Watch Display (5 styles)

With the latest firmware, you get movement-based interaction with the M5. For example, when you swing your arm upwards the screen will automatically turn on and shows the time. There is enough brightness for you to read the time under the sun.

You can change the watch display in the setting menu and there are 5 different designs you could choose from. Design No.2 looks the best to me, as it resembles Apple’s style. You can also orientate the screen in any direction in the settings which might help with left or right arm strap usage.

FiiO M5

Step Counter And Record

The M5 step counter application can be accessed from the main menu and there are two buttons to start collecting step counts and to reset it to zero. You can start counting and go back to the main menu and use other functions while it operates in the background. You will see a small walking icon on the top bar when it is activated.

When you set zero the count there will be data stored on the other page with the date you record the data so if you are doing different sports sessions you could keep the records separately.


Dual microphones are integrated at top of the M5 on each side of the volume button array. This looks quite professional not to squeeze both channels inside the same hole or do a mono-stereo conversion and the recording quality is quite decent.

You can choose the recording quality in the setting menu and the recorded file is in Wav format. There are two holes also on the silicone watchbands so it will not block the microphone when you are putting it on the strap.

FiiO M5

Sound Impressions

Although M5 has so many functions the hardware does not seem to be compromised. The M5 uses a non-integrated, highly power-efficient chipset with separated AKM 4377 chipset that enables up to DSD128 hardware decoding and a stunning >118dB S/N ratio. The solution covers higher resolution codec including DSD64/128 and AIFF also ISO files with CUE support.

On paper, the S/N ratio is very good for a device at this price and remarkably the noise control on the M5 is done well listening with sensitive IEMs. Output impedance is<0.5Ω and power output at 16ohm load is ≥42mW, quite low compared to the bigger brother M6.

With the lower output power, I would recommend pairing with more sensitive IEMs, especially ones that aren’t focusing on the treble. I tested the M5 with a handful of IEMs and turns out I prefer hybrids in most cases which compensates the bass and at the same time outputs brighter treble. Entry-level dynamic IEMs with a balanced tuning will also work well, you will hear clean vocals and with some elevation in the tuning, the upper mids sound very clear without fatigue.

FiiO M5


Paired with ikko OH1

I assume OH1 will sound veiled on M5 being underpowered but its lifted bass actually compensates what the M5 lacks. The combo sounds full in bass and vocal is positioned more upfront with good energy. There is some good synergy between this pairing surprisingly and you may expect similarly tuned hybrid IEMs, for example, Oriveti OH300 to work their magic on M5.

The overall sound performance with this combo is enjoyable and engaging with a focus on the mid-lows, works great for game music/ dance music.

Paired with Final B3

The B3 is one of the latest Final audio works in beautiful rose gold finish. Since the other hybrid ikko OH1 works well with M5 I was curious to try the B3 on it and it did produce pleasing results and more than I expected.

The vocal on the B3 sounds natural and smooth with good weight and decent headroom. The very upper-pitched vocal range is still a bit shy but for powerful voices, it sounds lush and clear. With less bassy tracks / good recordings there is ample resolution and tonal balance. Overall, I quite enjoy the magic this combo sparks.

FiiO M5

Paired with FiiO FA1

The FA1 sounds fairly balanced with the M5. The bass punches light and you can hear the upper frequencies rolling off with lighter voices. It is a fast-paced yet a cheerful tuning that brings out extra details in the mid-highs region.

Nevertheless, the vocal is positioned somewhat far off. Whilst the presentation with this pairing enlarges the staging it may be a little bit hollow for tracks that have loose bass.

Selective Comparisons

FiiO M6

M6 is released not long ago and you may be questioning which one to choose. In fact, they are very different in structure and vary in function. The hardware on the M5 and M6 are completely different. The M5 uses an Ingenics solution, AKM DAC, CSR Bluetooth chipset and the M6 sports Exynos processors, ESS DAC, and a Samsung Bluetooth chipset.

The M6 has a nicer screen, faster OS, onboard 4GB ROM versus no onboard ROM on M5. There is a more precise volume control on the M6 with 120 steps doubling M5’s 60 steps. It looks like the M6 is superior in every dimension, however, the M5 as a USB DAC supports a higher bit-rate with DSD128compared to the M6’s 24/192 in DAC mode only.

The user experience with the M6 as a music player is also superior as you can view the playlist a lot easier. The M5 works better as a multifunctional wearable device and still sounds engaging with the right choice of earphones.

The M6 doubles the battery size and output power also supports streaming via different apps. You can hear the stronger output power of the M6 comparing both players with the same IEMs especially dynamic IEMs.

Shanling M0

You can easily relate the size of the M5 compared to the Shanling M0, a big hit since its release that has decent power for demanding in ears or even small cans. Putting the Shanling M0 and the FiiO M5 side by side there are some hints suggesting their different positioning.

