicking middle up/down will change the corresponding volume or navigate through menu choices.
I don’t have sausage fingers, but on a few occasions found mistakenly pressing lower vs upper corner buttons because the plate itself is as wide as my thumb.  So you have to be careful how/where you press it because it’s a slippery surface. A solution is VERY simple – add some raised function symbols to the corresponding button areas.  This way you can feel where you are pressing and can even do that without looking at M3.  Of course, you can also operate the playback without pressing any buttons on this player.  Just like FiiOs other X1, X3ii, and X5ii – you can control the playback with multi-function button from your headphone’s in-line control: single click to Play/Pause and double click to skip to the next track.  I tested and confirmed this operation with both Android and iOS control headphones.  Obviously volume won’t be adjusted, but using multi-function button works.
In terms of the actual internal design, unlike so many other cheap budget mp3 players with SoC single IC solution, FiiO choose to implement a discrete DAC/amp (output is rated with 16-100 ohm impedance and power of 50mW at 16 ohm) in order to have better control over the sound tuning.  This is still a budget audio player so don’t expect anything fancy, but the sound quality was definitely on a higher level than most of the $20 mp3 players I have tested in the past.  I will talk more about it in my Sound Analysis section of the review.
Also, you will find 8GB of internal memory which can be expanded further with uSD card where M3 will support the max 64GB uSD (according to FiiO).  I got used to uSD card DAPs, and sometime don’t appreciate the value of built-in internal memory, until recently.  My xDuoo X2 which supports only uSD card developed an issue with eject mechanism which I can’t fix, and as a result I had to super-glue the flash card to keep it inside permanently from popping out every minute like a toaster.  Also, the battery longevity is quite amazing at close to 24 hour of continuous play with screen off and medium volume setting.  At the same time, you are able to play only basic lossless and lossy formats, including FLAC only up to 48 kHz/24bit and WAV 96kHz/24bit.  I’m pretty sure people won’t have high expectations for any kind of DSD support or higher sampling rate FLAC files.
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Since I received M3 for review, I have already seen two firmware updates - a good indicator that FiiO is actively working on optimizing the performance and fixing the bugs.  Regardless of this being their budget audio player, I have no doubt it will receive as much support and attention as their other DAPs.
In the main playback screen you will find a notification bar all the way at the top with a volume icon and corresponding value (out of a total 60 digital potentiometer steps), EQ preset name (is selected), an icon to indicate presence of uSD card, a Play/Pause indicator icon, the playback mode indicator, and in the right corner a battery icon with vertical bars indicating the remaining capacity.  Majority of the screen will have either a default animated spinning record or the artwork embedded into the file.  One strange thing, with a default animation you can see sampling and bit rate of the song, while it’s not shown when artwork is displayed.
Below that you have a song playback timeline with a current time position and a total time of the track.  Then you have a song title and artist name (scrolling if it doesn’t fit in the screen), and a total number of tracks in the current directory and the track number of the currently playing song.  Thanks to a large enough screen, all this info is easy to read.
In the main Playback screen, short press of upper left Menu button brings up a menu with a list of Favorites (tagged songs), List of all songs (in alphabetical order with “shuffleplay all” at the top to select that option within a list), Sort by artist, Sort by albums, Sort by folder (internal and uSD card at the top of the root).  Within each selection, pressing Menu button takes you back to the previous screen, and then back to the Playback screen.
In the main Playback screen, long press of the upper left Menu button brings up a menu with different config and play settings.  First choice at the top is a toggle between Play all in order, Play one song in a loop, Plays all in the loop, and Random shuffle play.  Either of these choices gets reflected in the notification bar with corresponding icon.  Next choice is “+” to add current song to a Favorites or one of the 2 Playlists.  After that you have EQ selection where you have 6 genre specific presets, selection of which will also show the preset name in notification bar, or being able to dial in your own Custom preset using +/- 6 dB adjustment of 5-band graphic EQ (62Hz, 250Hz, 1kHz, 6kHz, 16kHz).
