FiiO M17 Review

Fiio M17

Sound performance

For the purpose of this review, I used the Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X, the Nostalgia Audio Camelot and the mighty Meze Empyrean. All files were streamed from Spotify and Apple Music, in Hi-Res when available, and my own catalog.

Overall signature

So, is the FiiO M17 the TOTL we expected? Truthfully, it’s even better than that. It’s everything I like about FiiO: gorgeous lows, vibrant voices, and clear highs, giving me the perfect balance of fun and neutrality. 

But, let’s talk about power first. As you’d expect from the design, the M17 has enormous power, outmatching all and every player I had to this day, even in single-ended mode only. In fact, it’s so powerful that it challenged many of my desktop gear, like my HiFiman EF400, or even my SMSL DO200+HO200 setup.


Audeze LCD-X, Sennheiser HD800S, Meze Empyrean, even my old HiFiman HE-6, none gave the FiiO any difficulty, even more when I plugged them in 4.4mm/2.5mm. In fact, I don’t know who will ever use – or need – the enhanced mode as switching to this special setting might even obliter your eardrum. And, for the craziest ones, you can even use the provided power-supply, to bypass the embedded battery and rely solely on the DC input, increasing the analog circuit voltage by 35% and, therefore, unleashing the beast.

And, if FiiO offers four levels of gain (low/mid/high/bazook) to fit every type of headset/IEMs I mostly switched between low and mid, the low-level proving to be sufficient with almost all of my IEMs, and the mids enough for all of my headphones. A feats on its own already but, on top of that, the player delivers one of the cleanest, blackest soundstage I ever heard on a portable player – Tempotec beating FiiO by a hair’s breadth on this aspect.


Dynamic is superb, even more, if you use the 4.4mm/2.5mm output, and with every headphone I treid, I really felt surrounded by the sound. Paired with the Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X and Sennheiser HD800S, the voices were natural, poised, and I could easily pinpoint each of them in the space. 

While I found the upper mids a bit too tamed on the previous M11S, this was never the case which seem to polish every aspect of the track, giving light to micro-details I was previously unaware of.


And if Cirrus-Logic or AKM improved a lot in the past years, I still prefer the ESS sound signature: better mids, more body, authority, and overall realism – especially on that 9038pro series.

A pro name that isn’t displayed just for show, as the DAP could be the perfect substitute for a professional sound-engineer on the go, and for good reason. Heavy fare never gave the M17 any trouble, whether it was electro, jazz, classical or even rock tracks.

It’s infinitely more accurate than the M11, and remains a few steps above the M11 Plus and M6 Pro – two great devices, but lacking the effortless natural of the new M17.


So much, that even compared to my Astell&Kern SE180, the FiiO M17 seems to play in a league of its own. If the prior delivers smoother highs, perfectly in line with A&K mantra, the big FiiO outperforms the A&K on every other day aspects: spaciousness, texture, depthless of the bass and – obviously – raw power.

The sheer power, combined with ESS accuracy and THX linearity delivered the high-end experience you’d expect from a $2000 DAC & amp, desktop combo, for one quarter of the size. Wonderful!

Long story short, a true TOTL, through and through.

iBasso DX320 vs FiiO M17

It’s no secret that I LOVE my DX320, the fruitful mix of a giant screen, four Rohm DAC and a dual battery system that gave us the most silent iBasso players, in years. But how does it compare with the M17, almost similarly priced and sized?

Power-wise, the FiiO is the clear winner here, behaving exceptionally well in every situation, whether if it’s an IEM or a Planar, pushing majestic lows when asked and whispering discreet highs, when needed. But, in terms of dynamic range, I think that I’d favor the iBasso presentation more, especially when paired with the Nostalgia Audio Camelot – my new TOTL IEM reference.

Head to head, the FiiO is still a bit hard on the upper range, even more on my usual techno tracklist, but it’d be unfair to label the M17 painful or ear-piercing, it’s just that the DX320 is mellower/softer. But, on a daily basis, those two are really really close, notably, if you choose sensible IEMs like the A&K/Campfire Pathfinder or the Shanling ME800. On the other hand, with the FiiO FF3 and FD7, the synergy with the M17 (!) is simply fantastic with just the right amount of spark, like Etymotic in the good old days.

