Android Central Verdict
The M11S is aimed at those that have a large hi-res music library and want to access it on the go. You get robust internal hardware along with a brilliant DAC that allows your audio gear to shine, and it has a durable design backed by good battery life. With an extensive feature-set and great value, the M11S is the only hi-res music player you need to consider.
Brilliant all-in-one device for streaming hi-res music
Durable design with decent internals
DSD and MQA decoding
Good battery life
Bluetooth connectivity with plenty of codecs
Great overall value
Charging takes three hours
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Fiio is one of the most recognizable names in the hi-res audio scene, and the manufacturer is known for its value-focused DACs and IEMs. I reviewed a lot of the brand's recent launches over the last 12 months, including the terrific BTR7 Bluetooth DAC, high-end K9 Pro DAC, FA7S and FD3 IEMs, and a few portable DACs.
Fiio also has a range of portable music players, with the M11S the latest offering in the series. Think of these portable players as a derivative of the iPod but for lossless music. You get all the features you need in a single package: the M11S has a 5-inch screen with a 720p resolution, is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660, and features dual Sabre ES9038Q2M DACs that deliver native 24-bit/384KHz playback, and DSD256 along with MQA decoding.
The M11S connects over the single-ended 3.5mm port, and you get balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm ports as well. What's particularly interesting here is that there's Bluetooth as well, and the M11S can transmit wirelessly via SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, and LHDC. The best part is that it runs an uncluttered version of Android out of the box, and with full access to the Play Store, so you can install your favorite streaming service without any hassle.
I want to talk a little about the design of the M11S before I get to its sound characteristics. Fiio overhauled its design language in 2022 and is aiming for a consistent aesthetic across its entire range, and that is immediately evident when using the M11S. It has the same angular lines and rectangular sides, and it is similar to the K9 Pro in this regard. Other Fiio products like the Q7 and R7 share a similar aesthetic, so it's good to see Fiio unifying the design language throughout its portfolio.
The design itself looks very good, and the matte finish on the sides makes it easy to hold and use the M11S. There are physical music playback buttons on the right, power button and a large volume rocker to the left, and a MicroSD slot that holds up to 2TB — this is very useful if you have a large offline music library and want to access it on the go. The ports are at the bottom, with the 3.5mm jack located to the left of the USB-C port and the balanced 2.5mm and 4.4m ports on the right.
While the 5.0-inch screen feels diminutive against the likes of the Galaxy S22 and even small phones like the ASUS Zenfone 9, it is the ideal size here. It doesn't make the M11S unwieldy, and there's enough screen real estate for browsing your music library and controlling music playback. The M11S is fairly chunky at 18.5mm, and that's down to the audio hardware and large 5300mAh battery under the hood. That said, it isn't too heavy at 271g, and you get a clear case in the package that protects the device in case of tumbles.
The metal chassis is durable and feels built to last, and in the six months I used the M11S, I didn't see any issues with build quality or tactility of the buttons. Rounding out the design, the screen isn't particularly vibrant here, but it is serviceable for the use case. Thankfully, you get Gorilla Glass covering the front and rear panes of glass.
Coming to the ports, the M11S is able to deliver 300mW over the 3.5mm jack at 16Ω, going down to 200mW at 32Ω and 23mW at 300Ω. The balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm ports have more power, going up 670mW at 32Ω, 550mW at 16Ω, and 90mW at 300Ω. There's plenty of headroom here for driving IEMs and full-sized headphones, and I didn't run into any drawbacks with the audio gear I have. You get three gain settings here — low, medium, and high — and for most IEMs, the low gain setting was just fine.
As for the sound itself, the M11S delivers a dynamic signature with a lot of character in the low-end, vibrant mids with good timbre and excellent vocal clarity, and a clean treble with good extension. There's plenty of layering and dynamism to the sound, and the mid-bass is wonderfully detailed, delivering a clean low-end with a good presence.
The low noise floor means you won't hear any hiss even with sensitive IEMs, and this hasn't been an issue in my testing. The M11S came into its own when used with the Audeze Euclid, allowing the IEMs to deliver a lively sound that's thoroughly engrossing.
On the software side of things, the M11S features vanilla Android 10 with access to Google Mobile Services. That means you get the Play Store out of the box, and you can install all your streaming services you want. You also get the ability to install anything else you need, but given the older hardware and limited memory, you're better off using the M11S solely for music streaming — even the best budget Android phones have better hardware these days.
Fiio has its own storefront that lets you install the likes of Qobuz and Tidal, and this was handy for my use case as Tidal isn't officially listed in the Play Store in my country. Otherwise, you're looking at a vanilla interface without any changes, and considering my daily driver has been running Android 13 for four months now, the design of the overview menu and notification pane feels archaic.
That said, there's system-wide dark mode, and I didn't see any slowdowns while using the M11S — an achievement considering the hardware on offer. The player is powered by Qualcomm's 14nm Snapdragon 660, and the last phone I used that ran the platform was Xiaomi's Mi A2. There's 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, and while that would make for a poor combination in a phone in 2023, it is absolutely fine here.
You also get Wi-Fi connectivity and AirPlay/DLNA streaming, so if you're like me and have your music library stored on a home NAS server, you get the ability to access the files directly. While I use USB Audio Player Pro on my phone, the built-in Fiio Music utility was brilliant for playing music off the NAS — it has a good interface and handles media playback without any hassle.
There's a 5300mAh battery under the hood, and the M11S delivers over 15 hours of music playback. That should be more than adequate for weekly listening sessions, and the only downside here is that it takes an agonizing three hours to fully charge the battery. I use phones with the same battery size that charge in under 30 minutes, but then again, the M11S isn't a device that you'll need to charge daily.
I use the K9 Pro in conjunction with the Focal Elex when I'm at my desk, but for most portable listening, I turned to the M11S as my player of choice. It drives all the audio gear I have in my house with little to no effort, it produces a balanced sound that makes IEMs like the Audeze Euclid shine, and it has more than adequate battery life.
More than anything else, the M11S has been my go-to choice over the last six months because of how easy it is to use. I find it to be more convenient to use the M11S than pair a Bluetooth DAC like the BTR7 with my phone and play music that way.
The key differentiator is that unlike my phone, there are no errant notifications on the M11S, so I can just listen to the music without any distractions. At the end of the day, that alone makes it a worthy recommendation, and if you want a high-res music player that nails the fundamentals and just gets out of the way, you'll love what the M11S has to offer.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.