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  1. Moonstar
    A Small & Wireless All-Rounder
    Written by Moonstar
    Published Nov 16, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clean and Neutral Sound,
    USB DAC functionality,
    Supports lots of Audio Codes
    Cons - There is no Screen Protector and Case in the Box,
    Soundstage depth
    The FiiO BTR3 Review

    A Small & Wireless All-Rounder

    Introduction:

    The BTR3 is the latest member of FiiO’s Portable Bluetooth Receiver product line and has been announced at the KL International AV Show (KLIAV) in 20 July 2018.

    The FiiO BTR3 is a small portable Hi-Res Bluetooth receiver with build in DAC (AK4376A) and Amplifier, which supports a wide variety of Bluetooth Audio Codec’s.

    [​IMG]

    About me: www.moonstarreviews.net

    Some Short information’s about FiiO:

    FiiO is a Chinese HiFi brand that was established in 2007 and has experience in researching and developing countless portable music products of different types, and sell FiiO-branded products through sales agents worldwide. The brand name FiiO is composed of Fi (fidelity from HiFi) and iO (number 1&0), representing the real feeling and convenient life that digital brings to life.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese “飞傲” is the transliteration of FiiO, indicating the positive and innovative spirit as thriving as spring.



    Disclaimer:

    I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the FiiO BTR3 as review sample. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.


    Price:

    The MSRP price for the Fiio BTR3 is 69,99 USD under the following links;




    Package and Accessories:

    The device comes in a small white card-box that sports the product image on the top cover.

    This box is containing the following items/accessories;

    • 1 x FiiO BTR3 Portable Bluetooth Receiver & Amplifier
    • 1 x USB mini to USB Type-C cable for data cable and charging
    • 1 x Lanyard
    • 1 x Quick Start Guide
    • 1 x Warranty card

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

    The FiiO BTR3 is a small and lightweight device with a dimension of 58×25×10.4mm (exclusive back clip) and weight of 26g (inclusive battery) that has an aluminum body with a glass panel on the front.

    On the front of the device is a black 2.5D glass panel, which has an oleophobic coating that keeps off fingerprints. This glass panel has a smooth texture and sports an NFC and the FiiO Logo. The FiiO logo has a build in RGB indicator light that lights up in various colors.



    [​IMG]



    On the right side of the device are the power button, a microphone, a multi-functional button, and the volume "up/down button", which also operates as previous and next track button.



    [​IMG]



    At the bottom of the device are the 3.5mm headphone jack (unbalanced TRS) and the USB Type C port, which serves as data, digital out and charging port


    [​IMG]



    On the back side of the device is a shirt clip that sports the FiiO branding.



    [​IMG]


    Specifications:

    • Model : FiiO BTR3
    • Audio Input : Bluetooth V4.2
    • Supported Codec’s : AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC
    • Bluetooth chip : Qualcomm CR8675
    • DAC : AK4376A
    • AMP : onboard AMP Included in AK4376A
    • Frequency Response : 20~20kHz(aptX connection), 20~40kHz(LDAC connection)
    • THD+N : 0.003%(LHDC 1kHz)
    • SNR : 120dB (A-weighted)
    • Output : 3.5mm Single Ended
    • Output Power : 33mW@16 Ohm & 25mW@32 Ohm
    • Output Impedance : 0.3 Ω(32Ω loaded)
    • Crosstalk : ≥ 75 dB(32Ω loaded)
    • Drivability : 16~100 Ω (recommended)
    • Battery : 300mAH
    • Battery Life : about 11hours
    • Charging Time : ≤1.5 h (DC 5V 500mA)
    • USB Port : USB Type C
    • Size : 58×25×10.4mm (exclusive of back clip)
    • Weight : 26 g (incl. battery)




    Hardware and Functionality:

    The FiiO BTR3 sports a Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth Chip and an Asahi Kasei AK4376A DAC with build in amplifier.



    a) Bluetooth Chip:

    The Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth chip used in the BTR3 is a premium low-power solution designed for enhanced audio applications with support for 24-bit transmission and processing, thanks to its 120MHz DSP. This chip is also much more stable in signal strength than other competing chips, especially in situations with lots of interference.



    b) DAC and AMP Section:

    The AK4376A is a compact DAC with a build in headphone amplifier for portable audio products. It has some nice specs such as -107dB THD+N and signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 125dB.


    [​IMG]



    c) Drivability:

    The FiiO BTR3 has a power output of 33mW@16 Ohm & 25mW@32 Ohm, which makes it loud enough for IEM’s with an impedance between 8 to 60 Ohm (HiFiMAN RE800 Silver). The BTR3 was also able to drive my full sized headphone the very popular Audio-Technica ATH M50 to very loud volume levels.



    d) Pairing:

    The BTR3 can be paired to other compatible devices with just a simple tap using the NFC wireless short-range communication protocol, entirely avoiding the cumbersome traditional pairing process.

