FiiO M15 – Review

FiiO M15

FiiO M15

| DAP | 800mW | 784kHz/32bit | 6-CORE Exynos 7872 | Dual AK4499 DAC | USB DAC | Bluetooth | WiFi | DSD512 | MQA | DLNA | AirPlay | Touch Screen |



🎧 We are reviewing the FiiO M15, the newest top-tier music player, DAC, DAP from FiiO.

The FiiO M15 is the most advanced flagship DAC/Portable music player that the brand has ever released. This time, FiiO has gone all-in with the creation of the FiiO M15, packing it with a plethora of premium components and audio-leading specs.

The FiiO M15 features 2x AK4499 DACs, a 6-core CPU Exynos 7872, Bluetooth + WiFi connectivity, 3GB of RAM, 64GB of ROM and a multi-touch 5.15” screen.

Being released as the top-tier on the brand’s DAP/DAC catalog, the new FiiO M15 now dethrones the M11 series as the leading models.

The FiiO M15 runs an Android operating system that allows full use and installation of third party Android apps without any whitelisting limitation (opposite of what was seen on early firmwares of older FiiO music players running Android). This means that users will have absolute freedom to install any app that they want, use online music streaming services through each corresponding official app or even use any non audio-related app on their M15.

Other music players from the M series include the:

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FiiO M15
FiiO M15

FiiO M15 Review

Tests & Scores


AF

Advanced Features

The FiiO M15 advanced features include:

  • USB DAC
  • Dual DAC
  • MQA decoding
  • All to DSD
  • DLNA
  • AirPlay
  • WiFi file transfer
  • Bluetooth
  • WiFi
  • 10-finger multi-touch
  • Lossless Bluetooth codecs
  • MicroSD card reader
  • Native DSD512
  • Bluetooth transmitter
  • Bluetooth receiver
  • Android apk apps installation
  • OTA firmware updates
FiiO M15
FiiO M15

W

Weight

FiiO M15 weight in Ounces and FiiO M15 weight in grams.

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A

Accessories & Packaging

The FiiO M15 comes protected and embellished with a Black Walnut wood box and plenty of soft protective cutouts to ensure that the unit arrives and remains 100% protected at all time.

The packaging of the FiiO M15 has a 3-layer system that includes an outer black-colored, thick cardboard that slides out and reveals the 2nd layer. This second layer is a 2-piece, textured-black, sturdy box that holds inside the aforementioned fancy North American Black Walnut wood box.

The FiiO M15 unboxing results in an USB Type-C cable, a MicroSD pin extractor, a tempered glass protector and a COAX to 3.5mm cable adapter.

Previous owners of the FiiO M11 might expect a bundled TPU cover but, this time, FiiO does not include a protective cover with the M15.

gramophone-25660 4.25/5


D

Design

The body of the M15 has an all-black design with small golden accents around the output connectors and an RGB ring light embracing the rotational knob (the light can be personalized through the settings).

The FiiO M15 has left behind the sharp edges and adopted, instead, a curvier design with both the left and right edges offering a smoother adaptation to the natural forms of a hand gripping an object.

Contrarily, the top and bottom edge have a flat shape, which can even allow the DAP to stand straight or be placed on a charging cradle on a desktop whenever wanted.

Both the front and back panel of the device are made of glass, while the back cover is decorated with a carbon-fiber texture pattern beneath the glass – this kind of of aesthetics have some sort of resemblance to the previous FiiO M series but the carbon-fiber pattern looks less “flashy” than the aforementioned and better integrated to the clean aesthetics of the device.

Probably one of the most noticeable design changes from recent top-tier FiiO music players, is the protruding top knob of the FiiO M15.

FiiO has decided to rethink this section with a brand new design for their volume knob; previous versions had a left-edge placed cogwheel with golden color but now the M15 replaces this with a black, rotational knob.

Buttons are now engraved with it’s main function icon and offer a much easier quick way of looking an recognizing them.

As you might imagine, this will not be the smallest FiiO DAP that you can get and, certainly not, as small as the FiiO M3 Pro, FiiO M6 or FiiO M5. Yet, the FiiO M15 is smaller than many modern smartphones (thicker, though) and not that far away from the M11 and M9.

