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FiiO M3K

Rating:
4.16667/5,
  1. Dobrescu George
    Sleek Performer - FiiO M3K Ultraportable DAP
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Mar 14, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - + Metallic build quality, with a glass front
    + Buttons on the side for easy blind navigation and volume control
    + Accessible price
    + Small form design, yet easy to navigate and browse
    + Clear, puncy sound with excellent transparecy
    + Excellent price to performance ratio
    + Outstanding battery blife
    Cons - - No Balanced Output
    - Not a lot of driving power, best for 64OHM or less IEMs / Headphones
    - EQ isn't effective as it doesn't allow for custom profiles
    Sleek Performer - FiiO M3K Ultraportable Player Review

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    FiiO M3K is the most affordable entry from their new M series, and it is surely pretty interesting, with a good battery life, full metallic build quality, and a warm price point of just 70 USD.


    Introduction

    I think everyone has heard at least once about FiiO, and I need to do a little bit on this part for every review, so this time I'm going to tell you something you probably haven't heard about before. Besides being some of the best in terms of providing warranty, and helping their customers, FiiO have been one of the first audiophile portable companies to get popular in Romania. Back when they began gaining traction around here, there were very few companies that provided the kind of quality FiiO did, and I'm happy to see they are still doing now, being one of the most popular brand audiophiles here own.

    It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with FiiO, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by FiiO or anyone else. I'd like to thank FiiO for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with FiiO's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal experience with FiiO M3K. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in FiiO M3K find their next music companion.



    About me

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



    Packaging

    First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

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    FiiO M3K comes with a black rubber case, and a USB cable. For 70 USD, I have no complaints, and given its inputs, outputs and overall design, there's not much else I could have wished for, like it was with K3.



    What to look in when purchasing an entry-level DAP

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



    Technical Specifications

    FiiO is always plentiful with offering Technical Specifications, and I'm happy for it.


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    Build Quality/Aesthetics/UI/Firmware

    FiiO M3K is a fully metallic device, with a glass front, and a larger vertical touch bar in the middle.

    There are play, volume, and power buttons on the left side of the device, and there is a 3.5mm Single Ended Headphone Output at the bottom, next to a microSD card reader, and a microUSB USB Port.

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    The overall aesthetic is pretty basic, and I'm okay with that, for a 70 USD DAP, this is absolutely okay. The main touch feature works really well with my hands, and the display is both bright enough and readable enough for daylight usage. Since it is a mini-DAP (ultraportable), it doesn't have a large display, but that is all the better, since they managed to keep its size down.

    The EQ is very basic, and it won't be useful for most people, since it doesn't offer custom profiles. There are Forward, Backward, Menu and back buttons next to the larger touch bar, and all of those are capacitive touch buttons as well, so nothing to press, just touch.


    I love the way the headphone output looks very serious, and as a device, M3K has excellent handing, it isn't too light, it doesn't feel uneasy, it has rounded edges, and quite honestly, it is excellent. Taking the friendly price point into account makes me think that FiiO did a good amount of market study before releasing M3K.

    There is not much fluff besides the main music playing ability, but I can say that browsing music on M3K has got to be one of the most natural experiences I have ever had, on a non-touch screen player. It most certainly beats ultraportables with touch, where the display was too small and my fingers couldn't control them.

    Having the volume buttons on the site is a great idea, like this I'm not afraid of breaking a volume wheel, and I can throw M3K in a bag, or in a pocket while doing some jogging. Furthermore, having the silicone case included in the package helps as well.


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    The battery life of M3K is not to be underestimated, this is one of the best battery standby lives I've seen in a Player, being able to stay alive for almost a week in stand-by. The play time is close to 12 hours with loud volumes and FLAC files, so amazing overall design. You won't be hindered by M3K if you want to go on a mountain trip and have some music with you.

    M3K sports a very strong CPU inside, and its entire operation is lightning fast, and a pleasure really.

    The powr abilities of M3K are extremely low, 42mW on high gain, basically being able to power a 64 OHM headphone at most, my recommendation being to try to use it mostly with 32OHM or less headphones for best results, if you like to listen really loud.



