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[News] The Story About FiiO M15----From James

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Post time 2020-4-25 18:11:27 |Show all posts |
Part I Introduction & Project Origin

Preface

After releasing the M15 at the end of 2019, we have received overwhelming responses out of our expectations from the market and users. Not only did the M15 sell out soon after going public, but the feedback from consumers was also very positive.

There are several reasons for me to write this series of articles.
1)The price of the M15 is relatively high. For those who are interested but still considering, the online review is just a reference due to the lack of hands-on experience. Furthermore, it is difficult to understand designers' thoughts and ideas by simply looking at its parameter and configuration. Therefore, this series of articles would offer you an opportunity to learn more about the M15.
2)Through these articles, I could make a thorough explanation of some features of the M15. Because I don't think the M15's introduction on the official website, the product introduction page or the press conference is completely clear. Therefore, it is still necessary to write it down for further analysis.
3)It is also found that consumers like to listen to stories, including the ins and outs of products, and some stories behind R&D. I hope that these articles will meet your curiosity.
4)Last but not least, some technical guidance and responses to some hot-spot topics will also be involved.
In a word, these writings do not focus on promoting products and calling more people to buy them. On the contrary, what we are mostly worried about is not the sales volume, but consumers who don't know enough about the M15, and thus be disappointed at the brand and product. The M15 is the flagship symbol of portable players in FiiO's product line, which does not undertake the task of making money. It is something important about FiiO's technical strength and product philosophy.
The Origin of the Project: Legendary X9
If you are an old user of FiiO players, you would have known that FiiO players have always been named as X series. In fact, after the X7 was released, old users have kept calling for a better and more advanced X9.
However, because of the worse market condition at that time that there were rarely-seen Chinese players exceeding 700USD. The X7 has been sold at 649.99USD, so will the X9 is definitely over 700USD. It would be a big question whether the market and users can accept it or not. Additionally, we could only acquire Rockchip's RK series chips that has corresponding development capabilities at the time. In fact, many users were already very dissatisfied with the X5III and X7II. Because with such an old and high-power consumption Soc on a high end player, I'm afraid that customers would not accept it.
Therefore, we first spent a lot of effort to apply Samsung's SoC platform 7270 to low-to-mid-end HiFi players, like the M6, M7 and M9, in order to accumulate experience and simultaneously establish a cooperative relationship with Samsung. After all, Samsung was still very skeptical about the development capabilities of Chinese manufacturers, so it would not open up the mid-to-high-end chips to FiiO at once.
Now came to the part that you knew. FiiO won the trust of Samsung successfully. By combining the Exynos7872 SoC with a 5.15-inch 18: 9 720P display screen, FiiO's Android-based mid-to-high-end player platform was eventually built up, managing to release the M11 and M11 Pro to the market in succession.
Of course, you may want to ask why not research and develop the M15 at the beginning? There are two reasons.
1) Generally speaking, the more expensive the price, the less sales. If we started at the higher-end player first, the purchase order to Samsung would be rather smaller, which would affect their support for us. So, we must increase the volume as soon as possible. In this case, we must start with models in large amounts.
2) The higher-end the player, the more technical accumulation is required. With development experience of the M11 and M11Pro, and continuous firmware updates based on market feedback, we have a relatively stable software and hardware platform to be ready for the M15, which help to reduce the development difficulty.
Therefore, when all was set and done, we started the M15 project, making it the flagship model of FiiO portable music player.