    But if you want to pair the BTR3 in traditional ways, here is a short instruction for you;

    1. Unlock your smart phone and turn on Bluetooth;
    2. 2. BTR3 is in pairing mode which means the blue and red lights flashing alternately.
    To enter pairing mode:

    1. After powered on for the first time: the BTR3 would automatically enter the pairing mode, and the red and blue lights will flash alternately.
    2. Force the BTR3 to enter Pairing mode: Hold the button A for about 5 seconds when the device is on, and the red and blue lights will flash alternately.
    3. Then the BTR3 will appear on the list of Bluetooth device of the phone, and just click it to pair with the BTR3.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    e) USB DAC function:

    The BTR3 adopts the Type-C connector, which is easier to use than older Micro USB connectors; this allows you to insert the cable in either way. The Fiio BTR3 supports also the USB DAC functionality without the need to install a driver, just simply plug and play!





    [​IMG]



    e) Battery Life:

    The FiiO BTR3 sports a 300 mAh battery, which takes 1.5 hours to fully charge. According to FiiO should this battery last for nearly 11 Hours with a single charge by using the AAC codec.

    My experience shows that the battery of the FiiO BTR3 is actually capable to last around 10 Hours, which is pretty good for such a small device.



    f) Hissing:

    The FiiO BTR3 shows a very low background noise with sensitive IEM’s, while most IEM’s including the FiiO FH5 and F9 Pro have had shown zero hissing.


    Firmware Update:

    The latest firmware for the BTR3 is v1.0 (v1030) at present. There is no need to upgrade your BTR3 again, if it is already latest firmware.

    It will be displayed as version 1.0 on latest version FiiO Music app v1.0.4 after upgrading the BTR3 to firmware v1.0.

    Note: please download and install the latest version FiiO Music app v1.0.4 firstly, if you want to know the version on your BTR3.

    You can find the download link and update instruction under the link below;

    https://www.fiio.com/newsinfo/84403.html?tdsourcetag=s_pctim_aiomsg



    Supported Audio Formats:

    The FiiO BTR3 supports almost any Bluetooth Audio codec such as AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX LL (Low Latency), aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC

    The FiiO logo on the top of the device works as a codec indicator light and flash’s up in the following colors;

    • SBC :Blue light flashing
    • AAC :Cyan light flashing
    • LDAC/DAC :White light flashing
    • LHDC :Green light flashing
    • aptX/aptX LL :Purple light flashing
    • aptX HD :Yellow light flashing

    [​IMG]



    Equipment’s used for this review:

    • DAC/AMPS’s : FiiO BTR3 & Astell&Kern XB10
    • IEM’s : FiiO F9 Pro, FiiO FH5, Campfire Audio Comet
    • Earbuds : Penon BS1 Offical, Astrotec Lyra Collection (32ohm)
    • Headphones : Audio-Technica ATH50M, SoundMAGIC P22C


    [​IMG]





    Albums & tracks used for this review:

    • Edith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining (Spotify)
    • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/44kHz)
    • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Minor Empire – Bulbulum Altin Kafeste (Spotify)
    • Leonard Cohen – You Wnt it Darker (Spotify)
    • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Casey Abrams – Robot Lover (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Chopin - Nocturne op.9 No.2 (Spotify)
    • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
    • Future Heroes – Another World (Tidal Hi-fi)
    • Lorde – Team (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
    • Tom Player – Resonace Theory “Album” (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Massive Attack – Angel (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
    • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
    • Opeth – Damnation (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
    • Megadeth - Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
    • Slayer - Angel of Death (Spotify)



    The Sound:

    The FiiO BTR3 is a wireless DAC/Amp that has a balanced and fairly neutral sound, which is neither warm nor cold in tonality.



    The Bass:

    The sub-bass region shows good depth and will be have enough rumble for most music genres, while it is missing slightly more extension, which is quite acceptable for a DAC/AMP at this price range.

    The midbass area of the BTR3 is mildly emphasized, is pretty controlled and shows good midbass speed. Nice to hear that the bass of the BTR3 doesn’t shows any noticeable mixing, muddiness or mid-bass hump.

    The speed of the bass while listening to fast drum kick in genres such as metal music is great at this price point and will satisfy many users who are looking for a source with a dynamic presentation.



    [​IMG]



    The Midrange:

    The midrange of the FiiO BTR3 has a fairly neutral, transparent presentation, without any additional coloration such as warmth or the opposite.

    Male vocals are sounding lively and clear, while the only thing that is missing is a little bit more body of the presentation. I wish that it could sound a little bit fuller and thicker, while i listen to vocals such as Dave Gahan or Eric Clapton.

    When it comes to the female vocal performance of the BRT3, I can confirm that it sounds great at this price point, because presentation is transparent, airy, detailed and controlled. This makes the FiiO BRT3 to a great choice for those who give value of the performance of a source with female voices.

    The tonality of the FiiO BTR3 is not thick or to thin that makes it to a pretty neutral source for listening to instrument. Instruments such as guitars or violins are slightly bright, have good extension and detail. Instruments like side flutes sounding fast, a touch brighter than in normal and exhilarated, while the overall presentation sounds clear and distinct, which makes the FiiO BTR3 to a quite competitive Bluetooth DAC/AMP solution.