    Sound Quality

    The sound of M3K is one of those really neutral and reference sounds, but with a really sweet and musical gently bright treble, neutral and quick bass with a very solid hit, and a very neutral and natural midrange.

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    The bass can reach very low, and it has a very solid hit, being one of the more punchy types of sounds. It is able to keep up with death metal when using IEMs, like FiiO F9Pro.

    The midrange is sweet and also very neutral, and what's best, it has a really good way of portraying the soundstage exactly as it was recorded, when a song was recorded in an intimate setting, M3K plays it that way, while when a song was recorded in a grand location, M3K is very capable of playing a wide sound. The details are simply unbelievable for a 70 USD Player, and of course, as other reviews have pointed out, M3K is a more neutral type of device, not overly smooth, which really helps with rendering fine details better.

    The treble is a sweet glazing for the whole sound, finely bright, but not shouty, nor rolled off. Basically, a neutral kind of treble, but which has a sweet tinge to it, everything being sweet and airy, instead of hot or metallic, or rolled off and too smooth to be neutral.

    Overall, I find the signature of M3K to be perfect for someone who wants a transparent DAP that acts as a clear window to your music, and which can give you countless pairing options, with IEMs with any sonic style.



    Portable Usage

    The small shape, low weight, and great battery life all make M3K an excellent portable player. Furthermore, it is able to drive most IEMs with an impedance lower than 64OHM, and this includes some heavy weight ones, like HIFIMAN RE800 Silver.

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    Furthermore, M3K is both light, can be used in direct sunlight, and also has an ergonomic shape, making it very simple to take with, especially when going out and about. You can throw it in a bag, and nothing will happen to it.

    Taking into account how quick the CPU inside is, and the fact that I haven't run into any issue with it while using it, I can recommend it as a trusty portable device.




    Select Pairings

    Given its really friendly price, I tried finding a few more pocket-friendly IEMs to pair with M3K. FiiO F9Pro, Shozy CP, and FiiO FH5 are the IEMs of choice for this review.

    FiiO M3K + FiiO F9Pro - FiiO F9Pro was already a fairly neutral IEM, and M3K is fairly neutral as well, resulting in a very reference and neutral sound, which is very revealing, very clear, crisp, punchy and quick, with good impact. The dynamics aren't its forte, but the detail and textures are. The bass is quick, but reaches low, and the soundstage is wide. The treble is fairly sweet and not fatiguing, yet has enough sparkle to be fun and engaging.

    FiiO M3K + Shozy CP - Shozy CP is a mid-forward IEM, which pairs quite well with M3K, as M3K is able to highlight its true beauty, CP being a really sweet IEM in the mids, and M3K bringing that to an even better level. The bass is low in quantity, and M3K respects Shozy CP's original signature and tuning. The treble, pretty smooth and non fatiguing, keeps some of M3K's sweet character making this pairing very easy to recommend for those in love with a more forward midrange.


    FiiO M3K + FiiO FH5 - FiiO FH5 is quite a bit more expensive than M3K, but M3K is still very capable of driving it, and to give very good results with it. FH5 is known for a larger and slower bass, and this is where M3K comes in handy, as it speeds up FH5's bass a bit, makes it a bit smaller in comparison to the midrange, and makes the whole signature more balanced. Furthermore, the treble gets more even, as FH5 is known to have a bit of an upper midrange / lower treble emphasis, and M3K helps with that as well. The soundstage also gets a touch wider, which complements FH5's more intimate signature well to create a more natural and even experience for the listener.



    Comparisons

    Given its price point and design, M3K mainly competes with Ultraportables, like Shanling M0, Shanling M2s and HIFIMAN Megamini.

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    FiiO M3K vs Shanling M0 - Shanling M0 is quite different from M3k, as it has a touch screen, comes with cases, and is smaller physically. This being said, M3K has a larger battery life. M0 has more functions and features. In terms of sound, M0 is much smoother, M3K has better detail, quicker overall speed to its entire sound, a more solid bass, and a brighter treble, where M0 is considerably smoother and has less treble bite. They both can drive pretty much the same IEMs, and you should make your decision based on which you want more, a touch screen ultra portable, or a more classical one, and also on whether you want a more reference and neutral DAP, like M3K, or a smoother, warmer one like M0.

