Just before the new year, FiiO decidedsurprise fans with the release of a new player. If earlier they started with preliminary announcements, sometimes even gathering press conferences for these purposes, then they acted differently with the novelty that received the M6 index. Shipments to distributors began with the appearance of information about the model, so the “younger brother of the M9” became a pleasant surprise for the New Year.
In general, the idea of such a player was in the air,different manufacturers approached it from all sides. Small players with touch controls in one form or another were produced by many manufacturers, from Shanling to Hidizs, the same FiiO released a very good M7, which upset many by the lack of wireless Internet access. Finally, last year HiBy equipped a gadget of a compact WiFi form factor, but its own operating system did not allow realizing full support for third-party applications and streaming. The idea of a mini-device with full-fledged support of online services just soared in the air, and it was the M6 that became its first implementation.
For iron immediately begs the conclusion: "We have already seen all this." Exynos in the role of the chipset and the ES9018Q2C, “blowing out” for the sound, were already in the M7, but, having studied reviews of the previous model, FiiO took a few steps forward. Firstly, the novelty, like the older model M9, supports the installation of applications from the white list, which provides advanced streaming capabilities. Secondly, there is WiFi, which even allowed to add AirPlay. Thirdly, the player has become smaller, but at the same time a little more powerful, although for this it was necessary to sacrifice battery life.
Well, to drive the last nail into the coffin lidM7 (it is obvious that its sales were completely undermined by the new release) FiiO lowered the price and asked for a novelty of about $ 150, sometimes a little more, depends on the appetites of customs and distributors. Sometimes I find myself thinking that we have already ceased to wonder how little complex electronic devices can cost, examples of this, starting with budget smartphones and ending with the hero of this review.
By the way, in my memory this is the first case when the younger model is so much better than the older one at a lower price.
- CPU: Exynos 7270 @ 1 GHz
- DAC + amplifier: ES9018Q2C
- RAM: 768 MB
- Built-in memory (user accessible): 2 GB
- Expandable Memory: MicroSD up to 2 TB
- Wireless interfaces: WiFi 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.2
- Bluetooth codecs: HWA, LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, SBC
- Entrance: USB-C
- Outputs: 3.5 mm headphone
- Screen: 3.2 ″, IPS 480 × 800
- Battery: 1600 mAh, Li-Po
- Charging time: <2.5 hours
- Operating time from one charge: > 13 hours (normal output),> 30 hours (Bluetooth, SBC)
- Dimensions: 53 mm × 93 mm × 12 mm
- Weight: 83 gr.
- Output power: ≥70 mW @ 32Ω, ≥7 mW @ 300Ω
- Frequency range: 10 Hz ~ 80 kHz
- Signal to noise ratio: ≥118 dB
- Output Impedance: <2Ω
- Common harmonic distortion + noise: <0.002%
- Channel separation: > 75 dB
- Peak voltage: 4.25 Vp-p
Package and Delivery
With the box, the company's product designers did notTo be particularly wise, the packaging is made of white cardboard, the printing is very simple, but neat. Inside you will find the player itself, a silicone case for it, a USB-C wire, a protective film on the screen and instructions with a warranty card. At this time, for some reason, the film was pasted at the factory only on the back panel and I had to “install” it on the front panel myself.
As you can see, the set of accessories is quite basic,but without unnecessary savings, despite the fact that the struggle was clearly going for every cent. On AliExpress, by the way, very nice leather cases have already appeared, so for completeness of the “set” of additional accessories, only a protective glass screen is missing.
Design and management
The player immediately falls in love with compactsize, it causes a mixture of emotion and nostalgia for those times when electronics manufacturers tried to make gadgets more compact. Light but durable black aluminum casing is made in the form of a rectangle with rounded edges. It lies comfortably in the hand and gives the feeling of a solidly assembled device: no squeaks, no backlash, and no loose.