The FiiO M15 dimensions are: 134mm x 75mm x 18mm, with a weight of just above 300 grams.

gramophone-256605/5

FiiO M15
FiiO M15
FiiO M15 rear panel
FiiO M15 rear panel

OC

Operation & Control

The FiiO M15 can be fully controlled either through it’s touch interface and/or users can operate all the main music playback functions of the device through it’s 7 physical controls.

The controls and buttons on the FiiO M15 present a whole new design with smoothed out and rounded shapes.

The touch responsive controls accept gestures to quickly navigate through the user interface or apply specific functions (like accessing the quick menu from the top bar)

The 7 physical control system of the M15 are distributed among 1 switch, 1 knob and 5 buttons.

To avoid any fiddling, the brand has placed all buttons on the same side of the unit and the potentiometer on the top, easing up the time consumed to find and recognize each button.

FiiO M15 knob
FiiO M15 knob

In order, from top to bottom, the buttons of the FiiO M15 main functions are:

Top Knob

  • Volume step up or down (clockwise= vol +; counterclockwise= vol -)

Switch

  • Hold/lock on/off

Top Button:

  • Press and hold: Power on/off
  • Single press: Lock screen, turn screen on/off

2nd Button:

  • Single press: Next track

3rd Button:

  • Single press: Play/pause

4th Button:

  • Single press: Previous track

5th Button:

  • Custom function defined by user through the device settings

The combination of physical controls and a 10-finger multi touch screen, paired with it’s powerful CPU; the FiiO M15 showed a snappy scrolling, menu navigation and live response to any command.

Right out of the box, new owners might feel disappointed when not seeing any visual reference to the volume setting and it’s level when being changed; besides a small icon on the left upper corner. Actually, there are 2 additional visual references to the volume level but need to be manually activated through the settings. These 2 extra features are a numerical volume setting that accurately shows the volume being set from a range of 0 to 120 and the 2nd one is the use of the ring light around the knob changing it’s light brightness according to the volume level set.

As seen on the last top-tier FiiO music players, the FiiO M15 has a dual special user interface system that can be chosen at any given moment. The modes offered are “Pure Music” which strips out “unnecessary visual elements and “Android mode” which follows the standard aesthetics and navigation logic of Android smartphones – a nice feature to customize and adapt to each user’s preferences.

Buttons Customization:

As you might have just read, we mentioned that the 5th physical button on the M15 can be customized. The button has endless amount of functions that can be defined and even changed whenever wanted by the user; among the custom functions that can be set there is: EQ switching on-the-fly, add to favorite, set to USB DAC mode, filter switching, etc.

gramophone-256605/5

FiiO M15 buttons
FiiO M15 buttons

B

Battery Life

The FiiO M15 carries inside a massive 7490mAh 3.7V Li-polymer battery with 1800 hours of deep sleep time.

The FiiO M15 battery life is within the standards of high-performing music players and given it’s power and features provided, it is quite impressive that this beast can still hold up and grant 15 hours of wired audiophile time.

The status of the battery, charging and percentage left can be seen on the icon placed on the top right corner of the status bar – this section represents the battery condition with either an icon and a 3-digit percentage status.

How to charge the FiiO M15:

Charging a battery with such a big capacity would require quite a long time, but fortunately FiiO has made the M15 compatible with 21W fast charging QC2.0, USB PD and MTK PE technology; allowing the FiiO M15 battery recharge time to remain below the 3.5 hour mark.

To take advantage of the FiiO M15 quick charging, users need to couple it with compatible DC 12V 1.5A quick charger plugged through it’s USB-Type connector or with QC2.0/MTK PE quick chargers and/or a PD2.0 charger.

Despite this, the FiiO M15 is, still, compatible with standard chargers that can output 5V 2A.

gramophone-256604.25/5

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FiiO M15 card slot and charging port
FiiO M15 card slot and charging port

CB

Construction & Build

The build of the FiiO M15 will not disappoint and has a logical tactile feel with it’s price-tag, being entirely made of heavy-duty metal and corning Gorilla Glass.