    FiiO M3K vs HIFIMAN Megamini - HIFIMAN Megamini is still very interesting, especially now that it often goes on sale. Megamini is more minimalistic, and honestly, harder to browse and use in practice, but the sound is considerably better than M3K, better driving power, more vivid, more forward, more aggressive, more detailed and more clear overall sound. This being said, M3K has the sweeter treble, more natural, more gentle, yet more airy treble. Megamini feels very wide, but not overly deep, where M3K is both wide and deep when the music has the soundstage cues inside. Between Megamini and M3K, your decision should be made based on whether you want a warmer, smoother in the treble DAP, like Megamini, which can be very minimalistic, and a bit harder to browse through, or a much easier to browse through DAP, with a more natural sound, like M3K.


    FiiO M3K vs Shanling M2s - Shanling M2s is an older model from Shanling, now to be replaced by M2X soon. The price of M2s is a touch higher than M3K, but either way, many people consider M2s or M3k, since they are similar in shape and design. Now, both are fully metallic device, but M2s uses a little volume wheel for browsing, where M3K has that middle touch stripe. M2s from Shanling has Hiby Link and a few features that M3K doesn't. Both devices handle well in practice, but I feel more secure with the touch strip of M3K in the long run, as the wheel of M2s can be broken while in a backpack. The sound is much smoother on M2s, with less refinement and detail, M2s is more wooly, and has a much thicker sound, has a deeper sound, with more weight and impact, can be considered more musical, and has much less fatigue. M3K feels much much more neutral, has a much better overall detail revealing ability, is quicker, punchier, more nimble, and has a much better treble extension with a more sweet and clean treble.



    Value and Conclusion

    I spoiled the surprise about the price from the beginning of this review, but man, it is refreshing to see a DAP (Digital Audio Player) in the 70USD price point do so much for the listener. Of course, with M3K, I'm not talking about features and fluff, but rather about a pure listening experience, tuned and tailored for the purist.

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    Starting with the package, you get a rubber case and a USB cable, but that's more than enough for the price point, and the rubber case may actually come in handy for an ultra-portable.

    The build quality is still excellent, a full metallic body, a good CPU underneath, and an excellent battery in the house. Furthermore, the touch operation is pretty flawless, and I found M3K to be very natural in navigation.

    The sound is very neutral and clear, clean, and transparent, yet the treble somehow manages to be very sweet, the bass is very solid and punchy, while the midrange is really well fit in its place, making M3K a truly magic experience, especially for a budget DAP.

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    At the end of the day, if you're looking for a clean and clear ultra-portable, with a neutral tuning, clear sound, good detail revealing abilities, excellent battery life, and an ergonomic, metallic build, then you should totally check out M3K, an outstanding budget ultraportable DAP.



    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.

    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
    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


    I hope my review is helpful to you!

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    Contact me!

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      volly and Zelda like this.
  2. Zelda
    FiiO M3K
    Written by Zelda
    Published Jan 12, 2019
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build quality; Compact and comfortable design
    Easy UI; Stable firmware; Battery; DAC support
    Neutral and smooth overall sound, with nice midrange
    Price
    Cons - No Bluetooth support (nothing serious for the price)
    REVIEW - Fiio M3K

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    Website - Fiio

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    Official M3K info

    Specifications

    specs.png


    And full specifications can be found here

    Price: $70.

    Currently available in Black or Silver; more colors should be added later on.

    Many thanks to the Fiio team for the M3K review unit.

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    The Fiio M3K arrives in a simple and compact box. Inside, the M3K device with a USB (Type A) to micro-USB cable. There is also a silicone case that is already installed on the player; decent quality and covers the whole player leaving the front panel.

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    Design & Build Quality

    The new Fiio M3K surely classifies as a very portable player, and close to fit the ultra portable category if it wasn't for the so compact previous M3 model, the ongoing Sandisk Clip options or more advanced Shanling M0 (and would include the Lotoo Pico too), and still compares well against some xDuoo smaller players (X3 or D3). Super compact players are cool but of course present some limitations. The M3K is just right with the longer design and the usual convenient physical buttons, not to mention the internal room for a better processor and battery.

