8.9
Score
$449.99

Disclaimer: The FiiO M11 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank FiiO for this opportunity. 

To learn more about FiiO reviews on Headfonics you can click here.

It has been 6 years since FiiO introduced X3, an adventurous budget DAP that draws many of us into the audio hobby.

4 years later the X5iii took the general mid-fi the DAP experience to a new level, with huge leaps in product design, durable machining, dual DACs, and smooth UI experience.

Thinking there couldn’t be a more appealing budget device and another leap on user experience to come this soon, I am jaw dropped with the M11’s arrival and its features and pricing.

Purposing

With the X5iii in the rearview mirror, you could debate that there is a certain degree of homage to competing designs and the whole package did not seem premium enough. The new design on the M11 changes that. It packs in the best bezel-less design implementation with the fastest Android system on DAPs I have seen so far, completely brushing up the experience from the X5iii.

The device combines a huge screen, balanced connection, and a full Android OS with upsampling to DSD; something you cannot find on phones nor any similar-priced DAP in the market. This is what makes it special being not just a multimedia player but a functional backup device comparable to phones or even better.

In this review, we will walk you through functions and possibilities the M11 offers and test whether this fancy device matches our expectation on sound and technical performance!



FiiO M11

Design

Legacy

The build is similar to X5iii, sleek and solid machining with a golden knob on the left. The longer screen ratio makes it feels much cooler and it feels quite beefy on the hand, the right size and weight for good grip and a premium feel.

On the top, you will find the power button with a blue LED rim, a signature design of FiiO’s similar to the K3 and the older X5iii. A similar volume knob and control layout like the X5iii and the X7ii can be found on the side as well. The click on the button has clean feedback and everything looks durable. You don’t need to worry about buttons accuracy with the preinstalled soft case.

FiiO M11

Rear

Taking off the soft case and turning to the back of the M11, a huge piece of carbon fiber textured glass panel is fitted closely to the edges, with Gold Hi-Res logos printed in the inner side.

It feels more premium than I expected, much alike some flagship DAPs. It got me thinking and hoping someday FiiO will consider releasing a stainless steel or copper version.

FiiO M11

Buttons & Slots

On the metallic body, you will find etched indications near the buttons, output jacks, and the dual card slots. The 4.4 and 3.5 jacks are decorated by a golden rim much like Sony devices. Everything feels solid so far and the form factor is easily controlled single-handedly.

FiiO M11

Much like the digital crown on the Apple watch you will find a stepped volume knob on the M11 with fine machining patterns on top. The digital controlled knob touches up the whole design nicely and the feedback with steps feels great.



FiiO M11

You will see two card slots supporting up to 4TB cards however some users have reported instability issues with one of the slots. For now, I advise using the second card slot first and check with FiiO for the latest updates for compatibility for all slots.

FiiO M11

Hardware

FiiO has very successfully grabbed our attention during its 2019 Spring launch event with the M11’s bezel-less screen design and fully functional Android 7.0 OS. A 5.15 inch full laminated IPS screen sits on the 211g metallic CNC chassis, in which 6 cores and 3GB ram are stuffed inside.

The M11 covers all the hottest features from 4.4mm/2.5mm termination, FPGA technology, QC2.0+MTK PE quick charge to LDAC/APTX-HD connections.

FiiO M11

Processor

Stepping up from M9’s Exynos 7270, the M11 features flagship processor Exynos 7872 with 3GB of ram onboard accompanied by dual Asahi Kasei Microdevices 4493 DAC chips. The design adopts true-balanced signal paths with custom version OPA926 opamps. Both are aimed to bring down distortion and noise floor along with enhanced signal to noise (SNR) performance than older generation chipsets.

The more powerful 14nm tooled 2.0 GHz processor rivaling snapdragon 625 along with 3GB ram and arm Mali-G71 GPU promises smooth UI experience and game-play, not just doodle jump but heavier 3D graphics. The huge 18:9 bezel-less multiple-touch screen does 720p, great for gaming on the Android 7.0 Nougat OS without the white-list policy.

