Fiio M3 Pro Review

Update

I returned the M3 Pro. After using it more, the software really started to annoy me. Say I have multiple albums from one artist. I can only play one album at a time from that artist. There is no artist shuffle. Back to the phone it is.

Disclaimer

This is my first DAP. Usually I listen to music on my iPhone 8+ using Spotify. I’m no audiophile. I care about audio quality, but not as much as some people… The reason I bought this DAP is to have a dedicated music player and I was curious about the Fiio players.

My First Dap

I usually listen to music on my iPhone 8+ using Spotify. The problem is not my phone, it’s me. I’m always distracted, looking at the web, responding to messages or reading email.

What I wanted was a dedicated music player, like the good ol’ iPod. No email, no WhatsApp, no wifi. Again, I know I can make my phone do all of that, don’t bother telling me.

Requirements

What do I want in a DAP?

Shortlist

The shortlist I came up with was:

The Shanling M0 and Q1 basically share the same form factor: small, square’ish. To be honest, looking at photos and videos of people holding and using them, they almost look too small. I wanted something a bit more phone-shaped.

The Fiio M6 looks nice, but is a little more pricey and has wifi, which I don’t want.

The Fiio M3K looked like my best option, and I had it in my shopping cart for a while. The only thing holding me back was no USB-C. Minor detail, but still.

And then Fiio released the M3 Pro: cheap, SD card, USB-C, small and no wifi.

First Impressions

This thing is small. I have a iPhone 8+. The M3 Pro is tiny compared to that. The headphones I use are the Shure SE215 and they come in a nice carrying case. The M3 Pro fits in the headphone case with the headphones. That’s how small this thing is.

It feels solid. The corners are rounded and the thing is very comfortable to hold. There are 4 buttons. On/Off, volume up/previous track, play/pause, volume down/next track. They are all located on the top left of the device. The buttons feel solid. They have a nice click to them. They are small, but hey the whole thing is small. What I don’t like is that there are no dedicated previous/next track buttons. You have to hold the volume up button to go the previous track.

The display

Again this is my first DAP so I had no idea what to expect on the display side of things. First things first: this is not a retina display. Forget modern phone screens. It’s a display that shows things. Thats it. It’s a touch screen but easily the worst touch screen I’ve used in some time. It sometimes looks like the touch part is not aligned correctly with the display and I have to press an on-screen button multiple times to correctly hit it.

Software

Looking at photos of the M3 Pro I thought the software would be a bit like Android. I have a Android phone for work and that works great.

Let me tell you: this is no Android or iOS. This is 10 year old software. And it looks like it to. It’s slow. It feels sluggish when navigating the device. It does not feel like this is the best they can do.

The M3 Pro rebooted twice yesterday, while listening to a song. Nothing I could do, it just rebooted. Before writing this, I downloaded a new firmware update from the Fiio website, which should be fixing this.

Navigating music is fine, you click Browse or Category and go from there. What I don’t like is when you have a artist name or song name that is longer than the number of characters that fit on the screen, there is no way to see the text that falls of the display. Really? Why does the text not scroll if it is to long? Come on Fiio. Looking for a album or song with a long title is just annoying this way.

One other thing: when I click on the info button when playing a song, I get a pop-up in Chinese…

I know it’s a cheap DAP, but I expected a bit more from the software.

Audio

The M3 Pro sounds great. I’m using it with my Shure SE215 headphones. I really like how that combo sounds. The thing I notice as a non-audiophile is the low-end/bass. And I mean that in a positive way. You can actually hear the base. Music sounds clear and crisp and I love it.

Conclusion

I like the M3 Pro. It sounds and feels solid. It’s small but not too small. The software I really don’t like and I hope that Fiio can do something about it via a software upgrade.