Down the list from EQ choice, you have Song Info where you get a very detailed info about the current song, pulling song ID tag with artist, song name, album name, genre, sampling and encoded rate, duration, and number of channels.  After the Song Info, you also have a choice to “X” delete the song, and below that you enter Play Settings menu.  In that sub-menu you have Resume mode (on/off), Fade in/out (when you start/stop the song a gradual fade in effect to prevent music from blasting your ears), Max Volume (capping the setting), Default volume (from memory or custom), Balance (for L/R), Preferred display (toggle between album and lyrics, I guess if embedded lyrics is available).
Once you reach Preferred display menu choice, the next scroll down click takes you to System Settings where you can select the Language, Update MediaLib (auto or manual), Screen timeout, Brightness level, Idle Power Off time, Sleep timer, Player info (fw rev, memory capacity and remaining space of internal and uSD card, S/N), Format internal memory and Storage formatting (helpful to format uSD to FAT32), Restore Factory default, and Auto Upgrade when you copy new .hex fw file.  Once you reach the Auto Upgrade in System Settings and scroll down, it will take you back to Play Settings menu.  To exit, you click Menu button again, and once more to get back to main Playback Screen.
In general, it takes a bit of time to get used to this menu access structure.  I guess with a limited number of buttons, the access to all these menu choices got layered from within the same Menu button and you will have to remember when you Short or Long press it in order to access different settings.  One thing I did found a bit annoying, while in the main Playback screen and if you want to get back to the list of songs in the currently playing directory (or album directory), you have to press Menu button and it takes you all the way back to the sorting screen where you have to start all over again from a Folder view to get back to the directory where you were just in.  I hope FiiO is going to come up with some way of being able to get back to the list of songs in the currently playing directory without starting from scratch at the top of the root folder.  It is a challenge because you only have a single Menu button, already used as short and long press for multiple functionalities.
Pictures of the display came out a little grainy due to my camera zoom, but the actual screen graphics is smooth.
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Sound analysis.
If anybody expects me to start with “OMG, It sounds better than most of the $200-$300 DAPs”, this will not happen.  As I say in every DAP review, sound analysis is a function of headphones you are using to analyze it with, but you can always pick up a signature based on comparison.  With that in mind, I hear M3 sound being clear and smooth, not as much depth and extension at either extreme sides of the spectrum, and more on a warmish side of a tonality.  You are not going to find the same level of transparency and dynamics like in some other more expensive DAPs, but at the same time I wouldn't call M3 sound flat either, it's close to an average.  Obviously, sound can be improved with a brighter portable amp or perhaps if M3 would have LO, but that is NOT the purpose of this little guy because it's not intended for critical listening - this is a FUN little audio player that cost a little over $50!!!  And, as a matter of fact, its sound quality can go head-to-head with some of the other budget DAPs twice its price.  Also, just because it’s rated at max 100 ohm output impedance and low output power, I was still able to test it with everything up to 470 ohm R70x, driving it without a problem.  Don’t expect a stellar performance driving everything to a full potential, but you will be pleasantly surprised with a sound.  By nature of its smooth sound signature it actually paired up great with brighter/harsher headphones.
Here is how it paired up with some of my headphones, and for the reference their corresponding volume level.
R70x - (40/60, 470 ohm open back) - nice pair up, expanded open sound, good retrieval of details.
PM-3 - (30/60, closed planar magnetic) - great pair up, detailed, expanded sound, great low end impact.  This one was a surprise because PM-3 signature is warm to begin with.
EL-8C - (33/60, closed planar magnetic) – surprisingly good pair up, smooth detailed expanded sound, no hint of sibilance or metallic sheen.  I actually like this combo a lot!
ZEN - (35/60, 320 ohm earbuds) - excellent detailed smooth sound, very organic tonality, great soundstage expansion.  Another surprise, especially when it comes to soundstage width.  It doesn't drive it to a full potential, but close enough.  On the other hand, pair up with VE Monk was excellent - highly recommend!