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Post time 2020-4-30 11:30:28 |Show all posts |
Part II Design Goals

As the flagship model, the M15 has integrated all of our understandings of consumers and all experience of products in the audio field. Frankly speaking, we have not considered too much about how many units can be sold and how much money can be made. The following writhing would be divided into several sections introducing some of our design goals when we were making the M15 plan.
1. Extreme sound quality
The M15 is undoubtedly a flagship. Our goal is to achieve the best possible sound quality under the constraints of the size, weight, heat, and battery life of portable products. Normally, FiiO has a cost budget for each product. But for the M15, there is no cost restriction. Everything is based on sound quality. About the sound quality, details would be explained later.
2. Suitable for different scenarios
In addition to keeping the convenience brought by the battery of a portable player, we expect that the M15 can be used in more situations as it can. Therefore, our goal is to create a product suitable for multi-scenarios. The following is some of the main usage scenario introduction based on our own experience and user needs.
2.1 Easy to carry it with you wherever
Thanks to the joint efforts of ID, architecture, and electronic engineers, the M15 maintains a reasonable weight (about 300 grams), relatively good size (compared to other high-driven-capacity products), longer battery life (15 hours for single-ended). Therefore, it would be very convenient to carry it with you everywhere, such as business trip, travel, commute or school.
2.2 In-vehicle mode
Since we began to enter the player field, many users have purchased our products and used them in cars which have worse sound quality and format support. The M15 is designed with an in-vehicle mode, so users can power it with an on-board power supply, connecting it by the LO port with the car’s AUX input port. In this way, when the car is fired up, the M15 will automatically start and play the last song; when the car is off, it will automatically shut down to avoid battery exhaustion.
2.3 Listening music with M15 in the living room
In this scenario, the M15 can be used as a sound source for the HIFI system, or as a high-quality decoder, or as a HIFI Bluetooth receiver. And more convenient is that it supports FiiO link, so you can remote it thorough your mobile phone.
2.4 Use it in desk tops
In this scenario, it is more suitable for over-ear headphones considering the sound quality, i.e., it can be connected to a computer, using as a USB DAC amplifier. But it can also be independently used.
3. Full functions
This means that the M15 can achieve native playback, streaming playback, USB decoding and Bluetooth reception. Plus the Android-based system allows third-party application installation. It turns out the M15 comes with comprehensive functions.
Basically, the M15 has realized all the functions that can be done on portable players. For the rest, I am not sure whether it is a function that a portable player should have, such as sound tracks grab, 4G internet access. After all, it is a player, which should focus on players' commonly recognized functions.
In short, I think the M15 is qualified as a full-function player.
4. Multi-connections
As a product designed for audiophiles, it is very important to have complete connectors to facilitate users to expand the use of the product and enhance its playability. This is completely different from the simplicity pursuit in mass consumer electronics. It can even be conceivable that within 2 years at the latest, there will be mobile phones without connectors showing up in the market.
Therefore, we have fully considered the M15's connection capabilities, and tried our best to complete it. Here is a brief introduction.
4.1 Wireless connection
M15's wireless and wired connection capability is the strongest among all players.
Wireless connectivity capabilities include:
1) 2.4G / 5G WiFi connection, supporting DLNA, Airplay, streaming playing, WiFi song transfer;
2) The most complete Bluetooth transmitter and receiver, supporting LDAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, HWA (LHDC) transmission, and LDAC , SBC, aptX, aptX HD reception.
4.2 Wired connection
The M15 has a wide range of connectors, which is one of the portable players that has the most complete connectors, supporting 2.5mm balanced, 3.5mm single-ended, and 4.4mm balanced output for the analog headphone-output, 3.5mm single-ended for the line-out and 3.5mm SPDIF, TYPE C USB digital audio input and output.
5. Full driven capacity: adaptable to varieties of headphones
The M15 is mainly used with headphones. Therefore, we hope that it can be used with as many headphones as possible in all aspects and avoid bias. So there can be less worries about matching.
In our own opinion, this full driven capacity must be considered from several aspects.
5.1 Easy matching tone
The tone of the M15 has characteristics of high density, high resolution and high transparency. Besides, the whole tone is neutral and warm, so it is suitable for different styles of headphones, and has good adaptability to dynamic driver, balanced armature and hybrid headphones.
5.2 Have sufficient output power
The M15 is designed with a large output power. In addition to easily driving all IEMs, it is also featured with the over-ear mode. Under this mode, the internal amp power supply circuit will switch to a higher power supply voltage, which can also drive most high-impedance or low-sensitivity over-the-ear headphones.
5.3 Flexible connectors
The M15 has three output ports: 3.5 single-ended, 2.5 balanced, and 4.4 balanced. Except for rarely-seen headphones with XLR balanced and 6.3 single-ended, it can be easily matched with various headphone plugs.
Why do Chinese players commonly have the feature of strong driven capacity?
Since entering the post-MP3 era, Chinese players have been popular to the present. A very important reason is that they are generally strong in the aspect of driven capacity.
Many people say that it does not need such a large power to drive earplugs. However, the truth is that many IEMs with low sensitivity and high impedance cannot be driven successfully without sufficient driven power. From our market reviews of the M15, many users buy it to match with Sony’s Z1R earplugs which need a rather high driven power.
What’s more, many audiophiles would choose headphones with better sound quality when working or studying in indoor environments, like at home or in the office. And over-the-ear headphones have a higher requirement on the output power of players.





