Ditto. After extending listening, IMO the M17 sounds better than Poly/Mojo 1, at least with the headphones I use it with.
It’s also close-enough to the NW-WM1Z to let that go. But not without a pang of sadness. It’s just beautiful. But there is no point in hanging into it.
I’ve been so bowled-over with the M17 that I left a review on Amazon. I don’t do that very often:
Frankenstein’s Bride LIVES!
Ummm… This is curious proposition by FiiO. They’re attempting to ‘shoe-horn’ a desktop-spec DAC/Headphone amplifier into a portable device. Why bother? Well, I’ll come onto that.
As background, at home I use Roon for streaming music. It’s superb. For headphone listening via Roon at home I use my trusted Chord Poly/Mojo combo, which sounds superb. But I’ve never really ‘got on’ with this combo for headphone listening on-the-move. It’s UI is clunky, and although you can use a microSD card in Poly, streaming this using a third-party streaming app on my iPhone is slightly bothersome. Therefore when I’m out-and-about I use my DAP, a Sony NW-WM1Z. This sounds sublime, and it has the added benefit of being able to use my Sennheiser HD800’s and Beyerdynamic T1.2’s in balanced mode with it. Luckily, I have the High-Gain version imported from Hong Kong, which can drive these monsters quite capably. But I can’t use these headphones in balanced mode with the Chord combo at home, as the Mojo is a single-ended DAC/Amplifier. And I hate changing cables!
Enter the FiiO! My interest piqued in the M17 when it became ‘Roon Ready’. Could this DAP replace BOTH my Chord Poly/Mojo combo at home AND my Sony DAP when I’m on-the-move? Well, I took the plunge…
First impressions? Good. It comes sturdily packed in two boxes, one containing the M17/Accessories and the other containing a stand/cooling fan. But BOY, it’s BIG! I thought the Sony DAP was big and heavy, but the FiiO trumps that. It’s heavier and larger. The screen is large and clear, and the Android OS is snappy and responsive. After downloading the latest firmware update, it was detected by Roon on my home network instantly and the ‘Roon Ready’ feature works perfectly. So far, so good.
Right. Time to listen. There is PLENTY of power from the M17. Probably not quite as much as from the Mojo, but it’s more than adequate to drive my balanced cans to unhealthy levels. And that’s just on battery power. There is apparently an ‘Enhanced’ Over-ear Headphone mode that needs a 12V DC power supply to access, which is supplied. The only drawback is that you need to use the supplied stand/cooling fan to access this mode as it generates so much internal heat. But after listening on battery only, I can’t see a need for this mode, unless you have extremely difficult-to-drive cans. It copes with my 600ohm T1.2’s perfectly on battery power.
And it sounds DAMN GOOD! It’s silent on full-gain/high volume, although I haven’t tested it with sensitive IEM’s. The sound is authoritative, impactful and SO musical. I was a bit worried about how it would pair with my (bright) HD800’s, but they really sing with the M17. Is it as good as the Chord combo? Well, all I can say is it’s damn close, but to my ears the M17 sounds slightly superior and it also gives me the opportunity to use my headphones in balanced mode, so a point to the FiiO.
Compared to my Sony DAP, even on ‘High Gain’ mode via the Pentaconn 4.4mm balanced output, the FiiO just has so much more power. It drives my headphones with more authority and control. Being picky, the Sony sounds more refined and smoother. But at twice the price of the FiiO it should! The other thing to highlight is the difference in battery life. The Sony can provide around thirty-hours of listening on a full-charge, whereas the FiiO is limited to around ten-hours. This might be a deal-breaker for some. The Sony also used it’s own OS, rather than Android, which is better in use than FiiO’s own proprietary music app on Android OS.
There’s also a world apart in fit and finish. The Sony is a piece of peerless, meticulous engineering at its best. Although it’s UI is far from perfect IMO, in use it just oozes quality and using the buttons etc brings you a little bit of joy. In comparison, the Chinese FiiO ‘feels’ a little cheap. The design and the tactile feel of the M17 just can’t compete with the Sony, which extends to the slightly loose/cheap leather case that is supplied with it. BUT to be fair it is HALF THE PRICE of the Sony.
There are also a couple of ‘bugs’ in the FiiO’s OS. For instance, I disconnected the USB-C charger and it still ‘thought’ it was on charge for a while. Nothing major. Just a slight feeling that the firmware is ‘work in progress’ rather than complete. I expect further firmware updates will fix these bugs.
So could the FiiO replace my Sony DAP too? Although heavier and larger than the Sony, it’s still portable. JUST. And notwithstanding my personal dislike of FiiO’s own music app, yes I think it could. In fact I think it WILL! Just one thing to bear in mind - the Sony comes with 256GB of storage on-board. The FiiO has only has 64GB, of which only around 45GB is available to the user. So you NEED an additional microSD card with the FiiO.
So far, so good then! I think I’ve found the perfect combination of form and function in the FiiO M17. Anyone want to buy a Chord Poly/Mojo and a Sony NW-WM1Z?