DN2kJ - (22/60, 3way hybrid) - some hissing, sound is smooth and detailed, warmer sig of M3 works great in this pair up, upper mids/treble are clear and actually revealing (to an extent), and not harsh or sibilant.  You will not get a typical analytical DN2kJ sound, but it's very pleasant and still detailed.
UE600i - (19/60, sensitive 1xBA) - some hissing (but tolerable), clear detailed revealing sound.  No complaints here; and I like that I was able to use the iOS remote (only for playback control, no volume).
ES60 - (17/60, 6xBA driver CIEM) - noticeable hissing when you pause the song or in instrumental/acoustic tracks, but other than that drives them very nicely, clear/detailed sound with a great low end impact.
Savant - (23/60, dual BA) - great pair up, very detailed smooth sound, nice sub-bass rumble.
Comparison to other DAPs.
To get the idea how it stacks up against other DAPs in its own category, here is what I found.
M3 vs Clip Sport - similar warm sound signature/tonality, M3 sound has a little more transparency, a little better retrieval of details, but not by a mile.  The bigger difference is in M3 being more dynamic while Clip is flatter.  Soundstage is similar.  M3 interface and controls are more logical, more features and configuration, though Clip is popular with audio book readers.
M3 vs xDuoo X2 - similar warm signature/tonality, X2 sound is more expanded (wider staging), and overall sound is a little tighter and faster, also a stronger mid-bass impact.  Dynamics is a little better as well (separation/layering).  X2 is a powerful little DAP, but its interface is beyond primitive and frustrating to use.
M3 vs X1 - M3 sound is a little crispier when testing with neutral and brighter headphones, slightly more detailed, a little more dynamic, and a little wider in soundstage.  X1 has more features, but for music listening only, in my opinion, M3 has a little edge over X1, especially battery life!
M3 vs xDuoo X3 - X3 signature is more neutral (brighter in comparison), soundstage wider, sound is more transparent and a little more detailed, also a little better dynamic.  X3 has more power and has LO, but it's lacking in features and can't display artwork (very primitive interface).
FiiO M3, xDuoo X2, Sandisk Sport Clip
I don’t want anybody to think that my review is being too critical or negative, because this is actually one fantastic little budget audio player!  I just don’t want to hype it to a level where some might think it will be a replacement of a more mature and feature rich $200-$300 DAPs.  But the mere fact that I tested it with a selection of my favorite in-ear and full size headphones, ranging from multi-driver CIEMs to high impedance open back and planar magnetic close backs, AND I actually enjoyed how it paired up with most of them – speaks a lot about how much I like this little audio player.  It’s not fair to compare this $55 entree level DAP to some other full featured DAPs because its functionality is limited to a basic audio playback, but it does this functionality very well!
@SerenaxD : sorry, just posted reply (and deleted it), thinking you were asking about C4, not C3.  I don't have C3, so can't compare it.  Sorry.
"lots of configuration settings"
Huh???????? It has very few settings. Have you ever used a player with Rockbox? My Clip+ with Rockbox seems to have hundreds of settings.
As for the M3 sounding better than the X1, to me it doesn't. I have both, and using the same files and same earphones, the X1 sounds like it has more detail.
As for the M3 being more dynamic than the Clip Sport(which I also own), the M3 has much greater power output, so this is to be expected.
Read my review of the M3. You and BloodyPenguin seem to be too positive about it. For me it was a disappointment, as I felt Fiio could do much better. The M3 is good, but not as good as it should have been. After using the X1, and Rockboxed Clip+ and Rockboxed Clip Zip, I was expecting a much more ergonomical design and firmware with more settings. Hopefully Fiio will learn from the M3, and give the M5 as much attention to detail in the physical design as they gave the X1.