However, there are no accelerometer and other types of sensors onboard of the device sadly but we couldn’t ask for much or else the power consumption may affect the audio circuitry.

Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified

As defined by JAS which established the Hi-Res Audio standard, Hi-Res Audio Wireless logo has been introduced after Nov. 28, 2018, and could be registered for wireless products that meet similar standards alike normal Hi-Res certified products when connected wirelessly. LDAC is the only certified Audio Codec that can be registered for Hi-Res Audio Wireless.

FiiO M11

The M11 supports all of the popular Bluetooth codecs and allows you to connect to all the latest Hi-Res receivers or earphones. The device also packs in Airplay support for Apple TV/ other speakers that support Airplay.

Screen

The 720P 5.15″ IPS 18:9 panel packs in 1440*720 pixels in total, 310+ pixels per inch alike Apple retina products. The screen can get very bright, with good contrast and vivid colors under the sun.

FiiO M11

The screen ratio is just right for Youtube at 720p, you could still see subtitles clearly and listen to the music with 4.4mm output with the bonus All to DSD upsampling which we will introduce later in the article.

Packaging & Accessories

Before unboxing the paper box you will see two hi-res logos. The M11 is amongst the first products that have acquired the hi-res wireless certification. Turning to the back of the box you will see aptX HD, LDAC and HWA being supported, this DAP covers basically all the popular high-resolution Bluetooth standards in the market.

FiiO M11

Much alike FA7 we checked earlier, taking off the sleeves you will find a hefty inner box with FiiO’s logo embossed and laminated. In the box, you will see the M11 sitting right in the middle wrapped in a milky plastic bag, with a glass screen protector applied and TPU case pre-installed.

FiiO M11

Packed in the accessories box you will find a Coaxial cable and USB cable aside from the user manuals. There is a sim-card pin that could help you open up the dual micro-sd card slot. You also get your usual warranty and FiiO quick start guides inside the box.

FiiO M11

 

Click On Page 2 below for Software Impressions & Performance

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51 Responses

  1. Josh

    I have a Fiio X7 (the original one) and I’m looking for something a bit more portable and easier to use… will this be acceptable sound quality compared to the X7? Or will I notice the loss just to get a better form factor and experience?

    Reply
    • J.T.

      If portability is the most important factor you may consider the M6 as well, it slides weightlessly into your pocket and with sensitive iems you will still get good quality on the go. The bigger boy M11 has a much better experience compared to the early generation X7, can’t blame it since it is built way earlier, also sporting multiple balanced outputs which are optimized and superior in output power. Could say tthe M11 is superior with the 4.4 out quality.

      Reply
  2. Rares

    I’ve had the m11 for 2 days. Using it with fiio fh7. It is my first dap, but I find it “artificial” sounding. It is engaging but it a little annoying to listen to at the same time. I mainly find it too clinical, I’d prefer something warmer. Should I invest in an SR15 from Astell&Kern?

    Reply
  3. Rajib

    Hi James,

    Which one according to you is the best sounding DAP out there as of now? Okay, please list the top three. :-)

    Reply
    • J.T.

      Great question but there are many factors that makes it hard to answer ;-)
      I love the power and tuning from many portable MD/ CD-players also recorders if that counts, while strong hardware nowadays enables tuning options and tweaks also filtering. It is more about preference and matching so it really depends. Listing top 3 may be misleading as I am not able to compare them with the same control!

      Reply
  4. Keira

    Is it possible to stream Spotify offline (the way you would on a phone – by first downloading within the app) with DAPs or must one be connected to WiFi? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • J.T.

      It has the same android OS so all functions would behave very similarly, if not the same!!

      Reply
  5. CSuk

    I am not able to install viper4android on my M11. Can anyone help ?

    Reply
    • J.T.

      better ask for help in related forums, give it a quick google search and you will find helpful threads and users!

