FiiO M3 Digital Audio Player Review

FiiO M3 Review

Welcome to my review today of the Fiio M3 music player. This is an entry level music player that has a lot to offer at an affordable price. It manages to do several things really well which I’ll be discussing in this review

Currently the Fiio M3 is just under $60, but this does occasionally gone on sale. 

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Also if there are any questions you have after reading this review, please don’t hesitate to post a comment below.

ACCESSORIES

Inside the packaging you’ll find the player itself, a pair of earphones, some basic documentation, and the usb charging/syncing cable. Also, there are some screen protectors that you can apply, to help the screen.

The included earphones are actually pretty good. They have good tonality to them and I found that if you add some foam covers, it even helps the bass response a little bit.

FEATURES

Moving onto the features, The M3 has 8GB of internal storage and includes the ability to insert a micro SD card which allows you to expand your storage up to 64GB.

Battery life is quite good as you get up to 24 hours of playback time on a full charge. And then recharge time is also very good at about 2 – 2 ½ hours.

The M3 uses a Cirrus Logic CS42L51 for the DAC and supports a variety of file formats such as mp3 as well as WAV, APE and FLAC lossless files.

DESIGN

Regarding the design, the M3 is rather basic looking. It has a short rectangular body with a sort of matt covering over the back. Buttons are located on both sides of the device, which include a power button on the left side and a sliding ‘ key lock’ button on the right side.  

On the bottom you’ll find the micro usb charging and syncing port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the micro sd expansion slot.

Fiio M3On the front there is a small 2.5inch display and although the display itself isn’t of the highest quality, it’s certainly good enough for what’s it’s purpose is. The screen brightness can be adjusted from a scale of 1-10, but when trying to view in direct sunlight, it can be difficult to see even with the brightness turned all the way up.

Controlling the device is all done through physical buttons located below the screen as this player does not feature a touch screen. The different button options include: a menu, forwards/backwards, up/down and a play/pause or select button.

These buttons allow you to navigate through the screen and access your music via folders, artists, albums and playlists. There’s even a built in adjustable 5 band EQ with 7 different presents or you can use a custom setting if you want to customize your sound.

Now because the M3 is such a small player, this makes it ideal for portable use. It’s so small and lightweight, as it only weighs 40g, so it can easily fit into any pant or shirt pocket.

SOUND QUALITY

Next I’ll talk about the sound quality which is awesome. Fiio is known for being able to deliver a quality sound that’s well above it’s price point, and the M3 player is no exception.

Overall, the M3 has a slightly warm, soft and somewhat expansive sound. People who are accustomed to or prefer a little extra kick in their music will find the M3 to be a real pleasure to listen to. But on the flip side, those those who may prefer a more neutral or cooler sound, might not enjoy the M3 quite as much.

So starting with the bass, it has a slight emphasis in the sub-bass region. For example, when listening to songs that emphasize the bass more such as with Rap or EDM, there is more audible rumble then there would be with a more neutral player such as an iphone or ipod.

However, the extra kick here is well placed in that it elevates the sub-bass rather than the upper bass. So instead of the additional bass emphasis creeping into the mids, the bass remains in check and only compliments the music rather than completely altering it.

The mids are well preserved, even with the slight sub-bass emphasis. Vocals are smooth and come through with good clarity and detail. For example, on a song like “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran, the vocals are clearly heard and very soothing to listen to. Overall the slightly warmer sound of the M3 makes this song sound a bit more relaxed in tonality. Even when listening to female vocals, which tend to be higher sounding, the artists still sound amazing.

A good example of this is on the song My Heart will go on by Celine Dion, her voice as brilliant as it is, does not become altered in a negative way by the added weight of the sound from the Fiio. So for those who tend to listen to more male vocals than female vocals, this Fiio player will sound excellent. But female vocals will still sound great.  

However, if you’re someone who primarily listens to female vocals, and if you prefer a lighter presentation of their voice rather than a slightly weightier one, then you may want to choose a music player that has more of an emphasis on the higher frequencies.

Finally with the treble, you’ll find it has a clean and slightly smoothed out character to it. On most players in this price range, the treble tends to be more highly elevated and shrill. And this typically happens because on the lower end players the bass is usually elevated quite a bit, so companies will try to make up for this by also increasing the treble to compensate.

With the M3 however, the treble stays well controlled. But as you pair this with higher quality headphones, you’ll notice the treble loses just a hint of sparkle.

So as an example, when listening to “Within” by Daft Punk, the cymbals at the beginning of the song don’t quite sound as refined as they could.

Now even though the slight reduction in treble shimmer might sound like a disappointment to some, it can actually be beneficial depending on your listening situation. For example, in a louder room or location, like if you were using this outside or taking this to the gym, it’s normal to want to raise the volume on your music to compensate for being in a noisier environment. But this can be harmful to your earing as the higher frequencies at louder volumes can cause serious damage to your ears. However because the treble is smoothed out a bit on the M3, you can safely turn up the volume without having to worry as much about damaging your hearing.

The bottom line though on sound quality, is the M3 truly delivers a listening experience that’s well above the price you’re paying for it.

BOTTOM LINE

It’s apparent Fiio had a clear goal in mind when they set out to make this small audio player. They wanted to bring high quality audio to a product that would appeal more to the average music listener. Basically, this player is an affordable gateway into the world of high quality audio.

And essentially, with the M3, Fiio has created the perfect product to get music listeners involved in the world of higher quality listening experiences without breaking the bank.

So if you’re looking for a music player that offers ultra portability, fantastic battery life, a pleasing sound, and a large storage capacity, then I’d highly recommend the Fiio M3.

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