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Post time 2020-5-5 18:16:23 |Show all posts |
Edited by FiiO at 2020-5-5 18:24

Part III Precaution warning: M15 born for audiophiles

If you are not an audiophile, you had better not to take the M15 home. We are really serious. Just let me give you an example, even though it is not so relevant about this topic. For a Ferrari born for the race track, even if it is extremely expensive, but its high fuel consumption, hard and low underpan depend that it is not suitable for commonly using. Because Ferrari's target users are those who like to race on the track.






Similarly, the M15 is designed for those audiophiles who pursues the ultimate sound quality, because only they are willing to pay a high price to buy a product that is more expensive, heavier, and has more heat than ordinary players.

Behind the M15, there are many interesting stories.

A normal company would not like to promote and advertise blindly, calling on consumers who are not its target users to buy their own products. Because the consequences of this are that not only can you make no money, but it will also lead to many bad reviews and negative spreads to the company and products. In this way, companies may have to spend ten times or even more the cost to eliminate these negative effects.

You can take a look at Figure 2 and Figure 3 to see how high the power is of the M15. Two AK4499 DAC chips consume much more power than that of other DAC chips. Although we have made a lot of efforts in heat dissipation, it will still cause much heat than the M11 Pro.




The power consumption of 1 AK4499 ≈ 2 AK4497 ≈ 4 AK4490 ≈ 40 AK4376. This shows how high is the M15’s power consumption. (Figure 2)






The output power of the M15 at 300 ohms ≈ 3 times the same load as the M11 Pro. (Figure 3)






Below is the most complicated heat dissipation craftsmanship we adopted on the M15 among Chinese players. For the first level, we used graphene material to pass its internal heat to the aluminum frame. (Figure 4)


For the second level, the heat of the AK4499 chip is transferred through thermal conductive silicone to the copper shield with good thermal conductivity. (Figure 5)






With great efforts of engineers, the M15’s heat dissipation capacity has been significantly improved. (Figure 6)




It is reasonable for consumers to expect that manufacturers can do better in power consumption and heat dissipation. Therefore, in the part that does not affect the sound quality, we chose the Exynos7872 SoC which has low power consumption yet strong performance. It is the most excellent chip far ahead than that among all Chinese players currently.

Moreover, it should also be noted that the comparison between heat generation and power consumption must be under the same premise. In other words, only if two players have similar output power and configuration can the power consumption comparison be meaningful.

On the contrary, if we compare the M7 with low output power and a very power-saving DAC chip with the M15 in terms of the battery life and heat generation, it is definitely the M7 will gain the upper hand.

Furthermore, the M15 is indeed the hottest one in FiiO's player product line. When compared with similar products of other brands, the M15 is still better at power consumption and heat generation control.