The M5 has a more consumer-orientated approach with minimal physical buttons whilst the M0 features an avantegarde design with a cool volume knob. On both models UI, navigation experience and screen responses are similar.

Soundwise the M0 targets more demanding users with its higher output circuitry. You will hear solid, energetic bass impact along with the ability to drive more demanding iems regardless of its size. The newer contender M5 focuses on multifunction, packs in a stereo recorder, stepcounter, watch display and maintains a darker background with lower output power.

In comparison, the Shanling M0 sounds more balanced, has the better separation that works well with mid-tier, higher end earphones. The M5, on the other hand, boosts some frequencies to bring out details in the treble and mid lows, carefully compensating its lower output to pairs well with sensitive gear. The tuning on the M5 helps to breathe some life into flatter tunings, which some may find more engaging than the M0.

The user experience and newer functions puts the M5 into my daily carry. Soundwise it doesnt necessarily replace the M0 and in fact they complement each other with different signatures and power ratings.

HiBy W5

The HiBy W5 is equipped with Hiby’s UAT technology enabling 192kHz playback and a lot of custom settings. As a dedicated receiver, the W5 has a smaller profile, tuning is cleaner and more powerful (80mW per channel @32ohm compared to M5’s 24mW @32Ω from official data).

The FiiO M5 packs in a lot more useful features and does feel like an entirely different product. The W5 is developed for better output power but you will still find M5’s output comfortable for pairing sensitive IEMs with it.

FiiO M5

Our Verdict

At $99.99, the FiiO M5 packs in professional and industrial design, also a very complete DAP experience with advanced Bluetooth capabilities.

The clip case tagging alone makes it a practical high-resolution Bluetooth receiver while you can wear the M5 to the gym with the extra watchband and stream from your phone. Along with the SHanling M0 and the Hidizs AP80, the M5 is perfectly suited for use at the gym or for active lifestyles.

From the start, I didn’t have much expectation on the sound output and to my delight, it pairs quite well with some hybrids and dynamic IEMs. Considering the price it offers a lot of usable scenarios for both casual and audiophile users.

FiiO M5 Specifications

  • Processor: Ingenic X1000E @ 1 GHz
  • RAM: 64MB
  • OS: Linux
  • DAC: AK4377
  • Bluetooth interface: CSR8675
  • Bluetooth version: 4.2
  • Supported codecs: SBC, aptX, LDAC — передача, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC — receiving
  • Screen: 1.54, IPS TFT, 240×240
  • Memory expansion: MicroSD up to 2 TB
  • Battery: 550 mAh, Li-Po
  • Playback time: >10 hours on 3.5 mm output, >12 hours Bluetooth (SBC), >13 hours Bluetooth receiving (SBC)
  • Max resolution: 384 kHz/32 bit, DSD128
  • Format support: DSD (DSF, DFF, ISO), APE, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC
  • Output power: ≥42 mWt @ 16Ω, ≥24 mWt @ 32Ω
  • Frequency range: 5 Hz ~ 90 kHz (–90 dB)
  • Noise level: <2.5μV
  • Output impedance: <0.5Ω
  • THD + noise: <0.003%
  • Channel separation: 74 dB
  • Signal/noise ratio: ≥118 dB
  • Dimensions: 45 mm × 42 mm × 14 mm
  • Weight: 38 g
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23 Responses


    Just faced the real FIIO tech support. Back in January 2020 I alerted them with several very annoying bugs relating to the processing of cyrillic CUEs ang tags. In the beginning of September 2020 they finally released the new SW version. After installation of this new version I found that NONE of the problems I pointed out are solved. Answer from the tech support was the following:
    “Our R&D didn’t choose to develop cyrillic language support after evaluation. …actually there is rarely needs for cyrillic filename support on M5 and it’s not enough for the amount of FIIO users who use cyrillic. So you know, they choose to pay their attend to other projects…”.
    FIIO support, as it is. I would think twice before buying equipment backed with such user-oriented support…

    • J.T.

      I would say they are on par, similar sound signature as well. Do take a look at the up coming BTR5, just a little bit more expensive but there will be more power!

  2. Mahir Efe Falay

    Ahh Fiio again. Doing the right stuff for its purpose. But won’t rise of wireless dac amps end the need for daps?

    I have es100 and its perfect for listening IMHO

    • Marcus

      Don’t think so just yet. Quite apart from the fact you are stacking, you are also charging 2 devices and lowering your resolution and dynamic range with wireless unless you are using a WIFI hotspot to transport music from one source to a receiver.

  3. receph

    Any chance you can compare the M5 with the Shanling M0 lineout sound signatures, for pairing up with an amp?

  4. receph

    no comparison with the only competitor that looks nearly identical, with very similar features, shanling m0?

