The newest offering from FiiO, the M11 Pro, is slowly making its way to audio retailers and Amazon. Announced right on the heels of its less posh counterpart, the M11, the Pro offers a few enhancements of it’s more plebeian predecessor. With that being said, how does it far against the competition? And is it the right player for you?
FiiO M11 Pro Review
The FiiO M11 Pro offers a new flagship for the FiiO range – if at least only until FiiO confirms the rumors about a possible M15 player. But for now, this player represents the cream of the crop.
Encased in a sleek matte black aluminum chassis with a carbon-fiber back panel, the M11 Pro also features a gold-hued accents and a 5.15-inch touch screen display. Screen resolution comes in at 1440×720 with an 18:9 aspect ration and gesture recognition.
Firing this bad boy up, I’m impressed by the snappy and smooth loading. Compared to the lower-tier M11, the Pro feels like an oiled-up cheetah. Even downloading Tidal is a breeze, taking just a few seconds before I’m ready to rock out to some MQA.
The big improvements on the M11 Pro – upgraded DAC chips, improved memory, longer battery life, and beefier amp – are immediately felt. In terms of sound quality, it does sound more resolving that FiiO’s other players. Amplification-wise, I had no trouble driving the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro, but there’s a near-silent noise floor here that works wonders with IEMs, too.
Overall, these gains offer little individual improvements in performance over the basic M11. But together, the gains seem greater, as the M11 Pro feels more svelte and fluid. Especially where streaming is concerned, the improvements in responsiveness seem staggering. And I stand by that statement, even though the Pro uses the same Xynos 7872 processor as the original M11.
One noticeable difference between the two players comes in the form of the memory card slot. While both the M11 and the even older X7 II offered dual memory card slots, the Pro opts for a single slot. While you could still jam the Pro with 2 TB worth of songs, most folks will look at this as a loss.
Personally, having experienced some memory card issues between the dual slots early during the original M11’s release, I can see why the Pro would opt for a single slot. I would also guess that FiiO has tuned up the architecture for greater efficiency in the M11 Pro.
FiiO has gone out of their way to reassure users that the M11 Pro remains compatible with most formats.
And compatibility seems to be the buzzword the Pro most readily embraces. From its impressive sample rates (up to 384 KHz and native DSD256 format), to its extended connectivity, the Pro offers a host of benefits for the tech-savvy user.
FiiO has also included the ability to connect wirelessly via a range of applications, including FiiO Link, AirPlay, DLNA, and Wifi.
Adding to this, the M11 Pro remains compatible with a range of apps. Tidal, Qobuz, Roon, Spotify, Deezer, KKBox, Kugou, and Amazon Music are all easily downloaded from a dedicated FiiO app.
Lastly, there are a number of outputs on the player. Users can choose between the standard 3.5 mm and balanced 2.5 mm and 4.4 mm.
One thing I can say against the M11 Pro: downloading songs from Tidal seems jarringly slow on the M11 Pro compared to my iPhone. Even connected to a 5G wifi network with both devices, the Pro inches along at a glacial pace.
For FiiO, this player marks a new level of achievement. Track for track, note for note, the M11 Pro comes incredibly close to the sound of more expensive players – like the AK SR15 or even the Cayin N6 II.
With its upgraded DAC chips and THX AAA-78 amp, sound quality never falters. For my review, I paired it with the Beyerdyanmic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm, the Grado RS2E, and my trusty Mackie MP-240 IEMs. This player sounds great with any pair of headphones. I wouldn’t recommend anything too too power hungry, but if you’ve got something as hard-to-drive as the 990 Pro, you won’t find the M11 Pro too dainty.
Saturated and articulate, the sound quality comes across as incredibly nuanced and clean. THX has long held a reputation for producing near-silent noise floors. New fans to their tech will find the FiiO M11 Pro a perfect example of how good their amps can sound.
This player sounds fantastic with resolutions greater than CD-quality. But even diehard flac fans like me have to admit that our music can still sound better on the M11 Pro. While it may not replace my current setup, I still had a hard time tearing myself away from the M11 Pro when pressed.
More than any other FiiO device I have demoed (including the ones that I have owned in years past), the M11 Pro feels mesmerizing. You won’t want to put it down, because once you’re hooked up, you’ll be totally absorbed in re-discovering your love of music.
Pros and Cons
Pros: The M11 Pro works wonders for any music tastes, and offers a range of features that won’t leave you disappointed. Connectivity, apps, and sound quality leave all result in the greatest product FiiO has ever released.
Cons: Only one card slot and slow to download files from apps. Personally I could care less about whether the player has one or two slots. As mentioned earlier, the two-slot design on the original M11 actually resulted in compatibility issues. With that said, the sluggish downloads from Tidal really suck. If my phone can download the same file (just Tidal HiFi quality) at a higher speed, why would I buy the M11 Pro?
While offline performance may not be the M11 Pro’s strongest suit, it still delivers an impressive hi-res listening experience. Personally, I think this player will appeal most to two types of users. Both the diehard FiiO fan and the incorrigible wifi streamer will be helpless against its wiles. Indeed, the M11 Pro constitutes FiiO’s best, most streamlined player yet. And for folks who listen to most of their music over Wifi – or locally stored on a memory card – the Pro can’t be beat.
Score an M11 Pro for the best price here: