FiiO M15 Review

FiiO M15

Specifications

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For the nit-pickers and nerdy ones here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets . For all the others, you can just go to the next page to see how the amp performs.

DAC + Amp

So, the M11 gave us a dual AK4493EQ, then the M11 Pro topped that with a dual AK4497EQ. Still, need more? Here come the dual AK4499EQ of the FiiO M15. Youhou !

It’s still a chip from Asahi Kasei or AKM, still from the same Velvet sound family, but the specs are otherworldly. It’s the same DAC found in the mighty Astell&Kern SP2000 and, on paper, it boasts a dynamic range up to 137B and a THD as low as -124dB.

To ensure the best performances, FiiO developed a third-generation FPGA chip – an Actel ProAsic A3P030 – with “more advanced algorithms, more accurate clocks, and even further reduced jitter”. Add a set of two custom Japanese NDK femtosecond crystals, and here you have your full DSD512 / PCM 32bit/768kHz support.

The M15 is supposed to rival desktop amps in terms of power output. Under a 300 Ohm load, the output power can reach 275mW (balanced) et even 800mW under a 32 ohm load, with super low distortion (0.0004%) and high signal/noise ratio (+122dB).

To do so, the DAP adopts a fully balanced architecture (classic) with higher specced chips :

  • Texas Instruments OPA1612 for IV conversion
  • OPA 2211 for low-pass filtering
  • and no less than four OPA1622, still from TI, for the power amplification

All of those chips are covered by a custom thermally conductive silicone, graphene, copper-nickel-zinc alloy heatsink, like gaming smartphones, all to guarantee the best heat dissipation out of the M15.

Lot of promises, that we’ll need to confront through our listening session.

CPU and RAM

If you expected the FiiO M15 to get a faster CPU and more Ram, you will be disappointed. The M15 kept the same SOC, which is… pretty good actually.

The CPU is a full-fledged Samsung Exynos 7872 with six cores and true multi-app support. This means the player is more powerful and less power-hungry, all for your aural pleasure. Add to that 3Gb of LPDDR5 RAM and, the FiiO M15 will be ready to face any audio app you throw at him.

Only two core works at 2Ghz, the four other cores max out at 1.6Ghz, but that’s still more than enough for everyday use. The FiiO M15 won’t replace your Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone in terms of speed, but that’s not the point.

To relieve the CPU, FiiO added a specific routine: an active servo power. Basically, those are scripts that modulate the power output, depending on the headphone you plug, to guarantee you the best performances.

Ex: you can set the FiiO M15 with limited noise when using a set of sensible CIEM, or push the power when combined with a 300-ohm headphone. Clever on paper but nothing amazing, if you ask me, or maybe I’ll be blown away? Who knows.

It is, at the moment, one of the fastest DAP with the M11/M11 Pro and the beloved Shanling M6.

WiFi

The FiiO M15 is exactly the same as the others regarding the wireless connection. It supports 2.4Ghz as 5Ghz bands for faster and steadier connection. DNLA, AirPlay, UPnP are all there and of course, you can access a wide range of high-definition streaming platform :

Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, Deezer, Napster, TuneIn, etc..

Thanks to the Samsung CPU and the 3 Gigs of ram, Netflix and Youtube are definitely usable on the M15 The screen is sharp and sound is league beyond your usual phone, so give it a try!

And, to make things clean, FiiO added a specific shielding between the circuits and the wireless module. Made to absorb the 2.4Ghz, this safeguard protects the audio section from any noise or interference.

Oh and the PCB is made of an 8-layer, ultra-thick gold immerses board. I don’t really know how that works, but that looks mighty impressive.

You still want the full specs? Ok, here is for you.