    One other good aspect of the BTR3 is the separation and positioning of instruments.



    Upper Midrange and Treble:

    The FiiO BTR3 has some crystalline, strong and fairly bright treble region, while the upper midrange is a bit on the sharper side of neutral is. But the transition between upper midrange and lower treble is well done and doesn’t sounds too harsh or ear piercing. Furthermore, the treble area sounds quite airy and spacious that could make the BRT3 to a good pairing with IEM's/Earphones that are a bit too hot in this region.

    I have had no remarkable complains regarding to the extension, sharpness and treble emphasis, while listening to songs such as Chopin’s Nocturne, GoGo Penguin’s sharp jazz or to Megadeth’s Holy Wars with the very fast drum performance. I can say by the end, that the FiiO BRT3 shows a treble performance with a success wide over its price tag.


    [​IMG]


    Soundstage:


    The FiiO BTR3 has a soundstage and definition of instrument placement that can be considered as fairly good. The relatively neutral tonality and the fairly wide stage give the BTR3's overall presentation a breezy and spacious feel, while the depth shows a rather average performance.




    Comparison:

    FiiO BTR3 versus Astell&Kern XB10:

    The Astell&Kern XB10 is a Bluetooth DAC/AMP with slightly warm tonality and V shaped sound signature, while the FiiO BTR3 is more neutral in with its tonality and shows a fairly straight frequency sequence.

    The subbass area of the XB10 is superior to the BRT3 in terms of the quantity and depth and shows also the better extension. Both Bluetooth devices are pretty equal when it comes to the midbass performance, while the BTR3 has a faster and tighter bass character which is also superior to the XB10 in terms of control.

    When it comes to the midrange the Astell&Kern XB10 is showing a noticeable recessed presentation due to the V shaped tuning, while the FiiO BRT3 is relative neutral and uncolored in this region with its more forward oriented midrange presentation.

    The XB10 is the more successful source for male vocals due to the stronger lower midrange character, which makes male voices more realistic an enjoyable. But when it comes to the female vocal performance, the situation is changing, because the FiiO BTR3 sounds more realistic due to the transparent, clean and more pronounced upper midrange region. The Astell&Kern XB10 is missing the clearness and presence that the BRT3 has that makes it suitable for female vocals.

    Both Bluetooth devices are quite successful in terms of the instrument detail. The Astell&Kern XB10 performs better with instruments, which need a thicker presentation, while the FiiO BTR3 is more suitable with instruments that have a thinner presentation.

    The treble range of the Astell&Kern XB10 sounds thicker and musical, while the FiiO BTR3 is brighter and superior in terms of treble extensions.

    Both devices have a stage that suitable for fairly precise instrument placement. The soundstage of the Astell&Kern XB10 is narrower compared to the FiiO BTR3, while the XB10 has slightly better depth than those of the BTR3.



    [​IMG]



    Conclusion:

    The FiiO BTR3 is a wireless Bluetooth Receiver that shows a clean and neutral sound presentation, which is packed in a small sized device with lots of features and wireless audio codec.



    Pros and Cons:

    • + Clean and Neutral Sound
    • + USB DAC functionality
    • + Supports lots of Audio Codes
    • - There is no Screen Protector and Case in the Box
    • - Soundstage depth
    About me: www.moonstarreviews.net
  2. ezekiel77
    FiiO BTR3 - The Harmonious Threads We Weave
    Written by ezekiel77
    Published Oct 21, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Beautiful design and robust build quality,
    peerless audio codec coverage,
    quick pairing and excellent signal strength,
    good battery life,
    powerful headphone amplifier,
    accessible, musical tuning,
    pitch black background,
    assortment of secondary functions.
    Cons - Simplistic packaging and accessory set,
    painful firmware update process,
    subbass and upper treble extension,
    intimate soundstage.
    Introduction

    Magic. Sorcery. Bluetooth. Man always feared what they cannot comprehend, and delivering invisible rays of music to my ears is as foreign as it gets. So what’s stopping an evil genius from misusing these invisible rays to deliver death? Wait, a microwave you say? For cooking, no one thought about killing? Just me then? Hmm!

    While my faith in humanity is restored, I like the idea of a wired audio signal delivered via good conductors, like expensive silver wires, because then I know the sound ain’t going anywhere else. Wireless audio paraphernalia were for tech nuts and exercise nuts. But as more armchair audiophiles grow heavier and need to shed some pounds, well, necessity is the mother of great audio quality.

    Flagship digital audio players (DAPs) and smartphones are getting larger and heavier, burdening pockets until a solution is found. Enter the FiiO BTR3, a Bluetooth receiver and amplifier, now in its third iteration (I must have fallen asleep for the first two). At 25g and just the size of a thumb, it turns your portable setup into a lightweight solution, so you carry just the BTR3 and earphones, and stay active while your DAP/smartphone rests nearby.

