FiiO BTA 30 - High Fidelity Bluetooth transceiver

General Information

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Latest reviews

rev92

100+ Head-Fier
Fiio BTA30
Pros: Overall sound quality
Well-built
Looks good
Bluetooth range
Price
Functionality
Easy to use
Just a very convenient device for your stereo setup
Cons: 16/48 via USB
No remote
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FiiO BTA30 is a DAC with a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver, based on an AK4490 chip. It is priced at 89,99USD.

Sound quality for the price
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Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Build quality
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Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Value
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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.


Packaging

Basic, but necessary

FiiO BTA30 comes in a relatively small box. Inside, you can find the BTA30 itself, RCA interconnects, USB-A to USB-C cable, and paperology. The box looks pretty standard, but it’s well-made and reliable. Cables are of basic quality.

Build quality

Build quality is really great at this price range.

BTA30 has an excellent handcrafting quality in this price range. It has a metal frame, plastic bottom, and Plexi top. Thanks to that, it looks quite premium and makes a great impression on the desk.
On the front, you can find the On/off button, slider with mode selection (TX/RX/DAC), and the potentiometer. Buttons are plastic, with a standard, pretty loud click. The potentiometer is moving smoothly in full range, with a silent click. I can’t feel the slider’s position, so I have to see when selecting the mode.
The potentiometer is considerably fluid, but the volume doesn’t change at the of the scale. It gets to 100% faster than the potentiometer shows it.

At the rear part, FiiO placed all connectors, so starting from the left, you can find here:
RCA Output, optical out, Coax In/Out, optical in, and the antenna. That’s an excellent set of connectors, but I’m missing some kind of selector. You’re going to ask, “wait, but which one is the preferred one?” but there’s all about the order in the manual, and I’ll explain everything in the next paragraph.

Functionality

Inputs, outputs, antenna. The whole rear part is filled with connectors.

FiiO BTA30 works with almost all Bluetooth codecs except HWA as the receiver, but it also misses AptX LL when it works as the transmitter, and I miss that so much. It’s the best codec to use Bluetooth headphones for gaming. Luckily, the latency isn’t annoying with LDAC or even SBC. Oh, and if you want to use LDAC in transmitter mode, you have to connect the signal source through the spdif input, which works with 24/96 signal, while the USB supports 16/48 as the maximum quality.

FiiO Music, the application for mobile phones, allows us to set a couple of things, but it often disconnects on me. In the app, you’ll find filters, active digital inputs and outputs, the possibility of fixing volume at some level, balance, upsampling (which is pretty great), and colours of the indicators.
Without the app, the order of inputs is as follows: USB DAC, Coax and Optical. If you would like to use all connectors as the outputs for USB input, they work simultaneously.
Bluetooth range is excellent. BTA30 doesn’t break signal even if I was 15 meters away, and there were two thick walls between me and the little one. Impressive.

Sound

Even if DAC isn’t the main part of BTA30, it is really good.

The sound signature is relatively neutral, without pumping any frequencies to the front. Sometimes it lacks dynamics, but hey, it is only 90USD with many functionalities, and the essential part is Bluetooth transmitting/receiving. The signal through the output is pretty flexible, so the final result depends on the used amplifier.

The bass is delicately muddy, especially with bassy headphones and speakers. It doesn’t get slow with more reference cans, but it is far from being as technical as Topping D50s. It sounds awesome in movies or computer games where it sounds natural. In music, it gets a little lost and smoothed. It is way better than most cheap DACs, like the built-in one in my Topping MX3.

The midrange is pretty harsh sometimes, but it provides an outstanding detail reproduction. It isn’t also pushed behind the bass and treble, so all vocals aren’t hidden, and performs as the main part of the sound. Even if there’s a little harshness in the mids, the midrange provides better dynamic than the bass, and it is just filled with more life. All the music genres sound great, same as the movies. Using the BTA30 as a Bluetooth receiver, the midrange is smoother and has less technical style.

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It can also work in vertical position.

The treble using BTA30 as a USB DAC is very detailed and delicately too sharp for me. It causes sibilances using AKG K702, but it isn’t brightened at all. This problem disappears after switching to the Bluetooth receiver mode, it is way more delicate then, but still provides a lot of details, they’re just reproduced in a more gentle way.

The soundstage is just wow, I didn’t expect such wide, deep, and airy stage in this price range. It truly rocks, especially with stereo setup in the movies, but also music is better separated, with an awesome distance distinction and exact sound sources in the space. It is an extraordinary thing in that budget when I showed BTA30 to my family, they said that’s the new level of watching movies.

Summary

Cool stuff indeed.

FiiO did a great job with BTA30, which combines the great sound quality, high level of handcrafting, and one of the cheapest Bluetooth transmitters with LDAC. It’s a great companion for stereo in the living room, but also it works great as the main DAC in the listening room or next to your pc.

Highly recommended.





Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Philips Fidelio X2HR, AKG K702, Fyne F500, Bqeyz Spring 2, Craft Ears Four, Hifiman HE400i 2020,
  • Sources– Topping DX3 Pro, Topping D50s

Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
Bluetooth Swiss Army Knife
Pros: - Receiver
- Transmitter
- Dac
- Pre out
- AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX HD/LDAC
- High Fidelity stable signal
- Multiple inputs
- Small form factor
- App configurable
- Price
Cons: - No analogue input
- Usb limited to 48kHz/16bit
The BTA 30 was kindly provided by FiiO and is still under their ownership.
This is my honest and subjective evaluation of it.

Introduction

FiiO BTA 30 is a long awaited high fidelity bluetooth transceiver and dac with a friendly asking price of about 99€.

Although there is a great demand for such transceivers it seems to be some kind of shortage regarding the available models or at least the decent ones.
The best rival we can think of is the iFi Zen Blue which retails for 150€ and it's been a long time since we enjoyed the classic and out of production Crystal Audio BluDac.

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Technical and physical parameters

At the heart of the BTA 30 we are going to find the Qualcomm flagship chip CSR8675 which supports bluetooth 5.0 with the AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX HD/LDAC codecs.
An extra dedicated DSP can upsample everything up to 192kHz/24bit if we wish so.
D/A duties are handled by a dedicated digital to analogue converter the AKM4490 assisted by an OPA1662 at the output.
For full specifications please visit www.fiio.com.

The volume control of the BTA 30 is aided with ADC curve reconstruction for precise adjustment with minimal channel imbalance.
The best part is that it can adjust both the analog and the digital outputs (USB in - excluded) and this can be achieved even remotely from the FiiO Control APP.

The BTA 30 supports material with resolution up to 192kHz/24bit and DSD64 native on the coaxial input with the optical limited to 96kHz/24bit and the USB to a mere 48kHz/16bit.

Everything is housed inside a small strong aluminum body measuring 120x55x23.5mm with a weight of 115g.
Build quality is very good with a nice shiny black paint job and smooth finish.
Handling and use are satisfying but long and heavy cables might cause stability issues.

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On the front panel we can see the on/off and pair push buttons , the mode switch and the potentiometer plus an RGB light indicator.
At the back there is the RCA analog output , the coaxial combined input/output , optical in , optical out , USB type C in and the external antenna.

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Inside the box we will find a stereo RCA cable and a USB type C cable.
The BTA 30 must be powered through the USB port so we are going to need an extra power source like a phone charger.

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Functionality

The BTA 30 is a Swiss army knife with three different operation modes

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Bluetooth receiver RX

As a bluetooth receiver RX can accept incoming signals from various bluetooth devices and pass it either in a pure digital form for connecting to an external higher quality dac or convert it to analog signal thanks to the embedded dac.
Analog output volume level can be fixed or variable so we can use it either with integrated amplifiers or powered monitors and power amps.
Volume adjustment can be done from the potentiometer in front of the device or remotely with the FiiO Control app.
The BTA 30 can be connected with two different devices simultaneously and we can swap between both to play music.
All the available bluetooth codecs are supported.

Bluetooth transmitter TX

With this function we can feed the BTA 30 with a digital signal through one of the available digital inputs and transmit it to an external bluetooth receiver such as headphones or speakers.
A very useful function for example when we need to connect a TV set digital output to the BTA 30 and then enjoy the program cable free with our bluetooth headphones.
While in transmitter mode the BTA 30 can send the signal to two different devices simultaneously.
(LDAC is not supported by the USB input and the USB input can accept only 48/16)
Pairing is quite easy as we have to set BTA 30 into pairing mode and next the other device and after a while they connect to each other.

Wired or wireless DAC

The BTA 30 thanks to it's embedded DAC can act as a pure digital to analog converter through all the available inputs including bluetooth and will output analog signal with fixed or variable level up to 3Vrms.

The FiiO Control app can offer further adjustments regarding the channel balance , four types of sound filters , bluetooth format priority , switch on/off the LED indicator and select whether the volume output will be fixed or variable.

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Performance

Bluetooth implementation is very good and the new Qualcomm chipset is an excellent performer.
The connection is very stable without any drops or lags but in order to reach the maximum performance the other paired device should be of equal quality.
With AptX HD and LDAC the transmitted/received signals suffer only a minimal loss in actual fidelity that we suppose can be sacrificed for the ease of use.
Real life working distance is of course less than the advertised 30m but still very good as we managed more than 15m in open space.
Mind you that thick walls and doors will severely affect the optimum distance so the BTA 30 is better used at visual contact conditions.

Regarding the internal dac it is a decent performer and will substitute well in cases that we don't own something external of better quality.
It is an easy going signature that is well balanced with adequate levels of detail , clarity and dynamics.
It is not going to replace an external dedicated dac of the same price point but it gets the job well done.
Let's not forget that the BTA 30 is first of all a bluetooth transceiver and the internal dac should be treated as an added utility.

At the end

The BTA 30 is an excellent bluetooth transceiver of high fidelity with stable connection and great ease of use.
With two modes and great functionality plus an added dac as a bonus it is very hard to beat even without considering the modest asking price.
As such it is a clear winner with the only let downs - that should be addressed in a future upgrade - being the lack of an analogue input and the usb input limited sampling rate.
A bluetooth swiss army knife that eased our lives and is going to satisfy even the most demanding user.

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2020
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