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Following you can find all the reviews of Fiio M9, including the article review and Youtube video review.
Note: Xtenik just collected all the summary from other sites, if you want to read the full review, just click the button, it will redirect you to the original article.
Similar to HiByLink, FiiO has also introduced their own version called FiiO Link. Here you can link up with any other device using the FiiO Pure Player app via BT and control either the M9 via the other device or vice versa using a server/client link-up option.
And my it works smooth as you like. Tested it with a Huawei P20 and so long as you have both Link options switched on they will automatically pair (providing they have been paired before).
You get a deep level of control also via the app so technically I can browse my M9 media from my P20 app, control, switch on gapless, and play through folders. It is short of file manipulation such as you get in HiByLink, for example, and you cannot yet delete or add to playlists.
Image credit: Headfonics
Along with the wired connections, the M9 also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s Bluetooth 4.2, to be exact, and that includes the following codecs in 24-bit: aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA. We also found an AirPlay option on the device, but it wasn’t what you might think.
For one, it works in reverse. The M9 isn’t pushing music out to an AirPlay-enabled speaker, it’s acting as the receiver instead. We used an iPhone to send music over to the M9 where we got the benefit of improved audio fidelity. This included from stored files on the iPhone, along with Apple Music and other streaming services not natively supported on FiiO’s device.
The M9 isn’t without a couple of pleasant surprises that way, too. Reading through the manual, we noted that the USB-C port doubled as an asynchronous DAC with Windows PC and Mac computers. On a Mac, the M9 just worked immediately without having to install a driver, though, on a PC, it does need to download a driver first after first plugging in.
Image Credit: Techradar
FiiO also added the ability to make the M9 a Bluetooth transmitter for any PC or Mac it’s connected to. For example, when we plugged it in to a Mac, turned on USB DAC in the settings, and started streaming via Bluetooth, the computer’s audio started funneling through our paired headphones.
Some of these features weren’t available when the M9 first launched, and have been part of subsequent firmware updates. Updating the firmware could be smoother, but we’re pleased to see FiiO consistently support and upgrade the M9’s features.
UI & Usage
Since the first FiiO X7, the brand began to move from its old UI to a modern one : FiiO Music. It’s an android application, available on the AppStore and Play Store but on the latest players, the integration goes further beyond a simple app.
The main idea here was to provide the best user experience with a “limited” hardware. The FiiO M9 only offers 768Mb of ram, not even a full gig so the engineers had to take a different path. Again, this is very Apple-esque : better hardware/software integration to avoid unnecessary addition to the hardware.
If you had the choice of classic android navigation or Pure music, the FiiO M9 doesn’t offer you this choice anymore. FiiO Music is now the core of the player and it’s a good implementation. It’s fast, reliable, easy to use and it didn’t crash once during the whole time I used it.
USB and SD Card
The FiiO M9 got an USB Type-C port. A future proof standard, on paper. Not having to check if the cable is in the right position is great and all, but what we really want is high-speed transfer and fast charging. I didn’t find the fast charge option fast and the file transfer is still limited by the micro-SD speed, so that leave us with an easy to plug cable.
This output also works very well for USB to DAC usage, I could plug all my battery powered DACs and never have any issues with the M9. Even big desktop USB DAC were a breeze to connect, if you want a versatile player to plug on all your devices.
Unfortunately, the FiiO M9 comes with only one micro-SD slot and 2Gb of ROM. Thankfully, big micro-SD cards are a thing now, and you can fit no less than 400Gb of Music. If you’re more of a streaming user, FiiO has you covered.
Warning : the FiiO M9 is a bit more complicated to connect to your computer than usual.
On PC, you’ll have to connect it once, via USB, copy/paste the driver’s folder on your computer and install it. Then the FiiO M9 will be visible and usable from your usual explorer.
On Apple computer, you’ll have to use Android File Transfer. It’s available directly from the FiiO website or from iriver.
As usual, the FiiO M9 can be used as a fully operational USB DAC once connected to a computer, it can even become a coaxial adapter.
The M9 comes in a rectangular white cardboard box. The quality of the cardboard is disappointing for a $300 product, with visible gradations in color and extensive crinkling.
I don’t know if the actual retail packaging is similarly low quality. The box I received contained the M9, a 3.5mm to coaxial line-out cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and a soft clear TPU case.
The case is inoffensive in appearance and texture and does not impair the functionality of the player in any way.
The M9 sports a full-aluminum body with gold accents on the volume wheel and around the 3.5mm and 2.5mm jacks. The screen is acceptable, but I would have preferred a higher resolution one with more vibrant colors.
The M9 has a single SD card slot, which is easy to remove cards from without the use of tools, makeshift or otherwise.