Lastly, I would like to remind you that any object that can generate heat, even if the heat generation value is small, would rise in temperature if being put in a well-sealed environment. Therefore, when you use electronic products, especially HIFI players with obvious heat generation, you must be careful not to use them in the bed or an inclosed leather bag for a long time.
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Post time 2020-5-7 16:30:34 |Show all posts |
Edited by FiiO at 2020-5-7 16:36

Part IV Three-in-one Flagship: Define the Ultimate Form of FiiO Portable Player in the Future

Before the M15 Launch Event, we had announced the slogan as "four flagships". At that time, many people thought that there would be four independent products. In fact, in addition to the flagship neckband sports Bluetooth cable, the other three flagships refer to the three-in-one M15-flagship player, DAC/Amp and Bluetooth receiver.
In fact, from the X3 generation, the functions of HiFi portable players have evolved very quickly. According to most commonly-used scenarios of audiophiles, we have first added functions of USB DAC, and then Bluetooth transmission and WIFI. In the past year, Bluetooth reception function has been added. The usage scenarios and functions of HIFI portable players have become more and more abundant.
However, for products like FiiO M11, M11 Pro, these functions are actually dependent on software due to the cost limited. So there are still some regrets and inadequacies. For example, the sampling rate and bit depth supported by the USB DAC function are limited, the format of Bluetooth reception is also limited, and the latency is relatively high.
Therefore, we decided to combine our extensive experience in DAC/Amp and Bluetooth receivers, as well as current popular players like the M11Pro, applying the professional XMOS chip and Qualcomm CSR8675 Bluetooth chip to the M15.
When the M15 is used as a music player, it benefits from the most powerful processor in Chinese players, third-generation FPGA algorithms, dual AK4499 DAC chip and powerful analog amplifier circuit. Thus it has amazing functions and performance.
When the M15 is used as a USB DAC, , it can support up to 768KHz/32Bit and native DSD512 decoding thanks to the addition of the XMOS chip.
When the M15 is used as a Bluetooth receiver, in addition to the CSR8675 Bluetooth chip, the DAC chip and analog amplifier circuit sections share the M15’s powerful configuration, so that it perfectly supports formats consisting of SBC/AAC/aptX/aptX LL/aptX HD/LDAC.
Under these efforts, the M15 has achieved the ultimate goal as a portable music player, portable USB DAC/Amp, and portable Bluetooth receiver at the aspects of function and performance. At the same time, it has also expressed our attitude to the market and users on the future development of players. That is, for a portable player, not only can it play native music, but also it should be a multi-scenario and multi-functional music device, achieving the ultimate goal at all aspects and be an integrated personal music collection center.
The M15 is also a very meaningful product and the world's first powerful product with such design. FiiO has summed up more than ten years of experience in portable audio devices and more than thirty years in the field of HIFI.
This is FiiO's expectation to the future and an inheritance of the past.
By the way, I would like to explain why the M15 does not support HWA format. The M15 adopts the CSR8675 chip, and our BTR3 has already supported HWA reception. So whether it is hardware or technical requirements, the M15 has no problem to HWA support.
However, some careful Huawei users may notice that since the end of last year, new versions of Huawei mobile phones do not support HWA. What would be the reason of it? In the past, it was inconvenient to discuss it for some commercial reasons. But now as many people get to know it, it would not be a secret anymore. If you are unclear, you can take a look.
1) HWA can be regarded as an alliance, and the leader was Huawei. At the beginning, a lot of brands, even some brands that had nothing to do with Bluetooth codec, hardware, software and application had been persuaded to join the alliance in order to enlarge its influence.
2) Although the leader was nominally Huawei, the real nucleus team (LHDC Bluetooth codec technology) was actually a Taiwanese company.
3) After the promotion of HWA, apart from a small amount of Chinese players supporting it at the launch end, only Huawei mobile phones were available. While the supporting receiving device was only few of Huawei’s Bluetooth IEMs which made no sense because they did not belong to HiFi field, and some Bluetooth receivers like BTR3 made by FiiO HiFi manufacturers.
From my personal point of view, it would be difficult to popularize HWA which is kind of a technical standard whose popularization absolutely relies on mobile phone manufacturers. However, those renowned phone manufacturers such as Samsung, Apple are impossible to use Huawei's standards. As for Qualcomm's aptX, it became popular because CSR has already been successfully popularized before the acquisition of Qualcomm. And LDAC, to be honest, although all Android phones support it, it is still at the end of the world. Because there are too few receiving devices support it.
4) As a high-definition and high-bit-rate Bluetooth audio codec technology, HWA has the shortest transmission distance and weak anti-interference ability under the same conditions due to its high bandwidth. So there are still many improvement spaces in user experience.
Therefore, no core technology at hand and plus the HWA was still imperfect at technology and user experience, it was no wonder that Huawei would give it up. Since the alliance leader Huawei had left it, it made no sense for us to support it.