The combination of the all-metal build, reinforced glass and hefty 300 grams, used on the FiiO M15 makes it feel like build like a tank that can handle serious beating without showing any signs or marks.

To strengthen it up even more, owners of the M15 can apply the tempered glass accessory that comes bundled with the unit.

By having flat buttons that do not protrude, the risks of turning loose or wobbly through out the time becomes nearly impossible.

A significant daily use difference when looking at the FiiO M15 vs FiiO M11, is centered on it’s volume knob. But this time we do not refer to the aesthetics nor placement, instead, the clear difference with their potentiometer is the 100% silent and smooth new knob on the M15 making it stealthier than the clicky wheel of the M11.

gramophone-256605/5

FiiO M15
FiiO M15

S

Screen

The screen of the FiiO M15 is a 10-finger multitouch, capacitive type that has a 5.15″ diagonal size in a 18:9 format and minimal bezels.

The technology used is an IPS, high resolution screen that can provide 1440×720 pixel (312PPI density) and reproduce 16.7 millions colors.

In real life, the screen offers vivid colors with great contrast, sharp resolution and clear fonts that make the text friendly to read.

Tending to a bezel-less design, the footprint of the whole device is better optimized to remain smaller in size without unused spaces or empty physical areas.

gramophone-256605/5

FiiO M15
FiiO M15
FiiO M15
FiiO M15

FC

Formats Compatibility

The FiiO M15 is a beast (tech-wise) carrying inside a 6-core CPU divided in a dual-core operating at 2GHz and a quad-core at 1.6GHz that couples up with 3GB of RAM and 64GB ROM for plenty of built-in capacity for music.

Being an audio-enthusiast device, readers might be more interested or excited in knowing the dedicated audio components under the hood; which include premium dual AK4499EQ DACs, 2x low jitter custom NDK femotsecond crystals, 3rd Gen Actel ProAsic A3P030, and XMOS XUF208 USB chip, 4xOPA1622, 4xOPA1612, 2xOPA2211 and a Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth chip.

All this components allow the M15 to handle the following files/decoding:

  • Bluetooth: LDAC, SBC, aptX, aptX-HD, HWA
  • USB DAC: 768kHz/32 bit
  • DSD: DSD512
  • DXD: 352.8K/24bit
  • APE(Fast): 384 kHz/24 bit
  • APE(Normal): 384 kHz/24 bit
  • APE (High): 384 kHz/24 bit
  • APE (Extra High): 192 kHz/24 bit
  • APE (Insane): 96 kHz/24 bit
  • FLAC: 384 kHz/32 bit
  • WAV: 384 kHz/32 bit
  • Aiff: 384 kHz/24 bit
  • Aif: 192 kHz/24 bit
  • WMA Lossless: 96 kHz/24 bit
  • Apple Lossless: 384 kHz/32 bit
  • MP3
  • OGG
  • M4A
  • AAC
  • ALAC
  • ISO
  • DFF
  • DSF
  • CUE
  • LRC

gramophone-256605/5

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FiiO M15 with FiiO EH3NC
FiiO M15 with FiiO EH3NC

C

Connectivity

The top edge of the FiiO M15 offers the headphone/line-out output connectors, highlighted by metal, golden-colored rings. The top connectors offers are a 3.5mm single-ended, a 2.5mm balanced, a 4.4mm balanced and a line-out COAX through the bundled adapter when connected to the 3.5mm port.

On the bottom of the device, the USB Type-C port and the MicroSD card reader can be found. The USB Type-C connector is a 2-way USB that can be used for charging the unit but, also, enables 3 additional USB functions: USB DAC, USB data transmission and USB Audio. The USB audio function adds up to become the 5th audio output connection offered by this device, covering nearly all most-diffused headphones connections available on the market.

The USB DAC function makes the FiiO M15 a fully working desktop and external USB DAC that can be used on-the-go or even as a fixed, permanent dedicated external DAC for any serious audiophile decoding.