It has physical keys for power, pause, fast-forward, and rewind on the left hand side. The M9 sports a full touchscreen.
There is no navigation bar, but the “back” navigation function is triggered by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
The front panel has a LED-backlit Fiio logo which pulses different colors to indicate charging, pairing, and play states. The M9 uses a USB-C port.
There is no pre-installed web browser, but there is a pre-installed file browser, and sideloading third party apps from the SD cardwas a simple process. WiFi performance was completely adequate for streaming Spotify on Extreme Quality and 16/44.1kHz FLAC over DLNA.
The M9 takes about 30 seconds to boot up. The player’s overall navigation performance was slow, with sideloaded Android apps struggling the most.
The grid album view in Fiio Music also stood out as sluggish. That said, M9 actually outperforms other Android-based DAPs I have tested at higher price points in terms of UI quickness. SD card scanning was quick, and CUE support was rock-solid. The M9 also has commendably granular EQ settings.
The M9’s audio chops are competitive with players at this price point and above. Just about every modern audio format is supported, including the main lossless codecs — DSD (64, 128), APE, FLAC, and ALAC.
Important software features like fixed/variable line out setting, gapless playback, Bluetooth audio connection priority, and filter settings are all present.
In DAC mode, after a driver install, the M9’s versatility really shines — in addition to headphone and line output, the M9 can also act as a digital transport (coaxial SPDIF output) and Bluetooth transmitter.
Though users will likely find no problem with the M9’s audio hardware, the Exynos processor is undeniably a limiting factor. Originally designed for wearables, the 7270 is power efficient but not powerful enough to support many apps — Fiio has whitelisted just a few, which include Tidal and Spotify, but not Apple Music.
There is good news, however — all of the M9’s USB DAC features work with iOS using just the standard ($29) Camera Connection Kit.
We wouldn’t expect MFi Certification in a digital audio player, but it would have made this an even easier decision for iPhone users on the fence about adding a DAP to their everyday carry.
Image credit: ilounge
FiiO touts the M9’s sound quality pretty heavily, and with good reason. This player sounds much as I expected it to – articulate and clean without much distortion or undue coloration. Compared to the M7 or lower-tier X-Series models like the X1 mk II or the X3 mk III, the sound seems fuller and more nuanced.
Stacked up against the likes of the FiiO Q5, the M9 remains more of a joy to use, but may lack the same level of fidelity. Here the difference is small, though, and the M9 remains lighter and ultimately more portable than the Q5 or even the X7.
Drums seem tighter, and more controlled. Vocals stand out, but instrumentation throughout the mids and the highs still sounds lifelike.
Fidelity-wise, everything sounds as it should, and I was half-fearing the same level of compression and distortion I heard on the X3 III, but nope.
The M9 actually sports some impressive fidelity for this price point, and the overall impression is one of a competent low end with good mids and highs. Nothing too over-emphasized, and everything in its right place.
Putting the FiiO M9 through our sound tests, the DAP showed a remarkably flat frequency response that preserves the true sound signature of headphones without boosting nor recessing any range of the audio spectrum.
Furthermore, there is no coloration of the sound without any noticeable warming nor cooling of the original sound identity.
In addition to this, we measured each of the EQ presets of the FiiO M9 and the device in every mode (USB DAC, Bluetooth receiver) – measurements available at the bottom of the review article.
Our EQ frequency response measurements revealed a precise and accurate representation of the EQ preset information on every band and an effective response. As well, our FiiO M9 frequency response measurements under USB DAC and Bluetooth receiver modes resulted in a neutral and flat response.
The FiiO M9 technical specifications list a frequency response of 5Hz-80,000Hz, with a noise floor of <5uV (<10uV for the 2.5mm connection), SNR of 118dB (3.5mm connection) and output impedance of <2Ω.
FiiO recommends to use the FiiO M9 with headphones having an impedance between 16Ω and 300Ω. Most popular headphones sit in this impedance range and will be no challenge for the FiiO M9.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that you cannot use headphones with higher impedance with the M9 – for example, as we have seen through out our FiiO M3K review, the little DAP had a recommended impedance topping at 100Ω but had no issues driving Beyerdynamic headphones with an impedance of 250Ω.
If set to High Gain and the output power of the FiiO M9 reaches ≥220mW (32Ω / 2.5mm balanced output / SNR ≥113dB) and ≥77mW (300Ω / 2.5mm balanced output / SNR ≥113dB), which is quite impressive for such a small portable device.