Full specs

  • Type : Digital Audio Player
  • OS : FiiO OS
  • CPU : Exynos 7872
  • RAM : 3 Gb LPDDR5
  • Rom : 64 Gb (2Gb for the system)
  • DAC : 2x AK4499EQ
  • Sample rate : PCM : 8Hz – 768Hz (8/16/24/32bits) native – DSD64/128/256/512 – MQA 8X
  • System clock : Full synchronization technology with 3rd GenFPGA processor and dual Japanes crystal cloc
  • Outputs : 3.5mm headphone out – line out – coax out / 2.5mm TRRS / 4.4mm Pentaconn
  • Input : USB Type-C
  • Screen : 5.5″ 1440×720 IPS Screen from LG
  • Micro SD : SDHC / SDXC (single slot)
  • WiFi : 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz support
  • Streaming supported directly
  • Bluetooth support : SBC, apt-X, apt-X HD, LDAC, HWA, (AACr eceive only)
  • Duplex Bluetooth : player can emits and receive music
  • Battery : 3.8V 7490mAh Li-Polymer
  • Quick Charge : yes, QC2.0/3.0, PD2.0, DC12V/1.5Ah, 9V/2A, 5V/2A
  • Battery life : 15h with wired headphone, 22h with a Bluetooth headphone
  • Charging time : around 3.5h
  • Size : 75mm*134mm*18mm
  • Weight : 310g
Line Out
  • Frequency Response : 5Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : 0.0004%
  • SNR : 121 dB
  • Crosstalk : 107dB
  • Line Level : 2.1V
3.5 mm Headphone out
  • Output power : 405mW @16ohm / 490mW @32ohm / 70mW @300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : > 0.0005%
  • SNR : > 121 dB
  • Crosstalk : > 77 dB
  • Output impedance : < 1.4 ohms (32ohms)
2.5mm / 4.4mm Headphone out
  • Output power : 420mW @16ohm / 800mW @32ohm / 280mW @300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 90kHz
  • THD : > 0.00108%
  • SNR : > 122dB
  • Crosstalk : > 103 dB
  • Output impedance : < 3 ohms (32ohms)

Time to check how it really sound now !

The article continues on Page Six, after the click here

4.4/5 - (196 votes)
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A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

12 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2020

    Awds

    Nice review mate….could you explain more for the comparison between Kann cube and m15 regarding sound quality (mods,bass,etc.)? I can source a Kann cube at a lower price than the m15 but still considering if it’s worth it to get the pricier M15.
    I’m planning to use qobuz as my main music source (especially offline mode of qobuz), which would be better between Kann cube and m15 in your opinion?

    • Reply April 11, 2020

      John

      I second that request. Please please do a detailed comparison of the M15 vs the Kann Cube. They seem to be very similar in that they are a new generation of players with no compromises in terms of power for those that don’t want to be tethered to a desk but don’t necessarily (or unneceesarily) need a tiny thin portable package. Plus, they’re right in the same price range. Looking forward to it!!!

  • Reply February 20, 2020

    Michael Racine

    I will take it to replace my current M11 with the focal clear

  • Reply February 20, 2020

    MhtLion

    Thanks for the great review. This is how I personally summarize it for myself. Excellent TOTL spec. Great sound. But, don’t even need to compare against A&K SP2000 just because they use the same DAC chip.

    • Reply March 8, 2020

      Sp12er

      Intentionally avoiding putting it against high end player i see?
      Now why is that?
      I think it only make sense to at least try to pit it against at least one of them

  • Reply February 21, 2020

    Michael

    Good Review, thanks a lot! I`m a sounstage fanatic and cant decide between the M 11 pro and the M 15. Could you maybe do a short camparision? Or is there even another DAP with an even wider and deeper stage? Best regards!

  • Reply February 24, 2020

    Alexander

    Thanks for a great review.
    any idea on reviewing the Astell&Kern SA700 ????
    love to know how it compare to the FIIO M15 so i can make my purchasing decision.
    thanks

  • Reply February 26, 2020

    Nilesh Desai

    Please suggest Kann cube or M15 ?

  • Reply April 12, 2020

    Glassmonkey

    Move the sound section up. It took too long for me to get to what I wanted to hear. Also, all the specs discussion sounded more like an ad than a review. Your sound impressions were great.

  • Reply April 29, 2020

    Steven Zore

    I’m looking for a new dap, will probably go back to the SE100. I had the M11Pro but sold it because the mids were a tad too forward. Now this review says the highs are to harsh and piercing. It’s a shame Fiio cannot get their act together and tune their DAPS properly.

  • Reply August 18, 2020

    LCMusiclover

    What is this supposed to mean please?

    Cowon Plenue L : if I could match the Plenue 2 MKii against the FiiO M15, I think that the Plenue L is a better match.

  • Reply September 8, 2022

    Mike F

    Great review but I have a tricky question. I was going to get the SMSL D1SE thanks to your review but a co-worker is selling his M15 really cheap so I’m wondering if the M15 can compete with a desktop DAC in terms of SQ?

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