      Reply
  6. acaa

    DX220 could have been the perfect DAP if they have upgraded the CPU aswell, it is so laggy and bump in ram is not beneficial when it can’t even run 1 app efficiently (chrome take a min to load a page). The 1080p ips screen could have been AMAZING if only it can run PLEX and other streaming app fast enough, also it is system wide DAC decoding, where the M11 limits which app gets to use the DAC (most chrone youtube goes through the CPU). DX220 sounds more spacious and more grand than the M11 its a much superior in the sound department.

    Reply
    • Marcus

      With the tube amp card launching soon the DX220 will be even more a pure DAP than a feature-packed Android platform like the M11. I think both companies are becoming more distinct in their offerings now.

      Reply
    • Kay

      Hi! So would you for sure recommend the DX220 over M11? Or even the DX159/200 with Amp 8/9 over M11?
      Thanks!!

      Reply
      • Marcus

        Too early to say yet for a number of reasons. One, I dont have an M11 :) that’s normally a good thing to sort out but sadly James has it and is far far away.

        Second, the Amp 9 is not yet reviewed. However, its really one more bow in the audible arrow of the DX220 so its nothing but positive for me thus far.

        Note that the new firmware of the DX220 released some of the clock rate cap so it is a touch faster but nowhere near as fast as the M11.

  7. CSuk

    What is this ‘Viper’ your are talking about? Is it app or something else?

    Reply
    • J.T.

      It is a DSP app for android device, try google ”viper4android” and you will find more information! Be aware it requires certain access to your device and do check compatibility first before running it.

      Reply
      • CSuk

        Thank you.

        I bought M11. I find bass on it to be soft. So I was looking for a way to improve it. I tried AIMP as media player but it’s UI not up to the mark. I am not able to download my favorite app PowerAmp. I B&W PX and Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphone and Oppo HA-2 Headphone AMP.

  8. Aaron

    i currently have the bgvp dm7, how do they pair with the m11? was thinking about getting the m6.
    do you think it will have major improvement in the sound department?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • J.T.

      M11 is definitely performing better especially with balanced output so if you have a 4.4 cable around do go for the M11!

      Reply
  9. DP

    Having the same DACs as the Shanling M5s, have you compared the two?

    Reply
    • J.T.

      I don’t have access to the M5s but did listen to it before, in my memory they don’t sound similar. Even with the same chipsets the implementation will lead to different results, especially when the amping stage and gain is different.

      Reply
  10. George

    As one who loved the X5-iii’s sound tuning and trying to conclude your verdict in a sentence, is it safe to assume that the M11 is a similar but cleaner sounding X5-iii? If that’s the case, I’m totally sold.
    I had the R6 and sold it as I found it aggressive up top.

    Also, any thoughts on how it compares with ZX2?

    Thanks for the excellent in-depth insight!

    Reply
    • J.T.

      If you compare the balanced output you can feel the tighter bass on X5iii and more density/power in the lower frequencies. M11 with All to DSD mode sounds more refined and airy in the treble and the bass punch is softer, it is a more comfortable / natural tuning to me and works very well with games and movies. I wish M11 has more power and control but for the price and the features can’t ask for more!

      From my memory ZX2 is quite different in tuning, more digital and less opened up.
      It is better to know what earphones you are using and what songs are on your list to see if there is good synergy!

      Reply
  11. Sudhamshu Chandra

    Been searching for a music player that may also serve as a phone. If they added 1 or 2 sim slots, this would’ve been an epic phone and a music lover’s delight. Many people will buy this as their secondary phone and listen to music all day.

    Reply
    • J.T.

      Yah if granbeat is more powerful and less geeky it would be nice.
      The m11 will be a perfect back up device with a sim slot!

      Reply
  12. Goncalo Costa

    How does it compare to the Ibasso DX150 or the Cayin N5iis, they are in the same price bracket.

    Reply
  13. tk

    I don’t have much experience with Android. Without Google Play, can I side load Android Auto from androidapk or apkpure and run it on the M11?

    Thanks again, James!

