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
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.
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 !
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.
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.