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    On the build quality, the M3K is quite great with the all aluminum body and tempered glass at the whole front panel. The device is made by a single metal piece in a completely smooth finish and rounded sides. Moreover, Fiio gave the M3K a more modern look, similar to the X1-ii version (with some hints of the upper Sony players too). The player weight is also very optimal of just ~70g and quite pocket friendly as well.

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    The button and connections are well arranged. On the left side there are four physical buttons, upper one for power on/off which also works for turn screen on/off, below the volume up and down long button, and then the play/pause button. The play button can be also set for A-B repeat function (if anyone ever cares about that feature). Worth noting that the volume and playback buttons also work when the screen is off and won't turn it on unless the upper button is pressed. However, it is not possible to lock any of them, at least on the current firmware version.

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    At the bottom, the micro-USB slot for charging and data management, and also to use the M3K as external DAC. In the middle, the micro SD card slot and the 3.5mm headphone jack nicely covered by gold colored ring. At the top there is just the microphone small dot as the player supports voice recording. There is no internal storage on the player, so the recording will be saved to the micro SD memory.

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    The rectangular front panel is divided for the screen and sensor touch pad which consists of a vertical sliding bar and one touch button on each corner.

    User Interface & Software

    Apart from the four buttons at left side of the player, all the navigation and settings adjustment is done by the touch pad, and feels very intuitive. A full implemented touch screen would be asking too much, especially a good quality one. Instead, the touch controls are more inspired on the X1 ii and X3 iii designs. In the middle, a vertical sliding touch bar for fast menu and folder scrolling, similar to the touch wheel on the above X1 and X3 versions. Single touch on the bar is for play/pause or confirm.

    The display is just of 2" with 240x320 of resolution. Angle view is decent and the colors are enough for the simple album art when available.

    Playback screen

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    Shortcuts menu

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    There is one touch button on each of the four corners. Lower left and right are used for previous and next, and rewind and fast forward on the playback screen, and can be also used for up and down navigation. Upper left icon is for shortcuts menu, if applied on the current screen, while the upper right icon is the back button or return to the home main screen if held a few seconds. The touch pad brightness may be also set on the settings options.

    Getting used to the different interface may take some time, but the response is fairly accurate and relatively fast. If anything, navigating through long file lists can be annoying with the short vertical bar, less convenient than when using the touch wheel.

    On the current firmware the system is very stable, way better than many other Chinese portable players at this price point, with no bugs to mention so far. The boot takes a few seconds to finish, but it shuts down much faster. Overall, everything looks simple and easy to use.

    Below are some of the different M3K screens:

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    Battery

    Very good, indeed. Rated to work to 24 hrs, and in practice it is around 20 hrs or more. The battery indicator bar is not the most accurate with just 5 bars, but the M3K can be easily used continuously for some days without caring about recharging it.


    "SQ" icon is shown on high quality files (Flac, Wave, etc.)

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    Sound Quality

    Main gears used: iBasso IT01 and IT01s, FLC 8N, Custom Art Fibae 3, Meze 99 Classics, Periodic Audio Be.
    DAPs: xDuoo X3, Nano D3, Shanling M0, Lotoo Pico, iBasso DX120.


    Overall the M3K has a rather neutral sound presentation in a very smooth and linear way. It is not a warm sounding DAP but there's a faint sense of musicality and hint of sweetness that goes on the midrange with some emphasis on vocals, and little bit elevation on the lower treble.

    Bass is very neutral and linear with decent grade of resolution for the price. Quantity wise, it is small with not much impact and attack power, easily perceived with dark or warmer earphones; a good thing as it doesn't add color to the sound, but does limit the fun factor. As for quality, it has very good control and flat texture, average layering with no much dynamics. The speed is normal with quick decay, but not to be paired with fast balanced armature drivers or higher end stuff. The extension is decent without much rumble. Overall it is clean and detailed bass response.

