FiiO M3 #ExpressReview: Audio is great but not glitch-free

FiiO M3 is recommended only if you have decent collection of music that don't sound great on your smartphone.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Written by Karthekayan Iyer | New Delhi | Updated: January 11, 2016 5:36 pm
FiiO M3, FiiO M3 review, FiiO music player, high res music player, Fiio India, mp3 players, HiFi audio, technology news FiiO M3 is recommended only if you have decent collection of music that don’t sound great on your smartphone.

The smartphone has now become our primary device for consuming media. However, despite being the most popular music player on the planet, they don’t offer exceptional sound for anyone. This is where dedicated music players still find some relevance.

FiiO M3

Apple still makes iPods and so does this Chinese company called FiiO. There is demand for such devices, at least amongst purists. FiiO M3 is a miniature sibling of X3 with some understated design and function. It is designed exactly like a matchbox and isn’t taller than a lighter. It’s still amazing to see something so tiny produce music that soothes your ears.

Price: Rs 4,499

What is good?

Undoubtedly, the sound quality is the best thing about this device, no second thoughts there. In fact, it’s a no brainer that a MP3 player should sound great. For me it sounds remarkable. The sound on this one is as amazing as listening to opera on a turntable.

Speaking of individual music, from Coldplay’s Magic to A R Rahman’s Dil Se, the music is rendered in a way that feels mesmerising. The fact that all these songs are bundled in pure 44Hz lossless format with the player proves the case for a separate MP3 player. FiiO has accomplished that task very well.

I’m also impressed with the design of the M3. It is a beautiful rectangle that stays understated most of the time. It did fit nicely in my denim pocket and it will even stay in the inner pocket of your jacket without affecting the audio performance. The FiiO M3 is extremely comfortable and portable. These small attentions to detail matter more than anything else.

The navigation is being nicely handled here by adding backlit red keys. The supplied headphones sound awesome, but won’t win any design award.

FiiO has also been wise to add microSD card support in addition to the built-in storage of 8GB. Memory is all you need for storing all those lossless music.

What is not good?

I really didn’t like the quality of display. The visibility under direct sunlight is terrible. Considering that it’s MP3 player and not MP4, the display resolution isn’t a big selling point.

FiiO M3 may be small and attractive but the software that keeps it alive is definitely underwhelming. The navigation is slick but not responsive. It even turned off in the middle of playing few times. An issue that you won’t find on iPods.

During the time I had FiiO M3 as my music player, I also had Jaybird X2 for audio playback. Jaybird X2 is a niche and premium Bluetooth earbud that sounds as good as the M3. But since M3 doesn’t have a Bluetooth chip, these two could never communicate with each other. Everyday in the morning before leaving for work, I was wondering should I play music on M3 and use those dumb headphones or play not so great music on phone and hear them fine on Jaybird X2. Maybe I’m over expecting, but then having that Bluetooth chip would have been great for sure.

Should you buy?

Yes, if you have decent collection of music that don’t sound great on your smartphone music player. Another reason for picking this one would be to experience music like it is meant to be – sound and vocal.

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  1. L
    Jan 15, 2016 at 9:36 pm
    i keep an ipod shuffle bec its easy to operate while i am riding my motorcycle. is m3 just as easy?
    1. F
      Mar 25, 2016 at 5:12 am
      Fiio M3 is a very average player based on my 2 weeks of usage. Despite being the latest model and having access to latest generation DAC/OPA chips, it struggles to play 24bit/48Khz FLAC files - they advertised this a HD Audio Player mind you! My iRiver H340 player effortlessly plays even higher resolution 24bit/96Khz FLAC files. Similarly, my 3 year old Sandisk Sansa Clip also plays 24bit/48Khz songs effortlessly! Stay away from M3 as you can still get Sansa Clip Zip from Amazon ... best of all, it can be RockBod's too!
      1. F
        Mar 25, 2016 at 7:14 am
        Typo in my previous comment ... please read as RockBox'd. Also, the iRiver H340 Player I mentioned below is more than 8 years old!
        1. U
          May 5, 2016 at 12:05 pm
          Fiio was not just wise to have the microSD slot, it was a necessity, because this is supposed to be play Lossless format files, which are traditionally quite larger than MP3. While the looks, size and screen are somewhat important, audio performance would be the first one would look at in such a device. The player is reviewed for being an MP3 player, I would was expected to see the w discussion only about being an entry-level High Definition audio player, which was missing.