The Chinese audio company Fiio is launching a new music player today that includes one uncommon feature: USB-C. The new USB standard is still a rarity on music players, but Fiio’s M7 will have the port available to use for charging, syncing music, and music playback over USB-C headphones.
Realistically, you’ll only want to use USB-C for those first two things. Headphones that work with the port have to contain their own DAC (digital-to-analog converter) to convert sound, and given the current state of USB-C headphones, chances are they won’t be very good. Or at the very least, they won’t be as good as what you’d get out of the M7’s built-in DAC for when it’s being used with traditional headphones. (Fiio makes a good, cheap pair of those, by the way.)
The M7 is otherwise a fairly standard if still stylish-looking music player for 2018. It has a small 3.2-inch touchscreen on the front, a stark aluminum body, physical buttons for skipping tracks and pausing the music, and even a physical dial for controlling volume.
Fiio says the player supports various formats of lossless audio. And while you’ll want to use wired headphones to take full advantage of that, the M7 also supports aptX-HD and Sony’s LDAC for higher-resolution Bluetooth streaming on supported headphones.
The M7 also supports FM radio. But aside from that, it sounds like you’re going to be stuck listening to your own local music. There doesn’t appear to be support for Spotify or other streaming services on here since there’s no Wi-Fi. (Plus, it’s running a “deeply customized Android” skin that looks likely to drag down the whole experience.) Not having streaming isn’t a problem if you’re planning to listen primarily to high-res files, but it’s a major inconvenience otherwise. You’ll also need a microSD card to use the M7 since it only has 2GB of built-in storage.
Fiio says the M7 is now available worldwide and will sell in the US for $200. The company has a wider line of portable audio players that get much more expensive and are meant for delivering even higher sound quality. The M7 is one of the midrange offerings with the looks of a higher-end player but specs that make it more affordable.