For the purpose of this review, I used my usual sets of IEMs and headphones previously paired with the FiiO M11 and M11 Pro. For the IEMs, I kept my good old Onkyo IE-C3, the Fearless Audio S8F, and replaced the BGVP DM7 by the DM8. The headphones? Sennheiser HD800S, Audeze LCD-X and the Meze Empyrean, for good measure.
Ok, is the FiiO M11 Plus LTD better than the old M11 Pro? Ehhh… not so much actually.
Don’t get me wrong, sound-wise, the FiiO M11 Plus LTD is one of the best players in this price range. Deep bass, smooth mids, exceptional layering with a holographic soundstage that completely immerse you once you wear your headphone. But… it doesn’t sound better. If the M11 Pro was mostly an upgraded version of the M11, the M11 Plus LTD is the M11 Pro in different clothes.
Same signature, same power, even if FiiO added a third level of gain (mid) to fit portable headset that needs a bit more power than IEM, but not too much, like the Meze 99 Classics or the good old Sennheiser HD25-II. In the same way, the sound stage is a tad wider. Not a big difference either, but to be fair, that’s still an improvement.
As usual, I began my listening session with The Spoils from Massive Attack, one of my favorite tracks. And if it couldn’t reach the same level of resolution, it’d be unfair not to call the FiiO M11 Plus LTD, a brilliant machine. Paired with my Audeze LCD-X, I even preferred the final render to the more exuberant FiiO M15, as the M11 seemed to kick lower and sharper.
Like the previous M11 Pro, the lows are gorgeous with just the right amount of “oomph”. Even more with the Audeze and Meze, thanks to the super-wide membrane found in both those headphones. It goes deep, and the sound pressure seems absolutely insane compared to the total sum of elements you hold in your hand. In that regard, I think that FiiO did the right choice keeping the THX-AA chips as they give, in my opinion, the best bass from any player, at the moment.
Also, what I wrote the last time, remains true up to this day:
Where the FiiO M11 seemed to be more of a jack of all trades player, the M11 Pro is less tolerant of bad recordings. Like the Cowon Plenue L, it sounds like a professional soundcard, more than an audiophile player. Not that’s a bad thing, but you’ll have to be very very conscious of what you’ll feed it with.
The soundstage is amazing, really, and by quite a large margin! Whether balanced or unbalanced, it’s immediately audible. And if that alone doesn’t justify the price difference, you have to add up all the other sonic improvements. Paired with my usual Onkyo IEM, I was surprised to hear details I only could spot with the Astell&Kern SP1000, a few thousand euros more expensive…
Again, it’s not an endgame player by all means, but to get something at least 10% better, you’ll have to double up on the price. Money you shall better invest on a good set of headphones if I were you, but that’s just my personal advice. On Ocean – Mahogany Sessions from Alice Phoebe Lou, a deliciously soft track, each layer just add up the right way: the voice, the kicks, the bells, everything blends together to ensure a true, audiophile, sensation.
Every tone, every nuance, every breath were palpable as if you were in the same studio. And this work on every headphone: the Sennheiser, Audeze, and obviously FiiO’s own IEM, all gave various levels of definition, but the same breathtaking experience.
All in all, the FiiO M11 Plus LTD is the same M11 Pro we all liked and loved, and it’s more than enough this way.
The article continues on Page six, after the click here
Page 1: about FiiO
Page 2: Design, build quality
Page 3: UI, Usage, Bundle
Page 4: Technical specifications