If you thought the Shanling M0 was packed with features, then the M6 is probably going to appeal to you quite a bit. Also, if you’ve been eyeing FiiO’s M7 but didn’t quite like the design or lack of support for streaming services, then the M6 might just be what you’ve been waiting for.
Over the last 2 years or so we’ve really seen manufacturers attempt to cram loads of value and functionality into their products. FiiO first attempted doing something like this with the original X7 which offered a full Android interface. However, steadily, they’ve been moving away from this idea, instead opting to run most of their latest devices on deeply customised and slimmed-down versions of Android in order to have a more focused approach with regards to dedicated music players.
This is a fantastic step in the right direction, and their latest device, the M6, seems like a genuine refinement in their approach.
An Evolution to FiiO’s Lineup
FiiO’s first device to offer the slimmed Android OS experience was the M7, which was introduced a mere 10 months ago. Then came the M9 which took everything that was great about the M7 and turned it up to 11. We got more power output along with the addition of WiFi and support for certain streaming apps (which have to be white-listed by FiiO before it can be installed). Of course there were also changes made to the audio circuitry in terms of DAC chips used. All of this resulted in a 50% price hike over the $200 price-tag of the M7.
So, now there is the M6, which, by the looks of the specs, is simply a somewhat toned-down version of the M9.
There are a couple of similarities between the M6, M7 and M9, namely that they all sport an Exynos 7270 chip and 768Mb of RAM to handle the OS processing needs. No, it’s by no means a powerful setup in terms of raw processing power (especially by today’s smartphone standards), but keep in mind that the Android OS is extremely slimmed-down and optimised in such as way as to require very little processing power, which results in improved battery-life.
Just like the M9, the M6 has a 3.2-inch IPS display which is manufactured by LG and is capable of producing up to 16 million colours. Whilst the M6, M7, and M9 all only have a resolution of 400×800, the panels used in the M6 and M9 are vastly superior to that of the one used in the M7, especially considering that its only capable of producing 2.62 million colours.
When to comes to the audio circuitry, that’s where we see a stronger similarity to the M7. The M6 also has the ES9018Q2C DAC chip, but thanks to FiiO’s efforts the power output has been tweaked, resulting in a near-60% increase in output power into a 16Ω load, and almost 80% more power into a 32Ω load.
The Feature-rich M6
As was the case with the M9, the M6 offers WiFi connectivity and support for certain streaming services such as Spotify, Roon, and Deezer. We’ve also got Bluetooth 4.2 and a whole host of compatible Bluetooth formats such as AptX HD, LDAC, and even HWA.
You can also use it as a USB DAC and a Bluetooth receiver (LDAC will be supported with a future software update).
There’s also the introduction to a brand new feature for FiiO, called FiiO Link. Basically, this is going to be FiiO’s answer to Hiby Link. Simply put, this allows you to connect your smartphone to the device, after which you will not only be able to control playback from your mobile device, but you are also able to browse the entire music library on the M6 from your mobile device.
Things look a bit weird when we consider the price. But that’s weird in a good way…sort of.
The M7 is priced at $200, and the M9 is priced at $300. Really, in terms of features and specs, the M6 sits somewhere between the M7 and the M9, but closer to the latter.
And yet, FiiO is offering the M6 for (what seems to be thus far) a mere $150. This is awesome news if you’ve been looking for a more affordable alternative to the M9. Unfortunately this is probably bound to leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of those who have recently purchased the M7.