FiiO M11 Pro Review

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FiiO M11 Pro Review

Released soon after FiiO's standard M11, the M11 Pro features several upgrades over its non-Pro predecessor. An updated DAC chipset, twice the memory, and to top it all off... MQA support. But does the increase in quality match the increase in price?

Reviewing FiiO M11 Pro

FiiO m11 pro box and accessories review

Specs

Those familiar with the M11 will find many of the specs the same, with a few key differences: 

The M11 Pro uses the same Exynos 7872 hexa-core processor as the M11. But the DAC chips have been upgraded to dual AK4497EQ chips based on the AKM Velvet Audio Architecture. FiiO says this brings "better specs" and a "noticeable improved sound quality" over the M11. 

The amplifier section has also been upgraded to dual THX AAA-78 balanced op-amps. Besides bringing cinema cred to the table, the THX AAA delivers more power and less noise (diagram below). 

fiio m11 pro thx aaa amplifier diagram

Both versions support the same high-res Bluetooth codecs, but the M11 Pro has been upgraded to Bluetooth version 5. 

And although the M11 Pro has twice the internal storage as the M11 (64 instead of 32), it has only 1 micro-SD slot instead of 2. 

Interestingly, the upgraded battery only translates to a longer battery life in standby mode. The M11 Pro actually has a shorter continuous-play battery life than the M11 by a few hours, but beats the standby life of the M11 by a few days.   

And of course, rounding out the Pro's improvements is MQA codec support for Master-quality audio, for Tidal Masters and the like. 

Outputs

FiiO m11 pro coaxial output review

- 4.4mm balanced

- 2.5mm balanced

- 3.5mm unbalanced

- DoP/D2P/Native DSD USB

- Coaxial

The M11 Pro is a versatile machine to say the least. It can be used solely as a USB DAC or a Bluetooth amplifier. And in Pure Music Mode, all other features are bypassed to allow the built-in FiiO music app to deliver uncompromised performance.

You can even play music stored on your PC through the M11 Pro's outputs via WiFi, DLNA or Air Play. 

Design

fiio m11 pro review volume wheel

FiiO packs all this processing power and multi-functionality into a sleek and dare I say, professional-looking device. 

The M11 Pro is a little heftier than the M11, and sports the same style. Sharp angles and sharp contrast; all-black with spiffy gold accents. Plus those magic words etched onto the bottom: PRO.  

fiio m11 pro review

Though the M11 Pro is a beauty, I have one complaint. Some of those sharp angles are literally sharp to the touch. Specifically at the four corners of the screen. Alas, pain is beauty. 

The functionality of the touch screen is very smooth. Not quite at modern smart-phone level, but only a notch or two below. And it is significantly more fluid than FiiO's older models. 

Downloading Tidal was a breeze, and I was easily able to queue up some Master-quality tracks to test the sound quality. 


Sound

I tested the M11 Pro with a pair of IEMs and a pair of 250 ohm headphones. There is a switchable gain setting for either option, though for 250 ohms, I had the Pro at about 2/3rds max volume. So as long as you're not rocking 500 ohms or anything like that, the M11 Pro should be sufficient. 

The sound is exceptionally clean, but on the lighter side. Folks looking for a bass boost from their hardware should probably look elsewhere. But the signal-to-noise ratio is great, as expected from THX. 

The internal improvements to the M11 Pro really shine through the audio quality. Music is clear, fluid and precise. And it is worth mentioning that the on-board FiiO music app includes a 10-band EQ.   

fiio m11 pro review space odyssey monolith

Conclusion

Overall, the M11 Pro is a solid step up from the standard M11. You'll still be getting a similar experience, and some of the improvements may only be worth it to the real die-hard audiophiles. But if you want improved performance, fluidity and storage, you need to go Pro. 

Pros- MQA support, Bluetooth 5, improved fidelity and performance over the M11

Cons- Shorter battery life, differences may not be worth it to the average listener  

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