    The BTR3 also carries a slew of secondary functions. It receives calls with Qualcomm’s cVc noise cancellation technology. It converts car and computer speakers to Bluetooth receivers, playing music wirelessly from your smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled DAP. It can also be used as an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for your laptop or computer, instantly improving sound quality via its dedicated AK4376A DAC chip.



    FiiO BTR3-1.jpg
    Life is all rainbows and fairies with Bluetooth!



    The best part is, sound quality for Bluetooth audio is at its unquestionable peak as of now. The BTR3 supports the widest range of wireless audio codecs, from the vanilla SBC, to CD-quality aptX, to the mighty high-resolution audio-capable LDAC. We used to be satisfied if a Bluetooth setup produces contiguous sound that doesn’t break up, and now at long last we have fidelity!

    I'd like to thank Lily from FiiO for the review sample. The BTR3 retails for USD79.99 and is currently available through FiiO’s official site, Amazon and AliExpress. Embrace the future! Go wireless or end up like the Last Jedi! Why send a projection of your own body and soul to fight battles when remote controlled robots can do the same? Obviously Luke wasn’t friends with Tony Stark.

    This article was first featured in Headphonesty.



    Equipment Used:
    • FiiO BTR3
    • Samsung Galaxy S9
    • Sony WM1A “K” Modded
    • FiiO FH5
    • Advanced AcousticWerkes W900
    • Empire Ears Legend X
    • Sennheiser HD800S

    Albums Listened:
    • Amber Rubarth – Sessions from the 17th Ward
    • Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    • John Mayer – Continuum
    • Lorde – Pure Heroine
    • Michael Jackson – The Essential
    • The Police – Synchronicity
    • Dozens of 320kbps MP3s from my smartphone


    Packaging and Accessories

    I hate to use a millennial term because it’s daylight theft and makes me sound like an old geezer, but the packaging of the BTR3 is stupendously basic. It’s a cardboard box with a photo of the BTR3 printed on top. Open it up and you get the BTR3, lanyard, USB to USB-C cable for charging or the external DAC function, warranty and a quickstart guide.



    FiiO BTR3-2.jpg
    Trust me, it gets better, or off with me head!



    It wastes no time in telling you to throw away the box and start listening. Just don’t throw away the quickstart guide, it was my bible for the last few weeks while playing with this thing. You can wear the BTR3 two ways, either with the shirt clip, or with the lanyard. Being a person of advanced age and misplacing things everywhere, I much prefer the lanyard. Makes me look like a coach too, completing the geezer look.



    Design and Build Quality

    The monolithic shape of the BTR3 is timeless and honestly, critic-proof. Dressed in a glossy jet black, with a sand-blasted shirt clip, FiiO logos front and back, the design is classy and practical, delivering on all fronts. If you get fingerprint smudges on the glass surface of the BTR3, it’s your own fault. Glossy is as glossy does.

    I’ve always been confused by the term “smashing”. It’s a compliment but at the same time it might incite violence. When I say the BTR3’s build quality is smashingly good, please don’t find a hard surface to smash it on. Just take my word for it. The BTR3’s metal and glass structure is solidly built despite its feather-light weight, and inspires beaming confidence.



    Pairing and Connectivity

    With quickstart guide (in 200 languages) in hand, you can connect and listen in no time. Turning the BTR3 on for the first time will automatically enter pairing mode (FiiO logo flashes blue and red). Every time you turn the BTR3 on it will automatically pair with the last used device. To pair with another device subsequently, just press the ‘A’ button for 5 seconds to enter pairing mode at any time. For the uninitiated, the final setup looks like this.



    FiiO BTR3-2a.jpg
    Fit for a Queen!



    Audio source (phone/DAP) > paired wirelessly with Bluetooth > FiiO BTR3 > cable > transducer (IEM/headphones/speakers)

    Granted, this is not a fully wireless setup. But if you get creative, the BTR3 to transducer chain can be made as lightweight as possible. For example, a short IEM cable with the BTR3 clipped to your collar. Or for headphones, a tiny cable to connect to the BTR3 so you can clip it on your cap. You gotta be imaginative. But if you're old school like this geezer, the setup looks like the one above.

    To pair, make sure BTR3 is in pairing mode (flashing red/blue) while your source’s Bluetooth is turned on. The BTR3 will appear on your source as, well, FiiO BTR3. No passwords, nothing. Click and pair and get listening. While music is playing the FiiO logo flashes according to the colour of the codec. If you're using Android Oreo and above chances are it's LDAC with the logo flashing white. Keep it that way yeah?



    FiiO BTR3-2b.jpg
    In actual fact your phone can be up to 20 feet away, not this close!



    Both my sources, the Galaxy S9 and Sony WM1A, paired with the BTR3 with the minimum of fuss. The quick pairing is thanks to the Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth 4.2 chip. If Bluetooth pairing proves too slow for your speed demon tendencies, NFC will do the trick. Took literally one second for the BTR3 to pair with my Sony this way. Breathless yet?