    The midrange is probably the most favorable part out the M3K. Well balanced on the whole from low to upper mids, mostly neutral if just a little bit north of. Clean thanks to the softer bass emphasis, fairly natural in timbre and very smooth. Clarity is good, not missing much of micro detail considering the price; not cold or leaner type of tonality, with a bit of musicality flavor. Separation is decent, nothing outstanding but fair enough, though instruments can sound too soft and light. On the other hand, the M3K adds some delicate hint of sweetness to vocals; not too thick with more mid-centered sets and yet less distant with more v-shaped options. More enjoyable, nonetheless, especially with female singers, and good for modern pop or rock, if less favorable for classic or orchestral pieces.

    The treble continues the neutral formula, not as reserved as the bass, but overall smooth and safe. Limited on the upper extension, yet keeps good level of resolution. Balanced giving a slight brightness to the lower treble region. The control is surprisingly good; not missing the attack and bite when paired with brighter earphones but retains the overall musicality.

    Sound stage is about average, which is fine for a budget player. Not my option for open headphones or mid-level IEMs, but okay for closed sets and many IEMs on the $200 and below. With the bit of forward midrange the presentation is more intimate; again, great match for vocal oriented music. Nevertheless, the overall natural timbre and delicate sense of musicality make a good deal out of the M3K.

    Driving power is good for anything that's easy to drive. The specs are more 'honest' with the recommended impedance going just up to ~100 ohm, not overrating the player capabilities. The M3K can get loud enough with most of the IEMs I could try (some listed above) with just 20 volume steps. With larger headphones like the Meze 99 had to raise the volume to around 35~40, and still didn't reach half of full volume steps. The differences from one to step to another are easy noticed, and with more sensitive IEMs it may be either a bit too loud or too low, but apart from that it's comfortable with most gears used on the go.

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    Value

    All in all, the Fiio M3K is a very affordable addition to the most portable music players. A nice and well built design, good ergonomics, intuitive interface with a stable and responsive system. Battery life is very good too. The sensor touch buttons might need some to get used to, especially the sliding bar which can be annoying to use for long files' list, but still faster than the traditional buttons. The only thing that could be missing is Bluetooth support instead of the recording feature, but hard to complain about for just the $70 price. Sound-wise, the M3K has good quality next to similar price contenders; a neutral and very smooth presentation with musical and slightly sweet midrange.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Zelda
      Yes. The volume + and - can be used as next/previous if held a few seconds. however, it only works when screen is off
      Zelda, Jan 22, 2019
      ArlakTheRecluse likes this.
    3. ArlakTheRecluse
      Thanks, you've sold me on this DAP now lol. That functionality is exactly what I needed to have to get this to work for me.
      ArlakTheRecluse, Jan 24, 2019
    4. ArlakTheRecluse
      Actually bought it now, I'll post my opinion on it when I break it in.
      ArlakTheRecluse, Jan 29, 2019
  3. chowmein83
    An Extremely Portable Player
    Written by chowmein83
    Published Sep 28, 2018
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Great battery life, great build quality, nice looking screen, fairly responsive, no major software bugs
    Cons - Recordings are made at a very low volume, some parts of the UI may be slow to the discerning eye, there currently isn't a great solution to scrolling through your songs, okay sound
    So I'm going to try out a new review format - something that is much shorter than my earlier reviews and hopefully easier to read. Hope this gives people a better idea of what to expect from the M3K!

    Just to be clear – I was given a M3K review unit to check out (not keep) in exchange for a brief review.

    With all that out of the way, let's dive into the review.

    Design, ergonomics and build quality
    The M3K’s tiny size fits nicely into your hand, not being too tall or wide. The body is made of a nicely finished aluminum alloy with rounded (not sharp) corners, giving the player a much more premium feel than its price would suggest. It’s also not too slippery in the hand, but there is a silicone case included if you are concerned about that. The silicone case isn't anything special though, but it doesn't smell!

    The capacitive buttons work well - they were quick and responsive, and their backlit nature makes a world of difference when trying to use the player in dark environments. The buttons aren't too dim or bright either.

