FiiO’s M17 Portable Desktop Class Player is known as a seriously heavy hitter in the portable audio player market. Boasting a slew of features with both its hardware and software, this digital audio player is designed to give you the best listening experience possible, with true lossless quality and unmatched power that has drawn the adoration of the audiophile community. At $1800, the M17 has a very steep price tag that might leave many skeptical, so I’m going to test the M17 myself and see what it has to offer.
What’s in the Box
- FiiO M17 Portable Music Player
- Cooling stand with fan
- External DC adapter
- Leather case
- PET screen protector with oleophobic layer
- micro-SD card ejector pin
- USB 3.0 data and power cable
- Aluminum dust plug
Look and Feel
To put it bluntly, the M17 is the largest DAP I’ve ever seen. It’s both heavy and spacious, but that’s a requirement to support its impressive hardware specs. The size gives it an air of importance and purpose; you can tell that thing is a serious audio player just from looking at it. It boasts an impressive number of controls to make sure your experience is optimized and hassle-free. The M17 has all 4 standard jacks on top, as well as a very responsive and smooth volume knob. The bottom has 2 USB-C ports, both with data transfer and one with PD for charging, as well as a Coax in, DC in, and micro SD card port. Included with the M17 is FiiO’s DK3, a multifunction dock that both looks great, and can fan cool the M17 when needed. One thing I wish the DK3 had was wireless charging for the M17, but that’s a minor complaint. Needless to say, the M17 has everything it needs to power nearly any type of headphone. Just don’t expect to carry it in your pocket.
Under the hood is where the M17 sets itself apart. The M17 features a dual THX AAA-788+ headphone amp, which allows for incredible power for even the most resistant headphones. In addition to the Amp, the M17 also has dual ES9038PRO DAC chips, which allow for both left and right channels to support eight parallel outputs. Other hardware components include an NDK femtosecond crystal oscillator for stability and a 470mF DMF supercapacitor to support its hefty power draw. The one drawback to all of its power is that the battery life on the M17 is relatively short. The M17 also supports android and allows you to download third-party apps and customize your listening experience to the fullest extent I’ve ever seen in a digital audio player.
The FiiO M17 can send up to 3000mW per channel.
I compared the M17 to a standard output jack, and the difference was palpable. The added voltage gives it both a much wider and more dynamic soundstage, while still retaining immaculate levels of sensitivity and detail. Every part was easily visualized and any space could be recreated with near-perfect accuracy. While the output and soundstage enhancement varies depending on what power source you choose, it still maintains a consistent level of quality throughout. Regardless of the type of headphones you use, the M17 will only serve to enhance the experience of the soundstage.
With more power comes more low end, and this is true for the M17. The lows are rich, detailed, and supportive. I never felt like they were being boosted and every bass frequency sounded natural and intentional. FiiO took the time to make sure that the M17’s low end would meet the perfect balance between powerful and not in the way. I would feel subs when I needed to, but also didn’t find them overbearing. Good bass is felt, and the bass on the M17 is tangible.
The midrange on the M17 is about as true to the mix as it gets. I can hear every intended detail with studio-level clarity. Since mids are the core of the sound, they’re especially important to get right, and FiiO took the time to make sure they got it right. You can hear the painstaking detail put into the M17’s design and sound character (or lack thereof). The only harsh resonances I heard were those already present in the mix, and the M17doesn’t shy away from those or try to smooth them out. Instead, you’re getting everything as it was packaged (or uploaded). Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the mids on the M17.
The highs on the M17 sound great. I could hear so many details and resonances that weren’t there previously. The fact that I was using uncompressed files helped with this considerably, since I grew up on streaming and MP3s. I was convinced that I would never hear such a noticeable difference in the high end but I was wrong. The one complaint I have is that the M17 tends to drive the high-mids slightly at times, making a somewhat noticeable change in timbre, though this is rare and can be alleviated by adjusting your settings. This is a minor complaint though, the high end still sounds incredible and breathes new life into whatever track I have playing.
We’ve come a long way since the iPod. FiiO set out to make a device that would deliver the best listening experience possible, even on the go. While the M17 isn’t something I’d carry in my pocket or walking down the street, it still delivers some of the best quality I’ve ever heard in a portable listening device. If you’re serious about quality and want a DAP that will last you for the rest of your life, then I’d highly recommend the FiiO M17. I can’t wait to see how FiiO follows this up.
You can buy the FiiO M17 here