Review: FiiO M9 – Wizard of the East

Bundle

Inside the box

FiiO is officially following the Apple road, the M9 bundle is as light as the box :

  • the FiiO M9
  • a stereo jack to Cinch for coaxial output
  • a TPU protection case + glass, screen protection
  • a USB-C cable 
  • a quick-start manual

Gone is the day FiiO gave you tons of accessories, you’ll now have to fill your cart if you need a spare screen protector. Ok, it’s not a big deal as most of this stuff always ends up lost or given away, but it’s the pleasure of unboxing.

The FiiO M9 is not compatible with the old accessories set, FiiO DK1 or FiiO K5 or the classic amp modules. Those are still compatible with the FiiO Q5 though.

 

 

UI & Usage

FiiO Music

Since the first FiiO X7, the brand began to move from its old UI to a modern one : FiiO Music. It’s an android application, available on the AppStore and Play Store but on the latest players, the integration goes further beyond a simple app.

The main idea here was to provide the best user experience with a “limited” hardware. The FiiO M9 only offers 768Mb of ram, not even a full gig so the engineers had to take a different path. Again, this is very Apple-esque : better hardware/software integration to avoid unnecessary addition to the hardware.

If you had the choice of classic android navigation or Pure music, the FiiO M9 doesn’t offer you this choice anymore. FiiO Music is now the core of the player and it’s a good implementation. It’s fast, reliable, easy to use and it didn’t crash once during the whole time I used it.

USB and SD Card

The FiiO M9 got an USB Type-C port. A future proof standard, on paper. Not having to check if the cable is in the right position is great and all, but what we really want is high-speed transfer and fast charging. I didn’t find the fast charge option fast and the file transfer is still limited by the micro-SD speed, so that leave us with an easy to plug cable.

This output also works very well for USB to DAC usage, I could plug all my battery powered DACs and never have any issues with the M9. Even big desktop USB DAC were a breeze to connect, if you want a versatile player to plug on all your devices.

Unfortunately, the FiiO M9 comes with only one micro-SD slot and 2Gb of ROM. Thankfully, big micro-SD cards are a thing now, and you can fit no less than 400Gb of Music. If you’re more of a streaming user, FiiO has you covered.

Warning : the FiiO M9 is a bit more complicated to connect to your computer than usual. 

On PC, you’ll have to connect it once, via USB, copy/paste the driver’s folder on your computer and install it. Then the FiiO M9 will be visible and usable from your usual explorer.

On Apple computer, you’ll have to use Android File Transfer. It’s available directly from the FiiO website or from iriver.

As usual, the FiiO M9 can be used as a fully operational USB DAC once connected to a computer, it can even become a coaxial adapter.

Streaming and DNLA

The FiiO M9 doesn’t support google play store but supports streaming applications. Confused ? I was too but it’s pretty simple once you know how to do. To ensure the best user experience, FiiO only accept music streaming apps to be installed on the player. As of today, you’ll find all the major applications : Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, Spotify, Qobuz, Moov, KKbox or NetEase Music.

You’ll have to download the apk from the FiiO website first. Once you’re done, use the file explorer to install them “et voila”. They will all appear on the home screen, ready to be used.

I’m a huge Spotify user and if the experience is not as fast as my iPhone X, it’s still very much usable. Compared to the FiiO X7 and X5, it’s night and day so if you need a dedicated DAP for streaming, go for the FiiO M9.

Battery Life

The FiiO M9 carries a 2350 mAh battery and is advertised for 10h of continuous playback. Compared to previous players of the brand, those are conservative numbers and should be much more close to real playback time. Obviously, if you connect a power-hungry headphone and rely essentially on WiFi streaming, you will end up around 7h.

A major improvement comes from the deep sleep function. To sum up, it allows you to put the FiiO M9 in sleep mode and leave it like this for days, allowing fast boot-up each time. FiiO says advertise a 45 continuous days of deep sleep, meaning you could forget it in your bag and take it back weeks later.

I tried it and if not revolutionary, it’s really handy. The FiiO M9 became my favorite car player thanks to that and Bluetooth support, if you only use Bluetooth connection the player can last for more than 30 hours !

Bluetooth 

Up to this day, the FiiO M9 is the most advanced player in Bluetooth regards. It supports all formats : SBC, apt-X, LDAC even the new LHCD/HWA. This last format is currently supported by Huawei on its recent line-up and… FiiO with the BTR3 receiver.

Basically, with a compatible headphone or receiver, you’ll always get the best quality available. Of course, if you have a TOTL IEM or a massive can, wired connection will always be the best one.

