FiiO M3 PORTABLE DAP on Tight @$$ Tuesdays! {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

Welcome to another edition of Tight @$$ Tuesdays, where we feature budget-friendly audio products, discounts, promotions and stock takes! We will try our best to find good sounding headphones and other audio components that won’t break the bank.
 

FiiO has come up with a new portable digital player. Surprisingly, it’s not the usual progression that we expect like the X-series of late. This time, it’s their smallest and most basic digital audio player. It’ll be interesting to see how this DAP stacks up to the Sandisk Clip+. I believe the M3 is marketed as a starter kit for those who’d like to experience high resolution audio for the first time. To be successful in this category, this DAP must be affordable and functional. Let’s take a look if FiiO’s new DAP is worth considering…

 
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The FiiO M3 is quite small, about the size of your average cigarette lighter. Obviously, this DAP is as light as a matchbox making it a strong contender for the portability title. Another thing that’s light is the price, for $55 you get a HI-RES digital audio player with a 2″ TFT screen and can last you a full-day of music playback. It can play most types of music files including FLAC and WAV but unfortunately, DSD is out of the menu. A big plus in my books is the 8GB onboard memory coupled with expandable storage via micro SD card slot with support of up to 64GB. I’ve read reports from other users being able to use 128GB micro SD cards, unfortunately this is not the case for me. Nevertheless, over 70GB of storage at your disposal is a decent feature for its intended use. According to the official website specifications (photo below), the M3 is capable of driving most headphones and I can tell you right now – it handles the VE Zen 2.0 (320 ohm) just fine. Please don’t expect the M3 to properly drive power hungry full sized headphones. It is not designed to do extreme tasks. For it’s intended purpose, the FiiO M3 seems to be delivering the goods. Now it’s time to investigate further…

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Where to find:  FiiO (Amazon)    Noisy Motel (noisymotel.com)

 

Disclaimer: This review unit was provided free of charge by FiiO.

 

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For a starter kit, I expect the M3 to come with all the necessary goodies. It should be a complete experience straight out of the box. Well I am glad that FiiO did not cut corners in the packaging. Included is a pair of earbud earphones so you can play with the M3 as soon as you open the box! There’s a couple of screen protectors to prevent unwanted scratches on the TFT screen which I really appreciate. You also get a nice lanyard, giving you the option to hang the M3 around your neck. The rest are the standard usb cable for data transfer and charging then, the usual paperwork for reference. All-in-all, a decent starter kit especially for the price!

 

A clip on the back of the M3 would’ve been nice but using the included lanyard is just as effective for portability. A part of me is actually happy that FiiO did not feature fixed clip like the Clip+ because having a plain back makes the M3 more stable when stacking it with amplifiers. However, I do hope FiiO releases an accessory that’ll feature a clip to accommodate those who prefer to attach the M3 to their clothing. This is quite feasible considering there’s already an armband accessory available for the M3.
 
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The M3 is available in ivory, black, blue or cyan. Unlike other FiiO DAPs, there is no silicon case included in the retail package. I would’ve preferred it to be there for the times when extra protection is needed. Simply to protect plastic construction from scratches and random bumps/falls along the way. Don’t get me wrong, the construction is decent but I’m not confident it can handle rough treatment.

 

The 2″ TFT screen has a decent light and colour intensity but legibility can be a problem for some. Under the right conditions, I can read the information on the screen. In most cases however, I have difficulty in doing the same because the theme colours don’t encourage legibility. Another contributing factor is the font type/size – an option to adjust or change them could greatly improve the user experience. Fortunately, album art covers are rendered well on the screen – an obvious advantage over the Sandisk players.

 

File management is basic which is a good thing. Music files can be transferred directly to the onboard memory via the data cable or to a micro SD card. The files are then sorted alphabetically with the hierarchy of folders first then music files next. If you prefer an album track list order per folder, make sure to put numbers on the filenames. Otherwise, the M3 UI will always default to alphabetical order.

 

Navigation is facilitated by actual buttons. I prefer this over primitive touch sensitive navigation like the ones employed on the Colorfly C3. The power button on the left side also serves as a wake up button to activate the screen. The main navigation buttons are located at the bottom of the screen. Three upper row buttons  and three lower row buttons, 6 in total. The upper left button reverts you to the previous screen. Press and hold it for couple of seconds and the configuration page comes up. This is where you can change your playback modes (list,repeat once, repeat all, shuffle), add tracks to playlist, set or customise EQ settings, view track information, delete files, and player settings. The upper right button is for Play/Pause function. The upper and lower buttons in the middle toggles Volume Up and Down. The lower left and right buttons lets you skip tracks forward and backwards, press and hold does the classic rewind and forward. These buttons have decent feedback, the only downside is the lack of surface protrusions to assist in identifying the right buttons to press without looking. Fortunately, I was able to familiarise myself of the button layout after a few days use. Your mileage may vary but can prove difficult if your thumb is of the larger size, but it is doable.
 
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During music playback, all basic functionalities of a decent audio player are available at your disposal. Using the included earbud earphones with remote also features the ability to control the M3 without touching the player itself. The only problem I encountered is when I’m on the playing now screen and I press the upper left button, it takes me directly to the main page. This becomes the unnecessary step when all I wanted was to go back to the list of songs on queue. It would’ve been more intuitive if it goes back to the queue list, whether it’s the playlist or the folder list. If FiiO implements this through a firmware update, I’d be more than pleased.

 

FiiO claims over 24 hours of continuous playback with the screen off. I’m happy to report that the M3 performs as advertised. In the three weeks that I’ve used the M3 on a regular basis, I’ve never recharged the unit on the same day. Really impressive for a budget DAP.

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47 comments

  • Hans April 6, 2016   Reply →

    Portability!

  • Igor Ruzaev April 6, 2016   Reply →

    Wuold love to know about .CUE file support.

    • d marc0 April 12, 2016   Reply →

      i’ve heard it worked for others.
      Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.
      I might be doing it wrong…

  • Rob Felipe April 6, 2016   Reply →

    Definitely the form factor and 48KHz/16bit playback.

  • John Brian M.Gutierrez April 7, 2016   Reply →

    The sound quality it gives at its price range.

  • Jev Saladino April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Portability and value

  • allen nerona April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Portability, sound quality, and affordability.

  • Etienne Friedrich Miranda April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Hi This is my first entry here. so here it goes, Im looking forward to this DAP because of 3 things. first is the price,portability and 3rd is it’s sound quality. I already have auditioned this cute little guy here and I was blown with it’s sound quality considerung it’s size and price. I think this dap is already a monster since its so cheap and small compared to other daps.

    • d marc0 April 7, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks for joining. Good luck!

      I agree, the M3 is more than capable than it’s looks and size.

  • Marvin Fernandez April 7, 2016   Reply →

    of course, affordability and portability.

    Also it can play flac which is something im looking forward to, up till now I’ve only been able to listen to mp3 so yeah. Hahaha

    I might get one soon if ever budget permits and the review is good 🙂

  • Francis Gianan April 7, 2016   Reply →

    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. Portable – easy to carry and relatively lightweight, Reasonable battery life, Easy to use interface.
    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.

  • Jewbrecht Villarin Ormigas April 7, 2016   Reply →

    I wanna try this fiio m3 because of the portabilty and it play flac files too. and they said that the battery life is better than fiio x1. hope i can win this. thanks soundfreq! always tuning in here! <3

  • Xtian Orfiano April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Hi-Res audio,affortability and portability. let me try this FiiO M3 🙂

  • Emer Santiago April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Size and Fiio’s build quality.

