Fiio M11S review: This $499 portable hi-res music player is amazing

    Fiio is without doubt one of the most recognizable names within the hi-res audio scene, and the producer is understood for its value-focused DACs and IEMs. I reviewed a whole lot of the model’s current launches over the past 12 months, together with the terrific BTR7 Bluetooth DAC, high-end K9 Pro DAC, FA7S and FD3 IEMs, and some transportable DACs.Fiio additionally has a spread of transportable music gamers, with the M11S the newest providing within the sequence. Think of those transportable gamers as a by-product of the iPod however for lossless music. You get all of the options you want in a single package deal: the M11S has a 5-inch display screen with a 720p decision, is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660, and options twin Sabre ES9038Q2M DACs that ship native 24-bit/384KHz playback, and DSD256 together with MQA decoding.The M11S connects over the single-ended 3.5mm port, and also you get balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm ports as nicely. What’s significantly fascinating right here is that there is Bluetooth as nicely, and the M11S can transmit wirelessly by way of SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, and LHDC. The better part is that it runs an uncluttered model of Android out of the field, and with full entry to the Play Store, so you possibly can set up your favourite streaming service with none trouble.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)I need to discuss a bit of in regards to the design of the M11S earlier than I get to its sound traits. Fiio overhauled its design language in 2022 and is aiming for a constant aesthetic throughout its whole vary, and that’s instantly evident when utilizing the M11S. It has the identical angular strains and rectangular sides, and it’s just like the K9 Pro on this regard. Other Fiio merchandise just like the Q7 and R7 share an analogous aesthetic, so it is good to see Fiio unifying the design language all through its portfolio.Image 1 of 4(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The design itself seems superb, and the matte end on the edges makes it simple to carry and use the M11S. There are bodily music playback buttons on the precise, energy button and a big quantity rocker to the left, and a MicroSD slot that holds as much as 2TB — that is very helpful when you’ve got a big offline music library and need to entry it on the go. The ports are on the backside, with the 3.5mm jack positioned to the left of the USB-C port and the balanced 2.5mm and 4.4m ports on the precise.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)While the 5.0-inch display screen feels diminutive towards the likes of the Galaxy S22 and even small telephones just like the ASUS Zenfone 9, it’s the preferrred measurement right here. It does not make the M11S unwieldy, and there is sufficient display screen actual property for looking your music library and controlling music playback. The M11S is pretty chunky at 18.5mm, and that is right down to the audio {hardware} and enormous 5300mAh battery below the hood. That stated, it is not too heavy at 271g, and also you get a transparent case within the package deal that protects the system in case of tumbles.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)The metallic chassis is sturdy and feels constructed to final, and within the six months I used the M11S, I did not see any points with construct high quality or tactility of the buttons. Rounding out the design, the display screen is not significantly vibrant right here, however it’s serviceable for the use case. Thankfully, you get Gorilla Glass protecting the entrance and rear panes of glass.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Coming to the ports, the M11S is ready to ship 300mW over the 3.5mm jack at 16Ω, taking place to 200mW at 32Ω and 23mW at 300Ω. The balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm ports have extra energy, going up 670mW at 32Ω, 550mW at 16Ω, and 90mW at 300Ω. There’s loads of headroom right here for driving IEMs and full-sized headphones, and I did not run into any drawbacks with the audio gear I’ve. You get three achieve settings right here — low, medium, and excessive — and for many IEMs, the low achieve setting was simply tremendous.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)As for the sound itself, the M11S delivers a dynamic signature with a whole lot of character within the low-end, vibrant mids with good timbre and wonderful vocal readability, and a clear treble with good extension. There’s loads of layering and dynamism to the sound, and the mid-bass is splendidly detailed, delivering a clear low-end with presence.The low noise ground means you will not hear any hiss even with delicate IEMs, and this hasn’t been a difficulty in my testing. The M11S got here into its personal when used with the Audeze Euclid, permitting the IEMs to ship a energetic sound that is completely engrossing.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)On the software program facet of issues, the M11S options vanilla Android 10 with entry to Google Mobile Services. That means you get the Play Store out of the field, and you may set up all of your streaming companies you need. You additionally get the flexibility to put in anything you want, however given the older {hardware} and restricted reminiscence, you are higher off utilizing the M11S solely for music streaming — even the most effective finances Android telephones have higher {hardware} nowadays. (Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)Fiio has its personal storefront that allows you to set up the likes of Qobuz and Tidal, and this was useful for my use case as Tidal is not formally listed within the Play Store in my nation. Otherwise, you are a vanilla interface with none adjustments, and contemplating my each day driver has been working Android 13 for 4 months now, the design of the overview menu and notification pane feels archaic.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)That stated, there’s system-wide darkish mode, and I did not see any slowdowns whereas utilizing the M11S — an achievement contemplating the {hardware} on provide. The participant is powered by Qualcomm’s 14nm Snapdragon 660, and the final cellphone I used that ran the platform was Xiaomi’s Mi A2. There’s 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inner storage, and whereas that may make for a poor mixture in a cellphone in 2023, it’s completely tremendous right here.You additionally get Wi-Fi connectivity and AirPlay/DLNA streaming, so in case you’re like me and have your music library saved on a house NAS server, you get the flexibility to entry the information straight. While I exploit USB Audio Player Pro on my cellphone, the built-in Fiio Music utility was good for enjoying music off the NAS — it has interface and handles media playback with none trouble.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)There’s a 5300mAh battery below the hood, and the M11S delivers over 15 hours of music playback. That must be greater than sufficient for weekly listening periods, and the one draw back right here is that it takes an agonizing three hours to totally cost the battery. I exploit telephones with the identical battery measurement that cost in below 30 minutes, however then once more, the M11S is not a tool that you’re going to must cost each day.I exploit the K9 Pro along with the Focal Elex when I’m at my desk, however for many transportable listening, I turned to the M11S as my participant of alternative. It drives all of the audio gear I’ve in my home with little to no effort, it produces a balanced sound that makes IEMs just like the Audeze Euclid shine, and it has greater than sufficient battery life.(Image credit score: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)More than anything, the M11S has been my go-to alternative over the past six months due to how simple it’s to make use of. I discover it to be extra handy to make use of the M11S than pair a Bluetooth DAC just like the BTR7 with my cellphone and play music that manner. The key differentiator is that not like my cellphone, there are not any errant notifications on the M11S, so I can simply take heed to the music with none distractions. At the top of the day, that alone makes it a worthy suggestion, and if you need a high-res music participant that nails the basics and simply will get out of the way in which, you may love what the M11S has to supply.
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    With a sturdy feature-set that features balanced ports, wi-fi connectivity, clear Android interface with entry to your whole streaming companies, and terrific sound high quality, the Fiio M11S is the best hi-res music participant. 

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