    Fast pairing isn’t worth a cent if the signal drops at the slightest provocation. To test the signal strength I did some chores while my phone sits in the middle of the house. You’re welcome, wifey. While toiling around the toilets, the signal remained clear and uninterrupted at 20 feet if separated by one or two walls, and a jaw-dropping 40 feet if maintaining line of sight with the BTR3. Any longer, I’d have to get a new house.



    FiiO BTR3-3.jpg
    The obligatory mood piece to show we're serious.



    Functionality and Battery Life

    Let’s get our hands dirty with the BTR3’s primary function. The Qualcomm chip is capable of transmitting 24 yummy bits of audio information. It has the widest audio codec support known to man. When they say the whole gamut of codecs are covered, they mean it. AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC, and LHDC. Every. Single. One.

    The BTR3 will display the codec used via colour-coding of the front FiiO logo. You can choose audio output prioritising performance (SBC/blue/boo), sound quality (LDAC/white/yay) or somewhere in between (aptX/pink/meh). Again, the codec support is kind of a big deal. This being an audio enthusiasts’ hideout, I accept nothing but the FiiO logo flashing the reassuring LDAC white, naturally.

    Using the BTR3 is a joy. Not lugging the heavy smartphone or DAP around while I listen to hi-res music has been a hitherto unknown pleasure. The BTR3 has enough juice for a rip-roaring party for one, with all my in-ear monitors (IEMs) tested sounding sufficiently good. Best of all, the noise floor is astoundingly low with no hiss detected with them.

    Just for kicks, although the BTR3 is designed to drive headphones up to 100Ω, I went ahead and tried the Sennheiser HD800S (rated at 300Ω), because YOLO. To my surprise, the BTR3 could power them below maximum volume with juice to spare! While the BTR3 won’t fulfil the 800S’ full potential (the tone was good but the soundstage awfully tiny), nice to know it has some driving muscle. Now flex.

    Rounding out the other functions, answering calls with the BTR3 is excellent with crystal-clear vocals. The external DAC function for laptops is foolproof, just plug and play (heh) without driver installation. Using the BTR3 as a receiver for ancient transducers worked for my computer speakers and TV, with a 3.5mm.to 3.5mm audio cable (not provided though).

    Sadly, I couldn’t do the same with my car as the stereo system doesn’t have a 3.5mm socket. Unless, you know, someone could sponsor a new car? I tried. As a bonus, streaming videos produce no lag between video and audio. Besides telemarketers (who deserve a class all on their own), there is nothing more irritating than out-of-sync audio, so BTR3 is safe here.

    As for battery life, the BTR3 is power-packed, like a calorie-filled energy bar. It’s a teensy weensy 300mAh battery, but allowed LDAC playback for a full workday. That’s 9 hours with some leftover power for the ride home. Honestly I didn’t try the other codecs because LDAC or bust. I bet AAC or SBC can go more than 10 hours as advertised, but would you want to listen to worse stuff, for longer?!

    Before we go any further, I have to say that updating the firmware is a pain in the gonads. First up, finding the file itself involved Googling. Clicking FiiO’s firmware download section leads to its forums, so imagine the bitter pill of searching thread by thread. Lastly, take a look at the mind-boggling instructions here. The BTR3’s display is off throughout the update and involves lots of praying. I was successful in my third attempt, after much cussing, not praying.



    FiiO BTR3-4.jpg
    Invisible wearer taking the BTR3 out for a spin.



    Sound Quality

    The BTR3 has a dedicated AK4376A DAC with headphone amplifier to handle all audio output and flex audio muscle. For fear of describing the transducers’ sound instead of the BTR3’s and tarnishing my reputation forever, I tried several IEMs and cans with the BTR3 and looked for similarities to gauge its overall signature.

    I don’t think burn-in applies here, so I skipped it. You can burn-in with a microwave if it suits you. Critical listening was done out of the box for instant fun and gratification. The main rig for review is Samsung Galaxy S9 > BTR3 > transducer of choice. I tried the BTR3 with the FiiO FH5, Empire Ears Legend X, AAW W900 and just because I can, the Sennheiser HD800S. I heard the BTR3 gasp at the last one.



    Overall Sound Signature

    The BTR3 has an overall warm presentation, with an emphasis on detail. It sounds a bit contradictory, like ice cream and broccoli, but bear with me. The bass is elevated for a warm, enveloping feel, while notes are meaty and pronounced. You won’t find a thin, nimble response here. At the same time, note texture is easily heard, especially at note decay, as the BTR3 lays out a wealth of information before fading into a jet-black background.

    Another thing of note, the BTR3 has fun in mind. Even with its emphasis on detail, the signature is lively and natural. A vibrant, people-pleaser signature. It’s hard to dislike it unless you compare the BTR3 with a high-end DAP, which in all fairness, is unfair. The BTR3 provides baby steps to the wireless lifestyle for hard-headed, snot-nosed audiophiles like me. But does it succeed? Let’s dissect the sound.