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Post time 2020-5-12 16:50:02 |Show all posts |
Edited by FiiO at 2020-5-12 16:51

Part V How to Create a "Pocket Performance Beast"?

Those who are familiar with FiiO must know that the overall styles of X5III, X7MKII, M11, and M11Pro are all masculine and tough. Since the main users of HiFi players are men, this kind of style is popular.
After the birth of the M15, many felt that it is not so pretty as previous players. They kept asking why not remain the previous style?
Some old users hope us not to frequently change the styles. It is best to sustain one style all the time.
We truly appreciate everyone's feedback and suggestions. And we are always reviewing and learning, hoping to find a better way to solve this problem. But frankly speaking, we design each of our products under careful consideration.
When we started the M15 project and designed its outlook, we already predicted based on the product positioning and specifications that for its relatively high power consumption, weight and volume will be a big challenge. If we followed the shape of the M11, there would be several problems.
1) The sense of grip would be unacceptable. Because the shape of the M11 is relatively masculine and tough, basically composed of cut planes, even though we have processed with a chamfering method. For the M15, it is much heavier requiring more strength to hold. So if it was still designed with right and tough angles, it would have caused discomfort to users.
You can feel intuitively from the appearance development of smart phones. The early iPhone4 was designed with a right-angled plane on its side. Owing to its small screen and light weight, such design did not raise a lot of problems. However, as the display screen was getting larger and the weight was getting heavier, almost 99.99% of mobile phones are designed in an arc shape. A few mobile phones that still stick to right-angled designs have to stand users' complaints about the sense feeling.
In the development of the mobile phone industry, almost all brands and models have become the same in the end-the front faceplate is almost all the rectangle display with rounded corners, while the sides are almost all rounded edges. This is not because phone manufacturers intending to plagiarize others, but this type of shape is an optimal result for the limitation of the phone display size and the ultimate grip ability of human beings. If you reject to do this, you will be eliminated by the market.
So are players. I personally think that if a product is positioning as a handheld portable electronic device, then it will inevitably head for the rounded design.
2) Designs like the M11 look good but the space utilization rate is low. If the M15 was going to follow the style of the M11, its volume knob would inevitably be stuck in the upper left corner that has been continued since the X5III.
However, it is the volume knob that wastes a lot of internal space. (See the comparison of the internal space layout between M11 Pro and M15).



So from the beginning, the M15 strictly followed Bauhaus' rational design concept, giving priority to functions. Styling should serve functions and experience.
The final result is ideal. With dimensions slightly larger than the M11/M11Pro, the M15’s battery capacity has increased from 3800mAh to 7490mAh. Comparisons of dimensions, weight, battery capacity and output power of these players are shown in the attached table.
3) As a three-in-one product, we also hope to express our expectation in the industrial design. That is, if this is a player, anyone see at a glance would know this is a player. From the front view, M15’s characteristics as a player are obvious. Although there is a large screen and the desktop UI is the same as an Android phone, the raised volume knob still clearly expresses its attributes as a music player.
In addition, when the M15 is used as a powerful USB DAC/Amp, normally the headphone jack is better facing towards the user. From this perspective, whether it is visual viewing or actual operation, it is almost the same as a professional DAC/Amp like the Q1MKII. Therefore, the internal functions, external vision and operation well reflect that the M15 is a flagship USB DAC/Amp.
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Post time 2020-5-18 09:27:20 |Show all posts |
Part VI Volume Knob: Only when Using It Will You Know How Cool It Is!