Additional Audio Options/Settings
The FiiO M9 hides a plethora of audio customization options and settings under the “Audio” submenu (under the “Settings” main menu). Some of them include:
- Output selection: PO, LO, SPDIF
- SPDIF output: DoP (DSD over PCM), D2P (DSD to PCM)
- Gain: low, high
- Lowpass filter mode (5 options available)
- Wireless playback quality: codec can be selected among 6 options
- Balance: 9 levels
- In-line remote on/off
- Balance boost on/off
- Adjustable volume at LO on/off
- USB DAC on/off
Let’s talk FiiO Music.
This is the beautiful multi-platform (iOS and Android) application developed by FiiO that can either be used standalone on your smartphone as a local music player or paired with their DAPs to unleash awesomeness.
The app is reminiscent of a Zune or Windows-like interface with some inspiration from Apple’s iPod interfaces of old. It utilizes modern design features, transparency, and is artistically crafted.
The high-end audiophile DAPs are already losing with their lack of a polished application that doesn’t require downloading an APK and sketchy installing it. FiiO Music is available straight from the application store.
The star of the show is FiiO Link.
FiiO link is the first kick-butt feature I mentioned previously.
One of the common complaints of using an audiophile DAP is its speed, screen real-estate, and having to double hand your entertainment devices. DAPs aren’t using the latest and fastest Snapdragon, Exynos or Apple A# SoCs.
And we’ve all done the double hand where one is using the smartphone and the other operating the DAP. It’s 2019 everyone and FiiO has taken note. FiiO link is a client+server application that allows you to use your smartphone to control the FiiO M9 and other supported DAPs as if you had the native files on your smartphone.
This is more revolutionary than a simple ‘remote’ because it literally looks, feels, and acts as if it is native on the smartphone due in part to both using the same back-end FiiO Music app.
The M9 has a lot of features, many of which are geared towards the modern music listener. For example the M9 includes WIFI and DLNA support.
It has Bluetooth 4.2 audio with full support for the following formats: LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, SBC and HWA. This means you can listen to your music wirelessly without any compromise in music quality.
Using the M9 in Bluetooth mode works really well. I found it easy to connect to a variety of Bluetooth devices. It holds the connection without drops and provides a nice, clean signal that sounds great!
The M9 includes dual AK4490EN DACs (one per channel), which offer a sampling rate of up to 32Bit/768kHz PCM and supports up to DSD256 (11.2MHz). This is the same DAC used in FiiO’s flagship Q5 portable amp and it’s what gives the M9 such excellent decoding performance
With the recent drop in price, the Shanling M3s is probably the nearest competitor to the M9.
Both sport the same DAC chips, both support both single ended and balanced output and both have an embarrassingly long list of features.
Advantages for the M9 are LDAC, AptX HD, LHDC, and Airplay support, full android OS instead of hiby SOC OS (M3s), and a better display.
Both are great little DAPS, but the Fiio shows off the fact that it is a generation newer when compared directly to the M3s.
The Other comparison I felt like I needed to make was to Fiio’s other mid-line product the X5iii as those looking for a new DAP will likely wonder why one would choose one over the other.
Again both sport dual AK4490s, but the X5iii uses the RK3188 chip (a generation older CPU) and shipped with Android 5.1 vs Android 7 on the M9.
The X5iii has considerably more output power than the M9 but suffers from hiss with some sensitive IEMs as a result. The X5iii sports a larger display (about an inch larger) of equal resolution. To my eye, the M9 is a bit brighter but detail level is equally good on both models.
My suspicion is we will see the discontinuation of the X5iii shortly as the M9 does a good job of replacing it.
Unless that single inch of screen or marginally better output power are the priority, the M9 again shows what a generation newer player can bring to the table with way better protocol support (AptX HD, LHDC, LDAC, and Airplay).
The FiiO M9 comes with a number of nice hardware specs and one of those is the Processor. The processor inside the FiiO M9 is the Samsung Exynos 7270 SoC (System on Chip) processor that we also know from the FiiO M7, which is using the same one. I am not a fan of the RockChip processor and it is nice too see a more stable and power efficient SoC in new devices of FiiO.
This processor is made on the 14nm FinFET process, which should consume according to FiiO, approx. %20 less power than older chips with 28nm process.
The M9 has an eight-layer HDI (High Density Interconnect) PCB with a thickness of 0.08mm. While the M9 PCB is more complex than the one in the M7, it also allows more components to be integrated into a smaller space, leading to a smaller PCB and a smaller device overall. Thos type of a PCB is maybe common for modern Smartphones, but to see such more sophisticated parts in devices like Digital Audio Players is a nice step for this industry.
The onboard storage capacity of the Fiio M9 is in total 4 GB, but 2GB’s are reserved by the operating system. The FiiO M9 has also 1GB RAM (random access memory) of which is 768MB free for use.