    Screen
    This probably has one of the best screens I’ve seen from FiiO yet. The vivid IPS screen has decent viewing angles as well as nice colors and contrast. Also, it actually gets bright enough to use in moderate to strong sunlight – just don’t use it in extremely sunny conditions like on a hot day in Southern California.

    UI and Fluidity
    First impressions are positive when you boot up the M3K. The M3K boots up quickly, and navigating through the menus with the vertical touchpad is easy and intuitive. However, after a while I started to notice that the M3K puts priority on some operations over others, probably due to the X1000E processor’s limitations. For example, when selecting/moving onto a new track, the M3K starts playing the new song pretty quickly but there’s a pretty obvious delay in switching the album art. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and I’m not sure if most people will care enough about it.

    Also, there currently is no good way to scroll through your music if you have tons of tracks. You either use the scroll wheel or use the skip forward/back buttons to do so, but either way takes a while to go through your music, and FiiO hasn't implemented any other quicker methods.

    Recording
    This could have been a more useful feature, but sadly I think Fiio may need to work on this more. Right now, the recording volume is simply too low – I literally have to crank the volume to near max to hear recordings of people talking at normal volumes. And I’m not sure if its just me, but when you crank the volume up that high, there seems to be some kind of high-pitched whine on the recordings.

    USB DAC
    It works well enough on both Mac and PC, with no noticeable bugs that I could catch.

    Battery life

    What Fiio advertises is true, the battery life is pretty long. I was basically hitting their advertised battery life for playing music. While I haven’t really had the chance to test their 38 day standby claim, I will say that I accidentally left it on for a week once (paused, not playing music) and the battery meter didn’t even go down 1 bar.

    Sound
    I think this is a mixed bag. Overall, the M3K has what I would call a neutral sound signature, maybe slightly leaning towards being bright. Basically, it has treble that’s very much present but somewhat grainy, while bass is good for the price point.

    On the one hand, the M3K is obviously improved in sound over its predecessor the M3, especially in bass, soundstage size (deeper and wider) and imaging (clearer placement of instruments in the song). On the other hand, I thought the Fiio X1 (only $20 more) mostly sounded noticeably better than the M3K – it just sounds smoother yet with more details revealed and plus, the X1 has enough power to drive over-the-ear headphones in a pinch, which the M3K can’t really do.

    To go into more detail – compared to the M3, the M3K has a wider and deeper soundstage as well as better imaging, mainly because it has a noticeably blacker (quiet) background compared to the older player. The M3K also seems to bring more of the sub-bass out and sounds more dynamic compared to the M3, and has noticeably more power (the M3K drove my ER4 noticeably better than the M3 did). However, the M3K’s mids and treble seem to be as grainy as the M3’s.

    Compared to the X1, the M3K is mostly inferior in terms of sound. The one thing that the M3K does better than the X1 is that it sounds more dynamic – the X1 seems to be more “flat” in terms of capturing volume differences within the track. Soundstage size and imaging seem to be equal between the M3K and X1. However, the M3K sounds noticeably more grainy compared to the X1, while providing less details – and to me, this was not a minor difference. Also, bass quality is definitely a step up on the X1. The X1 also drove my higher impedance IEMs (100-ohm ER4) and more sensitive over-the-ear headphones (like Sennheiser HD598) better.

    Overall
    The M3K is a decently valued player if you are looking for something with decent sound quality, great battery life, and good ergonomics in a very portable package. Just don’t expect to really use the recording function.

    However, for more discerning audiophiles who want just a basic player, if they are willing to spend just $20 more (at the time of writing, M3K is $70 vs X1 at $90 on Amazon) I would steer them towards the Fiio X1, which to me provides much improved sound quality - enough to outweigh the X1 being noticeably slower in usage (though it isn't what I would call unusable). With the X1, you don’t really give up many functions (and you get Bluetooth on it), and while battery life is noticeably less than the M3K, I think for many people 10 hours is enough.
      Dobrescu George, project86 and voxie like this.
    1. NihilGuru
      is it possible to connect an external dac?
      NihilGuru, Sep 30, 2018
    2. chowmein83
      @NihilGuru Unfortunately, I don't think so. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.
      chowmein83, Oct 1, 2018