FiiO has been aggressively expanding their product line not only in terms of IEMs but also their very affordable lineup of DAPs (Digital Audio Players). This is the budget FiiO M3K.
Apart from their really great IEM lineup, FiiO has also had a history of producing DACs and DAPs in the past. I personally have used their FiiO E07K as well as their E06 – both incredibly affordable audio products that have served me well. The FiiO M3K keeps up with this trend for sure.
4.User Interface and Operation
As things go for DAPs, there are a lot more specifications than IEMs so if you’re interested in the full list of specs for the FiiO M3K, click here (FiiO Official site) to see it in detail. However, we’ve noted the important ones here:
|Processor||1Ghz Ingenic X1000/E|
|Screen||2.0-inch IPS screen|
|File Format Support||DSD：DSD64（“.iso”“.dsf”,“.dff”）
APE(Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit
APE(Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit
APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit
FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit
WAV: 384 kHz/32 bit
Aiff：192 kHz/24 bit
Aif:192 kHz/24 bit
WMA Lossless: 48 kHz/24 bit
Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit
|Storage Expansion||Up to 2TB MicroSD|
|Battery||1100mAh Li-polymer battery
~24 hours playback, 38 days standby
|Power ouput||25mW（32Ω /THD+N＜1%)
|Frequency Response||5Hz~90 kHz(-3dB)|
|THD + N||＜0.004%(1kHz/32Ω)|
|Recommended Drive Loads||16~100Ω|
With a rather low output impedance, I would watch out for how the FiiO M3K might affect sensitive balanced armature IEMs like the Campfire Audio Andromeda – in my experience the impedance curve of the Andromeda means that a low OI source will turn it into a bit of a bass cannon.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging and accessories are very, very straightforward and standard – I didn’t feel the need to really cover this area as the affordable price and everything else that make this product shine, not the unboxing experience. The FiiO M3K comes in a simple rectangular cardboard box. The device is set inside a protective foam layer while a micro-USB cable is hidden in the compartment underneath.
The M3K also comes with a black, soft plastic protective case which suits it nicely and feels good in the hand with a bit of extra grip.
For a budget priced product, the FiiO M3K has a really nice design that makes it feel more premium than its price might reflect.
Made with a sleek, smooth aluminium, the player’s body is comfortably rounded off for comfort on the left and right sides, leaving the top and bottom faces as clean, flat surfaces. The 3.5mm jack, accented by a gold, metallic ring shares the bottom face with an easily accessible MicroUSB port and MicroSDCard slot. Pushing 3.5mm plugs into the headphone jack feels extremely satisfying, as you can feel a little resistance as you insert it and it snaps into place at the end, giving reassurance that it won’t come loose with just any stray tug.
On the screen side of things, the FiiO M3K greets you with a small but sufficiently bright full coloured screen, protected by glass that lies flush with the surface of the aluminium body, making for a completely smooth and flat front face. The screen takes up half of the space, with the remainder given to the backlit capacitive touch buttons.
The side operational buttons are made out of a matching silver buttons with a good amount of clickiness, and are positioned perfectly in reach when the M3K is held in either hand – left handers can easily use their thumb while right handers will find it right against their index and middle fingers. There is also a nice attention to detail as the multifunction button on the bottom has a tiny bump in the centre to denote its difference to the power button as both are round.
The build quality feels top notch, easy to hold due to its comfortable form, and the slight solidity and weight also feels good in the hand without being wrist breakingly heavy.
User Interface and Operation
There are 4 physical buttons on the left edge of the FiiO M3K. The topmost is for power – apart from merely turning on the device, it can also be pressed twice to unlock the screen. The next two are for Volume Up and Down, and the last is a multifunction OK/Pause/Play button.
The capacitive touch buttons look cool, and the backlighting also makes it easy to see even in the dark. It was straightforward for me to understand how the navigation works – scroll up and down to navigate through vertical lists, swipe left and right to navigate through horizontal lists, and tap the centre area to confirm/press OK. My only small gripe was that it was easy to overshoot the list item that I wanted to reach, as the scrolling gesture was actually a little too sensitive. If you’re used to capacitive buttons on Android devices which often give a haptic feedback, there is no such feature here – this is a very budget priced device after all.
The Equalizer function was somewhat disappointing, as I remember having more EQ tweaking and control on a Rockbox modded First Generation iPod Nano. The EQ function on the FiiO M3K basically consists of 5 different presets – Rock, Vocal, Pop, Classical, and Techno that adjusts a 5 Band Equalizer. Despite the fact that the dB values of each frequency were pushed quite a lot, it was hard to hear a huge difference between each setting, and it also significantly reduced the overall volume every time I used any of the EQ settings which was very strange.
Menu options are very straightforward – browse all files, categories, recording, settings and playback settings.
There are some quality of life convenience settings that I really appreciated, such as the default and maximum volume settings to prevent any accidents which might damage your hearing.
The FiiO M3K has extremely good battery life from my usage experience. The standby battery life is as advertised – I did not keep it on standby for the whole 38 days, but after leaving it alone for a whole two weeks, it only lost a bar or two of battery. The advertised playback time of 3.5hrs per day for around a week of usage is also accurate – as my daily commute is around that duration, it was easy to test this specification.
I tested the FiiO M3K with a variety of IEMs – the Oriolus MK2, FiiO FH5 and FiiO F5, and the classic budget but hard to drive Havi B3.
In terms of devices I compared it to the OnePlus X phone, and the iPad Pro 12.9″.
The FiiO M3K provided clean, well resolved playback with no distortion, something that i feel it does better than the average smartphone, or certainly better than the OnePlus X playing FLAC on the stock Music app. My phone, while not offensive, tended to exhibit harshness at the higher frequency details and was a constant minor annoyance for me. There also tends to be slightly more boomy bass with the OPX as well, whereas the FiiO M3K gives an overall cleaner reproduction.
Compared to the iPad Pro, the M3K sounds just a tad brighter as I feel that it resolves music with a bit more crispness on high frequency details, whereas the iPad is a little more smoothed out and warmer sounding. The low end on the FiiO M3K is a little leaner and cleaner in terms of the subbass, while the iPad gives a warmer, more resounding bass.
It was also sufficient in powering all my IEMs, even the Havi B3 which somehow demands quite a bit of power from devices.
USB DAC Functionality
One nifty feature of FiiO’s DAP offerings that even the humble M3K offers is the ability to act as a USB DAC for your computer. This function works with both Mac and Windows, though you will have to download and install a driver from FiiO’s website if you are on Windows.
After setting this up, simply go to your Sound settings and set the output to the appropriate FiiO device to enjoy the FiiO M3K’s DAC. A great, cheap way to upgrade your PC audio system if the built in DAC is weak or if it’s being affected by electronic interference!
The FiiO M3K has been a very enjoyable budget DAP for me to use – with great, clear sound and exceptional battery life, this is a perfect device for the budget minded, no-frills audiophile. The size and weight also make it a very portable device.