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FiiO M11: bench test of a mid-range audio player

Discover the Fiio mid-range digital audio player thank to the Qobuz bench test, carried out by our team of sound experts. Enjoy Hi-Res quality music on the move thanks to this portable audio player which blends performance with a long-lasting battery.

Even if this item is not top of the range of Fiio products, the M11 has all the features of a top-tier device and proves a worthy replacement for the practically outdated X5 III and X7 Mark II models.

By Christophe Deltenre | Testing Ground | February 16, 2020
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Fiio completes its range of audiophile players by announcing a new addition to the M series: from the M7 to the M15 via the M9 and the M11 Pro, there are plenty to choose from. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the specifics of the M11, just a step below the M11 Pro, to see if it has the necessary features to become a point of reference.

With a double DAC configuration, a recent Android version and a bigger screen than the X5 III, the M11 can play PCM files up to 32 bits/384kHz and 256 DSD, either with wired headphones or over Bluetooth with its aptX HD and LDAC compatible transceiver. Farewell to the micro-USB, which gives way to the USB-C connector. This device can in fact be used as a USB DAC when it is connected to a PC.

General overview of the Fiio M11

The Fiio M11 player is based on an AK4493EN double DAC by Asahi Kasei, which allows it to read PCM files up to 32 bits/384 kHz and 256 DSD. Powered by a Samsung Exynos six-core processor and paired with a RAM of 3GB, the Fiio M11 player offers a customised Android operating system with fluid navigation over a large 5.15in touch screen.

There are two symmetrical outlets (2.5mm and 4.4mm) and an asymmetrical 3.5mm mini-jack which are compatible with most headphone sets available on the market — impedance can go from 16 to 300 ohms. A coaxial line output completes the connection outlets (adaptor is included).

In terms of storage, the Fiio M11 has 32GB of internal space, but only about 25GB are really available for music and/or apps. Don’t worry, there is space for two micro-SD cards. Each card has a maximum capacity of 2TB, therefore representing a potential for 4TB of storage!

The battery has a capacity of 3,800 mAh giving the player a battery life of about 13 hours of playback and 50 days on standby (according to Fiio). Charging is done through the USB-C port and rapid charging is supported.

Bluetooth connectivity (version 4.2) is also possible as the Fiio M11 is compatible with aptX HD and LDAC protocols and can act as a transmitter or receiver. Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) and Airplay are also available on this device.

Price: £449

Functions:
10-band equaliser with 9 predefined settings + the possibility of creating your own setting
Low-pass filters
Android 7.0
Can transform everything to DSD
Interface is controlled by movement
Wi-Fi file transfer


Connections:
1x USB-C
1 x asymmetric 3.5mm headphone mini-jack and S/PDIF coaxial outlet (adapter included)
1x symmetric 2.5mm headphone outlet
1x symmetric 4.4mm headphone outlet (Pentaconn)
2x slots for micro-SD memory cards


Battery:
3,800 mAh 3.8 volts, lithium-polymer battery, supports rapid charging
Battery life: 13 hours of playback/50 days in standby


WiFi/Ethernet:
2.4G/5G Wi-Fi


Bluetooth:
LDAC/aptX/aptX HD/SBC

Design of the Fiio M11

At only 211 grams, the Fiio M11 is not cumbersome to hold. Its somewhat plain design is nevertheless attractive thanks to the back made of glass and matte black aluminium frame. The notched wheel on the side, fairly characteristic for this type of player (whatever the brand), adds a noticeable touch of modernity.



Diagram of the symmetrical architecture of the FiiO M11 player

There is the option to choose between several low-pass filters. Although this is a good option, we didn’t really notice a difference between them.

Functions of the M11 player

Android on the Fiio M11
This player uses Android 7.0, but Fiio has implemented a specially developed version in order to eliminate anything that could interfere with the transmission of audio files. Fiio also has its own app for audio playback (Fiio Music) and each user has the option to choose between a setting using Android and an audio-playback-only setting. This eliminates the Android application layer, allowing the internal processor to focus all of its power towards the audio conversion.





Unfortunately, as this is a version of Android specific to Fiio, the Google Store is not present leaving you to go via one of the three pre-downloaded alternative stores to add any apps. On the plus side, Qobuz, BubblePnP, mConnect and USB Player Pro are all available, so you can enjoy the full Hi-Res Qobuz catalogue.

Transfer of files
To add music to the Fiio M11 player, you plug the device into a computer via its USB-C cable and transfer the files into the internal storage, or onto the SD card.
As the player can connect to Wi-Fi, you can use the technique which consists of connecting to the same web address and dragging-and-dropping. Careful, the imported tracks will automatically find themselves in a folder named “Wi-Fi transfer” but there is an option to change the destination folder.

Airplay
The Fiio M11 is compatible with Airplay. Thanks to this, if you are connected over the same Wi-Fi network, you can start playing the music on your iPad or iPhone and then listen to it in better quality on the player.

All To DSD function
Even if your files are not of top quality, the Fiio M11 can convert everything that is read into a DSD format. This ‘on the fly’ upscaling will render low quality files more clear and add a greater depth to them as well. For FLAC 24 bit files, we didn’t detect a noticeable difference. Careful, this setting will rely heavily on the DAC and will thus decrease the battery life.

Supported lossless formats
DSD:DSD64/128/256 (.iso, .dsf,.dff ),dst
DXD:352,8 kHz APE FAST/High/Normal:384 kHz/24 bits(MAX )
APE Extra High:192 kHz/24 bits(MAX)
APE Insane:96 kHz/24 bits(MAX)
Apple Lossless:384 kHz/32 bits(MAX)
AIFF:384kHz/32 bits(MAX)




Conclusion
With its excellent quality double DAC, wide range of connections and two-way Bluetooth aptX HD and LDAC, the Fiio M11 player is a great middle of the range audiophile player. It works well with all sorts of music: rock, classical, electronic… The rendering is well mastered on the high notes, whereas the medium parts are nicely rounded out and don’t sound too clinical. Generally speaking, the Fiio M11 respects the music that it plays and doesn’t leave its own signature sound. When using the symmetrical output, the sound is slightly thickened in the high notes and the acoustic arena is extended.

Equipped with version 7.0 of Android, it’s easy to install apps (especially Qobuz!). The only downside: the 10-band equaliser tends to lower the general volume of the song when you want to add a bit more bass.

The value for money is more than enticing: for under £450 you will have a lot of trouble finding a product with so many features and attractive qualities. With a more precise sound thanks to the new DAC and fitted with a user interface which is more fluid and pleasant to use on an everyday basis, the Fiio M11 can be considered a worthy successor to the Fiio X5 III and the Fiio X7 Mark II.

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