PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
The Fiio M3 arrived in a smart red and white printed retail box. The box measures approximately 100 x 150 x 22mm. On the front is a picture of the M3 together with a pair of white earbuds. On the rear are details (in English and Chinese) of the specifications and features.
Opening the box reveals a clear plastic tray housing a pair of white earbuds, the M3 itself, and a data / charging cable. Underneath the tray is a black cardboard envelope containing a quick start guide, lanyard (for wearing the M3 attached around your neck), a warranty card, and two screen protectors (it also comes with a screen protector already in place).
The entire package is practical, covering everything you need to get up and running straight away with the player.
The table below lists most of the relevant specifications. I have (as a comparison) also listed specifications from Fiio’s other budget DAP – the X1.
|Fiio M3||Fiio X1|
|Approx cost||USD 55.00||USD 100.00|
|Dimensions||~ 74 x 40 x 9mm||~ 97 x 58 x 14mm|
|Lossless support (up to)||APE 48/16, FLAC 48/24, WAV 96/24||APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA, ALAC, AIFF|
|Lossy support||MP3, WMA, OGG, M4A (excl raw .aac)||MP3, AAC, OGG, WMA|
|Highest resolution||96 kHz, 24 bits||192 kHz, 24 bits|
|Use as external DAC?||No||No|
|Battery||550 mAh||1700 mAh|
|Play time||~ 24 hours (screen off with 32 ohm hp)||~ 12 hours(screen off with 32 ohm hp)|
|Recharge time||< 2.5 hours||< 4 hours (DC5V, 2A)|
|DAC chip used||CS42L51||PCM5142|
|Main amp chip||Integrated with DAC||ISL28291|
|S/N (H/O)||≥95 dB (A-Weight)||110 dB (A-Weight)|
|THD+N (H/O)||<0.008% (1 kHz)||<0.003% (1 kHz)|
|Crosstalk||>70 dB (1 kHz)||>70 dB (1 kHz)|
|Output into 16 ohm||>50 mW (THD+N<1%)||>100 mW (THD+N<1%)|
|Output into 32 ohm||>30 mW (THD+N<1%)||>65 mW (THD+N<1%)|
|Max output voltage||>2.8 Vp-p||>4.2 Vp-p|
|Max output current||>70 mA||>130 mA|
|H/O impedance||<0.4 Ω（32Ω）||<2.0 Ω（32Ω）|
|Line Out||No||Yes, shared with headphone-out|
|Internal storage||8 Gb||None|
|External storage||1 x Micro sdxc up to 64Gb (see review)||1 x Micro sdxc up to 128Gb|
|Screen||2.0’ TFT, 240 x 320 resolution||2.0’ TFT, 240 x 320 resolution|
|Shell / Casing||Moulded plastic unibody||Aluminium alloy|
Features not mentioned above include:
- Resume playback from last position on power-on
- Support for CUE sheets
- Gapless playback (to be realized in coming firmware update – according to pre-release documentation)
- L/R balance (10 dB)
- Sleep / Idle standby
- Adjustable EQ – 5 band (X1 is 7 band)
- Fade-in / Fade-out (between tracks)
BUILD / DESIGN
The M3 is tiny – and I mean really small. In fact most IEM cases would be large enough for the M3 to fit comfortably inside. In fact, in terms of metric volume, the M3 is roughly 1/3 the size of Fiios other budget DAP the X1. The outer casing is a unibody design – injection moulded plastic – in two tone ivory (front and sides) and light grey (back panel). Fiio (in their release notes) state that the actual production releases are to have a whiter front and darker back – but I really like the colouring on the pre-production review sample.
On the left hand side is a single power / screen on/off button. Below this is the connecting point for the neck lanyard. On the right hand side is a sliding keylock button. On the bottom (left to right) is a micro USB data / charging port, a 3.5mm headphone-out, and a micro-sd slot.
The front panel is almost all taken up with the 240 x 320 pixel screen, and below that a dual row of physical control buttons which light up when pressed, but fade out when not in use. The buttons on the review sample all give good tactile response (although sometimes it is quite easy to push the wrong button), the 3.5mm port is firm, and the micro-sd slot is smooth to use, and at the same time recesses the card perfectly.
The screen can be adjusted from a brightness level of 1 to 10, but unfortunately even at the very bright setting the M3 is practically unreadable in direct sunlight. Shading, or moving into a shaded area is often the only way to navigate when outside.
As far as external storage goes, I’m primarily using a Kingston 64Gb class 10micro SDXC, and have had no issues with it (I formatted it in the player before use). I also tried my 128Gb Sandisk, and although Fiio says it is not supported, there were no issues reading that either.
So initial impressions on build is positive, and the M3 is the true epitome of portability – just 40g, and easily able to fit in any pocket. Tick my requirements for build and portability. The screen could be better – but we’re talking about a $55 DAP here.
DESIGN – INTERNALS
Although you can’t see them, it is probably a good idea to mention the internal electronics. The DAC used is a Cirrus Logic CS42L51, and one of the key features of this chip is that it operates from a single, 1.8 V power supply for low power consumption, yet delivers plenty of output power, 46 mW, into stereo 16 ohm headphones for a great listening experience. This highly integrated 24-bit, 96 kHz stereo codec is based on a multibit Delta-Sigma architecture which allows infinite sample rate adjustment between 4 kHz and 100 kHz.
Accompany the low power chipset with the 550 mAh battery, and you have a player that can (and does) play for up to 24 hr (display off) depending on volume used, file format, and headphones used. I’m comfortably getting 3-4 days between charges, with 6-8 hours use per day, and the best thing is that recharge time is generally 2-2.5 hours. So a big tick on my battery life requirement mentioned earlier.
The SoC used is an Actions ATJ2129 – which is a MIPS32 processor core with 5 stage pipeline, 163k SRAM and 88K Mask ROM. This does mean that Rockbox is not possible, and unfortunately it also means some limitations in things like maximum number of tracks scannable for the tagged library. But Fiio also says that by using this SoC and design combo, they can make the entire device fully modular, so any services not being used can be shut down to conserve battery.
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