Working with the M15 is a pleasure. It’s fast, very responsive and it can do everything. I love the Android OS as you can use your phone gestures/controls, you know where all the settings are and you can install all your favorite applications. First thing I did was install Tidal, ROON remote and Spotify. Lovely.
“A 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced connection?” is often the question but Fiio had a better idea. They did both and they even threw in an unbalanced 3.5mm output as well (also LO).
Battery-wise Fiio has got everything covered as well with the huge 7490mAh 3.8V Li-polymer battery. I haven’t been using the M15 long enough to fully test the battery life, but this might just be the longest lasting DAP in my collection. To be confirmed after more testing.
I mentioned it before already, but the M15 comes with a customizable button. Some might need it, others might not see the use. I personally love having a programmable shortcut you use a lot, so extra points for usability. Another thing I love, but it isn’t new, is how Fiio looks for the album art and lyrics when you’re connected to the internet. Useless for some, USP for others.
So is everything sunshine and rainbows? No, but it’s close to being perfect. Two things have come up so far. The first issue I have found user-wise so far, is the fact that the volume – even on low gain – gets very loud very quickly. This is important to know for those who use very sensitive monitors or for those who listen at low volumes. Luckily there’s no channel imbalance at all.
The second issue is that the M15 quickly gets warm. Warm, not hot, but if it’s in your pockets you will for sure notice and feel it. It never gets hot though and maybe it’s because there’s no case keeping the warmth inside, but it’s something which is good to know.
Nothing new here, A Fiio DAP running on Android can do it all.
A small list?
- Line Out
- High Quality BT
- Fiio Link
- Music WiFi transfer
OK, maybe Fiio forgot something but I haven’t seen many flagships able to do all that. Again, for the full list of features check the M15 home page on Fiio’s website.
And then there is the M15’s sound. Is it good and flag ship worthy? Yes it is. Did I expect it to be better? To be honest, I did. But I’m used to listening to the SP2000 which is over double the M15’s price, so that’s not really fair either.
After a few days of listening I wouldn’t say the M15 has a fully neutral tuning. For that the bass is a little big and the sound has a bit too much body. But it’s not that this is a warm sounding or smooth sounding DAP, this is not the case either.
The sound from top to bottom is very clean and clear but the bass and full mids are present at all times. Most people tend to like that, so for most of you this will be good news. The M15’s sound stage width and depth is good, but at the same time it’s not spectacular either. There are several DAPs on the market that score better in this regard, and especially regarding the depth.
Same basically goes for the layering, note separation and airiness. It is good but not the best and here it’s mostly the spaciousness in the mids which is limited, giving you a more intimate than open presentation. The level of detail is good, the pace is good and the dynamics are good. Note extension and decay aren’t the M15’s strongest points however.
There are good things to say of the M15, a few less good things and things I really wish would be better. For the first case I really have to mention the vocals as Fiio has done an incredibly good job on them. Especially female vocals such as Adele, Angèle, Amy Winehouse, Melody Gardot and Anna Ternheim sound natural and at the same time romantic. Love it. In the last case I’m mostly talking about the level of energy, excitement and overall, cross-genre musicality. For some reason, after these first days of listening, I just can’t find the pleasure with my favourite tunes as much as with say the PAW 6000, the WM1A/Z or the AK DAPs (CUBE, SP1/2000).
On top of that the M15 – without case – also tends to pick up interference from my phone, so I have to keep both units apart at all times. Bummer.
It’s too soon to tell how the M15 will be assessed in a few weeks time (by Nano). I’m pretty sure its performance will improve even more over the next few days while I keep it running, and of course my brain and ears still need some adjustment to this new Fiio tuning as well. At the moment the Fiio M15 hasn’t fully convinced me yet, but it wouldn’t be the first time a unit completely grows on me after a few weeks. We’ll see.
Nano is a big fan of Fiio’s tuning though. For him and for you this just might be the perfect tuned DAP. Keep your eye out for the full M15 review soon, by a different set of ears.