The specific technical specification of the output connections of the FiiO M15 are the following:

Line-out specifications

  • THD+N <0.0004%(1kHz/10kΩ)
  • SNR >121dB (A-weighted)
  • Frequency response 5Hz~90 kHz(-3dB)
  • Noise floor <1.9uV
  • Channel separation >107dB
  • Line level 2.1V

3.5mm Headphone out specifications

  • Output impedance <1.4Ω
  • THD+N <0.0005%(1kHz/32Ω)
  • Output power 1 ≥405mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%)
  • Output power 2 ≥490mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%)
  • Output power 3 ≥70mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%)
  • Separation >77dB
  • Frequency response 20Hz~90 kHz(-3dB)
  • SNR ≥121dB (A-weighted)
  • Noise floor <2.1uV

Balanced Headphone out specifications(2.5mm & 4.4mm)

  • Output impedance <3Ω
  • THD+N <0.0006%(1kHz/32Ω)
  • Output power 1 ≥420mW(16Ω / THD+N<1%)
  • Output power 2 ≥800mW(32Ω /THD+N<1%)
  • Output power 3≥280mW(300Ω / THD+N<1%)
  • Separation >118dB
  • Frequency response 20Hz~90 kHz(-3dB)
  • SNR ≥122dB (A-weighted)
  • Noise floor <3.8uV

gramophone-256605/5

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FiiO M15 connectors
FiiO M15 connectors
FiiO M15 with FiiO FH7
FiiO M15 with FiiO FH7

S

Sound

FiiO made a tough move abandoning the digital potentiometer of their previous flagship DAP and replacing it with an analog potentiometer on the new FiiO M15. Among the several issues that analog potentiometers can risk to add there are: channel imbalance, screeching and imprecision. Despite this bold move, the brand did an excellent job utilizing quality components that do not introduce any of these problems into the sound. During our soundtests, the FiiO M15 did never exhibit any imbalance nor a single moment of disturbing noises while dialing up and down the volume levels.

Regarding frequency response, the range covers from 5Hz up to 90kHz and quality-wise, we confirmed through our measurements a flawlessly flat frequency response that harmoniously extended through out the entire range – the same flat response was conserved in all the modes offered by the M15 (USB DAC, “Big driver mode”, “Low-noise mode”, Bluetooth)

We proceeded to test out the “purity” of it’s sound and the FiiO M15 did, indeed, showed that their premium audio components hold up to audiophile standards. Owners of the M15 will benefit from impeccable output sound that did not show any coloration nor deterioration of the original sound-file/headphone-combo and revealed as much detail as your file/headphone could provide. The authentic sound tuning and quality of all headphones were preserved by the sound outputted by the FiiO M15 without any unexpected sound variation or boosting.

FiiO M15 with FiiO FA7
FiiO M15 with FiiO FA7

Furthermore, the M15 was free of any disturbing or audible noise floor, allowing demanding owners to enjoy their listening sessions as clean as possible. On top of that, users can decide to set the device to either the lowers noise floor possible by setting the M15 to it’s “low noise/IEM mode”.

The FiiO M15 is the most powerful music player that the brand has ever build; it might sound like a cliche marketing slogan but this is actually true. In fact, by reaching an output of 800mW (32Ω) the FiiO M15 is offering about 50% more output power than what the, already powerful, FiiO M11 was able to deliver. Through it’s balanced connectors the M15 can even provide as much as 280mW at 300Ω, which makes sense with it’s wide recommended driving ability ranging from 16Ω up to 600Ω.

With it’s huge power capacity, this DAP can handle any popular headphone that you can think of – no matter how difficult to drive it might be. In addition to this, the FiiO M15 has dedicated driving/operating modes according to the type of headphone being connected and desired output/noise needs; offering a specialized “Over-ear headphone/Big Driver mode” that can squeeze out the maximum output of the device when activated and matched with either the 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced connectors – the price paid for this will be marginal increment of it’s noise floor from <2.1µV to <4µV.

FiiO M15 with FiiO EH3NC
FiiO M15 with FiiO EH3NC

Getting into technical details besides the insane 768kHz/32bit and native DSD512; the M15 showcases top notch audio tech specs such as a THD+N <0.0004%; noise floor <2.1µV, SNR ≥122dB. Additionally, this flagship DAP/DAC can adapt to the needs of audiophiles who are into MQA, thanks to it’s MQA decoding capability that supports files encoded in 8x.

gramophone-25660 5/5

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EQ

EQ

The FiiO M15 offers owners 9 EQ presets with a 10 band equalizer that can be manually adjusted.

