Review: FiiO M9 – Wizard of the East

Specifications

For the nit-picker and nerdy ones here, I’m giving the specs and technical sheets . For all the others, you can just go to the next page to see how the DAP performs.

Double DAC

The FiiO M9 has a set of two AKM AK4490EQ chips, a classic combo now. These chips being renowned for its great performances, high precision and wide sound stag,e once properly tuned. Issued from the famous “verita series” the DAC supports 32bit / 768khz files and can be found in other high-end products like the A&K AK380 or the mighty K-07X from Esoteric.

The advertised THD is 112dB and the dynamic range in dual mono is announced at 123dB. Not bad indeed, even if Sabre continues to rock the charts with its ESS series. That said AKM should be in phase with the classic FiiO sound Signature, even more with the use of TI OPA1622 as an op-amp.

To ensure a perfect compatibility with every type of file, the M9 uses a FPGA chip especially configured as a clock syncing processor. It’s capable of decoding both PCM and DSD, from classic 44kHz to high res DSD128, a neat feature on a small player like that.

CPU and RAM

As an Android player, the FiiO M9 gets a modern processor from Samsung, the Exynos 7270. It’s faster than the old Mediatek SoC previously in use and that’s one of the main reasons the player feels snappy. More than just a processor, it’s a full system taking charge of the many aspects of the player. That’s how the M9 became compatible with 24-bit Bluetooth transmission or how it’s able to transfer your music in WiFi directly now.

As for the FiiO Q5, the brand also employ futuristic technology like this multi-layered PCB. Each layer is only 0.08mm wide and that alone is already impressive, even more if you recall how tough it might be to isolate the chips from all this parasites waves. Gone are the days WiFi and Bluetooth polluted your audiophile experience, the FiiO M9 is fully shielded now.

On paper, the FiiO M9 is a big evolution in terms of hardware. The sheer size being misleading as this player should be the most powerful one in the whole DAP range for the brand.

Wifi and Bluetooth

The WiFi is limited to 2.4ghz on the FiiO M9 which should not be an issue since the DAP isn’t made for Netflix or gaming. Much features are still pending like AirPlay or Flylink but that should not be an issue for most of us. 

Connecting the M9 was simple an easy, you can even use WPS to get one-touch connection and avoid the hassle of typing your password. The DAP connection was stable across the office and I never had any chips during playback, even with both Bluetooth and WiFi on.

Bluetooth is, as I said before, incredibly complete. I could hook up my iPhone to the M9 and use it as a wireless DAC, all it needs is a quick activation in the settings to authorize direct connection. I couldn’t try the LDAC as I had no headphone available but I could try apt-X HD with a set of ATH-SR9-BT. Again, it was a breeze to use as the player instantly found out the apt-X HD compatibility.

Full specs

  •  Type : Digital Audio Player
  • OS : FiiO Music
  • CPU : Exynos 7270
  • RAM : 0.768 Gb LPDDR3
  • Rom : 2 Gb (+ 2Gb for the system)
  • DAC : 2x AK4490EN
  • LPF : Ti OPA 1612
  • BUF : 2x Ti OPA 1622
  • Sample rate : PCM : 8Hz – 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits) native – DSD64/128
  • System clock : Full synchronization technology with FPGA processor
  • Outputs : 3.5mm headphone out – line out – coax out / 2.5mm TRRS out
  • Input : USB Type-C
  • Screen : 3.2″ 480×800 IPS Screen from LG
  • Micro SD : SDHC / SDXC (single slot)
  • USB DAC : Exynos 7270 Soc
  • WiFi : 2.4 GHz support
  • Streaming supported with tiers-party app
  • Bluetooth support : SBC, apt-X, apt-X HD, LDAC, HWA
  • Duplex Bluetooth : player can emits and receive music
  • Battery : 3.8V 3700mAh Li-Polymer
  • Quick Charge : No
  • Battery life : 10h with wired headphone, 30h with a Bluetooth headphone
  • Charging time : around 2h
  • Size : 106mm*60mm*13mm
  • Weight : 133g (150g with the silicon sleeve)

Line Out

  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 45kHz
  • THD : 0.002%
  • SNR : 117 dB
  • Channel separation : 105dB
  • Line Level : 2V 

3.5 mm Headphone out 

  • Output power : 125mW @16ohm / 170mW @32ohm / 19mW @300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 40kHz
  • THD : 0.002%
  • SNR : 118 dB
  • Crosstalk : > 72 dB
  • Output impedance : < 2 ohms

2.5 mm Headphone out 

  • Output power : 125mW @16ohm / 195mW @32ohm / 24mW @300ohm
  • Output power (turbo balanced on) : 220mW @ 32ohm / 77mW @ 300ohm
  • Frequency Response : 10Hz – 45kHz
  • SNR : 113 dB 
  •  THD : 0.002%
  • Crosstalk : > 98 dB
  • Output impedance : < 2 ohms

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

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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.

    22 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?

    • Reply April 16, 2019

      Emmitt Richards

      My only concern with fiio is software. Someone who owns one please tell me if the software is okay long term. I had an x3 first gen that was just “buggy”. Thanks in advance :).

    • Reply May 1, 2019

      MG in Ottawa

      Listening to the M9 now driving a Klipsch HP-3. Very nice combination for my preferences. I also own the Q5 but have not directly compared them. I would be surprised if once I level matched the volume that I could detect a difference. Really enjoying the M9 sound quality and getting used to the UI enough so that I find it quite easy to use.

      I also had a laugh at the professional writer who graced us with their gifted presence. That was some of the worst writing I have encountered and that is saying quite a bit as I have just finished marking quite a few final papers for a first year university class which made me weep for the future of the written word, but I digress.

      I think the M9 makes sense as mentioned by the reviewer for those who need a very capable and excellent sounding smallish DAP. I am very satisfied personally. And to the reviewer, your review was great and I appreciated it errors and all. I am going to assume that English is not your first language and to those who criticized you I wonder how well they would do writing in your first language? English speakers can be very judgmental, especially when they are not being asked to communicate themselves in another language. I enjoyed your review very much so thank you for the effort.

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