For the purpose of this review, I used my Onkyo IE-C3 for IEM testing and the BGVP DMG. All files were FLAC 16/44 or FLAC 96/24 from Qobuz, be it in USB DAC mode or pure player mode.
Streaming comes from Spotify in “exceptional” mode and low gain.
FiiO M6 > FiiO M7. I know you’re reading it a lot but… what’s the point of the FiiO M7 again ? In direct comparison, the FiiO M6 seems to give you better performances than the M7. The soundstage is wider, decay and sustain feels more natural, even if you don’t listen to them one after the other.
It’s not a powerful DAP by any means and, apart for IEMs or portable headphones, I would not really recommend the FiiO M6. I briefly tested it with the Sennheiser HD800 and, no surprise, the volume was not high enough to really enjoy the headphone.
Thankfully, with the Onkyo it’s a really enjoyable experience. Crisp mids, great vocals and overall the typical FiiO signature, in a smaller format. The FiiO M9 gives you better performances, thanks to its symmetrical output, but for the price the M6 is a great DAP. Frankly, it’s amazing to hear how much this device has evolved from the old FiiO X1 and X3…
On the computer, it’s a great DAC/AMP that can be carried almost anywhere. Sound is the same from the SD-Card and the USB, so you can confidently hook it up to your PC/MAC.
Highs : crisp. This is where I could prefer the FiiO M6 above the M7 and even the M9. Sabre DACs always shine with excellent restitution of female vocals and high-pitched notes. The AKM AK4490 in the M9 sounds a little more mellow, yet more accurate, but I could prefer the M6. Try it on some Max Richter tracks, really.
Mids : smooth. Not as good as the FiiO M9, by any means, but it still outperforms the FiiO M7. It shares a lot with the FiiO K3 and the M6 feels very even in the mids section. As usual, it’s the main strength of the FiiO players and if you have a versatile music library, this DAP should suits all needs.
Lows : good, but not as good as on the M9. The FiiO M6 amplification doesn’t give you a bass as tight as the M9. Compared to the FiiO M7, the difference is much more subtle and if not bad, it’s not amazing either. Hook up another amp if you really want to check how good is the Sabre 9018Q2C.
Noise : good points here, I never heard any noise whatsoever on my IEMs. If a silent background is your top priority, this will suit you!
Let’s cut to the chase : for 150€, the FiiO M6 is a no-brainer. It blends good performances – neat design – great battery life – extensive capability and it can even be connected to another DAC through USB.
It’s fast, easy to carry and, even if not the best, the screen can suit almost any use. You can either stream from your usual sound carrier or navigate through FiiO music and never feel that old feeling of “it’s meh but the sound is good”. Anyway, with the FiiO M6, M7 and M9, the brand offers a complete range of player for every need. Objectively, it’s hard not to recommend each one, depending of your setup, as they both give you more, for less.
Subjectively, if you already own a FiiO M7, you can directly switch to the FiiO M9. If you don’t own a FiiO M7 and are on a tight budget, go for the M6. If you want to get a FiiO M7, go for the FiiO M6, unless you prefer the design of the M7, like me.