Another good news, like the Cayin N3, the FiiO M9 supports duplex Bluetooth. You can use the player as a Bluetooth receiver with a smartphone, computer or any Bluetooth emitter. Since the M9 already have access to a WiFi connection this was not necessary, but it’s a nice addition from FiiO.

For the nerdiest of you, it’s possible to use the FiiO M9 as a Bluetooth to Coax converter. I honestly don’t know who does that but it’s possible now.

Everyday carry

It’s light, easy to carry and well built, so yes the FiiO M9 is a great player for your everyday gear. The compact design allows you to take it out without a separate bag, leaving room for a bigger headphone. The one-body aluminium case feels sturdy and apart from the silicon sleeve, I never felt the urge to use something else to protect the player.

The button are easy to identify, even if the player is in your pocket and the volume wheel is simple to use. The click sound is really pleasant and most of all let’s you precisely tune the volume. Overall, you should never have any issues with this player on a daily use. It’s the pure definition of a portable player.

The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.

Review: FiiO M9 – Wizard of the East
4.1 (81.4%) 43 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.

    20 Comments

    • Reply November 27, 2018

      User

      Worst review ever

      • Reply November 28, 2018

        Lieven

        Thank you. Come again.

        • Reply December 28, 2018

          neverenoughbackups

          i found it to be an enjoyable, enlightening read. thank you for all of your thoughts and words.

      • Reply December 31, 2018

        NanoTechnos

        Love your opinion, I’ll improve to make the next one the #2 worst review ever 😉

    • Reply November 27, 2018

      Parta

      I have a Fiio Q5, is it an upgrade if i buy the M9.

      • Reply December 31, 2018

        NanoTechnos

        Honestly, I don’t think you’ll hear a big upgrade. The FiiO Q5 has a better amp circuit IMO and is one of the best performer in FiiO range. The M9 is more if you want an all-in-one player instead of a bulky DAC/AMP.

        I would have kept the Q5 if sound is your main concern, the M9 if you want to carry one device only.

    • Reply November 27, 2018

      Juan Luis

      So the dx120 and n5ii have better sound quality? I have a cayin n3, but i need to upgrade for my Meze 99 Neo and Dunu Falcon C.

    • Reply November 29, 2018

      Rob

      Hi reviewer. This was an interesting and informative review, thanks. Your writing is unfortunately full of grammatical errors, which reduces the quality of the reading experience. I’d be happy to do a quick edit on your next review before you post it if interested. Cheers.

    • Reply December 10, 2018

      Raphael

      Thank you for the great review. I have a question regarding the M9 vs X7ii. Which would you choose if you could buy either one for the same price? I use streaming services a lot.

      Thank you 🙂

    • Reply December 15, 2018

      Craig Burdick

      Your review was somewhat interesting if not overly thorough but due to extremely amateur writing, I just could not continue. Before you get bitter and lash out, understand this; I want nothing from you or anyone. I am neither affiliated with nor interested with, in any way, this website. You are (if you choose) fortunate that I saw your review and although I didn’t get what I’m certain you wanted me to get from it and because I am a professional writer and I make a fair $265K per year doing it and I know with absolute certainty of the hardship that awaits you if you continue on this path and fail the heed the warnings you will read here. I would rather you not contact me unles it is to say thanks in one form or another. Again, I will never want a nickel from you….ever. Likely hard to believe in this high crime area we call the Internet but it is the honest to god truth. You appear as a young person in desperate need of some mentoring. Alright, if that didn’t qualify me for what I’m about to tell you, you have already deleted me and my message. OKAY, HERE YOU GO: I must tell you, and I simply cannot imagine that I am alone here that the quality of your writing leaves much to desire and I’ll also tell you, that is putting it softly. Simply and honestly, if this is your career and you are serious about it, you have two simply options and the first is spend a great deal of your time and energy doing whatever it takes to improve, even master your command of the English language. Demonstrated improvements in these basic English language skills are not important, no, that doesn’t sum it up correctly, they must be approached as though your very career as a writer in the English language has zero chance of moving forward without a swift and immediate change just as I have laid out. As it is, your English comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and certainly your writing skills will cause the loss of AND failure to retain more readers, not to mention you wil immediately lose credibility of the many employers you will likely visit who will never take the time to tell you the constructive truth. This Constructive truth and the (hopeful) wholesale improvements that YOU will make are the beat chance and the best advice you will ever hear if this is a viable career for you. I see this often with amateur writers but have NEVER done this before…ever! Why YOU? Why today? Because I recognized your passion for that player, I understand the amount of knowledge that is required to prepare and publish a technical story like that. You can do so much better for your readers. Believe me, you will be handsomely rewarded (in much more exciting ways than money alone could ever bring). If you opt to not “hear” what this person here (Me), a complete random stranger who would like nothing more than to someday, somehow know that this 2 hours (that’s how long I’ve been at this my friend) I dedicated out of my life for a fellow complete stranger actually did help. I promise you, I will never want anything beyond that. I wish the best for you! Happy Holidays

      • Reply December 24, 2018

        Steve Johnson

        ” ………..interesting if not overly thorough but due to extremely amateur…….”. Missing a comma after “thorough”.