Despite the touch screen, not forgotten andthe need to control "blindly", FiiO added 3 buttons to the left panel: one for play / pause and two for volume control. A long press on the volume buttons when the screen is locked switches tracks. Of course, separate navigation buttons would be better, but the “combined” option is still better than nothing. On the top panel there is a power button (it also locks the screen) and a headphone jack. On the right, they placed a slot for MicroSD cards, the player has 2 GB of its memory, which is not much, so support for cards of any size will be a nice bonus. The bottom panel contains a USB-C connector, traditionally very versatile: it allows you to charge the player, use it as a USB DAC, output the signal to external DACs, and access the player’s memory. FiiO thought a lot of pleasant things, for example, when you connect the player as a DAC, you will see a driver disk in the system. Exotic scenarios such as receiving a digital stream via USB and transmitting it via Bluetooth work as well.
By the way, about charging, the battery is fully chargedfor 2 hours and 10 minutes, this lasts from 11 to 13 hours of work, depending on the load. Naturally, in the case of playing files from local storage, streaming will shorten the running time.
The main part of the front panel takes the screenas in the M9, LG did it, and it is expected to be quite good. Up to modern smartphones, he, of course, does not fall short, but the color rendition, resolution and touch processing are quite good for a budget player. The margin of brightness is normal, but in the bright sun most likely you will have to cover the screen with your hand to improve readability. In the upper right corner of the front panel is a tiny LED indicator that turns on when charging and when loading the player.
In terms of software, this player is a complete twin brother.FiiO M9, they clearly use a common code base and all new features are added to them simultaneously. I will not talk in detail about the device menu, how FiiO Music works and everything related to it, I already did it for the M9, so you can simply read the corresponding section of that review.
In the firmware M6 also added a number of interestingfeatures like AirPlay support for Apple devices or, for example, the ability to work as a Bluetooth transmitter while connected to a source via USB. Added the ability to control the player from a smartphone, "unusually" called FiiO Link. So far, however, only owners of Android phones can take advantage of this. I think we can safely assume that, thanks to a common code base, M9 will also receive all these features.
Perhaps you should only mention one more time.Of the main features of this player is the installation of applications. You can only install programs from the white list approved by the developers. Taught by the bitter experience of firmware without limitation, FiiO clearly remembered that users would blame all the problems of third-party applications for the developers of hardware and decided to avoid this situation. On M6, you can install only applications that have been tested for acceptable quality of work with the player’s chipset. Fortunately, most of the popular streaming services (Bandcamp, Deezer, Spotify, Tidal and Qobuz), as well as several additional utilities, the ES File Explorer has become the most useful of which has become the white list. Programs work just like normal smartphones, so there are no problems with functionality.
The firmware has left quite pleasantthe impression is, of course, there are minor flaws, such as poor work with diacritical marks, but “as a whole” it copes well with its tasks, it has all the possibilities a modern device has from replay gain to gapless playback.
To listen to the device usedThe following headphones: iBasso IT04, Meze 99 Classics, Audio Zenith PMx2, Noble Kaiser Encore, Campfire Audio Andromeda, Unique Melody Mason V3, HUM Pristine and others.
Despite its similarity with the M7,The novelty received a little more power, and, therefore, they worked on the audio path. Indeed, the M6 sounds even better than the M7, apparently the company decided to kill the “firstborn” for sure, but about this in the comparisons section.
In general, the player turned out without obviousfeed distortion, but at the same time it is also far from monitor, providing a good level of "musicality". Like the M7, the novelty slightly accentuates the edges of the range, but it does not do it with the help of a quantity (the frequency response is absolutely linear), but by adding some energy at LF and HF.
The bass is slightly accentuated by weight,but this accent is very small, so this is clearly not a “basshead” model, however, I note that if you need a noticeable change in the overall pitch, it is much more logical to achieve it with the help of headphones. LFs are good in resolution and texture transfer, have decent, though not beyond, depth and are very well controlled, providing a natural transfer of lower case tools.
