FiiO M11

Sound.

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

fiio_m11-IMAGE_34

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

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

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

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

Connections.

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

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

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

Conclusions.

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

The FiiO M11 is a highly versatile and good sounding DAP that sits firmly in the ‘value for money’ category. Its main downside is the lack of Google Play store support, which is not uncommon among Android-based DAPs. Its main strength is that the M11 is a very powerful, yet clean sounding DAP. So even if you don’t care for additional apps, the M11 is well worth a serious look as a pure DAP. Stylish looks, a large 720p screen and a responsive and smooth UI make it a pleasure to use. I can highly recommend checking it out if you have the opportunity.

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20 thoughts on “FiiO M11

      1. I don’t have those myself either, but I will send the M11 over to Alex (Twister6) soon and then he might be able to help out with comparisons.

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    1. I have both and I don’t hear much difference between them in terms of sound quality. I would suggest that the M11 is an updated version. The display is larger as is the storage micro SD, The SD card capacity is 2 x 2TB. However there is at least one problem when deleting songs. The tune is deleted but the on screen display still shows that it is there. This causes a problem when on ‘shuffle’ mode. If it happens to select the deleted tune title then is shows ‘file not found’ and stops playing. The only cure for that is to connect the player to a computer and delete it in the usual manner.
      Having said that I still prefer the M11 but would love it more if I could discover how to get avi. files to run.

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      1. Have you tried sideloading VLC, that should sort out your avi problems. I have yet to pick up the M11 but I am familiar with android and vlc works great for me.

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  1. Hello, thanks for your informative and comprehensive review.
    Were you able to side load either the BBC Sounds or iPlayer apps?
    Also, were you able to install TuneIn or any other radio apps?
    Regards, Ian

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    1. I just went ahead and tried to install BBC Sounds and iPlayer Radio, which went fine and both seem to work smoothly. If you go to “Applications” it will open up the FiiO Market from where you can install APKPure, which has a number of radio apps such as iPlayer Radio. BBC Sounds I got by using the Chrome browser and downloading from apkmonk. Hope this helps!

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  2. Great that the BBC Sounds app works as this and Tidal are essential for me. I was one that was very disappointed about the lack of Play Store support and ended up getting the X5iii because of it. However, now I realise it is actually quite nice not to be signed in to Google as it seems to get ever more pervasive. In it’s place it is very useful but somehow it just feels better to be ‘off grid” when using this DAP. I really don’t need emails and numerous other notifications arriving when I am lost in a Dylan masterpiece and I have a feeling that even if we get upgraded to a customised Pie which will have the Play Store I will disable most of it !

    Also fully agree about ES explorer. First thing I did was put something decent on – the only problem is that I have not found one single Explorer in Android that ticks all the boxes despite having tried many – any suggestions welcome 🙂

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    1. I know what you mean and agree that there is an advantage to not being connected to the Play Store all the time, it gives a feeling of being more in control yourself.

      I don’t have an alternative for ES Explorer. I left it on there because of the review (to show accurately what you get with the M11) and have not yet got around to replacing it.

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    2. I switched from ES Explorer to Solid Explorer and find Solid Explorer to be an improvement, Solid Explorer has some odd behaviors that need to be learned, SMB shares require some non-intuitive clicks on icons that appear disabled (but aren’t), My Chromebook requires double-clicks rather than double-touches. Lastly, the paid version must authenticate each time launched. If you don’t have internet, Solid Explorer won’t run.

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  3. Thank you for a thoughtful review. I have been using the M11 for about a month with a 400 GB SanDisk in slot 1 and a 512 GB Samsung in slot 2. I have about 25000 songs in lossless format with room for 10000 more. I hope that Fiio does not remove or disable the second slot as I love having my entire digital collection mounted. I have had no problems with performance. I would be curious if you are your followers have been able to get Neutron or Poweramp licensed on the device. I have already bought both apps on the Play store. I have seen threads on validating Neutron but they involve changing settings in your Google account which I am loathe to try.

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    1. Thanks! I have not come across an update from FiiO concerning the card slots. They were talking about future batches possibly loosing one slot, but I agree that the M11 seems to work fine with both slots (I have used each). I have seen a few people use Neutron and Poweramp, but I do not know if they changed the settings in their Google account. Unfortunately I can’t help you with that myself.

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  4. Hi!
    Thank you for this review. As intrigued by the M11 as I am, I’m wondering what you would recommend to someone who is looking to solely stream (mostly offline) and actually prefers to *not* have all the bells & whistles? I do need to drive 300ohm headphones, though..are there older versions of DAP’s that, from your knowledge, would fulfill this requirement?

    Thank you so much!

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    1. I will let Erik to chime in since it’s his review, but I couldn’t help myself and wanted to mention that I don’t think you will find anything cheaper or better for streaming even without bells’n’whistles.

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    2. I agree with Alex, the M11 is a really nice DAP to use even if you ignore all the bells and whistles. It offers a lot of power, good sound quality and the user interface is very smooth and responsive. You also get a lot of options to connect for streaming online and (at least for now) you still get two micro SD card slots for lots of storage. Like I said in the review, it is a value for money DAP and I don’t really know any alternatives without going a step up in price.

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  5. Is it possible to load videos onto the M11? I have ripped several films and tried to load them but without success. If it is possible which format will work please?

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    1. I have not tried loading movies, but YouTube did work through the Chrome browser (the YouTube app did not), so it works for video. Do you have a movie app installed to play your files? Natively the M11 won’t do that because it does not have an app for it pre-installed.

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  6. Hey, great review, appreciate you taking the time to answer the follow up questions. Any thoughts on the M11 vs X7 Mkii?

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