After the M15 was released, many people told me that they could not quite understand why the M15's volume control was designed in this way. But after an actual experience, the vast majority of them reversely changed their attitude. Now I would like to explain it in detail.
Let’s take a look at FiiO's previous players. There are actually two types of volume control, pure button and volume wheel, which frankly have the similar using experience. Besides, for touch screens, you can also use the volume bar on the display to control the volume.
This time the M15 copied the volume control of the DAC/Amp directly. What we mainly considered is these aspects.
A) The traditional volume knob is a design symbol with a unique "totem" meaning. From the earliest audio amplifiers decades ago, the volume knob has been used. As time went by, the "volume knob" has always been linked to "HiFi audio devices". It has been a long time. This is also the main appearance difference between players and mobile phones as Android players are adopting large screen which is getting more closer to phones.
B) The traditional volume knob is the most efficient and convenient way to adjust the volume with fast, accurate and intuitive adjustment. The principle is actually a bit like the speedometer of a car with a pointer style mainly. However, it should be reminded that the appearance of the volume knob of many players is the same, but it is 360° rotatable, and the volume can only be adjusted one by one.
C) When the player is used as a USB DAC, the traditional volume knob will be more convenient and simple to use. The M15 particularly emphasizes its function as a USB DAC/Amp. When connected to a computer, it only has one adjustment function, i.e. the volume. So, if it is designed with a traditional volume wheel/dial/button, there would be an inevitable issue, that is, you need to turn on the display to see the volume. In this case, the M15 is very easy to use. You can totally know the specific volume by intuitively viewing the small dot indication on the volume knob.
D) But it is not simply using a potentiometer to control the volume. By applying a DC voltage to the potentiometer, when the potentiometer rotates to different positions, the taps of the potentiometer will output different voltages. The A/D (analog-to-digital) conversion circuit converts this analog voltage into a digital signal and sends it to the CPU. In this way, the SoC can know the specific position of the potentiometer, so that it can control the volume through the internal circuit of the DAC.
Therefore, it can also be called telex volume control.
Certainly, there are also many netizens who have not used the M15. They might have some worries and doubts if the volume knob would cause misoperation easily, and thus resulting in excessive volume. In the following chapters, I would explain in detail.






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Post time 2020-5-21 18:40:11 |Show all posts |
Edited by FiiO at 2020-5-21 18:41

Part VII Volume Knob: How to Solve Users’ Worries About the Volume Knob of M15?

