Technology

Fiio M11 Excessive-Decision Audio Participant overview

At what level does a hi-fi music participant veer into an Android smartphone-esque consumer expertise? That’s the query the Fiio M11 Transportable Excessive-Decision Audio Participant tries to reply with its Android OS and twin AK4493EQ DACs. Briefly, whereas this may occasionally appear like your Android cellphone, it’s nonetheless all in regards to the music.

By balancing the usability of a smartphone with the audio prowess of its top-tier digital audio gamers, the M11 tries to be extra accessible. That mentioned, as a high-res DAP (digital audio participant), the M11 doesn’t disappoint, and the elevated {hardware} underneath the hood pays some dividends on the software program aspect too.

Design

When in comparison with different Fiio DAPs just like the Fiio M9, the M11 is noticeably thicker and heavier, however we will perceive why when diving into the elements that make up its sum: The 5.15-inch IPS show has a 720p decision, placing it in HD territory, in contrast to earlier fashions within the M collection. The display screen is brighter, sharper and presents higher viewing angles than the M9 had. We might say it’s ok to even watch video, however we’ll get to that later.

To face out additional, the corporate loaded up on inputs arrayed on the backside. There’s an ordinary 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm jack and 4.4mm jack to go along with a USB-C port (for charging and playback). The play and pause button on the left edge traces up with observe navigation and a quantity dial. The dial even ‘clicks’ to offer some suggestions when shifting up or down.

There isn’t only one, however somewhat two microSD card slots alongside the best edge. Each are able to dealing with playing cards as excessive as 2TB for a theoretical complete of 4TB. Relying on how a lot music you could have, it’s actually potential to take an entire library of high-res audio recordsdata with you.

There’s, nevertheless, a caveat to that setup. Customers on-line reported having points with some excessive capability playing cards in slot 1, which Fiio acknowledged. The actual card in query was the Lexar 512GB, the place the M11 won’t detect the cardboard or cease it from copying recordsdata. Fiio claims that playing cards from different distributors don’t trigger the identical subject, and after we threw in a SanDisk and Samsung card, we didn’t actually discover something uncommon.

Regardless of that, the corporate recommends utilizing slot 2 if solely going with one card, in order that’s what we did. There’s 32GB of inner storage (26GB really usable), although we most well-liked to load up high-res recordsdata off a card or native DLNA streaming.

As for the important thing elements inside, the M11 runs on a Samsung Exynos 7872 processor, which is a mid-range chipset utilized in some smartphones in 2018. On the audio aspect, Fiio used twin AK4493EQ DACs, with loads of amplification and energy to drive nearly any pair of headphones plugged into it.

Connectivity

The wired connections, however, the M11 handles Bluetooth and Wi-Fi simply the identical for wi-fi playback. We had been stunned {that a} DAP at this stage in 2019 would persist with Bluetooth 4.2, somewhat than transfer as much as 5.0, nevertheless it’s not one thing that hindered us an excessive amount of.

Fiio covers all the important thing lossless codecs, like aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC. What’s notably lacking is AAC over Bluetooth, which the M11 doesn’t natively help. Even so, the participant does work with AAC as a format, offered that these music recordsdata are saved on a card or being streamed. We had been capable of play tracks we beforehand downloaded from the iTunes Retailer.

Given the M11 helps each 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi alerts, we had been capable of make the most of that in just a few methods. AirPlay stays a function considerably buried within the settings, however when enabled, the M11 turns into a receiver to playback audio from an iOS machine or Mac laptop. It was a method we had been capable of circumvent software program restrictions that we’ll contact on within the subsequent part.

We might play tunes from Apple Music, Google Play Music or simply about another supply and achieve the good thing about the M11’s superior constancy. DLNA and UPnP help can also be nice, letting us stream FLAC and WAV recordsdata we had saved on an area NAS (community connected storage) drive. It was seamless and straightforward to handle, besides we want there have been higher methods to make that occur away from house. Fiio nonetheless doesn’t provide strong apps like Plex to entry media servers remotely. The identical goes for apps from NAS makers, like Synology or Qnap. Discover APKs of these apps, nevertheless, and you will get the ball rolling.

Software program

The M11 runs on Android 7.Zero Nougat, albeit in a barely neutered kind. We are saying that as a result of, but once more, there isn’t any Google Play Retailer to obtain apps with routine aplomb. As a substitute, Fiio tries to offset that with its personal market (referred to as Functions), which incorporates a number of common music and streaming apps able to obtain. Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Amazon Music, SoundCloud, Deezer, TuneIn Radio and Moov are amongst these off the bat.

That additionally features a quasi-repository of downloadable APK recordsdata and APK marketplaces. For instance, APKPure is considered one of them, whose retailer appears to be like like Google Play. They persist with free apps solely, as there’s no technique to tie in a Google account with any apps from these platforms. We acquired notifications to replace apps however not concurrently once they obtain them from Google Play. When a brand new model of the APK was out there, we might replace to that one.

The Android expertise additionally extends to a alternative between one thing traditional and one thing trendy. As an example, by default, the M11 had comfortable keys on the backside for again, house and multitasking. We might flip these off in favor of gesture controls in settings, that are the identical as these we skilled within the M9.

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