The middle of the M6 is somewhere between"Audiophile" and "music fan" feed. The player does not attempt to hit the listener with a microcontrast, although it has a normal resolution. There are also no attempts to portray impressive macrodynamics, although the hero of today's review also conveys emotions and character for his price. The imaginary scene is somewhere average in both directions, but the player’s success in dividing plans into depth is very good.
High-frequency range is also a bitaccented, but this is not a “peak on HF”, as is most often done with headphones, the emphasis here just adds a little “clarity” to the sound, emphasizing the aftertaste and overtone. Of course, this slightly impairs naturalness on super-quality recordings, but listening to those on the M6 is a silly idea from the start. In general, the “top” here perfectly balance the “bottom”, offer normal resolution and good testing of attacks with attenuation, although the latter are slightly simplified.
Briefly about comparisons. Since there are a lot of devices in this price segment, I specifically limited it to the players and chose mainly models that are comparable to the FiiO M6 both in price and in functionality. I did not make any other comparisons, so the difference between the M6 and everything that did not fall into the list below you can extrapolate yourself, based on the reviews. Also, I will not talk about the non-sound distinction of players, which also often plays an important role.
FiiO M3K Of course, this is not a competitor to the M6, the sound is simpler, less lively and saturated, but, given the double price difference, I think it is expected.
FiiO M7 Maybe someone else will be seduced by 20+ hours of work,proposed by the “seven”, but most will choose a smaller size, support for streaming and a bit more “saturated” midrange that the M6 offers, and the reduced price completes this fratricide.
FiiO M9 A noticeable step forward in sound, which is not surprisingtaking into account the filling. If in each individual aspect (resolution, naturalness, frequency control, HF length and LF depth) the difference is not great, then in total they just give that same “next level”.
Hidizs AP80 In general, the player is comparable to the M6 in terms of overall sound perception, offering a slightly more neutral pitch with little emphasis on HF.
HiBy R3 It’s not possible to call a single-digit winner either, if the AP80 is a slight deviation “to the light”, then R3 is, on the contrary, a small “small step into the darkness” for those who love high-frequency HF.
Overall, 70 mW at 32 ohms of load is thatpower, which is enough for most headphones, including full-size, of course, with the imposition of "for brackets" high impedance and tight models. So there are no problems with the control of most options for the M6 load. Separately, I note a very low level of background noise, which will please the owners of sensitive IEM. I will also say that I am pleased with the positive trend - manufacturers are no longer chasing after power and begin to think about the fact that the main class of devices that need to be guided is just “intra-channel”.
Genre player is quite versatile, of course, adjusted for the budget. Criticality to the quality of records is moderate, somewhere in 6 points out of 10.
Several traditional tracks in the role of example
Eagles - Hotel California Yes, it's hard to come up with something more banal inas an example of the sound player. In my defense, I will say that, firstly, this is a good remaster of 2013, and, secondly, from the M6, the “refreshed version” sounds very nice, the high frequencies that are pulled up during remastering really make up to date what is good for it.
Scorpions - Send Me An Angel Since we went on the famous tracks, we will continueone more song that everyone, perhaps, heard. So, we just listen and enjoy with the thought that I could choose “Still Loving You” in general, but it didn’t become the same. FiiO M6 copes with the track without any problems, playing it confidently and engagingly.
Mika - Relax Take it Easy Well, another almost familiar track “forsoul ", I will not deviate from the planned plan of action. Here, too, the hero of this review does not succumb, even if the track is not particularly complicated, but it sounds very dynamic and dynamic.
FiiO managed to fit in a compact case notonly a lot of opportunities, but also a good sound, decorating it all at an affordable price. It is pleasant to realize that the budget players of 2019 are turning into real “combines” capable of pleasing owners with functionality that used to be the prerogative of the middle segment and tops.