The last Part VI has introduced that the M15 is featured with a rarely-used analog potentiometer to control the volume. Many people are worried that this raised potentiometer would cause unstable volume changes in daily use because of misoperation.
In fact, we have already considered these issues when designing the volume knob from 5 aspects in accessories, structural design, hardware design, software design, and display prompts, ensuring that it would be handy and comfortable to use. The following is detailed introductions.
1) Accessories: the M15’s leather case is designed with a magnetic suction clasp to block the volume knob. In daily use, it can better protect the volume knob and reduce misoperation possibility.
2) Structural design: we have customized a special high-damping potentiometer for the volume knob of the M15, which not only avoids volume changes caused by accidentally slight turning, but also makes it more comfortable to operate the volume knob. In particular, because the M15 uses a traditional analog volume potentiometer to control the volume, there is no problem of slight loosening as that existing in FiiO players with a commonly-used 360° rotatable volume dial.
3) Hardware design: the M15 has a HOLD switch. After locking it and setting accordingly in the software, the M15 will not respond to any operation of the volume knob.
Some users may have another question: if I turn on the HOLD switch, and then put the M15 into my bag. But the volume knob was accidentally turned. When I take it out and unlock it, would the volume suddenly go up?
We have also considered this problem. If the volume knob is turned during locking, the system will detect the volume change when it is set to unlock, requiring users to adjust the volume to minimum and readjust it to a suitable value. This helps to avoid excessive audio output if the volume knob is turned to maximum.
4) Software design: if the volume is turned on above a certain limit under the over-ear mode, the system will give a prompt that the current volume is too high, asking users whether to increase it or not.
5)显示提示:此外,通过明显的音量指示,有助于防止音量过大突然使用户感到恐惧。
A)M15使用模拟音量电位器,因此它本身具有音量指示功能。音量旋钮上的白点可以直观地指示当前的音量,从MIN(最小)到MAX(最大)。
B)音量旋钮有一个内置的灯光,可以在系统设置中设置其亮度以跟随音量的变化,以便我们可以通过灯光亮度判断当前的音量。
C)此外,系统状态栏上还有一个音量指示图标。
总而言之,通过上述措施,我们试图考虑用户在各种使用情况下可能遇到的问题,并最大程度地减小了音量旋钮升高可能引起的问题。同时,如果还有其他问题,我们可以通过固件升级提供对策,以保护用户的耳朵和播放器。
M15已投放市场近四个月。当前的市场反馈表明,实际上包括我们自己在内的用户对此问题过于担心。到目前为止,我还没有收到关于音量错误或声音输出过多的任何抱怨。




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Post time 2020-5-21 18:42:06 |Show all posts |
Part VIII User-custom Multifunctional Button: a little bit of selfishness or a little bit of humanity?

FiiO is not the first brand to design user-custom buttons on the player. However, I think the M15 can be said to be the first player with an interesting and improved user-custom key.
All along, no matter how the Chinese players evolve, from all-buttons to now similar with mobile phones in basic interaction and large-screen sliding and gesture operation, there is one thing that has never changed, which is required by users all the time. That is, they can operate the device though not watching the display, such as the play/pause and volume adjustment function, etc.
Therefore, when designing the M15, we reserved a lot of buttons to completely separate the volume, play/pause, and track selection buttons. For some low-end models, sometimes the volume adjustment and track selection button are two-in-one due to constraints of dimensions, ID design and cost.
In addition, I put forward a small demand to the M15 project team, i.e. to add a user-custom multifunctional button on the M15. In fact, in my heart, I want an "Add to my favorites" button.
Because of work, you may want to listen to a large number of songs and collect those you like to your favorites. The traditional operation is slightly more cumbersome. First you need to unlock the screen, find the now playing menu, and then tap to add to my favorites (usually a small red heart logo) to finally complete the operation. If it is physical buttons, the steps would be more complicated.
So, what I really want is a single button that can quickly add my favorite songs to my favorite list just by one simple clicking. In fact, I think this is not only what I want. Just like some products in the market, there used to be a specially designed button to achieve the same function.
Certainly, I understand that not everyone has the same demand. So let's take it to the next level, designing this function into a user-definable button. Users can set this multifunctional button to their most frequently-used operation in the system menu, or long press this button to call out the setting menu in the bright screen state.
In this way, it can meet the requirements of more people for a certain high-frequency operation. Even I am thinking that latter players can be designed with a bulk management button. A simple click can realize a series of specified operations, which is very meaningful for high-frequency operations.
If you are an M15 user, will you like this feature? Do you still want us to keep this design in the future products?
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Post time 4 Day Before |Show all posts |
Part IX Processor Difficulties of Chinese Players: Exynos7872