    Bass

    The mighty bass anchors the signature down, and provides a firm base to expand the sound on, like a fulcrum. The mids and treble teeters and totters but doesn’t wander far, thanks to the steady foundation built upon the bass. It’s diligent, dependable and steady, like the leader of a ship. That’s how leadership is forged, captain.

    The bass is mildly enhanced especially in the midbass region, giving off warmth and body. It’s well-rounded and full of character, like a proper Irish stout. Notes hit with authority and aplomb. And like the delicate foam on top, note decay gives off a smooth, gentle finish, never offensive, rounding off a satisfying bass. I need a drinky.

    Of course, while everything is merry and jaunty from midbass to upper bass, I would have preferred more subbass extension and rumble, to really show them who’s boss. But from the wireless, Bluetoothy side of things, this is probably the best sound I’ve listened to yet. Drink up your stout, boy.



    FiiO BTR3-5.jpg
    Also doubles as a bookmark.



    Mids

    Ascending to the mids, the notes are clear and articulate, free from the clutches of the bountiful bass. Note detail is milked to the maximum here. From note attack to decay, you hear with utmost clarity the texture and timbre of each note, lovingly detailed, yet flowing seamlessly into one another. It’s a musicality to fall head-first into, and get giddy with excitement about.

    Describing the tone of the mids, while detail and transparency is at a good level, they are not neutral or flat-tuned. Rather, notes have a coloured, sweet and euphonic finish, sounding natural and lively. Like Frampton, music comes alive! Instruments and vocals alike, the tuning highlights all that is good about music. Ever-so-slightly warm, but engaging and addicting almost to a personal level. Like a tidal wave of puppies.

    I’ve always maintained that, for my sources, I like the tone to remain as neutral as possible, and let the transducers weave their magic with signatures, colourations and unicorn dust. But here, the mids tuning has me won over, with my IEMs and cans jiving and chiming with it, and changing for the better.



    Treble

    As the last puppy tails off into the sunset, the treble inherits some of its playfulness and liveliness. The lower and mid-treble display good amounts of detail and transparency, while verging on the safe side of brightness. I’ve listened to many FiiO products and most of them favour a smooth, sibilance-free treble that plays well with most listeners.

    Once again, like the mids, note texture and timbre are given a first-class treatment. Cymbals sound realistic and no-nonsense, without added bells or whistles. Bells and whistles sound natural as well, with a melodious ringing free of tizziness and that nails-to-chalkboard sensation which makes you skip to the next track.

    The highest registers are muted. I would have liked more treble air to flow freely, weaving its way in and out of the signature. It’s a personal preference really, but as it is, the BTR3 treble has just enough detail, counterbalanced with equal smoothness. Notes have just the right thickness, contrasted with a dollop of crunch and crisp. A good tuning beats end-to-end extension anyday.



    Soundstage and Imaging

    Remember the uh, fulcrumatic bass? The anchor of the signature and keeper of the music, he can get quite attached to things. The mids and treble are totally fine with this (Stockholm syndrome) and deliver the sound as a united whole. The soundstage however, feels caged in, and stutters and stammers, itching to be let loose.

    The stage size is intimate at best. The elements of music never leave the perimeter of your head, although this can be transducer-dependent. Pair the BTR3 with an IEM known for a big soundstage and you can push the dimensions outward by a little. Most times however, you have to accept the average stage width, and barely-there depth and height.

    It’s not all doom and gloom as I make it out to be. From a value standpoint, at USD79.99, barely any DAP or IEM would be able to produce a holographic, wide-open soundstage. It’s just generally accepted that at this price range, tonality and signature is prioritised over staging and imaging. Having said that, the left to right positional cues are rather good, aided by the vast black background. Just don’t expect sounds to pop out of your head.



    FiiO BTR3-6.jpg
    Crouching tiger hidden say aaaahhhh!



    Comparisons

    Samsung Galaxy S9

    I must apologise. This audiofool isn’t a techie at heart, and has no other Bluetooth receiver to compare with. Comparing it with a similar-priced DAP seems unfair, since I already have a preconceived bias that wired systems whups wireless. So I bring you the Galaxy S9 audio output as comparison, while providing one answer to the question, “does adding an external DAC improve sound quality?”

    The Galaxy S9 is one of this year’s premier flagship phones, meaning it is the master of all trades and jack of none. If we look at spec sheets alone, everything is peachy and perfect, from top to bottom. The audio quality is likewise, a reliable performer. As one of the top performers for smartphone sound quality, the signature is neutral and clear, but almost to the point of sterility.

    The BTR3 bass is meatier with more character, leaving the S9’s thinnish bass behind. S9’s mids bring precise notes, with plenty of detail and articulation, but BTR3’s lovely coloured mids sound more euphonic and natural. BTR3’s beautifully-textured treble make the S9’s sound grainy and thin in comparison. Soundstage size is similar, but BTR3’s impressive black background gives better imaging cues than S9. As an add-on to improve sound, the BTR3 proves its worth.