@JK1 : positive? thought I was critical, giving it 3.5 stars, not a very high rating.  Still, it's a great product for $55, but we all have different expectations :wink:


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great Value to Sound Quality, Awesome Battery Life, Easy to Learn UI, Very Small Footprint
Cons: The Included Earbuds Do Not Do the M3 Justice, No Skin Included
**Disclaimer: I received the M3 from FiiO as a sample in return for my honest review**
                                 - All photography taken by me -

I'm just going to come right out and say it, I LOVE the FiiO M3. It is a small audio player that I have been waiting for a long time for It has the sound quality and functionality that exactly meets my needs and even surpassed them.
Made me think: Did FiiO make the M3 just for me?
My family life is extremely busy. My wife and I have a 8 month old and an 11 year old. The only time I can do my reviews or listen to music is when everyone is asleep at night.  So for me, when I do want to relax and enjoy some music, it is in bed, with my wife sleeping next to me. For that I need a player that has:
- A Small Footprint
- Easy Use for the Dark
- Dim Screen/Controls (So not to wake the wife)
- A Quick Pause Feature (So I can hear if the 8 Month Old Woke Up)
- Good Playback Quality
The FiiO checks every box.

Now let me get a little more in depth about the FiiO M3:

Beside the M3, inside the box you will find:
- Two Replacement Screen Protectors
- A Neck Lanyard
- USB to MicroUSB Cable
- Warranty Card
- User Manual
- White Earbuds
*The UI*
From a few other reviews I have read, some users have had issues with the UI. The only small problem I had was that the FiiO M3 I received was set to Chinese, so I just had to go to FiiO's website, follow a few instructions and switch it to English. It was smooth sailing after that.
After just a short time of use and never even looking at the manual I was flying around the M3's settings and customizing it to my needs. Quickly going from internal memory to external memory with just a few clicks.
I do understand where some users have a few concerns, the UI is primitive at best and has some little quirks, but is still very much usable. The nice thing about FiiO, is they are very good about doing updates, so the M3 UI will hopefully mature over time. For right now, the little M3 does just fine with playback and that is it most important feature.
I found the layout of the controls and functions to be well thought out and easy to master. It really took no time at all for me to learn the in and outs of the FiiO M3.

It has squared off edges, this is a common complaint I have heard before I receiving the M3. Well, the edges are not that sharp and actually makes the player easier to hold due to its VERY small size.
Plus, last night, before I wrote this review, I feel asleep on the M3. All night long and it did not hurt me in the slightest. It is a tiny player that has no problem being rested on.
The FiiO M3 is made mostly of extremely light weight plastic. The M3 shows decent rigidity and I see no concern for structure issues under stress.
The buttons and their layout has also been a concern as for others. Again, for me, I really did not find this to be a problem at all. Within a short period of time, I was using these controls in the dark, under the covers, without even looking at the player. I was able to skip songs, up/down the volume and pause playback while not even glancing at the M3.
I will say the buttons are a little different and might take some people a little time to get used to them, but once you do, it is easy as pie. I could see that some might have a small problem with the clicking noise the buttons make, but it is still quiet enough not to wake my wife laying right next to me.
Another interesting design feature is the 3.5mm out via the bottom of the M3. This is something I have never seen before, I'm so used to devices having it on the top of the unit. This has cause me, zero problems with its placement, if anything I am not fighting with headphone cables as much as I do with top audio out.
*Included Earbuds*
Full disclosure, I am an earbud nut. I have owned a ton of them over the years and I can be very particular about which ones I like. While it is nice that FiiO included a set for use, I feel that they unfortunately do not sound up to par and diminish the playback of the M3 a bit. I almost wish they had not included them and instead thrown in a skin for the M3 instead.
A quick sound signature rundown of FiiO earbuds are as follows: Slightly muddy lows, while not being overly bloated, so there is no concern about the bass drifting into the mids. The mids are ever so slightly recessed, not allow vocals to come through in full glory, but still enough presence to stay musical. Highs are rolled off a tad early, but there is still enough detail to keep things interesting. One surprise though with the earbuds, is the soundstage is quite large and fun. The earbuds also do not isolate at all, but that is how almost all earbuds are designed.