On the other hand, with my lovely DT900 Pro X, I’d always favor the iBasso DX320. Voices are a tad more accurate, layering a lot more natural and the transient a bit quicker. One of my favorite combos up to this day!

All in all, two sumptuous devices, diametrically different in their presentation, but how so close in terms of raw performances – follow your intuition.



Highs: clean and straight. If ESS is sometimes labelled as boring and dull due to its linear tonal balance, I’m – and will stay as it appears – a big fan of their signature, even more, when FiiO’s the one using their chip. It’s always on point, magically accurate and, even at low or super high volume, the player was able to output a lot of information, in every gain settings, low/mid/high/super high. Amazing!

Track : Poly – Thylacine

Mids: top of the line layering and dynamic. Voices have always been good on FiiO players, and the M17 takes that to new heights. This is especially true with big cans and hybrid IEM, who love its large power reserve, but even paired with classics like the Meze 99 Classics, the DAP delivers superb vocals, almost effortlessly. 

Track : Wanderer – Mogli

Lows: unrivalled. The THX-AAA amps are back, for our greatest pleasure. In fact, as soon as I heard the first notes of Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, the M17 immediately took the crown for best player in this category. Not only was it able to reach the deepest notes and sub rumble, it also gave one of the most organic bass I had the chance to listen on a DAP, or a DAC/AMP of this calibre. With no dragging sound nor latency, this is the BEST bass you can get in this price range. Period!

Tracks : Way down we go – Kaleo


Noise and power

Noise: if the previous models were already silent, this model is equally good and the M17 outputs a superb background, just a tad under the Variations V6 and… the M11S – who would have expect that.

My hypersensitive Onkyo could not spot anything, even with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on. EMI shielding made a great job and I never encountered any parasite or buzz during my listening.

Power: this time, FiiO offers four different levels of gain for its player. If low was already powerful enough to drive my DT900 Pro-X, the mid-level was the one I’d go for 90% of my headphones, even with the BeyerDynamic. Obviously, if you want to drive cans like the Audeze or Sennheiser flagship, the FiiO M17 is the one – no headphones should ever give you any issues.

Line out/Coax out: If the FiiO M17 kept the classic 3.5mm output, to connect your amp, the player also introduces a new balanced, 4.4mm, line-out. Unfortunately, at the moment, none of my gear support this type of plug, but it’d be pretty interesting to see if this matches the usual XLR line out. I know that iFi Audio offers a complete set with its DAC + AMP signature series, but at the moment, I only have the DAC!



Lo and behold, this is FiiO’s best DAP up to this day, a true flagship condensing a complete high-end desktop system, in a “portable” player, re-establishing their leadership position – once again.

Sure, it’s more trans-portable than really nomad. Sure it gets way hotter than you’d ever expect a player could do. But, once you’ve plugged your ears/headphone, everything becomes insignificant, erased by the sound’s prowess of the DAP. Top that with the same CPU found in the M11 Plus, a bigger screen, a plethora of inputs/outputs and this player will replace/complete every source you may hold prior to that.

At $1,799, the FiiO M17 is definitely not cheap – that’s $1000 more than the M11 Plus –  but it’s still a no-brainer, outperforming many, if not every, players available at the time of writing. And, if I still have a personal affection for the DX320, for many, the M17 will be the one and only to get.

So yes, this player goes directly in my recommendation list, and if you’re out for a TOTL player, you should definitely try this one first, or at least add it to your list. 


Page 1: about FiiO

Page 2: UI, Usage, Bundle

Page 3: Technical specifications

Page 4: Sound performance 


4.6/5 - (75 votes)

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.


  • Reply November 14, 2022


    Great review. This DAP sure has amazing features and looks like a possible replacement for desktop DAC. One question please. With Apple Music, can you download the music to it or it’s streaming only?

  • Reply September 5, 2023


    Nice write up, I’ve had my eye on this for a bit. It has the coaxial output which I want vs the optical on the AK’s. I already own an AK player.
    This review rather made up my mind even tho I’d rather have a AK dac converter which I don’t own and looks like I never will. Another Sabre on the way.

    Still in the background,
    Still reading around.

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