The presets available are: Blues, Classical, Jazz, Dance, Pop, Rock, Metal, Vocal and custom EQ.

The custom EQ offers a generous range of 24dB distributed with +/-12dB of full control and customization.

The effect and precision of their EQ presets and options have been measured by our team and can be seen later below on this same review.

gramophone-25660 4.5/5

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FiiO M15 measurements

FiiO M15 Frequency Response Curve

FiiO M15 frequency response curve
FiiO M15 frequency response curve

FiiO M15 Equalizers

FiiO M15 Equalizer frequency response curves
FiiO M15 Equalizer frequency response curves

FiiO M15 Modes

FiiO M15 USB DAC frequency response curves
FiiO M15 USB DAC frequency response curves

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Specifications

FiiO M15 Technical Specifications

Type DAP/USB DAC/Bluetooth Amp
Screen size 5.15 inches
Music Player/DAC/DAP Yes
DSD Yes, 512 native
Screen resolution 1440×720
Formats ISO, DSF, DXD, DFF, DTS, APE, FLAC, ALAC, WMA, AAC, OGG, MP3, WAV, AIFF, AIF
Frequency Response 5Hz-90KHz
Plug 3.5mm single-ended, 2.5mm balanced, 4.4mm balanced, COAX, USB DAC , USB audio
Weight Approx. 300g
Bluetooth Yes, v5.0

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Scores Scores

FiiO M15 Scores

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FiiO M15
FiiO M15
Full technical specifications