    Final Words

    At some point in life you begin to assess your wants and needs. Bluetooth audio is for me, something I do not indulge in day in, day out, as opposed to say, quality brunches. Be that as it may, the entry-level price point and widespread high resolution LDAC support from Android Oreo, might finally mean that the time to adopt Bluetooth is now.


    The BTR3 is incredibly hard to fault for what it does: providing a strong, rarely-interrupted signal for your IEMs to enjoy on-the-go, while sounding simply superb. The sound quality rivals, even betters top phones; and is within touching distance of wired portable systems. Consider also the host of secondary functions that are only limited by your imagination. The future might have already arrived, so get on board and have fun.
  3. crabdog
    King of Codecs
    Written by crabdog
    Published Oct 9, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Has a premium all-metal and glass construction
    Supports all current wireless audio codecs
    Supports hands-free calling
    Value for money
    Cons - Currently has no app support
    FiiO BTR3 sa50.jpg

    *This was originally posted on my blog over at Prime Audio Reviews here.

    Bluetooth is here to stay. We simply cannot avoid it any longer. Just look at how many new phones still have a headphone jack: there seem to be fewer every day. So how are you supposed to enjoy music from your smartphone now? Enter the FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth Receiver.

    The BTR3 is a thumb-sized Bluetooth receiver that you can plug your headphones into and enjoy Hi-Res music from your phone or streaming device. The BTR3 has a built-in microphone so it can be used for hands-free calling too. You can also hook it up to your PC, laptop or tablet with the included USB-C cable and use it as an external DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter).

    The BTR3 has a special claim to its name too: It’s the world’s first Bluetooth amp to support all wireless audio codecs. Yes, all of them. This includes aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC, SBC and LHDC.

    FiiO official website: https://www.fiio.com/Home

    SPECIFICATIONS

    Model BTR3
    Weight About 26 g (incl. battery)
    Audio Input Bluetooth connection (Bluetooth 4.2 supported)
    NFC Supported
    Headphone Output 3.5 mm stereo jack
    Volume Control Side buttons
    Charging Time ≤1.5 h (DC 5V 500mA)
    Battery Capacity 300 mAh
    Output Power About 25mW (32Ω loaded)
    About 33mW (16Ω loaded)
    THD+N <0.003%(LHDC 1kHz)
    SNR 120dB (A-weighted)
    Bluetooth Chip CSR8675
    Color Available Black
    Dimensions About 58×25×10.4mm (exclusive of back clip)
    Supported Audio Format(s) AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX LL/ aptX HD/LDAC/LHDC
    Mic Function Supported
    USB Port Type C USB
    Status Indicator Light RGB light indicates the input Bluetooth audio codec, charging and working status
    Power Input Recommend DC 5V, 500mA
    Drive Ability 16~100 Ω (recommended)
    Frequency Response 20~20kHz(aptX connection)20~40kHz(LDAC connection)
    Output Impedance <0.3 Ω(32Ω loaded)
    Crosstalk ≥ 75 dB(32Ω loaded)
    Accessories Type C USB charging cable*1, Quick Start Guide*1, Warranty Card*1, Lanyard*1
    This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

    Package and Accessories
    FiiO BTR3 box.jpg
    The FiiO BTR3 comes in a small white box with an image of the device on the front. It’s simple but practical packaging that isn’t wasteful or unnecessarily flashy so we’ll just leave it at that and jump into the actual contents. Inside the box are:
    • FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth Receiver
    • USB-C cable
    • Lanyard
    • User manual and warranty
    So, just like the box, the package contents are basic but practical and contain everything you need to get your new device up and running. So how are the physical aspects of the BTR3?
    FiiO BTR3 accessories.jpg
    Build Quality and Design
    FiiO BTR3 chassis.jpg
    As soon as you lay your eyes or hands (whatever comes first) on the BTR3 you’ll know that it has a really nice build. It has an all-metal chassis with a 2.5D glass front. There’s an LED on the front that lights up in different colours indicating various operating states and which Bluetooth codec is being used.

    All the controls are on the right side of the device and are made up of 3 buttons in total. At the top is the Power on/off button that is also used to switch between input devices (the BTR3 can be simultaneously paired to 2 devices).

    The second or middle button is a multi-function button used for Reconnect/Play/Pause/Answer phone call/End call. It can also be used to force pairing mode and even to activate Siri for iPhone users.

    In between the top 2 buttons is the built-in microphone which can be used for hands-free phone calls. Lastly, we have the Volume up/down, Previous track/Next track buttons.
    DSC_0979_result.jpg
    On the bottom edge are the 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port. The USB port is for charging the unit and can be used to connect the BTR3 to a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone via the included USB-C cable for use as an external DAC.

    FiiO BTR3 purple corner4.jpg
    Over on the back of the device is a metal clip which can be used to attach the BTR3 to clothing or a bag etc. At the top of the clip is a through-hole which can be used to attach the included lanyard.