        “You are (if you choose) fortunate that I saw your review and although I didn’t get what I’m certain you wanted me to get from it and because ……..”. Convoluted.

        “……honest to god truth”. Capitalize ‘God’.

        “……the quality of your writing leaves much to desire”. Re-write “much to be desired”

        “….if this is your career and you are serious about it, you have two simply options” …??

        I could go on, but I really can’t be bothered.

        I’m a manual worker with a college education. If even I can spot the tremendous amount of grammatical errors, missing or wrong punctuation and general bad syntax in your reply, then it’s possible your employer may wish to hire me for $250k a year.

      • Reply December 28, 2018

        stillneedmorebackups

        Dear Craig, try reading a book; you’re full of shit.

      • Reply December 31, 2018

        NanoTechnos

        Amen to that !

      • Reply January 11, 2019

        Ryan Maximus

        You are a professional writer? Your writing is chock full of grammatical errors too, and you have the nerve to criticize this guy? Buzz off doofus and nice try trying to convince everyone of your superior writing prowess because you failed miserably. Oh my, my writing is full of punctuation errors too I better buzz off too. Simpleton.

    • Reply December 30, 2018

      Ano Senah

      Thanks for the article, I have the Fiio M9, I also have an onkyo dpx1 and a chord mojo. I agree with your review you have confirmed my own impressions in regards to this unit. To listen I use several “cheap-ish” iems and headphones, (sennheiser HD 6xx, sony mdr 1000xm2, Sony MDR-XB950 bt), (fiio FH5, RHA t20i, KZ ZST, jabra elite 65t active and one more triple driver) I feel the sound quality is not as good as the oknyo dpx-1 in general but where I give the fiio full marks in portability and ease of use and once amplified by the chord mojo 😁 it takes on a new demension and becomes excellent. I have no doubt this is due to the power and prowess of the chord mojo, it works well stacked and is not too bulky to pocket when stacked 😉. Where the fiio M9’s excellence shines is as a portable small and pocket friendly DAP. Grabbing it out of your bag having left it there for the whole week without charging it and it still has over 50% battery, going to the gym or for a run with Bluetooth headphones or iems and still having excellent sound quality is great, (I drive to work so I don’t to use it much for commuting during the week, besides my car audio is amazing so I don’t need it). Going a quick walk you almost forget you have it in your pocket, it’s just so convenient. In my humble opinion it’s the best portable DAP of 2018 out there considering the following factors price point, Bluetooth functionality, streaming services, portability, battery life, scalability (usb c-chord mojo) no frills simple software.

      • Reply December 31, 2018

        NanoTechnos

        Can’t agree more, the FiiO M9 outperforms most of the player in term of power consumption.
        You can get better sound in more expensive player, but I don’t think you can get a better all-in-one device in this price range.

        And yes, it’s perfect for everyday use 😉

    • […] reviewed the FiiO M9 a few time ago. Spoiler alert : I really liked it. It’s a great piece of hardware, combining […]

    • Reply January 16, 2019

      Jose A Carranza

      Thank you so much for the information, I do understand Google Music is not an option (unless you can just download the APK but I am not sure if this is part of the white-list thing) I am just curious as I use a Chromecast Audio through a oldish Denom receiver at home and I cast music and I have no problems with high resolution files be it FLAC or WAV, but I am just curious to know if I would still be able to just stream my library with this device over the Chromecast, Tidal would be terrific if it can just get my library synced with Tidal. For some reason my phone is not compatible with the Android Tidal Music app. I’ll have to look into more but I surely appreciate any information you may have about this.

      Thank you again for the great review!

    • Reply January 18, 2019

      Im.Kz

      Hi, I’ve been using AK Jr & Cayin C5. Do you think it worth to upgrade to M9? Does M9 support spotify and tidal? Thanks in advance

    • Reply January 29, 2019

      Alessandro

      But then, at the end of the day, does this M9 sound like?

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