Play It All
A transportable participant that does all of it. Noel Keywood critiques FiiO’s reasonably priced M9 that’s full of capability.
The FiiO M9 is a massively succesful pordesk participant that in FiiO’s phrases “combines all the features individuals need”. Comprehensible to need all of it – however inevitably this provides complexity the place arrays of amenities have to be chosen from a number of menu layers by peering at tiny textual content on a small display. I’m making an attempt to get the M9 into context right here. It has large capability – even capable of play DSD by way of DoP, making this a participant that may carry out even probably the most obscure features – ones of attraction to audio lovers.
Measurement clever the M9 is pocketable at 60mm large. 107mm excessive and 13.3mm deep, if a bit heavy for a shirt prime pocket, weighing 139gms. Nevertheless, regardless of one swathe of complicated circuitry inside that features balanced headphone amplifiers and output, plus two new Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM, Japan) AK4490 DACs from the silky clean sounding Verita Collection, there’s a lengthy claimed 10hour life from the li-polymer 2350mAh re-chargeable inner batteries. Play hi-res and life will go down barely, by the best way – as ordinary. The unit expenses from a USB 5V (2A) provide / USB pc output as typical, cost time 2hrs.
FiiO declare quick efficiency from the Samsung Exynos 7270 CPU operating a customized Android working system however start-up was sluggish at 40 seconds, touch-screen response was tardy because of very small and insensitive lively areas, while quite a few swipes to transit from Residence to Play additionally slowed issues down. I needed to be affected person to get by means of all the various menus, particularly the quite a few Settings menus flagged by the identical gearwheel icon however totally different in content material.
With Android you have to load music information right into a Music folder utilizing an Android loader window that seems mechanically on a Mac, however it’s seen natively on a PC. Nevertheless, this participant makes use of a USB Sort C socket and USB 2.Zero that my USB2 Mac hub was sniffy about; I needed to plug in direct for a secure hyperlink, so knowledge fee seems to be excessive. No drawback right here with the PC although.
There’s a pleasant, if sluggish, edge- type quantity management wheel with massive on-screen color readout (Zero-120), Play/Pause and Monitor Skip buttons plus a card slot to increase the onboard 2GB of storage (1000 CD tracks / 20 DSD tracks) to as much as ITB. The actual use of a card slot is, I discover, to hold a small curated assortment round. Word that DSD tracks are huge at round 100MB so demand a big capability card.
Along with each unbalanced (Three.5mm jack) and balanced (2.5mm jack) headphone outputs the M9 can even transmit music to a hi-fi or ‘telephones by way of Bluetooth, utilizing aptX and aptX HD codecs, in addition to LDAC (Sony ’telephones) and HWA codecs (SBC and LHDC). Commonplace aptX is fairly dam good, making use of little compression (5:1) and giving about 98dB dynamic vary so no have to get too frightened about all this.
There’s wi-fi for downloading information from a PC or for enjoying them by way of DLNA when Home windows Media Server has it activated (Home windows 10). Macs don’t have DLNA as commonplace however it could possibly loaded as paid/free choice. The M9 discovered my PC with out hassle, with an amusing message ‘I Servers Based’ and performed music information with out drawback.
There’s streaming from the ‘internet by way of pre-installed Tidal. NetEase Music, KKBox and Moov put in, with Qobuz, Spotify and different providers suitable choices.
Though Chinese language gamers can not often be software program up to date from Mac (resulting from hidden desktop information), when set to behave as a USB DAC my Mac noticed the M9 instantly. Nevertheless, FiiO’s USB DAC graphic stated ’48KHz 24bits’ it doesn’t matter what output pattern price was set within the Mac and seems a static graphic, not a real pattern fee readout. All the identical, the M9 labored all the best way as much as 192kHz pattern price. The participant accepts DoP over USB in an effort to learn DSD information performed on a pc, however with Mac you want a paid-for Audirvana + for this. PCs simply want an appropriate Steinberg based mostly driver. DSD information loaded into the participant’s reminiscence performed completely I discovered, in Iso, dsf and dff file format, as much as DSD 128 (double price DSD).
Excellent news is inclusion of an S/PDIF digital output (electrical, not optical) by means of the three.5mm headphone jack utilizing a brief adaptor lead (provided), so a top quality exterior hi-fi DAC can be utilized, permitting me to hook up a mains powered Audiolab M-DAC+. The adaptor plug is a four pole Three.5mm – uncommon – and an strange Three-pole Three.5mm adaptor doesn’t work correctly right here.
The participant will run from exterior energy while enjoying so it may be used as a transport in impact. The identical Three.5mm socket might be switched to Line Out additionally, that cuts out the quantity management and units analogue output to 2V – the identical as a CD participant, so the M9 can act as a CD participant, one capable of moreover play hi-res and DSD.
To make use of the balanced output you want ‘balanced’ headphones, which means unbiased headphone leads with no shared earth, terminated in a tiny
2.5mm plug that I discover snaps too simply to be practicable to be used on the transfer.
The participant arrived with 1.Zero.Zero software program. I up to date over wi-fi to newest 1.Zero.2 (two successive downloads) by way of the ‘internet with out drawback however a ‘TF card’ is requested and have to be inserted (SD card). I had no luck making an attempt to know FiiOs directions on loading a zipper file to the participant direct, tried a number of widespread strategies (load zip to root and so on) however none labored. This left a USB DAC driver replace V4.47.Zero unloaded, as no loading directions accompany it.