Playback & Wireless
Playback was almost completely flawless. DSD playback was the only area I had an issue, but not with DSD as much as when I switched from listening to the DSD version of a Patricia Barber album to the regular PCM version, as the software indicated that music was playing, but it wasn’t for some seconds that playback began, some seconds into the track. Also, occasionally, selecting a DSD track to play would crash FiiO Music.
However being able to see clearly what tracks were “SQ” (Standard Quality), “HR” (High Res) and “DSD” is, as always, extremely handy. As was the ability to select which of the controls can still be used when the screen is off, as the side buttons are very easy to press.
With the xDSD, and also the Audeze Mobius, I had a good wireless transport in the M9.
I experimented with the Mobius using the highest quality LDAC setting and it worked reliably even when I went three rooms away.
However I have the advantage that I’m living next to nature and this may not be so reliable with other devices in the middle of a big city. However, I can imagine using it with a collection of TIDAL offline files and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones on long flights.
For the Bluetooth receiving mode, with the initial firmware the M9 doesn’t yet support receiving in higher quality than SBC. APTx, APTxHD and LDAC will be available with a future firmware update. Once that arrives, I plan to experiment with wireless sound quality.
User Interface and Operation
Like many DAPs these days, the FiiO M9’s OS is based on Android. When I say based on, it’s because FiiO has heavily customized their version to have a gesture based control which is very straightforward – swipe up from the bottom left to go back a screen, and swipe up from the bottom right to go right back to the homescreen.
Additionally, FiiO has completely removed all signs of Google Play functionality, so you won’t be able to simply login to your Google Account, open up the Play Store and download your favourite music streaming apps.
Instead, you’ll have to sideload the .APK file of the music streaming app from your computer onto the FiiO M9, and then install it that way. FiiO has also restricted the apps that can be installed onto the device this way through an app whitelist.
While it is a little more annoying just to get Tidal or Spotify on the device, my guess is that this is probably to avoid having to deal with license fees for Google Apps, and also prevents users that aren’t as tech savvy from installing malware onto the device that may the experience.
One negative about this customized Android experience is that FiiO decided to even remove the basic web browser app.
What this means is that it is impossible to sign to WiFi on networks where an extra confirmation step is needed in order to connect to the network. I hope that they can bring back web browser functionality in some form in order to expand this great device’s connectivity capabilities.
Most of the time I’ve listened to M9 via the FH5 and FA7 from FiiO which are quite picky in terms on noise floor, at home I’ve listened to it via Sennheiser HD660S desktop headphones and for giggles I have paired it via Bluetooth with a pair of KEF LS50 Wireless speakers to test out the Bluetooth capabilities.
Listening to M9 more and more often I couldn’t get out of my head a sense on deja-vu, that not so long ago I have witnessed the same sound signature. Ah, YES! I remember now, M9 in my mind sounds very close to the FiiO’s Q5 flagship DAC and that is a very important achievement.
I dare saying that Q5 was very different from what FiiO did in the past, it was conceived as having a very linear and revealing sound signature with tons of micro-details, tons of dynamic swings and not as having a warm and inviting sound with smeared dynamics.
M9 together with Q5 represent a long departure from the old FiiO sound I was accustomed to for so many years now and I glad they did that.
M9 puts a big emphasis on macro and micro-details, on fast dynamic swings and less on mellow and limited transient response type of sound.
With a good implementation AK4490EN can sound mean and biting, fast and kicking! Q5 and M9 are great examples of what can be achieved with the right implementation.
Firing up fast electronica revealed decent levels of lower bass and great level of mid bass. Rarely soft, bass notes will hit their mark and put a smile on your face most of the times. Yes, I’ve heard deeper and meaner bass but at a higher cost too.
Due to a quicker transient response I could pass over the slightly limited sub-bass response as the lower notes have great agility and hit me with the right amount of speed and impact.
The smooth transition from bass to midrange is seamless without any dips and rises, it leads to the best part on the M9 in my opinion and that is the midrange performance
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyASNkL95-w ( By Currawong)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQENN0-UTNg ( A Must Have For Music Lovers!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDBlrRA5ZTw ( Porta.fi are everywhere on the review, hah..)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX7Ts0yFVjM ( Bad Guy Good Audio Reviews )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCPnqMZ_yF4 ( SONY – WH-1000XM3 paired with FiiO M9 (unbox)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCmQb2kFC1M ( I finally bought a Fiio DAP (And what it’s best for)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMhRaVIgxJE ( Russian by Porta fi)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWCUew2LJsA ( Spanish, 137K followers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG3Gl72648w （ Short video to check the UI of Fiio M9）
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z5DugwcfXk ( Thailand)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXeYsTE6dJU ( Russian)