-Send me a PM if you are looking for some budget Earbuds that will bring out a better quality sound from the FiiO M3.-
I will not go through everything this little player can or can not do, instead I will focus on a few highlights:
It is just a DAP, not a DAC/Amp. For this price range, that is to be expected as adding these options would significantly add to the price and FiiO already has players up the range that provide these features.
One thing I was caught off guard by was the ability to pause/play with a click of a "microphone" button. It was a pleasant surprise that I have taken full advantage of using. It is so handy to be able to start and stop the music so quickly with just a touch of a button on my headphones. This feature can be used with the included earbuds and with most other brand headsets.
Gapless payback is an included option for the FiiO M3, though you will have to make sure that you have a correct .cue file associated with the files.
External SD Card that can take up to a 64GB MicroSD card. For testing purposes I did try a 128GB MicroSD card I had laying around and it worked just fine with the FiiO M3.
Built in EQ, with 5 bands. While not the best way to manipulate sound signature to your liking, it is still nice to have and works well enough. Wondering if there will be any updates to this in future firmware.
*Sound Quality*
The biggest value can be found here in sound quality. For around $55 (current price) the FiiO has a high value to price ratio. While it tops out at 96khz/24bit playback, that is plenty for a player in this price range.
I have heard reports of skipping during playback, but as of this review, I have yet to experience any. I'm not sure if it is because I am running the most recent 1.5 Firmware for the M3. If I do run into this issue, I will make sure to update my review.
A bit of noise can be heard near the floor with some finicky IEMs, but again for a player designed for this price bracket, this is to be expected.
The sound signature of the FiiO M3 is neutral by design, but there is a slight warmth that comes through, that in return allows both ends of the range to be ever so gently rolled off.

*Overall Thoughts*
Is the FiiO M3 perfect? Well no. Is it perfect for me, HECK YES! I love it! For those in the market for an audio player for around $50, that is small, has a extremely long battery life, cool features and good playback, then look no further than the M3. FiiO did a great job with this little DAP and I look forward to what future firmware will bring to the table. This is a high value item, that is so much fun to use.


Pros: Small, Lightweight, Very Practical Music Player, Compatible with In-Line Music Control on your headphone
Cons: Need UI Improvement, Edgy Design, Not Supporting Higher Resolution Files, No USB DAC Output Possible
Been a long time since the last time I bought a device which specifically use for playing music. I remember having a usb stick mp3 player that I loved long time ago. I broke the thing then I start to use my phone as a music player ever since. Take note that I never have or even tried any expensive DAP (such as AK's line of DAP). I have my Ipod Shuffle but I stopped using it because it cannot play FLAC and I hate using iTunes to transfer files, so annoying, but I personally love the Ipod Shuffle sound signature and everything (except that you can only shuffle song and nothing else). 
I got my phone (Sony Xperia Z1 Compact) broken on the 3.5mm jack so whenever I move around the music stopped, so I was looking for a temporary cheap music player that can play my flac files and that's when FiiO release the M3 (I've been eyeing for X5 by the way but still counting on my budget whether I actually need it or not, so M3 is a good bargain)
Side by side with E17k
Okay enough with the pre-story, now down to the review 

Once again this is mostly what I like and dislike with my purchase of FiiO M3, you can agree or not. If you are ok with it, please proceed 

Design & Build Quality
What I Like:
I love how small it is, it doesn't take any place or whatsoever. It is very lightweight and you can toss it around without worrying it will break. The body made from plastic (as expected by the price, but I wish it was made of alumunium, just like my E17k) but it is a good quality plastic that I feel it won't get easily cracked. Screen is okay, I won't say it good or ugly, but I don't have problem with it. The color selection is NONE. It coming in Ivory color with a black front panel. I would be very happy if it was black.
