As FiiO have firmly adopted the ESS DAC into their range of Digital Audio Players, they have now introduced a new standard model priced below the Pro; the FiiO M11S.
We have always found FiiO’s M11 series to be extremely attractive for its price and performance. The M11, in fact, has gone through several iterations since the fire at AKM’s semiconductor plant. There are now two M11 units available, the new entry-level M11S, reviewed below and the M11 Plus ESS, reviewed in a previous newsletter.
The M11S is equipped with Android 10, so Android users should feel comfortable with the overall layout, and previous users of FiiO products should have no issue adapting to its layout. FiiO have opted for a slider on the side for volume control which can be pressed for smaller increments of volume changes. Either side of the volume slider is the power button above and a function button below which can be assigned to Bluetooth receiving mode, USB DAC mode, or various other in-app functions within the FiiO Music player.
The right-hand side has the transport control for easy play/pause, next and previous songs. Also, there is an open Micro SD card reader instead of the tray-loaded Micro SD reader for easier removal and replacement of cards on the go, so the pin tool is no longer required.
Additionally, the M11S is equipped with the new Bluetooth codec LHDC, Low-Latency High-Definition Audio Codec, showing that FiiO will always integrate the latest and greatest technology in new products regardless of its price point. It is currently available on Oppo, Huawei and a few other brands to connect to the new FiiO.
FiiO have used dual ES9038Q2M DACs in the M11S. This DAC offers an exceptional performance at its price point, only bettered by its bigger sibling, their reference M17 player. This DAC also allows for MQA unfolding, so that subscribers to Tidal can receive the hi-res Masters. It is also equipped with the most common balanced headphone connectors, the 4.4mm Pentaconn and 2.5mm TRRS headphone jacks, along with the most common, single-ended 3.5mm TRS jack for ultimate headphone compatibility.
In a concerted effort to get the cost down, there is no THX AAA amplifier, which is featured on the M11 Plus ESS, but the M11S can still comfortably drive the majority of headphones, bar the most demanding 300-ohm design. As a result, the retail price of this unit is merely £490, offering an outstanding performance at its price point.
We mentioned the M11 Plus ESS model in a previous artcle you can see here: https://www.grahams.co.uk/blog/posts/fiio-m11-plus-ess/