  • Jomee April 7, 2016   Reply →

    I have auditioned Fiio M3 before, and I was shocked for what a small player, could do. I got attached to it. The Fiio M3 is a small and bang for the buck DAP. For it’s price, it’s really a good buy. Altogether with it’s UI, the portability, it could play Hi-Res files, and repeated, it’s price point. Tho’ it’s cheap, I still couldn’t afford it. But for those who’s starting the hobby, this could do it’s job on a fair rating. 🎶👌👍

  • Eu Kit April 7, 2016   Reply →

    This would be in my opinion the iPod killer of today’s generation 🙂

  • Eu Kit April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Portability and versatility

  • Christian Mark Asuncion April 7, 2016   Reply →

    As what others said, portability is the key factor. And also the fact that you can have a dedicated audio player is also a good thing.

  • I want this for my wife because of very portable, great sound and battery life.

  • Vincent Cruz April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Like all Fiio products, I like it’s performance for the price.

  • Emmanuel Maramara April 7, 2016   Reply →

    I’ve read that it delivers really good sound despite being an affordable model, that it’ll blow away your expectations. I’d like to be blown away. 🙂

  • Andrei Lean Karlo Blanco April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Decent High Resolution Audio at the size of your palm for so many hours!!

  • Darwin Abuyo April 7, 2016   Reply →

    Portability and budget friendly

  • Emmanuel Lorilla April 7, 2016   Reply →

    amazing simple design

  • Alan O April 7, 2016   Reply →

    For portability use and my backup DAP

  • Joseph Arjay Sison April 8, 2016   Reply →

    Portability and a good DAP to start this hobby

  • titan quest April 8, 2016   Reply →

    It’s nice big screen compared to its older siblings and it’s battery life of course! 😀

  • Egor April 8, 2016   Reply →

    sq/price

  • Wayns world April 8, 2016   Reply →

    What’s not to like? It priced very competitively, it’s very small and portable, it looks great, it sounds great, and it’s Fiio!

    • d marc0 April 8, 2016   Reply →

      Welcome aboard Wayne! Thanks for dropping by.

  • Justin April 8, 2016   Reply →

    Battery life has got to be the big draw of this device for me. I can’t imagine that the SQ will get close to the Fiio X1 or the Colorfly C3 (but I’ll be very pleased to be wrong about that!) so it’s all about grab and go.

    If you were going to buy a Flac player for use at the gym, and in the absence of the full review, would you go for this or a Sandisk Clip?

    • d marc0 April 8, 2016   Reply →

      Ah, in a heartbeat! This is because I don’t need the extra features of a rockboxed clip. I have one but I still gravitate more towards the M3. It’s just easier to use and better sounding.

  • Justin April 8, 2016   Reply →

    When is the full review going to be posted, btw?

  • Leonardo April 8, 2016   Reply →

    Battery life. I had the xduoo x2 and although it’s a great little sounding dap i would really like it would last as much as the m3.

  • Jed Pineda April 8, 2016   Reply →

    The small form factor for portability.

  • Jon Dacanay April 8, 2016   Reply →

    Portability, sound quality!

  • ELIJAH DEMETRIV MIRANDA April 9, 2016   Reply →

    size and sound quality since its a product from fiio i think this would be a little monster

  • ENRICO RAPHAEL MIRANDA April 9, 2016   Reply →

    Price and performance. I think this is very cheap compared to other entry level dap and expecting to be good since its from fiio

  • Dennis Dalisay April 10, 2016   Reply →

    The form factor! 🙂

  • Jomee April 10, 2016   Reply →

    Still waiting for the review, hope it has a comparison to Fiio X1. 😌

  • Raul Verame April 11, 2016   Reply →

    Portability, definitely. And it’s a great entry level DAC. 😀

  • luigi April 11, 2016   Reply →

    SOUND!

  • Junsel bandala April 11, 2016   Reply →

    It sounds so good like no other. Definitely will replaced my other DAP.

  • Van jayson sarmiento April 11, 2016   Reply →

    Little monster! Portability and hi res audio in 1. Best buy!

  • Cy Difuntorum April 11, 2016   Reply →

    Portability is my number concern on getting m3 if I will not win this I’m going to buy it the next day 😁

  • leo vidal April 11, 2016   Reply →

    The size! You can take it in the gym with you (though I have been looking for a similar strap as the X1).

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