One thing I like that surprise me from it (because I dont expect it at all) it is compatible with any headphone with In-Line Music Control. Yes! You can skip file, Forward, Previous with just a click from your In-Line Control. You don't have to reach your pocket to skip songs. But somehow since the FW 1.5 it doesn't work with my Vmoda M100 anymore but still working with my Momentum In-Ear I wonder why.
What I Don't Like:
  1. Volume Control Button. I love the mechanical volume button, but I like it independent on the side better... instead of in front, I like it on the side (so in the front would only be Prev,Play/Pause, Next) It still okay anyway, but the most irritating thing about the volume control is you need to be in the music playing interface to change the volume so whenever I want to change the volume while costumizing my equalizer I need to go 'outside' ga back and front, so much hustle.
  2. A bit crampy down there. Got what I meant? Yeah, I know that size comes with price but I just realize that price a little bit too high. I will take comparison with the Ipod Shuffle which I don't have much problem with control.
  3. Edgy Design. I wish instead of exact square shape, it better have a rounded edge, I prefer it aesthetically.
  4. Strap Hole. It is good to have a strap or something so you can put it somewhere when you don't have any pocket, but I wish instead of strap I would like a clip better, more practical for me because for e.g if you want to jog with it, having something around your neck swinging while running isn't a good experience IMO. By the way, why the hole need to be down there? Now whenever I hang it, the headphone jack would be lying awkwardly (I wish it will be in the opposite direction from the headphone jack) 
One thing that irritate me the most is the screen won't turned on whenever I press the front control, I still need to turn the screen separately whenever I want to access the menu. Well, one click less hustle than two, right?
Well, I have mentioned about the volume control above.
The rest of it I'm good with the UI.
One thing I wish from the custom equalizer is more audio bands selection instead of just 5. I have this filthy Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear which is very ugly sounding until I tweaked the equalizer (on my Xperia) and it is so much harder to get the perfect sound with the current bands selection. Upgrade FW please?? 

Sound Quality
This part would be very subjective for every person, so take precautious with my impression.
I will compare it with my FiiO E17k which I use by daily basis.
Coming out from the E17k, FiiO M3 have more emerging detail in the higher mids to lower highs.
Sound impression would have a tendency with the highs. Something with a lot of textured sibilance. The highs is grainy, especially in the vocal. So if you don't like sibilance (like me) I would recommend you to take audition first, but depends on your gear I think sound quality would be work just fine. I will say that base is okay, it's relatively flat IMO.
Overall, I still prefer my E17k instead of M3 in term of sound signature but it is more than twice the price so what can I say? LoL
It doesn't support USB out DAC (I tried it with my E17k) so you might only be able to use Aux for Amplification only
I bought it so I can play FLAC files so I don't have much expectation from it because it is a good bargain. The screen is a good bargain compared with Sansa Clip or some other players.
So far I don't encounter any problems like heat or hangs, everything works just fine. One annoying thing is I got some songs not supported with it, I believe it is a High Res 96/24bit music. 
Take note that I notice my 44/24bits files can be played but displayed 44/16 instead. I don't know it is a downgrade or not, but since it is still playable I'm okay. Anyway I bought it not for some serious listening session but for mobile on the road.
In terms of DAP i believe there's a lot of other better in term of sound quality, but in terms of feature, price, file compatibility, mobility, FiiO M3 something that you would considered for. 
PTP Ration I give it 8 out of 10. Well done, but still have a lots of room to improve.
