Matured with a slightly bigger waste line.
PROS: Very fast and smooth user interface, natural and detailed sound, both 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced out, sound quality is a step up from the M11.
CONS: Still no Google Play store support, shorter battery life, FiiO Music app not quite there yet, down to a single micro-SD.
I would like to thank FiiO for providing me with the M11 Pro in exchange for my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
M11 Pro (vs M11) Specifications at a glance:
|Screen:||5.15″, 18:9, 720p||5.15″, 18:9, 720p|
|Dimensions:||130 x 70.5 x 16.5mm||130 x 70 x 16mm|
|Memory:||52GB internal (of 64GB ROM), Single micro-SD card slot||25GB internal (of 32GB ROM),
Dual micro-SD card slots
|WiFi:||Dual band 2.4/5G WiFi||Dual band 2.4/5G WiFi|
|OS:||Custom Android 7.0||Custom Android 7.0|
|CPU:||Samsung Exynos 7872||Samsung Exynos 7872|
|DAC:||2 x AK4497EQ||2 x AK4493EQ|
|Amp:||2 x LMH6644||2 x OPA926|
|LPF:||3 x OPA1642||2 x OPA1642|
|Decoding:||PCM up to 32bit/384kHz,
|PCM up to 32bit/384kHz,
fully charged in 2.5 hour
fully charged in 2.5 hour
(SE, ‘all to DSD’ disabled)
(SE, ‘all to DSD’ disabled)
|Output impedance:||1.1Ω (3.5mm),
|SNR:||118 dB (3.5mm),
118 dB (2.5/4.4mm)
|118 dB (3.5mm),
118 dB (2.5/4.4mm)
|Channel separation:||72dB (1kHz/32Ω/3.5mm), 108dB (1kHz/32Ω/2.5-4.4mm)||72dB (1kHz/32Ω/3.5mm), 107dB (1kHz/32Ω/2.5-4.4mm)|
Available for Sale on Amazon and other retailers.
The M11 Pro is one of the most highly anticipated DAPs of the year. FiiO’s M11 was already a big hit earlier in 2019 and this was going to be the biggy: the M11 adorned with the three golden letters ‘P’, ‘R’ and ‘O’. As irresistible as sticking an ‘X’ after a name, the golden moniker “Pro” made people flock like magpies to swoop in and scoop up the latest and greatest now adorned with extra shiny letters! Okay, clearly, I am being tongue in cheek here. If anything, the “Pro” designation caused mostly confusion, especially as FiiO made it known that it would see a return on their yet to be released M15 flagship as well. That is four DAPs (the M11, M11 Pro, M15 and M15 Pro) released in close succession with seemingly little to differentiate between them. FiiO explained this with an analogy to phones being released with similar iterations and I can see what they might be aiming for. Customers will have varying budgets and wish lists to try and hit their own personal sweet spot in terms of price, performance and features. FiiO’s approach here seems to be an efficient way to create a number of ‘sweet spot’-options for potential customers to choose from. Of course, for the traditional audiophiles among us it is just confusing and they are left thinking… “Why not stop with the distractions and just release the M15 Pro already?” …because old farts have more disposable income (= M15 Pro) than penniless students (= M11) or those sensible enough to save their end of year bonus (= M11 Pro). Not sure where that leaves the M15, but we will write that one down to middle management… maybe upper-middle management because it is rumoured to be fitted with dual AK4499 DACs.
Yes, still kidding there, but you get the idea. Every person has a budget and their own priorities and FiiO is trying to find a way to cater to as many customers wishes as possible. A bit confusing perhaps, but time will tell if it was a good decision or not.
Because the M11 and M11 Pro are so close, this review will focus mainly on the differences and I highly recommend reading my previous review of the M11 for those things that have not really changed, such as the user interface and general user experience.
The unboxing experience is virtually identical to that of the M11. It is the same box with some updated graphics and opening it up reveals the M11 Pro with one noticeable difference: No clear TPU protective case. This was dropped because of limitations in the design process and with the supplier. FiiO concluded that they could not produce one for the M11 Pro that would meet their quality requirements. Not sure what to make of that considering the marginal differences in size: 0.5mm thicker and wider. Because I am not one to back down from a challenge, I squeezed the slightly bigger waste line of the M11 Pro in the M11’s TPU case and although it does fit, sort of, I had to admit is was not the most secure fit either. Considering I did not like the look of it on the M11 to begin with, this was looking even worse and I happily abandoned my little experiment never to look back at it.
Accessories are the same with once again a 7H tempered glass screen protector already pre-installed, an SD card slot poky-thingamajig, some booklets, a USB charger cable and a coaxial adapter cable. Sweet and simple.
As indicated the design is almost identical, except for a tiny increase in thickness and width that, at 0.5mm each, is so small it is quite challenging to capture in pictures. Another key change is the step back from two to only a single microSD card slot, a decision that came as a result of the issues the M11 had, requiring a reduction of speed of one of the slots (as I reported in my M11 review). This reduces the theoretical maximum storage of the M11 Pro to 2TB compared to 4TB with the M11.
Beyond these the M11 Pro is identical with the M11. It is the same bright and colourful 5.15″ screen around the same angular body design with the same buttons and of course the 3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm + 4.4mm balanced out. So there is little else to say here that I did not already say in my review of the M11.
Under the Hood.
Most of the changes are of course under the hood of the M11 Pro. FiiO kept the design around the Samsung Exynos 7872 CPU, which FiiO indicated will also be the case for the upcoming M15 and M15 Pro (including the same 5.15″ screen). The main differences are found in the DAC and Amp used. Out are the AK4493EQ and in are dual AK4497EQ DACs, while the amp section has been replaced with a dual THX AAA-78 architecture. The THX amp is supposed to be a powerful, yet efficient one to result in a lower noise floor and less distortion. On paper the DAC/amp section should make the M11 Pro more natural sounding than the M11 and indeed that was what I found. In terms of power output though the M11 Pro is pretty similar to the M11, be it that the 3.5mm single ended out saw a boost from 255mW to 294mW at 16Ω, where the 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced out dropped a little from 480mW to 460mW at 16Ω. Internal memory has also been increased and is up to 64GB ROM of which 52GB is available to the user, more than double of the 25GB (out of 32GB) that was available with the M11.
Something worth noting here is that the M11 Pro is considerably more power hungry than the M11. While the battery has been increased to 4,370mAh from 3,800mAh, battery life has decreased significantly from 13 hours with the M11 to 9.5 hours with the M11 Pro. As a result, the M11 Pro will once again become quite warm during use and I saw some concerned comments on that, but FiiO have indicated it is nothing to worry about. I wouldn’t do a good job of reviewing were I not to test this myself at the risk of burning a cheek. So, while cooking dinner one evening, I stuffed the M11 Pro in the back pocket of my jeans and wiggled my bum while chopping the veg. The result once dinner was prepared? A warm M11 Pro, but no rosy cheek. So, I can only conclude that there is really nothing to worry about.