Having just got my hands on the FiiO M9, I’m kicking back in the MajorHiFi review headquarters. Following on the success of the entry-level FiiO M7, the M9 follows a similar philosophy with some extra, well-implemented improvements. But how does it compare to other DAPs out there?
FiiO M9 Review
The FiiO M9 seems to come with less bits and baubles than previous models. Aside from the player, the box contains a UBS-C charging cable, a coaxial adapter, a screen protector, and a clear plastic case for the player.
Running on an Android operating system, the FiiO M9 uses a customized version that seems relatively smooth (the only time it doesn’t is when I’m streaming Hifi from Tidal, and then it’s only a little bit laggy).
Inside, the unit carries two AK4490EN DAC chips, to keep the sound resolving and distortion-free, as well as an A3P030 FPGA clock.
In terms of weight and feel, the M9 definitely offers a more premium experience over its predecessor, the M7. Almost identical in terms of weight, the M9 measures only 3/8 of an inch wider than the M7.
Memory comes in the form of an internal 2 GB, while the single micro SD card slot can handle anything up to 2 TB (theoretically, according to FiiO). The memory card slot sits on the left side of the unit, below the controls for power, volume, and playback. On the very bottom of the unit, output jacks for coaxial, 3.5 mm, and balanced 2.5 mm sit alongside a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.
The M9 also sports WIFI connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2 operating protocols, with support for 24-bit aptX HD, aptX, LDAC, and HWA.
Battery life measures a decent 10 hours of continuous playback, while standby time stands at 45 hours.
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.
Compatibility seems fairly open. Users can download and install applications from NetEase Cloud Music, MOOV, Tidal, KKBOX, Spotify, Qobuz, Roon, Deezer, JOOX, ES file manager, Bandcamp, and Sony headphones. Straight out of the box, the player comes pre-loaded with KKBOX, Tidal, NetEase, and MOOV.
Supported file types include: DSD, APE, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, AIF, WMA Lossless, ALAC, MP3, OGG, WMA, and AAC.
For the full specifications, click here.
Listening on my go to benchmark, the Mackie MP-240, the experience takes me back to memories of my first FiiO player, the X5 II. But FiiO has come along way since then, and the technology has come a long way, too; the M9 is a culmination of some great internals, as well as good design.
For folks who want a solid, fun, smooth-operating DAP, the FiiO M9 performs well for the price. The fact that it can perform double duty as a USB DAC provides even more value.
There aren’t many failings or shortcomings here; the M9 constitutes a solid offering from a solid company. It won’t replace the FiiO Q5 I have hooked up to my iPhone, but if I was looking for a less bulky solution, this would be the one I would choose.
With a lifelike, detailed sound that stays clean and clear, the FiiO M9 upholds the manufacturer’s reputation for quality sound on a budget. With no real lag or bugs, the Android operating system also lends itself well to a smooth user experience. Our take? This solid DAP provides stellar value, especially for new users, but still provides audiophile-friendly features.