As a matter of fact, from the M11, FiiO has already announced the plan of FiiO M11, M11Pro, M15 and M15Pro. The reason is that for niche products such as players, the development investment of an Android processor platform is too high, you must use several models of sales to recover the investment (roughly estimate the investment of R&D of several models is nearly ten million, among which the processor platform accounts for the largest proportion). The M11Pro is kind of an accident which is indeed encouraged by our fans.
The reason why the M15Pro was canceled is because the Pro version generally does some minor upgrades on the standard version. However, the appearance style and designs will not have major adjustments.
Earlier we had 2 plans for the M15Pro. One was to use oxygen-free copper electroplating on the surface of the M15, and enhance part of the internal capacitance and resistance to higher-precision and higher-performance specifications. However, changes of the M15Pro based on this plan will be minor. If we name it as "Pro", we would be very uneasy.
The other plan was to change the analog amplification part to a THX circuit on the basis of the M15. Similar to the relationship between the M11 and the M11Pro. But the M11Pro chose the THX AAA 78 scheme. So, the M15Pro must choose the THX AAA 788 scheme. Otherwise, it can not surpass the M11Pro on analog parts. What is more, if using the THX AAA 78 scheme, the M15Pro would even be weaker than the M15 in terms of some key performance indicators like the driven capacity.
However, if using the THX AAA 788 which is designed by THX Technology for desktop HiFi devices, the driven capacity, power consumption, heat generation, volume and other aspects of the M15Pro would be much larger than the M15. In that case, the size of the M15Pro will increase a lot, which is almost a totally new player. Eventually, we canceled the M15Pro plan.
It is very difficult for FiiO to do this. I really hope users can understand this. Take a look at processors used in Chinese and foreign players so that you will get to know more about the truth. If we compare the player industry with mobile phone industry, that would be unreasonable. After all, there are countable mobile phone manufacturers, each with an annual income of tens of billions and thousands of engineers. The sales of a certain model nearly equals to dozens of times the sales of the player industry combined.
In addition, the current high-performance processors are only Qualcomm, Samsung, MTK, Huawei Kirin and Apple. Apple and Huawei Kirin are not open to others, and the IIS audio output port of MTK does not support DSD and 192K/24B. So only Qualcomm and Samsung left. And purchasing processors from Qualcomm and Samsung is not that difficult, including Qualcomm's 865 and 855, Samsung's 980 and so on.
However, it is useless only with the processor. Because it needs the development documents, development kits, various drivers, kernel programs and so on provided by the manufacturer. Otherwise, processors make no sense.
FiiO is lucky to win supports from Samsung and its agents to develop the processor. They have also opened up many low-level code permissions and provided a lot of free technical support, so that we can complete the development. But there are shortcomings. A few companies use Samsung's processor. The EXYNOS7872 SoC is only used by FiiO and another manufacturer, Meizu, in China. Therefore, , technical capability for Samsung semiconductor is relatively weak here. This also causes some lingering problems, for example, non support of apple music. And this needs to start with the underlying code.
And for Qualcomm chips, except for big companies and agencies (design companies), we are unable to get the underlying code base currently. This means all function development and subsequent upgrades must rely heavily on agents. What's more painful is that every new feature or bug fix involving the underlying code needs to be paid, and it's not cheap.
In addition, Qualcomm has only opened up parts of their models for HiFi player industry and other niche industries. Not all of its processor chips are open for sales and providing technical support. Therefore, we can see that in Chinese player industry, processors from Qualcomm is only limited in 4XX series. (excl. those haven't been started mass producing.)
There are benefits as well. Most of the companies are using processors of Qualcomm, which means broad accesses to technical support. As long as you are willing to pay, it is relatively easy to get what you want.


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Post time Yesterday  01:37 |Show all posts |
Dear James,
Your "publication" is worth a strong answer but unfortunately I do not have time for this. Thank you very much for such insightful information and this is very very rare in the industry. It's the first time I get an insight into strategy and choices, including supplier restrictions. I am sure the engineers were very proud of their achievement. I am an M7II and M11 owner and cannot afford this flagship model, but I was very happy to read this. Thanks again and all the best to you and the team. Great job!
Alles
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