FiiO M15 Full technical specifications

reported by FiiO

Name / Model No. M15
User Interface Android/Pure Music/SB DAC/Bluetooth Receiver
CPU Model Exynos 7872 14nm
No. of cores  6
CPU operating frequency 2GHz (A73×2), 1.6GHz (A53×4) DAC AK4499EQ×2
Chips used SoC:Exynos 7872, DAC: AK4499EQ*2,Control Chip: XMOS XUF208, Bluetooth chip:CSR8675, FPGA: NDK Femtosecond crystal oscillator*2, AMP:PA2211*2+OPA1622*4+OPA1612*4,FPGA: A3P030 Special Features  Four independent system mode,Professional ADC Volume Adjustment Mode, Fully Decode (8x) the Original MQA Files, Innovative multifunctional button
Connectivity
USB TYPE C Two-way USB2.0 WiFi 2.4GHz/5GHz
Bluetooth Transmit HWA/LDAC/aptX HD/aptX/SBC Bluetooth Receive(5.0) SBC/AAC/aptX LL/aptX HD/LDAC
AirPlay Supported DLNA/NAS  UPNP protocol supported
FiiO Link Supported WiFi music transfer Supported
Display screen
Display size  5.15 inches Sreen material Corning Gorilla Glass
Display type IPS Hi-Res incell screen Number of colours 16.7M
Resolution 1440×720 Viewing angle Full view
Touchscreen 10-finger multi-touch PPI 312
Storage
RAM 3GB ROM 64GB
Storage expansion type Micro SD(TF card),Hidden TF slot ROM available to user About 52G
Maximum storage expansion  2TB (theoretically)
Buttons and ports
Buttons Physical button + analog potentiometer volume knob + HOLD lock switch + touch screen USB Two-way TYPE C USB2.0(Charging/Data transmisson/USB DAC/USB Audio)
USB DAC 768kHz-32bit/DSD512 USB Audio 384kHz-32bit/DSD128(Supports DoP/D2P/Native)
Headphone Out (PO) 3.5 mm headphone jack+2.5mm balanced headphone jack+4.4mm balanced headphone jack, 384kHz-32bit/DSD256 Line out(LO)  3.5 mm port(shared PO)
SPDIF Output 3.5mm port(shared PO), 384kHz-32bit/DSD128
General
Color Black Dimensions 134*75*18mm
Weight About 307g Volume control type Analog volume
Recommended headphone impedance 16~150Ω (3.5mm headphone output) Equalizer  10-band EQ (±12dB), 8 presets+custom preset, custom EQ supported
16~600Ω (2.5mm+4.4mm balanced output)
Over-ear Headphone mode ON/OFF Gain control L/H
L/R channel balance adjustment L10~R10 (0.5dB every level)
Power specifications
USB power adapter QC2.0/MTK PE quick charger, PD2.0 charger, DC 12V/1.5A recommended Battery capacity 7490mAh 3.8V Li-polymer battery supporting quick charge
Charging time About 3.5h (DC 12V/1.5A) Deep sleep time >1800h
Battery Life & Test Conditions
3.5mm headphone output:>15h
Over-ear Headphone mode OFF Gain L
Screen OFF Test File  MP3 44.1kHz/16bit
EQ OFF Load 32Ω
2.5mm+4.4mm balanced output:>9h
Over-ear Headphone mode OFF Gain L
Screen OFF Test File  MP3 44.1kHz/16bit
EQ OFF Load 32Ω
Others
Firmware Upgrade Supports via zip file + TF card + OTA All to DSD Supported
MQA Supports 8x MQA Navigation control Gesture control/Bottom navigation bar
Double click to wakeup Supported Power-off timers Supports sleep/Idle poweroff
In-vehicle mode M15 will power on/off automatically when vehicle engine starts/stops Pulsing Indicator Can be set to always on/breath/off, the brightness can be customized or follow the volume
Screenshot Screenshot by three-fingers swiping down and pressing both the power and the last song button Locate Currently Playing Track with One-click Supported
Custom playlist sorting Supported Third-party apps support Supports any app
Line output specifications(A-wt.)
THD+N  <0.0004% (1kHz/10kΩ) SNR >121dB
Frequency Response 5Hz~90kHz (-3dB) Noise floor <1.9μV
Channel Separation >107dB Line level 2.1V
Headphone out specifications 1(3.5mm port, A-wt.)
Output power 1 ≥285mW (16Ω/THD+N<1%) ≥405mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/16Ω/THD+N<1%) Output impedance ≤1.4Ω
Output power 2 ≥215mW (32Ω/THD+N<1%) ≥490mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/32Ω /THD+N<1%) THD+N  <0.0005% (1kHz/32Ω)
Output power 3 ≥31mW (300Ω/THD+N<1%) ≥70mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/300Ω/ THD+N<1%) Separation ≥77dB ≥115dB (No load)
Frequency response 20Hz~90kHz (-3dB) Noise floor <2.1μV <3μV (Over-ear Headphone mode)
SNR ≥121dB ≥119dB (Over-ear Headphone mode)
Balanced out specifications 2(2.5mm+4.4mm balanced output, A-wt.)
Output power 1 ≥420mW (16Ω/THD+N<1%) ≥370mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/16Ω/ THD+N<1%) Output impedance ≤3Ω
Output power 2 ≥635mW (4.2V)(32Ω/THD+N<1%) ≥800mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/32Ω/ THD+N<1%) THD+N  <0.0006% (Over-ear Headphone mode/1kHz/300Ω)
Output power 3 ≥120mW (300Ω /THD+N<1%) ≥280mW (Over-ear Headphone mode/300Ω/ THD+N<1%) Separation ≥103dB ≥118dB (No load)
Frequency response 20Hz~90kHz (-3dB) Noise floor <3.8μV <5.2μV (Over-ear Headphone mode)
SNR ≥122dB ≥118dB (Over-ear Headphone mode)
File format support
Lossless:  DSD: DSD64/128/256 (“.iso”,“.dsf”,“.dff”), DST iSO DXD: 352.8K/24bit APE FAST/High/Normal: 384kHz/24bit (MAX) APE Extra High: 192kHz/24bit (MAX) APE Insane: 96kHz/24bit (MAX) Apple Lossless: 384kHz/32bit (MAX) AIFF: 384kHz/32bit (MAX) FLAC: 384kHz/32bit (MAX) WAV: 384kHz/32bit (MAX) WMA LOSSLESS: 96kHz/24bit (MAX)
Lossy compression:  MP3, OGG, WMA, AAC, etc


Photos

FiiO M15 Photos

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FiiO M15

9.7

SCORE

9.7/10


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