  5. J.T.

    Sound effects alter the output curve and may introduce distortion, i prefer to untick all preset digital filters normally. Dont have a se425 around but it may really be not matching looking at the sensitivity! As you say it is a matching game … finding good synergy, matching in/output power between parings is always the key.

    For filters i tend to use short delay sharp roll off ones, sounds more natural to me 😁

  6. TaylorD

    I’m surprised the M0 *wasn’t* in your Select Comparisons, honestly.

    M0 owner, and I was very curious about the M5 as a smaller and more multi-use package. It would also save me the trouble of buying a smart watch lol. But I’m pretty in love with the M0 still, as it’s just so damn competent and feature packed for it’s price.

    One thing I recently found out that the M0 does, that I’m curious of the M5 also does, is that if you connect your M0 to a pair of BT headphones, in my case the new Drop Move, and then connect the M0 as a USB-DAC, the wireless headphones remain connected and the M0 becomes a BT transmitter.

    Now, I knew it did that with it’s own music, but I didn’t know it would do that via USB-DAC mode. Tested with latest V3.1 Firmware. Never tested that functionality with anything below it.

    • J.T.

      Hi TaylorD, question expected! let me just jot it down here now….

      Yes you may easily relate the size of thr M5 to Shanling’s M0 however putting the Shanling M0 and the M5 side by side you can see their positioning doesn’t really overlap. The M5 has a more consumer approach, the UI onboard is optimized for easy navigation and feels alike a smart watch. Soundwise the M0 targets more demanding users putting in higher output, with solid, energetic bass performance that could drive power hungry iems regardless of its size. Being said the M5 has a smaller output, dark background is achieved with less amping. Overall the Shanling M0 sounds more balanced, has higher seperation that works well with mid-tier, higher end earphones while the M5 is tuned to bring out details in the treble and mid lows, breathing some life into flatter tunings which you may find more engaging than the M0 especially when paired with earbuds. The clip case coming for free with the M5 is a big bonus which makes it very practical to be carried around, not to mention the watchband option.

      It would be cooler if there is more power on the M5 but for its targetted usergroup or with matching IEMs such as the OH1 and various earbuds it is handy and enjoyable for the price.

      As for the bluetooth transmitter function yes it shall send out signals from your USB input when connected as a USB DAC, will double confirm soon!

    • Marcos

      That Bluetooth transport thing (receiving data and then broadcasting it in a combination wired-wireless/wireless wired) works only on shanling m0 so far. In the headfi it is said that the processor can’t handle it, although the FiiO support mentioned that they are still exploring if it will be possible to implement this feature in the future.

      I’m also a shanling m0 owner and I really like it, although I have to confess that I was a bit bummed by sound quality, which in most songs it seems a bit worse than my note9 own dac with Dolby Atmos (to my ears). Nevertheless, I’ve been rocking using my chord mojo wireless or a portable-ish m0 with fiio q1 mkII balanced output.
      I also miss having Bluetooth mic in for using it with my phone as the m5.

      But one advantage of shanling (at least on paper) is that it has a higher output and should do better with high impedance iems / headphones..

      What is your impressions on m0’s sound quality over your phone?

      • J.T.

        Thanks for the note, that will save some testing effort and I do hope FiiO could bring the function to work later on!

        To me the existance of DAPs are for the power, portability and to not drain the phone’s battery. The M0 fits all these criterias while keeping the output balanced sounding and resolving.
        The M5 on the otherhand offers hands-free function that could free you from pocketing your phone, even more practical.

        Output quality on both devices could be on par to some higher end phones with audiophile grade chipsets, but i dont think it is inferior when compared to many other phones in the market that sounds veiled or obviously altered by DSP. Do bear in mind phones are always a few folds more expensive and not all implementations are done well.

        I do always love the sound on older generations iPhones though, and on android you can install UAPP or V4A etc. to boost replay/ streaming quality with parametric EQ or other means like IR correction.

    • Marcos

      Thanks a lot for the reply James! I do believe that maybe the Dolby Atmos was fooling me, or doing a more V-shaped sound. I actually noticed this difference in the timbre of Louis Armstrong in some songs in his album with Ella Fitzgerald, and also in some Casey Abrams’ song in his ‘Casey Abrams’ album. But again, maybe it’s the Shure se425 that doesn’t have much sinergy with the m0, or just not my taste in music. Who knows? hahahahahh
      To be fair my note9 does have less sibilance in albums from Chie Ayado for example… But the difference in the output is very noticeable especially when using my Sennheiser hd600.

      Quick question though to James and to TaylorD: Which digital filter do you use in the Shanling M0? I confess I’m a bit lost on this one… :)

      Thanks a lot, and congrats for the amazing work in the headfonics, James and Marcus! Btw Marcus, I bought my Shanling m0 because of you, I asked about portable daps and you advised either it or the m5… hahahah


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