Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Why does a Dap have to be so darn expensive?
I recently obtained the Fiio M11used on R/avexchange. It came still in its original box, original accessories, and a spare case. It looked like it had never been used! I decided to pull the SD card from my M6 and pop it into the M11. Let's start with what came in the box.
Inside the nice presentation box, you'll find a number of accessories. First I found the M11 unit sitting inside a nice clear silicone case. Its ridged and tough enough for being the default case. No screen protector came with it, sadly. Under the unit was a charging cable, paper stuffs, and a Coax to 3.5mm adapter. Simple, yet plenty to get started.
For features, this thing boasts Bluetooth using LDAC and Aptx where available, volume scroll wheel, USB Dac mode, and full android app support. These are the big features in my opinion. I did the usual, popped in my SD card and booted up Fiio Music. Down below, you will find 4.4 and 2.5 balanced, usb-c, and 3.5mm SE. These ports are gold plated as well! On the left side is Play/Pause, Scrolling volume knob with a nice click (digital not analog), with next and last track at the bottom. I found it odd that next track was the bottom button, but that's my personal taste. You have a audio menu in the device with some more features. SPDIF out, high/low gain, Output selection, Lowpass filter mode, USB mode, Balance, In-line remote, DSD output, and airplay. I find that I use Airplay from my iPhone every once and a while, its a nice feature to receive airplay. I was a little disheartened to find out I could not bluetooth receive and send. I would set up my M6 to recieve from my phone and output LDAC to the Panda cans, I haven't been able to figure it out with the M11 yet. This comes in a package that has 13 hours of playback! I found a few things about the OS interesting.
The OS is clean, quick enough, and is simple. I found a Fiio Applications app that allows me to download quite a few different audio apps without signing into the google play store. A nice touch. They were missing Last.FM which i use for music taste and play tracking. I was able to install TIDAL, Spotify, PlexAmp, Bandcamp, apple music, and more easily from the Google play store. All the apps booted up and were as quick as normal. Apple Music won't let me log in, I think its a Apple issue rather than a Fiio issue. Last.FM does also Scrobble from the Fiio app, in case your were wondering! I appreciate allowing my inner Weeb to shine by having three default wallpapers with anime Fiio girls.
Using the M11 with headphones has been a fun experience. I recently got my hands on the Sendy Peacock from MusicTeck and tried them out here. The M11 pushes as a clean source that the Peacock and the Moondrop Starfield absolutely love. The power is also plenty powerful for the HD650 300 ohm monsters. The high gain helps with those high ohm cans too.
So how is the sound? That's the big question! The DAC with the AMP performance is stellar. This thing comes with TWO AK4493 dacs and TWO OPA926 amp chips. This means true balanced performance or even clean SE performance! I used my Starfields SE 3.5mm to this thing. The sound of the Starfields and the M11 were out of this world, pun intended. The Peacock really shines with this DAP as well. The DAC does a good job of pulling spacial details and sending them to the cans exactly how they are intended to sound. Using APTx to a AMP for passive speakers (Micca, of course) sounds brilliant as well! I find that my music collection through the Fiio amp sounds just as good wireless as it does through my headphones. The Panda loves the LDAC from the M11 as well, it sounds awesome! I can't comment on most of the sonic capabilities because each headphone does it a little different than each other. But I love the sound on the M11 better than the M6.
So, how does a $150 M6 DAP compare to the 0ver $600 M11 Dap? Is it perform enough to justfiy the price jump? I feel it does. Comparing it to the Q5s is a bit closer. Does it sound $150 better than the Q5s? I'm not so sure. The source is as clean as your music files, whereas the Q5s is as clean as your connection AND source. I feel the M11 edges out the Q5s slightly but not $150 better. I guess it depends on if you like your source or not. I still prefer the 25 hours of battery life (analog source) on my Q5S. But having everything in one package that is this nice is a welcome pleasure.
I do want to note that there are new editions of the M11 at time of writing. The LTD is the new model, the Pro is a THX model (I would avoid this, the price isn't worth it.), and the standard is mostly found used or on Ebay.
(I purchased the M11 with my own money. Fiio did not send me anything, not even money, for this review. All opinions are of my own mind and not swayed or payed for. I wish I got it for free... The image is provided by Fiio from their website.)