NB: It come out with some good bundle of accessories such as Straps, Screen Protector, and Earbuds. What? Yeah you read it right earbuds. The earbuds sound great paired with the M3. Not a fan of earbuds but it is a good companion (I would much prefer IEM for the sound isolation and comfort reason) 
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great sound quality, high power output
Cons: Buttons have a terrible feel, and are not at all ergonomic. Headphone jack on the bottom. No skin included. No built in clip. Corners are not rounded
I have been waiting a few months for this player. Now that I have it, I am disappointed. Not due to the sound quality or the power output, which are both great, but due to the way the buttons are organized, and how poorly they feel. I also have a Rockboxed Clip Zip, Rockboxed Clip+, the Clip Sport, and a Fiio X1. The Clip Zip, Clip+, and Clip Sport have buttons that are ergonomicly spaced, and have a great feel. Unlike the X1, the M3 does not come with a skin. It also doesn't have a built in clip like the Clip+, Clip Zip, and Clip Sport have. I hate the headphone jack on the bottom of the M3. I wanted it at the top or near the top. Hopefully it won't be on the bottom of any other Fiio players. I was hoping the case would be made of metal like on the X1, however it is plastic. There are some lightweight players made with a metal case. The Clip Zip, Clip+, and Clip Sport have FM radio, which the M3 lacks. The M3 also lacks dedicated volume buttons(which the Clip players have), with the up and down buttons on the M3 used for browsing also used to raise or lower the volume. So on M3 if one is browsing or changing settings, they need to return to the now playing screen to adjust the volume. Another annoyance is that the player can't be turned off without first turning on the screen. 
The firmware on the M3 is very primitive, although it is likely to improve over time. I doubt it will ever offer all the features that a Rockboxed Clip+ or Clip Zip offers(The M3 does give much more power output than these, and also has better sound quality). When using the M3 or the X1, I miss being able to easily make playlists on the player, especially being able to add an album at a time to a playlist. I also miss the adjustable crossfeed settings that Rockbox offers. The M3  offers longer battery life than the X1 or Rockboxed Clip+ or Clip Zip, but might be close to what the Clip Sport offers(The Clip Sport though is very limited in how many songs its databases can hold).  I haven't tested the M3 battery life. The instructions with the M3 say 16+ hours of battery life, however Fiio's website says 24+ hours. The M3 and X1 are also lacking variable speed playback with pitch correction, which Rockbox offers. Variable speed playback with pitch correction is important for those who listen to podcasts or lectures where the speaker is speaking slowly, and who want to listen to it at perhaps around 1.5x normal speed, and have it sound natural, and not like a chipmunk. I use 320 kbps mp3 files on my M3.
It occasionally starts skipping while playing, which others have described. At least this should hopefully be easy enough to fix with a firmware update. I am using the player with a class 10  32GB card.
Do I recommend that people buy the M3? Yes, since it probably has the best combination of sound quality, power output, and battery life in a light weight compact player. Could the M3 have been so much better? Yes, by having buttons like the Sandisk Clip Zip,  and Clip Sport have(or like those on the Clip+ although those those would have left less room for the display), and a built in clip as they have(although I would prefer if the clip is removable). Am I happy I bought the M3? Yes, as the Fiio M5 which is likely to have the sound quality of the M3, plus FM radio, bluetooth, and probably much longer battery life than the M3(when the bluetooth is disabled) probably won't be released until around a year from now.  Hopefully the M5 will also have a metal case, a clip that is removable, better buttons that are ergonomically shaped and placed, and many of the features that Rockbox offers. The M5 might not be out until the end of 2016 or  later though, and it might be much more expensive than the M3(hopefully $99 or less though)  so buying the M3 now seems to make sense even if you really want a player more like the what the M5 might be.
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Which do I like better, the Sandisk Clip Sport or the Fiio M3? It is a tough choice. I want a player that has the best of both 8). The better sound quality and higher power output of the M3, the better buttons, FM radio, and built in clip of the Clip Sport. Perhaps you might do as I did, and buy both, plus the Fiio X1 to use at home where shorter battery life, larger size and heavier weight won't matter and you want even better sound quality.
See my Sandisk Clip Sport review.
Fiio just released the 1.9 firmware for the M3. The M3 now properly plays songs in an album in track  number order.  I also like that you can now set the player so you don't have to unlock the screen first before performing an action while the screen is off.