    Reply
    • J.T.

      apkpure works, but apps like youtube you will need to find hacked versions (without the need of google play)

      Reply
  14. tk

    Lots of technical ingenuity. But why is USB-C transfer speed left out? On all these DAPS with USB type-C, I’ve only read specs of Type-C to Type-A 2.0. Is there one where a double-ended Type-C cable or Type-C-to-USB 3.1 SS can be used? It would boost transfer speeds by…a lot.

    Reply
    • J.T.

      I believe for most target users the transfer speed is fast enough! in most case I am loading my songs with a 3.0 card reader before putting the card in my DAPs, can’t really feel the difference adding a few albums every time when connected to PC.

      Reply
      • tk

        Makes sense. Thanks. Definitely sounds like a winner for balanced headphones/IEMs.

  15. tk

    Thanks for the review. After seeing all the specs, price and functionality, I thought I was set on this for my 1st DAP! But SQ is the most important to me, and my 1st player will drive open-backed, neutral headphones as well as low-sensitivity IEMS OTG, so the comments on sound quality leave me disappointed.

    Did it seem like they tuned the single-end output with more of a V-shaped sound than the balanced output, as though they’re determining the shape (and not just the clarity) listeners with different outputs want to hear? Am I wrong in thinking this player’s sound will fall even lower with neutral, unbalanced headphones like AKGs?–I’m trying my best to love this player.

    Reply
    • J.T.

      the tuning actually works nicely on the go, boosting some frequency that makes it sounds clearer in the vocal region and compensate the darker/ less extended tuning of some lower-mid end gears. 3.5mm in this case is a deriative output from the balanced architecture, expect the best performance from balanced plug(s) on similar machines! Dont forget you can tweak the tuning with EQ too, with the better hardware you can use more advanced tweaks like Viper which would enhance the perceived sound quality alot.

      Reply
  16. J.T.

    The tuning could be quite different with different iems due to the impedance matching (10ohm on r6). M11 sounds more relaxing and opened up in the treble while R6 has more impact and resolution in the lower end

    Reply
  17. Michael Mooney

    Can you compare it to the Ibasso DX220? I want to know if the ibasso is worth almost twice the price of the m11.

    Reply
    • J.T.

      I don’t have the DX220 here so I cannot compare them side by side now, quite sure soundwise DX220 is stronger but it is a lot more expensive. What makes the experience really different is the screen ratio on M11 and if you are using Bluetooth devices this covers all the higher resolution codecs!

      Reply
      • Michael Mooney

        I am just so torn on the m11 vs DX220. I love the swappable amps on the DX220 and the AMP8 module looks very impressive. The CPU on the m11 is better and the interface is better in my opinion. But all those are second to the actual sound quality and i feel that the DX220 might be the better option. But for the price of the DX220 you could get the M11 and the Q5s with the THX module.

  18. Matt

    Was set to buy the M6 but now Im wondering if the M11 is worth purchasing for someone interested in standard 3.5 headphone wired connection playing all music from a card? Is the M11 sound quality upgrade worth a 300 dollar price jump?

    Reply
    • J.T.

      M11 has more power and resolution on the 2.5/4.4mm socket, sound wise it won’t be a huge leap on 3.5mm compared to the M6 but user experience M11 is definitely much better.

      Reply
  19. buli

    Probably the best DAP for its price range tbh
    I’ve been quite hesitating between the Cowon Plenue J/D2, Hiby R6 and the DX150, but seeing Fiio is releasing a new DAP I think I’m just gonna go with this one when it comes out.

    Reply
    • J.T.

      The form factor is much cooler this time, other DAPs you mentioned are dedicated to music replay but M11 is a true multi-media player you could have some good fun on!

      Reply
      • buli

        Exactly what I need!
        Just wish battery life was any longer, but it’s still ok’ish considering that high end DAPs usually get 10 hours

    • J.T.

      (reposting here as I mis-pressed and replied on top) The tuning could be quite different with different iems due to the impedance matching (10ohm on r6). M11 sounds more relaxing and opened up in the treble while R6 has more impact and resolution in the lower end

      Reply
  20. Zvenobg

    Why not give it two sim card slots and make it the most epic phone ever?

    Reply

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