    FiiO BTR3 hanging.jpg DSC_0947_result.jpg
    BLUETOOTH AND BATTERY LIFE
    Bluetooth connectivity is taken care of by the Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth chip which promises to have a more stable signal strength compared to other competing solutions. It is a low-power chip with support for 24-bit signal transmission. During my testing, I have not experienced any dropouts or disconnects when paired with my Android phone or Sony NW-ZX300 DAP.

    FiiO’s BTR3 has a rated battery life of 11 hours and this turned out to be quite accurate for me during use. Using the included USB-C cable the device can be fully charged in just 1.5 hours.

    FiiO BTR3 bravado.jpg
    Sound
    Gear used for testing includes my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (aptX), Sony NW-ZX300 (LDAC) and Shanling M0 (LDAC) as sources. On the receiving end were the Ultrasone Performance 860, Campfire Audio Cascade and a bunch of IEMs including the BGVP DMG, HiFi Boy OS V3 and Custom Art FIBAE 2.

    At the heart of the FiiO BTR3 is the AK4376A DAC which according to the AKM website is:

    a higher performing solution of the AK4375A that is adopted by many portable audio products since it was launched in 2014

    AKM
    I have to say the BTR3 really surprised me with its audio quality, especially since my recent infatuation with the similar Radsone ES100 (comparison below). The BTR3 sounds much better than my Galaxy Note 5 and laptop’s headphone outputs as well as some of the ultra-budget wired DAPs that I have laying around.

    It should be noted that the BTR3 is rated for headphones up to 100 ohms, so if you’re looking to drive something above that then you should consider an alternative such as the ES100. Don’t be one of those donkeys who buys blindly and then complains when the unit doesn’t drive their 300 ohms headphone…

    Having said that, it can actually drive my 250 ohms Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro really well: certainly loud enough though not quite optimal. For the majority of IEMs and low impedance headphones, however, the BTR3 has enough juice to bring out their best.

    FiiO BTR3 setup.jpg
    Comparisons
    FIIO BTR3 VS RADSONE EARSTUDIO ES100 ($99 USD)
    This is one comparison that everybody has been asking for and understandably so, considering these are the 2 major players for Bluetooth receivers in this price segment.

    First of all, let me say that they both sound fantastic and there’s very little difference in actual audio quality. To my ears the BTR3 sounds just a tad more vivid and has more note density but that could possibly be a result of stored settings from the Earstudio app (crossfeed, digital filter etc.)

    The FiiO unquestionably has a more premium build with its metal chassis and 2.5D glass front. Its clip has a better grip too, making it feel more secure when attached to clothing etc. That’s not to say the ES100 doesn’t have its own charm. If I were forced to make a choice between the 2, I’d probably have to flip a coin because I genuinely love them both.

    For anyone who’s not sure which device suits them best I would say this: If you need to drive high impedance earphones or headphones then the ES100 is the better choice for you (requires balanced cable). Similarly, if you’re a control freak and demand EQ functionality and a multitude of tweaks then again the ES100 is the way to go.

    If you’re the type who wants a simpler plug and play experience then the FiiO BTR3 would likely be your best choice. The BTR3 arguably has a better button layout than the ES100 and it supports a couple of rarer codecs such as aptX-LL and LHDC. One more thing worth mentioning is that the FiiO costs around $30 less.

    FIIO BTR3 VS AMPIO VS-1880 ($189 USD)
    The VS-1880 is another great Bluetooth receive and shares many similarities with the BTR3. Both units have a similar shape and size and both have metal housings. The Ampio’s clip can be reversed or even removed which is really handy.

    In terms of sound quality both are fantastic and the real differences come down to features more than sound. The BTR3 supports those rarer codecs (aptX-LL and LHDC) so if you want to use either of those it should be an easy choice for you to make.

    Both units have a similar power output and are suitable for up to 100 ohms headphones or slightly higher. Battery life is almost the same: 10 hours for the VS-1880 and 11 hours for the BTR3. Both have a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and both can be used as an external DAC: the Ampio via Micro-USB and the FiiO via USB-C.

    Considering the VS-1880 is more than double the price of the FiiO it’s difficult to recommend over the BTR3. The only really compelling reason I can think of is if you like to treat your gear roughly then the VS-1880 feels more robust as it doesn’t have a glass front like the BTR3.

    FiiO BTR3 comparisons.jpg
    From left to right: Ampio VS-1880, FiiO BTR3, Radsone Earstudio ES100.
    Conclusion
    The FiiO BTR3 is the latest in high-fidelity Bluetooth receivers, something I believe we are going to see a lot more of in coming times as more smartphone companies ditch the headphone jack from their phones.

    The BTR3 is a gorgeous device that sounds great and works just as it is intended. It’s a Bluetooth receiver with the most extensive codec support, it’s an external DAC, it’s a dongle and it will only set you back $70. What’s not to like?
      waynes world likes this.
    1. farees
      watch my complete review on Fiio BTR3
      farees, Nov 16, 2018