FiiO M9 Portable High-Resolution Audio Player

I’m old, and thus prefer my music to be either pressed onto vinyl or carefully filed into folders on hard drives.

Ever since I started using Roon for managing and playing music, I’ve been more aware of the advantages of using higher-res, lossless files. I’m no audiophile, but I do enjoy music more when it sounds good. By good” I mean better than streaming Spotify to AirPods with an iPhone.

I’ve been gradually re-ripping my CDs to FLAC files, and I pay for the Sublime+ subscription of Qobuz. This means I have access to pretty decent sources. What I’ve been missing is decent playback when at a computer or out and about.

To solve the playback problem, I bought a FiiO M9 DAP. The FiiO is a mid-range digital audio player that can also be used as a DAC when plugged into a computer. I’ve missed using a DAC since my little HRT MicroStreamer stopped working last year.

The M9 also handles every kind of Bluetooth there is, including the new lossless codecs like HWA, aptX, and LDAC.

I inserted a 256GB MicroSD card and loaded it up with all the Hi-Res files I have. I’m not qualified to do a real review of the M9, but I can sum up what I’ve found so far.

It sounds very good. I’m no expert, but I hear quite a noticeable improvement over my usual listening setup. I’m using it with a pair of Grado SR-80 headphones and everything sounds larger and more defined. I have a set of FiiO FA1 in-ear monitors arriving soon and I look forward to trying those as well. At some point I should find a good set of Bluetooth headphones in order to take advantage of all that lossless, wireless magic. Not sure I’m ready for wireless music listening, yet.

What I like about the M9

What I don’t love about it

I chose the M9 because it was recommended by a few people I trust and reviews all seemed very positive. At $299 it isn’t ridiculously expensive, either.

One thing I didn’t do while looking for a new DAP was spend time comparing different options. The idea that Comparison is the thief of joy” rings more and more true lately. I just picked one that seemed like a decent choice and went with it.

March 24, 2019 · music · gear

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