The M9 had the velocity and sound stability I heard from the M7, regardless that they use totally different DACs.
Choosing Fleetwood Mac’s Goals (24/96 WAV) the sound sped off the mark with vivid tempo and powerful cymbal crashes from Mick Fleetwood’s drum package, despite the fact that I used Sluggish filter. His drums had agency impression too. It was an instantly spectacular sound, if not as delicate and silky as I do know AKM’s Verita Collection from mains powered DACs.
The participant has robust perception and it properly sorted tracks like Tom Petty’s Refugee (24/96 FLAC) that may come over as muddled and harsh by means of some gamers.
Equally with The Eagles Any person, a horribly upward compressed CD monitor – nevertheless it got here out properly right here, once more with grippy sense of tempo from the energetic bass line. Glen Frey’s vocals clear centre stage while Hammond organ swirled menacingly left and proper. The Audiolab M-DAC+ received extra depth out of this monitor however the M9 made it thrilling.
When decreasing tempo to the softer and slower Slender Daylight from Diana Krall (24/96) the M9 participant imposed exhausting define on photographs and added agency grip to the sluggish plucked bass line. Swapping over to our Audiolab M-DAC+ gave a neater, extra laconic presentation, the one I’m used to from this monitor in my evaluate suite on SD card; there was a higher smoothness and depth too.
Nevertheless, I then loaded a DSD model (appropriately flagged as 2822kHz which means single price DSD at 2.8MHz) and heard a neater and extra open rendition with plucked bass sounding fulsome moderately than ‘quick’. This was actually spectacular, shifting high quality proper up.
Double price DSD (5.6MHz) was additionally performed with out drawback. DSD came to visit as extra open and pure than PCM however the information are big at 100s of MBs.
With the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra and Mahler’s Symphony No8 ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ (24/96 FLAC) the choirs stretched broad and particular person sections, resembling male counterpoints, could possibly be simply picked out. As with Rock I discovered the M9 capable of keep away from muddle, even with quantity proper up. There was extra air and area with a DSD recording of The Trondheim Soloists enjoying Divertimenti, strings texturally wealthy but free from harshness.
FiiO’s M9 is a posh and succesful participant. It’s means to stream from on-line music providers can be a key function for a lot of I think. Add in Bluetooth headphone connection and USB DAC functionality and the M9 appears very engaging. It has a quick, punchy sound that may attraction to many – however on the expense of area and subtlety. So excellent, if not an final audiophile machine, besides with DSD.
Frequency response of the M9 reached 50kHz (-1dB) earlier than rolling off slowly to the higher theoretical restrict of 96kHz, our evaluation exhibits, with a 24/192 digital PCM sign and each Sharp Roll-Off filters (2). The Sluggish Roll-Off filters (2) lowered this to 40kHz – little change. With CD the figures have been 21kHz and 12kHz respectively, Sluggish Roll-Off softening treble perceptibly by a small quantity.
Distortion was on the excessive aspect at Zero.13% (-60dB, 24bit) the place Zero.03% or much less is widespread, our evaluation displaying an array of harmonics. This resulted in an EIAJ dynamic vary worth of 104dB – low by present requirements the place 115dB is widespread and 117dB quoted, as anticipated from AKM4490 DACs. We examined two samples, each operating newest firmware (1.Zero.2). The issue was digital noise (wi-fi and Bluetooth set to Off), since S/PDIF out gave the identical end result by way of an Audiolab M-DAC+. Operating the identical check information (on SD card) by means of our Astell&Kern AK120 gave Zero.03% distortion and 117dB dynamic vary.
With CD distortion measured Zero.18% which, as CD goes, is excellent, dynamic vary being 101dB – little worse than hellores. The M9 is ok with CD, much less so with hi-res. There seems to an issue right here, just like an M7 examined August 2018 concern.
Output measured 2.4V from the three.5mm headphone jack (unbalanced) – sufficient to drive all headphones, rising to 2.7V from the two.5mm jack (balanced). Line output delivered 2V – the identical as a CD participant – with the identical dynamic vary and distortion values as Headphone out.
FiiO quote the three.5mm unbalanced output when it comes to energy – 125mW right into a low 16 Ohms (most headphones are both 40 Ohms or 300 Ohms) – the M9 simply managed this. Into 40 Ohms it delivered full output (2.4V / 144mW).
The M9 has restricted dynamic vary with hi-res information, just like the M7 examined beforehand, despite the fact that totally different DACs are used. In any other case, it labored properly.
Frequency response 8Hz- 50kHz Distortion (24bit, -60dB) Zero.13%
Dynamic vary 104dB
Headphone (unbal/bal)) 2.four/2.7V
Line output 2V
EXCELLENT – extraordinarily succesful
VALUE • keenly priced
eight Complete Rating
An reasonably priced participant with “all the things’ on-board, together with streaming. Thrilling sound, however not svelte.
- small-ish and light-ish
- S/PDIF out
- measured distortion
- low dynamic vary
- sound lacks subtlety
The place to purchase?
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